Me: Dean, you come across to me as a glass-half empty kind of guy.
Dean: Oh yeah, why don’t you glass-half-empty this!
(Scene of unmistakable violence and carnage ensues).
The final season premiere is in the books. It…wasn’t bad. Honestly, I thought the first half of the episode was far better than the second. I could have lived without cranky Dean or the cut rate horror or the return of Samsel in Distress, but it had it’s strengths and introduced some real possibilities. The best part by far was the new demon possessing Jack’s body. Phenomenal! He’s Crowley Jr. and I want more.
I wish I could say the whole episode got off to a smashing start, but it didn’t. For the record, I love Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s “The Famous Final Scene.” I grew up in the Detroit area (Bob Seger’s home area) and a local DJ there loved to play it when he could. I would sing along in the car so loud that…I’m glad no one else had to hear it. :) The WFB even campaigned a bit to get it used on “Supernatural” and finally succeeded with season nine’s “Road Trip.” Having said that, I hated how it was used in the beginning of this episode. It’s such a slow, sweeping ballad and not the sort of thing that comes to mind when chronicling a life or death fight with ghost zombies. They should have stuck with Motorhead. The episode got better when that was all over, sort of.
It’s no secret that the ghost stories have been pretty lame for a while, and “Back and to the Future” was a blatant reminder. This episode had a few shoutouts to the Pilot thanks the re-emergence of the Woman in White and the awesome “We’ve got work to do,” parallel at the end. As a fun exercise, immediately after watching “Back and to the Future,” I dusted off the season one DVD set and watched the Pilot. I’m sure most of you agree there are some very stark contrasts and not in good ways. The biggest difference is tone. The Woman in White was creepy as hell in the Pilot. Here, not so much. She showed up this episode in a town square in broad daylight, looking pretty clean with her nice makeup and perfect dress of white. The woman in white in the Pilot had the tattered dress, dark circles on her face, and tortured demeanor telling her entire tragic story with one gaze. The ghost lurking in the darkness of night, preying upon single cars in the middle of nowhere, the eerie score, the haunting pacing, the dimly shot scenes - it was horror at its finest. Here, it’s just camp. They aren’t even trying.
But that’s been the problem with most of the ghost stories for a while now. Somewhere down the line, that attention to detail disappeared and instead of a terrifying serial killer, we end up with some guy in a grotty clown suit with a knife. It’s not creepy, it’s cheesy. Seeing all the ghosts walking down the perfectly lit suburban street in a row groaning just didn’t do it for me. It was too polished and looked more like a Halloween production at a park. I never felt the threat or the knots in my stomach as I did watching the Pilot when the Woman in White attacked Sam in the Impala and he “took her home.” Which by the way, this Woman in White said Dean took her home? Um, no. Bad continuity, bad!
But hey, I’m only rehashing an issue that has existed for a long time now, so I’ll move on. Let’s get to what we learned from this episode. There are two major talking points as far as I’m concerned that are worth exploring. The introduction of Belphegor and whatever was revealed when Castiel touched Sam’s God wound.
One wiki search of Belphegor revealed this: In demonology, Belphegor (or Beelphegor, Hebrew: בַּעַל-פְּעוֹר baʿal-pə[ġ]ʿōr - Lord of the Gap) is a demon, and one of the seven princes of Hell, who helps people make discoveries. He seduces people by suggesting to them ingenious inventions that will make them rich.
Bishop and witch-hunter Peter Binsfeld believed that Belphegor tempts by means of laziness. Also, according to Peter Binsfeld's Binsfeld's Classification of Demons, Belphegor is the chief demon of the deadly sin known as Sloth in Christian tradition.
Okay, so is any of that relevant in the Belphegor we saw? All evidence points to no right now. It does confirm that he’s important enough to make Binsfeld’s Classification of Demons though, so his story that he’s been around a while adds up. His knowledge of spells too confirms he’s probably higher up the demon food chain. Like most everyone, I’m not buying the story that he surfaced to get all the souls put back so he can go back to torturing. I don’t buy the “clock puncher” line at all. It’s another “friend or foe” scenario that we have seen before, such as with Ruby and Crowley. He’s trying to earn trust for a reason.
Is it wrong of me to love that Alex Calvert gets to play this demon? The performance is so good. It seems easy and natural and I love that it’s a smart, wise cracking demon, not the paint by number Hell caricatures we’ve gotten for other baddies like Colonel Sanders (see, I can’t even remember his name). I hope the awesome writing continues and he’s as good in future episodes as he was in this one. Plus, it will make it easy for Jack to return to his body somewhere down the road. I also loved the continuity that Castiel can see the demon’s real face. It’s stunning how often they forget that. It was torture for him to see that demon in essentially what was his “son” and no wonder it bothered him. Either that or do you think he’s had past encounters with Belphegor?
Sam and the God Wound
Let’s move on to the other intriguing part, Castiel touching Sam’s wound in the garage. Everyone seems to think that Sam had the vision and not Castiel. I got the impression it’s Castiel saw it and he wanted to tell Dean about it, before Dean in full on dick mode shut him down. I’ll have to rewatch. Or perhaps they both saw it. We do know that the wound was created by “The Equalizer,” aka the God Gun. For refreshers, in “Moriah” this was the scant explanation of what it was:
Chuck: Right, it doesn't exactly use bullets. See, existence is all about balance, right? Dark and light, good and evil, chocolate and peanut butter.
