TV Review | New season of ‘Supernatural’ restarts from lull
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 02:10
The dreadful summer hiatus without “Supernatural” is finally over. With “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here,” one of the show’s best season openers to date, the ninth season has immediately established itself as a must-watch. Though each of the characters’ central conflicts is recognized, the episode still leaves room for unexpected twists and great action. From its gorgeous new title card to excellent performances from the main cast and guest stars alike, “Supernatural” is definitely going to be one of this year’s best shows.
“Supernatural” is most certainly a cult series. Although it may not have the best ratings, its incredibly devoted fan base gives the show a great deal of creative freedom, making it unlike anything else on television. What started as a police procedural show with a horror-movie twist has turned into a complex take on Judeo-Christian mythology, with angels and demons warring over control of humanity. Seasons six and seven were admittedly disappointing. However, “Supernatural” bounced back with season eight, which featured clever writing and excellent performances from each of its main players.
So far, season nine is shaping up to be even better than its predecessor, answering most of the questions left open by last season’s cliffhanger and setting up this season’s mythological arc. The premiere was well paced and alternated amongst the plotlines of the three main characters. Dean Winchester, played by Jensen Ackles, expresses desperation under his character’s outward facade of strength as he struggles to save his brother from death (yet again). Castiel, a former angel and season regular played by Misha Collins, is heartbreaking to watch as he discovers all the quirks and pains of being human and struggles to return to the Winchesters.
“Supernatural” has always been a tale of fighting for redemption, and it seems that much of this season will focus on Castiel’s struggle to find a home as angels hunt him down after he expelled them from heaven. But it was Jared Padalecki who really shines in this episode, expertly portraying the other Winchester brother, Sam, as he comes to grips with his mortality.
The episode also features cameos from Jim Beaver as Bobby, the boys’ gruff yet lovable father figure who died tragically in season seven, and Julian Richings as Death. Both characters are incredibly moving as they counsel Sam while he debates whether to live or die. Tahmoh Penikett, who played the beloved character Helo on “Battlestar Galactica” (2004-2009) also guest stars as the angel Ezekiel. Penikett’s performance is subtle and intriguing, and one can only hope that he will be in more episodes in the future.
Producer Jeremy Carver had previously hinted that Dean would be helping Sam heal in an unconventional and dangerous way, leading to wild speculation among fans. The recent revelation of how Sam will be cured is both shocking and upsetting, and it is a testament to the show’s ability to surprise its viewers, even after eight seasons. Another one of the series’ assets is the Ackles-Padalecki chemistry, as the relationship between brothers Sam and Dean has always been the true core of the show. It will be interesting to see how the two characters develop during the season, both as a unit and individually.
If season nine can continue to surprise and intrigue viewers, “Supernatural” will undoubtedly position itself as one of the best shows on television. The strength of “Supernatural” lies not only in its expert storytelling, but also in the relationships between each of the characters. Seasons six and seven slipped because they concentrated on an overarching plot rather than character development — a mistake that season eight righted. Now, season nine seems poised for success — it leaves viewers wondering how these new circumstances will affect each of the characters. “Supernatural” may be a show about monsters, but what ultimately makes the series excellent is its focus on humanity.