IT'S BACK IT'S BACK IT'S BACK IT'S BAAAAAACK!
Hello, friends. How was your hellatus? Good? That's good. I hope you've sufficiently recovered from the trauma of the Season GR8 finale, unlike Sam, who really really didn't, and technically, still hasn't as of the end of "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here." Sam is possessed by an angel but doesn't know it. Castiel is a real boy now. Dean is... well, I don't even know where to start with Dean. The man just never learns. Nine seasons in and he pulls the same crap he did before Hell and the apocalypse-that-wasn't turned him into an emotionally repressed alcoholic. He makes decisions that make me feel like Willy Wonka (the Gene Wilder edition) when all the bratty kids keep touching things and Wonka's past the point of caring. "No. Don't. Stop."
I know Dean's not going to stop. Dean knows he's not going to stop. Someone has to say something though, make some token effort to force the man to embrace some character growth. WHY WON'T YOU GROW? I've given you sunshine! I've given you dirt! You've given me no-o-thing, but heartache and hurt!
I'm sorry. I have a lot of feelings. And coffee.
Putting aside my frustration with Dean as both a character and a human being, "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here" was a strong start for the last remaining bit of programming from The CW's WB days. It was genuinely exciting, introduced some fun new faces—the calm, cool Ezekiel (Tahmoh Penikett) and psycho-stalker ex-girlfriend angel Hael (Grace Phipps)—and took us somewhere new with the introduction of Castiel as a human in a new world just teeming with pissed-off fallen angels.
On the downside, as far as the Winchesters themselves go, a lot of the set-up in "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here" felt very old hat. Sam was dying and Dean was freaking out about it. A trip through Sam's funhouse-of-horrors headspace revealed that Sam was pretty okay with dying. Dean did a questionable thing to ensure that Sam wouldn't die, but Sam can't know about it or else he'll get really bitchy (and probably die), so here's to yet another season of Dean and Sam keeping secrets from one another, Dean reveling in some serious co-dependency issues that the writers insist are so not unhealthy that I feel a little nauseous sometimes, aaaaaand Sam being sad about stuff.
Don't even get me started on how seriously messed up the entire Sam-possessed-by-Ezekiel-for-his-own-good scenario is. Nope, too late. It's like this: When Dean was in Hell, he was a torturer and he hated it and it was one of the worst experiences of his (after)life. Remember "On the Head of a Pin," when Cas and the other angels were like, "Hey, boo, we need you to pull out those torturer skills and go to town on Alastair because he taught you how to be a depraved monster and that's a really handy skill to have right now?" And Dean was like, "No, how dare you even ask me something like that you sickos?"
I know, I know, Dean ended up doing the torturin' anyway, but that's not the point. Or maybe it's a little bit of the point.
Flash-forward a bazillion seasons. Sam's turn in Hell was different than Dean's, including the reason and manner in which he ended up there. Sam has struggled with his issues around not being "fully human" since, like, Season 2. Maybe Season 1. Idk, when did we find out about the demon blood? Then there were the possessions and the soullessness and Lucifer... Dean was absolutely right when he said that Sam would never, EVER, consent to being possessed—even if it was by an angel, even if was to save his life. One of the worst aspects of Sam's Hell experience was being possessed by Lucifer, another angel.
So clearly the answer is to manipulate Sam into consenting, by not being entirely clear about what he's agreeing to, and also wiping his memory because that's always worked out so well for the Winchesters in the past.
Kinda messed up, Dean. Kiiiiinda messed up.
But the current Winchester dilemma doesn't have to drag the whole otherwise-promising season down. My fellow thrifters are well aware of how you can take an old thing and incorporate it into a fabulous new look. Sam had to be saved somehow. You can't have Supernatural without Sam. Maybe a Sam-is-dead storyline could have worked (I mean, where are all the dead going if heaven is locked up? Is it only locked for angels?), but maybe not, so let's just go with what we have. I'll just sit here and cry for Sam's autonomy in my sad little corner while crossing my fingers for more Men of Letters stories because that is the freshest and awesomest idea Supernatural's had in a long time and I'd hate to think it's being squandered.
Castel-as-human proved to be a pretty interesting story, though—surprisingly so, for me. Not a secret: I'm not a huge Cas fan. I don't hate him or anything, but I just never understood (and still don't understand) why everyone pees their pants over him. So an entire dedicated storyline—completely removed from anything Sam and Dean are doing and probably filled with poop jokes and awkward social situations—just didn't appeal on paper.
You know what, though?
I liked it.
It wasn't flawless—Castiel understood that he no longer had wings and could no longer fly but he didn't understand that he could no longer knock out giant biker dudes with his fingertips? The stuff that wasn't played for laughs was genuinely good, though. Everything in the laundromat was fantastic and sad and insightful—full of development and evolution for Castiel, who has also grown quite a bit in his five seasons on the show, even more than Dean, who has been here THE ENTIRE. TIME. SOMEBODY. DO. SOMETHING.
I can't wait for the fallout from his encounter with Hael (You think she's really dead? I don't think she's really dead) and it'll be a good arc this season, I hope, to see how Cas reacts to his humanity in the long run. All things considered, he was pretty "human" for an angel even before the fall, which definitely put him in a position to be less-traumatized by the experience than his siblings, but Cas has already had a taste of the sucky side of humanity: pain, poverty, hunger, plus I bet he smells like a butthole right now. It's currently all very novel and curious, but in the long run? If he can't successfully adapt? The whole humanity thing is going to be way less liberating and freeing and more totally suckass.
Oh, and Jim Beaver came back to play the Bobby that lives in Sam's head and encourages him to die because everyone really regrets the decision to kill Bobby off two seasons ago even if it was one of the better episodes from that period and a generally good episode of Supernatural as a whole. I like Jim Beaver, so I'll let it slide. I also liked Headspace Bobby more than the atrocious ghost Bobby storyline soooo... gold star? Sure.
And we're off! I'm so excited! The flaws that were apparent in "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here" are, in all honesty, problems that have plagued Supernatural on a series-wide level for a little bit now, so the highly scientific formula for determining whether or not this was a good episode looks something like this: I disliked X and I disliked Y, but I thoroughly enjoyed X and Y together. So now we need to come up with a cutsey name to replace Season GR8 because I'm a child and I like cute names. How do we feel about Season Fine? Not fine like, "Yeah, fine, whatever," but fine in the context of "Damn, boy, you fiiiiiine."
IDK. TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS. <3
– So, the angels fell, but they still have their grace except for Castiel because Metatron specifically stole his? Is that how this works?
– If there'd been a table within reach for me to bang my head against when Dean sent out his all-points bulletin to every angel ever, you wouldn't be reading this review because I'd be so severely concussed that I'd be hospitalized or something.
– Is Ezekiel a good angel or a bad angel, do you think?
– Will we see Hael again?
– "I've got the king of hell in my trunk." Yeah, at least we didn't get saddled with another demon deal, right?
– Do we need to talk about Headspace Dean killing Headspace Bobby? In other news, Sam Winchester's headspace is... well, no wonder the man wanted to die for real and forever. Sheesh.
– Death himself was honored to reap a Winchester. *sniff* HOLD ME.
– Dean, Dean, Dean. SMDH.
– On another note: Oh look, Jared Padalecki gets to play yet another "version" of Sam as Ezekiel!Sam and Jensen Ackles gets to be a bitter ol' drunk for the next twenty-whatever episodes. In other news, I'm still grumpy that we missed out on Michael!Dean four seasons ago.
– Whatever. Bring it, Season Fine. BRING IT.