This week, on Supernatural: Jimmy goes for a swim, Lucy plays with Sam, and Doctor Sexy, MD strikes
Last week’s Supernatural episode functioned more as the season six finale than the season seven premiere, tying up loose ends and giving closure to the dominant arcs of the previous season. This week’s episode, “Hello, Cruel World” launches what promises to be the driving action for season seven- Sam, Dean, and Bobby’s attempts to fight Leviathan (the Leviathan? Not sure about that one). We pick up right where last week left off, with Cas all but gone and the Leviathan having taken over his body (or, more accurately, Jimmy’s body). This promised to make for an interesting season, with our Big Bad wearing the face of a long-trusted ally. Edlund quickly subverts expectation, however, and gives us the (probably not permanent, knowing how these things go) death of Cas, trench coat and all. The moment spent in grief is appropriate, but missing, for this fan at least, was a mention of Jimmy. Cas isn’t the only one that died in that water.
The montage of people using and playing in water were a bit on the nose, but effective none the less. This felt more like the setup for a new series, not just a season, with Sam and Dean having to hunt down the BlackOozyBadGuysFromPurgatory one episode at a time. Once again, expectations are subverted, with a hierarchy almost immediately established, as well as a plan of some sort. The casting of the nameless baddies is fun, though they are a bit slow at assimilating, given that even the one possessing the young girl should know about the internet. Benito Martinez looks to be having fun in a role very different from his most prominent TV credit, as David Aceveda on The Shield. Olivia Steele-Falconer is also good in her brief stint and Edlund’s inclusion of Doctor Sexy, MD as a plot point is hilarious. Edlund, a genre fan favorite well known for his creation of The Tick, as well as for writing Firefly’s “Jaynestown”, can usually be relied upon to bring the funny, and this is no expectation.
Supernatural has had success with creepy hospitals in the past, though they tend more frequently towards mental wards than the more standard for their horror settings. Nosocomephobia, or fear of hospitals, is rather common and the cinematography and direction of the episode play to this, highlighting the impersonality of the setting and the coldness of the blank, white walls. As in the previous episode, this week sees the return of a prominent guest star from the past, Sheriff Jody Mills. Adding this personal touch does a lot to up the audience’s fear and immediately invests them in the situation. It’s been long enough since Sheriff Mill’s last appearance that one would be forgiven for forgetting her face, particularly if they missed the “Previously On…”, and the decision to hold off on her name until her call to Bobby, to not have the Doctor read it off the chart or somesuch, allows for an instant shot of stakes and gravitas just when the hospital storyline starts becoming less interesting than Sam’s scenes with Lucifer.
The scenes with Sam and Lucifer are handled well, thanks in large part to Mark Pellegrino’s menacing presence. Thankfully, they sidestep the pitfall of having the Winchester brothers lying to each other idiotically. These characters have both done that enough in the past, and had it bite them in the butt, so they should know better by now, and it’s nice to see that the writers see this. They’re also wise to resolve the initial problem (Sam not knowing which reality is real) quickly; Dean’s solution makes sense and shows a nice series memory. With everything these characters have been through, very little should shake them, but an inability to trust one’s perception would. This will also allow for a lot of fun guest appearances, if they decide to go that route. They could get Adrianne Palicki back as Jess, for example, or Ash, or Jo, or any number of important figures from the show’s past.
Supernatural has a history of getting away with some ridiculous gore and violence, and for having generally solid special effects. The effects for (the) Leviathan aren’t great, but on a weekly (frankly, poorly-rated) TV budget, they’ll do. They’re more successful with the splatter (it’s disconcerting how inured just watching this show can make one to splatter). Also successful is the decision to go back to the early season cliffhanger format. With stakes this high, standalones don’t generally work, so a stronger return to serial storytelling can only be a good thing. It’s a lot of fun having Supernatural back and in fighting form. Here’s to a full season of episodes this engaging!
Are you liking the direction we’re headed so far? How long do you think before Cas is back?
Follow me on Twitter @theteleverse to see what else I’m watching and tell me where you think the season is headed.