5.1 Sympathy For The Devil5.2 Good God Y’all!
Father of all things unholy! Season five of Supernatural returned last night to UK screens on Living TV with a double package of two episodes for the price of one. Each one was a confident lead into the rumoured last series of the show, scattering out new story arcs like fifty dollars notes on a blackjack table in Vegas.
Season four’s finale ended on the ultimate clincher as Sam and Dean stared into the blood strewn vortex of Supernatural hell, marking Lucifer’s terrifying return to power and glory, even if that swirling vortex did kind of resemble a giant strawberry Campino.
Season five’s opener Sympathy For The Devilbegan exactly where season four left off. Sam and Dean were still trapped in the same old chapel, pulling desperately at a door that wouldn’t budge, due to the devil’s ability to superglue any kind of possible escape known to man, and all the while the duo looked back to the mouth of hell, where at any minute, Lucifer was sure to make his appearance.
Except, that, err, he didn’t. Instead, the scene cut, inexplicably revealing that a confused Sam and Dean had somehow been transported onto a nice cosy plane, which surely surprised us fans as much as it did the brothers (it later transpires that it may have been ‘God’). Of course, Lucifer is still technically emerging from his fiery pit, so the shit is still to hit the fan.
The Devil’s ‘ta da!’ entrance comes in the form of a blinding white light that shoots into the sky from the chapel, causing the terrified pilot to swerve out of its way. The plane begins to plummet as Sam and Dean prepare for a crash. Now, that’s a lot to cram into a two minute segment and as confusing as it was to explain here, it was even more confusing to watch.
Even if, in retrospect, it seems a little optimistic to expect Lucifer’s grand entrance to be mono-a-duo with the Winchesters from the beginning (we’ve still got 22 episodes to fill here, people) it was disappointing to see the escape plan handled in such a hasty, slapdash way. Add to this the scene immediately after the crash, where we see Sam and Dean driving to Prophet Chuck’s house without a scratch on them (or for that matter, no massive head injuries) and, in my opinion, you’ve got the worst introduction to any season by a long shot.
Tirade over, it’s fair to say that, despite the glaring flaws of its intro, season five’s opening episode was an excellent starting point to a series which just seems to get better as time goes on. Centred around the brothers in equal measure this time, which is rare, Sympathy For The Devil packs a lot of interesting elements into its short timeframe, making for a fast paced and often emotional forty minutes, which boasts the introduction of new characters and the welcome return of old favourites.
The episode is centred on two storylines this time. Firstly, the build up to Lucifer’s actual big reveal at the end and a bonus ‘I can’t believe it!’ moment where more light is shed onto Dean’s true role in the impending apocalypse.
We are introduced to Nick, whom Lucifer has picked to be his vessel (until he gets to Sam, of course), in a truly dark and haunting way, showcasing the writers’ continued ambition to use the show’s 15 certificate to best effect.
Throughout the episode, we follow Nick as he deals with the death of his wife and child and as he walks through the quiet, empty house. Shown cleverly in short segments throughout the episode, Mark Pellegrino (Lost) perfectly captures his sombre, depressive state of mind and isolation from society. And misery is the devil’s play thing.
After several gruesome and nasty mind games, including making poor Nick hallucinate blood pouring down the sides of his dead baby’s crib, Lucifer has him pinned where he wants. As an angel, technically, Lucifer needs Nick’s permission to use him as a vessel, and so, dressed in the form of his dead wife, the devil begins to coax the man into saying that all important word: ‘yes’.
Interestingly, Erik Kripke chose to portray the fallen angel not as his stereotypical evil self but as a being who ‘loved God too much’ and feels betrayed by his expulsion from Heaven. While the concept of the lonely, bruised antichrist is hardly unique, it still aids to make Lucifer a fleshed out, two dimensional character from the beginning.
The second story concerns Chuck’s vision about Michael Sword’s possible location. As Castiel has gone missing and Zachariah (aka the biggest dick in the universe) is on the brother’s tail, Sam and Dean rush to Bobby’s to work out where it might be. Only, in yet another twist, of course it’s not Bobby at all.
Yup, Meg and her band of malevolent demons have stormed the castle, and when Bobby gets possessed, she happily watches as Dean’s surrogate dad is forced into a knife fight with the fellow hunter, before eventually gaining enough strength to ward off the demon long enough to stab himself in the leg (and in Supernatural world, that counts as a blessing). The usual furniture breaking battle ensues before Meg dispenses with her latest meat suit and Bobby is rushed to hospital, with the fear he may be paralysed and wheel chair bound.
