This was the debut episode for new writer Nancy Won, and I liked it a lot. She clearly knows her lore- the continuity here was lovely.
First let me talk about the serial killer obsession thing (because I categorically refuse to call it a fetish, okay). That was brought in for the first time by our dear Mr Berens in The Executioner’s Song, in Season Ten- and now it’s being referenced back to. The fact that SPN are able to add in little details like this so late in the game- and make it seem completely organic- is one of the things that allows it to stay on the air.
Actually, I really liked Won’s depictions of the brothers the whole way through- lines like ‘I just wanted to see if the squeezy thing worked’ (said the billion-foot killing machine), for instance. Dean’s gentle response to Len suggesting he kill him- ‘No, I don’t wanna do that’- was nice. Then there’s the cast of eccentric guest stars, all who had their own lives and quirks (and restraining orders). The B&B manager, his mother and her Danish-fuelled rage (which turned out to be a completely and gloriously random detail, unless it was a subtle hint that she was soulless), Sydney, the kid Sam spoke to at the end.
Finally, we have another soulless person who isn’t simply a foaming-at-the-mouth maniac. And it isn’t that he’s better than anyone else or anything like that- he’s just an ordinary, nerdy dude who doesn’t want to be a murderer. More harmless than Soulless Sam ever was, certainly. But it was kind of a continuity glitch that every other soulless person was nuts, so it’s good to have that sorted at last.
Then there was the B&B. While the sleeping arrangements remained unclear, inciting much Tumblr delight (personally I’m a little surprised that the CW lets the show get away with stuff like this, but what the hell, you’re watching Supernatural), the rest of the motel was great. I actually wish we’d spent longer in it, because the set rivalled the one used in Playthings- and Rashaad Ernesto Green’s directing actually added a touch of the creep. It was claustrophobic and dim- there was kind of an old-school SPN vibe, as there has been for much of the season so far.
As for the plot itself, I’m liking Amara a lot. They’ve had a great succession of young actresses playing her- with yet another one in Our Little World. It’s pretty clear that she’s amoral, not evil, and when was the last time that happened? Interesting. She’s no Abaddon, no Lilith, no Dick Roman, no Lucifer. They’re all scared of her anyway. This makes the second Season Eleven episode that’s seamlessly tied together a MoTW and a large-arc structure.
But my favourite thing about the episode? The fact that the show spends three seasons devising elaborate subplots to keep Castiel involved, and now they do so by the simple but effective means of getting him into Netflix.