Break out your flannel, turn up your classic rock and grab your hunting knives - because Supernatural is back for an eighth season.
Gone are the Leviathan (I want to say good riddance, but I'm sure they're still lurking out there) and the brothers are reunited after a one-year absence. Cliff notes: Dean went to purgatory and Sam hit a dog.
I know we've had the separation/reunion before from Dean going to Hell and Sam trapped in Lucifer's cage, and even the typical expressions of shock and relief of "you're back!." But rather than for the most part ignore what happened, viewers were treated to what took place during that hiatus after Dean killed Dick.
Flashbacks are an interesting device to use and, for some shows, those glimpses don't do much for the story. Except here we saw the bloody, cutthroat war zone of Purgatory; we saw Kevin and how he was able to handle himself against demons; and we saw Sam with even longer hair looking desperately for someone to save a dog.
A lot has taken place in one year's time.
I loved getting to see the muted colored world of Purgatory, as it added so much to Dean's new harder edge in the present day. He really is like a soldier coming back from war, having to cope with the real world. He's very focused on the tasks at hand and while he seems bad ass, I wonder when we'll start seeing the negative effects hit him.
I'm sure character Benny will have something to do with it. Benny has an old school charm surrounding that monstrous interior. It's interesting to see him team up with Dean and I'm curious to see where that partnership went in Purgatory, but also how it will work on Earth. There's so much more I'm excited to learn about him, especially because as a monster, he's bound to stir up trouble.
With the inclusion of Benny, I'm hoping that the flashbacks for Dean keep going, as we've never really gotten lengthy times to explore the areas outside of Earth before. Mostly, it's been either Dean or Sam telling us the experience was beyond awful rather than us witnessing the horror.
And I'm glad Kevin not only has more to do, but is essentially now a part of the team. His discovery that there is a way to close the gates of Hell really sets the stage for a season endgame, something that Supernatural Season 7 really lacked. Giving the brothers a goal helps facilitate a more solid arc and allows something larger to look forward to.
I know it sucked that he lost his girlfriend in the process of helping save the world, but this new Kevin is nothing like the one we met last season. He's not only learned a few tricks, there's more courage in the guy.
I'm a little disappointed that Sam's backstory seemed so bland. It's not that I didn't buy his reasoning for quitting hunting - after all Dean did it too at one point - but it just seemed tossed in. And I know that compared to seeing what's in Purgatory, watching Sam rush in to save the pup just wasn't as interesting.
As for the doctor/potential love interest? Maybe it's too early to tell, but I'm not feeling it. She was rather pushy and matter of fact, but perhaps with Dean's absence, that's what Sam needed? I don't want to jump the gun too soon for her. I look forward to seeing how she adds to the show as her own character, a and to find out how she effects Sam.
Of course, the show wouldn't be Supernatural without its bad guys and, like the rest of the show's regulars, Crowley too arrived to the party. And was it me or did he seem more ruthless?
Crowley's usually been one for wisecracks and playing in the background, but easily getting rid of Dean's knife and snapping Kevin's girlfriend's neck like it was nothing? I did not see that coming. I guess when the threat of eradicated demons everywhere is on the line, you've got to up the stakes. Even if Crowley exudes that charm, he's still the evil King of Hell.
The episode felt somewhat low key for a premiere, but it had plenty of elements that made me think that season eight and new showrunner Jeremy Carver will be the resurgence this series needs. Sure, Castiel may have been gone (and we all know he'll return at some point), but "We Need To Talk About Kevin " solidly focused on the brothers, gave us plenty of great Supernatural quotes, upped the ante with a new journey focus and delivered an enjoyable hour of Supernatural.
Sam and Dean Winchester, you keep saving the world, we'll keep watching.
What did you think of the premiere? Are you glad the brothers are back? What's with Purgatory? Can Sam and Dean actually defeat the demons once and for all? Sound off with your comments and theories below!
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.