Crowley (Mark Sheppard) finds new ways to torture Lucifer.

‘Supernatural’ Alternates Between Humor and Dread in “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell”

The show takes a lighthearted break before the potentially intense road to the finalé begins.

“Hi, my name is Sam Winchester. This is my handsomer brother, Dean. We hunt monsters. Oh, and that guy you were banging? We’re pretty sure he made a deal with a demon, so a hellhound came and dragged his soul to hell. But you? You’re cool. And since there’s nothing around for us to kill, peace out!”

— Dean, “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell”

Part of the reason why the above quote is funny is because there’s a lot of truth in it. Dean (Jensen Ackles) summed up most of the episodic plot in this week’s Supernatural before the Winchesters found out that this particular monster-of-the-week was the alpha hellhound, a rogue escapee named Ramsey who just happened to gobble up the first random soul she came across. The episode’s main goal was something else: bringing us up to speed on other plot developments, with an air of light-heartedness to the proceedings that seems suspicious in retrospect.

Supernatural has a habit of airing their silliest episodes right before an important episode that meaningfully changes the main plot of the season. For example, in season three, the brothers fought off all seven deadly sins in an epic battle that aired one week after an episode dedicated to an unlucky rabbit’s foot. In season eight, the Winchesters meet their grandfather and learn about the Men of Letters after an episode devoted to fairies and role-playing fanboys. This week’s episode featured a discussion about Dean’s underwear, a reference to Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character on The Walking Dead, and the brothers wearing eyeglasses; to see hellhounds, but also possibly because it makes them look cute. So we shouldn’t be surprised if the next episode of the show brings us something big.

“Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” begins in usual Supernatural fashion, by introducing us to a young couple (Angelique Rivera and Connor Paton) on a romantic camping trip, only to have an invisible hellhound come and kill the guy while leaving the girl terrified and targeted. Sam is alerted to the situation by the British Men of Letters, but he tells Dean a really unbelievable story about creating a computer program that tracks down supernatural activity. Upon hearing the girl’s story (and temporarily rescuing her from the hellhound’s return visit), the Winchesters call upon Crowley (Mark Sheppard), who reluctantly helps them track down the dog with the gift of two pairs of holy-water infused eyeglasses. Ramsey manages to wreak havoc on the Impala before being hit by a suitcase and getting slashed to death.

Crowley is otherwise preoccupied with tormenting Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino). Now that he spends the vast majority of his time engaging in back-and-forth threats and insults with the devil, his usual schedule of approving soul acquisitions and presiding over demonic small claims court matters has suffered. This leads two curious demon lackeys (Paul Piaskowski and Marc Senior) to release Ramsey just to distract their leader long enough to steal a key and free Lucifer. The devil, far from being grateful, quickly snuffs them out, but soon discovers that he really is trapped. Crowley has cursed his vessel and proves it by just snapping his fingers in order to painfully beat Lucifer. Experience tells us, however, that this just means that we’ll likely be seeing someone else play the role soon.

Meanwhile, Castiel is still on the lookout for Lucifer’s lovechild. Following the trail of recent angel deaths leads him to Herb (Gabe Khouth), a conspiracy theorist who believes that “reptilian aliens” are to blame. Despite his kookiness, he helps by showing Castiel security camera footage of Dagon (Ali Ahn) protecting Kelly (Courtney Ford). Later on, he meets up with Kelvin (Nathan Mitchell), an angel who promises Castiel that he will be welcomed by his “true family” of fellow angels if he helps them find the baby. Castiel seems to agree, but we just know that this will probably lead to another angel war.

Perhaps the biggest news of the night comes near the end of the episode: Dean reluctantly agreed to work with the British Men of Letters, stating that they frequently have to work with people that they don’t like. This rather calm reaction (especially to the news that Sam lied to him about how he’s been finding cases) is a little suspicious coming from Dean, who did at least remark that they would leave “the minute, no, the second” that the organization does something wrong. So, how many episodes will it take before that happens?

Despite the fact that its monster-of-the-week was far too easily destroyed (especially considering that it was an alpha), “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” still led us on an interesting journey. The humorous bits were spot-on, and it left us wondering just how the various main plots of this season will be resolved.

Another “dog” story is up next: When Supernatural returns, the Winchesters work on a werewolf case with Mick Davies (Adam Fergus), but soon find themselves trying to cure Castiel’s daughter, Claire (Kathryn Love Newton).

RATING 7 / 10