Season five. What a pretty big season for this little show. One reason is the fact that there was a season five. So few shows make it to this milestone. So few shows get to celebrate the coveted 100th episode. So few shows get to decide that despite the success they’re ending the planned five year mytharc anyway. Okay, maybe that’s the only show I know of. So season five now gets to be labeled as the penultimate season. It’s over, but its not.
I held out doing this review for a while. I had intended on writing this months ago, shortly after the airing of “Swan Song” but the scathing posts of disapproval and open bitterness interlaced with the passionate outcries of support left me waiting until the dust settled. Season five did perplex us in many ways and time was needed for an objective analysis. Now here we are, ready for the season five DVD release and all eyes are focused on season six. The time is right.
Come on, admit it. You secretly (or maybe not so secretly) wanted Supernatural’s season five to be something it wasn’t. It’s okay, it’s just between you and me, us fans. I won’t tell anyone. Maybe expectations were high. Maybe it’s just that season four spoiled us so much. Maybe you’re like me and dreamt for once that a genre show would give you that “perfect” ending. Curses, foiled again!
Nah, I kid. It wasn’t a bad season by any means. There were some absolutely “kill-you-dead” moments that any fan heavily invested in a show craves, but it wasn’t a masterpiece either. Granted it was near impossible for season five to stand up to the gold standard of season four, one of the best seasons in television in my opinion let alone Supernatural. Still, expectations were high so there was bound to be some disappointment. As I learned a while ago though from the creative yet sometimes overwhelmed minds of Chris Carter and more recently Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, there is no perfect ending. While I’m completely satisfied with the way season five and the mytharc ended, the journey getting there did get bumpy at times.
Season five wasn’t as fluid as season four. Heck, it made the hobbled by the writer’s strike season three look well plotted. Despite that, I’ve never been more entertained, stunned, or emotionally wrecked. This show continued to go outside the box and give it’s loyal fans and casual viewers alike something different. Any proper analysis though from a passionate fan or not has to avoid the “wows” and “what if’s” and take an analytical look at what was given. The goal of this review is to look at the 22 episodes presented and answer the question, “Did it all add up?”
It’s impossible to start with season five without going back to season four. The comparisons are inevitable since they are so strongly tied together. Season four was masterful at so many things, starting with the show’s primary core, the brothers and their constantly tumultuous relationship. Season four painstakingly yet brilliantly pulled Sam and Dean apart. The slow plotting of their deteriorating bond paralleled the pre-apocalyptic events perfectly. As the brothers fell apart, we got closer to the end of the world. For a fan their rift was positively heart shattering but so compelling as well. It was high drama done right.
Season four also expanded, no exploded, the universe by introducing angels. It was a game changer. Then it turned out Heaven and Hell weren’t all that different. Each had an agenda and the plight of man wasn’t in either of their interests. The payoff at the end that both angels and demons were eager to start the apocalypse was the satisfying outcome to a season long mystery that kept us guessing the entire time. Sam and Dean were the pawns of the plan and deceived into doing their bidding, despite good intentions. That’s where season five starts, the apocalypse has begun and Sam and Dean still have important roles to play. In other words, the universe isn’t done screwing with them yet.
Season five actually did a great job of carrying on the real core of this show, the epic story of two brothers. It all played out with the long, slow and painful reconciliation of Sam and Dean. It wasn’t easy and often hard to watch but it made sense throughout, for it had to take more than a quick “that’s alright” to heal a fractured relationship that was seasons in the making.
Sam, coming off of his disastrous and unforgiving mistake, had no other choice than to lay low and put his faith in Dean. He learned the hard way once and for all going out on his own only resulted in tragedy. He stuck with his brother through it all, even when Dean lost faith in him. Dean’s journey went in the opposite direction, for he finally felt the weight from intense burdens he put upon himself. He cracked by doing something very human, losing all hope. God let him down, angels let him down, his family let him down. Sam had done nothing for years but lie to him and then ultimately betray him. When push came to shove, how could he have total faith in Sam? He’d been burned too many times by the brother that always wanted to leave. The brother who didn’t value family. He had to carry on his fight alone and found he couldn’t do it.
Oh, but he did find that faith again, all because of Sam’s ultimate show of faith in him. It was only then that Dean was able to do the one thing he hadn’t been able to do thus far, trust Sam to do the right thing. Yes, that meant that he would lose his brother. He’d have to let go. Through all the horrible traumatic events and losses that got in their way, Sam and Dean stood together in the end and that bond helped them overcome all odds. Ultimately, that’s what heroes do. However, as we’ve learned from this show by now, being the hero comes at a deep personal cost too and there was no shortage of suffering at the Winchester’s expense. It was tragic, sad, somewhat depressing at times but it felt real. The apocalypse is no picnic.
In looking at season five beyond the core of the brotherly drama and their inspirational story of triumphing over evil by standing together, the foundation of got shaky. So what happened? Let’s take a closer look by examining the good, the bad, and the ugly of season five.