Supernatural season 8 episode 14 review: Trial And Error

Review Caroline Preece 15 Feb 2013 - 07:18

The brothers discover what the tablet says in this week's enjoyably light episode of Supernatural. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

8.14 Trial and Error

After last week’s Nazi-themed shenanigans, Sam and Dean are back in the Batcave and apparently planning to stay. There’s something innately comforting about seeing Dean, who’s never had his own room, decorate his designated area with vinyl records and his favourite guns. For long-time Supernatural fans, the sheer joy on his face may have even brought a tear to your eye. Sam is also settling in nicely, with the research side of hunting taking centre stage for a change.

But their domestic bliss (complete with homemade cheeseburgers) is short-lived, as Kevin calls to tell them that he’s figured out what the tablet says. Instead of simple instructions, of course the tablet is detailing various trials that God has set out for them, and it’s looking as though these heavenly tasks are what will be dominating the rest of season nine. Remembering the fallout for season five, no doubt, Dean insists that he will be taking the bullet this time around, much to Sam’s annoyance. These two need to figure out how to work together again if they’re actually going to succeed in closing the gates of hell.

And there’s a good chance they will end up closing the gates, but the show’s renewal for season nine suggests that the year won’t end with the extinction of demons and ghouls. It also confirms that neither Sam nor Dean will meet their end in the current fight, which takes a lot of the peril out of this episode’s central debate. Dean wants to undergo whatever tests God has in store for them, giving Sam the best chance he’s got of living a long and happy life after it’s over, but Sam obviously wants to do his share of the work. No matter what, we can expect future missions to be nasty, since ending hell on earth shouldn’t be a walk in the park.

This week’s first job signals that future trials will be much, much worse, as hunting down a devil dog and bathing in its blood is pretty hard to begin with. They track down a family they believe has entered into a crossroads deal (nicely tying the episode in to Dean’s deal in season three), and find that things are more complicated than they first appeared. Having a mission for the pair to work towards is helping the show hugely, since the past of seasons always seemed to show them fighting for survival, rather than the greater good. Now, they have a clear goal, and are taking steps to achieve it.

This slight change means that, despite the big stakes, the audience feel like they’re watching a lighter, more enjoyable show. The relationship between Sam and Dean has also changed since the low point a couple of weeks ago, and they’re back to sacrificing themselves for each other, rather than for their own depressive need to end it all. If we think too hard on it, many of the suicide missions since Lucifer was slain have been about the pair of them being tired of the constant struggle, and that doesn’t sound like an uplifting fantasy series. This way, their love for each other comes first, and that’s what most of the fans are tuning in for.

Kevin pops up briefly in the beginning of the episode, when his hard-core studying causes a mini-stroke. I don’t see Kevin surviving the rest of season eight, since the whole demon population are currently gunning for him, but his relative innocence and desperation to pick up life where he left of certainly gives Sam and Dean a good damsel in distress to care for. He’s been abusing his body, surviving on hot dogs and three hours of sleep a night, but what choice does he really have? I’d like to believe that he could return to his mother after the fight is done, but I just don’t see it happening.

Next week, in Man’s Best Friend With Benefits, we’re dealing with a witch’s familiar who enlists the Winchesters’ help when her witch is having dreams of murder that come true. It looks as though we’re still missing Cas, but we’ll all have to hope they’re saving him up for something spectacular. See you there!

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, Everybody Hates Hitler, here.

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