Sunday, 25 September 2011

Review: Supernatural 7.01 "Meet The New Boss"

WARNING! Episode spoilers!

When God gets righteous you get the hell out of the way.
Most shows going into their seventh season don’t need to take a lot of risks. They’re established, they don’t have to work too hard, don’t have to challenge the audience, they’ve got their fans, they can set themselves to cruise control and relax a little. Thankfully Supernatural is not one of those shows, because, though it is indeed heading into its seventh season, it’s taking bigger risks than ever before. It’s challenging its audience, damn; it’s confronting it, even thumbing its nose at it a bit! It’s saying, hey we know you love this or we know you love that, but don’t get too comfy there; we’re pulling it all out from under you…again. Thankfully, the Supernatural audience is used to this and to be honest, I think we secretly enjoy it, because….well we’re all a little twisted that way.

When Supernatural soars, it really soars and Meet The New Boss took us to giddy heights. But like the best rollercoaster rides, it ultimately sent us plummeting back down to earth with our hearts in our mouths, screaming just a little. It was one of those episodes that makes you want to jump up and cheer and then drop back to the couch and scratch your head at why more people aren’t jumping up and cheering! This was a beautifully written hour of television, with performances that outshone the vast majority of work currently on the tube. For me, it was by far my favourite season opener since Lazarus Rising.

So, on to the episode….

