The song that continues

I visualize two boys in a ’67 Chevy Impala rattling down a road. They travel, searching, looking. On the way, they meet friends, and some hop aboard for the ride.  They face incredible dangers head on. They hit halts at times and a fight follows. Some of the friends jump in to help, and then they are no longer in the Impala. Instead they stand by the road, waving, smiling, as the boys look at them in the rear view mirror as a landmark on the road, a part of the journey, forever. Some are lucky enough to accompany the boys till the very end- the end to which they were travelling all this time, the destination they were destined to reach. And then as tragic, broken heroes, our boys do feats that make us break down and sob and bless them with pride all at the same time.  And we, the viewers, travel the road with them, through all ups and down, bumps and lonely stretches. We cheer them on and welcome new friends. And our family grows, thrives, because ultimately, what matters is the journey. The destination is inevitable, but the journey leaves us changed forever.
If you know me a little bit, you’ll probably know that I love the TV show, Supernatural.
Recently, it’s suddenly become very important to me to define why I love Supernatural as much as I do… or did. This past season, I was surprisingly apathetic about the show and I couldn’t figure out why. I had to try and come up with excuses to watch it, and when I did, all the notes jarred. I never really felt any of the emotions and it just felt so wrong. So now I’m gonna try and describe what Supernatural had come to mean for me, and what was missing this season, or in the sixth one, that disappointed me in the show.

I’ll start with the finale of the fifth season- Swan Song. 

I think, for me, in that moment, in my heart, the series did get over. It’s not that I didn’t like the fact that there are two more seasons- I’m delighted to have them, especially with the seventh season ending with such a cliffhanger. But Swan Song was such a perfect ending to the series- I could visualize the road ending there for us, for the fans, in such a perfect goodbye to the Winchesters- as the tragic, broken heroes. I could see Sam, hurtling up the road to hell, with such a dark life, and in that single moment, redeeming himself from any wrong he had ever done. I could see Dean finally, finally letting go of his brother- finally seeing that Sam was not a ‘snot nosed little kid whom he had to keep on the straight and narrow’ any more.  I mean, after spending his whole life taking care of Sam and keeping such a tight hold on him because he was so afraid he would lose Sam and ‘screw up the one job he had’, that was such a monumental step forward for Dean! I could see Dean finally getting a life- with Lisa and Ben. I could even see Cas as a human, roaming the earth, perhaps becoming a hunter, forever changed by his contact with the Winchesters- knowing and experiencing free will. All this I could see, in the moment Sam jumped into the abyss.
Swan Song would have left me heartbroken, but content- content with the fate of my Team Free Will- Dean, Sam, Cas and Bobby.

But then came the sixth season, and I looked eagerly forward to more epic new adventures in which both the Winchester’s fates and my emotions would go for a toss. That, unfortunately, never happened.

I liked the sixth season more than the seventh one. I loved the concept of Soulless Sam- it just made sense for Sam to be back from hell as a changed person. I would have been surprised if he had not changed in some way. But then came the not-so-good part.

Firstly, I could make no sense at all of the move of bringing back the ‘bald patriarch’ Samuel- Dean and Sam’s grandfather.  Throughout the season he felt like an unnecessary character. The hunting outfit he put together pulled Sam away from his brother, and I hated that.  I hated the tension it generated between Sam and Dean because Sam put his trust more in them than Dean. It just felt like we had slipped back into Season 4 and that is never supposed to happen! Supernatural had never made us feel like an emotion was redundant. One of the most riveting parts of the show was the growth of the characters- a prime example being the one of Cas. And this just felt so odd and so jarring.


Secondly, once they knew that the show was continuing into the sixth season, I think the last thing they should have done was to make Dean stay with Lisa. The one year of family life softened him and it made me feel so inadequate because Dean didn’t feel like Dean anymore. He was no longer kickass and that was such an alien concept that even now if I think about it, it kind of makes me want to cringe.
Thirdly, you know what makes a Winchester a Winchester? Their sense of family. The knowledge that family doesn’t end with blood- and that just because you’re blood, doesn’t make you family. Their devotion to their family- to the ones that they love. Sam had it- his burning love for Jess and desire for revenge were what pulled him along to the very end.  Dean had it- for his father, for Sam, and more than anything, for his mother. John Winchester’s sense of family created the basis for the show. You know who else had it?

