Supernatural season 11 episode 1 review: Out Of The Darkness, Into The Fire

Supernatural arrives, promises to shake things up, then returns to the status quo faster than you can say "Justin Hawkins"...

This review contains spoilers.

11.1 Out Of The Darkness, Into The Fire

Last season left us with a new Big Bad on the loose, the Darkness, supposedly so evil that God shut it away and used the Mark of Cain to keep the door locked. Out Of The Darkness, Into The Fire picks up straight away from where we left off. The Darkness has hit, meeting Dean in a vision, taking the form of a mysterious woman who thanks him for her release. He wakes up a mile away from the car where he had been sitting with Sam, who was knocked unconscious when the wave hit.
Heading back into town, the brothers find a dead road crew and the deputy, Jenna, who managed to fend them off. It appears that a zombie-like infection is spreading through the local civilian population. As Sam and Dean try to figure out what's going on, they take refuge in a hospital with Jenna and the baby Amara, whom they promise to keep safe. Meanwhile, Castiel and Crowley are still recovering from their confrontation in their own unique ways; Cas surrenders himself to the angels while Crowley takes steps to recover his own meatsuit.
There is a lot to like about this episode and there’s a great retro-Supernatural feel to the scenes in the hospital with the two brothers and their civilian charges, trying to figure a way out of their situation. The use of the ‘rabids’ too feels like something of a departure and one which allowed the episode to capitalise on the tension created by the possibility of infection and their dogged determination to spread it. The apocalyptic nature of the episode, localised to one town, has echoes of second season episode, Croatoan, with the idea of the rage-inducing virus. That virus was a key part of Lucifer’s plan in the fifth season and, given the namecheck later in the episode, it could be that we’re heading back into heavy Biblical territory with the Darkness’ arrival.
I loved Sam's little bit of Supernatural meta-commentary about how they always repeat the "same crap" over and over again and now they need to change. It looked as if the writers are finally recognising the criticisms that have been flying around for the last couple of seasons and promising us, the audience, that the usual formula was going to get messed around with a little bit. Of course, this is all undone mere moments later and we're back to where we usually are at this stage in a season by the end of the episode; Dean didn't tell Sam the full extent of his conversation with the Darkness and how they're linked while Sam didn't tell Dean he'd been infected. Such is Supernatural.
The Castiel scenes didn’t work quite so well here, often distracting from the tension built up in the deserted hospital with the brothers. It wasn’t the best use of Misha Collins either as he was given little to do but look pained. Hopefully, his ongoing conflict with Heaven will prove to be a more fruitful plotline in later episodes. The Crowley stuff, whilst also not great, was suitably hilarious enough to warrant a pass; of course he took part in the orgy in his housewife meatsuit before killing everyone. His final scene in the episode, restored to Mark A. Sheppard form, also allowed us to see the scale of the matter as far as the Darkness goes, including that mention of Lucifer and Michael in the Cage, one of whom isn’t so happy about what is going on. If an Archangel or the Devil are getting the jitters, it’s probably time to start worrying.
Which brings us to the final moment of the episode, in which Amara, saved by the Winchesters and in the care of Jenna, appears to have a mark on her chest. Could this be the Darkness’ form on Earth? It’s surely the safest place to hide as even the most hardy of hunters would balk at attacking a baby. It’s certainly a fun one to theorise about. The only slightly unfortunate thing about the new Big Bad is every time the Darkness is mentioned, I'm not thinking of a supreme evil, I'm thinking of the glam metal band declaring that they believe in a thing called love. Let's hope that wears off as the season progresses.
And we’re back. Out Of The Darkness, Into The Fire managed to encapsulate just about everything that makes Supernatural great and frustrating in its 42-minute runtime, thus making it a fitting opening to the eleventh season of the show. Dean’s got this relationship with the Darkness going on and Sam’s life is in danger. Again. Thankfully, the great outweighed the frustration in its apocalyptic scenario and the arrival of a possibly demonic baby to keep us interested. So, everyone aboard the Impala. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
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