Watching this episode had me, once again, lamenting the loss of Kim Manners. He had such a way of taking these absolutely silly and ridiculous concepts and not only bringing them to life, but having me believe them too. I don't think Dean digging himself out of his own grave could not have made one bit of sense if it weren't for Mr. Manners steady hand. Just the fact that the six feet of dirt didn't crush him alone makes it a physical impossibility not to mention that he did it with his own two hands--oh yeah and there's an oxygen issue to also consider--but at the end of it all, I'm always sitting there thinking "Hell, yeah, Dean Winchester can dig himself out of his own grave...no question!" Of course, Jensen did a lot to convince me too, but I'm writing a love letter to Kim Manners here.
The beginning sequences of this episode are quiet things of beauty, IMO. I sometimes wish the show would remember that they don't need to fill all those quiet spaces with blathering, we can follow along and sometimes just relishing in the quietness will sell a moment better than the their drawn out explanations of non-explaining they seem to get caught up in these days. Add to it the quiet scenes of Dean looking in the mirror and sleeping while seeing those flashes of Hell and I'm in my happy place.
Manners always seemed to find that place to root his episodes in some sort of real emotional place, but they never seemed to drown in their own misery either. For example, the scenes of Bobby and Dean walk that line of humor and heavy just perfectly. Bobby and Dean hugging never fails to elicit an "aww" out of me and the holy water splashing never fails to elicit a giggle either, but I never feel like I have whiplash either.
Manners was also the master of taking scenes that are just basically people standing and/or sitting around talking and making them visually interesting to watch. Take the scene where Sam, Dean and Bobby are sitting around talking about how Dean got out of Hell...the camera starts on Sam moving and handing Dean and Bobby beers, then Sam sits on the bed in the fore-front, Dean (mid-frame) gets up and moves over and picks up Yucky Ruby's bra and sits beside him all the while Bobby is seated in the background. Not only is the camera moving, but the people are moving too--and the way he stacks them three deep gives depth to the framing-- the scene never feels static and/or uninteresting.
I could go on and on and talk about something I like in almost any scene of this episode, but I think you get my point so that's probably enough said. I'll just ad that this episode would probably sit on my trophy shelf right next to The Pilot, In My Time Of Dying, Born Under A Bad Sign and What Is And What Shall Never Be for story reasons anyway, but the Kim Manners factor makes it something I look forward to seeing.