As it always does, the season opens with last season’s recap titled “The Road So Far” set to rock music. This season’s song choice was “Run Through The Jungle” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the ominous lyrics of “Thought I heard a rumblin’ / calling to my name. Two hundred million guns are loaded. / Satan cries take aim” set the tone for the season right off the bat.
In the first official scene of “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire,” we are treated to a beautiful shot of Dean (Jensen Ackles, “Smallville”) standing alone in a swirling vortex of black clouds. And out from this visual manifestation of the Darkness, a woman emerges. Sam (Jared Padalecki, “Gilmore Girls”), meanwhile, wakes up in the Impala alone. We are shown a flashback of what took place in the moments right after the season 10 finale, and Sam remembers how Dean disappeared from the driver’s seat right in front of his eyes. He finds Dean passed out in a field a mile away. Neither of them know how he got there, but Dean believes that the Darkness – or at least the woman who is the manifestation of the Darkness – yanked him out to thank him for setting her free. But both the brothers know that she has to be stopped, no matter what.
Meanwhile, Cas (Misha Collins, “24”) is suffering the ill effects of Rowena’s (Ruth Connell, “Sapphire Strange”) rabid attack-dog spell. He attacked Crowley (Mark Sheppard, “White Collar”) and stabbed him with an angel blade, but Crowley escaped as a cloud of demonic smoke. Trying to stave off the bloodlust of the spell, Cas is left on the run.
Sam and Dean reach a barricade, where they encounter a crazed man who has been infected by the Darkness. The whole scene is very zombie-movie (or as Dean puts it, everyone has gone “all 28 Days Later”) and reminiscent of the Croatoan plotline from season 2. The rookie sheriff’s deputy, Jenna Nickerson (Laci J Mailey, “Falling Skies”), comes to their rescue. She is injured, but unfortunately, the hospital doesn’t look promising as, waiting for them, there are people infected by the Darkness.
While Dean sews her wound, Jenna admits that she knew the people she was forced to shoot. She complains, “This job is supposed to be about saving people.” Dean can understand this better than anyone; after all “saving people,” has gone wrong for him a lot lately. The audience is shown another flashback of Dean’s time with the Darkness in which she warns that she may not be as evil as Dean believes her to be. Considering that she is the personification of primordial evil, the whole scene is weirdly sexual.
Crowley temporarily possesses a woman’s body (Kristen Robek, newcomer) and has an orgy, and, elsewhere, Sam discovers a man who is protecting a baby. The man, Mike (Aaron Hill, “Greek”), lost his wife during childbirth right before the infected attacked the hospital. Unfortunately, Mike has been infected too. He makes Jenna promise to look after his daughter and leaves the baby with her.
Cas, in a fit of desperation, prays to his fellow angels for help, despite the fact that most of Heaven hates him. While he waits for them to show up, he calls Dean. Dean wants to help Cas out, but Cas is more interested in making sure that Dean is all right and that he and Sam know that Rowena escaped with the powerful spell book, the Book of the Damned. Cas believes that he is beyond help. Cas always puts Dean’s wellbeing before his own. He just wants to make sure that his sacrifice for Dean will be worth it and that Dean has been freed from the Mark of Cain.
Dean wants to do what he has gotten so good at doing: trying to survive and fix the mistakes he has made as they come. Sam isn’t content to fall into old habits. He warns Dean, “if we don’t change, right now, all of our crap is just going to keep repeating itself.” He reminds Dean that “hunting things” is only half of the “bumper sticker” (which is particularly humorous because I would imagine that one could buy a bumper sticker with “Saving people, hunting things, the family business”). For Sam, saving people means not just each other, but everyone – even the infected people. The tipping point in the argument comes when Sam forces Dean to recognize that this isn’t all his responsibility and that both of them need to change together.
There’s a new plan: to escape with the baby without shooting anyone. To do this, Sam has to create a distraction. Of course, things don’t go to plan as Sam accidentally locks himself in the closet with an infected woman and, when he is forced to kill her, some of her blood gets in his mouth. Now fully infected, Mike tells Dean that “her name is Amara,” and they assume he is speaking about the baby.
Crowley returns to his own body and learns of the Darkness’s escape. Additionally, there have been rumblings in the Cage, where the Archangel Michael and Lucifer have been trapped since the season 5 finale, and the demons believe this to be an attempt at a warning. Hell is “freaking out.”
At some point during his journey back to Heaven, Cas realizes that he is traveling with angels who aren’t actually taking him back to Heaven at all. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize this till after they have tied him up and just before they put a bag over his head. Cas has always been slightly too trusting, the most gullible angel in the garrison.
Dean drops off Jenna, and Sam choses to not inform Dean of his infection. What did we learn about keeping secrets last season, Sam? What is more, the baby is revealed to have been marked with the Mark of Cain in the same place as the Darkness woman, whose real name is Amara.