When we last left them at the end of Season 8, our Winchester boys had been trying to close the Gates of Hell. Of course, since there can never be a happy season finale for Supernatural (and honestly, who would want that anyway? Where’s the drama?) both the Winchesters and Castiel failed in their quests. In those last pivotal moments, Sam collapses and the sky lights up like the apocalypse as angels fall to earth, wings ablaze.
Season 9 picks up right after, as Sam and Dean chat in the Impala about what just happened. The brotherly tension is clear right away. Last season came to a head after Sam felt betrayed by Dean buddying up with the vampire Benny over him. But there’s something off in this scene. The coloring is all wrong, a wash of greenish and blue hues. It’s sickly. The camera is unsteady, looks hand-held, which slowly disintegrates into dutch angles. And that’s when we realize it—this isn’t the real world, this is all inside Sam’s head, and he’s in a coma.
Burning wings and the Supernatural logo explode onto the screen, accompanied by that ear-numbing high pitched angel noise. This is going to be the season of the fallen angels, especially since there are so many of them in this premiere.
Castiel is shaken by his lost grace. He meets Hale, an angel who no longer knows her purpose. Castiel, who has had much more experience with humanity, tries to point out that it’s not all bad. She can do what she wants. Hale admits she’d like to see her last creation, the Grand Canyon. Is this going to turn into a road trip movie?
In the hospital, Dean gets desperate when a doctor tells him things are now in God’s hands. When he can’t reach Cass, he sends out an open prayer to any angel listening. The first angels who arrive are not nice. The angel Ezekiel steps forward to save Dean’s life. Ezekiel genuinely wants to help.
Supernatural has never shied away from painting Heaven in a less than wholesome way. The Heaven of Supernatural is shiny on the outside, but full of all-powerful beings that have been separated from humanity for far too long to understand its value. And with God “missing,” it only complicates the matters of why evil is allowed to walk the Earth.
We’re introduced to two sympathetic fallen angels, Hale and Ezekiel. The only difference is Ezekiel remains a faithful soldier, while Hale reacts violently like a bratty child when Cass insists he must help his human friends first. Season 9 promises more character development on the angels. For the most part, only Cass has shown many layers throughout the series, while the rest are simply following orders, borderline evil or corporate jerks. Or a mixture of all three, as we turn an accusing glare at last season’s Naomi.
Comatose Sam sees Dean and Bobby. Dean represents the fight to live side of him. Bobby is the side who wants to let go. He eventually meets Death, one of Supernatural fandom’s favorite recurring characters. Dean, via Ezekiel’s limited power, is able to witness this scene as Sam tells Death if he dies, he should stay dead.
It’s natural that Sam would ask for perma-death, after all he and his brother have died a ridiculous amount of times. He’s probably tired of all the crap he deals with, and thinks he should have died years ago (aka Season 2 finale). If he died, fans would expect Dean to do something brash and bring him back like he’s done before. It’s a problem inherent in scifi/fantasy shows. Once you show that death isn’t really all that serious, killing off any character becomes cheapened. In eight plus seasons of Supernatural, we’ve seen enough main characters die and come back to not care as much anymore.
Ezekiel says the only way to save Sam is by possessing him. Dean doesn’t like it, but everyone knows where this is going. Dean agrees, but Sam has to say yes first.
Castiel has been angel-napped by the kind-of-creepy Hale who drives to the Grand Canyon. Castiel takes his chance and crashes the car. Hale flies through the windshield and ends up in a broken and twisted mess that could easily qualify her for gross walker-of-the-week on The Walking Dead. She wants him to change his mind, say yes to her point of view.
We’ve reached the zenith of a recurring theme at this point. The theme is saying yes, accepting a new fate. Castiel wants Hale to accept her new mortal life as good. Hale wants Castiel to return to the old ways. Sam wants perma-death, and Ezekiel disguised as Dean is about to ask Sam to fight a little longer.
We know where this goes. The angel possesses Sam. When the time is right and Sam is healed enough, Ezekiel lets Sam have control again, with no memory of recent events. Ezekiel will remain inside until he’s fully healed, but if Sam realizes he’s there and ejects him, Sam will die. The threat lingers over our main characters and will propel us into the rest of the season.
Sam wakes in the Impala. The colors have normalized, the camera is stable, and this is definitely reality. Dean broods, knowing he must keep Sam ignorant.
There are humorous moments. One is Castiel in a laundromat peeling off his clothes. It answers the age old question: “boxers or briefs?” He looks at his small pile of change, his bloody clothes in the washer, and then at an inviting vending machine. He walks out of the store in a hooded sweatshirt with snacks. It’s funny and sad because we know Cass now has to adjust to life as a mortal, eating, drinking, washing clothes. His signature suit and trench coat are now indisposed. Well that explains the promo pics of Cass in a new suit! I guess six years straight was long enough to wear the same outfit.
An interesting start. Definitely not as apocalyptic as the end of Season 8 would have some believe. There are some flat spots that don’t hit the mark they intend, such as the thoughtful ending with brooding Dean. The brothers keeping secrets from each other has always ended badly. It’s as if these characters have forgotten the lessons they’ve learned from each other on the road. Secrets breeds disaster and, well, I guess we’re looking for some disaster in Supernatural, aren’t we?
I’m very fascinated to see Cass’s journey as a mortal, and I can’t wait to see some classic Cass moments like when he learned to use voice mail, or watched porn for the first time. Then we have the bonus with the fallen angels being PO’d–they’ll likely be the boys’ main enemies.
Not as solid or exciting an episode as I had hoped, but I’ll look forward to the next episode, knowing that now this has been set up, we’ve got some hijinks coming our way. I like hijinks.