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Supernatural - Back and to the Future - Review

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Supernatural began its final season with “Back and to the Future” written by Andrew Dabb and directed by John F Showalter. True to the title, the episode contained lots of calls back to the past, the monsters of the first season to be exact. Unfortunately, the episode took one of the creepiest monsters from the first season, Bloody Mary (Jovanna Burke), and turned her into a bad Halloween costume. The basic story of the episode, setting up the arc for the season, was weak, but there was at least one highlight in the episode – Alexander Calvert as Belphegor in Jack’s body was absolutely hysterical and delivered a truly memorable performance in the episode.

The episode begins with a great recap of last season set to “The Famous Final Scene” by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. The recap blends into the present as Dean (Jensen Ackles), Sam (Jared Padalecki), and Cas (Misha Collins) fighter their way out of a mob of demons, ghosts, and zombies into a handy nearby crypt. Cas grabs Jack’s body and we see Cas, Sam, and Dean try to come to terms with Jack’s death – we’ve had months to get used to the idea, but the pain and shock is immediate for them.

The three try to figure out what Chuck meant by “welcome to the end” and how to get out of the crypt. Dean maintains that he always knew that Chuck wasn’t to be trusted. Sam thinks he finds a way out, but when they try to find a sewage line, they only manage to let in more demons – or at least they let in Belphegor. At first, Sam is thrilled, thinking that Jack is alive when he stands up, but Cas points out that it’s just a demon. It’s immediately funny, as Belphegor says he’d do the “whole eyes thing” – but – waving his hands in front of the burnt out sockets – no eyes! In order to blend, Belphegor grabs a set of truly ugly sunglasses from the floor of the crypt.

Cas is furious that Belphegor is defiling Jack’s corpse and orders him to get out, but Belphegor insists that he can help. Dean steps in and says let’s see what he has to say – if they don’t like it, they can still stab him! Belphegor knows who they are, and thinks that the whole “Hellmouth” (Buffy anyone?) thing is the Winchesters. Cas tells him it was God, and Belphegor doesn’t believe him at first, thinking he’s kidding. Belphegor tells them that he likes his job and doesn’t want it to change. He wants all the demons back in Hell too. He has a spell to get them out of the Crypt too.

The spell knocks the demons out of the bodies, so they are strewn about the graveyard when they come out of the Crypyt. We soon see that the demons are running amok – Bloody Mary appears in a mirror and Rachel (Jasmine Miriguay) starts ripping her own face off. This scene had terrible dialogue – have any of the writers spent any time with a teenager lately? They actually do say more than, “I know, right?” The “blood” on Bloody Mary didn’t look any more like blood than the lipstick the girls had been putting on. I remember when Supernatural had some of the best effects on television.

We get a great scene in Baby – with Dean and Sam in front and Cas with Belphegor in the backseat. Sam checks the news for a world-wide zombie apocalypse but there's nothing. Belphegor tells them that there are about 3 billion demons in Hell – or now out. Belphegor tells them he knows a spell to contain the ghosts within a mile radius circle. Cas points out that Harlan, Kansas will be in the circle, so their job is clear. They have to clear the town and do the spell to contain the ghosts.

Before they get to Harlan, they come on a car crash. With very, very little evidence, both Dean and Sam agree it has to be a Woman in White. This is only one instance of the bad writing in this episode. Would it have killed them to have some evidence that this was Constance Welch??? We get some terrific flashbacks to the Pilot – and the truly wonderful Sarah Shahi who played her. In this episode, Constance has aged and is played by Shanae Tomasevich. Dean also points out that if Constance is back, then they are all back – every last one that they ever killed. So the last 14 years have been pointless? It all comes down to this one season? Um. No. At least not for me.

In Harlan, Carla (Melanie Merkosky) and her daughter (Isabella & Madison Barr) are terrorized by the return of the John Wayne Gacy Clown (Sean Tyson).

When they reach town, Sam goes to the Sheriff (Peter Skagen) undercover as FBI and tells him that he needs to evacuate the town. He doesn’t even use a clever alias!! What show IS this??? Dean tries to get Cas to take Belphegor to get what he needs for the spell while he and Sam do the evacuation, but Cas can’t even look at Belphegor and refuses. Cas goes to help Sam.

Dean has The Equalizer – which Belphegor is curious about for a moment before being distracted by how good looking people are “now.” It turns out that it’s been a very long time since Belphegor was topside! When Belphegor tells Dean that he’s gorgeous – and let’s face it, he’s not wrong there – Dean is suddenly anxious for Belphegor to get out of Jack too! Belphegor asks who Jack was and Dean tells him, “he was our kid… kind of.” Belphegor only needs two ingredients for the spell – a big bag of rock salt and…. A human heart!

Sam and Cas go door to door, and of course, Sam gets the serial killer clown! Cas is too late to help Rachel or her friend (Amanda Spinosa). Sam gets slashed by the clown and is then paralyzed by his own fear. The clown was pretty scary until he went too far over the top. A little judicious directing here would have been a good idea.

Dean gets Belphegor his salt, and while the two are alone, Belphegor confesses that he’s a fan of Dean. It’s another nice throwback and Belphegor refers to Dean’s time in Hell as an apprentice for Alastair – turns out that Belphegor is a fan of Dean’s “work” in Hell. Dean asks what it’s like in Hell now, and Belphegor asks him if he’s ever seen an anthill set on fire. He explains that it was business as usual and then suddenly every door in Hell sprang open – including the cage! Dean asks about Michael, and Belphegor says Michael was just sitting there last he saw – but not to worry, right? Even if he gets out, Michael likely won’t hold a grudge, right?

Back with Sam and Cas, Cas heals Sam, and then Cas immediately explains that he’s an angel to Carla and her daughter! However, we discover that there is something very, very wrong with where Sam was hit with the bullet when he shot God with the Equalizer. And here’s where there might be a clue to what’s going on. Cas can’t heal the wound, but we get flashes of Sam in pain and bathed in red light – is this from when he was possessed by Lucifer? Or in the cage with him? Is “Chuck” going to turn out to be Lucifer after all? Cas tells Sam that he felt an energy in the wound that he’d never felt before – and what could that mean?

The Sheriff calls Sam to say he’s doing a final sweep. Sam tells him to meet him at the school – which is outside of the one mile radius and thus the perfect evacuation site. Unfortunately before the Sheriff can leave, he runs into the Woman in White. Dean and Belphegor are still working on the human heart – and Belphegor tells Dean that fresh would be better than the morgue…. It turns out that the Woman in White solves their problem by killing the Sheriff…

Constance show up and slaps Dean against a dumpster – and it’s some of the shoddiest wire work/stunt I’ve seen on the show. I did love when Sam and Cas were fighting their ghosts and Sam shot Cas, how ticked off Cas was that Sam shot him!

Belphegor’s spells seem ridiculously simple, but it does work. And blissfully brings to an end the parade of bad Halloween costumes/ghosts. Closeups of poor makeup in daylight does not work to create a scary or even mildly creepy show…. I guess the executives finally did get their brighter, lighter show….

The Impala is even more crowded as the Dean, Sam, Cas, and Belphegor drop off Carla and her daughter at the school. They swear the two to secrecy, and Sam escorts them into the school. Dean takes the opportunity to check on Cas, who says he’s ok. Cas still doesn’t want to look at Belphegor, who seems determined to be friends.

Sam and Dean discuss next steps at the trunk. They figure they’ve got a couple of days at best before the real FBI shows up and people want more answers about the gas leak. Dean is more interested in cleaning up Sam’s gunshot wound – he hasn’t forgotten that Sam got shot when he shot Chuck. Dean points out that there’s no exit wound and asks how bad does it hurt – it also looks nasty! Sam says it doesn’t hurt much.

Then we get another fan favorite trope as Dean asks Sam if he remembers how he’d distract him when they were kids and Dean had to look after a wound – or pull of a band aid. A bad joke, of course – this is Dean we’re talking about! So Dean, says “Knock, knock” – and then hits the wound with alcohol or something.

Dean is angry. He tells Sam, just when we thought we had a choice, we were just rats in a maze. They didn’t have free will. Dean wonders if everything that they’ve done had any meaning. Sam tells Dean that they still saved people. Dean wonders what for – just so Chuck could throw another end of the world at them. Sam says so what – at least now Chuck is gone. That’s what he does. When he doesn’t like where the story is going, he bails. And Sam says good because that means that it’s just them. Dean points out – and 3 billion ghosts. And since when are demons just ghosts? That is a total retcon.

Regardless, Sam points out that if they win, they win the whole thing. God is gone and there is no more maze. They’re free. Dean summarizes: “you and me against every soul in Hell. I like those odds” and so does Sam. In another throwback to the Pilot, the episode ends with Sam declaring “we got work to do.” And the trunk to the Impala closing on the framed image of the brothers.

So, some nice call backs to the Pilot – trying to close the circle of the series. However, the basic plot had too many holes for me and the monsters that used to be such a joyful part of this series were laughable. Ackles, Padalecki, and Collins deliver fine performances, but Calvert is really the star of this episode. While I appreciate the show’s attempt to bring us full circle, what the show has evolved into – while cherished by many – is a far cry from where it started. I for one, miss the days of scary horror anthology that still had the Winchester family drama. These days the show is more melodrama and not as much my own personal cup of tea. What did you think of the premiere? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

First season scary - SO much scarier...

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