Every season has it; the turning point where the primary story arc is pushed forward with a fantastic alacrity. This week’s Supernatural is that launching point for season eight. “A Little Slice of Kevin” turns things on its ear and is that moment us Supernatural fans thread our fingers together behind our head, lean back and, with a knowing smirk, nod sagely as business is about to pick up.

Things start on the fast track with a group of children playing in the park. Aaron, a rather messy painter, is taken to the bathroom by his teacher, who flashes those beautifully obsidian eyes of a demon. The two disappear into the little boys room with a tornado following their departure; when the door blows open, both Aaron and his teacher are gone.

Sam and Dean take a look at the random disappearances

Cruising down the road, scarfing on some chips and head nodding to The Animals, Dean passes an all too familiar face. Walking down the road is a scruffy looking Cas. But the angel isn’t there when Dean stops; he brushes it off as seeing things. He gets back to the cabin and Sam fills him in on the disappearances. Each person—random as can be and their egresses causing seriously mucked up mini-natural disasters.

A quick segue brings us to Crowley having a bit too much fun torturing a trussed up Samandriel (“What’s Up, Tiger Mommy?”). He’s looking for names and Samandriel, bloodied and broken, tells Crowley there are no more names, the next generation has yet to be born. Convinced it’s the truth, Crowley leaves to address his captured council of random people. They believe Crowley’s an alien, plucking them from their lives for God knows what. He sidesteps the assumptions and shows them the Word of God. When a kindly old postal carrier remarks that he doesn’t read Chinese, Crowley rolls his eyes in disgust. “Talk about the dumbing down of America”, he quips before flexing a bit of demonic muscle to one of the bolder guests before gaining their attention and the severity of their predicament.

After being out of action for a bit, Kevin and Mrs. Tran are back. They are still running from demons though Mrs. Tran is tired of running; she’s taken upon herself to hire a witch, Delta Mendota, from Craig’s List to gather the necessary ingredients for some demon bombs. Delta inquires a bit more about the ingredients but Mrs. Tran offers nothing more.

After visiting the teacher and confirming her possession, the Winchesters head back to the cabin. As Dean studies the events, he glances outside and catches another glimpse of Cas. Sam wakes up and Dean confesses to seeing their one time angelic amigo twice that day. When he mentions those last moments in Purgatory, Sam recognizes that Dean blames himself for not being able to bring Cas back. Dean’s soul-crushing guilt and self-loathing is evident and Sam tells Dean he has to let it go. Easier said than done, of course. As Sam walks away, Dean’s memories take him back to the final leg of his trek with Benny and Cas to Purgatory’s exit. Cas tells Dean that if the plan doesn’t work, he’s grateful for everything the elder Winchester has done for him. The next day Cas returns in full, unable to tell them how he escaped Purgatory. Still a bit disoriented, the angel leaves the room to clean up and Dean continues to remember the past. A blood bond and spell casting transports Benny into Dean’s arm and as he and Cas approach the exit, two Leviathan block their path. Sam breaks Dean from his memories and the latter remarks how things don’t add up. How does Cas not remember anything? Something big had to have interfered and pulled Cas from Purgatory. Their discussion is interrupted when a cleaned up Cas re-appears, a spitting image of his former self, coat and all.

After bringing the ingredients for one demon bomb and scrambling Kevin’s hormone addled brain, Delta ends up showing her true colors, being in league with Crowley. The King of Hell zaps her away then takes Kevin for himself but not before telling his demonic minion to get rid of Mrs. Tran. Evidently he didn’t get the memo because Mrs. Tran is one serious BAMF (bad ass mofo, for those with a dirty mind); not only does she hammer him with a blast of holy water to the face, but she also brings him as a captive to the Winchesters to gain intel on Crowley’s whereabouts.

In the cabin, Cas watches an infomercial a childlike glee. When Sam goes over the names of the missing folks, Cas speaks the names in conjunction with Sam. These aren’t ordinary folks, rather they are prophets of the current generation, though they won’t graduate to that next level unless Kevin dies. In the same vein of Buffy, there can only be one prophet in the world at any one time. The logic causes Sam to ask about Chuck, one of the first times we’ve heard the former prophet’s name since last appearance in “Swan Song”. It doesn’t take long for the boys to realize Crowley’s behind the entire mess and when they get a call from Mrs. Tran, their theory is confirmed.

Now that he has Kevin, Crowley is ready for the young man to start reading. Kevin’s less than enthused, especially considering Crowley ordered the murder of his mom. Even after exploding one of the potential prophets like a blood beetle, Crowley starts in on a bit of torture. “A Little Slice of Kevin” is an apropos title as Crowley severs Kevin’s pinky finger. It’s enough to kill the young man’s resolve and he agrees to start on the translation.

As they wait on Mrs. Tran, Dean remembers back to he and Cas’s final moments together as they battled the Leviathan before

Even without his mojo fully restored, Cas is still hard core

Dean loses his grip on Cas and tumbles back through to our world. The memory causes Dean to confront his best friend. “I did not leave you,” he swears and, like Sam, Cas realizes just how much Dean blames himself. They aren’t able to finish the conversation though as Mrs. Tran shows up. After getting the intel on Crowley’s hideout, they infiltrate the warehouse in search of Kevin.

The young prophet identifies a personal note of sorts from Metatron written on the tablet. It mentions a Compendium, and the King of Hell surmises that, not only are there more tablets, but other things out there aside from the Leviathan and demons. Cas interrupts the reading and seraph and demon face off. Despite his condition, Cas summons enough mojo to chase Crowley off but not before the latter can flee, taking half the tablet with him.

As everyone gathers in the aftermath, Sam tells the Trans that Garth will be keeping them off the grid for the foreseeable future. Dean and Cas have their own conversation and the angel reminds Dean that it isn’t his fault. “It’s about will,” Cas says and realizes the only way to exorcise Dean of his self-loathing is to show him what really happened. Cas didn’t want to go—Purgatory was going to be his penance.  Dean is floored by the revelation and Cas reminds Dean, “You can’t save everyone, my friend. But you try.”

There’s a new player in the game: Naomi

…and just like that Cas is pulled into Heaven by Naomi. She’s a powerful heavenly host, mysteriously pulling the truth from Cas without him wanting. She is why he was pulled from Purgatory and her mission for him is to aid the Winchesters in whatever capacity they need. He won’t remember the conversations though, as she plops him back into the conversation with Sam and Dean, a niggling of something off is evident on his features. He agrees to help the Winchesters before walking away. Sam asks Dean if he and Cas are good. Though Dean says yes there is something about his face, a distance hinting that he’s yet to process it all.

As fun as it was having both Crowley and Dean back in the fold (and doesn’t Mark Sheppard just have the most delicious lines!) Amanda Tapping’s appearance as the mysterious Naomi is the springboard for some serious happenings as we finish up the first third of season eight. Her appearance (and subsequent powers and standing in Heaven) coupled with the first mention of Chuck in years, along with Metatron’s personal note is no coincidence. There’s some serious stuff in the works and I can only wonder where things are headed in the final two-thirds of season.

In two weeks: Cas is going to become a hunter…?