Supernatural season finales are always intense. Emotionally gripping, they conclude many of the myth arcs of the season, and leave us gasping at some final scene that hopefully ensures the entire audience returns next season. “Do You Believe in Miracles”, the season 9 cliff-hanger, delivered possibly the most shocking final two seconds of the series (challenged only by the season 1 finale when the Impala got t-boned!). Sure, we had all speculated about Dean becoming a demon because of the Mark of Cain, but the impact of an extremely tight close up of his bloody, beat-up face interrupted by his eyes springing open to reveal jet black instead of emerald green eyes was a spectacular moment of TV viewing.
To be honest, “Do You Believe in Miracles” was not my favorite finale, which was a surprise since I’m a steadfast, enthusastic fan of Jeremy Carver’s writing. There were several diversions in the story that seemed unnecessary, forced or awkward. The mob killing of that anonymous angel who inexplicably was inhabiting a homeless man was one such scene. I imagine it was supposed to frame Metatron’s cruelty, or foreshadow what would happen to humanity under Metatron’s rule, but the long diatribe from the ill-fated angel who we had never seen before, then the unexpected ferocity of the attack when he challenged the people’s “savior” felt like the plot was idling when it should have been racing forward. A great deal of time had to be expended in this episode to clarify Metatron’s ultimate plan to rule humanity, so the episode had to explain motivations and implications only moments before it concluded the angels expelled from Heaven, the Gadreel redemption and the Metatron take-over plot lines.
I don’t want to focus on the flaws of the episode, though, because it also delivered some exceptionally good moments. The following are the things that I believe elevated this episode:
Dean: Just as Jared’s portrayal of Sam reached new heights in Sacrifice, Jensen’s depiction of Dean in the season 9 finale showcased Jensen’s outstanding acting talent. His bloodshot eyes and weary face reflected both the toll that season 9 took on Jensen and the end-of-the-road plight faced by Dean. Jensen conveyed the animalistic rage of a mangled soul when attacking Gadreel;
the tongue-tied brother awkwardly apologizing to Sam;
the determined and calculated strategist when stalling Metatron;
and the loving, heart-wrenching dying words of a defeated warrior.
An incredible range of emotions all channeled through one person in one episode.
Monologues: This episode was sustained by the strength of some brilliantly delivered dialogue, including Sam’s revealing speech to his brother;
Metatron’s endless, annoying yammering to Dean, Cas and various attending angels;
and Crowley’s explanation to Dean in the bunker dungeon about the effects of the blade. While all were dramatic, a few of the scenes will become signatures of this episode. Mark Sheppard’s emphasis in “the least-best better” and his inflection in “You want to get rid of it?” packed so much meaning into Crowley and Dean’s question and answer volley. Tahmoh’s declaration of Gadreel’s enlightenment and sacrifice convinced the audience of Gadreel’s sincere and ultimate redemption.
His words cut straight into the hearts of the viewers, amid the confusion and noise of the scene in the cell.
Of course, building to the climax of the episode was Mark Sheppard’s epilogue.
Mesmerizing and revealing, the audience hung onto every syllable, every breath, uttered by the genius of Mark Sheppard’s oration.
Parallels and Double Meanings: Dean fell to the ground, or “broke” at the exact same moment the Angel Tablet crashed to the ground and shattered. Metatron later told Castiel that he had broken “Arguably, the most powerful instrument in the history of the universe.” Just as he said those words, I was struck by the visual relationship that had just been drawn between Dean and the tablet. Dean and Sam have saved the world countless times. Dean, or maybe Dean and Sam together representing the bonds of a family, could easily be called the most powerful instrument in the history of the universe. In “breaking” Dean and taking Dean away from Sam, both forces for good had been broken.
During the rewatch I was also struck by the dichotomy of Dean’s adversaries. When Abaddon threw Dean against a wall, he was able to fight through the power and prevail. Metatron, on the other hand, threw Dean around like a puppet. This was a nice contrast to highlight Dean being outmatched when fighting against “God”.
Classic Supernatural Music: “Carry on My Wayward Son” playing during the retrospective of the season; the “family” theme playing as Dean lay dying in Sammy’s arms; the soft rock music “Can’t Find My Way Home” as Sam laid out and mourned his brother…what would Supernatural be without its music?
So while “Do You Believe in Miracles” will never be my favorite finale, I choose to remember its many epic moments, and wait impatiently for the beginning of season 10.
I sat down and watched “Do You Believe in Miracles” on iTunes last night after enjoying some rather stellar season premieres on other networks (Agents of SHIELD and Person of Interest were freaking awesome BTW). I’m not sure what compelled me to watch the episode other than I know “Supernatural’s” premiere will be here soon enough and hopefully I’ll be as excited about that as I’ve been about the premieres I’ve seen so far. I wanted that refresher, that chance to regroup and get in new episode mode again.
Honestly, I loved “Do You Believe in Miracles.” Every bit of it. I thought it was the best episode of the season back in May, and I still believe that now. Still, I know of many that didn’t like it. I’ve spent all summer reading and hearing people burn Jeremy Carver’s name in effigy. With that in mind, I went into last night’s re-watch hoping to see the gaping holes, contrived plotting, and just plain reckless nature of the script that other people saw. Nope, I still don’t get it.
