After a few weeks off, Supernatural has finally returned to its seasonal storyline of sealing the Gates of Hell forever. But in this week’s episode, “A Little Slice of Kevin”, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) finally receive some much-needed help from Castiel (Misha Collins), who has finally returned from Purgatory and is (seemingly) back to normal. Could this be a sign of good things to come from Supernatural season 8?

The name of the game is “Find the Prophet,” and Crowley (Mark Sheppard) aims to win. Having already begun collecting future Prophets (in case anything “happens” to Kevin), it’s this string of odd disappearances that puts Sam and Dean on the case – except now with Castiel to help them in their search. As Crowley’s need of a Prophet rises, his tactics in getting the Word of God translated turn bloody, and Kevin must give up an appendage. But it’s Castiel’s mysterious return that Dean is most concerned about.

It may have taken seven episodes, but Castiel has finally returned to the Supernatural, helping to bring a sense of normalcy to the series in general. Though Crowley’s search for the Word of God has had its fair share of entertaining moments, its inclusion in the series has largely felt like forced fetch quests, with new character (and Prophet) Kevin and his mother stuck in the middle of it. Where is Chuck, the original Prophet?

Although we may never know, Sam and Dean did make sure to mention him in their questioning of Castiel. And with that note, the Winchesters largely sum up fan concerns with the series so far. Fortunately, it appears that a proverbial deal for longtime watchers is attempting to be made. But there are a few trade-offs, mainly story related.

After watching Dean struggle with his return from Purgatory (from the loss of Castiel), everyone’s favorite Angel returns to grace the screen. But the story that accompanies his highly-anticipated return does leave much to be desired. Castiel’s extended stay in Purgatory was initially thought to be the result of Dean failing to save him, then it’s revealed that Castiel decided to stay in Purgatory to pay for his sins, not knowing how he got out. It’s eventually revealed that Castiel’s escape from Purgatory was at the hand of some Heavenly power. The same Heavenly power that has, up until this point, remained silent.

Perhaps that’s what needs to happen to tell the stories the producers want to tell. The entire element of Heaven’s role in all of these battles has largely been ignored – but mentioning Chuck’s name does hint at the potential for some enjoyable tales ahead, considering the plan is to take Supernatural to season 10. As any fan of the series will tell you, there have been a few missteps in past seasons, which are expected as series age. And while fans had hoped that quick fixes would be in place for the Supernatural season 8 premiere, it realistically takes a good six or so episodes to be able to logically implement any large changes.

What fans wanted to happen is largely occurring, even if its execution isn’t always perfect. Castiel is back and powerful as ever, but what comes with it is a thin story that can’t take much scrutiny. Sullen Sam and Grumpy Dean are back, but what comes with it are awkward flashbacks of Sam in love and Dean becoming friendly with a vampire. Bobby (Jim Beaver) is still, well, dead. Is there any way that could be fixed? At this point, fans will take any ridiculous story about a “ghost door” to get him back.

Supernatural’s change is apparent and will eventually (and hopefully) be successful. And while some elements that are the result of that change aren’t always the most enjoyable, hopes are high these trade-offs will pay off in the long run.

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Supernatural returns in two weeks with “Hunteri Heroici”. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: