What in the name of God is happening with the Winchester boys? After Supernatural‘s doozy of a cliff-hanger — Dean cast into the pit — I settled in last night for the CW series’ fourth-season kickoff*, primed to see Dean restored, some brotherly badinage, demon slayage. Instead, we got a grand mishegoss of secrets, lies, and a concluding theological debate-puzzle that would tax Locke/Jeremy Bentham over on Lost. Perhaps the ep’s title, “Lazarus Rising," should have clued me in that things were going biblical.
Let me try to recap. Dean (Jensen Ackles) claws his way out of a coffin and wanders into a gas station deserted but conveniently stocked with bottled water, porn, and a newspaper bearing today’s date. Realizing four months have passed, he hotwires a car and tracks down Bobby (Jim Beaver) and then Sam (Jared Padalecki)… who welcome him with less than open arms. After knife fighting and holy-water dousing, the three set off to uncover Dean’s mystery liberator, enlisting the help of a hot, tattooed, Ramones-shirted psychic (Traci Dinwiddie). Following a disastrous séance — Ms. Clairvoyant loses both her Dean-fixated eyeballs — and a greasy-spoon tête-à-tête with a demon waitress, Sam and Dean sneak off separately: Sam to wallop the waitress-from-hell and confer with erstwhile helpmate Ruby; Dean and Bobby to summon the eye-melting angel Castiel.
So at least one mystery is cleared up, sorta. We now know who/whatbusted Dean out, disguised as a stubbled "holy tax accountant," as Deanput it. We even have a hint as to why he — or the Almighty — did it.What remains, however, are secrets and deception. Dean is not beingtruthful in telling Sam that he’s blacked out all memory of his staydown below. Sam, for his part, is straightfacedly lying to Dean aboutthe fate of Lilith, the whereabouts of Ruby, and his own use ofextranormal powers.
What do you make of this infernal/celestial tangle, Supernaturalloyalists? Is Castiel for real, or part of an unholy con? Is DeanjustifiabIy going Christopher Hitchens on the divine emissary? If theLord moves in mysterious ways, where do Sam’s demon-vanquishing handmoves fit in? What is with Dean’s hatred of things Apple… productplacement? Lastly, what did you think of the episode as a whole? Do youagree with my estimable colleague Alynda Wheat that "more demonic ass-kicking would’ve been nice"? Or do you think that Eric Kripke and Co. smoothly set up a promising story arc with breathing room for EWwy nominee Jensen Ackles‘ one-liners in lieu of beatdowns?
* Which showed a strong 33 percent audience growth over the third-season premiere back in September 2007.