Supernatural Season 8 Premiere Review: Just When He Thought He Was Out, They Pulled Him Back In

Supernatural (Ed Araquel/The CW)Supernatural is back! And I don’t just mean that in the sense that new episodes have returned. I mean that in the sense that the original spirit of the show seems to have returned. I don’t want to disparage the work of Sera Gamble over the last two seasons because there have been some stellar standout episodes in seasons 6 and 7, but I think the return of Jeremy Carver has given the show with a fresh breath of air. The fact that we all knew about his new job as showrunner – and his standout episodes in the past – have fans excited for the show in a way that may have been missing in previous years. There’s an important correlation between fans’ excitement and the quality of the show that cannot be understated. If you have both quality and excitement, you’re going to end up with one hell of a series.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” wasn’t my absolute favorite season premiere like “Lazarus Rising” or “In My Time of Dying”, but it is now #3 on my list of season premieres. In some respects it felt more like a gentle prelude to a bigger story, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Because this is a story that I’m very interested to see play out.

Reunited. But Does it Feel So Good?

When the episode opened we had jumped ahead a year to find Dean escaping from Purgatory. Stealing a backpack from a camping couple he made eventually tracked down his brother and the pair reunited at Rufus’ cabin. Sam joyfully greeted his brother, but that joy was short-lived when Dean got on his case for giving up hunting. Sam was honest about his new lifestyle choice, but all Dean could hear was the fact that Sam gave up the family business. Even more than that, Dean was furious when he learned that Sam didn’t look for him. But Sam was insistent that he had no road map to find Dean. Like Crowley and Jeremy Carver said, he was all alone, with no leads. And why would he want to continue with the very job that was responsible for the destruction of his entire family? Dean was petulant, but the brothers remained together, particularly when Dean came across several messages from Kevin Tran who had been attempting to contact Sam for the last year.

Prophet Power

The boys eventually tracked Kevin down in Iowa and we got a glimpse into the past year of his life. Crowley wanted him to decode a special tablet, but Kevin managed to turn the tables on him, destroying his demon bodyguards and escaping. Then he gives the Winchesters some news: he knows about a tablet from God that can close the Gates to Hell forever. Crowley came calling once again, even using Kevin’s old girlfriend as a bargaining chip, but the trio eventually escaped and headed off on a new mission to retrieve the tablet before Crowley does.

New Friends

Before Dean reunited with his brother at the beginning of the episode, he went on a little side mission to dig up a grave and resurrect someone. Who? Why, Benny the vampire, Dean’s new BFF from Purgatory. Through flashbacks to Purgatory we learn that Benny sought out Dean because he was human, and only humans can escape that dimension. But the boys spent some time killing together and now they’re all buddy-buddy. They’ve gone their separate ways though, and while Dean is off seeking God tablets and trying to get his brother back into hunting, Benny may or may not be chowing down at a funeral. Whatever he’s up to, he and Dean have agreed to some sort of a plan that Benny is supposed to follow.

Sam, meanwhile, snuck out of the house he shares with his vet girlfriend Amelia before joining his brother. And when Dean asked whether he gave up the hunting life for a girl, Sam clearly downplayed her importance in his life, preferring to keep their relationship to himself.

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  • trina

    As per your twitter, I’m here about the dog. And I sincerely hope you are right. Sam did seem desperate about the dog, and it’s also important that the vet (Amelia) seemed to pick up on it. She pushed the dog at him for a reason, and I think it was because she saw that Sam’s reaction to the dog suggested a much deeper emotional turmoil.

    I don’t begrudge Sam walking away in the slightest. He and Dean have given enough and it is well within reason for them to say no more. Of course it sucked for Kevin at the time, but he did just fine and came out stronger and more capable. And I think that is kind of the point.

  • Thomas

    The classic rock was awesome, but I was really loving the callbacks to earlier mythology especially the chalice of blood. Classic supernatural!

