Around the Water Cooler: “Supernatural,” Checking In Mid-Season (SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: “Supernatural” currently airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, Tuesdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Supernatural,” a drama depicting the tale of two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively), who are “hunters” of all supernatural ilk, be they demons, monsters, or angels on high, in a quest to save the world from things that go bump in the night, things that cause apocalypses, and things that are generally just out to get them (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/supernatural/summary.html).

When: The Season 9 mid-season finale aired on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, on the CW at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in no specific locale; the brothers ride all over the country in a 1967 Chevrolet Impala and live out of hotel rooms via fake identities and money scams, though the Winchesters are originally from Lawrence, Kansas.  The time is present day.

Why:  Oh so many seasons ago now, I followed Jensen Ackles–a fine, fine man–from Smallville to his new gig, which, at the time, seemed like a new spin on the X-Files, with two brothers versus two sexually tense FBI agents.  From the opening frames of the pilot, though, I knew that it was oh so much more or, at least, vastly different than the X-Files, and this show has surpassed so many expectations, including mustering the incredible ability to remain relevant and engaging long past the expiration of the initial story arc mapped out by creator Eric Kripke.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

Since this TV blogger is behind on a few series, owing to life in the theater (pronounced theat-tuh), this purpose of this entry is simply to check in on Supernatural.  After all, in some ways, the brothers Winchester and Castiel the (now) fallen angel have been running in repetitive circles this season, until cataclysmic events began to take shape as of the episode “Holy Terror,” the mid-season finale (though the mid-winter hellatus was not nearly as long this year).

The circular trek of Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki), and Castiel (Misha Collins) can be described as follows:

Dean lies to Sam.  Again.   Angel Ezekiel offers to hide in Sam, which Dean accepts, because…

…after the trials to close the Gates of Hell nearly decimated him at the end of season 8, Ezekiel offers to hide within Sam, healing him, while Ezekiel is also healed from his fall from grace.  Ezekiel occasionally pops through Jared Padalecki’s Sam-like countenance, causing Sam to lose time and memory and to begin to suspect that something is amiss.  It doesn’t help that…

…Ezekiel wants nothing to do with Castiel, who was duped by Metatron, causing all of the angels to fall…

…most of season 9 has been about the brothers Winchester navigating the Angels’ various machinations on earth, either in attempts to create heaven’s kingdom on Earth or to understand what it means to be human (or both).

…meanwhile, Kevin Tran (Osric Chau), the prophet, continues to try to translate the tablets referencing closure of the gates of Hell as well as the angel tablet, which might have information about restoring heaven.  Crowley, former King of Hell, is being housed in a storage room in the vault of the Men of Letters, while Abaddon returns to his/her former glory, though her work is cut out for her with so many angels on earth.

…in the meantime, Metatron is not through yet.

In “Holy Terror,” Sam is starting to suspect that something is amiss, as incidents of “lost time” are compounding each time Ezekiel emerges to talk to Dean.  Dean chalks it up to after effects of the trials, but Sam is not convinced.

Investigating the slaughter of some angels, the brothers find Castiel already there to investigate himself and taking a cue from their playbook by posing as an FBI agent. He feels responsible for the angels.  The brothers take him to a bar, where he enjoys his first beer.  Castiel explains that the Angel Bartholomew is trying to ascend to heaven again and reverse Metatron’s spell.  While his back is turned, Ezekiel emerges in Sam’s body again and reminds Dean that Castiel’s presence will attract the attention of the other angels – unwanted attention.  Ezekiel rationalizes this unwanted attention to be due to the fact that the other angels will see Ezekiel as “choosing sides” by agreeing to help Sam.  When Castiel returns to the table, Ezekiel/Sam exit the bar to find Metatron, who greets Ezekiel as Gadreel, the angel who allowed the serpent entrance into the Garden of Eden.  While Dean is trying to talk to Castiel into keeping his continued distance at Ezekiel’s request, Metatron informs Gadreel that his spell of expulsion freed all angels, including those imprisoned for displeasing God (such as Gadreel).  Metatron espouses that he finds life on earth tedious, and he wants to take a few chosen angels back to heaven to rebuild it “as it should be.”  He nominates Gadreel for this task, so that Gadreel might improve his soiled reputation of centuries.

When the Winchesters return to the bunker without Castiel, Sam questions Castiel’s absence; Dean again explains that Castiel believed he would endanger the Winchesters by remaining with them.   Gadreel/Sam meets again with Metatron, who admits that he plans to style himself “God” but to call himself “X.”

Castiel prays and is heard by Muriel, an angel posing as a sheriff.  She tries to run, but he pleads with her to provide information.   Castiel explains how Metatron tricked him into becoming human and causing the angels to fall; Muriel imparts that Bartholomew seeks the throne of heaven, while Malachi the Anarchist defies his efforts, and that both angels are forcing those who have declared neutrality to choose sides in their war.  Malachi then appears with angel Theo; they take Castiel and Muriel and torture them, eventually killing Muriel for sport.  When Castiel questions what they’ve become, Malachi quips that they are following Castiel’s example, though he offers that many good angels died in the fall from heaven, including Ezekiel.

Kevin, studying the angel tablet, tells Dean that the tablet contains words inscribed there by Metatron.  Sam, meanwhile, discovers an attack on a glee club choir in Utah and deduces that angels are responsible, particularly Bartholomew, as the description of one offender matches that provided by Castiel.

