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Spoilers ahead for the Season 15 premiere of Supernatural on The CW, "Back and to the Future."
The end of an era has begun for the small screen thanks to the Season 15 premiere of Supernatural. The CW's longest-running series will conclude at the end of the 2019-2020 TV season, and if this first episode is any indication, the final season is going to be a thrilling ride from start to finish. On the surface, "Back and to the Future" wasn't all that distinctive of an episode. There was a horde of bad guys, some ghosts, possession, and a few moments of manly bonding and/or brooding between the leads. The big bad was new; the adventures were familiar.
Yet "Back and to the Future" drew upon the past of Supernatural to build the emotional side of the adventures, and it points toward a final season that does justice to the groundbreaking series without just retreading old ground again and again. How? Well, the Season 15 premiere brought back the Woman in White, the ghost of killer clown John Wayne Gacy, and even ended on a flashback to the very first episode of the series from 2005.
Throw in the wound Sam took in the Season 14 finale after he shot God in the shoulder -- which was just a fabulously fun sentence to write -- and the reveal of how Adam can return, and there's a lot to look forward to so long as Supernatural can deliver. Honestly, after this episode, I don't have any doubt that the show will indeed deliver a satisfactory ending. I mean, what better villain to bring back at the beginning of the end than the Woman in White?
As Supernatural fans will undoubtedly remember, the Woman in White is the first baddie that Sam and Dean faced together in the series, back when they were young, fresh-faced, and hadn't already died several times each. She was eventually vanquished all over again in the Season 15 premiere, but not before claiming at least one more victim, as the Winchesters realized when they found a car abandoned and bloody on the side of the road. Callback to a major milestone? Check.
While Dean and the demon Belphagor, who was inhabiting the corpse of Jack, were tasked with taking out the Woman in White, Sam and Castiel faced off against some other ghosts. Unfortunately for poor Sam and his enduring fear of clowns, he happened upon the ghost of John Wayne Gacy when he was attempting to save the life of a mom and little girl. Because it was a clown, Sam hesitated out of fear just long enough for Gacy to slash him across the chest. Cas showed up to save the day, but not before things got pretty frightening. Telling a scary story with a nightmarish monster? Check.
Belphagor dropped some exposition about what exactly God did at the end of Season 14, which turned out to be opening all the doors in Hell. This includes the door to the cage that was the only thing containing the archangel Michael of this Earth, who also happens to still inhabit poor Adam's body. As the pre-episode recap reminded, Belphagor noted, and Dean clearly remembered, an unleashed Michael will be very dangerous to the Winchesters and humanity as a whole. Foreshadowing of a huge threat, even beyond what God is going to do to mess with Sam and Dean? Big check!
But what was the scene that really, truly convinced me that the final season of Supernatural could be exactly what fans deserve after going along for the ride for all these years? It was the last exchange between Sam and Dean, because Supernatural has always been about the brothers. While Dean was troubled by Sam's injury -- which did not have an exit wound -- and both were discouraged by the fact that God had been manipulating them all along, they resolved that they would fight against all odds and do it as free men, independent of God's meddling.
Then, the boys stood over the trunk of the Impala, and Sam dropped the familiar line of "We've got work to do." In the final moment, though, the scene transitioned from the close of the Season 15 premiere to the final seconds of the pilot from 2005, which featured the brothers in the same framing and frame of mind.
Basically, the final season of Supernatural truly seems to be about finishing the story of the Winchesters. Spinoffs are pretty unlikely at this point, so it's unlikely that an episode will have to be set aside as a backdoor pilot, which is not the case with Arrow's much shorter final season and the spinoff it intends to launch before the end.
I'm certainly not saying I'll be joining Jared Padalecki and other stars in getting Supernatural tattoos, but hopefully my optimism pays off, even if Misha Collins has said that Supernatural won't have a 'conventional happily-ever-after" kind of ending.
Find out when new episodes of Supernatural air on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.