I’ve watched Sam and Dean Winchester for a long time.
My uncle introduced me to the show right before season 4 started, and I binge watchedthe first three seasons in less than two weeks. It was my first true “binge.” My first episode was “Mystery Spot” (actually, it was “Jus In Bello” due to an iTunes mishap), and I was hooked.
Seasons 1–5 of this show are some of the best television I’ve ever watched. Just a great story, and I loved how it builds, from Sam’s visions all the way to the battle between Lucifer and Michael. Just excellent story-telling.
As many fans should know, it was never meant to go beyond season 5. “Swan Song” was supposed to be just that: the end of the series. And it was a perfect ending. But the show continued, and is still going today.
I said Seasons 1–5 were the best; what followed was a mixed bag, episodes and season arcs ranging from great (Meditron, Amara) to mediocre (Leviathans, Mother of All). It definitely had it’s ups (“Weekend at Bobby’s”) and downs (“Bloodlines”). But whatever it was, it wasn’t consistantly good, not like the first five seasons. And that’s because the story, as intended, ended in season 5. Eric Kripke had a plan in the first five. Everything since has felt as though it was created more or less on the fly.
But the beating heart of the show, through thick and thin, has been strong. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have always been the best part of the story. And, while friends of mine have left the show behind, I have never wavered, even when it felt like I was watching the show out of duty to it (season 6 and 7) rather than for a continuously compelling story.
That’s not to say that everything beyond season 5 is crap. On the contrary, even the weakest of seasons (in my opinion, season 6) has great episodes (aforementioned “Weekend at Bobby’s” and “The Man Who Would be King”). The show never once got to where I thought it was a bad show, and I’ve never stopped loving the show. But it hasn’t been until the last two seasons that I really felt the show lived up to its former glory.
Warning: SPOILERS ahead.
Season 11, for the most part, has been one of my favorite seasons in a while. While the overall arc was shakey in the beginning, the stand alone episodes (“Heil this.”) were phenomenal. The weakest link, seriously, was the midseason finale, where Lucifer possessed the President of the United States, and the only reason it felt “weak” to me was that the last time Lucifer was featured in a midseason finale, two of Sam and Dean’s closest allies were killed. By comparison, Lucifer in the first half of this season felt watered down. He didn’t feel menacing like he did in season 5 (possibly due to the lack of Mark Pellegrino playing him until the second half of the season). But all that changed when he stopped hopping from body to body and landed back in his Mark Pelligrino meat-suit. The second half of the season has been building and building and getting better and better, and it concluded with what I thought was probably the best season finale in a long time. Definitely a finale more like season 3 or 4, which left us in the lurch, desperate to know what happened next.
Similarly, as the Lucifer/Nephilim arc grew stronger, I felt the British Men of Letters arc grew less necessary. The Brits really reminded me of The Initiative from Buffy season 4, and ultimately were probably my least favorite part of this season (similarly, Buffy season 4 is one of my least favorites as well). But for a show that is in it’s 12th season, some world building was in order, and the British Men of Letters seems like a problem that won’t be going away anytime soon. That said, I am glad their arc for this season was concluded in the penultimate episode, leaving the finale for the truly important, Lucifer’s son-centric, storyline.
I’ve read a few news stories in the last couple of hours that says fans are pissed at this season’s finale, primarily over the deaths of Castiel, Crowley, and Rowena. And while I am sad to see these wonderful characters go (if they are, indeed, leaving… not everyone who dies on Supernatural stays dead…), there are two fundamental reasons why I’ll accept, and even praise, these decisions:
- First and foremost, it returns Sam and Dean to where they were for the majority of the first five seasons: alone with only each other to help them. This finale not only killed off most of their allies (and all the superpowered ones at that), but it trapped their mother in the alternate dimension with Lucifer (and other Bobby). Sam and Dean are alone. I mean really alone. When we meet them next season, they will have to deal with Jack (Lucifer’s newborn, omnipotent son), finding a way to get their mother back (while keeping Lucifer trapped), and the probable retaliation of the British Men of Letters.
- Second, and this is more important to the overall structure of the show, Sam and Dean are the only two characters that are guaranteed. Ever since the beginning of the series, anyone who helps the boys ends up meeting their demise sooner or later. Bobby, Rufus, Bella, Ash, Ellen, Jo, John, Henry, Charlie, Kevin. Just to name the few that come immediately to mind. Sam and Dean have a bad habit of losing people close to them. So I knew Castiel was doomed, one way or another. Same for Crowley, same for Rowena. Same, even, for Jody Mills, who managed to survive this finale, but I expect to see her die one of these days (unless we finally get that Wayward Daughters spinoff everyone wants). It has been a while since we’ve lost anyone major, and that has actually been a problem that I’ve had with the show, and one that, from my perspective, we finally fixed with this finale. This was also the first finale in a while that truly felt like Sam and Dean were left with no hope, which is how some of the best season finales have ended. Remember, Sam and Dean might save the world, but they don’t often win. This finale was true to that.
