When “Supernatural” first started seven years ago, it was just a show about two brothers with a cool car, saving people and hunting things while they searched for their father. I had no idea that it would nearly double its ratings in the fourth season—thanks to passionate fans and the internet—or that it would snarkily and bravely tackle such enormous themes as religion, God and the true meaning of faith. But season six ended with everyone's favorite angel, Castiel, declaring himself the new God after bingeing on Purgatory’s doomed souls with as much gusto as Dean (Jensen Ackles) attacks a cherry pie. Season finales and premieres can be hit-or-miss for a show with such imaginative mythology, but this was arguably the best since season two’s opener, “In My Time of Dying,” and it hopefully set the tone for what could be a truly epic season.
“Meet The New Boss” started right where the finale left off, in yet another abandoned building that populates the “Supernatural” universe, with the walls covered in innards and gray matter, and Castiel tripping on the crack of a million souls. Thankfully, the great and powerful Cas felt magnanimous and decided not to smite the “brave little ants" he used to care about, even though the tall one had literally stabbed him in the back, and the pretty one tried to murder him with sheer hatred. He warned them to fall in line or be struck down and vanished. Poor Sam collapsed from debilitating flashes of burning in hellfire.
Castiel issued the same warning to the angels, declaring himself their new Father and demanding obedience while strolling through a field of his enemies, their wings merely shadows of scorched Heaven.
Consequently, Sam, Dean and Bobby and the flattened Impala headed back to Singer Salvage to lick their wounds. Sam was temporarily rendered comatose and Dean focused on the Impala (to vent his rage as he scream at it and pounded on it) while Bobby tried to research. As hunters of monsters and demons and the occasional family of hillbilly cannibals, there wasn’t any information on how to kill God or a “mutated angel” with God-like power.
For the first time ever, there was nothing they could do.
Castiel, however, wasn’t entirely a villain. He was doing good work just in homicidally wrong ways. The new Lord Almighty got to work smiting Lady Gaga haters, opposers of gay marriage, dismantling the Ku Klux Klan, healing the sick and probably planning a visit to Bill O’Reilly and Anne Coulter. Yes, this new God believes in equality for all and sends the poor souls who don’t straight to Crowley’s (Mark A. Sheppard) new and improved Hell.
Crazy clearly agreed with Sam (Jared Padalecki) as he emerged from unconsciousness looking absolutely fabulous with the muscles and the cheekbones and the perfectly coifed hair. He assured his brother that his was fine—a trick he learned from Dean. Seconds later, alone in Bobby’s kitchen, Sam’s spidey senses tingled. It was an innocent beginning to what would become grotesque hallucinations: phantom whispers in broad daylight; hunks of bloody flesh hanging from meathooks; being strung up in a chain noose (because we know how much Sammy loathes being choked).
Panicked, Sam sought out his older brother for comfort and protection, only to overhear Dean (in a fetching jumpsuit!) pray that his brother’s mind was as resilient as his body. Unfortunately, Dean had substituted alcoholism for faith years ago, and was just waiting for it to get worse. For Winchesters, it always gruesomely and tragically does. So Sam tried to give him that, pretending to be of sound mind as he goes in to deliver news of Castiel’s latest work.
They decided to summon Crowley, the King of Hell, because they wanted to bind the horseman, Death (as we learned at the end of the fifth season, Death, played powerfully by British actor Julian Richings, is truly omniscient. He understands the intricate design of the universe and he was the only one strong enough to reap God).
And it was important that they hurry, because Castiel, as humans see him, with the rugged voice, soulful blue eyes and ever-present trenchcoat, is merely a vessel of a devout man, and he was as stable as a homemade nuclear reactor after consuming the power of all those souls. In a truly stomach-turning sequence, dark hands stretched and clawed through the “thin membrane” of Castiel’s stomach as a monstrous voice screamed, “let me out.” When exactly did "Supernatural" get terrifying again?
