Supernatural Season 8 has stumbled a bit trying to find its footing, and while the flashback stuff was interesting for a while, I'm really liking the whole "knowledge is power" aspect that's recently been at the forefront.
Sure, I guess having a variety of tablets - and now the introduction of Men of Letters - followed by the need to complete God's three trials to close the gates of Hell sounds like a lot. There's even a real potential to spread the show too thin with everything that's going on, something I think that happened to Supernatural Season 7.
Yet, with "As Time Goes By" and "Everybody Hates Hitler" really embarking Sam and Dean on a journey with a purpose, "Trial and Error" was a nice follow up that continued on that larger mythology path.
What really comes down to it, though, is the fact that for the most part, Sam and Dean are on good terms. They aren't overly upset with each other. They aren't running away. They're not moody.
The whole Men of Letters and the lair of supernatural info has given Sam a true calling, a definite background that's right up his alley. He's in tune with what's going on and he's determined to see the job through.
Dean now has a sense of home, something he's never really had before. Oh, and memory foam. Plus, it turns out, when he's nesting, he's a fantastic Top Chef cook.
Overall, it's nice to see that continuation of the brothers on the same side, working together in relative harmony. And now, finally, Kevin discovered how to close the Gates of Hell. Surprise, surprise, there's some special trials involved before that giant task can be done.
The first trial involved killing a hell hound and bathing in its blood. Gross, but obviously just another day for the Winchester brothers.
It's a great call back to demon deals and I was curious how they were going to find one, let alone see a hell hound.
I always thought that the real reason we never got to see the hell hounds before was because of budgetary reasons, which was fine. Having invisible dogs followed by major blood splatter worked.
Yet, turning Sam and Dean into mini Clark Kent's with their holy fire glasses was a neat trick that allowed us to see what those hell hounds looked like. I liked seeing the blue tinted creatures for a few moments and it never felt like their scariness was hindered or ruined because we did get to see them.
I was disappointed, however, that Crowley never made an appearance alongside his dogs. I mean, he did happen to be the demon that was there 10 years ago for the oil rich family. So, why wasn't he there? It's not like he's never going to figure out what Sam and Dean are up to. Was it just simply to connect Crowley to the dog that was going to be used?
At the same time, I was really pleased with the brothers' conversations with each other.
I was a bit skeptical of Dean throwing out the "stay safe Sammy" and "this is my job" comments because it has already been done. I know, it's how Dean thinks because he is the big brother, but I was simply afraid it was Supernatural pulling a tired Dean feeling out because they needed something for the brothers to argue about.
Even with Dean wanting Sam to have that normal life, and fighting tooth and nail to do so by taking on the trials alone, I understood his view.
But it was Sam telling Dean that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel for both of them that spun it all around. Rather than working alone, the two can work together to beat the evil.
After all, that's how they survived the hell hound attack this go around with Sam jumping in to save his brother.
Now, I'm sure some might feel that once again Sam is getting to do the super power stuff (his psychic kid powers, demon blood, etc), but I don't mind, especially because Sam is gung ho about hunting again.
Really, if the brothers stick to working together, that works for me.
It does make me wonder about the other trials and what will happen when all three are complete. There's no way Crowley is going to go down without a fight and there's got to be some sort of consequence or fine print that goes along with the trials.
I think it's a fun direction that adds to the already heavy layer of info based power.
Now, was the oil family a bit campy for the episode? Yes. Can you believe Dean turned down sex? No, even if it was funny how flustered he got when Ellie was coming on to him. But all in all, the hour was a good solid follow up that has Supernatural focused on a positive path with a Sam and Dean Winchester that we know, love and are excited to watch both fight the bad guys.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.