I think it's safe to say that Supernatural's seventh season is off to a much better start than its sixth. "Exile on Main St.," last year's Season 6 premiere, might be one of series' worst episodes ever—a total mistake that took the show away from its roots and, in hindsight, never paid off. But Friday's Season 7 premiere, "Meet the New Boss", was much closer in flavor to the old Supernatural—the one we've known, loved, and written 300-page homoerotic fanfic about—and it succeeded by mixing heavily serialized drama with some seriously twisted humor.
"Meet the New Boss" wasn't just about Castiel; it was also about Supernatural's "new" boss, Sera Gamble. Gamble, who replaced series creator Eric Kripke as showrunner after Season 5, wrote Friday's episode, and generally leans toward the darker side of Supernatural. She also tends to focus more on overall story arcs. But this year, unlike she did at the start of Season 6, Gamble made the smart decision to concentrate less on putting her own stamp on things and more on writing an episode that matches the rest of the series' tone. And that involved turning Cas into one lean, mean, heathen-killing machine.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, I think we can all agree that there are a bunch of chumps out there abusing religion for their own gain. Watching our new God stroll into churches in a trench coat to smite those who didn't act on the Word, or His Word, was awesome. So here's Cas running around the globe doing what he thinks is right, and it works. Early on, I was rooting for him to lay waste to intolerant Bible-thumpers, and I'm sure most of you were too. But his actions walked a fine line, and once Cas started to cross that line, the collateral damage of keeping the faith came to be a bit too much. Seeing a man of faith commit murder is always more frightening when it's obvious he really believes it and takes the Good Book literally. At, least that's what we thought. It turns out Cas might not be Cas at all, but a product of all the bad stuff he ate when he devoured a McSoul Sandwich from the Purgatory drive-thru—including a few Leviathans, which are pre-man beasts that are uglier than a Sam and Dean spat. And BAM!, there's our major storyline for Season 7.
But knowing that Misha Collins has been downgraded from series regular, how much can this story actually drive the season? Unless it consists of a bunch of figuring out how to kill God without showing God that much (in the same way that last year's civil war in Heaven took place out of sight), I'm guessing it will be one of many major goings-on.
Speaking of last season and its events, Sam is still damaged goods and continually redefining the term "splitting headache." I'm not going to complain about a character suffering an epic internal battle, but we spent a lot of time last season on Sam's mental well-being. I just hope there's something of quality left to add to that story. Bringing back Lucifer (yes! All hail Mark Pellegrino!) is a good start, though.
Supernatural is still a long way from establishing which arcs will be front and center in Season 7. But what the show accomplished in the first episode, and what puts my mind at ease, is that it's going back to the formula that hooked me in the first place by being simultaneously bloody, scary, and hilarious. "This is going to be so much fun," Levia-Cas said at the end. I concur!
– Who was it that whispered to Cas right before his image turned to stained glass? Was it one of the souls inside him or could it have been... *gulp* the real God?
– Dean: "Excuse me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" I laughed at that probably a lot more than I should have. Ditto for the sounds of Asian cartoon porn. Ditto for the God as "sexy" comment.
– Many of Sam's freak-out scenes looked like they were shot by Sam Raimi. His flashbacks to Hell had the look of Evil Dead 2 all over them, and there's nothing wrong with that.
– I hope the spell Bobby read was written on that piece of paper for Jim Beaver's sake. That was one hell of a mouthful of Latin or whatever dead language that was.
– What do you all think of the new credit sequence, this time in black and white? I'm hoping it grows on me, because I like the blood, fire, and breaking glass motifs of past seasons. I'm not even sure what this one is supposed to be.
– "Slow Ride" as the "The Story So Far" theme was in interesting choice. It doesn't have the same punch as "Carry on My Wayward Son" or "Thunderstruck." BUT it's a song that makes me think of fun, so maybe it's a sign that things are headed in that direction this season?
– Honest to goodness question: I'm finding myself really looking forward to the standalone episodes, even more than I'm looking forward to the longer-arc episodes right now. Maybe I'm just not as into the longer arcs since Season 5 ended. Where do you stand on that issue?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom