I was very harsh on the season premiere of Supernatural. And to be frank, the more I thought about the episode, the more I hated it. It’s honestly one of my least favorite episodes in the whole run. I’m getting angry just thinking about it. With that being said, I found “Two and a Half Men” to be much, much more enjoyable.
After the premiere focused so much on the dueling nonchalant-ness and supposed mystery of Sam and Samuel’s respective returns, this episode works better because it more or less ignores that mystery aside from a line or two and instead settles in to a typical monster of the week episode with some baby-aided humor thrown in for good measure.
I wasn’t particularly fond of the decision to go “back to basics” or whatever the hell it is they’re doing this season on Supernatural, but after the mess that was “Exile on Main St.,” a nice little episode about shape-shifting babies is a welcome respite. Putting a seemingly harmless baby in the middle of the grimy hunter lives that the Winchesters lead is an obvious premise for an episode and I’m actually kind of shocked it hasn’t happened yet.
It’s also another easy way to show us the obvious distinctions between Sam and Dean as individuals. The fact that Sam doesn’t even think he can handle the baby on his own and thus immediately calls Dean says a lot about him as a person and of course, Dean is the loving one who has a little experience in the matter so little Bobby John takes to him quickly.
Most importantly, when the episode does decide to reference the mystery behind the two Sams, it does it through Dean and his general mistrust about getting back into the hunting life. He’s already on edge about what to do with balancing hunting and his new family, so when the baby comes into the picture and he feels even more connected to the domestic side of things, he cannot deal with the secrecy of his hunting (and actual real) family. Why are these people back? Who are the others? What would they do with a baby shape-shifter? These are serious questions that someone should raise, particularly if Sam and Samuel aren’t going to try too hard to find the answers.
If the series is set on dragging out this mystery, this is the way to do it. If it’s not going to be the driving force behind individual episodes, fine. But there can’t be this weird, overarching “meh” towards it while at the same time pretending it’s important. Either it’s one or the other. It’s unfortunately going to lead to a lot of Sam-Dean drama, probably some crying and punching, but that’s better than “meh.”
What doesn’t work here, however, are the scenes with Dean and Lisa. “Men” makes a big fuss about Dean turning into John with his order barking and lockdowns and that’s fine, but the end result doesn’t really feel earned. Dean has moved his new family, scared the crap out of them and now Lisa is basically like, “Oh well, just come back when you’re feeling a little lonely.” I liked that the premiere didn’t totally write them out so quickly, but now Lisa and Ben feel like a weird, happy ending wish-fulfillment that can be used as a trump card anytime Dean feels bad about himself.
And because we know that Dean cannot be half in and half out, this development really puts a damper on wanting to watch him relate to Lisa in the future. We know that it isn’t going to work in the end, so keeping her on the back-burner for random appearances isn’t going to be as influential or poignant as I think the writers are hoping they will be.
As for the mythological developments with Alphas and the origins of all monsters, I have to admit, that’s kind of cool. I assume that the writers will be smart enough to tie the Alphas’ recent appearances with something that happened in hell, and I’m very excited to see how that plays out. Though I knew the series could never tackle the apocalypse with the proper scope and am very disappointed that there has been absolutely no mention of it in the first two episodes, this feels like the kind of arc the series can handle without leaving out some important (if not always visual) details.
“Two and a Half Men” is far from Supernatural at its best, but removed from the challenges of rebooting after a grand, shoulda-been conclusion, it sees the series start to regain its footing. This might not even be the same or as good, but there’s some hope. Some.