As Supernatural un-luck will have it, the prophecy and subsequent hunt for the sword has all been a clever ruse from the start, orchestrated by Zachariah. As soon as the brothers show up, he’s standing there suited and booted to finally deliver the immortal news that, yes, Michael’s Sword is not to be the vessel, and that Dean is it.
In a torture session that hasn’t seen the like since Reservoir Dogs, the head angel attempts to convince Dean to give himself up by removing Sam’s lungs and giving the elder Winchester stomach cancer. Nice.
But who should show up to save the day but the little angel that could, Castiel, pronouncing that God truly exists and has brought him back from the dead. If this news is, indeed ,true and not just a red herring, it certainly is an interesting prospect, which will truly further the notion of good vs. evil and the concept of belief.
All in all, Sympathy For The Devilwas an interesting and exciting episode which has, hopefully, set the scene for great things to come. With interesting plot twists and some real answers to big questions that we’ve waited over six months to hear, the show looks set to develop well into its rumoured final run.
“God,” says Castiel in the introduction to Season five’s second episode. “We’re going to find God.|”
It’s certainly an interesting open gambit to Good God Y’all!, a Sam-centric episode focusing on paranoia and mistrust. Castiel’s announcement comes in a hospital room, after Bobby is told that the angel cannot cure his paralysed leg. He is cut off from heaven and doesn’t have the power, but there is something he can do to help in the long run.
After being brought back from the dead, something which isn’t, perhaps, totally out of the ordinary in Supernatural (Sam has died twice, Dean at least a dozen times) he believes that God must exist and needs a powerful amulet to track him down. Well, look no further than the thing that’s been hanging around Dean’s neck for twenty odd years. It’s funny how these coincidences keep happening, isn’t it?
The trouble with the storytelling in Supernatural is that sometimes it doesn’t always flow very well and here, we see a perfect example. Castiel reveals a potentially plot altering mission, exclaims that Dean’s old, well worn piece of jewellery is bestowed with magic powerful enough to find the one, true God, but then, simply disappears and doesn’t return for the entire episode. Instead, a completely different story takes its place. Now, this form of storytelling device does have its benefits, mostly to further the excitement and future interest of its audience, guaranteeing high viewing numbers and, well, let’s be honest, inevitable cash. But it can be confusing when we have prepared ourselves for one storyline, only to end up watching another.
Still, yesterday’s episode was a good all rounder with a surprise ending which kept the quick pace of the season’s opener. Bobby receives a call of distress from another seasoned hunter, Rupert. There’s a horde of demons in River Pass, Colorado and the townsfolk need help, and fast. Dean and Sam, of course, answer the call, only to pull up and find it’s nearly deserted, complete with upturned cars and that perfect ghost town vibe which we’ve all come to know and expect the worst from.
It’s nice to see some real light and colour in this episode, in comparison to the usual morbidly lit backdrops we are used to. While Supernatural‘s trademark dull, brooding tones are what often makes the show in the first place, change is good and the bright, blinding sun goes well with the western, shoot ‘em up theme, and it sure is a guns-a-blazing affair.
Good God Y’all! also welcomes the reintroduction of the secondary, yet always interesting characters of Ellen and Jo, who too, have come to help rid the town of demons. As Ellen meets the boys again after a long time apart (a hug and a slap for Dean, a non committal stare for Sam, whom she still doesn’t quite trust), she takes them to the survivors, informing the boys that Jo broke off from the pack earlier in the day.
The real story is, of course, that there were no demons, just the maniacal one quarter of the four horseman, War, playing mind games to test just how far humans will go to save their own skin.
This episode played on the notion of paranoia and mistrust very well, especially in regards to the relationship between the Winchesters. Here Dean becomes suspicious of Sam’s motives in going up to the surface, scared that he may ‘go dark side’ and develop a relationship with demons again. Sam, in a fit of rage, played well by Padalecki, who seems better suited to displays of darker emotion, questions the very idea that Dean is still so unbelieving of his abstinence. Still, as shown in the store scene, the elder Winchester may well have reason to doubt.
The last, pivotal moment to the episode did come as a bit of a shock. While it’s true that the brothers have been dragged further and further apart by Sam’s betrayals, guilt on an apocalyptic scale and deeply seated trust issues, it was still surprising to see the team, apparently, splitting up to go solo. It’s unlikely that this will last for longer than a few episodes, I presume, but still it’s a sad day when our boys fight.
So, Sam and Dean have gone their separate ways. And as luck would have it, a big, black pickup truck is conveniently parked right across the street. Well, we couldn’t have Sam standing 50 feet away, awkwardly avoiding Dean’s glare till the end credits roll now, could we?