I am delighted to see a return to what made the first five season so great: a story arc that moves through several seasons, meta jokes, cultural references, creepy and deeply psychological scenes, great actors like Mark Sheppard, and overwhelming odds for Team Free Will to fight.
The writing is breathtaking this season in more than one way. We’ve got cultural references zinging here and there right from the beginning, from Dean promising to go “Zero Dark Thirty” on Crowley to ridiculing Kevin’s choice of a bow to protect himself by calling him “Katniss” to a scene that I just know will be turned into fan art within hours: Crowley’s creepy sexual allusions to Moose in a leather bustier and stilettos.
We also got the chance to see Mark Sheppard turn Crowley into someone we sympathize with even though he’s still an evil bastard. The Winchesters torture him by doing something truly inspired. They leave him alone with only his thoughts to keep him company. While he denies that it bothers him, we see him remembering the events of last season’s finale and taunting Kevin as a way to escape being trapped in a room alone.
This is genius. Being evil is a lonely business. You can’t trust anyone. No one has your back. You have to take care of yourself because no one else cares. Crowley’s agonized scream in the season eight finale, “I just want to be loved!” underscores his deepest desire. This might be why Crowley taunts Sam and Dean and their relationship – he craves what they have.
Sam and Dean may have their own issues to work through, but they have each other. They have Cas. Now, they also have Kevin. They have friends and family. They’ve had to say goodbye to many of them, but in the end, losing love is better than never having it. That’s a pretty powerful statement, but Supernatural has always been about family and I’m glad they’re going back to their roots to stabilize this three-season arc.
“Devil May Care” also opened up an interesting idea. While Lucifer ruled Hell with an iron fist as a sort of royal “salesman”, as Crowley likened him since he was a wiley, backstabbing evil, Abaddon, on the other hand, makes no bones about what she wants. She wants total control over everyone: angels, demons, humans. This is probably the most power-hungry villain we’ve seen in a long while, but this greed will also make her careless and will probably lead to her eventual downfall.
With all this heavy stuff in “Devil May Care” it was still a humorous episode. Agents “Stark” and “Banner” were back in action, and Kevin astonished me with his quick blackmail scam and his hilarious “Kevin Friggin’ Solo” line. He wasn’t a favorite in past seasons, but if this episode is an indication of where his character is going, I’d love to see him hang around. I’m also fond of “Daddy Dean” and seeing him step up to give Kev some tough love and proof that he’s accepted as part of the family was heartwarming.
Of course, all of this is going to fall apart. Ezekiel, or “Zeke” as he is nicknamed by Dean, will get found out by Sam, driving another wedge into the brother’s relationship. Despite their bond, I don’t know how strongly Sam will react to becoming a vessel yet again. And what about Abaddon’s desire to take Dean’s body as a vessel? What if the two brothers have to face off again, switching roles as Sam hosts Ezekiel and Dean hosts Abaddon? “Devil May Care” showed the boys at least attempting to move on from the mistakes of the past. Dean still has to struggle with his choice to keep Sam alive by letting Ezekiel taking up residence, but until Sam finds out, he’s just going to enjoy having his brother around.
I am quite eager to see how the rest of the season unfolds.