Supernatural – Season 11 Episode 1

Oct 8, 2015 | Posted by in TV

“Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire”

I can hardly believe it, Supernatural has made it to an 11th season. It’s a show that sort of feels like it should have run its course years ago but like the lead characters it keeps coming back no matter what.

Over the last season I was fairly critical of some of the episodes as it seemed as if the writers were running out of ideas and retreading old ground constantly. Any show that lasts this many years runs that risk but Supernatural would come up with an episode that reminds viewers why the love it so much. I suspect a loyal fanbase and relatively sustained quality even in the later seasons have kept this show on the air.

At the end of last season Dean has the Mark of Cain removed which unleashes an ancient evil on an unsuspecting Earth. The evil is so ancient that it was god himself who locked it up. If the evil is something that even God is afraid of then the expectations for the threat level are insanely huge for me.


Jenna is happy to see some friendly faces

I liked how it was handled for this first episode as it suggested to me that what went on here was only a small part of a much larger plan. The presence of this evil has vastly different effects on Sam and Dean and it even scares heavy hitters like Castiel and Crowley. That by itself doesn’t make the villain threatening but it does lay some groundwork for the show to later build on.

Dean’s experience is to be taken out of the Impala and find himself inside the cloud to be greeted by a pretty girl (Emily Swallow). Oh the horror! I guess if anything wants to get Dean’s attention then using the form of an attractive woman is one way to do it. The episode keeps returning to their conversation periodically and there is some interesting stuff said. Most notably there’s a point made about them being unable to harm one another as they are bonded through the Mark of Cain. Dean no longer has the mark but she/it does and it’s something she recognises. I wonder what this apparent immunity will mean for Dean as the season progresses. Jensen Ackles gives some ambiguous looks that suggest he hasn’t escaped the encounter unscathed.

Sam is simply knocked unconscious for a while until he finds Dean about a mile away from the car. He’s confused as to what has happened and Dean’s explanation is suitably vague. The presence of the Darkness has reawakened some altruistic tendencies within Sam. We saw a little of this last year but it is finally addressed that the Winchesters should be doing more to save people rather than simply killing possessed humans to kill the demon. They haven’t performed a good old fashioned exorcism for a while so this point is perfectly valid and should have been raised sooner.

The Darkness’ sets about infecting humans with some sort of virus resembling the Croatoan virus from the season 2 of the same name. Sam and Dean take to calling them “Rabids” as it’s the best name for them in the absence of one. It causes people to become murderously violent and lose complete control. Comparisons to “28 Days Later” are made within the episode and rightly so as this is very similar. There is even use of the imagery involving blood. It suggests that blood might carry the infection but it is never confirmed as the mystery is kept  until the very end of the episode.


Crowley returns to his body

I like that the virus remains a mystery by the end of the episode as it makes it a genuine threat when it returns. The focus was on Sam and Dean trying to survive the ordeal with a group of people who are unlucky enough to be there. It was very old school as far as Supernatural is concerned, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the early seasons that would feature stories a lot like this. It seems that there’s a conscious attempt to reinforce the “saving people” part of Dean’s mission statement “Saving people, hunting things…” and that’s no bad thing. Having Sam and Dean going back to being more heroic figures is a good step for the series to take.

The group of survivors is small but memorable. Sam and Dean first encounter a young police officer named Jenna (Laci J. Mailey) who is inexperienced by very brave in the face of danger. She proves to be an effective ally for Sam and Dean and shows a great deal of compassion  as well. Despite the fact that there are people who have gone rabid and seem to want nothing more than to see them all dead she remains someone who wants to help. The other survivor is the father of a newborn named Mike who has made peace with his impending death following an infection. His dying wish is for Jenna to take care of his daughter which of course she agrees to. As if she had a choice. It’s a good group as they all interact really naturally with Mike’s nobility being quite inspiring to watch. His short appearance is a tragic one but not one that will soon be forgotten.

When Jenna is given the baby Dean takes her around 40 miles away and discovers that the virus is confined to that small town for now at least. It hasn’t spread outside there for some reason but I’m sure the Darkness will use it again as it proved to be effective. Sam stays behind to buy them time but finds himself infected after getting a mouthful of infected blood which unsurprisingly leaves him infected.

It’s interesting how Sam specifically references the fact that they always repeat the “same crap” constantly with the view of changing that. I find that interesting because the episode pretty much goes right back to doing that minutes later. We have Sam lying to dean about his infection and Dean not being entirely honest about the conversation he had with the Darkness. I can accept that Dean might not be remembering the conversation all at once and will need to digest it a bit but Sam keeping the infection to himself is yet another example of this show manufacturing tension in the wrong places. I’m going to have trouble watching another season of the brothers being less than honest with one another. This really needs to stop as it’s very lazy as far as storytelling goes.


Dean face to face with the Darkness

Castiel’s use in this episode was somewhat lacking. It turns out that he did run Crowley’s vessel through with a blade but Crowley being the slippery guy he is managed to evacuate just in time. Castiel spends the episode still under the control of Rowena’s spell but he doesn’t have much to do beyond look tortured. His enduring conflict with heaven might go somewhere but for now I’m far from interested.

Crowley’s story was somewhat lacking. All he really did was take some time to himself while he waited for his minions to get his body back. There were parts of his story that entertained me but it was all a massive anticlimax following the cliffhanger from last season. Obviously he was never going to die but there is always something more interesting to do than what they did here.


A marked child is born

I found the ending of the episode to be intriguing. Seeing the baby with the Mark of Cain opens up a number of interesting possibilities. Since the baby was born around the time of the release of the Darkness it seems likely that it is using the baby as a vessel on Earth. What that will ultimately develop into is up in the air but for now it has some really interesting potential. I also think that the Darkness has some real potential to show some really interesting biblical plagues. I wonder if Lucifer can be brought in to help with this threat since it’s surely something that will terrify him.

  • 7/10
    Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire - 7/10


A solid opening to the season showing that Supernatural still has a few ideas kicking around after all these years.

The Darkness’ effect on Sam and Dean being separate yet profound is a good idea and I like the fact that the Darkness might leave Dean alone due to the Mark of Cain. I wonder how far his immunity goes and what this will mean as the season goes on.

Sam seems to have reawakened some altruistic tendencies as he makes a speech about how important saving people is. It has been a long time coming to address this as there hasn’t been an awful lot of that in the past couple of seasons.

The infection turning people Rabid created some good tension and the small group of survivors was pretty memorable. Mike in particular has a real sense of nobility by not caring what happens to him and accepting death as long as his daughter survived. Jenna was a good character as well as she seems overwhelmed but really cares about helping people any way she can.

I found it interesting that Sam’s speech about repeating the “same crap” was followed by him concealing his infection from Dean minutes later. It’s going to be really frustrating if we have to put up with the Winchester brothers lying to one another again. It screams lazy storytelling and I’ve seen enough of it.

Castiel and Crowley aren’t used all that well here. Crowley’s subplot about having some fun while he waits for his body to be repaired is fine but nothing we haven’t seen before and Castiel has little to do but look tortured. Again, nothing that hasn’t been seen before.

I look forward to seeing how the Darkness is developed. The idea of using a newborn as a vessel is an interesting one if that’s what is due to happen and the fact that Castiel is terrified of this evil he has never heard of lays some nice groundwork for them.

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