Note: This recap is almost twice as long as a normal recap. The opinions shared within are strong. Yes, they are only my opinions. I do not speak for the fandom. No, I do not have a crystal ball or advanced screeners to know what will happen in subsequent episodes. I acknowledge that things may change. They always do. This is simply how I feel now. A brief review and the grade are at the bottom if you would like forewarning. And no, this is not the worst premiere Supernatural has ever had. Not even close.
Previously - the Wendigo motto came back, Cas killed a lot of angels and housed Leviathans, Dick was lamely named and conceived, season 7 had great special effects, Bobby died and was a ghost and died again, Dean morphed into Lucifer and back again, there was gross, Kevin was a prophet complete with glowing eyes, a man died by cutlery, Kevin knew how to read the Word of God and kill Dick, monsters go to Purgatory, unicorns fart rainbows, blood was key AGAIN, Dick died, Crowley took Kevin, Sam was alone, and Cas ditched Dean in Purgatory. Whew! That's a lot. All to the tune of Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath.
Another year has passed me by
Still I look at myself and cry,
"What kind of man have I become?"
Oh all the years I've spent in search of myself
And I'm still in the dark cuz I can't seem to find the light alone
Sometimes I feel like a man in the wilderness
I'm a lonely soldier off to war
Sent away to die, never quite knowing why
Sometimes it makes no sense at all.
After much contented sighing…from me, Sam reacts: "Dude, you…you're freaking alive! I mean what the hell happened?" Dean: "Well I guess standing too close to exploding Dick sends your a** straight to Purgatory." May that be the very last Dick joke we ever get on Supernatural. Sam is clearly shocked that Dean was in Purgatory for a year. Dean is surprised to have survived. "Yeah time flies when you're running for your life." Sam asks how Dean escaped and Dean evades because it's episode 1. We have to save that for later. Sam brings up Cas and Dean again evades, leaving the impression that Cas is dead. Sam pushes for details but Dean shuts down. Going to the still working fridge (wonder who pays the electricity bill), Dean grabs some beers because what's a brother chat without alcohol. He asks Sam about his phones not working and Sam reluctantly admits he stopped hunting. At first Dean thinks it's a joke. Dean: "Yeah and Sasha Grey's gone legit." (Confession - had to look up who Sasha Grey is. For the record, she's a porn star.) Sam explains that everyone was dead or Crowley-napped but Dean doesn't take him ditching the family business well. Sam: "Nothing says family quite like the whole family being dead." Dean: "I wasn't dead. In fact I was knee deep in God's armpit killing monsters, which I thought is what we actually do." Sam: "Yes Dean and as far as I knew what we do is the thing that got every single member of my family killed. I had no one. No one. And for the first time in my life I was completely alone and honestly I…I…I didn't exactly have a road map. So yeah I…I fixed up the Impala and I just drove." And then comes the bombshell. It hit hard and frankly it will take time to digest. Dean: "After you looked for me…" (Sam says nothing.) Dean: "Did you look for me Sam?" (Sam looks away.) Dean: "Good. That's good. No, we…we always told each other not to look for each other. That's smart. Good for you. Of course we always ignored that because of our deep abiding love for each other but not this time right Sammy?" Sam: "Look I'm still the same guy Dean." Dean: "Well bully for you. I'm not." Dean walks off.
Let me conclude by saying I wasn't concerned when I heard Sam settled down with a girlfriend and dog. I was actually happy for him because the brothers deserve some happiness. I didn't panic about Domestic Sam or even that he didn't want to hunt anymore. Those are natural reactions and in character for a world weary Sam. I wish this is what we got. However Sam not even trying to find Dean is way out of character and it can't be spun otherwise. For Sam, who wanted out completely, to continue looking for supernatural deaths in the newspaper but not do anything about it is ludicrous. If he really wanted out, he would avoid newspaper and internet searches all together. We've gotten a Sam unrecognizable to his former self. This isn't maturing; this is Stepford Sam, a plot device to end all plot devices and anvil dropping to create yet another brother divide. At this point creating false-ringing situations for the mere purpose of having the brothers at odds has gone beyond dramatic tension and entered into annoying or worse, boring. Jeremy Carver needs to end this poor example of writing and get the brothers on track right away because it is not a positive sign for season 8. Now before I get reamed, yes, I know it's only the first episode. To be honest I still have faith that it will be a great season. There are lots of positive things going on. However a show runner that can't write one of 2 main leads in character shouldn't be there. He needs to prove he can.
Review - In the end this was not the worst premiere Supernatural has ever had. After all, there was The Magnificent Seven. I just don't think it's near In My Time of Dying and Lazarus Rising or even Meet the New Boss status. The major problem I have is how out of character Sam is which gets harder to believe in every rewatch. I fully admit that if there's a plausible reason for why Sam acts the way he does, I will like this episode a lot more. If not, it will probably continue its downward spiral in my esteem. I also think it was very slow in parts with way too much telling not showing. 3 heavy brother chats in 42 minutes is a little much. However, there were many pluses too. Crowley's always fun and Benny and Kevin were pleasant surprises. I look forward to learning more about both of them. I adore the Purgatory flashbacks; they were one of the biggest highlights. The return of Smart Sam was another one. I hope he lives on throughout the season. I hope Smart Dean joins him. The best thing though is the straightforward mytharc quest that ties the brothers in personally. I think this simple, focused theme will help fix mytharc problems of the past. All in all, while I'm disappointed this was Jeremy's debut, I'm still really vested in season 8 and I still have high hopes for its awesomeness. There is a lot of potential here and if Jeremy can fix the mess he's made out of Sam's character and the brothers in general, I think we're in for a great ride.
Score - 3
Scorecard - Here's how the rankings break down in my scorecard.
1 = One of the best episodes in all of Supernatural, or in all of TV for that matter.
2 = A great episode when judged against other Supernatural episodes.
3 = A good Supernatural episode, which means it's better than almost anything else on TV
4 = An okay episode when judged against other SPN episodes, meaning still better than most TV.
5 = A poor episode, meaning only better than some TV.
Screencaps by Home of the Nutty, Supernatural Fans Online, Wikipedia, and Gather.