Thursday, October 4, 2012

Recap - Supernatural

They're baaaaaack!

Yes, my favorite show of all time is finally back on the air after a very long - though pleasantly program-filled - summer. And overall it was a very strong season premiere.  We're in Season 8 now and I think the show is in for a rockin' good season.

Now, I have a friend who keeps telling me that I have to write about why this show is my favorite and to share my passion with others.  I agree, especially if it gets new viewers watching, but then I realize how very hard that is to do.  To put into comprehensible words and sentences all that I want to say, all that I feel for the show, its cast, writers, directors and stories ... it's daunting, overwhelming.  I may be able to do it justice one day, but let me sum it up as best I can for now:

This show has two of the strongest leading men on TV today.  Particularly Jensen Ackles (Dean).  There's is nothing this man can't do: action, drama, comedy, broad comedy, you name it.  He is the master of the single-tear fall, he has 101 expressions, can deliver one-liners to perfection and ... let's face it, he's damn pretty to look at.  Plus he's become a hell of a director.  His onscreen brother, Jared Padelecki (Sam), is also a gem.  He can convey sweet innocence and compassion then on a dime be as cold-hearted and soulless (literally, as seen in season 6) as they come.  He's had to play the gauntlet of these emotions and all the ones in between during the show's run ... and he ain't bad eye candy either.  Except for that hair ... more on that in a moment.

I have watched a lot of television, I mean THOUSANDS of hours, but never have I followed the people behind the scenes like I have with Supernatural.  I actually know writers and directors by name and have become fans of theirs.  A great deal of the writing of this show is nothing short of brilliant, often in a single episode making you laugh, cry, scream, be tortured emotionally and fall in love, and that's a feat to be celebrated.  Not that there haven't been a small handful of eps with their problems (sorry "Red Sky at Morning" and "Bugs", I'm looking at you), but even in those there are moments you are willing to tune back in for again and again.

See, for me, I love a show that has re-watchability for me.  If I can take an episode I've seen a dozen times and watch it over and over and still discover new things or it can still touch me like new, that's a winner for me.  And that's Supernatural.  Hell, I own all available seasons on DVD and have them on my iPod and still will sit there and watch it on TNT twice every morning if I'm around.  And that's with freakin commercials! That's a credit to the show.

So I guess I was able to put it into some words.  But it still doesn't convey it enough that I'm not just a fan, I truly respect this show and all those that bring it to life episode after episode, season after season.

And I have to believe the PTB at the CW feel the same, cause not only have they stuck with the show - which isn't a ratings winner, but then again, what show on the CW is? - for eight seasons, but has taken it out of "death night" Friday and brought it to the forefront of Wednesdays at 9 p.m.  And the head of the net says he will keep the show on the air for as long as they want to keep making it.  Love that!

So, back to last night's premiere.  Some spoilers may come to the fold here, so if haven't watched the ep yet, may want to come back later (but please do).
To recap where we left off, last season Dean and Sam finally managed to defeat Dick Roman (James Patrick Stuart), a.k.a. Head Leviathan, sending him back to Purgatory.  Unfortunately, Dean and Castiel (Misha Collins) got caught in the blast wave and were transported there right along with him, leaving Sam to believe his brother was well and truly dead.  Now, that little wrinkle has never stopped them before ... I mean, come on, these guys have died SO MANY times before but have always managed to come back, usually because one brother fights to bring the other back, or someone else pulls that feat off.

But this time was different.  Sam actually kept the promise the brothers have so often made to each other (but never kept): if one dies, the other should go live a "normal, apple-pie life."  So that's what Sam did.  I know a lot of people right now have a problem with that.  After all, these boys have gone to Hell and back - literally - for each other, and you thought they would never be able to move on without each other.  But to Sam, everyone he knew and loved was dead.  There was nothing left to fight for, no one left to fight with, so he walked away and found a new life away from hunting.  And you can't fault the guy for that.  Maybe if he'd known where Dean was he'd have gone after him, but he truly believed Dean was dead and accepted that.

