Supernatural‘s new season feels like the show is getting back to basics. The season 8 premiere brings demons front and center as the main villains, a pleasant change of pace from the Leviathans, Alphas and Angels we’re used to. Sam and Dean are reunited, but mentally and psychologically, they’ve never been farther apart.

The season 8 premiere is also a bit scattered, literally, as it features three separate flashbacks and takes place in at least seven different states, plus Purgatory. How can the Winchesters possibly afford the gas?

The Return of Dean

We begin in Maine where a glowing portal opens and Dean shows up, one year later, looking pretty ragged. If you watched Angel, it’s a bit like when Connor returned from Quor’toth. Metaphorically, I suspect Supernatural is treating Dean’s time in Purgatory more like Vietnam.

He spends four days traveling down to Louisiana where he digs up a corpse then reveals that he has a hitchhiker in his body, the soul of a vampire named Benny that he releases back into his original body. Benny the Vampire worked out a deal with Dean in Purgatory to work together to escape. The fact that Dean, the biggest monster-hater ever, is being so friendly with a vamp says a lot about how awful Purgatory was.

A Tale of Two Brothers

One year later Sam’s hair is insanely long and he’s living in Texas with a nice veterinarian girlfriend and a pet dog. He gets a message from his brother and heads to Rufus’ cabin in Montana to meet up. There we learn that these two brothers are very, very different.

When Dean disappeared and Sam was left all alone he actually did what the brothers always promise each other they’ll do but never actually do: He gave up Hunting. He quit cold turkey, didn’t look for Dean and abandoned all of his Hunter phones. It sounds bad, but he makes some valid points. It’s not his job to save everyone, and the world didn’t end because he stopped killing monsters.

Dean, on the other hand, seems more committed to Hunting than ever. Flashbacks to his time in Purgatory show him killing vampires and the scary part is that I think part of him loved it. Dean’s driving force is Hunting, so n a sick and twisted way, Purgatory was like his survivalist Disneyland.

The Search for Kevin

The downside of Sam giving up is that prophet Kevin Tran called one of his phones multiple times over more than six months, but Sam never got the messages and left Kevin stranded. Dean picks up the messages and the brothers decide to track him down. They make their way to Michigan to meet Kevin’s former girlfriend Channing, who claims she hasn’t seen him.

In reality, Channing is possessed by a demon and slits her perky roommate’s throat to fill up her Demon Phone Bowl with blood to call Crowley to let him know that Dean is back.

In Michigan Dean enjoys his first cheeseburger in over a year, and if they gave Emmys for acting while eating, Jensen Ackles would win. The camera lingers on him while he chews and Sam rambles on about how he tracked Kevin to a church in Iowa.

Closing the Gates of Hell…Forever

So it’s off to the sixth state of the episode as Sam and Dean find Kevin, who has turned into quite the skilled young man. He lets us know he was taken to a warehouse by Crowley to decode another one of God’s Tablets, this one all about demons. Kevin tricked Crowley into standing in a cow pasture in Wisconsin while he escaped by using a spell to kill some demons.

Kevin also learned that the Tablet includes a spell for closing all of the Hellgates forever. In other words, they can send all of the demons back to Hell permanently. I like that as a goal for the season.

The only problem is Crowley shows up with Demon Channing to make a trade: Kevin goes with him or Channing dies. Kevin agrees, but it’s a trick as he’s bobby-trapped the church like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone. Kevin, Sam and Dean escape, but as they do, Crowley snaps Channing’s neck. Congratulations, Kevin, someone you love has died. Now you’re officially a part of the Supernatural family.

Dean and Benny

After escaping from Crowley Dean gets a call from his Purgatory buddy Benny. It’s ominous as we learn Benny the Vampire died 50 years ago and he wishes he appreciated the purity of Purgatory more, like the way Dean did. Yeah, Purgatory is definitely Dean’s Vietnam, and he did some really bad things over there.

Next week on Supernatural: God’s Tablet is up for auction. And Kevin’s mom shows up.

‘Supernatural’ Season 8 Premiere Quiz

(Image courtesy of the CW)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.