Hey, not a bad title fake-out this week. What with the all the talk lately of the Lord Almighty, including a conversation with Cass at the open of the episode that had me thinking about Preacher, of all things, I didn't make the obvious song lyric connection right away. It wasn't until the one of the Four Horseman himself made an appearance that I got the reference, and it's always nice to be surprised by the obvious. So far, niceness is in short supply this season of Supernatural, so I'll take my small pleasures where I can find them.
Given how things ended last May, with Lucifer out of Hell and the End Times , I was curious if we'd be going back to the Monster of the Week format that's long served as the backbone of the series. Cool as the ongoing plot was getting, I hoped we weren't done with Sam and Dean wandering from town to town Bill Bixby-style, salting the wicked and wooing the willing; I'm not sure I could stand twenty plus episodes of "We're doomed! Eventually." "Good God, Y'All!" manages to juggle both balls well enough, although the ending, with Sam going off on his own, means we probably won't be seeing anything like this again for at least a couple weeks.
It's not a flawless episode, though; the strong concept at the episode's heart gets short-changed, as do the handful of returning characters. There's also something else I've been thinking about—are we going to start having fun again soon? Supernatural has always had its share of darkness; in the first episode, Sam lost his fiancee to the same demon that killed his mother, which isn't exactly at the top of Sir Chuckles-a-lot's list of Fun Time Party Gags. (He prefers to open with something about dead puppies.) But that darkness is generally leavened by the writers obvious pleasure in playing with horror tropes, and the banter between the heroes. When the show leaves on its serious face for too long, it gets increasingly hard to actually take seriously. It works best when we're getting to snicker with the characters enough that we don't feel the need to start snickering at them.
There haven't been many laughs for a while now, and it doesn't look like they're will be many coming soon. I respect the ambition that's at play here, and the storyline has got me hooked; no matter how grim it gets, I want to know how things turn out. Watching Sam and Dean hate on each other, though, is going to get old fast, if it hasn't already. Yes, Sam screwed up. More than screwed up—through his actions he inadvertently brought about the apocalypse. It's hard to shrug that off. That doesn't mean I want to spend the next few months enduring him and Dean being suspicious and bitter around each other. We need to have something to root for again. This isn't Mad Men, where the hellish disconnect between the characters and their lives works to haunting dramatic effect. This is just killing monsters and being all snarky about it. Obviously we can't get all friendly right off the bat, but fingers crossed that the split that ends "Good God" will be what these guys need to get their mojo back. It's been a dark couple of years for us and them, honestly.
As for the episode itself, like I said, it had a good hook: War, one of the Four Horsemen, has crash-landed in Colorado, and he's set the town against itself by throwing out possession hallucinations. When Sam and Dean show up to answer a panicked call from fellow hunter Rufus, they find the survivors split in two camps, one led by Ellen (a hunter we haven't seen since the end of Season 2), the other by Rufus and Ellen's daughter, Jo. Both side believe the other is demon-infested, and it isn't till Sam gets captured by Rufus that he and Dean figure out what's going on. It's an effective trick, both for the victims and the audience; the black-eyed demon has been around since the series began, and to find that it's not a reliable sign of possession anymore is smart. There's also the fact that the hunters are doing as much harm as anyone else—with their experience, they may even be making things worse.
War himself, payed by Titus Welliver (another Lost alum, among other things), is, well, basically just like every other really powerful demon on the show, although I don't really have any complaints about that. I do think it's ridiculous that the avatar of War has to rely on a magical ring to screw withe the good people of River Pass. What's the point of being one of the Four Horsemen when you can't do that sort of thing on your own? And having him spend so much time destroying a small town seems like a waste of resources. It's like when the Seven Deadly Sins took human form in season 3, only more ridiculous.
The real disappointment here is the short shrift Ellen, Jo, and Rufus get. Ellen and Jo used to be major players in the series; while I'm not so fond of them that I want to see them in a spin-off, it would've been nice to get more of a sense of them, and how they've changed in the years since the Winchesters last saw them. Hopefully they won't be disappearing again. The main plot seems a little rushed as well. Forcing Sam and Dean to run interference between two groups of innocents hell-bent on killing each other should've been intense; here, once the trick is figured out, the tension drains away completely.
All things considered, though, this wasn't terrible. Some decent action with a clever if underdeveloped concept, and the idea of Cass searching for God has a lot of potential going for it. At least having Sam leave on his own at the end means that we won't have to deal with him and Dean glowering at each other next week. I have no doubt the Winchesters will be back to kicking ass and taking names soon enough; here's hoping we don't have to wade through too much more mopery to get there.
- It's a nice touch that the former soldier is the most susceptible to War's charms. I can't decide if I'm disappointed we didn't get to know any of the other normals, or relieved we didn't waste more time on Pregnant Woman: Fifth In A Series.
- Bobby's not too happy about that wheelchair, huh?
- "No, he's not on any flatbread." Ah, angels.