"I have to say, I think this is my best torture yet."nbsp; Me thinks that's Sera Gamble's subtle little way of saying she's having a ton of fun messing with us. 
Another season premiere is among us and I have to say, this is a damned good one.  No doubt about it, "Meet The New Boss" is a drastic improvement over last season's opener "Exile on Main Street."nbsp; An opener is supposed to setup the tone of the new season, and season seven is looking way up.  Everything picked up right where we left off last season, just as the preview clip showed us.  I gotta tell you though, this scene looks way better on my 50" flat screen in full HD.  
Personally, I both loved and hated "Meet The New Boss."nbsp; How so?  I loved watching it and was engrossed from beginning to end.   What did I hate?  The end.  No, I wasn't unhappy with how the episode ended.  I'm not happy that it ended.  Where did Sam disappear to?  What's going to happen to Cass?  I want to know now!  You're making me wait until next week?  No fair (let the tantrum commence)!  

Despite having to wait a few days, somehow I know, especially with an Edlund script coming next week, things are about to turn tragic.  The setup is there.  Sam is locked in his own mind being terrorized by Lucifer himself and Castiel has just either been annihilated or is suffering his own lock out at the hands of the Leviathan(s?).  As Dean so cleverly noted, they never catch a break.  
Fixing Things
Let's start with Dean, shall we?  Dean's apathy, while it's not always the Dean Winchester I like to see, makes perfect sense in this episode.  Think about it, he just lost Lisa and Ben, he resisted Castiel and now Sam is in a huge mess because of it.  Plus Castiel won anyway and his efforts were pointless.  His baby was even damaged.  Fixing the car is the only thing he can do.  Along the way, he'll try and fix Sam too.   He's got his hobbies too, like drinking whiskey and watching Asian cartoon porn (which I thought was both hilarious and disturbing). 

Dean can't take many more blows himself right now.  Bobby knows something is wrong with Sam and picks the right time to raise the issue with Dean, over a beer while he's fixing the Impala.  As he told Bobby in the garage, Dean wants to believe that Sam is alright, but he knows better.  He so wants this one thing to be true.  "But I'm not dumb.  I'm not getting my hopes up just to get kicked in the daddy pills again."nbsp; So, it's not too surprising that Dean's reaction to the truth about Sam's hallucinations from Death results in mini meltdown of apathy.  That's the way he handles betrayal, whether it be from Sam or Cass.  

Any reasonable fan knows that Dean's not going to stay this way.  Plus, did he do an impressive job rebuilding the Impala or what?  The fact is, when Sam gave him a little push Dean went along.  He came up with the idea to bind Death.  He went along so that Castiel could return the souls to Purgatory.  He's not totally gone.  He'll get his mojo back in time.  
Crazy crap climbing those walls
Poor Sam.  He knows something is wrong.  He's got to try and hide it though, for wants it all to be okay just for Dean.  He knows Dean has had a lot of crap going his way recently and wanted to give him that one thing.  He didn't want his brother worrying about something he can't control.  I wasn't sure if Sam was telling himself or Dean that he can control the hallucinations, but he believes he can tell what's real and what isn't.  Unfortunately for Sam, he's about to learn that's just not enough. Those seconds while he was hanging from the ceiling with a chain tightly wrapped around his neck were still terrifying, control or not.  He didn't take Lucifer's presence too well either.  

I'm with Bobby, how is Sam even vertical?  I think his devotion to his brother had a lot to do with it.  He fared far better than I thought he would, but judging by next week's preview, it's going downhill fast.  So what about Sam's hallucination with Lucifer?  I know I'm not the only fan that smiled at the possibility that Sam is still in the cage, thus erasing either half or all of season six.  We know that's not going to happen though.  
Why is Sam unable to snap out of this horror?  Is this haunting from Lucifer really something he planted, plotting to trap him in his mind should be be freed, or is this Sam's traumatized mind reliving a terror he's never been able to deal with?  I'm fascinated over how he can beat this.  It likely involves Dean.  Or does it?  Will this be one of those times again where Dean can only helplessly watch as his brother falls apart?  Does this become a test for both the brothers?  Yeah, yeah, stay tuned.  
Trenchcoat on a tortilla
Oh Castiel.  Having seen the episode, I can only think of Dean's later comment, lamenting over the possibility that Castiel is dead.  "Cass, you child.  Why didn't you listen to me?" Castiel has always had a certain naivety but has learned all his humanity lessons from the Winchesters.  Self sacrifice is the way to go, right?  He originally went for purgatory and the plan to absorb the souls with honorable intention.  He's also learned stubborn pride from Dean too, for when other options were presented, he wouldn't back down.   
I find it quite humorous that Castiel was a liberal slanting God.  I suspect that's the Hollywood writers pushing some agendas, but I didn't mind.  Smiting radical reverends, disbanding the Ku Klux Klan, healing leper colonies and blind people, taking out a convention full of new age motivational speakers and going after righteous politicians.  Of course it had to backfire.  Do you not watch this show?  Fun doesn't last for long. 

