Supernatural is back for its tenth season, and it’s the same-ol’-same-ol’. For the most part. It’s hard to believe that the show has made it this far, really. After all, it took creator Eric Kripke a decade just to get his show off the ground in the first place. Pitched first as a movie and then as a series involving traveling tabloid reporters, it was rejected over and over until he came up with the idea of Sam and Dean, brothers road-tripping and ridding the American heartland of all things paranormally evil, all while butting heads over everything from standard sibling fare to the nature of life. The show has moved networks (from WB to The CW) and nights (covering four out of the seven) over its years on the air, added and killed off most of its main characters (only pretty-boys Sam and Dean remain consistent). It starts every season with a look back over the last one, laid over a classic rock song, and ends each with a similar use of Kansas’s “Carry on Wayward Son.” And still the boys prowl the heartland. On the surface, it’s surprising that the show has a fanbase, let alone one as committed as it does. Having watched one episode early on, I’d shrugged it off as the usual CW fare: attractive actors used to cover over a poor concept and poorer execution of yet another vampires/werewolves/paranormal-flavor-of-the-month teen show. Only the fact that I’m supposed to be a geek journalist of some sort and I knew that I could be considered illiterate in not knowing the show finally drove me to marathon the series near the end of its ninth season. Supernatural had me spellbound. Yes, it’s formulaic in a largely structural sense. But it’s also one of the best myth-arc-shows we’ve ever seen on television, and certainly the most ambitious and successful. True, The X-files took on aliens, government conspiracies, and family secrets. Lost covered time, faith, and science. But both, by their fifth seasons, were either largely incomprehensible in the case of the former or suffered from a tendency to ignore parts of its own storyline that had become inconvenient in the latter. Supernatural takes on heaven and hell and all the moral ambiguity between and within, while remaining just as compelling (and often more) that it was in those early years. And it doesn’t require ClifNotes to follow along on that decade-long journey. In the season opener, “Black,” the series picks up on that story with Dean (Jensen Ackles) having been raised (or at least awakened) by demon Crowley (played by Mark Sheppard, who has been promoted to series regular for this season) who hopes to take advantage of the Mark of Cain—and its need for regular killing–that the older Winchester carries in order to consolidate the power that Abaddon wrestled away from the former King of Hell. Sam (Jared Padalecki), of course, is bent on saving his brother from the Mark and the demonic influence both around and inside Dean, while Dean seems just as set on enjoying his new form of conscienceless consciousness. All of this is complicated by the fact that Dean’s more human past is coming after him in the form of Cole (Travis Aaron Wade), a man whose father Dean killed in front of him many years ago (we assume he had a good reason for this at the time). Cole has spent his life since preparing for a confrontation with the former Hunter and kidnaps Sam in order to convince Dean to meet with him. But as demonic brother reveals at the end of the episode, while he will kill Cole at some point in the future for any harm he does to Sam, he has no plans to come to his sibling’s rescue. This forces Cole to change his plans in “Reichenbach.” He lets Sam escape in the hopes of following him to his brother. Luckily (or not) for him, Crowley has become less enamored of Dean’s company (who could blame him after all that terrible karaoke?) and gives Sam directions to Dean’s location, and so Cole finally gets the confrontation he’s been hoping for. Unsurprisingly, Dean cleans his clock, but not before Sam manages to capture his brother and gives the First Blade to Crowley for disposal. And while Cole seems beaten in the present, Sam has opened his eyes to the paranormal world, setting the man up to be an ongoing threat this season. In the meantime, across both episodes, we see the critically wounded Castiel (Misha Collins) attempting, with the help of angel Hannah (Erica Carroll), try to fix the problems at the supposed other side of the moral divide. Most of the angels have returned to Heaven, but some hold out, preferring a more human experience (with its free will) on Earth. Castiel is particularly sympathetic to such a desire, having an appreciation for humanity that’s antithetical for most angels, but is forced to kill one holdout in order to save Hannah. Hannah, just as intent on saving Castiel, visits Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) in the hopes of making a deal to restore Castiel’s grace, but he intervenes, making it clear that he’d rather die than risk loosing Metatron. So, as I said, it’s largely the same series: the brothers are at odds and in mutual danger, Castiel is trying to ride the fence between the human and the angelic, and Heaven and Hell are both in chaos. But it’s far from boring, largely because, as always on this show (and in real life), relationships are rarely predictable. Hannah, who used to be one of the straightest arrows among the angelic, appears to be largely re-evaluating her stance on several issues, possibly because of a growing attraction to Castiel. It’s becoming clear she’s willing to risk much to save him. Crowley, on the other hand, has become disenchanted at least a little with Dean, although that’s complicated by the idea that while the King of Hell might initially have seen the possibilities of the elder Winchester working for him, a big part of his motivation has also been a desire for a companion. Sheppard delivers well on the script’s implication that Crowley feels rejected on almost a romantic level—and we have no idea what impact that hurt will have on his plans for the First Blade or the brothers. And Cole, his eyes opened to a world his father was obviously involved in (likely on the side of evil), is now a completely loose cannon. In other words, there’s a lot of set-up in these first two episodes, from the well-put-together “The Road So Far” sequence over Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” (one of the best of these montages thus far) to the conversation between Sam and Dean at the end of “Reichenbach” about the utter lack of mercy in Dean’s handling of Cole. But it never really feels like set-up. The action and pacing work well enough together for the story to never feel bogged down or disjointed—it’s just as much of a ride as the rest of the series has been. It’s good to be back on the road with the Winchesters. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.