Castiel spares Bobby and the Winchesters and goes on his way to set right the wrongs of the world. However, when the brothers try to bind Death and use him to stop the new God, they discover that their former ally is one step ahead of them.
Supernatural airs Friday nights at 9:00 on the CW.
I’ve put off writing about this episode.
You see, this is a show that’s in its seventh season. Nobody else on the site seems interested in it. I don’t know who’s actually watching out there. But goddammit, Supernatural is a show that week in and out impresses me with its devotion to telling a good story.
And a good horror story, at that.
This is not an easy task. Buffy did it for a while. Angel did it for not quite as long. Outside of that, I don’t know what other show to compare it to. Dark Shadows? Twin Peaks? Neither of those shows really compare, if only because they either weren’t trying to do the same sort of thing, or just flared brightly and then burnt out quickly. Being Human or the new The Fades over on the BBC are probably its closest analogs.
Supernatural is the light-hearted, horribly tragic, horror adventure show you should have been watching all along.
Supernatural began as a “Monster of the Week” kind of show. But even in the beginning, it had the seeds of greatness in its DNA.
I’ll admit, I didn’t watch it back then. I thought it sounded derivative and didn’t give any props to the network upon which it aired. The CW was all about sexy teens and stupid bullshit.
So I passed on it. Like a genius, I had done the same thing to Buffy, Angel, and even my beloved Farscape. All of which helps explain why I’m more lenient towards the premieres of shows these days.
Then, three seasons later, I started listening to the rumblings. In Season Four, there was a plan amongst the demons to free Lucifer from Hell and begin Armageddon. Angels and demons were in play and the attractive young stars of this show, brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), were center stage in stopping the end of the world.
So I asked around and found a list of episodes from the first three seasons that would give me some background to go into Season Five when it was getting ready to air.
And holy shit was I surprised.
I was expecting something kind of silly with a hint of interesting, but I’ll be damned if what we had here wasn’t one of the best things I’d seen in the genre. Television is not a place where interesting and entertaining usually meet. You might get one, but not the other. Or at least, not consistently enough to make it worth your while.
But here was a show that took its Mythology as seriously as The X-Files, but could also take the piss when necessary. This was a show that didn’t take itself so seriously that it couldn’t poke fun at itself, while at the same time delivering the upper echelon of horror stakes.
I mean, we’re talking about a narrative world where God has abandoned us. Angels are working from an old plan and some of them are itching for the Apocalypse so they can get down to some good Old Fashioned demon smiting. Demons are itching to rise up and destroy everything.
But some Angels (and some demons, maybe) don’t really want the End Times to kick off.
And right in the middle are our boys, Sam and Dean Winchester. One of whom had spent some time in Hell, the other of whom was addicted to Demon Blood.
These boys had issues.
So I was hooked.
This was the sort of show I wished I could have had a hand in creating.
I don’t find that very often.
Then it was over. Or so we thought.
The Apocalypse was averted, barely. The boys had given their all, sacrificing Sam in order to save the world. And the creator of the show decided it was time to walk away.
Only not really.
The new showrunner last year, Sera Gamble, had been with the show for years already, and when they rebooted after what had seemed like the final season, there wasn’t a beat missed.
In fact, we had a very interesting plot development: a civil war in Heaven, now that God was clearly not coming back and Destiny had been re-written. The angel who had been Sam and Dean’s partner in crime, Castiel (Misha Collins) was heading the fight for Free Will against the angels who wanted to burn it all down and start from scratch with a Firm Hand.
Castiel, in desperation, teamed up with Crowley (Mark Sheppard), the new King of Hell, to find Purgatory, where the souls of dead monsters go. With those souls as fuel, Cas was able to end the war, destroy his enemies (and ours, really), and save the world.
But it drove him mad, sort of.
Season Six ended with Cas, full of souls, declaring himself the new God and demanding that Sam, Dean, and their good friend Bobby (Jim Beaver) bow down before him.
That’s some serious shit.
So this first episode of Season Seven had a lot to live up to.
And I’m here to tell you that it does so with ease.
The threat of a wrathful God is about as big as threats get. Cas lets our boys live so long as they stay out of his way, and we are treated to some hilariously liberal moments as Cas/God smites those who lie, cheat, and steal in His name. But there’s an edge to it all.
Yeah, we laugh (or I did, anyway) at the hypocritical fundamentalist preacher condemning Lady Gaga and homosexual marriage while carrying on himself. Cas/God punishes him and is righteous in doing so. He kills so many KKK members the organization has to disband.
There’s a nice thrill to it all, especially if you lean Castiel’s way politically. But then it all goes off the rails. While smiting a very Michele Bachmann-esque politician, Castiel blacks out and wakes up to a horribly bloody scene of murder and carnage.
He knows something’s wrong, but it takes Sam and Dean to make him realize just what the problem is.
Well, Sam, Dean, and Death.
Yeah, the boys call in Death (Julian Richings), the only being they know of older and more powerful (maybe) than God Himself. And Death lets them all know that Cas is no God. He’s a mutated angel, at best, and is quickly burning out on the monstrous souls from Purgatory.
You see, God didn’t just set up Purgatory to banish the souls of monsters in general. It was the cage for the Old Ones. The Leviathans. The monsters that filled the void before our world and threatened to consume everything.
And yes. That is a Lovecraftian reference we’re talking about.
Leviathans are burning through Cas in order to run rampant in our reality.
And with that, the ante is upped yet again.
I’m not entirely sold on Misha Collins’ Leviathan act yet, but it’s early going. And the severity of the threat is just the sort of thing I’ve been dying to see the Winchesters take on.
I have n
o idea what’s coming this season, having avoided as many spoilers as humanly possible, but after this opening salvo, I have to say that I’m on-board with whatever Gamble and Company bring to the table.
This episode was, for me, one of the best yet. I give it a easy and can’t wait to see where they take us this season.
If you’re interested in catching up, just send me an email and I’ll get you that list of early episodes. Then your best bet is to rent the whole seasons, starting with Season Four, and marathon your way through them. Yeah, it’ll take a while, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t worth the effort.
This is the best horror/comedy/drama/tragedy/epic ever put on the TV screen. And it got that way by telling big stories with personable characters and not shying away from the repercussions of their actions.
Well, most actions, anyway. There are an awful lot of casual murders that go on throughout the whole show, both by monsters and by humans. But this is a cold, edge-of-a-knife kind of world they’ve built up here, so I roll with it.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle and Nook, or can be sampled and/or purchased at Smashwords. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.