After the world’s worst robbery and with bound hostages watching, the boys enslaved Death with a complicated spell, a fulgurite, and fried pickle chips Death is as much of a connoisseur of junk food as Dean is. Castiel appeared, disturbingly disfigured, as Death explained that during Castiel’s trip to the other-worldly buffet, he ate Leviathans or “the first beasts” who were “clever and poisonous” yet so bloodthirsty, God created Purgatory to contain them. He also inadvertently revealed that Sam was hallucinating, and assured him that he wouldn’t be fix it again.
Castiel asked, “Where is [God]? I did a service taking His place. I’m cleaning up one mess after another, selflessly.” Oh, Cas, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, Sam could tell you that.
Dean, feeling betrayed by the man who raised him from perdition, ordered Death to kill him, because he’d hurt Sam and played them both. Castiel freed Death before he could and fled.
Death, with his gauntly pronounced cheekbones and coolly menacing presence, ate his pickle chips and ordered the boys to clean up the mess they created with a strict deadline.
He strolled into the campaign headquarters of a woman running for office. He seemed decidedly unhinged as he wanted to speak to the senator who causes “poverty and despair in my name…I am a better God than my Father, how can I make you understand?” he figuratively exploded, silencing the entire office (the senator's name was Michelle Walker, a clever mix of controversial republican presidential candidate, Michelle Bachmann and hated Wisconsin politician, Gov. Scott Walker).
Then he literally exploded, killing everyone in the campaign office, including the Walker interns he desired to help. Then his face twitched into a wildly demented smirk, and an unsettling hint that some of the primal evil he’d ingested was bleeding through.
The real hero of the day was not Dean, the righteous sword of Michael, who always walked in the light while Sam had been marked by darkness. It was Sam, the boy with the demon blood, who had started (and stopped) the apocalypse, and somehow still believed in his brother and Castiel and managed to maintain such compassion and empathy in the face of ferocious evil. “I was pretty far gone sometimes myself, and you never gave up on me.” Sam argued.
Sadly, Dean seemed to be breaking under the weight of this trauma piled on top of the old ones. His fire was replaced with helpless rage that felt so wrong on the elder Winchester. “You know how I’m gonna deal? I’m gonna stuff my piehole. I’m gonna drink. I gonna watch some Asian cartoon porn and act like the world’s about to explode, because it is.”
Thus Sam went out into the junkyard to pray to Castiel, offering help as he probably wished someone had done from him when he had gone off the rails in the name of good. Shockingly, Castiel appeared, bloody and sick, and ready to right his wrongs.
So the intrepid (and drunk) heroes headed back to the lab, where it all began. Sam left fetch bottle of blood needed for the ritual—because nothing ever happens when the brothers separate—and found himself face-to-face with Lucifer’s vessel, played by Mark Pellegrino. “Long time, no spooning,” he greeted. And yes, I actually screamed. I did the same thing when he appeared on TNT’s “The Closer” as Brenda’s bubbly, gay attorney. This man scares me senseless, thanks to his frighteningly convincing turn as Beelzebub.
Ever the seasoned hunter and the Stanford-educated nerd, Sam reasoned that his waking nightmares were caused by his “brain leaking memories from the cage…that’s all.”
Lucifer argued, “This isn’t you going Guano. Everything else is.” Was this all a trick? Did Lucifer make it seem that Sam was free with meticulous realistic only to spring it on him that he was really still trapped in Hell? For someone as strong as Sam was, the possibility of that was the breaking point.
Meanwhile, Bobby, Dean and a dying Castiel successfully returned the souls to Purgatory in a flash of raging wind and golden light. Castiel seemingly survived. Until, as it always does, everything descended into madness. With a primal scream and bone-breaking convulsions, the nasty Leviathans had not only remained inside him, but they had taken the controls. Black veins snaked through Cas’s skin as “Supernatural’s” new big bad tossed our heroes to and fro before it glanced demonically into the camera, evil and manically proclaimed, “This is going to be so much fun.” In one deftly acted scene, Misha stole the entire episode (Did anyone else think this reveal referenced Jack Nicholson in "The Shining"?).
This fantastic season premiere chillingly posed questions that "Supernatural" will spend the rest of the season answering: Is Sam losing his mind? Is Dean becoming a raging alcoholic instead of a functional one like Real Housewife Ramona Singer? Is Castiel really dead? Will the Impala be as badass as it was before? Stay tuned.