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.
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).