  • Melanie

    I dunno — to me the dog seemed more like a plot device to meet the vet than it did representing Dean. Yes, Sam seemed upset out of proportion to the situation, which speaks to the turmoil and grief (we assume) he was feeling, but I dunno if I would read much more into it. If anything, Carver has now used the metaphor of a dog to represent the ‘normal life’ twice – here and in Dark Side of the Moon, whaere Sam ran away (from John & Dean)and immediately found himself a dog.
    I sincerely hope that Sam clutching the dog is not all the exploration of his grief that we get. I remain supremely uninterested in the exploration of Sam’s relationship with Amelia, but if it is a sounding board for Sam finally talking about his feelings and how the events of the last couple of years have effected him, then it has potential to be interesting.

    • Robert Jackson

      I have to admit, I hadn’t looked at the dog in that way of representing what he could have. I had figured out that it was representative of what he had lost, but the link to Bones from Dark Side of the Moon threw me and made me think of it in a new light. Overall, I won’t lie, I was pissed with Sam and really wanted to hit him for abandoning Dean, but given the fact that he thought he was dead, I can forgive him. I still believe he would have tried, but given everything that he had lost, yeah, I can understand that. I do not, however, forgive him for abandoning Kevin. I am super pissed with Sam for that, and it will take me some time to get good with that.

      • Melanie

        I am also very annoyed with him – which I guess we are supposed to be – but I really don’t like it. It doesn’t feel ‘organic’ to me at all, but at least he’s already back in the game (more or less).

  • Louie

    I agree that Sam’s reaction to the dog was significant to his emotional state at the time and explains his state of mind when he meets Amelia. He seems almost heartbreakingly desperate to hold on to anything. I loved this episode…the look, the sound and thank Jeebus the Winchesters are back to kick-ass hand-to-hand action as opposed to just being thrown into things!I also love the way they have set the beginning of this season up. It’s sort of a win-win. Fans who want the brothers hunting on their own have that and fans of Castiel still have him around too. Doubt if it will be enough to make people happy but I’m very much looking forward to this season. Great start!

  • Robert Jackson

    I disagree entire, Padalecki has always been an impressive actor in his own right. Honestly, I don’t think he was really believing of the fact that his brother was alive, even then, and he’d just been thrown to the floor and covered in water/soap and cut, which is jolting after a year off of hunting. I’ll never say he’s a perfect actor, but he is impressive, especially with the way he acted during the insomnia/breakdown episode last season. I could literally feel that tired/desperate sensation from him, he sold it very well.

  • Laurie

    I agree so much about the dog! It represents the one thing he could do right then, to save and care for the dog. And his panic was as much PTSD as Dean’s greater damage, with Sam reliving all his loss, and guilt and helplessness. This he could do.

    Everyone is waiting for Sam’s meeting with Benny, but I am dying to see Dean’s meeting with the dog!!! I want to see Dean cuddle with it, because this Dean is so in need of love, I ache with it. And Amelia is going to be a great foil with Dean. I hope there are plans to interact.

    But what really blew me away was Jensen’s ability to act badass. Purgatory fascinates me and I want much more of it!

  • Michelle

    I absolutely loved the episode — i think it’s been one of the best in a loooooong time…

    Before i watched the episode and had been hearing talk/interviews about it, i couldn’t believe Sam hadn’t even TRIED to look for Dean — but his explanation last night was perfect — and made it completely believable…

    I love Dean (absolutely love him, he’s my favorite), but he irked me last night by the depth of his anger at Sam about turning away from hunting – yes, i completely understand his anger about the phones (and poor Kevin’s VMs) but seriously — did he completely forget that HE TURNED AWAY FROM THE LIFE FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR and lived the “apple pie life” while Sam was locked in a cage w/Lucifer and Michael?? he at least KNEW Sam was still alive while Sam had no idea about anything since they all disappeared in front of him…I wish he sometimes felt more empathy towards Sam…but then that’s saying something about Jensen’s fantastic acting and creating such a great character — you love him but want to beat him at the same time! :-)

    • Westerly

      I think what upset Dean the most was that Sam didn’t TRY looking for him, while he never stopped trying to pop Sam from the cage even when he was with Lisa and Ben.

