Supernatural Ep. 7.23, “Survival of the Fittest”: Frustrating end to mixed season

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Supernatural Review, Season 7, Episode 23: “Survival of the Fittest”
Written by Sera Gamble
Directed by Robert Singer
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on the CW

This week, on Supernatural: Cas collects honey, the guys go nun shopping, and the Impala makes an impression

After several weeks of solid, interesting episodes, episodes that seemed to be moving various pieces into precise positions, Supernatural looked to be set up for a strong, entertaining finale. As it begins, fans’ excitement will grow as the well edited recap skips through the season’s highlights, of course set to “Carry On Wayward Son”, as the season finale recaps have all been since season two.** Unfortunately, by the time the finale ends, though many will undoubtedly enjoy it, the more scrutinizing will be disappointed at the wasted potential and sheer messiness of not only this episode, but the major arcs of the final third of the season as well.

**There aren’t proper words to express how much I love this tradition. Every time we reach a Supernatural season finale and that fantastic song kicks in, I get goosebumps on my arms and a stupid grin on my face. It doesn’t matter if I’ve loved or been disappointed in the season- I can’t help but be excited for the finale and filled with goodwill towards the series. Many other shows would benefit from similar traditions.

First, the positives. There’s plenty of humor throughout. James Patrick Stuart has been a highlight of the season as Dick Roman and he continues this here. The character is downright silly, but Stuart brings the right blend of panache and menace to make it absolutely work. Mischa Collins is always fun playing GoofyCas and he gets plenty of opportunity this week to do so, and the notion of Crowley negotiating a contract with someone who’s (almost) as much of an expert at it as he is, and as much of a stickler for detail, is surprisingly delightful. The effects are pretty solid, given the presumably constrained budget, and as ever, the soundtrack is fantastic. The Return of the Impala gets the weight it deserves and giving the hero shot to the car, rather than the guys, is not only funny, but feels oddly deserved, given how much time it’s spent cooped up in that garage.

Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives. The biggest offender is the resolution to GhostBobby’s journey. He came back a few weeks ago and, in that time, has done almost nothing. He’s filled in some exposition the guys could have learned another way, fought Dick briefly, and gotten frustrated at Sam and Dean. He nearly does something significant this week, but walks back from it just in time and requests to be GhostEuthanized. Where we are now, there was absolutely no purpose to bringing him back as a ghost in the first place, other than employing the fantastic Jim Beaver, and doing so undermined his initial touching death episode. It seems likely he’ll be back next season, an ally for Dean in Purgatory, but if this is the case, it’ll only serve to undermine his second touching death scene as well.

Not only has the GhostBobby arc been significantly mishandled, to say the very least, but so has CasMark2. His return this week feels out of character for CasMark2 and his heart-to-heart with Dean, while touching, implies strongly that (regular) Cas is still here and is putting on this distracted, twitchy persona as a way to avoid interacting with the non-insect, non-floral world. Which is fine and actually makes a lot of sense. It’s just less interesting (and it doesn’t explain his fondness for Meg, who clearly doesn’t reciprocate his emotional bond with her). His actions this week instead feel like transparent pawn pushing to put Cas in place to be transported to Purgatory with Dean.

The Leviathan have been problematic from the start, overpowered and underdeveloped. Their grand plan to farm the Earth (or, at least to start, the US) is appropriately evil and threatening and the social commentary the writers have explored with this on American health and priorities has been interesting, but the payoff to this season-long build is disappointingly small scale. Sam, Dean, and Cas sneak in to SucraCorp, undiscovered and undisturbed, find Kevin and Dick in a matter of moments, and take him out a matter of moments after this. No fight, no struggle along the way. Sam and Dean are good Hunters, but they’ve never been the most stealthy. What happened to all of those cameras Charlie (nice to see her name-checked!) was able to hack into for them? Do Leviathan just make terrible security guards?

