The road so far… is paved with SPOILERS. Proceed with caution.

Ding-dong Dick Roman’s dead, but the never-ending frying pan to fire cycle continues for our Winchester boys. So far, season 8 has been angst and flashbacks galore, with Dean busting out of purgatory to find that, in the year he’d spent in constant battle, Sam had quit the family business. Dean can’t quite find it in himself to congratulate Sam on his newfound domesticity, and Sam’s case isn’t helped at all when Dean goes through Sam’s ditched cell phones and finds messages from Kevin Tran, who has been on the run from Crowley.

We need to talk about Kevin. Our resident prophet has come a long way from panicky advanced-placement student. The Winchesters find him in hiding, sporting short-cropped locks and wielding a borax-filled water gun, having escaped Crowley by pretending to use the Word of God to open the gates of hell, but actually using a spell from the tablet to blast away Crowley’s demon minions. Advanced-placement, indeed.

Kevin becomes a sort of honorary Winchester, but unfortunately, part of his rite of passage is watching his girlfriend become possessed and then killed by Crowley. The same thing very nearly happens to Kevin’s mother, who comes along on the search for the tablet, which holds the key to banishing every demon to hell – for good. But thankfully, Mrs. Tran lives to see another day. Supernatural is always in need of a feisty female presence. Anyone else wondering how many tattoos Mrs. Tran has?

Speaking of new, unlikely comrades, we can’t forget about Benny. Though the search for the tablet (well, the missing half of the tablet that Crowley made away with after his prophet-napping plan was foiled) could result in banishing ever baddie to hell permanently, the Winchesters wouldn’t even be active if it weren’t for vampire Benny, who showed Dean the way out of purgatory for the price of hitching a ride with him through the portal.

Benny promises to keep his nose clean and Dean tries to keep their alliance quiet, but after the two confront Benny’s maker and his now-vamped former lover, Sam learns the truth and, well, he doesn’t approve. Cue compounding brotherly tensions, but when you think about it, this all feels rather familiar. Sam’s had his own demon dalliances, but to be fair, maybe he’s just learned from his days with Ruby. And Dean is so put out by Sam settling down with Amy, but Dean played family-man for a while when Sam was in hell. Okay, it may not be the best idea to bring these things up. Maybe Castiel will dole out time-outs to keep the brothers from trying to kill each other… again (that wasn’t really Dean’s fault, though, he was under the influence of a specter).

Where is Castiel in all of this, anyway? Flashbacks of purgatory show that Dean refused to leave without finding his angel, but when time came, Cas didn’t make it out. It isn’t until Cas reappears with no memory of how he got out that Dean learns that Cas had chosen to remain in purgatory as self-punishment, letting go of Dean’s hand rather than being let go, as Dean remembers it. What nobody knows is that the angels are forcing Cas to report back on the Winchesters, and then wiping his memory after every visit.

This probably isn’t going to play out well for anyone, but for now, let’s take a moment to appreciate Cas the Hunter. Cas the Bad Cop. Cas the Kitty Interrogator. “Hunteri Heroci” gave us all of these plus a rather tender moment in which Dean inquires about how Cas is doing post-purgatory. It’s a fun episode, if a bit morbid. Falling anvils aren’t so funny when you’re not a cartoon coyote.

This season has also brought us the angel Samandriel, coming to the aid of the prophet in the unassuming vessel of Wiener Hut employee, Alfie, and the return of our favorite lightweight hunter, Garth. Last we see, Samandriel is a prisoner of Crowley, and Garth, who defeats a specter by not having a vengeful bone in his body, has taken on the role of “the new Bobby.” We should probably be worried about both of these guys. Characters we like to root for tend to die on this show.

And who were we rooting for more than Benny? Supernatural left off in December with Benny on the run after being cornered by Martin Creaser, a hunter we first met in season 5, who Sam sends to keep an eye on Benny. Another vampire had been killing and making it look like Benny, so Dean comes to help resolve the situation. Sam and Martin don’t trust Dean’s judgment though, and Martin threatens Benny’s granddaughter Elisabeth, whose café Benny has been working in. By the time Dean gets back to the café, Martin is dead and Benny is gone.

Supernatural returns THIS WEDNESDAY. What can we expect from the rest of this season? Will Sam go back to Amelia (and where does that leave Amelia’s not-dead-like-she-thought husband)? Will Benny be brought back from the brink? Will we have another Blair Witch-esque episode (hopefully not, but will the Winchesters regret letting a werewolf get away)? And the second most important question (after “Will they close the hell gates for good?”): what the hell is Dean wearing in episode 11?

Stay tuned, my wayward sons!


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