Not only does Castiel's vessel being to rot (Lucifer anyone?) but the special effects guys get to live out their wildest fantasies when showing creatures living inside this wayward angel.  One stomach shot in the bathroom and it's almost Alien all over again.  It's pretty fun to see Misha do that scene.  He's so getting asked at the next fan convention what filming that scene was like.  I'm sure he won't give a straight answer either. 

Why wouldn't it make sense that Sam was the one to get through to Castiel?  I've read the complaints and I don't understand.  Dean and Castiel, profound friendship or not, are two stubborn beings.  Neither was about to back down.  It's not their style.  Bringing Death into their little quarrel didn't help matters.  Death, mostly through technicality, got in the way of them killing each other but they would have out of principle.  The cold stares of betrayal at each other in the library, it was clear neither was giving in.  Afterward Dean was stinging so bad he decided doing nothing and watching the world end was better, even if there was a solution in place for them.  
When Dean has these lapses though, Sam steps in.  The vice versa happens all the time as well.  In this case, Sam doesn't let stubborn pride or vendettas get in the way. He's the one that should be the angriest considering what Castiel did to him.  Sam has learned from his mistakes though, like going off with Ruby half cocked when he heard Dean's fake message.  Castiel deserves another chance.  He can't give up on Castiel the way Dean didn't give up on him.  

Remember, this is a show that thrusts flawed humans into heroic and impossible circumstances.  They don't always act the best, but that's why Sam and Dean must be there for each other.  They cover each other's flaws and mistakes.  It really doesn't matter if either Sam or Dean get through to Castiel.  What matters is one of them did and the proper thing was done.  
Dean did eventually come around though.  During that minute or so when he and Bobby believe Castiel is dead, Dean's pretty broken up about it.  He does care, which proves his form of retreat is just a defense mechanism.  Of course I also smiled when Castiel came back, for both Dean and Bobby were happily relieved.  You see, Castiel was redeemable.  Oh yes, that was short lived too.  We got a whole minute of redeemed Cass.  I guess that's better than nothing.  

I have one extreme comfort when it comes to Death.  This guy will never die.  I can for once squeal with glee over his perfect appearances and love his character without consequence of watching him meet his demise in some awful way.  You can't kill Death.  Once again, Julian Richings is perfect, and the scenes with Death are my favorite of the episode.  It helps that the grim reaper is so damned snarky!  He may be bound, but he's the one in control.  He intimidates Dean to the point that even when Dean is in control, he feels he has to placate Death with greasy food and a ton of respect.  I absolutely love the delivery of Dean's line, "Because we said so and we're the boss of you.  Respectfully."nbsp; Bobby's "Your honor" is funny too.  He's not a judge, he's Death!  

Slow Ride?
I really only have one nitpick.  The first "The Road So Far" usually has been a conversation piece.  It's part of our pre-season anticipation, what song will they use this year?  My favorite by far is still season three's "Hell's Bells."nbsp; I even loved last year's "Beautiful Loser" from Bob Seger (which turned out to be the biggest highlight of that episode).  This year, Foghat?  Is that all they could afford?  A Guitar Hero standard?  It's called "Slow Ride" for a reason.  Still, for one minute of a well put together montage of events, I'll drop the quibble on the song choice.  How nice would a musical montage of Castiel smiting the hypocrites have been?  Ah yes, budget.  
On the flip side though, there's always a song with Crowley is around, and this time it's quite funny.  Instead of his usual smooth and soulful classic R&B it's Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walking?"nbsp; Bwah!  It compliments nicely his new digs in a rundown RV in Tennessee somewhere.  He's definitely not living up to his usual means.  Not a tailor to be found anywhere.  At least he still has his favorite brand in whiskey.  

