Supernatural Review, Season 7, Episode 1: “Meet the New Boss”
Written by Sera Gamble
Directed by Phil Sgriccia
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on the CW
This week, on Supernatural: Cas does some stained glass work, as well as some smiting, Dean shows once again that he’s not the brightest bulb, Sam has a fun new imaginary friend, and Death has some tasty pickle chips
Supernatural is an interesting show. It’s the only example that comes to mind of a series that began with a set beginning, middle, and end planned out, executed that arc as planned, and then continued. Babylon 5 had a complicated cancellation/renewal period at the end of its arc, but Supernatural is now two seasons beyond its set end point. Season five ended with a fantastic finale, for the most part, but season six struggled. Though some lay blame at the feet of its new (at the time) showrunner, Sera Gamble, who has been with the show since its pilot, Erik Kripke, the creator, was still heavily involved in the planning and production of the season. Last year suffered, more than anything, from pacing problems and the common genre problem of “What next?”. When season five ends with the aversion of the apocalypse and the defeat of both Heaven and Hell, it’s a hard act to follow. (Buffy had similar problems in both seasons four and six.) After last year’s unevenness and a season finale cliffhanger that left many fans less than thrilled, the season seven premiere is a pleasant surprise, showing season six as a transition period, rather than the beginning of a downward trend in quality.
There are a few simple things “Meet the New Boss” gets right. First, and most importantly, we get some answers. More accurately, we get some information. Mythology shows don’t need to give answers all the time, but one can only watch the main characters stumble around in the dark for so long before becoming frustrated. Here we finally get some information about Purgatory, a driving force of last season that was left far too vague for viewers to invest in. Last year there were random mutterings from Eve and Crowley about it, but nothing concrete. This episode makes it concrete. Purgatory = Leviathan = Bad News Bears. Secondly, we get the return of Cas. He’s not the Cas we know and love, but he’s at least recognizable as the character we’ve spent the past several years watching and his actions in this episode are logical extensions of the questioning and moral uncertainty we saw from him back in season four.
Lastly, they brought back some familiar faces to great effect, closing out the dangling threads from season six well and launching season seven. Julian Richings is fantastic as Death. He was fantastic in season five, he was fantastic in season six, and he’s fantastic here. The character is written incredibly well and Richings plays him with just the right balance of amusement at and sympathy for Dean and detachment from the ants scurrying around him, demanding his help. Mark Pellegrino’s return as Lucifer is also a smart move. Pellegrino is one of TV’s most reliable guest actors and his take on Lucifer is a big part of what made season five work. His reappearance provides consequences to the actions of season five and six, and promise for interesting things to come for Sam.
Bringing Mark Sheppard back as Crowley is fun and, though his survival at this point is ridiculous, he plays his scenes with such smarmy relish that it’s hard not to love him. It’s easy to see why the writers keep him around, though, honestly, they should really kill him off (the scene in season six with his death was great, only to be undone in one of the more disappointing twists of that season). They’ll have a hard time coming up with a better, more fun antagonist and they’ll certainly have a hard time topping Sheppard in their casting, but it’s a move that, if they’re smart, they’ll make, and soon.
One of Supernatural’s biggest strengths is its sense of humor, when balanced appropriately with the tone of the show/season, and it’s back in fine form. Lines such as a woman describing CasGod as “hot” and, well, pretty much everything with Crowley, keep things from getting too dour and keep the pace moving along. Also well done are the moments with Sam, Dean, and Bobby. Bobby, played with the perfect balance of grumpiness and wit by the fabulous Jim Beaver, is the grounding force of the show. The Winchester brothers stopped living in reality a long time ago, but Beaver pulls things back down to earth in every scene and offers a break from the emotionalism that often threatens to take over the show. Watching this premiere, one can’t help but be struck by how much the actors, and characters, have aged, and hopefully this will be reflected over the course of the season. It seems like they’re off to the right start, but we’ll see where the next several episodes take us.
What did you think of the Supernatural premiere? Any thoughts on GodCas and LeviathanCas? Post your thoughts below!
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