Episode 8.17

“Goodbye Stranger” Review
By Annie Kenney

So Supernatural is back and with a bang! Old friends (and enemies) returned, Sam is getting worse, Dean is getting more and more worried and the episode roared along at a pace so fast it was hard to keep up with it.

The start of the episode made me go cold; all those Deans, all of them dead and bleeding. It was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen done on the show and it was very effective. The sudden segue from that scene to the one in the bunker with Dean being his cocky, horny self was seamless and it made for a wonderful beginning.

Sam is looking (and sounding) worse and his condition is – obviously – worsening. He seems so much more vulnerable now, hardly the big muscular man he was in Season’s 5 & 6. It is hard to know if he will be capable of doing the trials on his own or whether Dean is going to have to ‘step in’ and help do them as well.

After a great build-up it was fantastic to see Crowley again (he has always been my favourite villain.) and when Meg appeared I had to hold back a little cheer. Castiel was as mysterious and unreadable as ever and I have to confess I am not all that keen on Naomi (perhaps because she reminds me of an old boss I once had so I shouldn’t really let that colour my opinion of her!)

As the episode progressed it was like being on a roller coaster. The demon in curlers was excellent (and a very welcome bit of humour in an episode that was pretty dark) whilst Castiel’s ‘I can hear you I am a celestial being’ made me laugh out loud. The fight scene was fast and furious and it was hard to know who might come out on top. Sam’s palpable fear when Dean left him to go with Castiel was enough to make even the hardest heart ache and his reluctance to take the demon killing knife was telling.

The conversation between Sam & Meg was welcome. It would have been nice to hear more as the viewer still doesn’t really know much about Sam’s time without Dean (despite the bright flashbacks) and it is still hard to accept that Sam didn’t look for Dean. For a moment it seemed that Sam might have opened up to Meg but the arrival of Crowley’s demons put a stop to that. It appears that Sam’s reluctance to look for Dean will never be addressed and that makes me a little disappointed.

One of the weirdest things was the scene where Cas nearly kills Dean. It was virtual copy of the scene in ‘Swan Song’ where Sam beats Dean almost to death and then is pulled back at the last minute. It was odd to hear Dean begging to Cas and, strangely, out of character. It is hard to know whether Cas has been healed by his contact with the angel tablet (and we still don’t know what the angel tablet actually does) and only time will tell. It is getting closer and closer to the finale now (can there really have been 17 episodes of Season 8 already?) and there are so many different threads all waiting to come together. Kevin, the trials, Castiel and the angel tablet, Crowley and his endgame! As a viewer you can’t help but wonder if all these things will be resolved now or whether they will be carried over into Season 9. These are exciting times for Supernatural fans!

It was absolutely gutting to see Meg killed; she is the longest serving reoccurring character and has been responsible for some of Supernatural’s most chilling moments. Sometimes it is hard to remember that she killed all of John’s friends and fellow hunters, was accountable for the deaths of Ellen & Jo and possessed Sam (it was great to hear Meg talk about the time she spent in Sam’s noggin and – again – it would have been nice to hear more). Over time Meg has become more of an ally than an enemy and Rachel Milner’s performance has been absolutely faultless (in my opinion). The killing of Meg was up there with the death of Bobby and it will be very sad not to see her again.

The scene between the brothers near the end was fantastic and what Supernatural has always been about. Hope that Sam will now be totally honest with Dean (not much chance of that though!) and that the brothers will be able to handle the trials together. I loved the fond look Sam gave Dean when he turned on the radio and the song that was playing was very telling indeed. Was the Goodbye Stranger a farewell to Cas or to Meg? Or was it Dean’s subconscious appeal to Sam? It is hard to know; maybe it is just open to interpretation.

The episode was a BIG welcome back after a two week break and has set the scene very well for what is to come. Excitement and anticipation are high and the next few weeks should be very, very interesting indeed.