Katie Young comes back after the Hellatus to review the first episode of the new season of Supernatural, Black…
Hellatus is finally over, and we welcome my beloved Winchester Brothers back for a tenth (yes, TENTH) season of monster hunting and co-dependency. It’s no secret that the later seasons don’t quite hold the same magic for me that the first five did. A large part of me wishes Supernatural had ended as creator Eric Kripke envisaged, with Sam Winchester making the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good and for his brother. But there were some incredible scenes in the season 9 finale, and I’m excited to see where we’re going now that Dean Winchester is a paid-up servant of Hell…
We open strong and bloody with the familiar sight of a petite, brunette demon tied up and at the mercy of a Winchester. But as she admits she didn’t believe the rumours that one of the brothers had become a demon until she saw him for herself, the camera pans to reveal not Dean, but Sam. Dark, Obsessive Sam who would do anything to get back to his brother is my favourite flavour of Sam. We then get caught up on what Sam has been up to in the months since Dean left with Crowley. This is reminiscent of the ‘pre-Hell’ episode, Mystery Spot, also written by showrunner Jeremy Carver, and the ‘Sammy, let me go’ note left on Dean’s bed recalls that period too. It makes my heart flutter to see that even as a demon, Dean calls his little brother Sammy.
Sam finds a lead and calls Castiel, who is sick in the wake of losing his grace. The fallen angel and the hunter have been searching for Dean together, although both are in bad shape and sorely missing the older Winchester. I love that Sam is able to put his own pain aside and show concern for his friend, because his actions in seasons 8 and 9 have sometimes made it easy to forget that he’s the boy who saved the world. I approve of this return to form, and I’ve always enjoyed these tender interactions between the two characters.
The palpable grief of Sam and Cas is nicely juxtaposed with the next scene, as Dean is doing his best Richard Fairbrass impression in a karaoke bar, much to the disgust of the punters. Usually, Dean Winchester’s milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, so we know something is very wrong here. His bad singing works on the waitress, Anne-Marie though. She agrees that he is too sexy for his shirt, and presently divests him of it leading to possibly the smuggest post coital conversation of all time. I would cringe but I’m too busy looking at Dean’s nipples and thinking about how redundant his anti-possession tattoo is. Crowley is unimpressed that they have sullied his bed (rude) and the two engage in a little snarky banter in which they call each other ‘jerk’ and ‘bitch’, just in case we hadn’t got the point that Dean has traded his real brother in for the King of Hell. Dean plays a little table football and then beats the crap out of his conquest’s no-good boyfriend, presumably just to enjoy the feel of bones breaking under his fist.
Cas receives a visit from the angel Hannah, and she’s on a mission to retrieve and punish two rogue angels who refuse to go back to Heaven. He agrees to help her because things always works out so well for Cas when other angels come asking for assistance. As a fan of angelic lore outside the show, I really hope they find a way to make angels scary and relevant again, because they have been wasted in recent seasons.
Sam dons his FBI suit to gain access to the CCTV footage of Drew Neely’s death, and is shocked to see the perp is his wayward sibling. He examines the film again and sees black eyes, realising that Dean is possessed.
We meet Cole, an ex-marine with an axe to grind. He has been tracking Dean Winchester for a long time, and finally receives a fax (a FAX – does he live in Beacon Hills, land of obsolete technology??) of the CCTV still. Uh-oh. Here comes trouble. I like Cole. He reminds me a bit of T-Bag from Prison Break, and I’m excited to find out what his beef is with Dean. I hope it’s juicy!
Meanwhile, Hannah and Cas are driving, when Hannah gets nauseous. Can angels get carsick? Maybe her vessel is pregnant? That would actually be interesting new territory to explore. They argue about Castiel’s grace situation, but I’m too busy inventing a new headcanon backstory for Cole to care. Maybe Dean went to sea, distraught when Sam left for Stanford? Maybe he and Cole were shipmates. Maybe Dean took the beasting too far? Maybe he owes Cole a furtive hand job? Ahem…where were we? Oh yes.
Sam visits the Gas n Sip where Dean took out Drew. The cashier seems to have a major boner for Demon Dean and his badassery, and I can’t say I blame him. Sam uses Drew’s phone to call Crowley, and Crowley teases that it’s been so long, he and Dean thought Sam had hit another dog. Touché, Carver. That did make me laugh. But you’re still not forgiven for the first half of season 8. Crowley tells Sam Dean’s soul is still his own, if a little twisted, and that they’re BFFs and he’s having the time of his life. He suggests the real reason Sam is so upset is because Dean belongs to Crowley now. Sam’s face in this scene is utter perfection. Perfection. Actually, I think Consumed with Jealous Rage Sam is my favourite.
Hannah and Castiel track down Daniel, the rogue angel. After a long fishing analogy, he tells them he is not prepared to give up his free will, a long standing theme with Supernatural’s angels. They talk and seem to be making progress until Adina shows up and things get a bit stabby. Daniel is killed with an angel sword, Adina escapes and Cas and Hannah are left wounded. Hannah fails to understand why they should let angels live on earth, and Castiel admits he feels that he belongs here with humans.
Trouble in paradise for Dean and Crowley, as Crowley admits sending Abaddon’s soldiers after Dean to keep him sharp and the Mark of Cain sated. Crowley wants to keep moving, realising Sam will have traced his cell phone, but Dean is happy at the crappy roadhouse they’re holed up in. He’s none too pleased when Crowley admits he’s been speaking with Sam. Apparently even as a demon, Dean isn’t impervious to his tangled sibling issues, and he soon reverts to the tried and tested combination of booze and women. He asks Anne-Marie to come away with him and is cruel to her when she turns him down.
Sam is ambushed by Cole, who knocks him out and takes him to a barn. I think Sam’s had more brain injuries than hot dinners at this point. Sucks to be a Winchester. Cole ties him up (actually, maybe Tied to a Chair Sam is my favourite) and tells Sam he’s tracking his brother. He says Dean used to be a monster, but now he’s prey, and Cole’s the monster. There’s also a story involving Cole’s own brother and a broken arm, which makes me wonder if perhaps Dean was responsible for something bad happening to Cole’s sibling. Cole tries to use Sam as bait, but although Dean promises he will find Cole and kill him, he refuses to be lured, claiming indifference when Cole threatens to slit Sam’s throat.
So here we go again. I quite liked the episode. It had some good moments, and I like the dynamic with Sam driven to find his brother and heartbroken that Dean’s currently incapable of returning his feelings. It seems like a mirror of the Soulless Sam arc, and I love that Sam is being given chance to make amends for not searching when Dean was in Purgatory. I’m not enthralled by the angel storyline. I love Cas and I mourn the days of Zachariah and Uriel, when angels were powerful and integral to the plot. I am not a fan of the angelic wars as a separate, secondary storyline. It’s just a bit stagnant and dull at this point. But overall, a promising start to the season.