“THERE’LL BE PEACE WHEN YOU ARE DONE”
The Winchester boys will finally have peace. After fifteen seasons, Supernatural is finally coming to an end. Although not a planned exit, the show that aired in two thousand and five is taking its’ leave this year, fourteen years after the fact. My personal connection to this program is tangible since I was there for the pilot episode all those years ago, and for the time is was nothing that I had seen on mainstream television. From the tone to the violence, the show for the time intrigued the teenage me.
The first season introduces us to Dean and Sam Winchester, two sons raised by their single father, a hunter of the Supernatural seeking revenge on a demon that killed his wife. Sam, the intelligent yet rebellious younger son, has tried to separate himself from his unstable roots. Dean, the fiercely, even blindly loyal older son, approaches Sam attempting to find their missing father. This simple objective leads the brothers on a road trip to find John with multiple pit stops to save a few people from the Supernatural. What I enjoy about this first season was how connected I could get to the journey of the characters, being a relatable one, as well as the simplicity of the overall goal, find John Winchester.
The first season concluded on a cliff hanger and the second season began with the sacrifice of John Winchester at the hands of the very demon they were attempting to kill all these years in order to bring his eldest son from the grips of death. I loved that this season put the heroes in an emotionally compromised position, especially Dean. Dean Winchester idolized his father. He wears his dads jacket, drives his nineteen sixty seven Chevy Impala, and listens to the same music. John’s death would be affecting Dean profoundly all the way into season three.
The decision to kill off the catalyst of season one, in the very first episode of season two, was such a shocking development, and I still commend the show for being that ballsy so young in its infancy. We started to see a view into the psyche of the brothers as well, with Sam feeling guilty over his rebellious nature towards his over protective father, and Dean with his guilt over being the reason his father made the fatal deal. There are more story developments in season two that create obstacles to Dean and Sam’s objective of killing the demon that has now claimed the life of all those close to them. All culminating in the death and resurrection of a main character, and, in my opinion, Adam Jensen’s best performance of the entire series. By the end of the second season, the stakes had been raised, in both action, as well as in a personal sense for the Winchester brothers.
Season two continued the themes of family and sacrifice that were present in the first season. It also thickened the plot in ways that didn’t feel scripted, but elaborated upon hints introduced in season one. It felt logical and motivated, and not in a contrived manner. With introduction of Sam’s physic abilities coming to fruition, or the Impala not being present a few episodes because it was in need of repair at the end of season one, the show made steps that had clear thread of events that you could follow and keep track in your mind. Now the brothers are tasked with stopping a newly released army of demons set upon the world, as well as saving Dean’s soul from Hell.
Season three is where the series started to see changes. The color saturation was increased to a noticeable degree. The supernatural monsters and creatures were also grounded to the US ghost story mythos. Wendigos, the woman in white, demon of the cross roads, etc. were stories that we would either have heard or know about here in the United States, which made the journey very familiar as they traveled the roads like Route 66. While season three still retains this for the most part, we start to see the introduction of beings outside of that mold, such as Pagan gods and figures.
Season three concludes with the death of Dean in Hell, but with his resurrection in season four. Now as much as I love this show, this is where the brothers start to jump the shark. Sam’s call back from the dead felt poetic, and Dean’s death felt like the consequences of his choice at the end of the previous season. It turns out Dean was pulled from Hell by Castiel, an angel from Heaven. However, with everything in Supernatural, there is no altruistic action without strings attached to them.
Dean and Sam must stop the summoning of Lucifer, the devil himself. This is also a valid point of criticism from viewers of the show. The stakes kept getting bigger and bigger to the point of absurdity. The Winchester boys during this season now have to deal with one another, as Sam is traveling down a much darker path in order to become stronger for the oncoming fight. The two come to blows with Sam besting his older brother, and accidentally releasing the devil.
