Kripke, you magnificent bastard.
The long, painful summer is finally over, and in compensation for our agony our reward is a pure gem. Eric Kripke does love us. Sure, Dean getting out of Hell is a forgone conclusion, but in coming up with a plausible explanation, the opportunity is seized to veer this show in drastic new territory, opening up a world of possibilities. We have a whole new show, and it’s awesome.
The script for “Lazarus Rising” is sheer perfection. Every little element transitions seamlessly, a remarkable juggling act considering what’s packed into this episode. On top of the flawless construction, the storytelling is vastly superior and the pacing extraordinary from the word go. Couple this with “No Rest For The Wicked”, and Eric Kripke the writer has risen to master of his craft. Not that the acting, directing, set decoration, visual and special effects, etc. are shabby. Every single part comes together for full circle brilliance.
I’m going to try a new format this season, one that worked well with my analysis of “A Very Supernatural Christmas”; detailed recaps broken into two part segments. Granted, an episode might come along that won’t warrant such scrutiny, but not that’s not the case with this one. Kripke and company gave us plenty to ponder.
Season premiere, and by now we know the drill. Kripke’s the writer, Kim Manners is the director, and there’s a new season opening montage summarizing the previous great season. While AC/DC is an obvious choice, I wasn’t expecting “You Shook Me All Night Long”. It worked though, and we get a rocking start to the season. My favorite is last year’s “Hells Bells”, which set the proper ominous tone, but I’m not going to quibble over one minute of music. This episode is light years better than “The Magnificent Seven”.
Red is this season’s color of contrast, adding a perfect gotcha to any scene. Just look at Dean’s red eyes. Bloodshot, shifting wildly in the middle his red and black face, with loads of screaming and quick bright light flashes. That’s an attention grabber! There’s a deep gasp in the pitch black. We hang there for a second holding our breaths, because the creative team has chosen to break out the mind tricks only a few seconds in. Dean manages to find the lighter in his pocket, and we’re thankful for Sam’s attention to detail. Everyone waking up six feet under should have one. Dean cries for help in raspy and barely audible voice, proving that Kripke pictured the potential fan debate over how his voice could work so well after four months. Way to dodge that bullet.
Dean moves the top board of the pine box, dirt falls on him and lights out. Yikes! Watching his struggle out of that hole in the ground is chilling, and just plain freaky. On top of the incredible acting, the camera work in this scene is outstanding. First we see an unmarked grave marker from the view of ground (A cross? For an Atheist?), then hands popping through the grass, then the rest of Dean following, gasping for air and struggling as the point of view switches between the ground and up above to capture every painful detail of his emergence. The camera goes eye level with Dean when he stands, then circles to capture every detail of his confusion. Here’s the big money shot, as the camera pulls away to show the overhead view, the elongated shadow of the cross right next to the elongated shadow of Dean. Hmm, divine intervention perhaps? The shot rises further to reveal the surrounding trees toppled in a circle around the grave site. If anything, that delivers the message coming back from the dead is not normal. Bravo Mr. Manners!
On comes the new intro, setting the new tone for the season. Birds of the apocalypse, and the Supernatural logo in red. I like it, but then again, I’m ready for Sam and Dean’s take on the end of the world. They’ve been sending us hints for 60 episodes now. Bring it on.
Dean walks to an old gas station in the middle of nowhere, and its time for another round of guess that classic car. Here’s one of the reasons why this script is superior, it capitalizes on Jensen’s strengths. There’s a no dialogue scene focusing on Dean’s changing facial expressions as he tries to make sense of what’s happening. This scene alone should be enough for Jensen’s Emmy reel. Water, food, porn mag, flashes of his death, and a perfectly restored chest in the mirror. Yeah, I felt the collective thud too. The tattoo survived, so thank heavens for that. There’s also freshly burned handprint on his shoulder. Notice the bloody knuckles? Make note, for we see that again later. The TV comes on, then the radio, then a loud deafening noise, then glass exploding, forcing Dean to take cover. Not quite a welcome home parade, huh Dean?
What in the world did Dean expect, trying to call Sam and Bobby? Did he really think they were going to believe over the phone that he’s alive? Social courtesy alone reserves that bombshell for a personal visit. Anyone guess the car yet? It’s a 1962 Mercury Monterey. I grew up in a Ford family and I had to look that one up.
Dean hotwires the car and goes straight to Bobby’s, and this is where Kim Manner’s gift for capturing the perfect expressions comes in handy. The scene starts a doorknob level, and a hand opening the door. The camera angles up to Dean before moving in for a close up of his face. By doing such a detailed shot, we get a nice long look at what’s going through Dean’s mind as he sees Bobby. His reaction changes from a standard “I’m here” to relief and happiness over seeing Bobby’s okay. “Surprise.” Leave it up to Dean to have the right words for every occasion! Cut to Bobby’s reaction, who’s freaked out of his mind. Fantastic! These two could do a whole episode with nothing but bouncing looks off of each other.