After weeks of intense, plot moving episodes introducing viewers to the Darkness, this week levels off with an episode that reminds us why we still love Supernatural after 10 full seasons. “Baby” puts the viewers in a place we’ve never been before: inside the Impala. By keeping us with Baby the entire episode instead of following the Winchesters through the episode, the audience gets a narrative that focuses so much more on the relationship between Sam and Dean rather than on the monster of the week.
When I first heard the premise of this week’s episode, I have to admit that I was a little skeptical that something like this could work. Telling a story from within a small space, no matter how integral to the story line, always has the potential to flop, and leaving the viewer in that space when the actors exit rang a lot of warning bells. Luckily, I was very, very wrong.
To the Supernatural family, Baby is so much more than just a car. Baby is a character in her own right, and is perhaps the character with the most longevity, adventuring with two generations of Winchesters. It seems only right that when seeing this week’s narrative with Baby, we would get an inside look at some of the family moments between Sam and Dean that aren’t always the focus of the show. As much as the show prides itself on the slogan “no chick flick moments,” this episode showed a tender, brotherly side to the Winchesters that we haven’t seen recently. The scenes while traveling and camping out gave them a much more developed dynamic that brought another layer of realism and relatability to the Winchesters.
And the Bob Seger sing-along? Priceless.
Even though Cas wasn’t physically in the episode, it was a return of sorts for a character that has been lacking recently. His phone calls are a nostalgic reminder of the Castiel we’ve been missing. The humor was on point, not over the top, and provided a refreshing compliment to the action happening on screen.
The overarching plot of the season isn’t completely forgotten either. The first tie-in happens early on in the episode when Sammy falls asleep and has a conversation with a young John Winchester. He tells Sam that “God helps those who help themselves,” contributing to the tone of hopelessness and abandonment that have been hovering over this season. Who sent the message? That’s a great question- hopefully one we’ll find the answer to soon.
The other Darkness tie-in comes from this week’s monster: the “Ghoulpire.” I’m putting this one on my list of favorite monsters for the epicness that was a living severed head in the beer cooler. Although the monster wasn’t in and of itself part of the Darkness lore, the ghoulpire was trying to increase its numbers to prepare for the Darkness. Just another hint to the audience that when Amara gets done with her teenager phase, she’s definitely something we should be afraid of.
It’s hard, in the 11th season of any show, to add a fresh dynamic to a show and make the audience feel even more connected to such established characters. The writers at Supernatural have surpassed all of our expectations with what is arguably one of their best episodes. This one will be hard to top.