When talking about the Winchesters, “one year later” is starting to become old hat. Beginning with Dean’s sojourn into Hell at the end of season 3 (so it was only 4 months for Sam, to Dean it was an event-filled four decades in the fiery inferno), to Sam’s trip to the Pit, season 8 starts things off with a 365 day plus absence between the last time Sam and Dean saw one another with Purgatory being the impediment this time. In the 100-Mile Wilderness of Maine a couple’s romantic camping adventure is disturbed by a flash of light signaling someone’s arrival. That someone is an exhausted and bloodied Dean, who with gun in hand, and demands direction to the road. Four days later we catch up to the eldest Winchester as he makes his way across the country to the tune of ‘Man in the Wilderness’. He’s not quite right though, catering to his left arm the entire way. When he reaches his destination, he digs up some old bones and cuts into his now glowing arm. Speaking a Latin incantation, he cuts into his arm and the lava-ish substance fills the hole and out pops Benny, a vampire of all things. More surprising is the heartfelt warmth shared between the two as they embrace, relieved to have escaped the confines of Purgatory.
Meanwhile in Kermit, Texas, Sam packs his things and leaves his woman during the night as a shadowy figure watches his egress. He comes to an abandoned farm house in Whitefish, Montana where Dean puts him through a gamut of tests to prove it’s Sam. Satisfied they are kin, the brothers embrace. Sam is overwhelmed—thinking his brother was dead for the last year (sound familiar?). He questions Dean about his time, specifically Castiel’s whereabouts. A haunted look crosses Dean’s face and though he says that Cas is gone, his “I saw enough” is by no means definitive, hinting at the angel’s eventual return. As it is Dean’s good mood quickly evaporates when Sam not only admits to giving up the hunt but confesses he never looked for his brother after Dean vanished in a shower of “exploding Dicks”—his words, not mine. The brothers go about their business in a tense silence until Dean comes across several unchecked voice mails from Kevin Tran—the Prophet of the Lord tasked with reading God’s Word. Fueled by Dean’s guilty accusations, Sam tracks Kevin down to Centerville, MI where Channing Ngo, Kevin’s high school girlfriend is matriculating.
Ready to take off in the Impala, Dean inspects his baby and cannot find any “visible signs of douchery.” But he does catch a whiff of dog, something Sam denies. They arrive at the motel and two kids playing remind Dean of a Purgatory hunt. He questions a vampire on Castiel’s whereabouts but gets nothing; immediately after killing the monster a second one attacks. Benny jumps in and saves Dean and the latter can only watch his savior with surprised wariness.
As the brothers sit in the hotel, there’s a noticeable jumpiness to Dean. When Sam brings it up, Dean expertly redirects the conversation to Sam giving up on hunting. The younger brother confesses that a girl is involved, a girl named Emilia he met after hitting a dog. “I knew there was a dog,” is Dean’s first response though he’s being quite bitchy and hypocritical about Sam’s choice, a choice he made after Sam was carted to Hell on the back of Lucifer and Michael.
Back to the story at hand, Dean relates his experiences of Purgatory—“it felt pure,” he remarks before another flashback detailing his first conversation with Benny. The latter offers Dean a way out of Purgatory based on Dean being human but not without a catch; that would be using Dean to hop a ride out of the bleakness that is the Purgatory.
The next day the brothers visit Channing—Kevin’s ex—who offers nothing in the way of help. They end up scouring the campus and when they leave little Miss Channing shows her true demon face. She kills her roomie to make a collect communion call with the residential King of Hell.
Sam flashes back to when he hit the dog and brought it to Emilia. His fragile persona is on full display as he fights to help the dog. Back on campus as Dean bites into his “treasure” of a burger, Sam, after doing some computer research that would make Willow Rosenberg proud, discovers that Kevin is holed up in Fairfield, Iowa. They get to the Prophet and his demon-proofed lair, an abandoned church, where Kevin relays his time with Crowley. The Hell King wanted Kevin to translate another of God’s tablets, this one dealing with Hell gates. Though he tells Crowley it’s the instructions to open a Hell gate in Wisconsin, the boy’s a bit smarter than to give it up. He creates a potion to destroy his demonic guards and flees with the tablet. Alas, there’s fantastic news: that particular tablet has the instructions on how to banish all demons from the face of the earth…FOOOOOOOR-ever!
Though Sam is a bit hesitant about dragging Kevin back into the breach, Dean’s argument is wickedly to the point. Can you truly sit on the sidelines when you have the golden ticket in hand that will rid the world of all things that go bump in the night? Still a bit reluctant, Sam tries to explain the opportunity to Kevin, promising the young boy a way out, a ride back to a more normal life. When Kevin asks for a few minutes alone, Sam flashes back to a pushy Emilia who guilts him into taking the dog. The stroll down memory doesn’t last long as two demons crash the party. Though the brothers make short work of the two, Crowley (with a demonized Channing on a lease) enters the fray. He offers Kevin Channing’s safe return for his services. Though it looks as if he’ll capitulate, Kevin knows what’s at stake and engineers his escape alongside the Winchesters. His decision is not without consequences and he has to watch Crowley snap a disoriented Channing’s neck as recompense for his second betrayal.
When they stop of at a gas station, Kevin’s obviously distraught. Dean understands but doesn’t have time to coddle Kevin and relays the Prophet’s need to get it together for the coming war. Dean touches upon some of the things they had to do to stay alive and escape Purgatory, allusions that will no doubt pay fruition sometime down the road. Before they end the call, Benny commiserates that he should have appreciated Purgatory a bit more like Dean. For his part, Dean shows his loyalty to the vampire, directing Benny to call him if any emergency pops up.
One of the better season premieres in the Supernatural pantheon, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” offers everyone you’d expect for Supernatural. Not only are we given a quick reunion between Sam and Dean but the brotherly banter is present from the start. Even more critical is that it helps season 8 hit the ground running. From the second God’s tablet, Kevin fully ensconcing himself in the good fight, Castiel’s whereabouts and Dean’s secret alliance with Benny, there are so many avenues for Supernatural to take and while it’s only one episode, season 8 looks to be the best since the phenomenal season 5. We’ll see if they keep the momentum going strong next week.
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