Grab your shotgun, stock up on holy water and cue the mullet rock, ladies and gentlemen. Supernatural is back!
Season 8 hits the ground running, quite literally. Dean escapes purgatory, and after reuniting his vampire buddy Benny with his body (we’ll get to this in a minute), he hitchhikes his way back to Sam. The younger Winchester brother is enjoying domestic bliss with a new love, Amelia, and has retired from hunting. This situation should look familiar to Supernatural fans, as it’s the same place we found Dean at the beginning of Season 6. The difference here, as Dean quickly notices, is that Sam chose to retire from hunting, whereas Dean promised Sam that he would go and live a normal life after Sam jumped into the pit at the end of Season 5.
I take it being hunted by monsters wasn't quite the vacation you expected?
Dean is clearly on edge after being released from Purgatory, and after listening to his brief description of what the experience was like, that’s understandable. But the guilt trip he laid on Sam seemed childish. Dean had to fight for his life every day in Purgatory; Sam didn’t. Sam’s reality after the showdown with Dick Roman was bleak – Dean and Castiel gone, Bobby dead and Kevin taken hostage by Crowley. There’s been an ebb and flow to Supernatural with regard to how committed Sam and Dean are to hunting. Sam started as a reluctant hunter and clashed with Dean, who viewed hunting as a lifestyle rather than a job. By Season 6, (soulless) Sam was basically a 1-man wrecking crew. So the version of Sam that greets us in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a return to his season 1 form. He’s given up hunting and has chosen to live a normal life, and like he points out to Dean, life went on. Hunters killed monsters, people died and Sam realized that saving the world wasn’t all on his shoulders.
This doesn’t sit well with Dean, but work dictates that their family drama be put on the backburner. In the year since Dick’s death, Kevin has escaped Crowley’s clutches and gone on the run. Feeling responsible for the young prophet, the brothers hit the road in the beautifully restored Impala (seriously, she looked gorgeous tonight) to make sure Kevin is safe. They track him to an old church in Iowa and learn a shocking piece of information Kevin gleaned from the word of God entitled “Demons” – the gates of Hell can be closed forever, banishing all demons from the face of the Earth. New showrunner Jeremy Carver said that Season 8’s theme is “the quest.” We see the basic outline of the quest in this episode. Sam, Dean and Kevin will attempt to close the gates of Hell. Crowley will do everything in his power to see that the trio fails. If nothing else, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” has given Season 8 some fantastic forward momentum.
What to expect when you're trying to close the gates of Hell
As any good English student knows, every quest has some stumbling blocks. The premiere establishes that each of our trio has something that will encumber them at some point this season. For Dean, it’s his relationship with Benny, the vampire who helped him escape Purgatory. It’s obvious that Dean doesn’t fully trust Benny but they appear to be pretty close, like two soldiers bonded by battle. I predict that Benny will eventually give into his blood-sucking tendencies and Dean will be forced to stop him. Sam, who won’t be told about Benny until Dean is forced to stop him, will be upset that Dean kept Benny a secret. The two will argue but eventually reconcile over a couple cold beers and an Impala chat.
Sam, on the other hand, will be drawn back to Amelia much like Dean was drawn back to Lisa. Sam will struggle with a desire to return to his old life and leave hunting behind. But as this show has proven, the Winchester brothers were born to be hunters. Sam has rebelled against that at times but has always seen the truth in the end. Kevin’s challenge this season will be growing to accept his place in the fight against demons. Janet’s death at the hands of Crowley was Kevin’s first taste of how unfair a hunter’s life can be, and it’s sure to give him pause in the coming episodes. But the former Princeton-bound senior has grown a lot during his year of solitude. He’s learned how to fight demons and tricked the king of Hell not once, but twice! In time, Kevin will develop a thick skin as he fights along Sam and Dean. His journey will be one to watch this season.
Supernatural gets back down to its fighting weight
“We Need to Talk About Kevin” felt like a return to form for Supernatural. The writing was sharp and the focus was right where it needed to be – on the brothers. Carver promised a cleaner mythology and a tighter narrative focus in Season 8, and after the lackluster sixth and seventh seasons, fans should welcome this renewed clarity with open arms. Would the writers actually close the gates of Hell and banish a delicious foe like Crowley to the pit permanently? I can’t wait to find out.
Lines of the week
Dean: “Smell like dog to you?”
Sam: “In the car?”
Sam: “Dude, it’s a burger.”
Dean: “It’s a treasure.”
Next week on Supernatural
The price of Kevin’s tablet is your soul… Would anyone take Sam and Dean’s souls at this point?