Adam Milligan, the half-chester.
I cannot friggin’ believe they just LEFT Adam in hell!

That just goes against everything that a Winchester is! They would never do that- leave their little brother in hell and just forget about him, like he didn’t even exist! This character had so much potential, in itself and as another Winchester. Just imagine Sam’s delight at being a big brother! I can almost hear Dean sighing at having yet another little brother to worry about. I can see Adam’s grouchy exterior about their father but feel his secret relief at finally having someone to share his burdens with- some other person who could be in charge. And they just left him!It’s unbelievable. I don’t even mind if Jake Abel cannot come back (if he does, my heart will explode because I have a total crush on him)- this is Supernatural and anyone can come back as anything, so long as they bring the character back and explore it properly, show his talents and characteristics and allow Adam to take up a convincing position in Team Free Will. I feel sure that having had the basic qualities of a Winchester- fierce love for his mother, the sense that ‘just cause you’re blood doesn’t make you family’- his character would have grown to the point he could become a member of the Team.
This odd behavior of the Winchesters brings up another very important reason I felt the last two seasons fell short of the mark- they made the characters behave in ways contrary to their personalities, and opposite to the ways they had grown by season 5. This very upsetting trend includes Crowley and Dean, and to an extent Sam in season 7.
Like I mentioned before, letting go of Sam was an enormous step for Dean. And now, suddenly, he was right back to square Season 4– being paranoid about Sam and tying him to his apron strings. He had reason to be, sure, but he should not have been, because by that time he should have learnt to trust Sam! It should have taken him a much longer time to become suspicious about Sam, and even longer to confront him. In fact, I personally feel that that should have been a season-long arc. Sam’s personality should not have been so completely revealed right at the beginning either. We should have had time to realize that there was something wrong with him.
This brings me to Crowley and Cas and what happened at the end of the season. Honestly, I did not believe Cas’s transformation, and I know exactly why.

One of the most important aspects of Supernatural is the presence of the greater evil always lurking, always casting a shadow up ahead. It is one of the strongest unifying threads of the series. In seasons one and two, the yellow eyed Demon was always there. In season three, it was Lilith and the Colt which tied it to the first two seasons. In seasons 4 and five, Lucifer, the big daddy of all big daddies, made a terrifying and, oddly enough, well-beloved villain. And in the end, the Apocalypse tied all five seasons within a firm package. Every little incident led up to the big finale- to Swan Song.

I feel that that element of Supernatural was sorely missing in the last two seasons. Not only did the series feel very disconnected from the first five seasons (which was very disorienting and not in keeping with the ‘Supernatural spirit’, as a friend of mine commented) ,  that sense of the greater evil always lurking was completely absent in both the seasons. It was almost as if the main villains had been thrown in as an afterthought. In season 6, the story of Cas’s entire transformation was crammed into one episode right at the end- The Man Who Would Be King. It just wasn’t believable. And in season 7, the Leviathans felt even more of an afterthought than Cas. They were hardly there in the episodes at the beginning and there was an enormous gap from the third episode to the thirteenth episode that pursued many storylines that had nothing whatsoever to do with the main theme of the season.
I recently read an article where it was pointed out that maybe the Leviathans fell short of the expectations of the fans as a villain was because they had no personal connection with the Winchesters. The writer went further on to comment that maybe, it would have been better to let them remain in Cas to provide that personal connection. This is going to be a highly controversial point, but I suddenly realized that this would have, in fact, been a much more appealing alternative story line. I would have loved to see the Winchester’s, especially Dean’s, conflict about the monster they could see Cas had become, and their desire to save their friend. I would have liked to see Dean struggling to forgive Cas while Cas was actually undeserving of his forgiveness, unlike what happened in the actual storyline, where Dean remained angry with Cas in a stubborn, unrelenting, pig-headed way for no rational reason and after adequate emotional cause to the contrary. I would have like to see Cas’s internal struggle against the Leviathans as he fought to subdue them. And ultimately, I would have loved an ending in which, in whatever way, Cas was forgiven.