Now we get to season five, which is where I think the series should have concluded back in twenty ten. Not only was Lucifer intended to be released not only by the demons, but the angels as well. God is not present, and the angels have been running the show and want to bring the apocalypse. Dean and Sam are being forced into allowing Michael, the Archangel, and Lucifer use their bodies for the ultimate showdown, and the Winchesters want none of it. By the last episode Sam sacrifices himself to make up for ignorantly releasing Lucifer, and Dean returns to an old flame to seek normalcy.
The reason why I proclaim my stance is that I feel that the creators themselves set the show up to end at season five. From the background on the Impala to flash cut of prior episodes in the final moments of the episode, the build up to this finale felt like a finale for the series. The brothers had gone against the odds, all of the supposed claims of “destiny”, the Winchesters have done what they have done from the beginning, found their own way to solve a situation. The series was never concerned about having a happy ending, but having a conclusion in some way. I was okay with Sam throwing himself into a pit with Lucifer riding shotgun in his skin for all eternity, and with Dean returning to Lisa is a broken state in an attempt to have a normal life and family.
My biggest critique of the series after witnessing nine or so seasons out of what will be fifteen seasons is with any series that has been around for long enough time, creative fatigue sets in, and the property begins to suffer because of it. Supernatural inserted episodes that had more social commentary like in season seven when the antagonist Dick Roman, leader of the Leviathans (a.k.a. Pac Men from Hell), plans on drugging the populous with goo inserted into junk food that causes people to become couch potatoes. I know that Supernatural addresses relevant subjects, Sam’s use of demon blood can be parallel to a drug addiction. However, the show kept trying to rekindle their audience, but with the constant jumping of the shark of new big antagonists, trapping Dean in Purgatory, and even bringing back the boy’s mother. I feel that the show has reversed most narrative decisions that made the story compelling, and while the show in the seasons after the fifth year has moments of brilliance, the cancellation is not the least bit surprising to me as a long time fan whose enjoyed the ride while it lasted.
“Carry on, my wayward son…There’ll be peace when you are done….”
Dean: “How do we beat a dead horse?!!!”
Sam : “Generally a network will milk a property long after it has run dry. Or at least as long as it continues to rack in ratings and/or revenue.”
Dean : “Soul-less bastards.”
Supernatural will end after 15 seasons and I am totally fine with it. No, I’m more than fine. I’m relieved. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the show, but all things must eventually end. It’s gotten stale. They jumped the shark, brought it back from Hell, put it in a flannel shirt, and taught it strong moral values before betraying it to better serve the greater good. Any writer can tell you there is a wall we all hit sometimes. The well runs so dry you end up slurping mud. Supernatural started off as a “monster-of-the-week” hack-a-thon but developed the characters and the plots got richer. Of late, the show is dredging up that chestnut with subtle twists. It just looks desperate. Once you’ve saved the world for, what, the seventh time(?), it gets repetitive. They killed The Devil for fuck’s sake! It’s getting really shallow in this idea pool.
So the show will end in Fall. And the fans, being fans, are melting down all over the internet. Look, I wasn’t into Firefly until long after it had been cancelled so its parting never bothered me. Yes, I wonder, as do most, where that story would have gone. Supernatural, however, has been-there-done-that so many times it’s a mockery of itself.
Tip: Do not establish a rule where a main character (or more) cannot die, stay dead, or be removed temporarily. Quickest way to lose an audience is to tell them that no matter how difficult things get, the heroes will always win. I’m sorry. It’s boring. One of the reasons I didn’t enjoy Harry Potter was the “Chosen One” shtick. We knew nothing really bad would happen to Harry but we rode along on his adventures anyway because they were fantastical and wondrous. (Paradoxical? I can find fault with a thing and still enjoy it. Maybe when I was younger I’d lose my shit over stupid things but I’ve grown as person. Mostly.)
I will watch the last season because I have watched all that has come before it. I am curious as to how the writers will un-dig the hole they created. Am I going to go online and post weepy meme’s about being butt-hurt and feel like the world is unfair? Sure, because I’m a fourteen year old. No, you numb-brains! Uncle Geoff will wait and see if the rumors about a spin-off are true and he’ll watch it just like everybody else because deep down I am a hypocrite and a raving fanboy too. Goodbye Sam and Dean. The highway calls.