Supernatural – Season 11 Episode 2
“Form and Void”
After a slightly shaky start Supernatural proves that it can still tell a compelling character driven story that feels somewhat fresh after over a decade on screens.
This episode follows directly on from the previous one with Dean taking Jenna and the baby Amara to a safe place while Sam struggles with his growing infection. It’s a good thing to sometimes separate the brothers as it dials up the urgency when neither of them have backup.
I really liked Sam’s story as he worked against time to find a cure for his affliction. He opts to keep it from Dean which is frustrating but Sam withholding information didn’t take too much time in the story. It could be argued that he did so in order to keep Dean on task rather than making him rush back to help Sam in his final hours.
Sam takes a really scientific approach to finding the cure. Even though it involves capturing a wayward infectee he still manages to treat the guy with respect as the infection slowly takes over. Ultimately he dies but he is afforded some dignity before he does. It’s nice to see a kinder, gentler Sam than we have had recently and it’s great to have Sam have more to do than he did last season.
His prayer to God starts off what may well be a significant arc this season. The question of what happened to God has been hanging over this show for years but having the enemy even he was afraid off loose on the world seems like the perfect reason for him to return. He acts in mysterious ways by giving Sam the clue he needs to cure his affliction. Sam’s reaction to the vague vision was hilarious as well.
I felt that the cure was a little too easy. Simply applying heat and oil to get rid of it doesn’t feel right as a method to stop a biblical plague. Is it all going to be this easy? I feel that this is only the first step in what will turn out to be a much larger plan from the Darkness but as a resolution it feels somewhat weak.
The best scene in the episode was Sam’s interaction with a Reaper. It’s the first clue we’ve been given as to what the world is like now that Death is dead -that’s a weird sentence to type- and how things work. Apparently the annual resurrections from the Winchesters were only allowed to happen because it amused Death but now that he’s gone all bets are off and it’s not going to be tolerated any more. The next time one of the Winchester’s die they will be shoved somewhere that there is no return from. I can pretty much guarantee that one of them will end up there before the end of the season.
Flatly declaring the rules this way increases the stakes for the brothers in a way that has been lacking for years. Death has almost been meaningless on this show for a long time so restoring it as a viable permanent end for the Winchester’s is an exciting prospect.
Dean’s scenes in the episode were really engaging as well. I’m surprised at how quickly the plot of the Darkness possessed child is moving forward as I expected the demonic baby story to be milked for several episodes before going somewhere but that wasn’t the case here.
It turns out that baby Amara eats souls and is particularly famished. The contrast between the innocence of a newborn and her demonic nature is an obvious theme to develop but it works really effectively and her accelerated ageing is unnerving in itself. It’s a shame that Jenna is stripped of her soul and casually tossed aside which pretty much removes her from ever coming back. She was a good character and I would have liked to see her be around for a while. It’s a testament to how likeable she is that I would want her to hang around for a bit longer.
Crowley fed into this plot really organically and it’s the best that the character has been in a long time. He and Dean are no longer friends but the dialogue between them is no less sharp. Seeing Crowley in full “King of Hell” mode is always a treat and him wanting to be close to this great evil makes a lot of sense. Given how fast she is growing I wonder how long it will be before she grows bored of Crowley and no longer needs him. Having her end the episode as a powerful and creepy little girl reminds me so much of Lilith which feels like such a long time ago now but still sticks in the mind.
Come to think of it, there are a lot of visual callbacks to earlier seasons. I’ve already mentioned the connection to the season 2 episode “Croatoan” with the infection and a reminder of Lilith makes for another. The infection also looks a lot like the marks the Leviathan’s left. This all suggests to me that this evil is worse than everything they have faced combined. I hope the visual reminders are intentional as this would be a cool theme to keep going throughout the season.
Castiel is still dealing with some major punishment from his colleagues in heaven. He is brutally tortured to try and get information about Metatron. There is a lot of scepticism about a depowered Metatron being able to evade Cas. We also get more development of rebellious members of the Angel population. All of this is fine but nothing we haven’t seen before. The episode ending with Cas being back in the company of Sam and Dean should give him some better things to do as he is always at his strongest when working with the Winchesters.
The episode was fairly light on comedy but there were a few jokes that landed. The Ghostbusters reference was a particular highlight that was set up and delivered perfectly. It’s good to see that in the darkest of times Supernatural keeps a sense of humour. In general this season is shaping up to be something really promising.
A ropey start to the season is followed up with a really engaging episode that raises the stakes appropriately for everyone involved.
Sam is still keeping things from Dean about his infection which is a little frustrating but the episode doesn’t dwell on it and instead lets Sam get to work finding a cure. He has to capture a wayward infectee to study the infection but treats him with respect and lets him die with a little dignity. It’s good to see a kinder, gentler Sam again.
His appeal to God for a clue of how to cure the infection is a nice set-up for what should be a significant plot over the rest of the season. Sam’s reaction to the vague vision he received was hilarious as well. I like that Supernatural is addressing the mystery of God again.
The cure for the infection felt a little too easy considering it was established as basically being a Biblical plague.Simply applying heat and oil to it to solve the problem didn’t feel quite right. I do think this will be the first step of a much larger plan by the Darkness.
Sam’s interaction with the Reaper gives the first indication of how things are working without Death around. The gloves are off now that Death isn’t around to be amused by the annual resurrections that Sam and Dean take turns on. Apparently if they die it will be permanent as they will be stuck somewhere that it is impossible to get back from. I like that the stakes have been raised and death has meaning in the show again but I fully expect one of them to wind up in the “impossible to escape from” place by the end of the season.
Dean’s plot where he has to deal with the Darkness possessed baby Amara is really well done as well. It moves along a lot quicker than I expected it to and remains tense throughout. Crowley is back in full “King of Hell” mode and no longer has a friendly attitude to Dean. It doesn’t stop the dialogue between them being incredibly sharp so it’s a good fit for the show.
Castiel’s scenes are the weakest in the episode. None of it was especially bad but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Now that he is back with the Winchester’s there is a better chance of him contributing in a more meaningful way to whatever comes next.
So far season 11 is really compelling with an interesting villain and increased stakes again. Colour me excited for the rest of this season after this outing.