I’ve been a bad blogger. I’ve missed two posting days in a row during a month where I have already missed posting days. I feel guilty and lazy when really life just diverted my attention elsewhere. First my daily commute home got extended, some times to over two hours, when my car decided it liked to overheat in rush hour traffic; then there was a three day outside music festival to occupy my time and take me away from the interwebs. And finally there was the day of recovery when I felt lethargic and unfocused.
Okay, so that last part is just me being lazy, but I felt ill and didn’t have the attention span to accomplish anything other than catch up on Top Chef: Just Desserts (are all pastry chefs so catty?)
Today I wanted to talk about Supernatural in much the same manner that I talked about Vampire Diaries last week, but came to the conclusion that my analysis would consist of “CASTIEL!” written over and over. But now that I’m typing this (can you see how spur-of-the-moment these posts come together?), I realize I have more to say than just CASTIEL!
But first – CASTIEL!
Spoilers through season 6 ahead
Last season was a gigantic mess. I am a die-hard Supernatural fan, but I can readily admit that season 6 felt like a big mash of random pieces thrown together. There were pacing issues from beginning to end. There were characterization issues that even the actors had grumbled about. There were pointless plot threads that just ate up time that could have been given over to more interesting developments. In the end, the things I found most interesting were crammed into the last three episodes and everything happened so fast that I found myself nearly catatonic by the end of the season finale.
I mean… CASTIEL!
Soulless Sam was a great idea that dragged on for far too long. The Campbell family reunion was pointless and didn’t really add anything to the story beyond a few extra third tier characters that quickly got killed off. The concept of Eve and Purgatory had a lot of potential, but the execution seemed muddled as the writers treaded water for half a season. The behind-the-scenes angel shenanigans happened, well, behind the scenes when the little bit of celestial politicking and civil war we did see were some of the most interesting components of the season. Then again, I will readily admit to being a tiny bit bias. CASTIEL!
I'm not ashamed to admit I got goosebumps when I first saw this shot as an ad for the episode.
Sara Gamble, the new show runner and head writer for last season, has admitted to being a Sam girl. This showed considerably last season as the show revolved around Sam, though strangely still remained being told from Dean’s view point. It left Dean to be a doorway for the viewer, constantly reacting to the sudden changes in Soulless Sam’s nature, instead of being an active participant in the hunt. It was the closes thing to emasculation of Dean Winchester I could imagine and the show still be able to wear the title of Supernatural.
The noir tone the writers kept touting was a nice thought, but I think poorly executed. The show just felt wrong at the beginning of the season. The lighting was different and for a show already way too dark, it muddied the visuals even more. Other than that, it didn't really have a noir feel to it at all in regard to plot, only in visuals.
But all this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy season 6. Once I got used to the new show, I found myself enjoying episodes. Episode four “Weekend at Bobby’s” is delightful (and that’s not a word I often find myself using). I think Jensen Ackles did a wonderful job with his first time directing and I’m eager to see what he did with the episode he directed in this upcoming season. The ending of “Live Free or Twihard” helped get a tiny taste of the badass that has been Dean Winchester and introduced the concept of Alpha monsters that was never really utilized. It was a cool idea if only it had more of a purpose.
Then of course there were the big episodes like “Caged Heat” where Crowley seemed to burn and “Appointment in Samarra”, where the almighty Death returned to reattach Sam’s soul. The flashback episode “Unforgiven” gave more urgency and menace to the idea of Soulless Sam than the first half of the season ever did. This and the final conflict inside Sam’s head in the final episode were the only things that I thought paid off out of the entire “Sam has no soul” storyline. It was a lot of wasted time just for two episodes of authentic payoff.
And how could I forget “The French Mistake”? An episode so out there that it shouldn’t have worked yet, in the realm of Supernatural, worked out perfectly. These guys have mastered the destruction of the fourth wall and I can’t imagine how they might top this “alternate universe” episode. There were other silly episodes, though I don’t think I liked “Frontierland” nearly as much as the rest of fandom. It was too much gimmick too late in the season and didn’t really provide much to the conclusion to the story.
To me season 6 was ultimately saved by the final three episodes. I wish Castiel’s struggle with Raphael, his conflicted partnership with Crowley and his tenuous relationship with Balthazar had more time to breathe and develop instead of just a single episode to put all the pieces together, but damn, “The Man Who Would Be King” still gives me chill bumps. And this is with me doubting a lot of Castiel’s motivations and feeling some things as having been completely out of character for him. While I can buy that he might not have wanted to disturb Dean’s “peaceful” retirement, I can’t buy that he would choose Crowley as a legitimate second choice. Dean was family. Castiel brought Sam back for Dean. I can’t buy that he wouldn’t seek out a second opinion from those who he had fought side-by-side with through the Apocalypse. That wasn’t Castiel. I think that was my biggest problem with season 6.
Did I like the way it ended? I have no idea. I mean, everything is in tatters now. Castiel is possessed by billions of dark souls from the monsters of Purgatory. Balthazar is dead. Sam has his wall knocked down and, while he was able to get to the site of the final battle of the season, he’s not looking so good. Dean has his family ripped from him yet again and has to sacrifice his relationship with them for their safety. And the car! My god, what they did to the car! Hasn’t the Metalicar been through enough by now?
In retrospect, the only conclusion I can come up with is that this show is incredibly depressing. Except for when things like this happen:
You married Ruby?!
Earlier today I offered a coworker season 6 on DVD since he doesn’t watch the show live. After having heard my doubts through watching last season as it aired, he asked if I thought it was worth him watching or if he should stick to the end of season 5 as the end of the show. I honestly had a hard time answering his question. The fangirl part of me screams “YES!” on principal alone. It’s Supernatural, why wouldn’t you watch it? But the more analytical part of me was doubtful. Season 6 was a completely different show to the Eric Kripke version of Supernatural. I can’t say whether the entire thing was bad until I give it a marathon rewatch on DVD (I didn’t really care for season 4 or Castiel much when watching live, but fell in love with both on DVD), which I won’t have time to do before the premiere on Friday.
But in the end, I’ll convince him to watch it just so he can love Balthazar too and I’ll have someone to commiserate with regarding the strange changes of this season. Then I’ll have someone to rant to about the outcome of Castiel’s story arc (though that might become difficult after season 7 starts…)
And finally – CASTIEL!
Sad Cass is sad. So am I.