*ahem* Ok, that’s out of my system. No, wait NO CASTIEL! NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!
Ok, I’m good, the raging Castiel fanpoodle within has been calmed… for now, time for the season review.
For me this season needs almost splitting into two parts. The second half was truly epic and awesome in all the best Supernatural ways and probably a 4.5 or even 5 fang (despite what they did to Castiel…) And the first half was a 3. At best.
Why? Because we’ve had far far far FAR too many “oh my god Sam is evil” storylines. I’m tired of them. Sam may be evil because of the psychic child of Azazel thing in Season 1 and 2. In season 3 it’s demon super powers, Ruby and possible heir to Azazel making him evil. In season 4 it’s demon blood addiction, demon powers and, again, Ruby making him evil. Season 5 he’s the vessel of Lucifer. Season 6 he has no soul and, because of that, no empathy or conscience. At this point I’d actually rather Sam died already and we concentrate on Dean and, say, Castiel. Yes, more Castiel. At very least please install some kind of alarm system “in case of evil Sam, break glass” with some kind of redemption pill. Maybe Dean could store up his many many emotional re-bonding moments and pick one at random. “Oh, Sam has hit his head on the Low Lintle of Evil and is now evil again, time for my ‘I don’t trust you and you need to re-earn it’ speech or my ‘we’re brothers, family and that’s what always counts, I got your back’ speech.”
I’m not saying that any of those past moments weren’t powerful, exciting, great to watch and incredible well-acted in their emotional aftermath. They were. But they’ve returned to this well too many times.
Another major barrier for me was Samuel and the Campbell family. Yes, family has always been important to Sam and Dean, but has it really been so based on bloodlines? If nothing else, one of the themes since as far back as season 2 is that family is more than just who you share blood with – Bobby is as much or more a father to them as John ever was and you can’t tell me there isn’t a brother dynamic between Castiel and Dean (with, ironically, Castiel as the little brother). So why all this trust for the Campbell clan and dear ol’ granddaddy?
On the plus side, all of this was resolved about half way into the season, with an added bonus of killing off the Campbells so they’re not going to be lurking around as a pseudo family in the future. They even doubled down on their lessons about family – even having Bobby’s blood stand in as “patricide” for Sam in a magical spell – because even if they’re not related by blood, Bobby is still their father. But it felt like they were re-learning something that had been already established.
One we got past unnecessary family and once Evil Sam was restored to the side of good yet again, the story started in earnest –and it was, again, epic. I’m impressed by how Supernatural can continue to do this – bring out the epic on a grand scale even after the last season which was similarly epic. At what point is it going to crash into anti-climax? At what point are we going to end up with a big bad that isn’t bigger or badder? And how will the season go from there?
As it stands, it’s still strong. This time, less because of a clear target they had from the very beginning (sadly not because of the distractions) but because of the mystery to unravel and the moving goal posts. Castiel is in an angelic civil war to control heaven against Raphael. If Castiel wins it’s free will for all angels. If Raphael wins, Lucifer and Michael get released and the apocalypse is back on. No-one wants that. But Castiel doesn’t have the juice to take on the Archangel Raphael, he’s desperate and Crowley is there to exploit that desperation as both a Crossroads Demon and as the new King of Hell now Lucifer’s gone. Their plan is to get Purgatory – the realm of all monsters – and the souls that are there, the souls of all monsters, vampires, shapeshifters, wraiths, you name it all the non-human monsters they’ve fought. Souls are the big power generators of the supernatural world, something that has been hinted at before and is artfully developed throughout the season with events like Castiel using Bobby’s soul to power time travel and making it clear that it’s an immense source of power and potentially unstable if meddled with. With this vast source of untapped monster souls, split 50/50, Castiel will be able to blow Raphael away and Crowley will be able to secure his place as King of Hell.
That’s the behind the scenes, but getting there is one season long revelation with lots of hints leading you to the goal but only at the very end is the whole story shown. We know about the Civil war in Heaven and we know Castiel is the underdog, including him trying to get his hands on Heaven’s stash of weapons. Then we find out that monsters – especially ancient and powerful progenitor monsters (like the vampires and werewolf alphas) are being captured and tortured by Samuel (and soulless Sam) – which leads to finding out that Samuel is working for Crowley for unknown purposes. Eve/the Mother of all Monsters, makes an appearance because she is Not Pleased at Crowley messing with her people on such a scale – and she becomes the big bad for a while as the Winchesters have to stop her turning all of humanity into monsters in a return blow at Crowley.