'Supernatural' Season 9 Premiere Recap: Oh. My. Angel.

October 9th, 2013 10:30am EDT

Supernatural "Supernatural's" season 8 finale left many angst-coated balls in the air: Castiel, having been tricked by Metratron, was rendered human; the angels were cast out of heaven; and Sam, choosing life, abandoned the trials only to very nearly perish anyway. The season 9 premiere managed to keep all those balls compellingly in play while still ninja-kicking us in the heart.
Only a day has passed since what the media was calling the Global Meteor Shower had occurred. No one is tweeting or Instagramming about the celestial beings roaming the earth because most of them have found vessels. In the hospital, Sam (Jared Padalecki) is deteriorating rapidly. Tests reveal "major internal burns" and lack of oxygen to the brain. The resulting coma was the body's stop-gap, but eventually Sam will die unless God intervenes.
In the Supe-verse, God is nothing more than an absentee father, and one angel in particular is the force behind all of Dean's prayers. Jensen Ackles turns in beautiful work as he prays for Castiel to return, and essentially begs for Sam's life. It's a shame that in a divinely appointed chapel, complete with sunshine streaming onto the altar, that Castiel cannot hear him. Desperate, Dean sends out an SOS to all angels, hoping one of them to be able to heal his brother. Dozens of angels answer the call. Unfortunately, most of them want to bash Dean's pretty, pretty face in to get to the presumed traitor Castiel except for one well-meaning one named Ezekiel (Tamoh Penikett). He's a gentle, polished angel, who doesn't seem to fit in his ruggedly handsome, leather-and-hoodie clad vessel. He admires Castiel, promises to help Sam, but he was injured in the fall. What does that mean for a failing Sam?

Much like in the incredible "Death's Door," our precious Sammy is taking a trip through his subconscious. It's only fitting that it is a roadtrip, Dean at the wheel and Sam riding shotgun. Throughout the series, Sam has been demonized and villified for his good intentions that literally paved the road to hell for the youngest Winchester. So it was both refreshingly rewarding and terrifying that the imprints of Bobby and Dean left in Sam's mind tell him the things Sam probably never let himself believe. Bobby, in particular, is proud of Sam. They stroll through the scenic forest that’s aglow with yellow sunlight. It’s a father-son moment if there ever was one. “You saved the world, son. How many people can say they've left this god forsaken hunk of dirt that much a better place? What you call dying I call leaving a legacy," Bobby reasons.
With that, Sam is ready and when Dean tries to stop him, Sam merely presses him for an actual plan. In an intense sequence, Dean lashes out at his brother trying to kickstart a reaction. "My plan is to fight. My plan is to give a damn!” Sam just offers him a wordless goodbye with a gentle pat to the cheek.
He heads inside to be reaped by...Death himself. "I consider it to be quite the honor to be collecting the likes of Sam Winchester. Well played, my boy," he commends. Yes, I teared up.
Sam needs one assurance: "If I'm dead, I stay dead. Nobody can reverse it, nobody can deal it away, no one can get hurt because of me," Sam hedged. Death assured him it was so.
What he didn't know was that, Dean was listening to the exchange, thanks to Ezekiel's powers. This gives him insight on how close Sam literally is to Death, and the push to allow an injured Ezekiel to possess an ailing Sam. The angel would be able to heal in Sam's body while healing Sam from the inside out. "It's the best of a bad situation, Dean," Ezekiel says. Remember that "bassackwards plan" Bobby ranted about just 17 minutes ago? This is worse than that.
Dean knows that Sam, having been poisoned as a child, watched by demons his entire life, and raised to be Lucifer's vessel and that Sam would rather die than be possessed by anything. But he also knows that Sam thinks that Dean doesn't love him or value him as he confessed in the season 8 finale, and he had to prove to Sam how untrue that sentiment is. It's hard to watch the actual Dean enter Sam's mind to manipulate him into living. He promises he has a plan, dangles his own mortality in front of his brother—“there ain’t no me if there ain’t no you—knowing Sam couldn’t deny him. "Yes," Sam says simply.
And then horribly, Dean morphs into Ezekiel. The gobsmacked expression on Sam's face iis more crushing than the yowl of a kicked puppy. "Supernatural" only twists the knife further: If Sam finds out about the symbiotic possession, his permission would be revoked and Ezekiel would be ejected before he finished "triaging his spleen." Dean is just now beginning to realize how far the rabbithole he is, and that someone would be riding shotgun in his brother indefinitely. And as angry as I am that he made a decision he knew his brother would loathe, I feel for him.

What he doesn't understand is how warped the angels are from the fall, and how far they'd go to seek vengeance. Castiel fell somewhere in Colorado, and unfortunately couldn't make it to Dean or the bunker. He meets an angel named Hale, who seems lost. She carved a Grand Canyon and wants to see it again, so Castiel decides to go with her, because he aims to help all of the displaced angels. Understanably, she just wants him for his bod. Her vessel isn't strong enough to support her angelic form, so she needs Castiel's.
Although I love the gravity of Castiel (Misha Collins) abandoning his trademark trenchcoat to buy water, his scenes slow down the fantastic momentum of the episode, and I question if his first forray into humanity could have been pared down for the season opener. However, it provides a necessary, unvarnished and varied view of the angels. They are angry, scared, powerful and cunning. And I couldn't help but wonder if Hale would go so far as to kidnap and threaten Castiel for his vessel, how far would Ezekiel go to possess the demon-blood fortified, Lucifer-marked Sam Winchester? When Sam is healthy, what if Ezekiel doesn't leave or overtakes him completely? Finally, how is Dean going to tell Sam what he's done?
Ultimately, "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" establishes the supernatural chaos the fallen angels will reap upon the world they never particularly liked. It also puts Dean in an unbearable situation of double-crossing his brother in order to save his life. While I might have an anxiety attack imagining just how awesome and traumatic this season of "Supernatural" could be, I was touched at the subtle nod to the pilot when a healthier Sam announces "We've got work to do" before the fade out (according to Padalecki's Twitter, Dean gets slammed against the Impala is another) but this episode definitely felt like an epic re-boot for the long-running series that didn’t even need one.
Grade: A-
What did you think of the episode? Are you angry that Dean misled Sam? Did you kind of love Hale? Were you thrilled by Bobby's appearance? Hit up the comments section below!
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