Since the season starts up again in a week, I figured this would be a good time to revisit what's been going on. So here are some disjointed thoughts:
* These two episodes really are a single unit, and flow quite nicely from one to the next (except for the "then" segment in 11.02)
* Also, they are absolutely gorgeous, and dark. There were a couple points where I found myself a bit hazy on lighting continuity, but since it was generally so in favor of making things darker and gloomier, I really didn't care.
* The sequence of Sam finding Dean in the patch of wildflowers is perhaps one of my favorites--it's actually eerie because it's so unlike anything the show usually does.
* And the opening zombie apocalypse sequence for 11.02 is definitely creepy--up until we get to see Sam in his full McGuyver glory, at which point it's just awesome.
* The conversation between Sam and Dean in the hospital--actaully, all their interactions--really, really worked for me, especially since I've been rewatching bits and pieces of s1-2, where Dean is still (already?) gung-ho "when in doubt, kill it" and Sam tends to take a more nuanced approach. (Though those positions are definitely not set in stone.) And I loved how Dean kept calling Sam after they separated--not really out of worry, judging from his tone and expression, but just wanting to be in contact with Sam.
* Crowley's in fine form in both episodes--and kudos to the guest actress; Mark Sheppard is such a powerhouse, he's probably not easy to match--charming, but absolutely with a knife underneath it.
* Also, thought on demons: I've seen people complaining about how wimpy the demons on the show have become, and rewatching the demon scenes 11.01 made me realize that *of course* they're wimpy. It makes total sense given Crowley's characterization. There's no way he'd authorize anyone who wasn't a wimp because then they might go off and do something he didn't want--and we have evidence from s10 that he has rogues hunted down and kicked back into Hell. He probably only lets out those who are very newly turned (and so weak), which also explains the business-wear and use of technology.
* Thought on angels: ...I just don't care anymore. If Cas had only shown up in the phonecall to Dean and in the Bunker at the end, I don't think I would have missed him. In fact, I know I wouldn't have, because I wound up skipping over every other scene he was in. (Well, okay--I also watched his first scene, where he's going over the memory of stabbing Crowley.) I feel like I should apologize to someone about that, but them's the facts.
* Which actually ties into my one criticism of 11.01, which is that it felt a little crowded. I think that could have been solved by cutting out most of the Cas stuff and allowing the main story to breathe a little more--but that really is the only thing I would change.
* And finally, a not quite thought: I'd forgotten that the husband proposing the orgy said that he "prayed on it"; given the amount of praying going on in the next 8 episodes (and the results), I suspect that wasn't a throwaway line. Even if I kind of doubt the sincerity and depth of his faith, given that if you pray and truly mean it, YOLO is probably not the mentality governing your decisions. But SPN has in the past (and in the present too, given the portrayal of Sam's faith and Dean's reasons for not having faith) portrayed believers with enough complexity and sympathy that I was amused rather than annoyed by his portrayal. (There's a reason I don't watch Law & Order anymore, in any of its incarnations.)
* Last thought, which isn't really a thought: I love the shot as the boys enter the bunker at the end, which the focus in the foreground and them as dim figures descending the stairs in the back. As I said at the beginning, just gorgeous, gorgeous episodes.