“Welcome to the End.”
For the fifteenth year, Supernatural premieres for another fall season but, unlike the others, this will be the last hurrah. The final premiere. And despite a lackluster story, “Back and to the Future” effectively sets the table for what lies ahead.
Beginning seconds after last year’s finale “Moriah” ended, with the legendary Bob Seger’s “The Famous Final Scene” playing in the background, Cas and the Winchesters are surrounded by the newly possessed bodies of the dead. Thanks to Chuck/God’s vindictiveness, the spirits of Hell have been unleashed and they don’t care what body they find, so long as they can use it to torment the living.
With Jack’s body in tow, the trio take shelter in a tomb. There’s no exit, no magic, really no hope for them to escape with their lives. That is, until Belphegor arrives. A 9-to-5 demon of the torturing variety, the spirit jumps into Jack’s corpse and gives the exhausted trio his spiel: he’ll help them get out of dodge so long as they can make Hell—well, Hell—again. But it’s not that easy; with the spirits ejected from the bodies at the cemetery, they’re free to frolic and murder anyone they run into.
That spells trouble for Harlan, the town that’s but a mile away. Knowing they can’t just leave the people to be butchered by Hell’s denizens, our white hats brainstorm anything they can do to push back the tide. Luckily, Belphe answers for the win. Contain the spirits in a barrier; he just so happens to know a spell that’ll get it done. All Sam, Dean, and Cas need to do is evacuate the town and get the ingredients and said spirits will be trapped until a better plan comes around.
Just like the plan to contain the spirits is a stop-gap, “Back and to the Future” is a similar kind of solution. As Supernatural premieres go, it’s rather disappointing with scant moments of wit and levity, uninspired action, and a town of red shirts whose deaths really don’t add anything to the tension they’re trying to build. Add to that a shoddy job of editing—some of the cuts just didn’t make sense and effectively nullified the adequate instances of conflict—and one would rightfully think that the final Supernatural premiere was a forgettable entry with little to no value-add.
The former is true enough; “Back” is a boring entry into the franchise and would have been at home as one of those mid-season fillers than the final season premiere in the series’ history. The latter, however, would not be accurate.
Not only do we get a new and rather spunky character in Belphegor, but the circumstances behind his appearance allows Alexander Calvert to stay onboard (for now) and a demon wearing the meatsuit of their dead friend has already caused significant strife between Sam, Dean, and Cas. Add to that the strange energies Cas felt coming off Sam’s wound, 2 to 3 billion souls from Hell trying to infest the world with their malevolence and the terrifying thought that the Cage is also open (with this Earth’s Michael having a straight shot into this world) and the deck is firmly stacked against Team Winchester.
Dean feels an angry resentment and hopelessness to the situation God has left them with. Ever the optimist, Sam sees the ray of light in their back-against-the-wall predicament. If Chuck stays true to his finnicky nature and abandons this reality to create a shiny new one, and they can, against all odds, win this time, it’s all over. As Sam tells Dean “if we win…we’re free.”
At the end of the day, that’s what these two brothers have been fighting for their entire lives. The finality of that finish line at the end of the road, difficulty be damned, has always been the endgame. So what if it’s the Winchesters against the world (of demons)? At the end of the day, that’s how it was always meant to be.
The Good, the Bad, the Supernatural
- Though it’s touched on a couple times, “Back” doesn’t allow us time to examine the true magnitude of Chuck’s actions. Imagine the best cops in the world who’ve put away the vilest criminals into a super max only to have every single one of them escape. If Sam and Dean thought things were tough before, having an asylum full of inmates gunning for them to get some sweet revenge is going to crank up the difficulty setting quite a bit. A pissed off Michael makes things infinitely worse though, he should be saved until at least midseason.
- Speaking of past adversaries, when the Woman in White turned up, I had really hoped Sarah Shahi would have reprised her role from the Supernatural series premiere. Unfortunately, her work on The Rookie and City on a Hill probably impacted her ability to return. Still, it does open the door for some of the Winchesters’ more dynamic foes like Azazel (the one who started it all), Alastair, Abaddon, Lucifer (of course) and, if we’re very, very lucky, the one and only Crowley. While I understand that, if the demons take to possessing some poor bastards they will be inhabiting different bodies but to have someone like Crowley show up and not have Mark Sheppard be at the wheel…well, that’d be—to put it bluntly—a Chuckdamn’d tragedy.
- For someone who has a bullet still lodged in him, Sam was moving around pretty well. That eye-rolling oversight aside, there’s something sinister afoot regarding that wound. Never mind that it was a God-killer type gun in the first place, but Castiel’s assertion that the energy coming from it was something he’d never felt before and the flash of a sadistic looking Sam suggests Team Winchester may have to deal with one of their own playing for the other team. I’m not sure if that glimpse was of something already in Sam or a premonition of his body-rider, the one and only Lucifer, taking a spin in Mr. Winchester’s skin.