I’ve been a fan of the show from the very beginning. I love Dean and Sam, brothers who are complete opposites of each other but love each other unconditionally despite growing up in a dysfunctional set up. From the time they were hunting the yellow eyed demon who killed their mom, to surrendering their soul to the devil to save each other, I was there, cheering them on, laughing with them, and crying when they were forced to make choices and sacrifices that could save the world from utter doom.
It was initially said that the show was supposed to end after five seasons, and creator Erik Kripke handed over the reins of the show to executive producer Sera Gamble after executing his vision for one of the most exciting series in television history. He was able to do what he set out to do and was content. But with the show doing so well, the producers thought they should extend the life of the horror/ action series featuring heartthrob actors Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles for another season or two. The problem was, how could you top the Apocalypse?
Apparently, as Season 6 progressed, it grew evident that the new showrunners didn’t have a clue. What they did instead was haphazardly recycle storylines from previous seasons without any clear direction on how to tie them together to form a coherent and plausible story to revive the franchise. It was clear that the show was grasping at straws, and it became more obvious when it ended every episode with more questions than answers. Its greatest sin, perhaps, was not planning out the season before embarking on a smorgasbord of inconsistent episodes, and relying on the popularity of the characters and the loyalty of fans to sustain the show.
Season 6 opens with Sam trying to get Dean back to hunting, one year after the failed apocalypse. Sam, who has no recollection of hell, had apparently been busted out almost immediately after he went in but has no clue why. For the past year that Dean has been living an apple pie life with Ben and Lisa, Sam has teamed up with their grandfather Samuel, who is also mysteriously back from the dead. Samuel however, is on someone’s payroll but Sam doesn’t care what his grandfather is up to so long as he gets to hunt.
The first few episodes of the season reminded me of a headless chicken running in all directions — the show was pulling monsters from every angle — mythology, pop culture, there were even dragons at some point, and tried to keep viewers in the dark by diverting their attention to the issues between the brothers Winchester. Unfortunately, this cloak and dagger stuff gets old, especially after viewers watch several episodes without making any progress. It is finally revealed that something is definitely wrong with Sam and it turns out that he is missing his soul, rendering him an emotional vegetable who would risk even Dean and Bobby to get the job done. But more than Sam’s soul, the show was also missing a vital element that is the core of the series — the rapport between Dean and Sam. Dean was uncertain as to what Sam was and is almost always suspicious of him, instead of being scared for him as he was in previous seasons, he was scared of him and treated him as an enemy — expressing an easy willingness to kill him if the need arose. And Sam wasn’t helping — he seemed like a robot, and lost all the charm and charisma that endeared him to the fans from the get go.
There was also a marked difference in the treatment of each episode. While before, even during the first season when the boys were working small jobs, each hunt contributed something to the plot, this season, each episode seemed to focus more on being cute, making pop culture references, and riding on what is popular rather than relevant to the story. It seemed as if the showrunners were simply trying to tide over the viewers with a couple of new monsters, fairies, aliens, leprechauns– whatever they could pull out of their butts until they figure things out.
Some familiar faces resurface — Bobby, of course, whom I am surprised , has not been promoted to series regular, Castiel, who pops in to help out when the gang is stumped for something despite being busy fighting off Raphael who wants to pursue the Apocalypse, Crowley, who has been promoted to King of Hell after Lucifer has been neutralized, Rufus, Ellen, yes, Ellen, who gets a surprise guesting despite being killed in the previous season. It is later revealed that all events are actually linked together by the quest to open purgatory and harness the souls of the monsters who are stuck there (since they can’t be either in Heaven or Hell). Finally, a plausible storyline that the fandom could sink into. It would appear that souls are like nuclear reactors which could give the bearer (angel or demon) unimaginable power to defeat his enemies — a total game changer for anyone who wants to become the new God or the new Lucifer. Betrayals run aplenty in this season, very unfamiliar in a show which has prided itself with putting family in its center.
I was quite relieved when finally after Episode 11 (Appointment in Samara), Death finally retrieves Sam’s soul from hell and we get the old Sam Winchester back. It was good to see the brothers interacting and working together without any suspicions. Dean was back to big brother mode, and his smart alecky ways and Sam was back to being his usual conscientious self, wanting to atone for his sins in the past year. I actually felt like I was cheated out of half of this season. The first 10 episodes almost were basically fluff that put me to sleep. They were pointless and irrelevant and only served to take away time from the better parts of the story — the one that has potential for a big time ending. It was disappointing to note that the very people who pushed to have the Winchesters return on another run did not plan out the season through and trudged on despite a substandard storyline.
Even the deaths of characters whom viewers have come to relate to were also slipshod and lacking in depth. They were disposed of as a means to an end, and so unlike the deaths of characters in seasons past — John, Jo, Ellen, Mary. Even in the last episode, the showrunners still failed to establish the severity of the situation — this even when they devoted an entire episode to explaining the events that led to the moment that Cas became corrupted by power and consorted with Crowley.
This is not to say that the season was a complete waste. There were strong episodes that appealed to fangirls such as myself — my favorite being Episode 15: The French Mistake where Balthazar transports the boys to alternate reality where the Winchesters are TV stars who play Sam and Dean Winchester in a show called Supernatural. It was fun to see the producers and directors poke fun at themselves — even Kripke made an appearance. Mommy Dearest also had some potential but the abrupt ending to the Eve storyline was kind of disappointing. I expected her to last until the ending a la Lilith. And of course, Frontierland, which was funny and cheesy but very very cute. And to its credit, the show once again managed to blur the lines between good and bad, leaving viewers in conflict as to what they want to happen in future episodes in the aftermath of Raphael’s defeat.
I completely blame the showrunners for this weak season. The actors were doing their best with what they were handed and as per usual, they did it remarkably. But if the show has any hope of regaining its momentum, the show needs Kripke to step in fast, and fix the mess that was season 6, lest his baby be remembered as a substandard take on the supernatural genre. I still have hope for Supernatural. I’m not ready to give up on it just yet, not after following it for the last six years. At least they have set up the stage for the Seventh season — Sam’s recollection of hell, and Cas’s declaration that he is the new God. We’ll see, but for now, I want to drown my sorrows with a marathon of the first five seasons of Supernatural — just to remind me why I loved this show in the first place.
P.S. I did some poking around and found an article saying that Misha Collins aka Cas won’t be back as a regular for the seventh season. Am I just confused but didn’t he declare himself as the new God in the final scene? I’m not liking this of course because next to Dean and Bobby, Cas is my favorite character in the show. I just hope they don’t die.