A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 11×01 (Is YOLO really still a thing?)

SN 11x01

If there’s one thing the Winchesters won’t ever get, it’s a respite from the woes of the apocalyptic tailspin that is their denim and rock-filled lives. We begin season 11 anew with the promise of an entity of unknown origin with the power to turn humans pissed off and quite veiny with a shelf-life of about a day. But Sam and Dean are charged with more conviction than ever as they load up and prepare for their newest threat yet; the pre-eve of evil…allegedly.

After 11 years, it’s almost comforting yet strenuous to attack the same themes over and over again, that being the idealistic values of our Winchester bros. Outside of a poignant moment where the two share those opposing values once more, the episode felt relatively sub-standard with one or two genuine scenes standing above the rest. It plays the premiere act of setting pieces to a new board and promises to fulfill another leg of Sam and Dean’s journey to keep the earth spinning correctly. We have the demons and angels playing the minor side while the big bad carefully inserts itself into the fold, quite ceremoniously through an actual act of birth. There’s high hopes for some unique plots, but only time will tell how this new tale gets interpreted. Let’s get started.

Sam and Dean emerge from the cloud of darkness with Dean having encountered a single female entity known as Amara. She believes Dean and her are connected and saves him from being infected by the cloud. Townsfolk are infected and become violent toward any uninfected people. Sam and Dean find an injured deputy after encountering infected men and go to a hospital to assess their next move. Meanwhile, Crowley escapes from Castiel’s attack after Rowena put a spell on him to murder Crowley. Castiel then wanders the area trying to understand what’s happened to him and even asks for the angels for help. Sam finds a father who has been protecting his newborn daughter but is unfortunately infected. He leaves the child in the deputy’s care and departs not wanting to hurt anyone when he turns. Other infected arrive and chase Sam as Dean escapes with the deputy and baby. After returning to his own body, Crowley receives disturbing news that either Michael or Lucifer in the cage is sending distraught messages over the arrival of the darkness. Castiel is eventually picked up by the angels but is tied and bagged as he soon realizes he isn’t being taken back to heaven. Sam fends off the infected but not before becoming infected himself with their blood. Sam keeps this from Dean who swears they will deal with Amara even though he remembers what Amara said about them being connected. The newbown then is shown having the mark of Cain in the same part as her original form did when she spoke to Dean suggesting the entity has been reborn as a human.

This premiere was a lot to take in, even in standard Supernatural rhetoric and theme. First and foremost, I am immensely glad the darkness didn’t turn into a race of separate beings but stuck to a singular entity with all the power. There have been many strong female antagonists in the past, Lilith, Eve, Rowena, Meg in her hay day, and now we have Amara who hasn’t intentionally shown her evil hand, but one can guess that she’ll be up to no good when she realizes what humanity and earth have to offer.

The big brotherly debate here was a case of Dean’s “Shoot first ask questions later” and Sam’s “Save everyone” approach. The best attack on this vocal stand-off is Sam’s meta look at how cyclical they really are. Dean agrees but for different reasons and around and around they go. For Dean, he’s interested in saving the weak and innocent, but only those who he feels deserve it at the time. He won’t settle for the all inclusive pass especially if there’s even the tiniest threat within that who he saves could end up doing evil again. He’s very cut and dry in that regard and to be fair, he’s been honest with that mentality for many seasons. Sam is again trying to look at the bigger picture on why they’re fighting, more exalted in his style in that everyone should be saved regardless of what’s been done to them. People can change and Sam has always believed that. Getting this out of the way now was a smart move because they can build on that tug and pull that the brothers have every season bringing them together and drawing them apart.

Another note here is seeing how each brother is keeping their next iteration of secrets to themselves while bold-face lying about their agenda forthcoming. Dean won’t explain the connection he has with Amara and Sam won’t reveal he’s going to turn into one of the infected. I just wonder if Sam has a longer incubation period or if this is literally going to be resolved by next week’s ep. I rarely sneak peeks into future episodes so I’ll stay in the dark for now on that.

