The beginning of the end.
Surrounded, battling for their lives against impossible odds and refusing to back down – the Winchesters and Castiel are fighting against a graveyard full of corpses possessed by ghosts. For everyone they strike down, another simply takes its place. Seeing they have run out of options, Castiel grabs Jack's lifeless body and calls for them team to retreat where they eventually find refuge in a crypt. It buys them time but they're no closer to finding their way out of that mess than they were moments ago; until Jack stands up. Castiel immediately sees that this is not Jack but a demon that has taken his body. The demon reveals himself to be Balthazar and explains that all doors have been opened in hell and with it, all souls that were damned for eternity. He has a way to get them out but it's not the saving grace they were hoping for. Instead of sending the ghosts back to hell, Balthazar sent them out of their bodies – and into the nearby town filled with people. He has another spell that can trap them in the town but now the Winchesters and Castiel need to save an entire town full of people from an angry horde of ghosts that just got out of the furnace.
Light on plot and heavy on action, Back and to the Future is an ambitious, albeit poorly executed start to Supernatural's final season. As Back and to the Future starts, the pace is frantic, urgent and immediate; monsters on all sides and then a short moment of safety in the crypt. It's after they leave that the pacing immediately begins to slow and then ultimately, sputter out. Having time pass into the next day took away all sense of urgency for a town that was being flooded with ghosts that had just escaped from hell and the Winchesters plan to evacuate the town due to a gas leak slowed things even further. Going door to door dragged the episode to a crawl and the intense pace of the opening moments was never captured again. It was as if Supernatural wanted the ghosts to come across as overwhelming like the walkers in The Walking Dead but forgot that you need more than four ghosts to get the same effect. Unlike The Walking Dead, Supernatural doesn't have a huge budget and is notorious for having their scary monsters appear during the day time. During the scene where Sam and Castiel were running from the ghosts, having them appear in so much light made everything look terrible. As good as the make up artists are, without proper lighting the four characters looked like theme park employees for a Halloween event.
Later, it was revealed that Sam's wound from Chuck's gun can't be healed by anything the boys currently know of. It's a good set up for something further down the line and hopefully pays off if it was important enough to be set up in the season opener. As an opener to Supernatural's final season, Back and to the Future was fine but could have gone much further to kick the story off.
On the upside, Alexander Calvert's new character of Balthazar breathed some fresh life into Jack. By the end of the last season, Jack's character was largely treading water and wasn't being handled well by Supernatural. His death was good, his return was too soon and his descent into a villain was terribly weak. Balthazar felt interesting and reminded me of Crowley when he was first introduced. Calvert was obviously enjoying his opportunity to try something new and it worked. The chemistry he had with Sam and Dean felt better than it had in quite some time and I'm excited to see how he will eventually turn on them.
Back and to the Future did just enough to get by but as Supernatural's last season, there's no point in holding back. My guess is that they have every intention of going full out when Rowena and Ketch return in next week's, Raising Hell.