In this week's episode, Dean Winchester will come face to face with an enemy he had long forgotten: puberty.
Still reeling from what he did to Charlie and trying to find answers to rid himself of the Mark of Cain, Dean has come up with nothing. Rather than let his brother wallow in self-pity, Sam finds a case in Oregon where a man disappeared in a flash of light. The boys head down there to investigate but the one eye witness claims that it was the work of aliens. Not content to believe that space monsters abducted a man but left his clothes, Dean asks around at the bar nearby while Sam chases other leads. Dean doesn't get much from the bartender but a woman named Tina has more to say. After their brief introduction, Dean and Tina make a day of drinking together. Later on, Tina leaves the bar when Dean spots a strange looking guy behind her and runs after her to make sure everything is ok. He hears a scream and sees a flash of light but Tina is gone. He finds her clothes and hears someone behind him but it's too late, another flash of light blinds him and then he wakes up in a strange room with bars on the windows to prevent anyone from escaping. Dean looks around but notices something strange in the mirror: he's been turned into his teenage self and so has Tina. Dean is able to come up with a way to escape but he isn't able to get Tina out at the same time. After making his way back to the hotel, Sam is very surprised to see his brother in that condition but Dean isn't wasting any time to get back and save Tina. Sam thinks that there must be a way to help him revert back but Dean says that might not be the best option; as his younger self he no longer has the Mark of Cain. As they race back to save Tina, the two of them need to decide if it's better to have the normal, potential psycho killer Dean back or the pubescent one who can't reach the gas pedals.
Though last week's trailer did little to garner any excitement, About a Boy was much better than last week's There's No Place Like Home. A highlight of the episode was its fast pacing from start to finish and never giving the story the opportunity to drag at any given time. Sam didn't let Dean pity himself, the boys immediately dismissed the homeless witness's alien claim, young Dean quickly escaped and then they immediately went back for Tina. A lot happened but it never lost the audience at any point and it didn't give us that much time to dwell on the weaker aspects.
While it may have been what Supernatural did in the beginning, the monster of the week format doesn't fit the story the same way it did during the first few seasons. Having an origin story for Hansel, Gretel and the witch is fun but felt underdeveloped in just the one episode. Also, having Hansel abduct adults, only to turn them into children does show an evolution of the characters but also takes away from the darkness of the original tale. The witch lured children into her home and ate them. Adults turned into teens doesn't quite have the same level of malevolence.
Surprisingly, turning Dean Winchester into a teenager turned out alright. This can only be attributed to Dylan Everett who demonstrated experience and confidence in his return to the role (season nine episode, Bad Boys). As young as Everett, Supernatural could have gone younger. Everett is twenty years old and though he looks young, he doesn't look like he's as young as they said. The puberty jokes in the car ride back to Tina weren't quite there and it would have been better if Dean's voice had cracked.
Largely due to the strong performance of Dylan Everett and the fast pacing, About a Boy was the best episode from Supernatural since its return from hiatus. Hopefully we'll be just as surprised by next week's episode, Halt & Catch Fire.