Castiel and Crowley’s subplot had a flair for the dramatic and an interesting inner look at Crowley’s more demented behavior. I think the goal was to remember that Crowley isn’t a good guy and his treatment of humans is at an all-time low. His subservient demons are a testament to Crowley’s inability to truly transform hell into something monstrous and powerful. He’s a business man that keeps getting involved in the affairs of the just and good-natured. Maybe it’s rubbed off in the past, but he’s fighting it as a demon always does. Castiel on the other hand is in an interesting transitional phase. We’re not completely sure of Rowena’s spell has won off and even if it has, he’s neck deep into probably a new regime of angels who haven’t taken kindly to Metatron’s escape. While I don’t see him being in any real danger because he’s a mainstay on this show, I do wonder what the angels have in store for him.

The idea of putting Amara into a rebirth scenario is probably the best call that can be made when dealing with an older-than-time entity who doesn’t even recall meeting the embodiment of Death. This allows for human growth and a way to focus the raw power of this character into the mortal coil allowing for Sam and Dean to tackle it head on instead of focusing on finding runes, tombs, spellbooks, and older entities to do their work for them. Maybe that’s the plan, I’m still not sure, but either way, I’m on born. Let’s just see if she’s grows quickly or if we’re looking at another 21 seasons before Amara can legally buy alcohol.

FAVORITE MOMENT

The collective scenes involving all of Dean and Amara’s conversation within the darkness. Setting up the new evil is tough sometimes and Dean’s only defense against god-like power is to be snarky and have an arsenal of quips to sustain himself. This mixture stood out because Dean was the focus, someone who can still be influenced by “darkness”. This wouldn’t have worked with Sam was taken because even though he’s done some questionable things he has pure morals that fit with humanity surviving as a whole. Amara was simple but effective, not too crazy but definitely on the side of alluring which means the art of seduction exists before time was time. Dean has issues with being seduced and it shows.

CHARACTER MVP

I believe Dean stood out this time for one simple reason. As predictable as Dean is, Sam is even more so. We always tend to know what Sam will or won’t do and Dean is still at that wishy-washy stage where we’re pretty sure we know what’s on his mind, but every now and then he’ll surprise us with some growth or not in some cases. In this premiere, he’s assessing what being connected to Amara really means and whether its really a thing at all. That kind of angry complexity stood out than all the rest this time.

ENDING THOUGHTS

I really believed Cas when he said he wouldn’t see the brothers for a while. There’s a certain desperation in his voice that’s laden with foreboding despair. He knows bad things and in multiple directions. Hopefully it won’t be too long before he can help shed some light on Amara, if he has any.

I wanted to like Crowley’s scene as a woman in that abysmal household segment, but it came off and super contrived and played and sprucing the episode with some abstract suburban segment. I think they could have done something far better, but again, the goal was to show Crowley is still willing to kill humans at a whim, because evil reasons.

If the darkness was released and its prison was never really set in stone “place wise” I’m left wondering why it just came to earth. Is it because Dean was a beacon or because it found the closest form of life? Earth is so tiny, I just wonder the logistics on where and how prisons like that work when they’re not specifically other dimensions like purgatory.

I’m not very impressed with the infected part of the storytelling. Even Dean refers to the situation as “28 days later” which means the writers weren’t really trying to reinvent the wheel but to just work with what we know as rabid humans that don’t purposefully eat flesh. Killing the heart instead of the head was almost a funny comment except when Sam slit the throat of one of the infected nurses dispelling that approach. I’m hoping they were a one time thing.

There’s been mild references to the cage in hell for the better half of the last 6 seasons. Is this the time we finally get to see something happen or are we just forbidden to ever deal with the Lucifer and Michael drama that’s never ending and always in the background. We should really settle that, I think it’s time.

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. I wasn’t at the edge of my seat but I get the pace they are setting for this new season. They’re preparing us for more single arc episodes while Amara grows up which I imagine will happen sooner than expected, but standing alone, it felt a lot like how I’m used to viewing premieres, more set up than real substance. It’s the feeling I get when I just want to get to the notable cliffhanger so I can see what we’re going to up against rather than enjoy the episode for what it is. The tone was consistent aside from that Crowley segment and I think Castiel is starting to feel alone in his world which may see more darkness than light before he returns to the main arc. Overall I liked the episode as it has a promising villain who is going for the subtle approach for now, an enchantress to Dean’s meta-mojo. Sam’s fate hopefully be revealed quickly. Stay tuned and welcome back Supernatural fans. Carry on!

No more words

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