I’ll admit, I’m a blind, unabashed lover of Carver’s work. No one writes Sam better. No one writes Dean better. No one writes brotherly moments, other characters, and plot twists better. He’s far and away the best writer on the team. The season finale is meant to tie everything we got in the season so far together, and then set the direction for the season to come. “Do You Believe in Miracles” accomplished that mission. Carver can only work with what he was given, and season nine was not a well written season by any means. Remember though, when evaluating the episode, I’m addressing Jeremy Carver the writer. Since Carver is also the showrunner, many lay the faults of the season on him and that can skew the view of the episode. I made sure to separate the two.
Look, I know as much as all of you that “Supernatural” isn’t the way it used to be. It’s not as exciting, not as ground shaking, a lot of the original heart is missing, the conflicts aren’t as vital, the dialogue isn’t as sharp and fun, and the plotting is often all over the map. I remember someone once throwing a criticism like that to Al Jean, the executive producer of The Simpsons (you know, that little show that’s been around for 25 years). His response, “Yeah, well you aren’t the same as you were ten years ago either.” I guess what I’m trying to say is, comparing seasons two or four to season nine is kind of like comparing apples to oranges. It’s not the same. Sure there are parallels, but they aren’t the same.
Carver is not the hands on showrunner that Eric Kripke was. Not by a long shot. Carver doesn’t engage with fans the way Kripke did either (although both aren’t on social media for a reason given this vocal fandom). Carver is more of a traditional Hollywood writer. He writes based on the way the story goes and tries to enhance that creative energy. He does so without the pressure of fans or other vocal critics. He goes with his instincts. He does control plots, he does pull in scripts that stray too far, he does offer dialogue feedback that could be more interesting, but he doesn’t micro manage. He’s not overbearing and doesn’t control. He gives his writers latitude and the freedom to run with ideas.
Carver also shares his duties with Robert Singer, the guy who pulled in Eric Kripke’s wayward tendencies with ideas. Singer is more of a traditional TV guy as well. He’s a fan, but not a fan boy. He believes in telling a good story, but he knows he won’t please everyone. Together Carver and Singer set the season vision and overall plot, and then the writers are expected to navigate their story ideas in between those beacons. They aren’t expected to create mind blowing epics every week, even though we as fans think that’s exactly what they should be doing. Expectations are lofty and cannot be met. Carver and Singer work the show the way they know best and still keep their sanity in the end.
It all boils down to what did you think of “Do You Believe in Miracles?” Any criticisms to how Carver handled plotting in season nine or what his record has been as a showrunner is irrelevant. I heard a ton of complaints that fans didn’t like the angel storyline or Metatron as a villain. Fair enough, there were faults in that area. Still, were they addressed and wrapped up properly in the season finale? After all, it’s not like Carver could just write the angels out without reason and not show them anymore. He had to run with what he was given. In this episode, that story had flow. It followed through a logical progression and there was some thought provoking dialogue. Metatron actually thought he was a hero. If you didn’t like it, that’s okay. That’s your right as a fan. But to say “I hate the angel storyline” isn’t going to get rid of it.
Angels are there, they’ve been there since season four, so they’re a major part of this series like it or not. Their story has to be addressed.
I’ve heard a ton of criticisms about Sam’s character. Through the season, I’m pretty certain I was throwing out several of those (as many of you know, I personally thought Sam’s character development in season nine was awful). However, “Do You Believe in Miracles?” actually gave Sam a POV! We finally got to know what he’s been feeling and thinking. We saw through his eyes the devastation of watching Dean die.
It was emotionally pitch perfect. A character’s direction or lack of development cannot change full course in 42 minutes. I’m still trying to figure out the expectations. Most are actually happy with Dean’s character and the MOC storyline, and this episode ran with that perfectly.
I’ve also heard from others in the less vocal part of the fandom total praise for what Carver has brought to the table in two seasons. There are people out there that love his work. There are people out there that think he’s brought a new creative energy to the show since returning in season eight. There are people out there happy with “Supernatural’s” direction in general. It’s with those people that I turn to when I need to restore a semblance of sanity. It’s with those people that when I say I like Carver’s work, I don’t get shouted out of the room so to speak. It’s honestly a better fan experience. That doesn’t mean Carver is perfect, or is creating the greatest thing since sliced bread, it’s just that as a fan I’m willing to give him creative license. It definitely doesn’t mean I loved season nine (I think it’s the worst one of the series).
Jeremy Carver made me very happy with his “Do You Believe in Miracles?” script. That’s what I’m left with for season nine, and that’s what I’m running with in my hopes for season ten. That’s not a half bad way to start, don’t you think?
One last chance to comment on season 9! What did you think of its finale? Were you blown away, as so many people were, or were you left wanting for more?
All of our original reviews of “Do You Believe In Miracles” can be found in the Season 9 Episode Guide.
Numerous pictures of the episode can be found in the Season 9 Photo Gallery.
Transcript quotes confirmed with www.supernaturalwiki.com.