After finally returning to its former glory last year, all eyes are on Supernatural season 9, to see if one of television’s fan-favorite series will be able to reach showrunner Jeremy Carver’s goal of season 10. Thankfully, if the premiere is any sign of what’s to come, Supernatural will be around for quite some time - and, perhaps, may even surpass Carver’s original intentions.
In the return episode, “I Think I’m Going to Like it Here”, written by Carver, Supernatural picks up where the season 8 finale left off – in which the angels of Heaven fell to Earth – by crafting complete, truly impressive tales for each of the series’ three main characters. They did so by staying true the series and its mythology - which, of course, meant the return of a few familiar faces, like Death and Bobby (Jim Beaver).
The core story of this episode centered on Sam who, after being wounded by the Trails, comes face-to-face with Death and must decide whether or not to continue living. Dean, unable to help his brother, sends out a call to all of the fallen angels for help. Castiel, now human and a fair distance away from the Winchesters, learns what it means to be human (and poor). Though the storylines appear simple enough, this episode instantly sets itself apart from the rest in terms of complexity, and is surprisingly successful in (almost) every way possible.
Staying true to their word of bringing the series back to its roots, the producers put Sam and Dean’s relationship front and center, allowing fans to see – yet again – the internal struggles that each brother is dealing with. Dean, the older brother and self-appointed keeper of his brother, cannot allow Sam to die, even though Sam clearly wants to. Sam, on the other hand, is carrying the weight of all that previously occurred and comes to the decision that the best way for people to stop getting hurt is for him to end his life.
Though the relationship between Sam and Dean – and all its intricacies – is well known to fans of the show, the premiere makes it clear that at some point in time, the brothers will both have to release themselves from the emotional weight they carry around, even if that means in death. But until that day comes, Dean will continue to fight the good fight until Sam can stand on his own. But is that what Sam wants?
While Sam and Dean are busy with the newly-fallen angels, Castiel, too, finds himself having to come to a few revelations. Now human and without his Grace, the powerful force that is Castiel is now dependent upon the kindness of strangers – a kindness he’s only witnessed but never needed. By allowing Castiel to pull back on of his powers, the producers have made it clear that it’s Castiel, not his powers, which are important to the story of Supernatural. And when presented with all of these new interactions and experiences, Castiel’s reserved nature and pure heart envelop each scene, allowing everyone to see the earnest angel that lies behind the trench coat.
Meanwhile, Bobby has, in part, returned to the show – but is this it for him? Bobby is such a beloved figure that any appearance by him should just be welcomed, but the minimal screen time that he received in this episodes almost begs the question of whether or not he really needed to be in it at all. Sure, it’s great to see Bobby again, but because not much time was spent with him, viewers will be left expecting another return and will be unnecessarily disappointed if it doesn't happen.
As far as premieres go, this is one of Supernatural’s strongest. Now, that doesn't mean that it’s the best premiere in series history (season 2 is) - what it means is that, for a show that’s now age 9, the amount of care put in to the show is equal to that of some of television’s best. Sure, Supernatural may just be some show on the CW, but to many it’s one of their favorites on TV – and from seeing the care put in to episode 173, the season 9 premiere, it’s impossible for anyone to question why so many have stuck behind the show for so long.
Supernatural returns next Tuesday with “Devil May Care” @9pm on CW.