As one of the many fans that was a bit skeptical going into Supernatural Season 10, I have to say, once again, that I am pleasantly surprised by just how much I’m liking these new episodes. Now “Soul Survivor” was notable for many reasons. For one, it was Jensen Ackles’s fourth time directing on the show (his previously directed episodes being Season 6’s “Weekend at Bobby’s,” Season 7’s “The Girl Next Door,” and Season 8’s “Heartache”). It was also the first time he played demon Dean this season, as the episodes were filmed out of order. To many fans’ apparent dismay, “Soul Survivor” also seemed to be the end of the demon Dean story arc.
While there did seem to be a general reaction of disappointment to the end of demon Dean’s reign and the unexpectedly anticlimactic way he went out, I, personally was okay with it, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the episode pushed the characters forward in a way, showing us where they all stand going into the rest of the season. Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard) is back to being the King of Hell as we know him – looking out for number one and manipulating whoever he sees necessary to do so. Sam (Jared Padalecki) has shifted fully back to the “family first” mentality the Winchester brothers have always shared. Castiel (Misha Collins) is no longer on the brink of death, although it is clear that he will not be able to live on borrowed grace for long. And finally, Dean is no longer a demon, but he is far from healed.
Although demon Dean was only with us for three episodes, I don’t have a problem with the show moving on from that particular plot point. It’s understandable to me that in a season of only 20-something episodes, the focus has to quickly shift, and I look forward to seeing Dean’s transition back to humanity and how he copes from here. I’m also appreciative of the fact that, in just three short episodes, we had the chance to see some great material from Jensen Ackles as demon Dean – including the badass (and fairly terrifying) cat and mouse chase between him and Sam in the bunker, and (my personal favorite shot of the episode) the mini angel/demon struggle between Dean and Castiel. Finally, even though Dean has been cured, I don’t believe that storyline is anywhere close to over. For one thing, there is some doubt in my mind that he is actually fully human again. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a demon fail to react to holy water (remember Azazel possessing John Winchester in Season 1?). For another, even if the cure was successful, Castiel did point out that the Mark of Cain still presents a rather large problem.
Speaking of Castiel, it’s good to see the angel more or less back on his feet, although I’m still wary of the fact that every episode seems to have some hint at a potential romantic relationship between him and Hannah (Erica Carroll). I was glad that Castiel himself seemed to squash this in the episode, though, as there are several reasons why a relationship between him and Hannah wouldn’t work for me. I’ve previously explained how I like their partnership better as something more teacher/student or brother/sister, especially with how closely Hannah resembles early-Castiel. In addition to this, I also don’t completely trust Hannah quite yet. She seems to be doing whatever she can to keep Castiel from the Winchesters, whether intentionally or not. As a huge Team Free Will fan, I can’t really get behind anything (or anyone) who keeps the three men apart. Which is why I was disappointed that, in the end of the episode, it seemed Castiel would not be staying in the bunker. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason why he would need to leave again – the trio seems stronger when they’re together, to me – and yet he still spoke of how Hannah was waiting outside in the car. I can only hope that the three will stick together next week, although my gut (and past experience) tells me otherwise.
The end of the episode was not completely disappointing, however, as we were introduced to yet another new character. Now, it may be because I’ve just recently re-watched the pilot, but did her introduction remind anyone else of Mary and Jess’s deaths in Season 1? When the blood started dripping from the ceiling, I immediately thought that was where the episode was headed, especially when there have been elements already in the season that hearken back to the show’s beginnings (demon Dean as Cole’s Azazel, Dean’s family photos). Although her introduction didn’t go quite as I expected, I’m intrigued as to where the mystery woman’s storyline will go. After all, redheads on Supernatural do tend to be pretty fantastic (Charlie, Naomi, and Abbadon, to name a few). I do hope that the mystery redhead’s actions won’t eclipse the return of Cole, however, as I’d really like to see that storyline play out as well.
Yet again, I find myself excited for next week’s episode – who’s with me?
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