Mark Sheppard as Crowley in SUPERNATURAL - Season 11 - "Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire" | © 2015 The CW/Diyah Pera

Mark Sheppard as Crowley in SUPERNATURAL - Season 11 - "Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire" | © 2015 The CW/Diyah Pera

Stars: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard, Emily Swallow, Laci J. Mailey, Aaron Hill, Kirsten Robek
Writer:
Jeremy Carver, series created by Eric Kripke
Director:
Robert Singer
Network:
The CW, Wednesdays @ 9 PM
Original Airdate:
October 7, 2015

Embarking on Season 11 with “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire” – congratulations, boys, you’re still here – SUPERNATURAL boldly sets a whole lot of storyline in motion, encompassing elements of walking zombies, THE OMEN and even remembering about Lucifer and Michael in the cage in Hell, largely neglected (save for one mention last year) since Season 6.

After killing Death, losing the Mark of Cain and thereby unleashing the Darkness, Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) find themselves dashing into the car for safety against an epic dust storm. Sam waits to find that Dean is unconscious in a field.

Dean has actually encountered the Darkness (Emily Swallow), who is in the form of a beautiful woman. Despite Dean insisting that he and Sam need to go after the Darkness, we see that the Darkness has actually informed Dean that since he released her, she and he are bound and they’ll always protect each other.

Sam and Dean find a slaughtered family in a car and a dead road crew. The latter killed the former and were in turn shot by novice sheriff’s deputy Jenna (Laci J. Mailey), who has been injured. It seems that people are developing strange raised dark veins and then turning homicidal, a condition that is transmitted through bites and blood.

The local hospital has been attacked. Sam, Dean and Jenna find new father Mike (Aaron Hill) hiding in a closet with his newborn baby girl. Mike has gotten blood on him and is going to turn. This prompts one of those famous disagreements about strategy between Sam and Dean, with Dean advocating shooting all of the infected and Sam lobbying for a cure – it is their job to save people, even more so now that they’ve unleashed Darkness. Dean finally agrees.

The infected die on their own after awhile. Mike says his daughter’s name is Amara, refrains from killing her, then dies. Dean takes Jenna and Amara to Jenna’s grandmother. Sam stays behind at the hospital, where he gets blood on him (oops) and is thereafter left alone by the infected, indicating they can sense he’s one of them.

Taking care of adorable baby Amara after Dean drops them off, Jenna sees what we recognize as the Mark of Cain on the baby’s shoulder.

In other news, Castiel (Misha Collins), made rabid by Rowena’s spell (another development in last season’s finale), stabs but doesn’t manage to kill Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard). The King of Hell takes a brief turn as a swinging suburbanite (Kristen Robek) who kills her husband and the other couple during a wife-swapping orgy, then gets some Hell lieutenants to retrieve Crowley’s customary form (i.e., Sheppard). The lieutenants are worried – either Lucifer or Michael howled a warning about the Darkness from within the cage and now “half of Hell is freaking out.” Crowley doesn’t seem too worried … yet.

Castiel, afraid he will harm someone in his current condition, first calls Dean to say that Rowena ran off with the spell codex, then begs his angelic brethren to help him. A pair of angels come and chain Castiel up, but they’re not taking him back to Heaven.

Since it’s not clear to either the audience or the Winchesters how far the epidemic of rabid behavior has spread, this looks like SUPERNATURAL may be exploring post-apocalyptic WALKING DEAD territory. Dean’s inability to harm Amara and Amara’s current status as an adorable infant also make for some potentially fertile territory.

Within the episode, the clash between Dean and Sam is done pretty well, especially with Sam insisting that they need to change to avoid the results they always get. Even Dean eventually agrees with this logic. Robek does a commendable job of approximately Sheppard’s performance as Crowley. The makeup on Padalecki at the end of the episode deserves mention as well – Sam really looks ill.

It’s unclear whether we’re meant to wonder if the disease is actually caused by Rowena’s spell rather than the release of the Darkness – after all, Castiel was driven to uncontrollable violence by the malevolent magic before the Darkness was active. Being an angel, he wouldn’t have exactly the same symptoms as a human.

In any case, “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire” moves fast, highlights what we like about the characters and keeps us interested in the question of what happens next.

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