Supernatural season four episode 1 spoilers are contained in the following post!
Yes, it’s finally here - squeeeeee time. Or rather, Thursday night (LA time) saw the first episode of season four of ‘Supernatural’: 'Lazarus Rising'. I can safely say I’ve not been this excited since Doctor Ten took over in ‘Doctor bloody Who’. So what went on, then?
First off - and this is very important to us - we get a quick recap of the last three seasons (or rather, the pertinent bits). Never ones to miss a cheeky poke at or simple revel in the show, this recap is set to AC/DC. They really have shaken us all night long - for three seasons so far. Can they manage it for another?
Looks that way. We start with an ‘Evil Dead’-like montage that had me cheering but also sets the scene for the major weirdness to follow. A lovely new credit card for the show name later, and purr wee resurrected Dean is looking for Isotonic Lucozade in all the wrong places. He does however stumble onto a newspaper that shows that, at time of being delivered to the now empty Quikimart, it was 18th September, 2008. Nice touch.
A quick check confirms that not only has he no scars or even marks from being ripped to shreds by Hellhounds, but someone's also left a dirty great handprint on his eminently
lickable likeable shoulder. (Now we know this must have been a bloke. Let’s face it, if I'd left a handprint on Dean Winchester, we all know it would not have been where you could see it in polite company.) No, no Hellhound claw marks there, Dean - and I was really looking.
He gets a Close Encounter of the Second Kind as the shop is raided by what sounds suspiciously like an amplified whine of electrical power. It stops without reason and he rapidly makes an attempt to find anyone that knows him. Sam's number disconnected, he manages to call Bobby and freak the poor guy out before hot-wiring what looks to be a 1961 Chevrolet Impala and making straight for him.
They meet up, but obviously Bobby's not just going to give him a big hug and let him mosey on back into everyone's lives after being dead for four months. Silver knives, holy water and desperate questions later and we're getting down to business. (Nice gag with Dean taking a bottle-ful of holy water in the face and simply working it through philosophically before spitting it out.) Dean postulates that missing Sammy was responsible for some deal to get him out of Hell, and Bobby reveals that He Of The Shaggy Hair has been Lone-Wolfing it for some time now. Dean uses Sam's typical alias of none other than Wedge Antiles (yay for sneaky Star Wars references!) to track down his phone.
Then comes the moment roughly 2.7 million fangirls and boys have been waiting for: The Boys meet back up. It's not exactly what you'd expect; not everyone is hip to what's really going on, and there's a million reasons why this meeting is really not going to go how either of them wanted. There's definitely something rotten in Denmark, and it ain't Dean's corpse. Sam appears to have picked up some girl whose name he can't even remember, her unmentionables left as a memento. Sam swears blind he hasn't made any deals to get Dean out - as no demon would deal with him, so it wasn't for lack of trying. He's been looking for Lilith and apparently tracking demons, which left him in exactly the same town as where Dean broke out of his pine box. Sam has also been jealously guarding Dean's amulet, handing it over to make this the second time he's given him the ugly semi-Zoroastrian dude. Dean confesses he can't remember Hell - or is that Lie Number One from the master of Stiff Upper Lippage?
A very funny Kodak moment comes in the form of Sam having added his iPod to the Impala's cassette deck. The sound of Jason Manns’ “Vision” comes flooding into the car and Dean is monumentally unimpressed. (But we are: Jason Manns is of course a close buddy of Jensen Ackles and they've sung together a few times.)
Bobby calls on old friend Pamela the Psychic and off they go to sneak a peek at this demon that appears to have yanked Dean out of The Pit. Another few giggles as both boys are hot to trot for the sassy lass (who gets my vote - she's ace!). Dean gets his handprinted arm out again (never a bad thing) and then a very bad thing does happen to poor Pamela as she tries to look at Dean's yanker/ganker. Curiously, while Dean again gets a Close Encounter of the Second Kind, no-one else appears to have heard the whining power keen or the white noise of the TV. Poor Pamela, eyes burnt out and screaming, is sent to hospital and they all call it a night.
