That was unexpected.
After viewing the Supernatural Season 8 premiere on Wednesday night, dare we say Dean actually misses purgatory?
The episode picked up one year after the events of last season’s finale in Maine, where two twentysomethings heard a strange noise in the woods. The girl sent the guy to look outside their tent, and when he turned at the sound of rustling, he wasn’t met with a creature or even a deer. Instead, a bloody, ragged Dean pointed a gun at the man’s face and asked where he was. It was a clever play on the show’s monster-of-the-week-tears-into-its-victim opening, and it set the tone for an episode in which much was slightly off-kilter.
For one, Dean next headed to Clayton, La., where he dug up some bones and performed a ritual that let loose a vampire, Benny, from his glowing arm. “Keep your nose clean,” Dean warned. Then, at the moment when Dean would usually threaten or kill such a being, came a shockingly friendly exchange – “We made it brother! I can’t believe it!” “You and me both” – followed by a hug!
Things with Sam were different, too. While Dean had spent every day killing monsters in purgatory, his brother had given up the hunter life and ditched his cell phones. He’d found something he never had before with a girl (not even Jess?) after hitting a dog and taking it to a doctor. It wasn’t love at first sight, though, with Amelia the vet. She gave Sam a surprisingly hard time for the pooch he’d just dumped on her. But that was nothing compared to the look he got from Dean after revealing that he had kept their promise to each other and hadn’t searched for his brother after he disappeared. Even worse was the stare down after Dean discovered Kevin’s frantic, unanswered messages on one of Sam’s abandoned phones. The younger Winchester admitted that Kevin was their responsibility and he should have looked after him, so they tracked him to an old church. Best description of the past year, via Dean, after the prophet asked what happened to them: “I went to purgatory. Sam hit a dog.”
Kevin had some news of his own: A new tablet about demons had instructions on how to close the gates of Hell – forever. He had managed to escape Crowley’s men and stash the valuable info, but the King of Hell was after him, with a demon using his girlfriend as a meat suit. When Crowley let the GF peek through to prove she was still alive in there, Kevin unleashed the best line in an episode full of memorable one-liners: “There’s a demon in you, and you’re going to your safety school.” Then Crowley killed her as the boys escaped. Poor girl can’t catch a break.
Meanwhile, a flashback revealed that Dean and Benny weren’t always so close. When they first met in purgatory, Dean was distrusting of the vamp who wanted to catch a ride out on the “soul train” via a humans-only portal. But one year later, they were reminiscing over the phone about how “pure” (!) purgatory was. Then Benny, who was standing inexplicably graveside, warned Dean to keep his nose clean, as well. But of what?! Clearly, something happened between the two while they were stuck down there. Dean was awfully cagey to Sam about Cas’ fate, only revealing that “he let go,” and he’s keeping Benny’s presence a secret from his brother, too. Not to mention, there’s something almost animalistic and ruthless about Dean now. Earlier in the episode, when he told Sam he wasn’t the same guy, he wasn’t kidding.
The season opener from new showrunner Jeremy Carver definitely let us with plenty of other burning questions. Here’s some scoop on what’s ahead from the man in charge himself:
• What’s going on with Castiel?! “By episode 7 [and] 8, you’ll start to get a real good understanding of what happened in purgatory to Cas.”
• Sam tells Dean there was a girl, but we see him leaving Amelia at the top of the episode, so what gives? (Side note: Did it look like someone was watching him take off?) “Sam is keeping thoughts of this woman and this relationship to himself because it’s a type of thing that greatly informs where he is now at the beginning of the season. It represents something to him. It represents essentially another way, another life… It’s something he’d rather keep to himself than share.”
• Does closing the gates of Hell mean the hunt would be over for the Winchesters? Not necessarily, says Carver; demons aren’t the only things that Dean and Sam kill. The issue of whether the gates will also be closed to human souls will be touched upon in a future episode.
• Did Dean actually enjoy purgatory? “One of the last things you might expect, going to a place that’s so horrible, [is] that someone might have actually considered it somewhat of a happy experience. You have to ask yourself, why do you think it’s happy? What is this thing inside himself he connected to, this primal side of himself? How will he deal with that topside? We use Benny as that thing that is representative of Dean in purgatory.”
• Speaking of the vamp, how could Dean let Benny go when he made a point of killing Amy (Jewel Staite) last season? “That’s the question that comes front and center. That’s something that’s got to be confronted at some point. [It] arcs out over the course of the season.”