So I have issues. This is not a new realization, but rather a long running fact. However my issues preventing me from enjoying my favorite television show is a fairly new phenomenon. I loved Supernatural before Castiel. It would stand to reason that I would love Supernatural now that Castiel is MIA (he's not dead!). And yet is my current unhappiness with the show rooted in my missing Castiel (and to a lesser extent Balthazar and Crowley)?
I was very hopeful after the first two episodes of season 7. I loved the idea of the Leviathans even though I didn't understand why they weren't tentacled sea monsters. They were creepy and the fact that they are seemingly invincible added to the creep factor. But then episode three happened. And then four. And then five last week. Now I'm left whining like a six year old that they just aren't any fun anymore, which is why I haven't really reviewed the last few episodes. But that changes now.
Spoilers up through last week's episode 5, "Shut Up Dr. Phil". But first, cute baby Sam to put everyone in a positive mood!
It all started with episode three, "The Girl Next Door". I had three big issues with this episode's plot:
1. Sam is suddenly fine enough to hunt mere weeks after having a complete mental, seizure-inducing breakdown.
2. Everyone abandoned Dean in a cabin in the middle of nowhere when he has a giant leg cast on and can't exactly escape when trouble comes (and trouble inevitably always comes when you’re a Winchester). And everyone knows there are big troubles floating around these days.
3. Dean turned back into the black-and-white kill-all-monsters hunter he was in season 1. I thought we'd moved beyond all that.
Jewel Staite was fine and I always love to see Colin Ford playing baby Sam. Nothing too exciting really happened until the very end of the episode when Dean threw away five or more seasons of characterization and killed a monster that fell into the gray area when Sam begged him to let it go. Then he just abandons a kid who also happens to be a monster? Seriously? I can't believe that Dean wouldn't have realized that killing the mama monster would inevitably push the kid monster into hunting on his own. Without a provider for his specialized dietary needs, what else can he do? I hope that kid comes back somewhere down the road and punches Dean in the face. That's the least he deserves and I'm a Dean girl.
Though I think what really annoyed me about the third episode was that after the heart-racing second episode that felt like the first half of a two-parter, TPTB squandered any number of opportunities that could have taken place within the walls of the monster-filled Sioux Falls hospital. That's what I was expecting. Not this three weeks later bullshit and a general monster-of-the-week episode. There was so much untapped potential to further the Leviathan mythology and instead they just ran away.
Which moves us on to "Defending Your Life" with the brothers once again being separated by secrets and Dean falling further into his alcoholic pit of numbness. It wasn't a bad episode. I just felt that, out of all the people whose lives Dean feels he ruined the most, monster mama from the episode before would not have been my third choice for a witness. Lisa, perhaps? Ben? His FATHER?! (Side note: Fernando was yelling "Daddy Winchester!" at the television every time Osiris began talking about a new witness. Sigh. I miss Jeffrey Dean Morgan.) Dean feels more guilt for hiding the fact that he defied Sam's wishes than that he killed the monster girl. Why would she be the one to testify?
Then there was Sam confessing that he felt he did his time and had atoned for all the batshit insane things he's done. Has he forgotten he set Lucifer free? Was a demon blood addict who chose evil over his brother? And he feels no more remorse or guilt? Who is this character and where did sympathetic Sam go? That sounds like soulless Sam talk to me, not fully realized human Sam. That one scene probably tainted the entire episode for me just from how out of character it seemed.
This moves us on to episode 5 - "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" - an episode that was clearly made to showcase the special guests rather than the regulars and if I wanted to see Spike and Cordelia, I'd pick Angel back up and finish out season 5. The idea was fun, but the Winchester boys were useless, impotent to the dangers they faced. They saved the innocent assistant girl, but it was pretty obvious that the two witches would eventually work things out even without the extra involvement of Sam and Dean. They had been together for 800 years! Sam and Dean didn't really do anything besides get thrown against some walls.
And then Don/Spike comes by and saves them twice in one scene - using his powerful Romanian witch mojo to temporarily put down the Leviathan that's been chasing them and pulling the hex coins from underneath their beds that his wife planned on using against them. Suddenly they can’t even defend themselves. Nothing the guys did was very effective in the entire episode. They might as well have not even been in the show.
And hearts in the cupcakes? Why would TPTB try to ruin cupcakes?!
That's not to say I've hated every single part of the last three episodes. That would be a lie. I liked the concept of Osiris' court, just not the execution. The moment between ghost!Jo and Dean as he waited for her to kill him felt authentic and like something that we just didn't realize before was a necessary scene for closure. The flashbacks to Sam's hunting adventure on his own were fascinating and always a nice change from the emotastic present day.
I like James Marster in anything, though when he doesn't have an accent it takes me awhile to get used to him. Charisma Carpenter, on the other hand, has never struck me as anything special. Their reunion seemed to be more of a distraction than anything, stunt casting to the absolute max, but I still liked Marster’s character. I just wish he’d stayed more as a secondary character.
If I had magical powers and could "fix" Supernatural, I would do four things:
1. Get past the secrets crap and allow the brothers to be brothers again, not secret, tension-filled adversaries. Confrontation is great, but I'm really sick of the same confrontation over and over with the same characters.
2. Bring Dean to the final breaking point and put him back together again. The alcohol abuse is becoming its own story line and it's a boring one. Dean's drank too much since season 3. Why are we suddenly paying more attention to it?
3. Stop with the stunt casting. Yes, I love Whedonverse alumni as much as the next Browncoat, but they're distractions. It seems like the writers are building up temporary secondary characters to showcase their guest stars instead of sprinkling their parts around Sam and Dean.
4. Don't bring up story elements, make a big deal about them and then forget about it when it's suddenly not convenient to your storyline. Sam has/had Lucifer in his head. He was having seizures in the back of an ambulance after seeing Lucifer, even though Sam knew he wasn't real. Why now is he just occasionally staring into space on the rare occasion? Why make a big deal about it all when the writers were just going to drop it when it became an inconvenience to the plot?
Yeah, that's about how I feel too.
Or they could just bring Castiel back and I'd say all is forgiven. I'm really not that hard to please.
All lovely screencaps from this fantastic website.