Malachi leaves Castiel with Theo to torture, but Theo tells Castiel he wants to switch sides, pointing to Malachi’s insanity.  He assumes that Castiel is working with Metatron and agrees to free Castiel.  Cas takes this as opportunity to slash Theo with an angel blade, causing Theo’s grace to transfer from Theo to Castiel.  Theo dies a mortal after Castiel uses his recovered angelic abilities to smoke Theo’s eyes; Malachi later discovers the empty shell of his angelic co-conspirator.

Castiel calls Dean and imparts to him what he learned: that Malachi is spreading war, and that Ezekiel could not have cured Sam.  He also informs Dean that he took another’s angel’s grace and had to do some “terrible things” to be prepared for the war to come.  While Dean asks Kevin to create a spell from the angel tablet to eject a possessing angel from a vessel, Sam/Gadreel tell Metatron that he accepts his offer.  In turn, Metatron asks Gadreel to prove his loyalty by killing one of Metatron’s enemies and hands him a slip of paper with a name.  Gadreel initially resists, but Metatron urges him to choose his path.

Kevin discovers a sigil that will expel an angel and asks Dean to tell him what’s going on.  Dean admits to the deal he made with Ezekiel, and that he knows now that Ezekiel is not who he says he is.  Meanwhile, Dean manipulates Sam into the storeroom where the sigil has been painted and finally tells Sam the truth about the angel inside him, including the fact that Sam has to force the angel out for them to be done with the impostor.  Sam is furious, and punches his brother unconscious.  Sam then finds Kevin and, with angelic touch, scorches his eyes, effectively murdering young Kevin Tran.  Dean tries to stop him, but Gadreel, now the present identity, explains that Sam is gone for good, that he overheard talk of the sigil and altered it so it wouldn’t work, and then he walks out, dropping Metatron’s note on Kevin’s body as Dean collapses in tears.

The apparent direction of the second half of the season: saving Sam from the possession of the angel inside him.  Hopefully, Dean can find Castiel and strike up a true reunion with him.  The angel story has not been as interesting or as successful as originally hoped for by this viewer, but the tension could be ratcheted up a notch in the coming half of the season (several episodes of the second half have already aired).

In truth, the first half of the season was a bit tedious, as Metatron meta-quipped.  This viewer continues to worry for the viability of this late-life show.  Sure, as a fan, I enjoy the humor, the attractiveness of the stars, and the cult mythos behind the program, but it hasn’t been all that riveting this year.  When I say it’s been going in circles until the mid-season finale, I mean it. Castiel as mortal is funny, and all, but we’ve already played that record in earlier seasons when he was becoming accustomed to his friend Dean and his ways, and Sam and Dean constantly lying to each other is also an oft-told tale.  In some ways, some of the storytelling is feeling recycled, and that’s worrisome for the remaining half of this season and the now impending tenth season, given the show’s renewal.  Still, Sam’s possession by angel for a longer period than the Lucifer story line in season 5 might be interesting, depending on where it goes…

Oh, and Felicia Day’s character is now in Oz.  There’s no place like home, I guess.  Will she come back?  I wouldn’t.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Dean and Sam have survived so much, I can’t imagine that even secret possessions by angels would destroy their relationship in the end.  Still, how many times can they have this fight?  They haven’t had it yet…but it’s coming.  The familiar angst is beginning its annual journey.

Answer: Apparently at least one more time.  Hopefully, Dean can save Sam once and for all from Gadreel.

2) How many miles are on the Impala after all this time?

Answer: Still unknown.

3) Is Abaddon going to be a problem for the Winchesters this season?  Maybe the angels will unite with the brothers against the demons of hell.  How’s that for an apocalypse?

Answer: She’s been mostly quiet, except for when she toyed with Crowley (Mark Sheppard) a time or two.  It’s been all about the angels, who have been creating more trouble than anyone else.

4) I’m glad they have the inherited bunker as Men of Letters.  It might be the closest thing they have to a home now.

Answer: Truth.

5) I hope we see more of Crowley this season too.  Talk about a survivor.  He really was a fun King of Hell.

Answer: Not as much as I’d like…the season is still young.

New Question

1) What will Dean do now?  And will Sam be saved again?  How many more trials do these brothers have to endure?

2) Will they ever get their happy ending?

PARTING SHOTS

I’m repeating myself here, but Supernatural is like a well oiled machine – it is a quality program with a cultivated, passionate cult fan base, but nine seasons is a long time for any show, and it hasn’t been as good as it was in the Kripke years (Seasons 1-5, when he was executive producer). The looming risk for this show is that it all somehow becomes boring – a risk that might be taking shape as reality as we speak – though it could never be completely un-watchable, owing to the writing, acting, and quirks of the mythology (and the sheer beauty of its cast).  There is nothing like it on TV right now, at any rate, and it’s still entertaining, even this late in its lifetime.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Supernatural was renewed for a tenth season during February sweeps.  Hopefully, the show-runners will provide great stories through that tenth season, though I kind of hope that the show ends there, as much as I love it.  Again, I ask, how many more trials can these brothers endure? And what will it all be worth to them in the end?  Carry On, Wayward Sons.

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One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · March 12, 2014

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