Kevin has cracked the tablet with instruction on how to close the gates of Hell, but Sam and Dean now face a series of trials…
Supernatural continues its upward swing in storytelling quality. Firmly established in their new base, the swankily-appointed HQ of the Men of Letters secret society that their ancestors apparently belonged to (a great piece of ret-conned series mythology), Dean is happy to have a room of his own, while Sam has a ton of esoteric knowledge to soak up. Their idyll is interrupted by a call from Kevin, who may be a step closer to providing them with the way to close the gates of Hell forever.
Arriving at a farm hunting for a hellhound (a nemesis from Dean’s past) to kill to fulfil the first trial, the Winchesters find themselves in a world where Dallas meets The Beverly Hillbillies as the Cassity family squabble about money and which one of them may have made a deal with the demon Crowley a decade before.
This is all familiar Supernatural stuff, but what lifts this episode above some of the rather ropier instalments at the beginning of this season is the character material between the brothers. Dean plans to take the task of completing the trials upon himself, as he’s the “dumb hunter” with nothing to live for and Sam is the smart Man of Letters to be. Events take a different tack, though, and Sam ends up completing the task, arguing that he’ll be more likely to fulfil all three as he does have something to live for, his long sought-after ‘normal’ life.
It’s this blend of strong character work with normal episode-of-the-week stuff that can work so well on Supernatural and something the show has been delivering on in recent episodes. There’s also a strong feeling of the season entering its final stages, so here’s hoping this year the show goes out on a continuing high.
Verdict: Great writing livens an otherwise mundane setting and continues a run of great episodes.
Episode 14 ‘Trial and Error’: 8/10
Brian J. Robb