Okay, kids. As I’ve already confessed, I bailed out on the second half of season five because the catechism lesson had gone on WAY TOO LONG, but I was resolved to try the show again this year because Jensen Ackles is my boy, back to Dark Angel (dibs!), and I really wanted to see where they could go with Sera Gamble (who wrote this episode) steering the ship. I’m happy to say I liked it, a lot.
We begin with Dean ensconced in a suburban life with Lisa and Ben, to the soundtrack of Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser,” while he still sort of clings to whispers of the past. When he hears screams that turn into visions of the Yellow Eyed Demon, he’s pretty sure everything is going sideways, until Sam reaches out to him at the 15-minute mark and stops the visions cold. It turns out that Sam’s been alive and well, back from Hell, and hunting with Grandpa Campbell (mysteriously undead and still played by Mitch Pileggi a.k.a. Walter freakin’ Skinner/23-minute mark) and an assortment of Campbell cousins, in-laws, and outlaws for the better part of a year—and Bobby knew (31-minute mark). So, gang’s all here and gang’s gone on without Dean, in some sort of misguided attempt to hand him a normal life.
They would have happily left Dean out f it, except that the Djinn are back (in a follow on to “What Is and What Should Never Be”) and wreaking havoc, in what Papa Campbell says is just one of many recent supernatural anomalies. Thankfully, there is no formal mention of the Apocalypse or Lucifer, only a passing reference to Cass and to Hell, which Sam would refer to keep close to his chest. The crisis is averted and the Djinn are defeated via Dean’s much-maligned suburban golf clubs, although they sort of skim right over how Dean’s hallucinations of Lisa and Ben assuming the doomed roles of Mama Winchester and Sam were resolved. Also, the Campbells kidnap (vs. kill) one of the Djinns for reasons unknown. Sadly, Dean’s only (red shirt) suburbia buddy, Sid, is dispatched before the end of the hour.
Lisa is rather calm, cool, and collected about Dean still hunting and Ben and her being deployed to Bobby’s for safekeeping. She calls B.S. on Dean’s apology, instead telling him, regardless of the circumstances, he’s given (Ben and) her the best year of her life. Once the Djinn are dispatched, Dean accepts that hunting is going to go on with or without him, so he resolves to return to Lisa and Ben because he’s already endangered them and if he’s with them, he can (try to) keep them safe. He offers Sam the Impala, but Sam is onto modern wheels so she stays mothballed in the garage.
I loved the casting. I’m a complete ho for “six degrees of-ing” the guest cast, and I adore Corin Nemec. He was one of the Campbell cousins here, without much to do so far, but hopefully that will change. David Paetku also played the fairly silent third cousin something-or-other. We didn’t get any sort of real bonding between Sam and Dean in the aftermath of last season’s events; more of a drive-by kiss and a cuddle and then back into the fray. Dean asks Sam about what happened, but he deflects discussing it. The only glimpse is that Sam says things would be better if Dean was back in the fold vs. how things are without him.
We’d best get something more than that, since EVERYONE else was in on Sam’s return and they had just moved on and left Dean behind without offering him some sort of closure. No Cass (which I’m perfectly OK with—this episode needed to be about the brothers). I liked that Dean was really, really trying to be normal, and that Lisa had a warts-and-all sensibility about who he really is and that she can compartmentalize that to build a life with him for herself and her son in spite of it.
A few observations:
This is the third house for Lisa since the character was introduced.
I’m pretty sure Dean saw a modern Impala at a stop sign (he was driving an old pickup).
This was an inversion of the pilot with Dean as the civilian and Sam as the hunter but I’m very glad Dean’s family remained intact here.
THIS is my show again. Thank you, Sera. I’ll be watching.
Photo Courtesy of The CW