I'm going to die with a gun in my hand. That's all I have.
It's been a while since we last heard from Kevin Tran but the latest prophet of the lord has been hard at work to decipher the half of the tablet he still has. Just when the days feel like they are bleeding together, Kevin hits it big; then passes out from exhaustion. Kevin tells the boys that he knows how to close the gates of hell and it involves someone going through three, unimaginably painful trials to make it happen. The first trial is to kill a hellhound and bathe in its blood; a task easier said than done. When the Winchesters finally get a lead they head out to Shoshone, Idaho where the Cassity family seems to be having all the luck in the world which is likely the work of a crossroads demon. Upon arrival at the Cassity estate, Sam and Dean take jobs from Ellie, the estate manager, to get closer to the family and kill the hellhound. Unfortunately, when they suspect that the Mrs. Cassity is the one that made the deal, they miss their opportunity when her husband Carl is killed by the hound. While serving the family dinner the next day the two them overhear that none other than Crowley is the demon that made the deal so many years ago. Luckily for them, Crowley always made more than one deal when he was in town but they still have protect the family from a monster they can't see.
Another week and another great episode from Supernatural. Though the story wasn't completely centered on closing the gates of hell permanently, it took a great step forward by introducing the trials that Sam has now begun. What also worked so well was that Sam and Dean had a lot of the charm that they had in season one as they pulled up to the Cassity estate with the classic guitar music playing and shortly after meeting Ellie, Dean was already making his moves. Also, last season Supernatural uprooted our heroes when their closest friend was killed, they were forced to give up their identities and even the impala. Giving Dean a room for the first time in his life might seem small, but that and the impala have gone a long way to giving Supernatural the same feeling as it once had.
Throughout the seasons we have become quite accustomed to seeing the Winchester brothers fight back and forth but it's always better to see them working as a team. While they definitely don't see eye to eye on Kevin's health, having the two of them on the same page by the end of the episode was a rare sight. Dean's speech to Sam before he went hunting for the hellhound was great but the follow up in the closing moments were even better. Their talk quickly established that Dean thinks his life will end with him fighting to his last breath and as dark as that is, he's accepted it. Sam on the other hand, sees a light at the end of the tunnel with a life after hunting, without the demons where they are happy living out the rest their lives. The stark contrast between those perspectives didn't lead to a conflict but rather Dean choosing to trust with his brother on this one. The characters have matured so much in this one season alone it makes up for how little they did in season seven.
It had been quite a while but Kevin finally made another appearance without taking over the story. Even though his health will certainly become a factor as the season continues, he served Sam and Dean well by guiding them on their path. Another quiet character that made a return was Crowley's hellhound. It's been a few years since we last saw (or didn't see) the king of hell's favourite pet and the effect of seeing him as misty figure through the magic glasses actually worked very well. Kevin Parks was smart to only show the hellhound at night and always at a distance. This kept us from seeing any of the flaws in the effects or animations. What didn't work well was when Ellie saw Dean as a ghoulish figure as the hellhound was getting closer. It was a valiant attempt to give us a glimpse of what the victims see in their final moments but I have seen iPhone apps that almost as good as that. It would have been better had Ellie's vision started to go dark while the howls only grew louder and louder from an unseen monster.
Trial and Error set up the trials that Sam will have to face and delivered another great episode from Supernatural. I'm looking forward to seeing what Supernatural will give us in next week's episode, Man's Best Friend with Benefits.