TV Review: “Supernatural” Season 8 – No Longer Wayward

Written by Jessica Koroll December 19, 2012

What’s Up, Tiger Mommy?

In the wake of simply one too many dick jokes and a death count that left even seasoned viewers baulking,  the end of Season 7 saw Sera Gamble’s step down as showrunner and a subsequent takeover by long time “Supernatural” writer and “Being Human” (US) co-creator, Jeremy Carver. With promises of a return to the series’ earlier roots and an overarching, legitimately planned out, storyline meant to carry us all the way to season 10, season 8 provides a much needed return of many previously forgotten plot points as well as the good ol’ fashioned monster hunt.

The Story So Far…

Picking up a year after the events of Season 7, Dean (Jensen Ackles) has escaped from purgatory and reunites with Sam (Jared Padalecki), only to discover that Sam has experienced a change in heart while he’s been gone. The season’s opening episodes are quick to delve into the tension and betrayal that exists between the two brothers as the underlying opposition of the past couple of seasons is finally brought into the open. As both brothers visibly begin to buckle under the stress of having only each other to rely on, along with the unnatural sense of normalcy that surrounds Dean’s (4th…5th?) resurrection, season 8 displays a great deal of character development that had previously taken a back seat. Through somewhat awkward flashbacks, and a more pronounced distance between the two, the individual storylines of each brother is given enough screen time to make choosing sides in the conflict difficult.

Meanwhile, the reintroduction of Kevin Tran (Osric Chau), along with his mother, Linda Tran (Lauren Tom), provides the first hint of the season’s potential premise. As both a prophet of the lord, who holds the key to potentially closing Hell’s gates for all eternity, and a kid who, only a year ago, was wholly concerned with college applications, Kevin’s transition between the two worlds re-affirms the dangers of hunting life while also injecting the show with some much needed light hearted humour. He, along with Lauren Tom, provide some really great scenes as they adjust to vagrancy and manage to hold their own against the surrounding supernatural forces. In particular, Mrs. Tran’s fiery demeanour and determination to protect her son creates an interesting contrast against the Winchester brothers’ broken bond that maintains the show’s emphasis on family, while also demonstrating a strength of character that was not expected.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

“There’s a demon in you and you’re going to your safety school.”

While the plot still remains a little scattered, the season is clearly preparing viewers for future twists and has a specific goal in sight, which is saying something at this point. As I mentioned earlier, the season’s set up also introduces a marked return to the series’ origins as a monster of the week type of show. Thankfully, this isn’t the season 7 return in which we saw a distinct lack of horror and an abundance of guest stars standing around, not doing much. A notable episode in this category is episode 4, which experiments with the recent popularity of the “found footage” genre and attempts to show a monster hunt from the perspective of the monsters. The end result is flawed but refreshing as the writers’ prove that their flare for well developed horror hasn’t completely disappeared. Although we don’t get to see much in the way of Dean and Sam’s detective skills, the episode’s play on current horror trends stands out as an episode that could have easily fit in with earlier seasons.

Supernatural -- "Bitten" -- Image SN804b_6012 -- Pictured (L-R): Jared Padalecki as Sam and Jensen Ackles as Dean -- Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2012 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved

Purgatory will leave you with a nice, orange glow.

While still not up to the standards that the show maintained during its first five seasons under creator Eric Kripke, “Supernatural’s” eighth season is a vast improvement on the past two and proves that it still has some story left to tell.

My Rating: 7/10

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About Jessica Koroll

Jessica Koroll

An English student with a taste for the surreal and love for all things science fiction, her thoughts generally linger on Star Trek, lit theory, and recent tv episodes. I'm also @korolline_

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