You know what always got me? Jared Padalecki gets first billing in the Supernatural title sequence credits. That’s not to say that he or his abs aren’t wonderful, but I’ve always had more of a weakness for Jensen Ackles and his gruff, cheeseburger-loving character Dean. Padalecki’s Sam may represent the sort of hyper-nerd that I would generally be attracted to, but the outdated chauvinism of Ackles’ Dean…it’s just dreamy. I suppose I’ve always had a weakness for the older ones.
However, in this season eight premiere episode it seems that the first billing should have gone to Osric Chau for his portrayal of Kevin Traan. Last season Kevin Traan was on the fast track to Princeton when he was called by the Lord (you know, God) to be a prophet. He and his nerdy hair were totally unprepared for this turn of events and thusly his college-prep life was ripped apart as he ran from demons and deciphered Aramaic for angry angels. Season seven continued—leviathan killings, double-crossing demons, a computer-hacking lesbian—and ended up with (SPOILERS!) Dean and Castiel (Misha Collins) being sucked into Purgatory.
(SERIOUSLY…SUPER SPOILERS, DEAD AHEAD)
But now K.Traan is back. And he’s got himself a fresh, actiony haircut and a higher-pitched version of Dean’s signature gruff voice. Sure there’s a little bit in the beginning about how it’s a year later, Dean just found his way out of Purgatory with the help of his new vampire buddy, and now he and Sam have issues since Sam quit hunting and had a normal life relationship without looking for Dean, but really…it’s all about the K.Traan.
Now you might be asking yourself… “Wait, what? Dean has a vampire buddy? Hasn’t he for the past seven seasons hated all monsters and unrelentingly put them all down despite strong personal reasons not to?” Well yes, there’s that. But he has a vampire buddy now, and there’s not much explanation, so you’re just going to have to deal with it.
You may also find yourself asking, “Wait, what? Didn’t Dean go out and get a normal life when Sam was sucked into Hell? And wouldn’t Dean completely understand exactly why Sam would do the same thing? And didn’t they have a pinky-swear-type binding pact about doing exactly what Sam did? And thus isn’t it 100% hypocritical for Dean to have a spazz attack over this?” Well, yes, but…I suppose the writers expect you to deal with this as well. Seriously people, let’s move forward here. Griping about the past is an unattractive trait, and really, right now… it’s all about the K.Traan.
So what’s the deal with K.Traan? Well, apparently (since he was on the fast track to Princeton and all) K.Traan is quite smart. He outwitted his demon captors and escaped. But when he called Sam, no one was there to help him out and so he had to fend for himself. This is the situation that got Dean into the tizzy I mentioned earlier. But that doesn’t really matter because we find out that he is fine, living like a paranoid weirdo in an abandoned church near his ex-girlfriend’s college. K.Traan’s new hairdo and voice go well with the idea of having to survive in a world filled with hostile monsters at every turn, and he comes off as an attempt at “Sam & Dean 2.0.” The writers dabbled with this idea last season when they introduced the super-hacker lesbian character that Dean quipped was “just like the little sister I never wanted.”
Are the Supernatural writers jealous of CSI and Law & Order? Are they sniffing around for a spin off? I wouldn’t mind…I’m just curious.
But let’s get back to the review. This episode, on its own, was bland and focused on the wrong things. I wanted more Cass, more Bobby (Jim Beaver)…and better continuity. Now I understand making us wait for Cass and Bobby. It’s the carrot or the stick, the payoff that is that much more satisfying by making us wait for it. But it would have been nice to see Sam’s normal life juxtaposed against the reality of being a Hunter (which would have been a good parallel since we saw Dean go through that in season six…then again, season six started super-slow due to the “Domesticated Dean” sub-plot. And since Dean’s my preferred Winchester, I don’t know what I would have done with hours and hours of “Domesticated Sam.”) Another nice thing this current episode could have had would’ve been to see the brothers silently understand each other regarding the abandoning of the Hunter Life for a normal one as opposed to watching them bicker about it when it’s clear that they both yearn desperately to do just that. And it would have also been nice to have some sort of conflict or stakes set up for K.Traan in relation to his girlfriend. She’s set up as some sort of emotional leverage for him, but I barely remembered her from last season—and there’s nothing in this new episode to suggest that he lives and breathes for her—so when she is used against him, nobody cares, and that’s lame.
This episode introduced a lot of moving parts that will leave us asking questions and pursuing answers all season long. And so, like several of the preceding seasons, this premiere focuses on the little details that are *probably* going to be important later and thus fizzles in a puff of smoke when viewed independently of the future episodes to come. It’s probably going to take three or four more weeks to *really* get into the swing of things. But, that’s how this show has tended to go over the years, and it’s not like I’m not going to watch.
I would like to conclude with a few requests: Firstly, I miss you Cass, hope to see you soon. And can we get a little more evil/soulless-Sam going on? I liked evil/soulless-Sam. And what’s going on with Bobby? Does he get to fight ghost adventures in the afterlife with the lady-love he lost? Let’s see some of that action. Sure, show us more about this Dean/vampire BFF situation, but bring back some of the goodies too. Like Death and Lucifer…Death and Lucifer are baaad-ass and I need more face time with them. Oh! And what about the OTHER prophet? When do we get to see K.Traan team up with the “prophet” Chuck? Epic? I think yes. Bring it writers! Show me you’ve still got a little bit of that season four magic left in you!