Supernatural, a show where two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), hunters that battle all things that go bump in the night (and then some!), has always been about the relationship between the brothers. This was most telling in last year’s season finale (which, would have made the perfect series finale) where Sam, possessed by Lucifer himself, pulled up just short of caving Dean’s face in. Why? The memories that their ’67 Impala invoked. It allowed him enough strength to take his body back and cast himself (and Lucifer) into the fallen angel’s Cage in hell. It was one of the most poignant and fitting endings I had ever seen and, despite my adoration for the show, I would have been fine had it all ended there.
It makes me wonder, is this why I was so disappointed in the season six premiere “Exile on Main St.”?
My original disappointed started early as I waited for The Road So Far, a 90 second overview of a season(s) past, and set to the tune of kick-ass music (such as Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold, Triumph’s “Fight the Good Fight, and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”). This time around however, only the final act of last year’s season finale were highlighted this time around before cutting to the “Now” of Dean’s new life with his girlfriend, Lisa (Cindy Sampson) and her son Ben (Nicholas Elia). My fears of disappointment were temporarily abated when Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser” plays over snippets of Dean’s current life interlaced with his past as a hunter. It was a brilliant change of pace and got me right back into the Supernatural frame.
From here, we get to see Dean living his life with the new family, working the day job, and hanging out with his neighbor before the creepy starts. It begins with Dean investigating a woman’s scream after leaving a bar and, after several signs of demon activity (including a residue of sulfur) culminates in him coming face to face with Azazel (Fredric Lane), the yellow-eyed demon responsible for killing his mother. Dean is shocked to see yellow-eyes seeing that Azazel should be dead, shot by Dean with the demon killing Colt revolver in the season two’s finale “All Hell Breaks Loose”. This entire segment seems out of sorts and disjointed from the Supernatural we’ve come to know and love but just as I think the show’s transition from creator Eric Kripke to Sera Gamble may be the cause, we find that Dean has been poisoned by a Djinn and everything that he had seen since were hallucinations. This is what Sam tells him after injecting Dean with the antidote.
Which brings us to the reunion, this more than the plot or overlying story arc, we’ve all been waiting for. It’s been a year since Sam had fallen into the Cage and in that time Dean has tried to move on from losing the one person he could always count on. So he is understandably upset when he finds that Sam has been alive the entire time but saw fit not to contact him. Matters don’t get any easier for Dean when, after taking Lisa and Ben to Bobby (Jim Beaver) for protection against the Djinn hunting him and his brother, he finds out that Bobby knew as well. Jensen Ackles does a wonderful job translating the hurt and anger of knowing that Sam didn’t think enough to let Dean know that he was alive. It will be something not soon forgotten, and Sam will have to deal with if he is to once again become the unbeatable team with his brother.
And speaking of Sam, the compassion and understanding that we’ve become so used to in the younger Winchester was noticeably absent. It was as if he was only able to feel emotions on the surface and not at the usual depths. His entire attitude during their reunion, his explanations on why he let Dean live the family life, and the death of Dean’s neighbors was off, as if the real Sam had been hollowed out by Lucifer’s possession and only a caricature of the old Sam remained. It will be interesting to see how much of this new persona has to do with his time spent in the Cage and as Lucifer’s vessel.
Also introduced into the show are the Campbells, the brothers’ cousins from their mother’s side of the family. They are led by Sam Campbell (Mitch Pileggi) who Dean met during season four’s time travel episode, “In the Beginning” and was subsequently killed by Azazel.
Overall, it was a decent episode but nothing near the punch we usually see in a Supernatural season premiere. While humor was evident in some scenes, the stage setting that was in place did not realistically allow for the depth that we are used to. And despite my disappointment, some interesting subplots are already being woven into the mix (why the Campbells kidnapped one of the Djinn without alerting the brothers, Sam’s “pod person” attitude, who resurrected Samuel and Sam). More than that, the end of the show provided the biggest of shockers in a way, with Dean walking away from Sam, refusing to be pulled back into the life. While we know that won’t last, it does pose an interesting question of just how happy is Dean where he is and, ideally, which life does he really want? That will be a question possibly answered over the course of this season.
– Darryl (Follow @djasper07 on Twitter)