Episode Title: "Hello, Cruel World"
Writer: Ben Edlund
Director: Guy Bee
Previously on "Supernatural":
The Winchester brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) and their mentor, Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) were helpless to prevent the ascension of the angel Castiel (Misha Collins), who absorbed the souls of Purgatory and declared himself the new God. While Sam suffered vivid hallucinations thanks to his time in Hell, Castiel put down the angel rebellion in Heaven and he began smiting those on Earth that he felt went against God… including a convention full of motivational speakers. Desperate to stop Castiel's rampage, the brothers sought out the demon Crowley (Mark Sheppard) and they even bound Death (Julian Richings) to their will.
Castiel came upon them and threatened to really kill them this time before freeing Death. But Death called Castiel as a mutated angel and warned him of beings known as Leviathans, that were banished to Purgatory and would be too powerful for even Castiel to contain. When Castiel slaughtered an office full of campaign workers for senator, he finally realized that he needed help and he returned to Sam and Dean. While preparing the ritual to send the souls back to Purgatory, Sam saw a hallucination of Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) that tried to convince him that he never escaped Hell.
Without Sam, Dean and Bobby completed the ritual. A grateful Castiel promised to redeem himself in their eyes, but moments later his body was possessed by the Leviathans who had managed to stay within his body despite the ritual.
The Leviathans in Castiel's body toy with Dean and Bobby until it becomes clear that Castiel's body can't contain so many spirits at once. As "Castiel" stumbles away, Dean and Bobby find Sam in the hallway and snap him out of his latest Lucifer hallucination. All three of them pursue the Leviathans and arrive just in time to see them submerge into the nearby reservoir and abandon Castiel's body which is seemingly destroyed. But with the Leviathans spreading through the water, the Winchesters are unable to prevent them from escaping and taking human hosts like a young girl named Annie (Olivia Steele-Falconer) and a mechanic named Edgar (Benito Martinez).
Back at Bobby's home, Sam admits that his hallucinations are getting worse and that he sees and hears Lucifer telling him that he never escaped from Hell. Elsewhere, the possessed Annie watches the TV show "Dr. Sexy, M.D." and she is impressed that he apparently has the authority to cut open patients whenever he likes. Meanwhile, a group of Leviathans possess members of a local high school swim team and slaughter their unaffected teammates. In a local hospital, Annie finds Dr. Gaines (Cameron Bancroft) and asks if he is Dr. Sexy. She then uses her powers to take his appearance and kill him.
Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) is in the same hospital awaiting surgery when she notices "Dr. Gaines" behaving strangely around her hospital roommate, an older woman named Madeleine. Mills follows them and witnesses Dr. Gaines cut open Madeleine and eat one of her organs. In a panic, Mills tries to get back to her room and collapses. Meanwhile, Dean poses as an FBI agent to investigate the swim team deaths. Then Bobby gets a call from Mills who warns him about the events at the hospital and she practically begs for his help getting her out of there. Alone with his hallucinations, Sam asks Lucifer why he won't end the torture if his life is just an illusion.
Lucifer cracks a smile and says that Sam's torment will only end when he can't take it anymore. Dean then returns and tells Sam that he needs backup. On the drive over there, Dean is alarmingly fatalistic towards Sam and he seems to suggest that Sam will never recover his sanity. Back at Bobby's home, the real Dean arrives and he is surprised to find Sam missing. Back with Sam, he is taken aback when he realizes that the Dean he was with was his hallucination of Lucifer, who now taunts him that he controls his perception of reality. Dean arrives and he almost gets shot by Sam until he's able to reach his brother and make him realize that his physical pain can help him control the hallucination.
At the hospital, Bobby gets Mills to safety and then begins investigating her claims. He runs into Dr. Gaines and Bobby barely gets out alive. Bobby gets in his vehicle and he calls Sam to meet him back at his home to regroup. But when the brothers arrive, there is no sign of Bobby and his home has been burned to the ground. As they search for their mentor, Edgar attacks them and he breaks Dean's leg. Sam is knocked unconscious before Dean drops a car on Edgar, seemingly killing him. But when Dean can't wake Sam, he's forced to call 911. Unfortunately, the EMTs begin taking the brothers back to the same hospital currently overrun by Leviathans, over Dean's protests. And back at Bobby's place, Edgar's body begins to stir as the Leviathan returns to his body.
A commentator on another site recently posed this question: "Are the Leviathans the best 'Supernatural' villains ever?"
The correct answer is "No, of course not. Don't be f***ing ridiculous."
It is way too early to make a definitive judgment as to how the Leviathans are going to work as the ongoing adversaries this season. But they make a piss poor substitute for Castiel as a corrupt God. Pitting the Winchesters against God would have been the ultimate challenge for this series. And I'm not convinced that the Leviathans are going to be treated as anything more than extremely powerful demons.
I also don't buy the apparent death of Castiel in the opening moments; which happened in far too low key of a way for a character that is so important to the series. Castiel's body may be destroyed, but I highly doubt that's the last we've seen of Misha Collins on the show. Likewise, it's very unlikely that Bobby is gone forever. He wouldn't be killed off screen and the worst case scenario is that he is now possessed by one of the Leviathans… possibly even the currently unseen Leviathan who was said to be in charge of them all.
Because this was a Ben Edlund script, there were parts of the episode that were really hilarious, like the audio heard from the "Dr. Sexy, M.D." TV program and the Leviathan's attempt to take on the "Dr. Sexy" persona after possessing Dr. Gaines. The cliffhanger ending of both injured Winchester brothers being taken to the same hospital was also very effective. Sam and Dean really seem to have a hard time catching any break in the series.
The escalation of Sam's hallucinations was also well played, with another great turn by Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer. I'm still hoping that the hallucinations are being caused by the real Lucifer from Hell as his only way to influence our world through Sam's frenzied mind. It was a little too easy for Sam's hand injury to make the Lucifer hallucination fade away, but that crutch probably won't last for long.
Overall, this was a solid episode, but I still have some misgivings about the direction of the season. It took a while for the last season of "Supernatural" to find its legs. I just hope this season can come together faster.
Crave Online Rating: 7.5 out of 10.