How does a show that's been on for seven years attempt to stay fresh and exciting? Get back to what made it popular in the first place, of course!
That seems to be the direction Supernatural is headed and, frankly, it's a good idea.
Who doesn't miss the old days of Sam and Dean on the road together, taking down ghosts, haunted scarecrows, or whatever creature that decided to rear its ugly head? It was about the job of the week, the growth of the brotherly love, and the understanding that things really do go bump in the night. It was the wild scares mixed with the great humor and family dynamic that had me from the get go.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the addition of Castiel and his assistance for the boys along their journey. He brought another great aspect to the show and a different opportunity for Sam and Dean to play off. (I'm even still wishing he had a couple more episodes before poofing away.)
But it was tonight's installment that proved that following just Sam and Dean isn't a problem. In fact, that's exactly how it all started: two boys and an Impala.
Aside from the quick wrap up and escape from the hospital (and Dean's tense and hilarious morphine induced attempt to leave), "The Girl Next Door" felt so old season that if I didn't know any better, I'd forget this was the seventh year of the show's existence.
It was back to hiding out in cabins, looking up information on what type of creature was causing problems, dealing with local authorities, and plenty of dark, desolate woods. No grand scale saving the world, just helping a few people from a local town. It was simple and basic, but at the same time filled with complications and even managing to progress the here and now.
Additionally, the episode gave viewers another glimpse into Sam's past. Except this time, he wasn't just a small boy following Dean's every word. He was a young hunter, wishing he was doing anything else, but still smartly and expertly attempting to handle the family work. And he was getting in his first kiss.
She was a creature though, so, does that still technically count?
The flashbacks gave insight into how early Sam didn't agree with killing "monsters" and introduced the concept of a "good" creature. Destroying them wasn't as black and white as John Winchester had made it out to be. Those past memories were also important that it revealed that Amy, a kitsune, was still killing. See how everything ties together nicely?
I didn't really understand Sam's reference to his father's drinking problem. I always knew that John Winchester was hard on the boys and passionate about defeating the supernatural, but an abusive alcoholic father? I'm not sure if I like that addition to his name.
It was good that Sam wanted to stop Amy from killing, but was compassionate enough to let her live and protect her son. I was even surprised when Dean agreed to trust Sam. Things really seemed to be changing.
So, I was shocked when Dean showed up and straight up killed Amy. To him a monster will always be a monster. That's cold, Dean. So, cold.
I thought this concept was argued about before between the brothers, but I guess Dean has been swayed far too much from his long and arduous journey that to him, everything still is black and white. So, how does that make him feel about Castiel then? And what does not choosing to agree with his brother mean if Sam ever finds out he was betrayed? I smell a problem between Sam and Dean on the horizon.
While the creature of the week seems to be returning, the larger story arc of the Leviathan was still highly in play. In fact, it's because of their dedication to hunting the Winchester brothers that Sam and Dean have been forced to lay low and return to hiding out in random out of the way towns. Now that they seem to be infiltrating all parts of human society (and tracking credit card fraud!), the boys are going to have a tough time fighting the vast reaching enemy that can't be killed. Yet.
I'd also like to point out that Jensen Ackles did another phenomenal job in the director's chair. He did have plenty more scenes than in his first outing, but I think he did a great job in them. He also used a variety of camera angles and maintained a nice transition between past and present scenes. I hope he's still having a great time in both his roles, because I'm certainly enjoying them.
So, will this returning to the roots, end up being a good idea? Time will tell, but for now, it's a welcome introduction. It really does have a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid vibe as the two brothers are forced to rely on each other as they run from the Leviathan. How long can they last alone and will they ever find out how to stop the quickly spreading Leviathan? Onwards and upwards, Supernatural. Keep em coming! Here's a look at next week!
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.