Supernatural Watch: Season 8, Episode 14 - Trial and Error

I apologize for not recapping the show the past few weeks. My local CW affiliate decided to air college basketball in place of Arrow and Supernatural on Wednesday and chose to bump those two shows to Saturday, making it impossible for me to recap in a timely fashion. But we're back on schedule now and thank goodness because last night's episode was a doozy. Let's get started, shall we?

What a great episode.

“Trial and Error” felt like classic Supernatural didn’t it? We got a little bit of everything that makes this show so special – a rich, ever-expanding mythology, a juicy mystery complete with some memorable guest stars, some cool special effects, and most importantly of all, some of the best brother moments we’ve ever seen. I was floored by Dean’s newfound clarity and determination because he finally said what been on his mind all along. Dean’s always been self-sacrificing and his goal to get Sam out the hunting lifestyle has never changed. It’s the classic big brother mentality. I applaud the writers for injecting life into a relationship that seemed to be tapped out. We’ve watched as Sam and Dean bucked against their true nature by trying to settle down, only to be drawn back into hunting for one reason or another. It seemed inevitable that they would die bloody (as Dean likes to say) but now there’s a light at the end of their nightmare. Sam sees it and wants to take Dean with him into life after hunting. After all, Dean has his own room now. With guns on the wall and a memory foam mattress! That’s worth living for, right?

From zero to hero, just like that.

Kevin opens this episode for us, and boy, he looks rough. The poor prophet is pushing himself night and day trying to decipher the tablet that would reveal the steps for closing the gates of Hell forever. When he finally does it (notice his discovery came during this week in February, a nice touch) you get to share in the excitement both because you like Kevin and want him to succeed, but also because you can sense the rest of the season falling into place. Sure enough, Kevin reveals that the person wishing to close the gates of Hell has to complete “God’s little obstacle course.” With six episodes left (according to IMDB), you figure we’ll see three more filler episodes and three episodes dedicated to completing the trials. I wish the momentum of this episode could carry us down the home stretch, but alas, that’s the pitfall of having 20+ episodes in a season.

As excited as I am for the trials, I do have one complaint. With the well-documented enmity between Heaven’s angels and Hell’s demons, why would God make it so difficult for someone to close the gates of Hell? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It’s clear that whoever closes the gates will need some serious mojo – as evidenced by Sam’s arm glowing after he read the spell – but I still think God could’ve bestowed that mojo a lot easier than by making someone complete three dangerous trials. There’s a reason Kevin referenced Hercules: these trials seem more in line with Greek mythology. Not to say that God never put anyone through trials, but again, He doesn’t like demons, right?

Dean wore glasses burned in holy fire before it was cool.

I never would’ve thought that the introduction of Sam and Dean’s paternal grandfather would have such a huge impact on the show, but now that we’re a couple episodes removed from “As Time Goes By” we can see how that episode was a major turning point. It not only introduced the Men of Letters and opened our eyes to the larger universe of monster killing, but it gave the boys a home. The boys are now living in the supernatural Batcave and the show has a new energy about it. I was worried when the show killed Bobby that Sam and Dean would simply drift along for the remainder of the series. I have to applaud the writers for realizing the need to give the brothers a base of operations and doing so in a way that will give the show legs for two more seasons. Let’s be honest, we know the CW wants to get 10 seasons out of this show like they got from Smallville, and up until now it looked the show might continue trending downward until it puttered out at a finish line it was never meant to reach. But like how Season 8 of Smallville was a shot in the arm for that series, this season has breathed new life into Supernatural.

Can this show not just last, but be good, for another two seasons? From what I’ve seen these past few episodes, my answer is hell yes. For the first time since Sam jumped into the pits of Hell we’ve got a storyline with emotional stakes and excitement to spare. We’ll need to get through a couple filler episodes to get there but I for one can’t wait to see how this season pans out.

Line of the week

Dean: “I have my own mattress. Memory foam. It remembers me.”

Next week on Supernatural

Something about witches, blah, blah, blah, bring back the trials!