Spoilers ahead for the Season 14 premiere of Supernatural on The CW, called "Stranger in a Strange Land."
Supernatural returned for its whopping fourteenth season on the air, and it wasn't just business as usual with the Winchester boys saving people and hunting things. The Season 13 finale saw Dean taken over by Michael, and Michael declined to return control to Dean after they successfully killed Lucifer. When Season 14 picked up, Michael in Dean's body was off hunting and killing people, demons, and angels who disappointed, and the good guys had no choice but to cope with life without him. Sam and Castiel were hit the hardest.
Unsurprisingly, Sam was having a very difficult time dealing with the loss of Dean. As somebody who was traumatized by an archangel, spent time as an unwilling vessel to an angel, and has spent a decade and a half or so racing in and out of life-or-death situations with his brother, Sam was desperate to get Michael out of Dean. Even more unsurprisingly, his coping methods weren't the healthiest, and I don't just mean the beard of sadness.
The beard actually works, if you ask me. Supernatural just wouldn't feel right without at least one Winchester looking scruffy and fighting the good fight. Dean is too busy bargaining with monsters and being possessed by Michael to fit that particular bill, so kudos to Sam for stepping up on the stubble front! In all seriousness, the facial hair is just an example of something his mother noted: Sam isn't really taking care of himself.
Based on Mary's comments, Sam slept very little in the three weeks between when Dean was taken by Michael and the beginning of the premiere, and it showed. Mary tried to tell Sam that everything would be okay and they would get Dean back, but that more annoyed Sam than encouraged him to take a nap. The good news is that Sam did make at least one positive decision in the aftermath of the loss of Dean.
When the action picked up in the Men of Letters bunker, the whole place was teeming with hunters pitching in both to try and find Dean and to deal with the usual monster problems. One of those hunters was a young woman named Maggie who I fully expected to be killed off before the final credits rolled, so it came as a pleasant surprise that she didn't bite the dust in the premiere!
Sam was still functioning enough to delegate work to all the hunters, ask after the newly-human and Grace-less Jack, and visit Nick, who was shockingly not killed when he had Lucifer stabbed out of him in Season 13. When news broke that he needed to race to Detroit to rescue a certain somebody who had wandered into a trap sprung by a demon who wanted to be the next King of Hell, Sam rallied forces to make the drive.
He was off-balance enough in the episode that it was difficult not to wonder if he'd accept the demon's proposition to make an alliance that would allow him to become the new King. Instead, Sam just went ahead and started killing demons with his pals coming in with an assist. He declared that he would allow no new King of Hell. After a chat with his mom when she made it clear that she's struggling with what happened to Dean as well, all signs seemed to point toward Sam on the road to recovery.
Well, almost all signs pointed toward Sam on the road to recovery. At the end of the episode, he confessed that he would have done just about anything -- including reaching out to demons for help if he'd thought of it -- if that's what it took to get Dean back. A Winchester willing to sacrifice anything to save his brother is nothing new, and people tend to suffer when the bros pull out all the stops to save each other.
And that brings us to honorary Winchester brother Castiel, who also wasn't handling Dean's absence well.
Castiel was always closer to Dean than Sam (which has led to plenty of speculation about not-so-brotherly feelings and a joke along those lines courtesy of the wannabe King of Hell in the premiere), so it didn't come as a shock that he was making some questionable decisions on the mission to recover Dean. When the Season 14 premiere picked up, he was ready and waiting to meet a demon for information on Dean.
Good old Cas wasn't playing nice with the demon, and he quickly said that he'd kill him unless he agreed to help find Dean. Unfortunately for Cas, the demon came prepared, and the bar where they met was packed with demon cronies. Cas was taken captive, and a trap was set for Sam and Co. to ride in to the rescue.
Since this was the season premiere, of course neither Sam nor Cas died in the confrontation with a bunch of random demons, but the threat to Castiel's life wasn't really the biggest takeaway from the encounter. The fact that Castiel was willing to make a deal with a demon without having thought through or scoped out the situation is a sign that he's getting desperate, and desperate Cas can make bad decisions.
In the aftermath, he recovered his senses enough to apologize to Sam for trying to make a deal with a demon, but Sam openly admitted that he didn't blame Castiel and would have done the same thing if he'd thought about it. These two could make for a great monster-killing machine during the wait for Dean to be de-Michael-ed; they may also end up enabling each other on the quest to rescue Dean.
It's possible that their efforts to help Jack might keep them grounded, although that task seems to have fallen primarily to Bobby. We'll have to wait and see. Sam, Cas, and all the hunters will need to be ready to fight after Michael's actions at the end of the episode. After spending most of the episode killing all the people, angels, and demons he deemed unworthy of joining him, he went ahead and revealed that he considered vampires to be worthy of saving.
Why are vampires worthy of saving? Well, according to Michael, vampires are pure in their hunger and drive to satisfy their hunger. They're simple and could make very dangerous allies for Michael. Sam and Castiel are facing more than just an archangel in Dean's body, which was enough of a problem. Now, Michael in Dean's body will likely be surrounded by vampires.
Well, it's another season of Supernatural! For new episodes, tune in to The CW on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET. It's only one of many new shows coming to the airwaves this fall -- and one of The CW's non-superhero shows -- so be sure to figure out what's up your alley with our fall TV premiere schedule. Dean won't be around in every episode, but you can count on seeing the Wayward Sisters back despite their spinoff getting the axe.