      But I get what you’re saying. Dean is my favorite too, and I actually found myself feeling bad for Sam. He was so humble in this episode.

    • Carrie

      The entire time Dean was with Lisa, he looked for ways to get Sam out of the cage. Also, Dean was actually hunting in the season 6 premiere.

      I was very disappointed with Sam and I feel that Dean was entitled to be hurt and angry with Sam. Sam didn’t bother to even look into what happened to Dean. Sam made an assumption that Dean died, but I don’t why because all he saw was Dean disappear. Sam could have done some searching to see if Dean was dead or not. Sam had access to Bobby’s books, the Campbell books, he could have contacted Crowley, he could have done any number of things. As we saw later in the premiere, Sam can research.

      I don’t want to beat Dean, I felt bad for him hearing that his brother never looked for him. I thought Dean’s reactions were completely appropriate and understandable.

  • Judy H

    I absolutely loved this ep! I also agree with many of your story points: how the constant struggle to survive in Purgatory seems to have given Dean back his purpose, his focus…How Sam once again has the carrot of normalcy dangled in front of him, only to once again choose family, and the dangers that come with that choice, over “safe”. I believe, as their stories unfold, that each of them will have to accept the choices the other made to survive, to keep going against all odds. The backstory with Dean and his fangy friend, Benny(whom I totally do NOT trust), sounds an awful lot like the original Ruby and her “I’m here to help you” spiel that turned out to be as self serving as I always suspected. And..I do see the dog as a metaphor for just one more living thing that Sam feels he has hurt and can’t save. I think we’ll see he was in a really bad place when that accident happened, and it was just the last straw. Everyone was damned near perfect tonight: Jared, Jensen, Mark, “Kevin”, Ty….If the rest of the season is as good as this ep, we’re in for a hell of a ride!

  • Maham

    I thought exactly the same when it came to Sam abandoning their family buisness and looking for Dean but now I think you are right Sam needs a change and everyone has its own limits of bearing something which you would love to give it away. On the whole yeah this season it’s gonna be thrilling and yeah Dean bff-ing with “Vamps” is not so great
    and also what I didn’t like is that they changed the “Road so far’s” song

  • FB

    I agree about the dog, it was clearly some sort of transference and Sam was having something close to a panick attack. I also understand that he wanted out of the life, and that he tried to clutch at something in this life in order not to drift apart he was so alone and lost and on the verge of a breakdown. The dog, and maybe Amelia (we’ll see in the next episodes) probably came at the right time. And I also believe Sam was in sort of denial about Dean when he didn’t look for him at first, like, he *thought* he was *likely* dead, but what if he was REALLY, DEFINITELY dead? How could he deal with such a *knowledge*? Still I think the Sam we know once in a slightly better state of mind could and SHOULD have tried to UNDERSTAND what happened to his brother. If he was really dead, and in heaven, then he could have let him go. But what if he was (as it in fact was) NOT dead? There’s no way some thoughts of this sort didn’t cross Sam’s mind during the whole year, and still .. he didn’t even look and chose to NOT KNOW what happened to his brother. And one more thing .. even if Sam knew for sure Dean was in heaven, the corcumstances are not comparable to Buffy, ’cause the supernatural’s heaven is different from the btvs’ heaven. And Dean didn’t quite liked heaven when they visisted it, lol, but yeas if he knew for sure he was in heaven then I’d understand him not trying to bring him back. As it is, he didn’t even try to know, and I can empathize with Sam’s state of mind all throughtout the year he spent away from hunting, but I CAN’T empathize with him enjoying his normal life not knowing what happened to his brother, and no, *guessing* he was dead don’t count.

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