Supernatural, Ep. 9.01: “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” sets up an interesting season

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Jim Beaver, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles

Jim Beaver, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles

Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 1: “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”
Written by Jeremy Carver
Directed by John F. Showalter
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on The CW

Over the course of eight seasons, Supernatural has evolved from being a monster-of-the-week show about two brothers travelling across America to fight otherworldly creatures to a large scale story about Heaven, Hell, the powers that control each, and the humans who valiantly stand in the way of their goals. The survival of the Winchester brothers at the heart of the show has become somewhat of a metaphor for the show itself, as it has survived numerous threats of cancellation, a change in networks, and the departure of showrunners en route to its ninth season premiere tonight. With a closing shot of angels falling from Heaven just as Dean chose to save Sam’s life rather than seal the gates of Hell shut, there is a lot for this season premiere to tackle, and while not every cliffhanger is addressed, this is still an exciting episode that bodes well for the new season.

The idea of an Angel battle on Earth is a very promising one. While demons have, by and large, proven that their nature and motivations are nearly universal (with Meg being a notable exception, and even her change of heart was a result of Crowley’s ascension), angels have proven to be more complex and deceptive, thus making them more difficult to read and understand, even for a fellow angel like Castiel. With the numerous factions that were already present before Metatron expelled the angels from Heaven, from those who were on Raphael’s side in wanting to restart the apocalypse to those who were loyal to Naomi and others like her in the ensuing chaos after Castiel’s power grab and departure, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for old rivalries to flare up once again, and how the ensuing battles will affect humanity and the Earth in general. Hael’s about-face this episode is also a possible foreshadowing of how angels will react in the future. How numerous betrayals weigh on Castiel’s eternal optimism, as well as how Dean begins reacting to angels, promises to be fascinating.

Tahmoh Penikett, Jared Padalecki

Tahmoh Penikett, Jared Padalecki

Ezekiel taking up residence in Sam is a perfect example of such a situation. Having Sam be unknowingly possessed by an angel is a great twist on the show’s old idea, and throws the relationship between the Winchesters in an interesting new direction. Ezekiel’s true motivations are also unclear at this point; as Hael proves this week, the initial vessels chosen by the angels may not be strong enough to house them for an extended period of time, which is not an issue any angel would face with Sam Winchester, who was once groomed to be Lucifer’s vessel, and is thus definitely strong enough. Whether Ezekiel’s intentions are purely altruistic and Castiel is right about him, or whether he is lying to Dean and intends to seek refuge in Sam’s body, and how Dean will react to this development if it is the latter, is something to look out for.

Overall, this is a very promising start to the new season. Sam’s internal conflict over whether or not he should die is very well portrayed, and his rationale provides an interesting contrast to Bobby’s thoughts during his final moments in Season 7’s “Death’s Door”, lining up closer to Dean’s views on the subject than perhaps even the older Winchester brother would be willing to admit. Castiel’s attempts to adjust to his new human form also promise to be compelling, as he will be unable to get anything more than long-distance help from Dean and Sam, and will thus have to figure things out himself while fending off the angels who are targeting him due to his role in aiding Metatron. Jim Beaver’s Bobby and Julian Richings’ Death are always welcome presences, and this week is no exception. While Crowley remains nothing more than a knocking presence this week, his near-brush with being cured, as well as Abaddon’s new independence and desire to ascend to the throne of Hell, are also bound to have a major impact on the season going forward. How they factor into the angels’ fights as well as the lives of the Winchesters, whether or not Kevin Tran makes a return and what his role is if he does, and how Sam and Dean cope with the presence of Ezekiel are all worth tuning in to see next week.

– Deepayan Sengupta