But Dean wasn't dead.  He was in fact in "hell-adjacent" serving a tour being likened to his own demonic Vietnam.  24/7 peril, monsters constantly chasing you, no chance to relax or be safe, vicious, horrible death looming around every corner.  And for a man who spent 40 years in Hell, this seems so  much worse.  Hell damaged his psyche, but Purgatory seems to have clearly hardened the man to a new level of stone, and I think we're going to see that emerge dangerously throughout the season.

Suffice to say the dynamic between the brothers has shifted once again as it has done so many times before.  I like that their lives over the past year (that's how much time they were apart ... so far they've spent several years apart over the 8 seasons, so what the hell year is it for them anyway?) will be told in flashbacks: how Dean got out of Purgatory with the help of new vampire-BFF Benny (Ty Olsson) and what happened to Castiel vs. Sam and new on-again-off-again girlfriend Amelia (Liane Balaban) in a hunt-free existence and more.

The premiere was great in that it had the brothers together for the whole hour.  We've had them separated so much in the last few years of the show, so it was a nice change.  And there was a brotherly hug, which so many of us love to see, rare as they are with these macho guys.  I can deal with recurring character Kevin "The Prophet" Tran (Osric Chau) for a bit, but I hope he's not going to be a constant third passenger in Baby (i.e. the Impala).  He's clearly going to play a key role in the overall story for the season: finding the spell that can lock demons away in hell forever.  And of course, thrilled to have Mark Sheppard's Crowley still around.  And Castiel should pop in in the next few episodes.

As much as I love this show - have I mentioned that? - during the ep I couldn't help but nag at a few things - nobody's perfect, right?

1) Sam said he dumped all their old phones.  So how in the world did newly-returned Dean get in contact with him to set up the rendezvous at the cabin? It'd been a whole year!

2) Dean seemed to have his old clothes ... did Sam save them for him, even though he believed him to be dead and gone once and for all?

3) Sam's hair.  I saw Jared at Comic-con this summer and couldn't believe how long it's gotten.  We're talking can-make-a-ponytail long.  He's always had long hair but now it's ridiculous.  And Dean never mocked him for it ... boo.  Upside?  The Wolverine-esque sideburns are no more!  Additional point - when the boys go into FBI-mode as they did tonight, no way would I buy the bureau letting an agent have their hair that long.  He still looked good though, and he's a new daddy, so he's got to be tired, but it doesn't show.

4) Sam fell back into fighting a little too easily.  Sure he's hunted all his life, but he WAS out of the game for a year.  Hell, even Dean was a little rusty in "Exile on Main Street" (seaon 6 premiere ... he'd been out of the life also for a year living with Lisa (Cindy Sampson) and Ben (Nicholas Elia)), so I don't buy the ease of the skill all that completely.

5) The brothers went right back to their usual way of being, which also seemed too easy, considering they've just had this amazing, miraculous reunion.  Couldn't we take a little time to enjoy it, feel it?  I know Jeremy Carver (new showrunner who also wrote this ep) probably wanted to take us smack right into the action of this new storyline, so I guess I'll just go with it.  He is one of my favorite writers and I'm so glad to have him back (he left to kick start the American version of Being Human on the SyFy Channel).

6) Borax - the stuff the boys use to reveal a Leviathan - is a harsh chemical.  So how come they were spraying and getting sprayed willy-nilly with the stuff, including near the eyes, and it didn't burn like the dickens?

There's probably a lot more I can say good and less good, but I think I'll end it here.  Bottom line, I can't recommend this show enough.  I know a lot of fans nitpick more than I do, get angry and defensive about plot points and character stuff, but I put my faith ever in the writers, cast and crew to do what they've been doing for me for 8 years: entertaining the hell out of me and giving me two incredible actors to watch - and drool over.  I mean, come on, how can you NOT??
 Tune in to Supernatural season 8 every Wednesday at 9 p.m. on the CW and every Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m. PST on TNT.

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