Season 11, Episode 2 - "Form and Void"
Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard
Regular airtime: Wednesdays, 8pm
US: 14 Oct 2015
Has streaming/DVD viewing changed the way television tells its stories? You could make that argument for Supernatural‘s 11th season, as its first two episodes are directly connected. “Form and Void” begins exactly where the season premiere left off, with Sam (Jared Padalecki) dealing with the effects of the mysterious black vein virus, Castiel (Misha Collins) being tortured at the hands of two snotty angels with obscure Biblical names, and Dean (Jensen Ackles) discovering what makes Amaura so special.
Was anyone surprised that baby Amara is a vessel for the Darkness? No. We’re also not surprised that she can “eat” souls, age rapidly, or that she apparently ends up hanging out with King of Hell Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard). But one of the things that makes Supernatural so interesting is that even though viewers often have a general idea of what is going to happen next, the show still finds ways to surprise us.
For instance, we learned more about Jenna (Laci J. Mailey), seeing where she had her first kiss and meeting her grandmother (Christine Willes) in this episode; the assumption would be that she’s going to be sticking around for a while. But just as we were wondering what her action figure might look like, telekinetic baby Darkness turns her into a soulless killing machine before Crowley snaps her neck. Rest in peace, Jenna, who can now claim the distinction of being the first semi-major character death of the season.
Unfortunately, Supernatural also manages to surprises us in unimaginative ways. A physically and emotionally suffering Sam basically Googles the cure to the black vein plague that was killing him. Apparently, simply burning oneself with holy oil-based fire (or being in a flaming circle of the stuff) provides instant relief. Well, that was easy.
Despite sharing the same predictability as Sam’s far-too-easy cure, the “Castiel is cursed” plot is coming to a satisfying head. While being tortured by the aforementioned snotty angels Jonah (Albert Nichols) and Efram (Dylan Archambault), Castiel’s burning red eyes clearly indicated he was in danger of being a danger. Just when it seemed inevitable Castiel would break, the angel Hannah (Lee Majdoub) appeared in a new vessel and attempted a good cop/bad cop scenario to make Castiel give up the Winchesters, but when the other angels turned on her, Castiel turned into Supernatural‘s version of the Incredible Hulk, breaking free and killing them, before taking off to find the Winchesters.
While the episode itself had its share of disturbing moments, including a soul-sucked Jenna slitting her grandmother’s throat and what looked like flashbacks to Sam’s time in hell (from season six), Crowley can always be counted on to add dark humor. This time, we learn he moonlights as a Catholic priest/exorcist for the less-than-holy members of the Church. Regardless of his costume, he did what Crowley always does: irritates Dean, kills someone, complicates matters, and sarcastically spouts one-liners. And that is why we love to hate him, or hate to love him, take your pick.
Going forward, there are a few elements introduced in these first two episodes that offer some intriguing new directions. As Sam is dying from the black-vein sickness, he meets a reaper, Billie (Lisa Berry), as she sings (quite beautifully) “Oh Death” over the bodies of the dead. She warns Sam that the death of Death leaves him and his brother in danger of being thrown into “The Empty”. In other words, Sam and Dean have died and been brought back to life so many times that the writers had to actually dream up a fate worse than death.
The other twist was the scene in “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire”, in which Crowley’s men reported that they have been receiving warnings from “The Cage”. Long-time Supernatural viewers know that the Cage holds the Winchester’s, half-brother Adam (Jake Abel), the archangel Michael, and Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino); all three have been trapped there since the end of season five. The potential return of these characters in the near future is definitely something to look forward to.