As our poor, beloved Charlie Bradbury would say, “What’s up, bitches?” Hiatus was long and particularly dark(ness) for information this year. All we knew is that it (she?) was coming, and if you’re scary enough to intimidate our poor, beloved Death? Then you must be worth some kind of wait. But why? This episode, told in more flashbacks than an episode of Lost, left us with way more questions than answers.
1. Hunters in the Mist
Dean, his world a whirl of black clouds, staring at a beautiful woman. Must be Wednesday.
Sam, frantically looking for his lost brother in the madness, ending up knocked out for his trouble. Again, must be Wednesday.
Of all the things I expected from these first few minutes, I don’t think I ever thought Sam was gonna be the one left alone in a horn blaring Baby. Turns out? Dean was plucked from his beloved Impala by none other than the Darkness herself and left asleep in a field a mile away after their intimate interaction. Things like this? The closest thing Supernatural has to a love story. And speaking of a love story? These brothers of ours. Committed to one common goal. Earnest and sincere about saving the world. Sassing each other and more than a little irreverent. Time to quote Crowley now, with all the love and affection I can muster: “Hello, boys.”
2. The Devil Inside
Poor Castiel, wrestling with his almost literal inner demons, trying to save Dean at the expense of the whole damned world. Say it with me for a third time? MUST BE WEDNESDAY! Cas is still under the spell of a witchy woman, but coherent enough and still, ultimately, good enough that he’s relieved that Crowley’s still alive. (Wait. What?) Cas, once again, goes on the run from the worst parts of himself, determined to spare everyone from the harm he’s capable of. And when there’s something strange? In his neighborhood? Who should he call? Well, yeah, our brotherly Ghostbusters. But he calls his angelic brethren instead, and that can’t go well. Misha Collins, as always, is excellent here. Heartbreakingly confused one moment, awkward as hell running from bullets the next. And those eyes? Gahhhh. Creeeeeepy. I miss his baby blues.
3. “Show me some skin!”
The boys come across the worst construction roadblock ever, in that everyone, monster and family alike, is dead. OR ARE THEY? One of the monsters, who looks like he has the worst prison neck tattoo ever, is alive and approaches the boys, intent on…not sure what exactly. Infect? Slaughter? Eat, maybe? Guess we’ll never find out about this dude specifically, because he’s gunned down by noob police officer Deputy Jenna Nickerson, who looks exactly like the Alpha Vampire’s “special girl” from Season Seven. (It always throws me when Supernatural recasts an actor in a new role. They’ve actually done this a lot over ten seasons. To see more examples, check out the SuperWiki page Weren’t You In Another Episode?) Turns out Jenna’s the hero of the day—not only for gunning down the monsters before they could infect anyone else but for verifying the boys’ humanity by demanding to see their bare throats. My only complaint? Couldn’t writer Jeremy Carver have done us a solid and made the infection start in the abs? Shirtless for plot point works for moi. (Also? Dean’s response of “Is this, like, a Magic Mike moment?” makes, as River Song on Doctor Who would say, the mind wander, does it not?)
4. Paging Dr. Sexy, MD
Officer Jenna is one lucky lady—she gets a ride in the Impala. (Okay, maybe she’s not that lucky since she is bleeding profusely from a rebar injury but whatever it takes, man, am I right?) The boys take Jenna to the hospital for stitches and, unfortunately, they see the hospital really should have been put under quarantine. Things I loved about this whole thing? Dean, treating a young and earnest cop with such gentleness. Sam, as Dean goes for defense, getting her a wheelchair, ever practical. The view of Baby’s trunk and her weapons of mass destruction. And, during that, this particular exchange:
Sam: So, what are you thinking?
Dean: I don’t really know what to think. And I don’t know what to expect, either, so I’m just gonna chuck it all in.
Sam: This is the Darkness, right? It’s gotta be.
Dean: So what, she shows up and everybody goes 28 Days Later? I mean, we didn’t.
Sam: Yeah, but I was in the car. And you were—you said she protected you so I mean, maybe it wasn’t her—maybe it was the smoke, and, you know, anybody who was outside, like the road crew, they were exposed. I mean, you saw that. That wasn’t human.
Dean: So what—the smoke mutated ‘em? Sure, why not. I mean, just a couple of hours ago I killed Death, so I’m pretty much open for anything.
Dean stitches up Jenna (ouch/blargh/yuck) and Sam cases the joint for clues. I love it when my boys work together. When they treat their vics with kindness and navigate their way into the world of monsters. When Sam shows his brainiac thought process. When Dean displays his, as Crowley once called it, patois. I have a good feeling about this season. The boys are back in town.
5. The Woman in Black
I have to admit, I was taken with Emily Swallow, the actress portraying the human form of the world’s oldest curse. She was just sexy enough, and her presence was commanding. There was an incredible energy between the Darkness and Dean and I loved the initial chemistry between Swallow and Jensen Ackles. Granted, he could have chemistry with a rock, but, just as it was between him and Abaddon, I couldn’t tell whether he and the Darkness were going to fight or make out.
As she would go on to say later in the episode, Dean and the Darkness, now literally, are bound, and will not hurt each other, and he doesn’t even look that unhappy about it. Supernatural has always been about Dean battling the evil he knows he can never escape. It’s interesting to continue to make the fight so literal.
