The verbose "Supernatural" Season 8 premiere picks up a year after the Season 7 finale. Sam, Dean, and the indestructible Impala are together again, but it is not a happy reunion. Dean questions Sam's dedication to the family and hunting. Sam questions Dean's unrealistic expectations and oversimplified sense of duty.
Life after hell
Along with a vampire named Benny, Dean managed to escape purgatory through a humans-only exit. When Sam asked about Castiel, a tormented Dean said that he died but would not elaborate. His secret conversations with Benny make it sound as though Dean liked the constant combat of purgatory and did something horrible out of desperation. During Season 4, Dean admitted he enjoyed torturing souls in hell. It sounds like he did something equally heinous alongside Benny. Did he sacrifice or abandon Castiel to save himself?
Left completely alone for the first time, Sam gave up hunting to enjoy a normal life with a veterinarian and a stray dog. Dean is upset that Sam did not try to rescue him. Although "Supernatural" seemingly exhausted this argument when the Winchesters made various deals and self-sacrificing attempts to rescue each other in previous seasons, Dean thinks their abiding love always demands the risk.
Dean is too self-centered to muster any compassion or empathy for his brother. He easily adopted Castiel as a surrogate brother, and Benny seems to hold an equally intimate role. He obviously needs a sidekick but never gives Sam credit for fulfilling that vital role.
With his humor and freshness, Kevin keeps this angsty, flashback-heavy episode together. When Sam persuades him to help banish all demons forever, he reinvigorates his own dedication to the mission. Angry, wounded Dean would not have been able to inspire him in such a way.
Like a college-age Sam, young Kevin is losing himself to pursue an undeniably important quest. He watched helplessly as Crowley snapped Channing's neck just as Sam watched his own girlfriend die. Although Sam and Dean are hardened by their own losses, it was very telling that neither could offer sympathy to Kevin. Sam was silent, and Dean urged him to get over it. At the very least, a rousing call to avenge her death was in order. Are they so damaged they can't muster something more?
Season 8 outlook
The overall tone harkens back to earlier seasons when the Winchesters had a definite mission. This is a promising change from the recent roster of disappointing enemies, like Eve. The possibility of an end to their mission makes all the unimaginable loss and suffering seem worthwhile.
Although the premiere laid a good foundation, Sam and Dean's repetitive dispute is frustrating. Will they ever repair their fractured relationship? Maybe Dean needs to take his own advice and choose to get over it.
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