Breakfast is short and sticky in a bad way for the Winchester boys as they stumble into a diner, only to find it staffed by demons. An amazing scene follows, whereby it transpires Jensen Ackles' acting skills are starting to far outstrip pretty much everyone else's on the show. Waitress Girl reveals she's a demon who wants answers as to why Dean's not still six feet under. Dean does a marvellous job of covering abject fear and gibbering at the thought of being peeled like a human banana by the lot of them, and instead goes on an impressive verbal offensive that even Sam seems to regard as somewhat Sherlock-esque.
An impressive exit later and Sam's ditching on Dean - yes, you read that right. As he rumbles into the night in the Impala (gasp!), Dean has another Close Encounter and decides enough is enough: if Bobby hadn't intervened, his ears would not have stopped bleeding until his brain turned to jelly and slid out of his ears. Dean does the only thing he can: persuade Bobby to help him summon the nasty stalker-presence trying to inflict Death By White Noise. And then we get Lie Number Two from Dean to Sam as he fails to come clean about said plan. This is not going to bode well. But wait, what's this? The nasty force after Dean is obviously one step ahead of The Boys, as Sam finds out. He commits Lie Number One against Dean, saying he's stepping out for a burger and neglecting to mention that he's planning on killing those pesky diner demons. While he's at it, he finds that the waitress has also looked upon the nasty mo-fo and her eyes are as burnt out as the poor psychic lass. We're not really feeling sorry for her (demon!), until Sam reveals Whopping Great Big Hyowj Lie Number One, bumping pretty much everything else to the Really Not Important Bin: he can use Jedi Mind Tricks to kill demons. Not send them anywhere, kill them. And how has he learnt to do this?
Turns out One Night Stand Girl from earlier is in fact Ruby in a new meat suit. While Sam is aggrieved he couldn't save the waitress' poor innocent possessed body while killing the demon in the diner, he's still too gung-ho to use his UnGod-given talent to kill demons - and is prevaricating about the bush in terms of how and when he’s going to tell Dean about his powers.
Meanwhile, Bobby and Dean have summoned The Nasty. It takes some time, but eventually it arrives. In comes a shabby accountant who admits to having gripped Dean tight and yanked him from Perdition, thus leaving what amounts to his Hancock on his impressive shoulder. Anyway, Shabby Accountant Dude's first act is to neutralise Bobby - cue a heart-stopping moment as I'm wishing and hoping he's not permanently damaged. Apparently, he's not.
And then comes the big shocker - one half of fandom wrote about and predicted, but never seriously thought would come: Castiel (a relation or corruption of Cassiel/Kafziel, perhaps?) states he's an angel of the Lord.
Dean does his usual bang-up job of making his doubt evident, and the angel duly shows off his bad-ass black wings. Turns out, while Dean thought he was being stalked and hunted, it was really only an angel with a volume control problem trying to talk to him. Again, we get a powerful scene from the cast; a man unable to believe that good things happen to good people, and an angel unable to believe that that same man can't accept he's good enough to be saved from The Pit.
Oh, but there's a catch to Dean being saved. Just a tiny one: God has work for him.
So what are we to make of all this? Well for starters, we’ve got several unsettling things going on at once, not least of all The Brothers lying to each other. Oh Sam, are you sure you want to be flat-out, bold-faced lying to your recently self-exhumed brother about something as dangerous as letting Ruby teach you Jedi Mind Tricks? Lest we forget, he has been the only thing you've been able to rely on in the past, ooh, twenty-odd years? And now you're dragging your feet over fessing up? Whether he'll swing for your altitudinous head or not, he still needs to know this little piece of info.
While we're on the subject of lying, how long can Dean pretend he's not having acid flashbacks of Hell and Damnation? Maybe he doesn't actually remember, but he's got to know that these things never stay hidden - they just lurk, festering, until brought into the light.
A part of me wants Sam to use his newly-trained aptitude for controlling The Force to kill demons. But the rest of me recognises it for what it is: a Very Bad Thing. Dean knows it too - he's warned Sam before that it's a road he really does not want to go down: “You know what it's paved with and you know where it's headed.” But Sam wouldn't be Sam without a rebellious streak a mile wide and his dad's stubbornness. Which is going to get him, and Dean, worse than killed.
