Okay, boys and girls - time for the fifth go-round with our intrepid hunters of all things evil. It’s not surprising that, as has been the case all along, this season continues to expand and elaborate on what’s come before; this season of Supernatural is easily as good as its predecessors and in some cases even better. After all, what’s not to dig about more demons, angels, ghosts, and even the biggest Big Bad this show’s ever had. . .Lucifer his ownself?
We pick up right where we left off from last year’s finale - and in case you’re in the dark, let me shed some light. Hunters and brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester have found themselves in some seriously deep excrement. After being manipulated repeatedly by the demon bitch Ruby (including picking up a nasty taste for demon blood - stick with heroin, folks! - and becoming all strung out on the shit), Sam kills the previous Big Bad, super-demon Lilith, unaware that he’s playing into their devious plans. See, killing Lilith basically frees the Antichrist from his earthly prison, and now he’s come out to play. The brothers are ready to throw down as best they can, but are mysteriously whisked away to safety. . .as long as that holds out with Lucifer on the playing field. So now they need to figure out a way to banish the Evil One back to whence he came; unfortunately that’s about as easy as it sounds. Factor in the unpleasant information that Sam is ultimately the vessel Lucifer seeks to walk this world and bring about the Apocalypse, and that the archangel Michael wants to use Dean as HIS vessel to battle Lucifer, and things aren’t looking so rosy for our boys. Not to mention the fact that there’s the usual roster of monstrous party-poopers still lurking about doing bad things that our heroes gotta send back to Hell as they normally do. Oh, and the fucking devil doesn’t play fair (not that you’d expect him to) - he’s brought along a couple of his friends: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and these guys are straight pricks. Yep - War, Famine, Pestilence and Death have come to get down and help Lucifer destroy all of humanity.
The Winchesters have their work cut out for them, is what I’m saying; this ain’t gonna be easy money at the brick factory. Yeah, they still have their stalwart father figure Bobby (Jim Beaver, legendary as always) and kinda-sidekick angel Cass (Misha Collins) to back their play, but is that enough? Can they defeat the ultimate evil without sacrificing themselves in the process? Me personally, I think you should take a look and find out, cause this season kicks serious ass and is as entertaining as the show’s ever been to boot.
The storylines are the usual blend of the scary, the funny, the heartbreaking, and the flat-out fantastic. There’s an ep with Cupid (and may I tell you that the opening scene had me gagging for the first time in the show’s run, as this couple is SO in love with each other that they go from making out to fucking EATING EACH OTHER on-screen for God’s sake) that illustrates a particular strength of the show, which is taking myths and tales we all know of and literalizing them in a way that no one’s ever done. The great Chad Goddamn Everett guests (as Dean!?!) in a tale about poor decisions in gambling, and the man absolutely dead-on nails it. Everybody’s favorite Trickster (Richard Speight Jr.) returns in one of my all-time favorite humorous eps as he throws the boys into TV Land, where they get to riff on the inanity of Grey’s Anatomy and the utter douchery that is David Caruso. Some people may be turned off by the presence of Paris Hilton in another story, but I say that it’s worth it cause chick gets her noggin lopped off, and if that ain’t good TV then I don’t know what is. Anna the angel returns in another time-traveling jaunt to the past and it’s still a trip to see John and Mary Winchester back in the day, before everything went to shit and they were just an ex-Marine and an ex-hunter trying to build a life together. There’s a zombie episode, one where different gods from varying religions show up, and even one with a Supernatural fan convention that had me crying from laughter. And, of course, lots and lots of angels and demons (and not the shitty Dan Brown kind either) that attempt to ruin the Winchester brothers’ lives further. All in all, ya can’t say Eric Kripke and company don’t cover the bases this time out, and it’s friggin’ stellar.
In my previous reviews, I’ve done enough gushing about Padalecki and Ackles, so I won’t repeat myself here and will simply state that the dudes continue to impress and handle the ass-kicking, comedic, and emotional beats equally well. Beaver and Collins are great as usual - especially Collins as his character grows and deepens throughout one excellent arc. Mark Sherman (a British TV vet who has graced such killer shows as Burn Notice and Leverage in the last couple of years) returns as the demon Cowley, and it’s a real pleasure to see him essay such a slimy, sleazy character so well. Finally, some love has to be thrown in the direction of a Mr. Mark Pellegrino, a character actor extraordinaire. The man may be known to most genre fans from a stint on Lost (I don’t watch that show - I know, I know - so I don’t know how big a part he may or may not have had but I’m sure he rocked it), but I remember him from Dexter and a whole bunch of other shit where he’s a fine example of That Guy, if you know what I mean. Anyway, the SN honchos were smart enough to get him for the part of Lucifer, and he’s just outstanding. Simply outstanding. The best thing he does in the role is bring a sense of absolute calm to it. He’s not frothing at the mouth and overacting his way into incoherence; Pellegrino does what the best villains have always done, and that is knowing that he doesn’t see himself as evil. In fact, some of the things he says - the arguments he makes for doing what he’s doing - are all the more chilling because they come off as rather reasonable, in a way. And of course, that’s how the devil gets you. The man handles his business like a champ and it’s a phenomenal turn by a great actor.
The Blu-ray from Warner Brothers looks and sounds pretty much excellent, with a very nice 1.78:1 transfer that leaves the quality of the HD broadcast version in the dust, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack more than delivers the goods. The Blu-ray comes loaded with a nice selection of extras, as well, including a commentary track (just one, on the episode “The End”), the webisode collection, Ghostfacers (HD), a very funny gag reel, unaired scene (SD), and, the coolest extra, the Apocalypse Survival Guide, which is an interactive collection of nifty behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and more (HD)!
Overall, I’d say this is tied with the last two seasons as the best in the show’s run. SN has not lost a step, which continues to blow my mind. When the new season starts next week, I will be there with bells on, for sure. Even if I don’t know where they’re going to go from this season’s endpoint. . .I have faith that the boys won’t let me down; they haven’t yet, not once. And that’s something to love - without question - so I do.