WHY I LIKED SEASON 6
By Lynn E.
As season 7 approaches and season 6 DVDs are on their way out soon, I wanted to write this article not just to say why I liked season 6, but that I was surprised I liked season 6. You see, if you had asked me in October of last year if I liked the direction of “Supernatural” under Sera Gamble, I would have vehemently said, “HELL NO!” I was ready to string her up for what she had done to my beloved show. In fact, after “Live Free and Twi-Hard,” I sent Alice an email that if the next week didn’t improve I was done with “Supernatural.” So, why is it I now like the season?
One of my favourite series of this genre is “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I loved it for the writing and the way each season had a direction. Now that season 6 of “Supernatural” is finished, I would compare it to “Buffy” because the season was obviously well thought-out from the beginning. Each episode (for the most part) gave a little piece towards the overall Big Bad of the season. Yet we had several other plotlines also getting forwarded and completed, keeping things suspenseful, if not interesting. I was also reminded of “24,” which always ended nowhere near the plot that it began, and with many twists in between.
I know it was hell for us fans while the season was unfolding, but like a tapestry, we need to step back to see the big picture to truly appreciate the season. Some of my biggest complaints come from the constant interruption of the flow of the show with long hiatuses at Christmas, again at the end of January, and then again in March. As much as I would hate a longer hiatus, I would like to see “Supernatural” done like “24;” start in January and continue without interruption until May. Seasons such as this sixth season would have benefited by not being broken up as it was with hiatus.
Writing alone isn’t what made me change my mind on season 6. Acting and character developments were a big part of making season 6 good. I loved both the characters, and the actors that played them, of Balthazar and Crowley. They kept us guessing on what direction they would go; after all Crowley was helpful in season 5. Would he continue to be in season 6? Balthazar was an angel, and we know they can go either way in the good versus evil fight; he kept us guessing right up to his death in “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” What was important was that now that the season has ended, we can see their characters were not just thrown in to be “red shirts” but integrated into the storyline.
Now for a little confession; I am more of a Sam fan. Having said that, I am an even bigger brothers fan (they come as a package in my book). So I loved the Sam story. I did not see the soulless twist. I liked that this was definitely a new direction for the character of Sam. Someone who always struggles with morality to be stripped of his humanity is an intriguing direction for the character. The fact that Jared Padalecki did this subtle acting so well was what kept this storyline that went a few episodes too long from being painful. This was than followed by a second half of the season of Sam struggling with what he might have done without a soul, making for a new type of tortured character. I think a great way to see the development of Sam in season 6 is to go back and watch the last few episodes of season 5 and go straight to “Like a Virgin,” then later (say after “And Then There Were None”) watch the soulless Sam episodes. We could maybe understand a little more why Sam wants to break down the wall. He needed to know what he had done, not just be told what happened.
As for Dean, he finally had that dream family only to have it taken away. This was a perfect development for Dean. We know that he is seriously co-dependent with Sam and that the dream life wouldn’t last, but Jensen Ackles always plays Dean with such honesty and depth that you don’t just feel bad for him but actual feel his pain. The second half of the season with the brothers in full brother mode, having “fun” hunting together, not fighting over who was in charge, was the perfect feeling of nostalgia for the fans and at the same time set up Sam’s ability to come back from that wall breaking to be with his brother.
I think the most misunderstood character was Castiel, perhaps because we didn’t get to know what was going on with him until almost the end of the season. When we finally do get to know what he is thinking, we can look back on the entire season and see where the puzzle pieces fit together. His motivation to not involve Dean, to work with Crowley, to be the one to bring Sam back (accidently soulless) all fit with the character and with all of what went on for the season. It wasn’t just thrown in to quickly wrap things up; it was well thought-out writing for the entire season.
You may have noticed the title of the article is why I liked the season, not why I loved the season. It fell short of love for a few reasons. Let’s face it; the soulless story was about two episodes too long. Eve was under developed. Samuel was good, but seriously under and misused. And finally, Dean was not given as much of a story as he should have been given.
