Supernatural “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire” Review (Season 11, Episode 1)

Supernatural Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire (8)

It’s been a long, hot summer Supernatural Family, but our wait is over. Supernatural returned for its eleventh season with a fairly solid season opener. It wasn’t wall to wall OMG moments, but it did a pretty good job of setting up what could be some very interesting stories for the season. In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn’t overly pleased with last season. There were some very good things about it and some episodes that I thoroughly enjoyed, but as a whole, I found the season lacking direction. There were several missed opportunities (cough Demon Dean cough) stories that ended up falling flat (yeah, that’s you Cole) and characters just generally behaving in head-scratchingly out of character ways. However, the season finale opened up some promising avenues that I sincerely hope we get to explore this season.

This episode had a very ‘Croatoan’ feel to it. Right down to the Boys being trapped in a hospital facing new monsters they’ve never encountered. Dean’s response was to focus on the one thing in front him: get the baby away from the monsters. Dean has been carrying around the weight of the world for a very long time. He’s always felt like it was his responsibility to protect and save everyone. Somewhere along the way, though, the losses Dean suffered beat him further and further down until he could no longer see a way to save everyone. Everything he did as a result of being consumed by the Mark of Cain simply added fuel to the guilt fire that perpetually burns inside Dean Winchester and, as a result, he’s kind of lost track of the big picture. Or, as Sam put it, the other half of the bumper sticker. Part of the reason Dean has always been so good at his job is that his focus has never been solely on getting revenge against the thing that destroyed his family. For Dean, it’s always been about other people. Whether that was taking care of Sam and John or saving some poor soul from being torn to shreds by a werewolf. Dean cares, and he’s always cared. Though he pretends otherwise. But in recent years, Dean has become more and more accepting of the collateral damage their job creates. That’s not an indictment against him. It just is what it is. Part of that comes from the fact that Dean hasn’t been able to put one solidly in the win column for so long that he’s decided some losses are acceptable. Given everything he’s been through, it’s not like I can blame the man. But that’s not the Dean Winchester I know. I suppose all of the shame and guilt he’s been carrying around for so long has buried him to the point where he’s no longer trying to fight to live. He’s just trying to fight to survive, and those are two very different things.

Sam’s response, on the other hand, was to look at the bigger picture. He understood that Dean wanted to save the baby. Sam did too. But he didn’t want to save her at the expense of everyone else. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this from Sam. His default setting after messing something up is to channel that guilt into a single-minded focus on making things right. That’s not always a good thing, though, because that’s part of how Ruby was able to worm her way into gaining Sam’s trust. That’s also how Sam ended up lying to Dean about the Book of the Damned and working with Rowena. After everything that happened, though, Sam took a moment to evaluate his actions. It was then that he realized he’s lost focus of what his job in this fight is actually supposed to be. He’s not supposed to be fighting just save Dean. He’s supposed to save as many people as he can for as long as he can. Just like Dean, somewhere along the way, he forgot that. At first, I thought Sam’s epiphany came entirely too quickly, but then I realized that it was all a part of what happened with Death in the season finale. Death told Sam that he couldn’t remove the MoC because it would release an evil worse than anything the world had ever seen. Sam didn’t care. Death told Sam the only way to keep the world safe was for Sam to die and Dean to be taken away to parts unknown for all eternity. Sam didn’t care. Basically, if Death’s scenario didn’t involve saving Dean, Sam didn’t care. And because Sam didn’t care, he ended up releasing an evil that could conceivably kill everyone. He apparently marinated on that fact as he and Dean were trying to figure out their next step and realized how screwed up his priorities have become. Saving Dean is important. Absolutely. But saving Dean at the cost of so many others isn’t the job.

Sam’s epiphany led him to confront Dean about the way they keep repeating the same cycles. This is not the first time we’ve heard this on the show, but I sincerely hope this will be the last. At least for a while. Ever since season six, the show has pretty much washed, rinsed, and repeated the same storylines over and over again. There hasn’t been any lasting character growth, and even when there is a step or two taken, the show takes them back three or four steps in the next episode. Some argue that if the Boys finally developed a healthy relationship, the show cease to exist. I disagree. Even within a healthy relationship, there is plenty of drama to be had and it doesn’t require characters perpetually regressing in order to maintain a decent amount of drama. One of the elements I loved the most about the early seasons of Supernatural is the fact that Sam and Dean were on the same page, fighting together against whatever was thrown at them. There was still drama between them because they’re still brothers, but the larger fights didn’t consist of them continually lying to each other. Besides, with everything these guys have been through together, I don’t think it’s possible for them to actually have a healthy relationship. However, I’m cautiously optimistic we can get some lasting character growth this season, but I’m not liking how it’s starting out. They’ve already started with Dean not being completely honest about everything The Darkness told him and Sam not filling Dean in on the fact that he’s been infected with whatever this new thing is. I hope it’s just that they didn’t have time to address it in this episode, and this won’t be how they conduct themselves throughout the rest of the season.

This episode had two primary focuses: introducing us to The Darkness and touching the surface of what happened to the Boys in the season finale. To that end, Cas and Crowley didn’t play major parts in this episode. That’s not to say they were completely neglected though. Cas is still under the influence of Rowena’s spell, and even though he called on his family for help, they don’t seem to be too interested in providing assistance. I’m concerned about what they have in store for him because whatever it is looks like it’s going to be painful. Crowley, on the other hand, looks like he’s about to have his hands full. He believes he and The Darkness will get along famously, but I don’t think that’s going to work out the way he thinks. Not to mention Rowena is still on the loose and she’s got both the Book of the Damned and the codex. Add to that the fact that Lucifer or Michael is trying to warn Crowley about The Darkness. Crowley is going to need to bring his A game if he expects to hold on to his throne. I am very much excited about the prospect of Lucifer and/or Michael being involved in the story this season. In all honesty, I’m going to be supremely upset if Mark Pellegrino doesn’t make an appearance at some point this season.

As I said, this was a fairly solid season opener and I’m cautiously optimistic about the season’s prospects. There are several avenues it looks like the show is planning to explore, but I’ve gotten my hopes up before and been disappointed. So I’ll just take this one episode at a time. I’m very much intrigued by The Darkness and the connection she (it?) and Dean share. I also have to wonder how much that connection influenced Dean’s desire to protect the baby. I also have to wonder whether the baby has the MoC because she was being born at the same time The Darkness was released or whether she is actually The Darkness. I don’t know, but I’m pretty excited to find out. Either way, it looks like The Darkness could be the most formidable foe the Boys have faced. I hope so because I’ve been wanting a truly scary, powerful baddie for a long time. The fact that she and Dean are somehow connected just adds another layer of intrigue. So much potential. Fingers crossed it’s not wasted. So what did y’all think of the Supernatural season premiere?