After a long wait, the boys from Supernatural are back in town. With a new producer, this first episode gives hope that the show is heading back into the good old days. Season seven left me feeling that the show had lost what made it good in the first place. While there were some really good episodes, it floundered for more than one reason. The main problem I found was how separate the boys were from the things they were hunting. The Leviathans were too big and nasty for the boys to really engage with on a personal level. And Eve’s storyline never came to the fore except for one episode. With Crowley back there is hope that he will be right there in the boys’ faces with all his evil intent. After all, who knows the boys’ strengths and weaknesses better than Crowley, having worked both with and against them in previous seasons.
The newest episode, “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” is reminiscent of earlier seasons. It brings the feel of season one with its treatment of the brothers’ relationship and the dynamics of how they view life and hunting. Dean has always seen himself as a hunter above all else. For Dean there is nothing more important than the family business. In season six he lost his edge, and the sense of melancholy that he carried changed they way the boys interacted, and, in my opinion, not in a good way.
In this episode however, from the moment Dean appears you can feel his barely restrained edginess. Jensen Ackles‘ performance is riveting. It reminds me of season four’s episode “Lazarus Rising” and later his brooding performance in season seven’s episode “Death’s Door.” Much of Dean’s tension is thrown at Sam when Dean discovers his brother has given up hunting for the year they have been apart.
Sam has never completely let hunting envelope him. Even in last few seasons where he came to terms with the life and the destiny that is his, Sam has always slipped between hunting and regular life with much more ease than Dean. It will be interesting to see how the boys come to terms with each other after their vastly different experiences during the last year.
One of the most noticeable changes, and a welcome one for me, is a return of the humorous banter that I found missing from season seven. This episode feels more like the first season where the writers let the boys have a bit of fun with each other while still emphasizing the brotherly bond.
Elsewhere, there are a lot of unanswered questions regarding Cas’s fate. In Dean’s flashbacks to Purgatory it’s obvious that he was searching for Cas in the beginning of his time there. So what happened? Dean is very reluctant to discuss it with Sam other than saying Cas didn’t make it. And what about Benny? The mysterious vampire, who offered to help Dean find the way out of Purgatory so long as he got a ticket out as well, doesn’t seem to be very welcome in Dean’s life now they are topside.
For his part, Kevin provides some nice moments. His reply to his girlfriend’s question of what is happening gave me my biggest chuckle. “There’s a demon in you and you’re going to your safety school.” Admit it, it’s funny. I can’t wait to see where they go with the whole ‘close the lid forever on Hell’ storyline.
Thankfully, this season Baby is back. While I understand the need for Baby to have been sidelined during season seven, she has become almost as integral to the series as the boys are. Baby is their home, not just their transport, but the place to lay their heads they never really had. Baby is to Dean what the Batmobile is to Batman — an extension of his persona.
I think this episode is a good start for the season. My only upset is with the Sam storyline. After obviously giving up hunting and trying to lead a normal life, why did he go back to the cabin in Montana around the time Dean got out of purgatory? Why did he leave the girl and the dog? That seems just a little too coincidental for me.
Hopefully as the season progresses we will see more of what the boys went through during the past year. I am also hopeful, from the direction this first episode takes, that we are back to the successful formula from the earlier seasons where each episode is a quest within the greater quest.
Article first published as TV Review: Supernatural – The Boys Are Back in Town. on Blogcritics.
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