6.1 Exile On Main Street
This review contains spoilers.
One year after Sam sacrificed himself to save the world, we find Dean living the suburban life with Lisa and her son, Ben. Dean has stopped hunting, but that doesn’t always guarantee the quiet life. Especially when Sam returns and he’s brought company.
Obviously, at some point, Sam is back. We all knew that was coming, but again it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t feel forced and I would be doubtful of anybody who said that they saw it coming.
Now, big spoilers, Sam has actually been back for a whole year but, after his sacrifice, didn’t want to bring Dean back into the family business. Family being the operative word.
Sam has been hunting with three cousins and the boys’ grandfather, Samuel Campbell, who had previously been killed by the yellow-eyed demon and now, like Sam, is back and also, like Sam, there is no explanation as to why and how they are both alive and well.
Sam interrupts Dean’s idyllic life as it is under threat by some nefarious creatures whom Dean has had some dealings with in the past. It goes without saying that Clan Campbell prove victorious, but just when you think it’s all back on the road as a happy hunter, Dean elects to stay with Lisa and Ben, and Sam heads off back to rejoin Samuel and co. (Although his decision to turn down the Impala over that horrible monstrosity he drives shows that he really is still possessed by a soulless demon.)
I have to say I was surprised at how good this episode actually was. It had a very difficult job of kick-starting the series after the end of season five and I feel it accomplished that well.
The thing that impressed me most was Dean’s life. We see him at home, at work, enjoying a drink, living the normal family life when the old hunter skills begin to notice one or two hints of strange goings on. And this is the bit that got me, as much as ‘Dean, Normal Guy’ would possibly be the least popular spin-off ever, as a viewer, part of me didn’t want him to be dragged back into the life of a hunter.
That’s not say there aren’t any negatives in this episode, but bearing in mind how much has to be established in the first episode, I think it does a good job.
I did feel the revealed threat and the actual threat was a kind of a letdown, but I also recognise that the episode wasn’t really about the bad guys. It was about the brothers. Both Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles did a great job of putting a new spin on the dynamic of their relationship with some great moments together, particularly changing from heartfelt emotion to some great humour.
There is a great scene where Dean’s normal life gets invaded by his hunter life. Mitch Pileggi reprises, or should that be resurrects, his role as Samuel and gives a solid performance and fits in nicely.
Unfortunately, the three cousins don’t get much of a look-in, but there is obviously more to be revealed in coming episodes.
Overall, I think this is a fine start to the new season. There are enough nods to what has gone before to keep regular Supernatural fans happy while at the same time walking the difficult line of making it accessible to the first time viewer.