Sam: Ugh, yeah, okay, Chuck. The point, please?
Chuck: Right. So, this doesn't so much fire bullets as it sends a wave of multi-dimensional energy across a perfectly balanced quantum link between whoever's shooting it and whoever they're shooting at.
Chuck: Uh, whatever happens to the person you're aiming at also happens to you.
So what does “wave of multi-dimensional energy across a perfectly balance quantum link” mean? I believe it’s a clever word play for transference of energy. It sounds like to me whoever gets zapped gets stung with a nice ball of cosmic energy that goes beyond comprehension. It’s balanced too, so that represents all sides of a spectrum, good and evil. We know that God is multi-faceted. He can be good, but he also can incur wrath. So, is that essentially what is happening to Sam? To dive further into explanations would mean I would have to study multi-dimensional theory texts in deep detail and I honesty don’t have that kind of time. I don’t think Dabb does either so he’s likely playing with us and plans to go with the easiest route possible.
The key is the final sentence. “Whatever happens to the person you’re aiming at also happens to you. Bottom line, Sam has likely been jolted with the same sort of power that Chuck has. They’re connected now some weird way. It’s possible that if God has gone rogue, Sam could as well. Or, is it that Sam can see himself among alternate universes, watching a show like God does? Or, is it that the multiple dimensions will collapse into one, pulling our dear Samuel in all sorts of complicated directions? Or has Sam’s demon blood been activated again and like the worry in season two, will he go dark side? Will the prophecy happen once and for all, will Dean have to kill Sam?
How about this pitch? It’s Hell on earth, right? Who do we know has dormant demon blood in his veins? At least we think. The whole purification thing from “The Great Escapist” either didn’t happen or just made the demon blood dormant. It was never fully explained. Perhaps now the blast from God has woken it up again? So in theory, Sam could become that demon General that he was always meant to be. It could be exactly why Belphegor has come top side, to guide Sam to his rightful destiny. After all, that’s how “Supernatural” all began, so maybe this is how it will end? Of course none of this could come to be and it’s just a setup for a one time bender by Sam in either this universe or another one. I’m betting on the simplest explanation, whatever that may be.
The ending raises another good question. Is it rats in a maze or Sam’s optimism that Chuck will be gone forever? I’ve had a summer to absorb the idea that this is the route TPTB have chosen and I cannot believe that Chuck would go away forever voluntarily. Did he abandon those other worlds to the point where he could never go back? He can always go back. This is the thing I still have trouble reconciling. How can you rid God from the universe and not have bad s*** happen? We learned God could be reaped in season five from Death and Michael in last season’s “Nihilism” said God can die. It could be that the only way to take Chuck out though is for Sam to take himself out. But from what we learned in season eleven, that would take out the light, leaving only the dark (Amara). The world needs both. Yeah, I’m not sure where this is going. So I’ll conclude they have been rats in a maze, but they’ve still helped people so it hasn’t been a waste. They’re both right in a way.
Other Stray Thoughts
Am I to assume that they would go back after the end to dispose of the ghosts, leaving the real FBI to find the dead bodies before they left town? Or were they giving themselves a day or two to figure out how to get rid of the ghosts? Or were they just going to leave them there and skedaddle? Was there something in the plan I missed? The spell was pretty cool, but I’m still not exactly sure the point of it. It all seemed messy and incomplete to me.
Dean: What? Okay. When are you gonna get out of that body?
Belphegor: Eh, when I find another one. I mean, I would've jumped at the cemetery, but all those meat suits were a little too, uh, you know, wormy.
Line that generated the greatest “this is important for later” thought:
Belphegor: You ever seen an ant hill when it's, like, set on fire? Okay, well, there we were, minding our own business, you know, flaying people for eternity, like you do, right? And then every door in Hell just sprang open all at once. You know? Souls got out. Sky cracked. And, uh, boom, ta-da, you know?
Dean: Wait. Every door? Even the Cage?
Belphegor: Yeah, even the Cage.
Dean: And Michael?
Belphegor: Well, last I heard, he was just sittin' there. Yeah, but if he got out, I mean... Ugh. I mean... he wouldn't hold a grudge, right?
I’m telling ya, I really love this demon! No grudge my ass!
I was really excited to see parts of the episode was filmed in Ladner Village in Delta, British Columbia. I’ve visited it a few times before while location touring. Some of the more notable episodes to film there were “Dead in the Water,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “In The Beginning,” “Slash Fiction,”, and “Unforgiven” (that’s all I remember off the top of my head, I’m sure there is more). BTW, filming of this episode did cause a little controversy.
Here’s another fun tidbit I found, “Supernatural” has made a huge impact economically in Vancouver:
The latest data available from the Motion Picture Association of Canada shows production of the series’ first 10 seasons contributed more than $509 million into the B.C. economy, while supporting over 9,600 full time equivalent jobs.
Season 10 alone saw production engage more than 1,000 vendors across the province, while generating over $8 for every dollar spent. Gill said the show has played a large role in boosting B.C. into the top four production centres in North America.
Other than those think-y thoughts, there’s not much else to say. The episode did its part. It kicked off the season and set the ball rolling for things to come. That’s the best we can hope for. 19 more to go for all this to play out. Overall grade, a B-.
Read more of Alice's insights on Supernatural! Reviews on every episode of the series are on Alice's Writer's Page and in WFB's Episode Guides!