Few shows in the history of television, let alone amongst genre offerings, have gone to ten seasons, which puts Supernatural in rarified category. With the show’s longevity, however, comes the issue of keeping things fresh, rather than retreading old character beats. With the season premiere delving into Dean’s current demonic existence, its end promised a deeper chasm between the brothers than ever before. While the season did not follow through on that idea, it has nonetheless been interesting to see despite the lack of a season arc so far. This can be mainly attributed to the return of an interesting character, and a strong 200th episode.
It was simultaneously refreshing and disappointing to see Dean’s demon side get cured so soon after his last death. Both the ideas of friction between the brothers, and the lengths a Winchester will go to to get something, have been explored at length in previous seasons, and as the show seemed set to walk the same path once again, the restoration of Dean’s humanity opens up the possibility of new stories. However, demon Dean brought about a callous edge to the character that always lurked under the surface of human Dean, and it’s sad that audiences weren’t able to see more of the ramifications of an unburdened Dean. With demon Dean easily embracing the black and white morality that human Dean clearly craved, but with his own warped sense of right and wrong, watching him in everyday situations, as well as facing off against monsters, would have likely been compelling to see. The idea of human Dean dealing with the aftermath of demon Dean’s actions, however, is also a promising idea, especially with the former immersing himself in work to avoid dealing with his turn to the demonic side. With demon Dean’s actions having alienated Crowley and exacerbated the feud between himself and Cole, human Dean is likely to have his hands full the next time a crisis rolls around, especially with one less source of help to turn to.
No discussion of the season, or the show as a whole, would be complete without a discussion of “Fan Fiction”, Supernatural‘s 200th episode. Despite the show’s ups and downs, it’s still quite a treat to see the series reach 200 episodes, particularly given the threat of cancellation that loomed over its early seasons. Seeing all the show’s title credits roll together back-to-back offered a nice glimpse into the work that goes into said credits, work that often goes unnoticed, but nonetheless adds a level of character to the show. The brothers’ discomfort at seeing their lives fictionalised, as well as their confusion to slash pairings, continues to be humorous to see, and Marie’s dismissal of what happened to the Winchesters as poor writing is an interesting commentary on both the idea of fiction being more compelling than real life, and the idea of fanfiction arising from unsatisfactory canon storylines. Dean’s speech, as well as the audience’s engagement, are both nice nods to the acceptance of fan fiction by the show’s creative team, and it’s good to see them embrace the idea in a loving manner, rather than deriding it, as they could have done. The deft balance the episode brings between the show’s comedic elements, suspenseful elements, and dramatic elements encapsulates one of Supernatural’s best qualities, and continues the show’s history of strong meta episodes. The episode works well as a letter to its fans, which is a pleasant deviation from the expected homage to the show that it could conceivably have been.
The storyline with Castiel and the Angels remains somewhat unformed to date, although it continues to have potential. Self-governance runs counter to the Angel ideology, which in and of itself is likely to create friction. The addition of Angels refusing to go back to a system with no free will adds an addition intriguing layer to the storyline, and hopefully it gets explored further. The idea of Castiel’s grace still being salvageable is also an interesting one, particularly given the Angel’s own stand on not stealing any more grace. The return of Kate was also a highlight of the season, particularly as the character’s first appearance marked one of the best episodes of the series to date. Kate’s struggle to maintain her humanity in the face of her apparent true nature promised to be a fascinating idea to explore, and the episode does not disappoint, with the parallels to Dean and Sam also working in the show’s favour, rather than appearing forced. Hopefully this is not the last the audience has seen of Kate, as she would make for an excellent recurring character, especially if she becomes an ally to Hunters. While it isn’t off to the roaring start that some prior seasons have had, Supernatural remains an enjoyable show, and with most of the season’s major storylines yet to come into focus, it will be interesting to see how the show keeps things fresh past its 200th episode.
– Deepayan Sengupta