And now about Cas. I think I’m gonna be honest here. Until the episode Reading is Fundamental, of the seventh season, I did not realize that I am a complete and utter Cas Girl; well, now I am, at least. And I have a feeling that the main factors responsible for this were the absolutely stellar performances of Misha Collins in the episodes Meet the New Boss and Hello, Cruel World, the complete absence of Cas throughout season 7 when I actually started suffering from Castiel Withdrawal symptoms (when he came back, I literally cried throughout the episode because I was so happy to see him back) and the fact that I think when a character is introduced to a TV show, and the main characters and the fans get so attached to him as to count him as another main character, the series grows with that character and swells to include him  as an irrevocable part of the show.

And so was Cas for me. I cannot imagine Supernatural permanently without Cas, because although the show may just have been about Sam and Dean to begin with, by season 5, for me, at least, I think it had grown to include the entire Team Free Will. And so now, if some of them is missing from the show for inadequate reasons over an extended period of time, and they do not get the goodbyes that they deserve when the time comes, it just feels wrong. It feels like injustice done to a beloved character which has become an integral part of Supernatural- an important part of the Winchester’s journey. And to call Cas an integral part of the Winchester’s journey would be the understatement of the millennium. He and Bobby have been their closest friends- the one they continuously turned to for help, the one who continuously cleaned up their messes. In season six, as one of my friends pointed out, Dean practically used Cas as little more than an errand boy and I remember it driving me insane.Here, again, was a slip back to Season 4 and a character behaving in a way that ignored its growth over the past two seasons. Dean was just so judgmental and pig headed and I could have thrown something at him. It hurt even worse because I felt like my Dean was slipping away! The Dean that I knew, the Dean that he had become would never speak to Cas like that after all that happened in Season 5!

And even Sam started behaving in an odd way in season 7. I know that Dean’s Amazonian daughter was a monster and that she would have killed him, but for him to just gun her down so coldly without any hesitation, any faltering was so… not Sam! Especially after the whole Amy thing! And the Amy thing- god, that was just a mess. I cannot believe that Dean just went and killed her. Remember when Dean met Lenore and was ready to accept her as a person and not a vampire? Remember when he wanted to find a way to help Madison, the werewolf? Remember when he was at least willing to try and give the Rugaru a chance to survive? Where did that acceptance go?! It was just so upsetting- and especially that poor boy, Amy’s son. Could Dean really not see that he just created another monster- when maybe the child would have grown up to be different?! It was just like in the episode Flesh Blood of Season 3- where he killed that girl who had been turned, saying ‘they had no choice’. So much for Free Will, huh? Then Sam had to go and talk about how Bobby was becoming a ‘vengeful spirit’ and how they had to put him down. This is not Sam! Sam is not the one who raises these kind of objections- and if he does, not in that way- so indifferent to Bobby himself and talking only about the ‘vengeful spirit’ part.

I think it’s safe to say that the Winchesters have really upset me this season.
One thing that I have to say is that I was hooked to Supernatural from the very first episode of season 1. An oddly large number of the fans said that they disliked the first two seasons. For me, personally, it started at a very high level and just got better and better with each season, peaking at the fifth one. Admittedly, season 3 is probably my least favourite season due to the presence of two characters which highly irritated me- no points for guessing that they were Bella and Ruby. I felt sympathy for Bellawhen she died, and for the reason that she made the deal with the demon, but I absolutely detest her character. It’s mostly because she kept showing up my boys- and I hated that. The Winchesters looked practically stupid next to her and that upset me. So many of the things she did, like stealing the Colt and Hand of Glory, were so glaringly obvious- I can’t believe that Sam and Dean, with all their experience in conning people, would not have caught on to them.

And then there’s the whole debate about which Ruby is better and here I hold a fairly unpopular opinion, again. I really liked Genevieve’s Ruby and thought very, very little of Katie’s. Katie’s rendition of Ruby, to me, was like a bad B-movie where she just suddenly stepped out of the darkness, kicked a few people and disappeared again- so typical and artificial, and mostly irritating because once again, she felt like an unnecessary character who kept showing up and making our boys look silly. I don’t know how much of it is Katie’s fault though– maybe it was just the way the character was written.

