It’s finally back! The blogosphere, fan forums, and Tumblr have been buzzing for days; January 21 isn’t only the one-month mark after the winter solstice, but also the return of Supernatural. Obviously, expectations were high, and the episode left some people happy and many others disappointed.
Personally, I am quite pleased with this episode; while it is very different from the very lighthearted episodes from the beginning of season five, it stayed true to itself, helped advance the plot, and gave even more depth to its two main characters.
It’s been a couple of weeks since Ellen and Jo died in their quest to help Sam and Dean fight the Apocalypse. Unsurprisingly, Dean hasn’t talked about it to Sam, keeping all his emotions inside; and these underlying strong emotions are exposed raw in the course of their current hunt.
Almost fittingly, the boys check themselves into a psychiatric ward to help an old hunter friend of their father, Martin, with supposedly suicidal patients whom he understands as having died of something very different. They finally figure out that a wraith is using the hospital as a hunting ground for brain juices high on dopamine and serotonine.
It needs to be mentioned that the balance between hilarity and seriousness is one that is difficult to manage in real life, let alone in a TV show, but that it’s something that Supernatural was always good at and now seems to be mastering. After all, it never makes light of one of the most serious topics it has tackled, the Apocalypse, and yet still manages to crack viewers up at least a dozen times in each episode. Perhaps this is yet one of the other reasons that, while tackling subjects that are unreal and supernatural, this TV show has such an effect on so many viewers. After all, life is a very serious matter, but it doesn’t mean one can’t have a good laugh every once in awhile.
This episode was more about the relationship between the two Winchester brothers than anything else, as well as a rather chilling reminder, in the form of Martin, of what could happen to them if they don’t clean up at least a little bit of the mental mess the events of the last four and a half years have made in their heads. As usual, playing the game (i.e. checking themselves into the psychiatric hospital) in order to get to the monster also exposes, most of the time quite unwillingly, the weaknesses each brother has. Now since rumours have it that there is going to be a sixth season of Supernatural and that both Jensen and Jared have signed on, it means that neither Dean nor Sam are going to die anytime soon (or at least, they are not going to die permanently). Hopefully, dealing with these issues is also going to keep them from, say, accepting an offer from a certain Lucifer and/or Michael.