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Welcome back, Supernatural and hello to the newly refreshed, reinvigorated and totally rejuvenated season nine! Where last year was a journey of discovering just what sacrifice was too great and how far was too far, about blurring the lines of good and evil, right and wrong beyond what we thought even the Supernatural world could do; this season promises an entirely new realm of possibilities.


The Road So Far

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It has certainly been many’a’long months since we first watched those angels falls from the heavens and crash land to Earth amid Sam and Dean trying to overcome the trials-induced sickness/deathly pain. But as it never fails to do, listening to Who Do You Love? by George Thorogood and the Destroyers and watching the awesomeness that was season eight recapped in the Road So Far segment had me geared up and raring to go. How exactly do we move forward with all these storyline precipices now?

I would be remiss if I didn’t take just a second to mention the new title card – it is outstanding. In fact, that word doesn’t do it justice. The seared angel wings and Hell fire give me chills and on that title card alone, this season has some serious promise.
 
“[W]e hugged it out in that church and now we’re gonna go to Disneyland?”

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This episode was anything but a Disney ride – though it resembled a rollercoaster of sorts. It was a sigh of relief to see somewhat healthy Sam Winchester, rather than the gaunt, ailing figure from the final days of last year’s episodes. While not the first time Supernatural has ventured inside someone’s head to explore the inner turmoil, this time was unique unto itself.

Sam represented himself, but elected to have dream!Dean as not only the fighter in this scenario, but the driver. Now, yes this mirrors his real life well enough: the open road, the Impala, Dean driving, Sam narrating the supernatural happenings in surrounding world. In this case however, even dream!Dean pointed out his position in the front seat – so in this case, it feels significant that Dean’s face was the driving force pushing Sam to fight to live and ultimately, was the face that convinced him to live at the end as well. After all, if there is any one person on the planet that Sam will chose to live, fight or die for – it’s his brother.

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And then of course there is Bobby, the always welcome and wonderful Jim Beaver. Bobby has forever been a safe paternal figure for both boys, and his auto shop represented a resting place that was always there to recuperate and rejuvenate, regardless of life circumstances. Plus, Bobby is the life advice, wise overseer. In this circumstance, he still filled that role. Sam was much more easily persuaded to follow Bobby toward the cabin in the woods, toward eternal rest and peace and beer with an old buddy.

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The coma world was two starkly contrasting paradigms. The dark, tilting world of the Impala – ever moving, ever chasing toward something and the warm, serene forestry that Bobby presented – calm, still and finally a place at rest. One has to take a moment to acknowledge the camera work and set design here, because as always Supernatural did a truly exceptional job subtly creating the sentiment and marketing that were both of Sam’s choices.

Bobby and Dean were well matched to their roles in Sam’s internal debate, representing his waning desire to continue fighting, his exhaustion with an endless, ongoing battle and Sam’s growing desire to finally, fully and completely rest. One of the most heartbreaking moments in this episode was Sam’s question to Death (played once again by the impeccably cast Julian Richings):

Can you promise that this time it will be final? That if I’m dead, I stay dead? Nobody can reverse it, nobody can Deal it away; and nobody else can get hurt because of me?

The sincerity, the exhaustion and the desire for this to, please, be it, please – truly beautiful moment and such affecting acting.

“This one goes out to any angel with their ears on…this is Dean Winchester and I need your help.”

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Dean Winchester, in a hospital, over his dying brother, near a chapel. Well, if this doesn’t spell capital-T trouble, I just don’t know what does. Rage, grief, exhaustion and fear all rolled together here to create the tense, edgy, desperate ball of a human that is Dean Winchester and pushes him to snarl at the doctors and foolishly send open letters with his location to murderous angels – and as always when Dean is panicking for his brother he is both heartbreaking and awesome to watch.

Initially, when the doctor suggested Sam’s fate was up to God I thought security might have to be called to save the doctor. Following that visceral and unrestrained exchange on his true opinion about God, Dean’s prayer to Cas was touching – particularly the tears – alas, it was wholly useless. The open-call angel prayer was unexpected and I have to admit, I’m a little surprised to find there weren’t more angels closer to Dean. But, the angels have had a big week, so I guess I can let that slide.

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Let’s talk Ezekiel. Despite anything Castiel says and any actions to the contrary thus far – I am wholly suspicious of this character. For starters – the actor was just a touch breathy in his delivery for my liking throughout the episode. Aside from that, but like Castiel’s treacherous friend, perhaps Ezekiel is just in need of a new vessel and the time is suitable and convenient to jump into a Winchester. The was something wholly impure about the way in which he garnered Sam’s permission to possess and the way he manipulated Dean throughout the episode leading finally to the possession route. Ezekiel will prove trouble, no doubt about it.

Speaking of possession, it was surprising in some respects to see Dean elect to have Sam possessed to save him, even after witnessing his conversation with Death. Sam is tired and ready to go – Dean has been there himself. Equally surprising was the decision to keep the secret from Sam. It’s one thing to have him say yes, I suppose, through a veiled appearance, but once he is awake and the situation can be fully comprehended, it might be time to have him make his own decisions. This is another one of those Winchester “for your own good” choices that will bite everyone in the ass.


“I would fly, but I have no wings, not anymore.”

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Ah, Castiel the human. So many fantastic things. As always, Misha Collins is unmatched in the straight delivery of Cas’ absurd lines while the other characters stare dumbfounded and, in the case of one helpful but wary driver, back away. This episode was an excellent illustration of what the season holds for Castiel: he has no angel powers (beyond hearing the angels), his completely naïve to what it means to participate as a human being in a human world and his trusting, compassionate nature makes him extremely vulnerable. That said, Castiel is a survivor. Though inexperienced, Cas is adaptable – as one angel learned by failing to use her seatbelt. Remember kids, wings or not, always buckle up.

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Ultimately, the greatest moment with Castiel was the silent exchange in the laundry mat. Covered in blood, strips naked and loads the machine – but wait, wash the trench or have water? Screw it, steal clean clothes and have the water. So good! Finally have a chance to put Cas in something different. There are some promising moments ahead with this Human-Castiel.

Final Thoughts

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This episode had a raw, old school Supernatural quality about it. There was more fighting and doing and less theology and grand plan, which, while certainly makes for an excellent show too, the nit and grit is nice for a change too. Although we see that Ezekiel possessed Sam and is dormant, to Sam’s unawareness, and we know the boys have Crowley and the angels are after Cas, there is still know grand season map laid out or hinted at thus far, beyond perhaps the angel mess which is largely generalized at this point. Overall it was a great episode that nicely swept up the scattered pieces from last season’s finale and addressed the critical bits but without too neat a bow to leave us no road to go down.

Next week is shaping up nicely too, by all accounts and promos. Boys, it sure is good to have you back!