We open with The Road So Far (yay) and Foghat’s 'Slow Ride' and then pick up exactly where season 6 left off, with Cas asking the boys and Bobby to kneel before him, their new God and basically, it all goes pear-shapped for everyone from there. Welcome back Supernatural!
There are 3 distinct Castiels in this opening episode of season 7. There’s God!Cas, (or Smitey McSmiteron). He's on a misguided mission to set right what he feels were the wrongs his Father ignored. He chooses to destroy those he believes deserve to be punished. From Evangelists, to the Ku Klux Klan (ok he was right on that point), to the Angel’s who stood against him in his war with Raphael. The scene of destruction in Heaven was something else, Angel bodies strewn all over, their wings burnt into the grass of what I assumed was the eternal Tuesday afternoon of an Autistic man. 
This Cas is righteous to a fault and though seemingly confident, he has his doubts. It only takes a few choice words from Death to make him start to feel he needs to justify his actions, to make him voice that he doesn’t think he's being petty. He knows something's going horribly wrong, but trapped by his own arrogance and hubris, or as Death put it, having bought his own press, he continues on his imprudent path. This Cas is tragic, yes he’s scary, but under it all, the flaking skin, the whispering voices, the souls trying to push their way out of his tummy like an alien baby, the ever increasing self doubt, there’s a tragedy to God!Cas that’s almost Shakespearian. His realisation that maybe he's wrong is truly gut wrenching.
Then we saw Leviathan!Cas, with an ancient evil burning through Cas' thin membrane of skin as they slowly took control of what would soon become their vessel. Sneering, chaotic, evil grinned who knows what. So heinous that God created Purgatory to stash them away in. The Leviathans are the new big bad, the thing that’s going to be on Sam and Dean’s ass this season. After fighting Archangels and the Devil, the Leviathans seem like a fitting enemy. I mean, it would be a bit silly for the boys to go back to simply torching Wendigos after all they’ve been through right? I’m pretty excited by this turn of events. This big bad sounds awesomely challenging and I like nothing more than seeing the Winchester brothers put on their thinking caps and outsmart creatures who think they're smarter than anything else. Those boys are pretty brainy! 
Then of course, for a brief shining moment we saw Cas, the real Cas, our beautiful Angel, Cas. Remorseful and wanting redemption, asking for forgiveness and in his final moments, trying desperately, one more time, to save his friends before the festering evil inside him burst forth. Man I nearly howled when he turned and said “I’m sorry Dean.” When he fell to the ground after the souls were extracted from him and Dean called his name and ran to his side. When Dean plaintively said, “Maybe Angels don’t need to breathe.” 
Dean’s face when Bobby said Cas was gone. Hang on….I’ve suddenly started taking about Dean, how very unlike me…... I loved every moment of when Cas became Cas. The way he deadpanned “I really over reached.” No kidding! I also thought the interaction between Cas and Dean at the end, was spot on. Even as Cas was trying to show his remorse and Dean was stubbornly standing firm, their little banter was so them. “Is it working?” “Does it make you feel better” “No, you?” “Not a bit.” That made me smile. If there was ever any doubt, and there never was from me, that Dean loves Cas, these finally moments when he ran to Cas and tried to stay with him even though Cas was telling him to go, should clear that up. Cas was his best friend…..Cas was his only friend. What has happened to Cas is so very sad, but in so many ways, so very awesome…storytelling wise.
Seeing as I’m already doing it, let’s talk about Dean….yes, yes, my favourite subject. I felt that Dean was at tipping point in this episode. He's focusing on the small things, like fixing his baby, because that’s something he knows he can achieve. When faced with the bigger problems of Cas and Sam, he isn’t doing so well. I mean, I’m pretty sure he was drunk when he was watching that Asian cartoon porn (bless) and I don’t remember seeing Dean drunk ever. I'm not sure who was more surprised, Dean or Cas when Dean yelled at Death to kill his friend. I'm not sure he would've ever recovered if Death had actually done it. He’s hurt, he’s angry, he’s exhausted and he’s hanging on to whatever he has left by the skin of his teeth. So he's doing what he always does, he's blocking it out, he's not talking about it, he's numbing his feelings. Classic hurt and angry Dean behaviour. It makes me wonder if we're finally going to go there with Dean. His ever increasing consumption of alcohol and his apparent comfort with this. We've even danced around him taking something else. Apparently he takes pills. He offered them to Sam in Mannequin 3: The Reckoning and Sam alluded to this again in Let It Bleed. Is this something the writers are finally going to investigate with Dean, his increasing dependance on substances to get him through the day?
I felt like this was a look at the path he will be on while he, once again, comes to terms with how they can never, ever catch a break.  On the flip-side he had some lovely Dean is awesome moments. He came up with the clever (or maybe not so clever) binding Death idea. I love how Dean deals with Death. I think it’s the only time you actually see Dean scared. Doesn’t stop him being a smart-ass though. It was brilliant that he brought Death some cheap food! I loved how he took out the couple with the gun and was so very polite when he tied them up, introducing them to Bobby and Sam, (who were hilarious by the way in how they practically snuggled together through the whole Death scene, looking from Death to Dean with horrified faces). Dean also had a couple of corker lines, my favourite being “God part deux”. But I can’t say I don’t worry about Dean when he’s so down in the dumps. I always wonder how much more this man can take, how much more is he supposed to shoulder, how many times can he pick himself up and dust himself of. Gah! Hugs!
And Sammy, oh dear, he’s been copping it since he was six months old. How he keeps moving forward is beyond me! I do wish he’d come clean with Dean regarding the hallucinations, but I totally get why he didn’t. These two boys are all about protecting each other again and though being kept in the dark is one of Dean’s pet hates, Sam was doing it for all the right reasons, he was looking out for Dean, trying not to add more crap to his already full plate, which was nice to see. I’m interested in how Sam’s crumbling wall is dealt with as we move through the season, he can’t be teetering on the edge of insanity the whole time, so he must either come to grips with it somehow, or get repaired at some point. I have a theory about that…..I’ll get to it in a minute. I thought it was healing and somewhat fitting that Sam was the one who prayed to Cas to accept their help. No way Dean was going to do that. It takes a lot for Dean to make that first move, but Sam….it’s so in his character to forgive and try and help their friend even though their friend may have damaged him beyond repair. Where did Sam go at the end though? It was an awesome twist, with the Devil trying to convince him he was still in Hell. How will Dean make Sam believe that he really is out of the pit? I think a lot of this will play out next week. Poor Sam.
Of course Bobby was his usual brilliant self. That man is a never ending source of common sense and he never gets flustered. I adored seeing Crowley in his slippers and listening to These Boots Are Made For Walking, he has fabulous taste in music and it was also fun to see him lost for words when Cas was telling him his plan. Crowley…lost for words! Death is so very cool; he is definitely one of my favourite characters ever on Supernatural. But it was Lucifer I loved seeing the most. I totally missed Mark’s name in the opening titles, so I got a complete surprise when he popped up. I always feel so awkward saying this, but I simply love Lucifer! Or rather I should say I love how Mark Pellegrino plays Lucifer. Having Lucifer, Crowley and Death in the one episode was a treat. I was totally geeking out!

