Woot! Show is back and what a way to return!
Damn, I enjoyed that. I think I'm going to have to...squeeeeeeee!
I'm reluctant to say "it's just like the old days", because even though it was reminiscent of past episodes (Croatoan in particular), it managed to bring what's happened over the last couple of seasons into the "now". It managed to start a new journey, but not at the expense of what's gone before. In fact, I loved the way it connected the MoC with the darkness and Dean. It also connected Sam's overall journey to where he is now. It also had some wonderful creepy moments (woman hiding in the closest *yikes*), some solid SamnDean moments, hints of real character development and a shit load of unanswered questions. To me, that's a great way to start a season.Highlights:
At the very top of my highlight list is "When did we forget how to do this? If we don't change, right now, all of our crap is just going to keep repeating itself."
Anyone who has been following my reactions over the last few years will know how desperate I've been to see Sam and Dean acknowledge this. I have been SO frustrated with the constant sacrifice/blame/create-more-problems cycle without it seeming to get anywhere. I know it's part of the storytelling, but without it ever reaching any sort of resolution (and I don't consider "I'm proud of us" a resolution) it becomes a tedious cycle.
Carver has often spoken of a "maturity" of Sam and Dean. He said it first at the beginning of season 8, but instead of maturity we saw them both take a step back, with jealousy and pettiness darkening their relationship. In season 9 we saw further steps back with dishonesty (bordering on cruelty) and nastiness and season 10 we saw them cross further lines - not only in their brotherhood, but victims took a back seat while their focus became even more insular. For the first time, since the beginning of S8, I actually saw this so-called "mature" Sam and Dean (and rather ironically Carver hasn't mentioned "maturity" this season that I know of).
The maturity not only came in Sam saying "we need to change", but with Dean accepting it. There was also a world-weariness about them, but they still maintained a level of focus to help. It seems that "saving people, hunting things" really is back - with a renewed focused on "saving" people.
I won't deny I'm contradictory when it comes to Sam and Dean. I can shout "burn the world for each other" one minute and "stop burning the world for each other" the next. Truth is, I want them to have that level of "I'd burn the world for you" about them (which they definitely have), but I also want them to acknowledge how problematic that is. I want them to care about the consequences of their choices. I felt we got that mix in this episode. Also, I don't think we have to have one and not the other. By them acknowledging how damaging and problematic their sacrificing ways are, doesn't necessarily mean they will stop saving each other. And love comes in many forms - not just being prepared to die for each other.
(The chances are, of course, that they WILL make the same mistakes again but at least in this episode their cycle of mistakes was acknowledged).
Another major highlight for me was seeing the way Sam and Dean's characters moved on from the end of last season. It seems to be a return to the way they used
to be (certainly more of what we saw in the early seasons) - Sam being the voice of conscience, with Dean being all action. That balancing of each other was back. For them to work successfully as a team they need action AND conscience. I loved that each of them acknowledged that strength in each other. Sam knowing Dean wanted to save the baby, Dean knowing that Sam was thinking of the victims. I MISSED these aspects of their characters and it was wonderful to see that again. The strength of their relationship was a major part of this episode and I loved it for that.
I also loved what they did with Crowley. That 70's style house with the "swingers" inside was a delight. I loved female!Crowley - not just what the actress brought to it, but the levels of sexual ambiguity that came with it.
I really felt for Cas. Ha! I can't believe I said that - but damnit. That was some pretty nasty stuff for him. :( Cas must be a dilemma for the writers - always having to find a way to de-power him or not let him be around the boys as an insta-fix. I think they've handled that pretty well so far. At least there was contact with Sam and Dean and a new mystery surrounding what's happening to him.
Mini Winchester brothers! Was I the only one who saw the mini Winchester family here?
I liked the personification of The Darkness. I'm going to assume that having a "person" represent the darkness is the best way for the show to deal with it. I'm curious to see how they proceed with it - as I feel this darkness is more than a person. I'm hoping it ends up being a stronger presence than say, Eve. We'll see, but I liked the chemistry between her and Dean and WOW - there's some great potential in that storyline - what is that "connection" actually going to mean (and peeps were complaining that Dean wasn't going to have a story line this season. Looks like it could be a very interesting one *g*).
And I did love that Sam got some POV (and was allowed to actually say stuff!) - and his bob was gone!! \o/ Little niggles.
I don't have many niggles I have to say. The baby not crying at all was a standout (though maybe the mark had something to do with that?). The deputy hardly reacting to being stitched up was - well, either she has an AMAZING pain tolerance or it was missed. Maybe she's just that damn awesome!
Cas calling Dean instead of Sam was a little weird - considering he was calling Dean to give a message to Sam. I get that it doubles up as a "how are you" so that's totally forgivable. I liked that both Sam and Dean ended up talking to Cas.
Overall I think this is a great start to the season. I know I've said that before (S9 had me all sorts of excited for the potential), but at least we have a sense of them working together against a common foe. I know Sam didn't tell Dean he was infected (neither did Cas) - and already that's a return to their old ways, but I'm hopeful it might also be a catalyst for further discussion about decisions they will make. I accept we need certain elements in the story telling
I know I can't read too much into things. I've been burned too many times doing that. So, I'll take this episode for what it was - enjoyable on pretty much all the levels on which I enjoy this show. It had action, zombie wannabes, an orgy, Sam and Dean being actual heroes, an intriguing mysteries (what does the darkness want? how is Dean connected? what's with the baby? And SAMMY?! Whaaaaaa (::koff:: hurt!Sam I WON'T complain! *g*).
I'm going to simplify the reaction poll. 5 is "LOVED IT!! to 1 being "nope".
What's your score for 11.01