The eleventh season of Supernatural got off to a hell of a strong start, but really seemed to struggle in finding its footing shortly into its run. The first half of the season never quite hit the mark I think many fans expected it to. It didn’t turn viewers off, and ratings were steady enough that it easily snagged a renewal for the 2016-2017 TV season, but it failed to really satisfy in the same way so many previous seasons did.
To be fair, when a show has been on the air for as long as Supernatural has been, there are bound to be ebbs and flows in its greatness, and there is simply no way to please all the viewers. I myself was not thrilled with this season. For me, this year was more a mixture of mediocre and semi high points, and overall felt somewhat directionless. Flaws aside though, Supernatural is still one of the most satisfying shows on television right now. While this season didn’t really close out much better than it began, we at least have a whole new season to look forward to in the fall.
For anyone who may have missed an episode, or for any fans who just want to break each issue down for discussion, here is a list of all episodes making up the second half of the season and what I took from it.
“Safe House” served as a pretty darn good return from the second mid-season break for me. No, it didn’t really deal with the super relevant issues at hand but by that point I realized that I could either keep bitching, and accomplish nothing, or let the show run its course and just try to enjoy it for what it was. The soul eater itself was a pretty terrifying foe, but what really worked for this episode was the mirroring experiences of Sam and Dean, and Bobby and Rufus. Anytime Bobby shows his face it’s going to pull at my heartstrings because, man did I love that guy. He holds such a sentimental power in the Supernatural universe and bringing him and Rufus in for an episode hit all the right emotional keys for me.
“Red Meat” unfortunately didn’t do much for me. I tend to always like the werewolf episodes, but this one felt too needlessly convoluted. Not to mention, I had a hard time feeling anything for Corbin or Michelle as they both seemed like pretty unbearable humans. I understand that Dean didn’t have much choice in leaving what he thought was a deceased Sam in the dust, but that still seemed too unnatural of a character move for me. Dean overdosing to try and make a deal with a Reaper was kind of the nail in the coffin for me, no pun intended. It has become a joke how many times the Winchester’s have died, but when Dean carelessly makes a move like that it just kind of confirms that the idea of dying is simply not a threat to the characters on this show. It’s hard to have drama without fear.
“Hell’s Angel” got back to the main point of the season but somehow still found itself lacking. Rowena was brought back to life, which was neat enough but overall this one just didn’t hit the spot for me. It was well written and enjoyable to watch, but something about it just didn’t work. I think by this point the Amara/The Darkness story line is just not compelling anymore. The issue has been dodged almost all season, and when it has been dealt with, Amara has proven time and time again that she cannot be defeated. There was no suspense; I knew that by the time the episode ended the Winchesters would once again be at a loss, and Amara would have the upper hand.
The Chitters deviated once again from Amara’s whereabouts, but came as a welcome change of pace. I’m not sure if you know this, but cicadas are some of the creepiest things on the planet, so naturally a spirit related to them is going to be horrible. The creatures were a really neat creation on behalf of the writers, and Jessy and Caesar made great accomplices to Sam and Dean. Caesar was charming in a gritty way, and my heart just went out to Jessy, especially when he found his long dead brother’s wallet and Buffalo Nickel. This wasn’t one of their best episodes ever, but easily one of the better ones to come out of Season 11.
“Don’t Call Me Shurley”
Okay, now FINALLY it seems the story line with The Darkness is going to go somewhere good! First off, I must admit that I was wrong when I said there is no way that Supernatural was going to be able to pull off an on screen adaptation of God. I stand corrected, and offer millions upon millions of kudos on the decision to make Chuck God. Chuck! The mother lovin’ prophet! That guy is the best, and in my humble opinion, never got to be in the show as much as he deserved. That was a super clever decision, it was a nice nod to fans, and it just warmed my heart for reasons I don’t fully understand. Also, Metatron. I know he’s kind of the worst, but I can’t help but be happy to see him when he pops up here and there. The guy is a dick, but Curtis Armstrong’s portrayal just makes me want him to stick around. Outside of that, the Darkness fog has been the most compelling foe that Season 11 has churned out so far, and its reappearance only made me wonder why it didn’t play a bigger part in Amara’s shenanigans. That shit and what it turns people into is downright freaky, and kind of a missed opportunity at genuinely scary story-telling.
“All in the Family”
Here’s what worked about this episode: everything. This could easily be the best episode of the season so far. First off, Kevin Tran and the feels his reappearance provided. Second, Amara released another fog to destroy an entire town and finally seems to be behaving in a manner as fearsome as I would expect. Third, Donatello is a welcome, though likely short lived addition to the show. Let’s face it, anyone named a prophet at this stage in the game will obviously be a sacrifice before long, but at least he’ll be likable while he lasts. Fourth, hey remember how I was just saying how nice it was when Metatron showed up every now and again? Well god damn it. At least he (mostly) redeemed himself by standing up to Amara and being squashed into complete nothingness.