6. Always Be My Baby
The only person to ultimately survive that attack in the hospital unscathed? A sweet baby girl. Jared Padalecki’s face as he looks at the baby is so compelling. I think babies in danger with mothers who died have always been a weak spot for Sam—he wants so desperately to save them from the fate he suffered when he was only six months old. Sadly, he can’t. The baby’s mother died in childbirth and her father Mike is infected. The boys and Jenna listen to Mike tell the story of how he saved his daughter before he succumbs to the sickness, and both of them are clearly saddened, as are we. Dean, however, knows what needs to be done. And he intends to do it, probably in part to spare Sam from having to be the one to kill an innocent. Sam? Being Sam? Wants to cure Mike, no matter what, as we’ll see later, the heaviest of costs.
7. “Why not go get washed up for the orgy?”
Mark Sheppard, that scoundrel, tried to convince us Crowley was dead in Season Eleven. As he would say? Bollocks. He escaped the blading that Castiel can’t forget by smoking out of his meatsuit and inhabiting Marnie, the most suburbiest suburbanite in the all the world. As Dean once said, though, “Frickin’ suburbs, man.” Turns out Marnie’s Ned Flanders like husband prayed on whether to have a foursome with friends for Marnie’s birthday—and apparently Chuck said “YOLO.” Kirsten Robek was wonderful as Crowley. She really got Mark Sheppard’s attitude just right, from enunciation to timing to facial expressions.
One of my favorite things about our little show is the way it can interject humor in the darkest, so to speak, of situations. The fact that Crowley would intend to bleed people dry to make a long distance call but decides to indulge in some sexual healing beforehand is weird and yet appropriate and kind of hilarious. And playing “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones as the camera scans the bodies? Seeing the minor revulsion mixed with the confused respect on Crowley’s minion’s faces? Crowley demanding to be called King, and saying “I apologize. For nothing.” in a purr? Just the tension break we needed. God bless Crowley! (Only on this show would we bless the King of Hell, but hey, we also miss Satan so clearly we are not arbiters of holiness or even good taste.)
8. Send Me an Angel
Castiel, praying for help from his brothers and sisters, was heart wrenching. Down on his knees in the dark, trying not to escape capture but to stop hurting the defenseless, he literally begs for them to come and rescue him from himself. “I confess my transgressions, and I will accept whatever punishment you dole out. Now I ask you to help me. Please. Save me from doing worse.” Once again, that gruff voice, so broken, shows what Collins has always portrayed so well—a fallen angel, stumbling through the world, getting it wrong as much as or more than he gets it right, in deep and abiding pain when he fails. His palpable relief when Dean tells him the MoC is gone is beautiful, and his confusion when he hears the Darkness is free is played perfectly. It’s unsurprising when his prayer is answered and he is held captive and tied up for his trouble, but his goodbye to the boys still brought a lump to my throat. Poor Cas. I hope the rumors that God might come back this season are true, and I hope we get a John Winchester style moment of fatherly love and forgiveness for Cas when he does. He deserves one. Like, a lot.
9. “We broke it. We bought it.”
Dean, still wondering “how DefCon screwed we are” tries to remind Sam that “In order to get out we go through.” Sam wants to find a new way, but Dean wants to stop talking already and get the job done. “When did we forget how to do this?” Sam asks softly. “Hunting things—we’re good at that, sure, we’re great at that, but that’s only half of the bumper sticker, man.” The argument is a vicious circle. Help the people—stay alive. Cure the monsters—prevent new infection. Who to save—who to kill. As Dean says, “And around and around we go.”
“Saving people means all the people, Dean,” Sam says. “Not just that baby. Not just each other.” Does Sam have regret about cursing the world just to save Dean’s life? Or is it merely an infection he suffers too—one of guilt? Nope. He’d do it again. Just like we know he would. And Sam understands the responsibility of that. He knows what he owns. Which is why he volunteers to be the bait so Dean, Jenna and the baby can get away. A plan to which Dean eventually, extremely reluctantly agrees.
Dean and Jenna bust out of the hospital, bumping into poor, infected Mike, who fights his urge to bite them long enough to tell them that the baby’s name is Amara before he painfully dies on the floor. (Recapper’s note? If you looked at the IMDB prior to watching the episode, knowing the baby’s name totally spoiled the episode’s ending. In the words of Joss Whedon, “Grrrr. Arghhh.”) Meanwhile, Sam hides in a closet from the monsters he led right to him. Sadly, he forgot to prescreen it and it contains a rabid nurse that he successfully fends off but not without getting a splatter of blood right over his face. (Again with the yuck and the blargh.)
The monsters burst into the closet and Sam, pitifully, says “Please. Let me help you,” before they slam him back into a shelf to infect him. They leave him alone, and anyone who has ever watched a zombie movie knows why. They’re too late. Sam is already one of them.
Sam’s phone conversation to Dean, in which he hides his new condition and Dean talks about his one win and the upcoming plan to kick the Darkness’ ass, is painful. Despite his speech about change, Sam is still hiding his truth from Dean, and it’s bound, as Dean would say, to bite them both in the end.
10. Big Name Reveals
Crowley, back in hell, is warned that the Darkness has been unleashed. NBD, right? BUT WAIT! Apparently, there is a ruckus in the cage! That’s right, friends, Lucifer and/or Michael (but not Adam, because even Hell has forgotten about him) are having a fit at the thought of the first curse rising once more. Does this mean we’ll get Michael back? Or, and I am crossing everything I’ve got as I say this, LUCIFER? Pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease. Satan, hear my prayers. (Wait. What?)
And speaking of reveals? Baby Amara needs a change. Like, literally. Because when Jenna pulls back her adorable pink suit something much more pink and far less adorable makes itself known—baby Amara? In the same spot that the Darkness wears it? Is tattooed with the Mark of Cain.
Hell of a setup for the season, eh? Let’s meet up here next week for episode two, “Form and Void” and see how Sam deals with his STD (Supernaturally Transmitted Disease. Not the clap. Pervs.) See you then!