Crowley’s death was noble, and that’s saying something for the demon king of Hell. I thought that was a great move, to have him sacrifice himself to stop Lucifer. Even if he failed, it was a good turn for Crowley. It is probably the best way he could have gone out. Since being a villain (king of the cross roads, and then king of Hell), he was sure to die at some point before the series closed, and it felt better, to me, for him to go out a hero rather than getting killed by Sam or Dean (or Lucifer), who have all threatened to kill him at one point or another. It remains to be seen, however, if he sealed the gates of Hell before he went, as he had promised to do. Rowena, on the other hand, felt rushed (we didn’t even see her on screen), but it was well paced for the show; I would have just preferred to see Ruth Connell one more time. She’s “magically delicious.”
Castiel, on the other hand, well, we’ve had a road with him, haven’t we? Introduced in season 4 for what was supposed to be a six episode arc (same story with Bobby Singer in season 1 and 2), he’s stuck around for quite a while. He’s probably been Sam and Dean’s longest ally, and certainly their most powerful. He’s something of a sonic screwdriver, if you will, a plot device that can easily come in and fix something with “angel powers.” But he’s also been a great comedic foil, and one of the best characters the show has produced. And while I can definitely see why fans are upset that he was killed, at the same time, his death had the proper emotional draw. The shot of a devastated Dean standing over Cas’ body was powerful. Let’s face it, it is a good death if fans react. As a writer, I can see why they chose to do it; it wasn’t to spite the fans, but to bring out an emotion. That said, I also think it was the best death for Cas that we could have recieved. He’s been a character I’ve paid close attention to since season 5, ever since Lucifer killed him (the first time) and God brought him back. Through the following seasons, there seemed little reason for God to have saved Castiel, despite Cas knowing he was saved for some purpose. Through Cas’ attempt to be “god” to the accidental release of the Leviathans, it really didn’t seem like there was a good reason Cas was saved, but now things have changed. Maybe that purpose was to shepherd Jack into the world, as Jack is poised to bring some version of “paradise,” according to Cas. But of course, only time, and season 13, will tell.
But I definitely felt the deaths were good deaths, good for the characters, and good for the characters who survive them. I know it upsets people to see great characters go, but that is the mark of good storytelling, and the death of Cas is going to affect Sam and Dean tremendously. And none of them were deaths I expected; if anything I thought Jody Mills was going to be the casualty this season (thankfully not), and after Crowley sacrificed himself, I let my guard down. So Cas’ death hit hard.
Don’t get me wrong; if Cas and Crowley and Rowena are gone for good, I will truly miss them. They’ve been three of my favorite characters. But I feel like their deaths have been a long time coming. That is, if they are truly dead.
Only time will tell us if these character deaths stick. I know some fans are in an uproar, but come on, guys, this is Supernatural. Sam and Dean have died a dozen times and come back. Their mom’s been dead for the entire series (not to mention her death instigated the entire thing) and she came back. Bobby hung around as a ghost (and featured in this episode, which was one of my favorite parts… I hope alternate reality Bobby comes back). Even if Cas and Crowley and Rowena are dead, don’t expect this to be the last time we see them on the show. I’d actually be more surprised if they didn’t return. This is just classic Supernatural leaving us on a cliffhanger until the fall.
Then again, I am one of the hopefuls that believes the Trickster is still alive…
And that brings us to what is next. Besides a confirmed Scooby-Doo crossover episode (please tell me that has something to do with the Trickster), we don’t know much yet of what is to come.
Probably the British Men of Letters (this season’s weakest link, if you ask me) will retalliate against the American hunters. Also, I assume, Sam and Dean will make some attempt to save their mom from that hellish alternate reality (where’s Barry Allen when you need him?). I mean, it’s not like they would leave a family member trapped with Lucifer (sorry, Adam…).
But the focus will undoubtedly be Jack, Lucifer’s Nephilim son. That last shot of him was ominous, to say the least. We don’t know if this all-powerful being will be good or bad. Will he try to resurrect Castiel, who swore to protect him? Or will he be daddy’s little boy?
Whatever is in store for season 13, I think it will be one hell of a ride. Where do we go from here? We carry on, my wayward son.
Last year, I got to go to one of the Supernatural conventions, and let me tell you, if you are a fan of this show, the convention is something you need to experience. It’s amazing. Richard Speight Jr. (Gabriel/Trickster) hosts the entire weekend-long ]fgx show, Rob Benedict’s (Chuck/God) band, Louden Swain, plays music throughout the weekend, and on Saturday night, there is a big concert, at which Jensen Ackles usually sings.
A few snippets from my experience at Nashcon 2016 include Crowley’s epic intros (courtesy of Louden Swain), Richard Speight Jr.’s weirdly entertaining Auction Song and his and Rob Benedict’s “End of the Con as We Know It” song, their entertaining “Rules and Regulations,” and Jensen Ackles singing “Whipping Post.” Plus, I also got my picture taken with Castiel himself!
Dude, seriously, if you haven’t gone to one of these events, plan on it. You’ll be glad you did.