Then there’s the resolution to the Word of God- killing Dick has only made the Leviathan disorganized. They aren’t any easier to kill; they aren’t weakened in any way, actually, they’re just leaderless. So instead of killing people surreptitiously, they’re likely to turn their sizeable appetites on the general population. Add Crowley to the picture, throwing his weight around (it’s beyond time the PtB killed him, as great as Mark Sheppard is- Crowley’s overlived his usefulness to the series and is annoyingly repetitive at this point), and a less than stellar closing-moments performance from Jared Padalecki, and the end of this season is among the weakest in series’ history. Also, a note to the writers- it doesn’t matter how fun and badass Rachel Miner has been in her most recent arc. Meg is still Meg- a demon who possessed and tried to kill Sam and helped Lucifer and co. kill Jo and Ellen. This viewer, for one, doesn’t care that Crowley’s mad with her and will likely have fun torturing her in Hell.

As a YouTube-spiral-of-“Carry On Wayward Son”-montage-watching will remind viewers, Supernatural was at one time a great show. It isn’t anymore, as much as loyal fans may wish it were, and this is incredibly disappointing. In the last two seasons, the series has been fairly reliably diverting and enjoyable, but it has been at most solid to good, not great. A new showrunner will be taking over in the fall however, so here’s hoping it finds its way back. It has the potential, all the pieces are there. We’ll have to just wait and see.

What did you think of the finale and the season as a whole? Am I alone in not caring about Meg’s fate? What do you expect or hope for next season? Post your thoughts below!

Kate Kulzick

8 Comments
  1. Maya says

    I’m completly agree with you about Meg, frankly I thought that I was the only one who still hold a grudge against her, I mean after all (althought it wasn’t the same actress) she, for me, played a very big part in Jonh Winchester’s death, and I just can’t forget and forgive that.

  2. Mark says

    I agree that the returning of Bobby as a ghost was a totally useless subplot. I liked the episode/finale, but i’m sick of the trumped up Bobby-as-a-vengeful-spirit story line.

  3. HK says

    Good points.
    This episode was supposed to send-off of the show or make us beg for more? It actually seemed like they ran out of time and money.
    One of my biggest gripes was why waste Bobby when they could have had him kick some leviathan butt with all his building rage? It seemed like it was building to this type of conclusion. Plus it would have been cool since they couldn’t touch him. Then what was the point of leveling-him-up with the absorption of all that evil ghost’s power a few episodes ago?
    We still love the show, hopefully it gets renewed, and hopefully they get some new blood in the writing staff.

    Seems someone on IMDB thinks it’s been renewed:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2400027/

  4. Luciano says

    Totally negative. It was a great episode fitting for a great season. Not the best cliff hanger but still. Crowley is still great. Cas is a great charater. True i dont really care about Meg but still. I agree it was way too easy to kill Dick but everything else was great

  5. supernaturalfan says

    I think you’re being a little harsh here. Shows are allowed to evolve. People stress that they love the brother’s relationship–I do too. However, a show can’t thrive for 7 seasons on the same material. Whether people like it or not, Castiel is a major part of the show and I think it’s okay to welcome other characters into the mix and even let them shine.

  6. Hunter's Helper says

    SG was given a good opportunity, but when her two seasons are evaluated, they were pretty dismal as a whole. Some individual episodes were good, but the storytelling, pacing, plotting, and characterizations were bad. I am so looking forward to Jeremy Carver taking over.

    I agree with all of the points your brought out and would add one more: the two lead characters have been undeveloped and under-utilized for two years, with significant attention was given to support characters, particularly Cas. There is absolutely no excuse for support characters to be given more attention than the leads in any television show.

    I thought the episode ended with great possibilities for Carver to mine. I hope he does. I have watched every episode live for seven years, and I’d like to see the show get back on track. I’m looking forward to S8 to see if that happens.

  7. Keith Viverette says

    I agree for the most part. The one thing I have to say is that this place they left them in has me intrigued.

    I’ve said I thought they should’ve ended it at the end of season 5 because where do you go storywise after stopping doomsday.

    I can see why you wouldn’t like the direction of the story with them going widescale again instead of more personal relationship type of stuff; but i’m willing to give them a shot because I think this is the first real idea they’ve had in two seasons.

    I think that them trying to figure out how to survive where they are, how to defeat the creatures, the rules of the place and how to get out of it if possible could be very interesting.

    Seems like it might actually be sorta inspired…which I don’t think I really have been able to say about this show overall too much lately.

  8. Supernaturalbestfan says

    you should continue this serial for ever dudes its the best dont just leave it like we want more seasons all the fans :)

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