We won’t feign excitement about every episode of Supernatural, but we do enjoy quite a lot of them. And then there are those we love. “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” proves that Supernatural just gets better with age. Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester), Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester), Misha Collins (Castiel), and Mark Sheppard (Crowley) know their characters so well that they can tell us more with a downcast look or monosyllabic word than most TV actors can with an entire monologue. “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell,” written by Davy Perez and directed by Nina Lopez-Corrado, tells a scary story with an exciting twist and a few winks at the audience.
Writer Davy Perez gives us a story that’s scary for a couple different reasons, and funny to boot. You can’t go wrong with a Hellhound for your monster hunt, especially with all this talk of Heaven and Hell. Young Marcus getting raked by the hound recalls Dean being torn apart by Hellhounds in “No Rest for the Wicked.” Yet, as promised by Andrew Dabb and Robert Singer, Season 12 presents monsters we already know, but in a new light. We learn a little more about these hunters of the damned, who were on heavenly death row sometime after Creation until one infernal hound made a friend in Lucifer. The Hellhound in “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” isn’t after lost souls; she’s just enjoying a romp after escaping Hell.
The Hellhound isn’t the only scary monster. Lucifer warns what he will do to Crowley once he escapes his chains: “I’m still gonna peel off your skin and eat your soul.” Mark Pellegrino (Lucifer) has the uncanny ability to be both funny and terrifying at the same time. When Lucifer says, “Bu-bye Crowley,” time slows down and we start to panic, fearing it is the end for the King of Hell. Perez gives us some twists and turns along the way, intermingled with comic moments, including an awkward hug. Close your eyes and think of England, Crowley.
There were a few lines of exposition we could’ve done without. On the other hand, perhaps those who don’t remember the Season 8 episode “Trial and Error” would’ve wondered why the heck Sam and Dean would obscure a perfect visage with glasses.
Using “girl-of-the-week” Gwen’s guilt about lying to her boyfriend as the catalyst for Sam’s confession to his brother felt a bit contrived. Whenever a female victim sticks around for the rest of the episode, it’s bound to lead to a South Park-like learning moment for one of the Winchester brothers. Of course, efforts to advance the season’s story arc within the episode narrative is a standard practice for Supernatural, helping to integrate standalone elements while also ensuring that the overarching storyline doesn’t get bogged down. Also, maybe someone realized that they probably should have at least one female character, since the five main characters, the lovelorn casualty, the two demon minions, the sheriff, the new angel, and the restaurant manager who believes in Reptilians (“You know, like the Queen of England”) were all men.
Lucille, the Thirsty Vampire Bat
Director Nina Lopez-Corrado allowed the story to speak for itself with subtle performances that honor the audience’s knowledge of the series and characters. It’s like she’s giving us a knowing nod by letting some of the great moments play out without overdone fanfare.
The comic moments play out laugh-out-loud funny without feeling over the top because of the restrained performances. Dean returns to the bunker, carrying a bat resembling that belonging to The Walking Dead’s Negan (who is played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, aka John Winchester). He tells Sam, “Dad would love this thing.” This first scene, in which Dean is covered in pieces of ghoul, wraith, and siren tells us all we need to know about what the boys have been up to since “The Raid.”
Portraying invisible hounds on screen can’t be easy, but the fact that we aren’t able to see them is what make Hellhounds so frightening. “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” has some great horror moments where we’re thinking stuff like, “OH NO! IT’S IN THE HOUSE!!!!” and “OMG IT’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!!!!” We’re not saying we shouted at the TV, but we’re not saying we didn’t either.
Oh, and did we mention that Castiel gets his own storyline? He runs into a tempting new angel named Delvin who wants to lure Castiel back to Heaven in order to join forces in the hunt for Kelly Klein and her Satan baby. At least that what he claims. Delvin offers, “Wouldn’t it be better to have us waiting in the proverbial wings? All the power of Heaven behind you.” We were reminded of the many times angels have tried to prop up Castiel as their leader, as well as the countless times they’ve attempted to trick/kill/trap/brainwash him. Then we learned that God’s gardener was involved, and the narrative storyline began to sound more exciting. “Joshua?!” we repeated out loud, along with Castiel. Now that’s a potential angel storyline we can get behind.
Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell Review
Supernatural gives us some great callbacks to the early series, as well as some terrific new moments bound to become classics in “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell.” What’s not to love about an episode in which the Winchesters’ Coleman Green Cooler saves the day? The episode has a hilarious opening scene at the bunker, a scary monster story, an unexpected twist, and a surprisingly satisfying ending. And not just because Dean admits, “We work with people we don’t trust all the time. I mean, hell, I just Liam Neesoned it up with Crowley!”