The Dean fans have been screaming for some time to give Dean a story. I didn’t understand that rallying cry. Season 2 had a Dean plot for half the season with Dean dealing with John’s death. All of season 3 was about saving Dean from Hell. Half of season 4 was about Dean saved from hell and the other half about Dean’s nervous breakdown for having been to hell. Season 5 was how Dean was the one that needed to save the world by saying yes to Michael and his losing faith in God. So what was the problem? Shouldn’t Sam also have a story? Are they just mad that it ended up Sam saved the world instead of Dean? So finally, in season 6, Dean got to…. obsess about Sam. Ok, I finally get the rallying cry.
My breakdown comes not so much that Dean was obsessing about Sam; that would be in character. But that there is a disconnect with why he would leave Lisa and Ben. Let’s begin with the first part; Sam’s character was so out of character that we needed Dean to be Dean. I was ok with that part of Dean’s storyline. Whether he is family man Dean or hunter Dean, he is going to worry about his brother. This part of Dean’s character needed to be consistent.
It’s the gaps in the breakup with Lisa I am having an issue. I am a realist. I understand that neither Sam nor Dean can have a family or permanent love interest and have the show work. I don’t want to see the “Hawaii honeymoon” episode or the “Dean delivers his own baby” episode. We all knew Lisa and Ben would not last (I am grateful they didn’t die). I liked the idea of Dean trying to treat his job like a truck driver and be home sometimes only to find that the hunting life is not like truck driving and the situation won’t work. The disconnect for me came when we had “happy” family man Dean in “Exile on Main Street” leading to three episodes of Dean wanting to make it work, only to have Dean say in “You Can’t Handle the Truth” and again in “Mannequin 3:The Reckoning” that he can’t be home with them because of the monster he has become.
Don’t tell me it is because of being a vampire and hurting Ben. It is more about his life over the last 20 years (not to mention hell). So why could he be there for the year that Sam was gone? Just too fulfill his promise? That doesn’t fit the Dean I know. If he didn’t belong with them in “Mannequin,” he didn’t belong with them for the year; promise or no promise. So how about cutting the dog episode and giving us a few more episodes of what Dean’s life was like during that year that would make him realize he doesn’t belong with a family. Show us it wasn’t ideal. I would gladly lose a few episodes of soulless Sam or even intertwine them with the soulless Sam. Just give me more than a few clips and one statement from EOMS that things weren’t wonderful. Dean needed his “Unforgiven” episode.
As for Eve, we needed to see more of Eve from “Mommy Dearest” and not Eve from “And Then There Were None.” She just wasn’t that threatening earlier on and then came to an abrupt end. She could render Castiel impotent but was killed quite easily by Dean. She needed to give her speech from MD earlier so that we had a little more understanding of why she was back and creating monsters.
Finally, we have Samuel. I loved Mitch Pileggi as Grandpa. I was ok with him as a bad guy. However, they didn’t explain why he was in hell. I assume he was in hell since Crowley was the one that brought him back. I needed why, as a hunter, he didn’t see a problem with working with Crowley. He was in hell from 1973 to 2010 so maybe he is well on his way to becoming a demon. Either way, I would have liked to know a little more about Samuel.
We don’t get to do Mulligans in TV shows, and we all have 20/20 hind sight. Not to mention they only have 22 episodes per season to get the story across. Overall, as I said in the beginning, I liked season 6. I like it more as I wait in anticipation for season 7. I hope that Sera Gamble has taken what she learned from the season and has an even better story to give us starting next month. After all, season 2 was improved from season 1 and 3 and 4 were even better still. The thing is, I now have hope again, and hope comes from seeing a season that was planned out and kept me guessing. Sera gave me faith with season 6 that she can take the show in a good direction. Now if only this next month wouldn’t be so hellatus!