Television: Supernatural S4- In The Beginning: A Review

If you think you’ve been on every roller coaster ride possible that twists and turns through the Winchester brother’s lives in Supernatural, episode 3 of the hit series’ 4th season is going to prove you haven’t been on the ‘big ride’ yet.  So sit back, strap yourselves in and keep your hands inside the car until In The Beginning comes to its full and complete stop.

There seems to be rumblings among the online viewer-ship of Supernatural’s season 4, which stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester – brothers, supernatural hunters and now two men seemingly on different paths that are about to converge in a way that may alter their lives forever – that there hasn’t been much of what fans/viewers perceive as a storyline presence for younger brother Sam Winchester in the first two episodes. That the first two episodes seem to focus heavily on the deliverance of older brother Dean Winchester’s (Jensen Ackles) soul from hell, from which it was yanked out of and fully restored to life and body by the angel Castiel (Misha Collins) on the command of God.

I’ll be right upfront with you my readers; there is a significant lack of physical presence of Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) in the 3rd episode In the Beginning. However, if you are the kind of viewer/fan who can appreciate a storyline that is about the continuation of character’s journey, even though that character may not be physically present in the particular episode, then odds are you may really appreciate this episode. Possibly appreciate that it brings everything together and answers some major questions about Sam Winchester, his past and his possible date with destiny and sets things in motion that will bring the storyline heavily front and center to his character.  I can assure you, from this reviewer’s perspective, that Eric Kripke and Company have not forgotten about Sam Winchester/Jared Padalecki and their part in the process of making Supernatural an outstanding primetime drama series and cult favorite among its loyal fans.

Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester & Misha Collins as the Angel Castiel

Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester & Misha Collins as the Angel Castiel

In the Beginning, written by Jeremy Carver and directed by Steve Boyum, is a time travel episode in which the angel Castiel transports himself and Dean Winchester back in time to 1973 where Dean meets his and Sam’s parents Mary Campbell (Amy Gumenick) and John Winchester (Matthew Cohen), who are two young people in love and eager to get married to each other despite the objections of Mary’s father. He also meets his maternal grandparents, Samuel (Mitch Pileggi) and Deanna (Allison Hossack) Campbell. Once again, Jensen Ackles gives a ‘knock it out of the ballpark’ outstanding performance as his character of Dean Winchester is confronted with one startling twist and turn about his family history after another. Since the very first episode of Supernatural back in season one Sam and Dean Winchester, as written by the talented writing staff of Supernatural and played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, are the kind of characters that can make you cry and laugh right along with them. That still hasn’t changed and one scene in particular in this episode between Dean and the younger version of his mother Mary is so emotionally powerful it made this reviewer cry.

This episode boast some of best all round guest casting in the roles of the maternal grandparents and young Mary Campbell (soon to be Winchester). Mitch Pileggi, a long time veteran of the sci-fi and horror genre, was just perfect as Samuel Campbell. It almost seems as if he studied the way Jared Padalecki plays the grandson Sam Winchester so that Pileggi’s mannerisms were similar enough to create a feeling of family continuity between the generations. He and Ackles played extremely well off of each other and provided some of the same comedic moments that often happen between the brothers Winchester that again created that feeling of continuity between generations.

The only guest role I felt wasn’t as fleshed out as it maybe should have been was that of the young John Winchester. Not for any fault in the performance of Matthew Cohen in the role, just that he seemed to be almost a secondary character to the storyline. I am hoping that the episode in which we see Sam and Dean as high schoolers gives us more insight into John Winchester.

In the Beginning answers some very pressing questions such as how Mary knew the Yellow-eyed demon and some things about the origins of why Sam is chosen by the YED.  We find out how the ’67 Chevy Impala came to belong to John Winchester and who Dean is named after. It is also the episode that shows us exactly to what extent Dean has been pushed into the myth arc of the storyline. However in honesty as a viewer and a fan with a particular affection of Dean Winchester, I have some major reservations about how this was done and what the ramifications will be for Dean and for Sam because of it.

Yet, no matter how you look at it, In the Beginning is one helluva roller coaster ride of an episode and it really does set up a heavy hitting and no doubt soon to be fully involved storyline for the character of Sam Winchester. So tune in, enjoy the ride and know that the writers, creators and actors of Supernatural will be waiting at the end of it to take you on to the next ‘big ride’ with them.

 Supernatural season 4 airs on the CW Network this Thursday, October 2nd at 9PM EST (but be sure to check your local listing in case of time change due to the Presidential Debates).


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    Kripke screwed us over didn’t he? Be honest, when it comes to Dean and mytharc he screwed us over right? You know he had me for two episodes, I really thought I could trust him again. I’ve been more pleased and excited for this season than any since the first in all honesty. As for rumblings, there are plenty of people who have been absolutely thrilled with these first 2 episodes and haven’t felt there was a lacking of anything. That’s going to change with Dean getting screwed over in the mytharc though after Kripke acting like it meant something. I mean he got pulled out of Hell, isn’t that enough to put him in the mytharc, which involves Demons? Did they really need to once again pull a fast one on his character just to shove Sam front and center of the entire known universe again?

  2. I guess this is it… the moment of truth. If I read you right, MR Reed, Kripke’s made Dean the villain of the piece… the architect of Sam’s targeting, the reason for his family’s misery. And if that is truly the case, then he’s betrayed every episode of this series, everything about the character, and all the promise that this season showed. I was finally ready to love Supernatural again, after an extremely disappointing third season. The first two episodes were astonishingly good.

    But if Kripke has pinned all of Sam’s troubles on Dean, who has only ever sought to care for this family and make sure they were safe and happy at his own great expense, then it’ll just be too painful to care about these characters anymore. I thought we were finally getting some HOPE on this show. Torturing your leads is fine, to a point. But there comes a time when it’s just too much, it’s just too horrible, and I didn’t come into this show because I wanted to watch the primetime ghostbusting equivalent of a snuff film.

    I’m hoping I read you wrong, and that this isn’t what he’s done. Because if it is, my three-year love affair with Supernatural is finished.

  3. What do you mean, “Kripke screwed us over again?” Kripke isn’t out to “screw” the Dean fans. He’s not trying to lure anyone into a false sense of security. He’s not out to pit one group of fans against the other. He’s writing a story. I, for one, appreciate that it isn’t “rinse, lather, repeat,” monster of the week with Dean and Sam each apportioned exactly 50 percent of the script each week. Fans have been moaning forever for Dean to be involved in the mytharc. Now he is. Hush up.

    The episode sounds *great.* Is it emotional? Is it gut wrenching? Are the performances great? Are there twists, turns, and reveals that will break my heart? I enjoy being treated like an adult by the writers. Bring it on, Supernatural writers! Bring it on!

  4. “If I read you right, MR Reed, Kripke’s made Dean the villain of the piece…”

    If you are meaning my comment about having reservations about how Dean is being dropped into the mytharc, then the best I can tell you is that I always have major reservations about ‘time travel episodes’ as means for characters to see what is going on and how it affects them.

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