Speaking of Crowley, it's pretty cool he got Hell back, even if the plan was to downsize.  He's not about to turn down any opportunity that restores him to power.  Of course playing ball with the Winchesters means he gets more power and defeats Castiel, so it's clear this season Crowley will continue his rendition of "Let's Make a Deal."nbsp; I love it.  
Other Notes
Do you think that there's relevance to Sam falling and cutting his hand on broken glass in the opening scene?  Perhaps a symbol of season six, when the opener was shattered glass?  Sam is the one that's shattered?  The new theme is blood, and Sam happened to have bled on the floor there too.  Seems strange that would be just a happy accident.   
Did anyone notice how much longer Dean's hair was?  Will I have to start doing Dean hair reports soon?  Sam's by the way, always ideal when the boy is in despair.  
In going through "Meet The Boss" multiple times for the screenshots and this review, I couldn't help but notice that how incredible the direction and camera work is in this episode.  Phil Sgriccia gave us plenty of eye candy and I think this is some of his finest work.  One of my favorite camera shots is him starting with Dean in the Impala upside down, and the turning the camera a full 180 up.  The wide shots too were incredible framing and really enhanced the story.  I'm tempted to do a full recap on this episode just so I can highlight the great direction in these scenes.    

I also have major kudos again to Serge Ladoucer, especially with the lighting.  The standout for me is Sam's hallucination in the basement.  The light trickling through the window is just perfect enough to show Sam's distressed face, especially when everything went to red lights and then back to white.  

This is also the best script from Sera Gamble in a long time.  So many clever lines, an ideal pace that never wavered, and a flow that was seamless from one scene to the next.  The plotting was perfect, something that was a weakness often in season six.  
Here is just a few of those great lines:
Dean:  What about God part Deux?  
Bobby:  I got all kinds of feelers out, so far diddly. 
Dean:  What exactly are you looking for?
Bobby:  Exactly, what?  Miracles, mass visions, trenchcoat on a tortilla, I don't know what I'm looking for.  
Crowley:  I gather this is not a negotiation.
Castiel:  No.
Crowley:  Then I graciously accept, boss.  
Dean:  I just pray to God it's true.
Bobby:  We need to come up with a new saying for that.  
Sam:  What new boss?
Crowley:  Castiel you giraffe. 
Crowley:  What do you think he's going to do when he finds out we've been conspiring?  You did want to conspire, right?
Bobby:  No, we want you to sit there and look pretty.
Crowley:  Listening.  
Dean:  Who feels like hogtying Death tonight?
Bobby:  Old age is overrated anyhow.   
Death:  This is about Sam's hallucinations I assume.  Sorry Sam, one wall per customer.  
Death:  Please Cas.  I know God and you sir are no God.  (An obvious take on the 1988 Vice Presidential debate).   
Sam:  You have to care a little bit about what happens to us.
Death:  You know, I really don't, but I do find that little angel rather arrogant.
Dean:  Great, let's go with that. 
Death:  Try to bind me again, you'll die before you start.  Nice pickle chips by the way.  
Death (after Castiel removes his binds):  Thank you.  Shall we kickbox now? 
Sam (sees Dean drinking whiskey):  You want some coffee with that?
Dean:  No, it's 6pm somewhere.  
Lucifer:  Hi Sam, long time no spooning.  
Overall my grade is an A.  Part of me really wishes this was last season's closer.  The mannequin episode could have been deep sixed.  However, I'll rave about it as an opener instead of a closer.  Next week's promises to be a huge angst fest.  It's Edlund, do you expect anything less?  
I close here with a line actually from one of my favorite Depeche Mode songs.  It so fits poor Sam and Castiel and their current struggles.  It's certainly something to keep in mind as their stories continue to unfold:
Angels with silver wings
Shouldn't know suffering
I wish I could take the pain for You
If God has a master plan
That only He understands
I hope it's Your eyes He's seeing through
Things get damaged
Things get broken
I thought we'd manage
But words left unspoken
Left us so brittle
There was so little left to give