The first draft of this article looked something like this:

Finally!! Longest. Hellatus. Ever. Speaking of long, look at Sam’s hair. Yay!! It’s back! Woohoo!! Dean still looks great all dirty and bloody. Yes! October is here!!

But since that’s not as much fun to read as I originally thought, I decided to do something similar to my season 7 finale review. It’s not my typical review format but it’s the best way I’ve found to organize my thoughts, worries and predictions. So here we go!

Sam flashbacks
So Sam spent a whole year living a normal, apple-pie life. He found a girl, adopted a dog and stunk up the Impala. I can’t quite decide how to feel about all that. On the one hand, I’m proud of him for living his life and finally realizing that the weight of the world doesn’t have to sit on a Winchester’s shoulders.  I can even get behind giving up hunting, it’s a terrible life at the best of times, but when you have to do it all alone? Bobby’s dying wish (sort of…he was already dead, I suppose) was that Sam and Dean would learn to just let go when it’s their time to leave this Earth. And maybe that’s what Sam way trying to do; just let go of it all. Let go of his past and let go of his brother. And that’s where my other, less understanding side comes in. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that Sam didn’t even attempt to look for Dean. I can’t believe he didn’t search high and low for answers. He had absolutely no idea where Dean was and he wasn’t even a little curious, or worried, for that matter?

It was obvious how much this hurt Dean. Sure, he got to live a normal life at one point, too, but he was haunted by the loss of Sam and spent months trying to figure out how to save him. It must have been quite a blow to realize that his brother didn’t even look for him.
So this leads me to my first of many questions: is there more to this than meets the eye? I’m hoping this isn’t simply serving as a wedge to drive between Sam and Dean. I hope we get to know a little more about Sam’s thought process so we can understand his decision. Do you think there is something more to Sam’s decision or do you think he finally got sick of the Winchester death cycle and decided to follow Bobby’s advice?

Dean Flashbacks
Dean had a very different kind of year. He spent it fighting and running for his life, and I think he kind of enjoyed it. Not that the whole experience was a picnic. He was scared, there’s no doubt about that. He was being hunted, after all.  Even once he got out of Purgatory he was on edge. But when he described it to Sam, it was almost like he appreciated the experience. The thing that struck me most about Dean’s description of Purgatory was that he called it “pure”. That got me wondering what he meant by that. What is purity to Dean Winchester? I would guess it’s a place where there is good and there is bad and you know what side you’re on. In Purgatory, Dean was surrounded by all the things that go bump in the night. And they were hunting him. That doesn’t leave much room for grey area; either kill or be killed. And we all remember Dean’s time in Hell; how he learned to torture souls and how he enjoyed it. Perhaps the simplicity of life in Purgatory is the purity to which Dean was referring?

Dean may have enjoyed his time in Purgatory in some way but he didn’t like it enough to stay. It didn’t take our new blood-sucking friend much time to convince Dean to escape. It’s clear that Benny was an ally for Dean toward the end of his time in Purgatory. So if we’re going along with my theory about Dean’s definition of purity, that would make Purgatory-Benny good. But once Dean brought Benny top-side, did he suddenly become a part of that dreaded grey area? Dean seemed to care about him; he hugged him, for goodness sake. So why hide him from Sam? Sam handles grey area like a pro.  Do you think Dean is hiding Benny from Sam out of shame for saving a monster? Or maybe it’s to keep Sam from knowing something else that Dean’s not proud of.

Our second-favorite prophet managed to keep himself alive for a whole year. Not too shabby. Unfortunately for him, he won’t be able to hide out anymore. Now that he holds the secrets to closing Hell forever, he’s in it for good. As far as Dean is concerned, that is. Kevin had to make a tough call leaving his girlfriend behind with Crowley. There was no way he would let her live. But can I just take a morbid minute to express how awesome the slow-mo-neck-snap was? Ok, moment over.

The Plan
Now that Kevin has the directions and the brawn (Sam and Dean) he can go about helping them close the gates of Hell forever. Not to mention banishing all the demons from Earth. Not a bad deal, right? Shockingly Sam was less on-board than I expected. I think most of his apprehension was that Kevin didn’t choose this for himself. He made this pretty clear with Dean.
Sam: “So free will’s just for you?”
But if every there was a job to get on-board with, this is the one! We’re talking ending suffering here. Ridding the world of evil and letting the door hit them on the way out. I understand and respect his concern for Kevin but there is too much to be gained from this.
We know there’s one demon that won’t like this plan at all. Crowley is not going to be happy when he finds out what Sam, Dean and Kevin are up to. And I look forward to all the impending doom that comes along with that. What can I say; I’m a glutton for punishment. But does this mean Crowley is essentially going to be this season’s big bad? That is not a complaint on my part, just a question. If this season is about closing Hell forever, it makes sense that the major opposition would come from the King of Hell. I just wonder who else might get involved. The angels? God? Death? Closing the gates of Hell no doubt screws with the natural order of things. Where would evil go when it dies? So many questions…
Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten our favorite, feathered friend. What happened to Castiel? We know he can’t be dead because Misha Collins is still a part of the show. But we do know that he didn’t make it out of Purgatory. Dean made it clear that something happened to his down there, but what? Last season he was not the Cas we knew and loved, he was a space-case and didn’t seem capable of protecting himself or anyone else for that matter. I’m curious to see how he’s changed and how he’ll find his way back to Earth.
So there you have it, all my thoughts, questions and concerns as we begin season eight. As usual I’d love to hear any and all of your thoughts about this episode and predictions for the rest of the season.

Here are some random thoughts and funny quotes that I can’t not mention. (Sorry for the double negative)
*Am I the only one who felt like they were taken back in time to Wendigo with Dean running around the tent like a crazy person?
*I have to know how Dean got Benny into his forearm. That is just strange.
*I want to know more about Sam’s lady-friend Amelia. He talked about it as if it was over. She seemed to know it was too judging by the look on her face when he left.
* That Brotherly hug gets me every time!
* Sam: “Nothing says family quite like the whole family being dead.”
* Dean:  “I was knee-deep in God’s armpit”
*Dean: “31 flavors of bottom-dwelling nasties.” (Always so eloquent.)
*Dean: “So, you’re looking for a soul train?”
*Dean: “Yeah, Asian kid, yea high, at a university. That should be easy.”
*Seeing Sam so broken up about the dog was so sweet. It also seemed like it could have been about a little more than the dog.
*Sam: “It’s a burger”
 Dean: “It’s a treasure”
*Dean’s bored face while Sam was talking through tracking down Kevin was so funny. It just kept getting better and better the more Sam talked.
Dean: “How many words of God are there?”
Kevin: “I just became a prophet like a year ago.”
*Crowley in Wisconsin among the goats is an image that will stick with me for a while.
* Crowley: “Where’s your angel?”
  Dean: “Ask your mother.”
  (Again with the eloquence)
Kevin: “There’s a demon in you and you’re going to your safety school. But it’s ok…”