“We Happy Few”
This one lost some of the momentum for me. It lost a lot of momentum, actually. The back and forth between Chuck (God) and Lucifer was not cute or charming, as I’m sure it was intended to be. The solution to off Amara with a joint attack from the witches, demons, angels, Lucifer, and God was a good idea, but there was no drama in the idea of whether it would or wouldn’t work. Of course it won’t work, when you launch a plan to defeat the primary foe one episode BEFORE the finale you’ve basically announced that it won’t work. And it didn’t, of course. It should have, but the dumb conversation Chuck just had to have with Amara ruined everything. “We Happy Few” was just too contrived and anti-climactic at a time when there was no excuse for that kind of crap.
“Alpha and Omega”
This may be one of the most polarizing season finales in the history of Supernatural. While some viewers were infuriated that (shocker!) the battle with The Darkness amounted to literally absolutely nothing happening, others were pleased with the heartwarming reconciliation between Amara and Chuck, and that now both forces of Light and dark are accounted for in the universe. Personally, I find myself somewhere in between. Throughout all of Season 11, I became increasingly frustrated with where things went with The Darkness. In the Season 10 finale, it seemed like we would have a truly fearsome enemy to face, and the Season 11 premiere seemed to confirm that in full force. However, the energy in the concept quickly dwindled away and it seemed hard to imagine that the writers had any idea how the hell they were going to end the Season in any sort of satisfying fashion.
I’m pleased that the season ended with God being accounted for, but also stepping aside because there is simply no way to keep a character of that magnitude around. I hope with everything I have that we never hear from Amara again because, for me, she became nothing more than a drag on anything positive Supernatural had going for it in this ultimately pretty underwhelming year.
Outside of what happened with Amara and Chuck, the rest of the finale still failed to satiate many viewers, including myself. There were some pretty critical questions that were left not only unanswered, but not even acknowledged. Who is in charge of Hell now, and on that note what purpose will Crowley serve anymore? Where is Lucifer? Is he dead? What will happen to the Angels and Heaven now that God has returned and abandoned them once more? And why on Earth would Amara and Chuck not teleport Dean back to the bunker with everyone who was waiting on him? Chuck knows that if he doesn’t return, then Sam will assume he’s dead, and Dean has NO idea where he is. Leaving him in that garden with no lift home was really kind of a dick move. Yes, I understand that it allowed the story action to move forward to it’s tiny climax, but that moment still sticks out as a pretty noticeable oversight.
On that note, I must obviously acknowledge the introduction of the British chapter of the Men of Letters, and therefore Lady Antonia Bevell. Every season finale episode has to set in motion the story that will ultimately drive the season to follow but none the less this still felt supremely out of place. Perhaps it is because I am so accustomed to non-stop action in Supernatural finales that political drama seemed not to fit, but either way I find myself having a hard time spending any time looking forward to what’s to come in the Season 12 premiere.
Yes, we heard the sound of a gunshot while knowing that said gun was pointed squarely at poor dear Sam, but we also KNOW that if the bullet did hit him, Bevell was assuredly not shooting to kill. For me there is little to no drama in that. I discussed this cliffhanger with another fan of the show and while he is sure that finding and recovering Sam will be no easy task for Dean, I am quite sure that the two will be reunited and likely even freed of Sam’s captors by the end of the first episode of next season. I sincerely hope that Sam’s imprisonment doesn’t get dragged out; I just don’t see how it could be made enthralling.
The only true drama and mystery we have to look forward to for next season is obviously the return of life for Mary Winchester. What?! Really? Sam and Dean’s mom is ALIVE now? That is pretty intriguing, but again will likely cause the kind of edge-of-your-seat story telling I love so much about this show because we all know that what was dead can never come back. Not for long, and certainly not forever. It will be devastating to watch Sam and Dean have to say goodbye to their mom again. Frankly, that will probably destroy me for days, but it is inevitable. Mary probably won’t make it past the mid-season finale; she’ll stick around just long enough for her boys to become comfortable and fall head over heels in love with her just in time for them to be orphaned again. I like the idea of bringing her back. It was completely unexpected, but I know there is no way this plot twist could possibly last long or end well. All I can really predict for Season 12 is it will be full of pain for characters I care so much about. I’m disappointed that I don’t have some really compelling action to look forward to, but I’m confident that Supernatural will once again find its stride and be the show so many die-hard fans love to watch week after week.
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