‘Supernatural’ 14x01 review: ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ refuses to kill character

By @chelean on
"Supernatural" season 14 episode 1, "Stranger in a Strange Land"
"Supernatural" season 14 episode 1, "Stranger in a Strange Land": Danneel Ackles as Sister Jo and Jensen Ackles as Archangel Gabriel The CW

“Supernatural” season 14 episode 1 was a lot to take in. “Stranger in a Strange Land” has again brought back a character and gone against its own canons.

The following contains spoilers from “Supernatural” 14x01. It aired in the US on The CW on Thursday. It is yet to have an airing date in Australia.

The season started with Archangel Michael, who is occupying Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) as vessel, trying to recruit religious leaders. He also met with Anael (Danneel Ackles), who still goes by faith healer Sister Jo on Earth.

Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki), meanwhile, got back to the bunker from a false lead, trying to find more angels so he could find Michael and therefore bring back Dean. Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) was leading the new breed of hunters from the alternate universe back in the bunker, while AU Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) was training Jack (Alexander Calvert) in physical fighting as his Nephilim grace had been siphoned by Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) in season 13 finale. It was also revealed that Jack’s grace was not completely depleted and would return as it recharged.

Lucifer’s vessel, Nick, was also revealed to be alive.

Castiel (Misha Collins) tried to make a deal with a demon in finding Dean, but unsurprisingly, he was deceived and kept hostage. Kipling the demon called Sam and told him he wanted to be the next king of hell, so he said he would return Cas in exchange for the same deal Crowley (Mark Sheppard) had with them: He would provide them occasional aid and information, in return, they would not kill demons. The Winchesters never had such deal with Crowley, but in any case, Sam refused. A bar brawl between demons and hunters ensued, while Cas was helplessly tied to a chair, and with Sam subsequently killing Kipling and warning the demons not to attempt climbing the ranks anymore.

Supernatural" season 14 episode 1, "Stranger in a Strange Land "Supernatural" season 14 episode 1, "Stranger in a Strange Land": Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester  The CW

“There would be no new king of hell. Not today, not ever,” Sam dramatically declared to the surviving demons. “And if anybody wants the job, you can come through me.”

And of course, Sam, who is a legend in the supernatural-hunting world, was feared by the demons. They all left the bodies they were occupying.

And so the search for Dean continued.

‘Supernatural’ 14x01 review

For a show like “Supernatural,” suspension of disbelief is a must. But if the events were against the show’s own canons? What now? “Supernatural” 14x01 has appeared to forget everything that it has established in the past just to continue a story. And it’s insulting to fans and viewers who have been watching the show faithfully for years.

Castiel, once again, had been bested by demons. It was a far cry from his first seasons in the show, when he could take out multiple demons and other species at once and on his own. He could smite a whole dinner full of demons just by lifting a hand and telling the humans in the room to cover their eyes. The show claimed he has already got back his “mojo” a couple of seasons previously. That was clearly not the case, and it’s frustrating because it is already bordering on ridiculous. Castiel was one of the strongest angels on heaven and on Earth. The writers shouldn’t change narrative just to insert him in.

Supernatural" season 14 episode 1, "Stranger in a Strange Land "Supernatural" season 14 episode 1, "Stranger in a Strange Land": Misha Collins as Castiel  The CW

Jack, though, now that was a great fighting move. Without powers, the literal baby displayed some sick moves during the bar brawl. He didn’t emerge the victor exactly, but for a 1-year-old who has only been recently learning how to fight without his Nephilim powers, that was pretty impressive. He was still sulking about losing his grace, but Castiel was there to talk to him about being an essential member of their family.

Supernatural" season 14 episode 1, "Stranger in a Strange Land "Supernatural" season 14 episode 1, "Stranger in a Strange Land": Alexander Calvert as Jack, Misha Collins as Castiel, and Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester  The CW

Remember in the earlier seasons when Meg 1.0 told the brothers that her vessel would die if Meg left her body because an ordinary human wouldn’t be able to survive all the beatings she had endured? The humans whose bodies were occupied by demons rarely survived because the demons left them after being involved in heavy fighting. This was the same with angels. So how come Nick, Lucifer’s vessel, is still alive? He was decaying a few seasons’ past because he wasn’t the true vessel, and with the wound he obtained from the archangel sword, he should have been long dead. But no, “Supernatural” needed to bring back its actors, regardless whether it made sense to do so. So the explanation why Nick was still alive, according to Sam, was that the archangel blade was meant to kill the archangel, not the person.

The best thing about the episode, though, is seeing Michael in the eyes of an angel. And what a beautiful sight that was! Another thing was a demon calling Sam his Beyonce. He’s not wrong.

Sam taking control of the hunters and, presumably, hell was a role that looked like tailor-made for him. He fit into it so easily. Even days without sleep, he still had time to see to Jack’s welfare and even to Nick’s. One great thing about the brothers being separated is that Sam was able to take on the role of a leader.

It’s great to see Anael back, but it looked like she would be a sidekick once again. She doesn’t need to be a sidekick. She doesn’t need to cosy up to another archangel. She could be a villain who operates independently, much like Rowena (Ruth Connell).

Ackles did a fine job as Michael, though. The indifference in his persona contradicted Dean’s sensitivity. Dean has never been that cold even when he became a demon.

“Supernatural” returns next with “Gods and Monsters,” directed by Richard Speight Jr.

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