Castiel! Castiel! I’ll be over here happy dancing and celebrating. Castiel! Castiel! What? I’ve got to actually write a review and not just fanpoodle Castiel? Ah well, the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can return to Castiel love.
This season was a major boost on what was already a really good show. Angels and Demons and the 66 seals – it took they already epic feel of Supernatural and ratcheted it up to all knew levels. This wasn’t just lives on the balance, fighting to save themselves and save as many innocents in the process. This is a fight between Heaven and Hell to try and keep Lucifer himself imprisoned. Lillith, the big bad demon from last season, is battling to free Lucifer by breaking the 66 seals on his prison. On the other side we have the angels fighting to keep Lucifer boxed up. Sam and Dean are naturally on the side of the angels, especially since Castiel is the one who pulled Dean out of Hell.
But it’s not so simplistic as that. Not least of which because the angels are pretty unpleasant (except Castiel, who is awesome), rigidly following orders of the command without any consideration of nuance or shades of grey. Through Anna, the fallen angel, we see that doubt is considered a great crime, that disobedience is punishable by death and that the angels don’t even commune with god and have no idea what he truly wants. Sam and Dean clash with the rigid structure and the draconian orders, and certainly with their wiliness to sacrifice innocent people “for the greater good.”
From there it becomes even murkier, with angels endorsing torture, angels fighting angels and Uriel killing angels who don’t support him in pushing for the apocalypse. It looks like a fringe group of angels and quickly becomes clear that the most powerful angels are completely behind breaking the seals and setting the apocalypse going. They want the war because they’re sure they will win – which leads to Castiel’s considerable character development in a very short time.
And, of course, the ending has a twist beyond the angels being on the pro-apocalypse team. Ruby, who had spent all of last season finally and completely convincing me she was a good demon – and I was cynical all through that season and most of this one, but I was convinced. Turns out she was playing the long game all along, corrupting Sam, getting him on side to kill Lillith – and in doing so freeing Lucifer. It was one of those moments where you stare at the screen in brief shock – extremely well done. And Dean stabbing her afterwards.
Because of all of this epic, the seasons seemed to be more focused than the previous seasons. After all, when one is fighting to prevent Lucifer being released, deviations from that seem like distractions. Despite that there are several episodes that deviate though some still fit – such as Dean travelling back in time to fill in some of the history behind his family and revealing yet more of Azazel’s devilish plotting. But others seem to be more gimmicky without much meta purpose – like the Oktoberfest horror film shapeshifter. That’s the only episode I didn’t enjoy though and others either added backstory to the Winchesters (such as the ghost bully at Sam’s old school), had other lessons (like Sam and Dean suddenly living corporate lives to be taught a lesson by Angel Zacharia) or were just great fun (like Dean with the demonic fear virus). And, again, like in previous seasons even when we have these deviations from the main plot there are still threads of character growth even if not the meta plot. I’m still torn as to whether Chuck and his books about Supernatural are a fun little gimmick or a step too far in the shattering of the 4th wall.
If I have one complaint about the characterisation it’s that with Ruby’s nifty knife, they now have a method of reliably killing demons pretty easily, especially since most the demons they meet seem to be not overly more dangerous than humans (lower lever demons, presumably – because we also have demons like Alistair that are mighty as ever) they seem to have forgotten how to exorcise them and try to save their hosts.