Sunday, September 25, 2011

Supernatural Season 7 Episode 1: Meet the New Boss

On Friday, the Winchester brothers returned, after last season's dramatic finale left their audience facing a long summer. The brothers' angel ally, Castiel (also a fan favorite and slash darling) used all sorts of questionable mojo to become God, taking the place of an absent heavenly Father. He unsuccessfully demands worship from Sam, Dean and Bobby, but gives up when he sees that it wouldn't be sincere, sparing their lives and leaving.

Castiel's next order of business is to start destroying hypocritical religious leaders and hate groups like the KKK, leaving Dean wondering if this new God is really such a bad thing. In the meantime, Sam is having intermittent hallucinations of the time he spent in Hell, thanks to Castiel's decision last season to break down the wall protecting him from those memories. Eventually, Castiel's body count grows too high for the taste of the hunters, but they have no weapon that would work against God. However, back in Season Five, Death himself told Dean that he (Death) would reap God eventually. Crowley, the King of Hell, has been forced into a compromise by Castiel and is only too happy to give the hunters the spell they need to bind Death.

The hunters break into a home to get the final item for the spell and, for some reason, decide to conduct the spell on the premises, in front of the terrified homeowners. Death shows up, bound, and everything seems to be going well until Castiel shows up and frees him with a snap of his fingers. Death explains that Cas's vessel is breaking down under the power of the Leviathans—ancient beasts absorbed from Purgatory. Placated with pickle chips (no, really), Death arranges an eclipse during which the portal to Purgatory can be reopened. After committing a massacre at a senatorial campaign office, Castiel is finally ready to come to the brothers for help, even if preventing disaster will mean sacrificing his life.

At the time of the eclipse, the Purgatory is reopened again, something returns to it. After going down for the count again for a second, Cas appears to be okay. That is until the Leviathans, speaking in Castiel's voice but referring to themselves in the plural, take over, claiming that Cas is dead and throwing Dean and Bobby across the room. In the meantime, Sam is having his worst hallucination yet: Lucifer, telling him that he's still in Hell and that being free was the hallucination. The episode ends with Leviathan!Cas menacing Dean and Bobby and Sam's condition unknown.

I call this a very strong start to the season. The most exciting thing, to me, is that this season, Supernatural appears to be going Lovecraft. ”Old Ones”, as Death refers to the Leviathans, evokes the Great Old Ones from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos. Lovecraft came up several times in the last few episodes of Season Six. The web is already buzzing about this connection. If I know anything about Supernatural (and I feel like I do), Lovecraft is likely to be cited as someone who found out about the Old ones somehow, and wrote about them as if they were fiction.

This episode held a lot of treats for fans. There was sort of wry, relevant humor that you would expect—jokes about anime porn and trench coats on tortillas. It was wonderful to see Mark Pellegrino back as Lucifer, as he's always creepy and effective. Also a thrill was Julian Richings as Death. (Can I say just how much I love the fact that Death has a weakness for junk food?) Mark Shepherd, who plays Crowley, is a joy in pretty much everything he does (which is a lot). It was amusing to see Crowley living in a trailer park after having whined about the loss of his mansion is Season Five. When summoned by the hunters, Crowley even seemed to pout for a second about the possibility that they might not want to conspire with him.

And then, of course, there's Castiel. Oh, Misha Collins. I saw you give a panel at a convention this summer, and understand why you are a fan favorite. You may be the Supernatural actor that I'd most like to have a beer with—although Jim Beaver is growing on me, just based on his Twitter account. Unsurprisingly, Misha made us feel sympathy for Castiel in the premier, in spite of everything he'd done. He'd only been trying to make things better, but—to use a metaphor Dean would appreciate—it reminded me of someone trying to cobble together a couple of unrelated car parts to replace a missing car engine. It might work for a little while, but in the end, it's just not an engine. Death had it right: an angel is not up to playing God.

Is our sweet Castiel, whom we'd seen through so much for three seasons, really gone for good? I sincerely hope not. We already know that Misha won't be in every episode this season. Hopefully Castiel is still in there and can take back the reins at some point, like Sam did at the end of Season Five, and be redeemed. Either way, Leviathan!Cas will make a great Big Bad, if that's what he's going to be. Misha turned in a unsettling performance, very different from Castiel

From the look of the preview, the next episode focuses on Sam's Devil-adjacent problems. I predict that Dean and Bobby will have to make a quick getaway at the beginning of the next episode, with an almost-incapacitated Sam in tow, or that the Leviathan!Cas will just walk away, sparing them yet again for no obvious reason. Either way, I, or many others, will be tuned in, watching eagerly.

No comments: