Can Supernatural keep its viewers transfixed for an eleventh season? Why of course it can.
Not too long since the foreboding events of last season’s finale, Supernatural fans came together on Wednesday, 20th April for the premiere of Season 11. The episode did not lack the customary dose of bloody human casualties, demonic infection and of course, Sam’s (Jared Padalecki) ‘let’s save everyone’ vs. Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) ‘let’s kill everyone’ dispute. But the real question is, how scary is the new threat of the series, the ominous ‘Darkness’, released by the brothers at the end of the tenth season?
Well, the answer is she’s actually not very threatening at all. That’s right, the ‘Darkness’, supposedly the most evil thing to roam the earth before being restrained by God himself, turns out to be a mysterious woman, and a very attractive one at that (hello there, Emily Swallow). I can’t say I don’t approve of a hot female baddie, but she has got ten series of evil to live up to, and whether she’s up there with the likes of Lucifer, Metatron or Dick Roman is questionable. Yet to say she’s not intriguing certainly wouldn’t do Swallow’s character justice, especially with regards to the suggested bond between the ‘Darkness’ and Dean, due to him being the most recent bearer of the mark of Cain. Spoiler alert: there’s some serious sexual tension between the two.
After Dean wakes up from his dream-like encounter with Miss ‘Darkness’, the Winchester brothers face the aftermath of her having infected the humans in her way, causing them to go rabid and subsequently kill others – standard Supernatural stuff. The sole survivor appears to be wounded newbie sheriff’s deputy Jenna (Laci J. Mailey), who provides a sweetly innocent contrast to the dreary background of the episode and is therefore later entrusted with the care of a baby left behind by one of the infected. Sadly, you get the feeling that she’s not going to last long with that attitude. Especially since the final image of the episode reveals the supposedly eradicated mark of Cain on the baby’s shoulder – yep, apparently evil babies are a thing now, just accept it.
Another tense moment shows Sam bravely stay behind to fight some rabid humans (it would be Sam, naturally), while Dean and Jenna sneak out of a derelict hospital. Sam then discovers the first black signs of infection on his own neck, having been sprayed with one of the victims’ blood. Poor Sam, you’d have thought being addicted to demon blood, losing his soul inside Lucifer’s cage and being possessed by a deranged angel was quite enough for one man, but clearly there’s more hardship coming his way this season.
For those all-important moments of comic relief, we turn to Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard), the still reigning King of Hell, who has apparently survived the attempt on his life in the previous season, merely losing possession of his human vessel. His search for a new temporary vessel ends up in an human orgy massacre – obviously. As one of his demon servants aptly points out: ‘’It’s just, you barely escaped assassination, you’re arguably on the run from the most powerful witch on earth, not to mention an angel of heaven, and you didn’t call for help until after the orgy.’’ Typical Crowley, that.
One of the more disappointing storylines in the episode unfortunately involves Castiel (Mischa Collins), who doesn’t seem to do much apart from moping about under the influence of the witch Rowena’s (Ruth Connell) ‘attack dog spell’. This causes him to fight with the urge of turning into an animalistic killer. Yet before we get to see the usually awkward and moral Castiel in full-blown crazy Angel mode, he begs for divine help and is captured by some fellow Angels. Damn.
All in all, the first episode is not without its faults and clichés, but is still bound to be a treat for any Supernatural fan, who will appreciate that after such a long run, these problems are pretty much unavoidable. For the new viewers, this does not qualify as the best Supernatural season intro, but it is certainly attention-grabbing in terms of potential plot developments and is actually one of the easier to get into without much background knowledge. There’s just one warning I would give: once you start watching, prepare to get addicted very quickly indeed.
Supernatural airs on E4 on Wednesdays at 10pm.