With this fantastic roster of guest stars, I also have to say that, once again, the acting in Supernatural blew my socks off. Whether it was the amazing flipping between the various Cas’ that Misha pulled off, I thought his performance was really remarkable, the tragedy of Sam and how Jared brings so much pathos to him, or those subtle nuances of Jensen’s performance that manage to convey everything that is going on deep inside Dean in the quietest way, everyone did a stellar job. Add in the flawless Jim Beaver, and the calibre of guest stars in the shape of Mark Sheppard, Julian Richings and Mark Pellegrino and what show has actors and performances on this level?  
And I can't not mention the new opening titles. They.Are.Cool. I totally dig them. This black splat and dribble thing? So messy. So perfect. It reminded me a bit of the Hellhound blood from Caged Heat, when Meg was stabbing them with the Angel blade. And with the weird black veins that were making their way up Cas’ neck at the end when he was laughing like a maniac (veins reminiscent of Sam's hallucination in the panic room), I wonder if there is any correlation. Whatever, they're great!

So where to from here and what’s my theory? Well for starters, I don’t think Cas is dead. I know the Leviathans said he was, but I think he’s in there, kind of like when a demon takes a host, or even Cas and Jimmy, or Sam and Lucifer, the person is still inside, just suppressed. They were just screwing with Dean. I think Cas is still inside and I think at some point further into the season we will see him again. I think his redemption is going to come in the form of somehow overcoming the Leviathans and either saving Dean or, and this is what I think is most likely, fixing Sam’s poor old brain. It’s just a theory of course and most of the time my half baked theories are way wrong, but I can’t see that Angel going out any other way than as a hero and though he got some redemption in this episode, that journey is incomplete. Meet The New Boss was almost a teaser. With the cliffhanger ending, it's not entirely clear where the story is going, what's going to be the arc, what mythology will we be investigating this season? This is something we need to get used to, a new mythology, a new road trip each season. We were used to the story following on, going towards the ultimate end game, but now all bets are off. Some of us coped with that concept better last season than others. Bob Singer said they are going year to year, not a two or three year plan and at this stage of the show that seems wise to me. We sure don't want to be in a situation where we are half way through a story arc and the show gets cancelled (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little). So we need to put our patient hats on and see where this road takes us. We know the Leviathans will be involved, but we don't know how or for how long. As for Cas, I'm one of the fans who really loves this change up with the character. I'm glad it's not just same old awkward Cas, as much as I love him, I'm okay with how his story is playing out, I'm okay to say goodbye to him, as long as that goodbye is epic. But only time will tell, because they are a sneaky bunch those Supernatural creatives! Just when you think you've sussed something out...wham, you're on your ass because they pulled it all out from under you again! Supernatural never rests on it laurels and I for one, am eternally grateful for that.
So, yay! Season 7 underway! I thought Meet The New Boss was another brilliant outing from the Supernatural team. The script by Ms Gamble, the direction by Phil Sgriccia, everything just popped. I was more than satisfied. I was thrilled. I thought it was a kick ass start to the season. It just has this really exciting vibe don’t you think? Like I said earlier, this is my favourite season opener since Lazarus Rising (4.01), which is a top 5 episode for me. I have a feeling Meet The New Boss will become a favourite of a lot of us, but I have such a damn good feeling about season 7, that I think I might have a whole bunch of favourites by the time 8 is announced!

It’s so good to have my show back. Supernatural, how I miss you through the painfully long hellatus. Bring on episode 2….and just to get your juices flowing….here’s the promo! See you next week and thanks for reading! - Amy

Don’t forget I love comments…so comment away!


  1. I like:) Nice rounded review(u just forgot we need tighter jeans for sam)....I loved it...hoped there wouldnt be any wank...and must admit read tweets/reviews and STILL held my breath watching! Soooo yeah...bring it::))

  2. Yes Sam's jeans were a little loose! I guess that's the only thing I can fault :). Thanks for reading Dru!

  3. Nice job summing it up. And I agree, it was a helluva start to Season 7. So much packed in one episode, makes you wonder what is in store for the season. I am really looking forward to Lucifer and Sam's storyline. And Deannnn... oh my! how much can a guy take. This season he has an edgy Sam and a "dead" Cas. Not to forget the Leviathans. I can't begin to imagine what he must be going through.

  4. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  5. Great review Amy. We all have a lot to say, because the episode was that awesome! I think it was flawless, it was a perfect season opener. I agree that Leviathans seem like a fitting enemy. I think the writers have picked the right monster to feature this season. The Dean and Cas thing was somewhat heartwarming in the end -- and everyone was helping and asking him if he was ok, if he needed anything. I don't think Cas is dead either, I think you are right, he is fighting inside, fighting the beast. I love all the guest stars in this episodes, I totally didn't see Pellegrino coming. I did see his name in the credit and I flipped! LOL.. Anyway.. great review!!