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Another season of Supernatural is here and with it comes a whole slew of trouble for everyone’s favorite demon-slaying brothers Sam and Dean Winchester. We’ve been down this road in seasons past, with the premiere setting the table for the coming episodes and backing the brothers into a corner. But “Meet the New Boss” carries more weight than other premieres because it yanks the metaphorical rug out from under Sam and Dean. One by one, the brothers’ safety nets are falling away – Castiel, Death, the other angels – and that raises the stakes tremendously.

In seasons past death didn’t carry much weight on Supernatural. This season, there won’t be anyone there to catch Sam and Dean if fate finally catches up with them.

Castiel flexes his new God muscles
One of the goals of “Meet the New Boss” was to show how wholeheartedly Castiel has bought into his delusion. Slaying angels, killing “unworthy” pastors and making clear his intentions to “smite down those who rise up” – this was Old Testament God Supernatural was channeling and it was both scary and pitiful to see Castiel trying to fill his father’s shoes. The deterioration of Castiel’s vessel was both a physical and psychological representation of the damage he was inflicting upon himself by trying to handle the horsepower he absorbed when he opened the door to Purgatory.

Speaking of deterioration, the scene with the souls clawing to escape Castiel was both gross and cheesy. I know Supernatural operates on a shoestring budget but the effect actually took me out of the scene and that’s something this show rarely does. Not to mention the whole thing was reminiscent of Freddy’s death in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, so it lacked originality and believable special effects.

Nobody puts Death in a corner…or chains
One of the best recurring Supernatural characters got a much-welcomed return in the premiere as Sam, Dean and Bobby brazenly summoned and bound Death. (Quick tangent: if Death is more powerful than God – as evidenced by the fact that Death can reap God and not vice versa – why can Death be bound but God can’t? It’s a bit of a contrivance.) Castiel appeared quickly after Death arrived and the two had a face-to-face chat that was the highlight of the episode. Seeing Death’s disparaging attitude toward Castiel and hearing his line about “knowing God” and that was Castiel wasn’t God was perfectly done.

Castiel finally unchains Death and vanishes, leaving Death to enjoy his pickle chips with our trio of heroes. When he’s finally done eating – guess that love for fast food really is everlasting – Death gives Sam and Dean the information they need, but it comes at price. The door to Purgatory will reopen and Death agrees to create another eclipse (said in a deliciously nonchalant way), however, it appears Sam and Dean’s buddy-buddy relationship with Death is at an end… at least for now.

And you thought migraines were hard to deal with
Let’s not forget about the other half of this episode! Poor Sam has been through the ringer before but having to cope with flashbacks of time spent in the cage with Lucifer and Michael makes nightmares look like summer daydreams. Not only that, but watching Sam attempt to hide the pain he’s feeling for Dean’s sake was painfully true to character. The brothers have always sacrificed their own well-being for each other but this was a gesture that Dean (and the viewer) really had to appreciate.

Just when it seemed Sam had temporarily put the hallucinations behind him, in swoops Lucifer himself for our second awesome cameo of the premiere. What made his appearance even more awesome was the bombshell he dropped, which provided the episode’s big surprise. Insisting that Sam was actually still in the cage and that the world around him was his hallucination came out of nowhere but falls right in line with Lucifer’s sadistic torture methods. After all, what could be worse than thinking you’re free of Hell when you’re actually still rotting away?

As the viewers, we know Lucifer is bluffing… but then again, wouldn’t it be an all-time great series finale if everything from Season 6 onward was all in Sam’s head? It’s possible. After all, Eric Kripke imagined a 5-season arc for Supernatural and it was only because of the CW renewing the show that Sam returned.

The Leviathans wrap up their busy week in pop culture
The episode ended with our first look at season 7’s “big bad” and I have to say I’m excited to see where the Leviathan storyline goes. Although their appearance in Gears of War 3 immediately brought to mind images of a giant, submarine-eating sea creature, I think having the Leviathans emerge via Castiel is an appropriate route to take. Castiel can’t get off too easily for the damage he caused and his apparent death as the Leviathans assume control of his vessel is a good start down the road to redemption.

I just hope at some point these new monsters can separate from Castiel, and maybe, just once, exist without the need for a human vessel. Since they’re “beasts” I’m hopeful we’ll see their true form, but as we all know, money doesn’t grow on trees with the CW.

Line of the week

Dean: I pray to God it’s true.

Bobby: We need to come up with a new saying for that.

Next week on Supernatural

Looks like Lucifer and Sam hash out their issues. Or Lucifer tortures Sam into insanity. Either way, it should be fun!
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