Gen’s Ruby, on the other hand, felt very natural– one of the attributes I liked best about her. She was also so innocent-looking that I think her double-role as a diabolical traitor had much more of an impact. I really like that adorable little lisp of hers- I just have this feeling that it added another layer to Ruby’s character. Plus Latin sounded really good with it xD Also, her on-screen chemistry with Sam- her ward in charge, so to speak, was impeccable and so believable! The former Ruby had more of a connection with Dean than Sam, which did not agree with me at all. It just felt like practically every female recurring character- Pamela, Jo, Ellen, Bella, later Anna- had some sort of an emotional connect with Dean which was deeper than the one they had with Sam, and that seriously stung. I think Sam is actually the one more capable of having such relationships and it was good to finally have a female character connect with him on some sort of level, although it did have terrible consequences.

This brings me to the issue of female characters on Supernatural. I need to mention that the series badly needs a few, now that Ellen and Jo are gone. This is why I love Charlie– the new character from The Girl With The Dungeons and Dragons tattoo, and I honestly think the writers made her lesbian so she could be a recurring character without being hated by the fangirls xD And this time, I would like this character to have an equal bonding with both Sam and Dean. A lot of people like Bella because they think she kicks ass- I adore Charlie for the same reason. Plus, she loves Hermione! How cool is that? 

I really liked the renewed influx of recurring characters in the last episodes of season 7. I missed the framework of a family in Supernatural, in the last two seasons- a feeling that the brothers have someone looking out for them somewhere- a few friends they can count on at any time. I think it’s finally coming back now. Who knows- maybe with Bobby gone, these characters will slowly grow close enough to the Winchesters and Cas to be a part of Team Free Will.
To me, that’s what Supernatural’s all about, you know? Growing with the new characters that come in and become a part of the Winchester’s journey. Letting a character go with a heartbreaking goodbye because in your heart, you know they died heroes, just like they would have wanted. The little things, the little touches, a few of the insignificant characters here and there, which really touch you and make you smile- like Nancy the virgin from Jus in Bello. The Ghostfacers coming in a times when we badly needed a laugh and making us smile, even if it means ‘less of Sam and Dean screen time’- and honestly, say what you will, I adore those two xDAsh drinking beer in that odd way. Balthazarultimately turning up to help the brothers. Cas zapping Dean out from a motel room and Zachariah bellowing, “SON OF A BITCH!” in response. Sam getting Dean a gigantic slinky. The pink bow on the head of that Yorkie in Ghost Fever. And that Cupid from My Bloody Valentine hugging everyone.  These are what really made Supernatural, Supernatural to me, all this time. And it seems to me that these little things are all missing, and I miss them so much it hurts. The song continues, but the notes all feel wrong.
I really hope Season 8 gives us back the old Supernatural feel. They have started a brilliant arc by sending Dean and Cas to Purgatory and I hope they show their struggles, and Sam’s struggles, all in an equal light. Jeremy Carver has given us some really great episodes, so hopefully the content of Season 8 will be more fulfilling. I also read that apparently Gabriel and Chuck are coming back! Misha has been confirmed too. YES!


I really hope Season Eight rings truer. 

One Comment Add yours

  1. I loved your essay to be honest. But, I'll have to disagree with you on some points.
    1st of all, as you said the 5-seasons were on one hand and s6 and 7 on the other. It had to be like this. The journey of stopping the apocalypse ended on Season 5. And there will be nothing that will make you feel the feelings you experienced unless they bring Lucifer back to the playing ground. BTW, I believe they will. I mean he's still in Cas' head now. So his role hadn't been cut off, and i must thank the writers for that. Cause Lucifer doesn't simply disappear.
    2nd of all, Adam in Hell.. That is a loose end. I'm 100% in the future seasons this discussion will be brought back. Its just un-right to solve everything at once. I mean Sam got back, yes, we get it. But getting Adam back from hell will just cheapen the swan song finale. There has to be consequences. And Adam being in hell is one of them.
    3rd of all, I don't think Lisa softened Dean. The writers have to develop the show. And your frustration about it, proves that they did their job right. Cause if they left him as they were, we would eventually get bored. So Dean needs to develop just like Sam did.

    3rd of all, I think Cas plot was really perfect on Season 6, it was ruined with Leviathans. I wish it was just his self doubt and want- to become god, it would have been more awesome.

    Season 3 was my favorite thanks to the epic demons SL and to Ruby and Bella. Those females rocked the show, imho.

    All in all, I have really high hopes for next seasons. as i said, they can't solve everything at once, they must keep some of it for next seasons.
    and I trust Carver, and i think S8 will be epic.

    Like

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