And so to Cassiel [sic.]. An angel of the Lord, eh? Interesting. God itself commanded that Dean be brought back? I remember hearing that story somewhere... not least of all in one of my own fanfics. [Note to self: edit category of ‘Intervention Pending’ to AU, seeing as it's happened onscreen except with Cassiel, not Michael. Both among the seven archangels though, aren't they?]
I like this angel dude - and I'm an atheist. As a story arc and a character, he works, he really does. I hope he keeps that meat suit he borrowed, Misha Collins did an excellent job. Ruby though... not so sure I like her. I liked Katie Cassidy - really, really liked Katie Cassidy. She was a believable, formidable actress. This new one? Not so credible, I'm afraid. Just not feeling a cutting edge of danger there, sweetheart. Now, if they'd swapped the two actresses who played Pamela the psychic girl (the amazing Traci Dinwiddie) and New Ruby, I'd be impressed. She was vibrant, quirky, funny. Could have been very different.
So back to Sam. He should know that all this “psychic crap”, as Sensible Dean calls it, is a slippery slope. How long before it changes you? How many times can you use it before it starts to bag larger and larger parts of your soul? What happens when you're all about killing demons - and nothing else? Is this really all that Sam wants to be? And Dean. Now technically working for Him Upstairs, unless he puts down one of his big biker boots and draws a line at just what he's prepared to believe. None of this is going to sit well with him, and both boys have indeed Got Work To Do. How did Joseph Campbell himself put it? “Typically, the hero of fairy tale achieves a domestic, microcosmic triumph, and the hero of myth a world-historical, macrocosmic triumph. Whereas the former - the youngest or despised child who becomes the master of extraordinary powers - prevails over his personal oppressors, the latter brings back from his adventure the means for the regeneration of his society as a whole.” More on Sam, the hero of fairy tale, from the mighty Campbell: “The godly powers sought and dangerously won are revealed to have been within the heart of the hero all the time. He is “the king’s son”, who has come to know who he is and therewith has entered into the exercise of his proper power.” And Dean, the hero of myth? Easy: “He is a hero who, by his courage in the fiery furnace, his unreadiness to break down and grovel before a popular conception of the character of the All Highest, has proven himself capable of facing a greater revelation than the one that satisfied his friends.” Of course, Joseph Campbell was not really writing about Sam and Dean Winchester back in his 1949 masterpiece of myth and legend skeined together (‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’). In fact, the last quote was about Job.
I may be missing the relationship The Boys held together in season three already, but I have no doubt that, should this Cassiel tell Dean that God's first task for him is to stop Sam using demonic powers to kill Them Downstairs, or ultimately to stop Sam permanently, there's going to be Trouble. Big-ass Winchester Family Trouble, the likes of which any creature, heavenly or not, has ever seen. And I’m kinda waiting for Cassiel to stay in his borrowed - not possessed - meat suit and Dean to ask why, and then he can say it's cos Dean shot and stabbed the real body - if he leaves, doesn’t the man die?
I bloody loved this episode - it’s full of questions, wrong turns, great, great dialogue and some bloody ace acting. It’s going to be a fantastic season if this is what we have with which to measure what’s coming after. We can only hope it goes on as it started. In fact, even though I wrote a story that rather closely resembles this (but obviously could not hope to come anywhere near close to the vicinity of what the amazing Eric Kripke has achieved in weaving this opening tale), angels and all, I was still surprised and delighted by the twists and turns.
There must be a way for all these lies to be unmasked for what they are, for Sam to stop the demon side of him warring with his Winchester side, for Dean to accept that someone other than his brother and Bobby might consider him worth saving - because of who he is, not because of a tie by blood. Oh, silly me, there is: twenty-one more episodes of season four…
And that’s all the reaction that’s fit to print. Honestly, I could sleep for a week now. Don’t worry, next time I’m back, it’ll be a whole lot shorter…
Peach and lube, everyone. Lots and lots of lube.
Supernatural ~ Eric Kripke ~ Dean Winchester ~ Sam Winchester ~ Jensen Ackles ~ Jared Padalecki ~ Jim Beaver ~ Misha Collins ~ Joseph Campbell ~ Star Wars ~ demons ~ angels ~ Cassiel ~ Katie Cassidy ~ Traci Dinwiddie