Around when I first started this review, WFB had a poll on which was the worst season of SPN. I’ve made no secret that my vote is for S9 but I was rather surprised that S7 was the winner. But then as I rewatched S7 over again, I started to notice more and more parallels – connections – between the two seasons. Maybe… we are all right? S7 and S9 are both the worst because they’re the same season? You may scoff, but consider the evidence…
1) Both seasons are 23 episodes long. Ok I’m just listing this here for completeness sake as S7 was the first time the network demanded SPN add one more episode to their season run (before then it was always 22) so of course every season after will continue to have 23.
2) A word of God tablet breaks. Wait… that happened in S8 too. Maybe it’s just a new show rule that no tablet can survive a season. Though I bet Metatron feels silly for killing Kevin since he was able to heal the Levi tablet with a touch. Apparently if the prophet was still around, Metay boy could probably get his angel tablet fixed right up.
3) “Sam Winchester” goes on a killing spree. And by that I mean something not quite Sam Winchester kills lots of people. In S7 it was leviathan pretending to be him, while in S9 it was while possessed by Gadreel. Hopefully now we all know: if Sam’s face shows up at your door, don’t let me him.
4) In the S7 episode “the Slice Girls” Dean runs into some Amazons, one of which uses him to make a kid. At the end of the episode he says to Sam: “Hey, you know what? I don’t like it, either. I wanted to torch ’em just as much as you. Yeah, but, hey… next time they surface, we’ll be ready. If we live that long.” When is the next time they surface? Well Amazons have 2 year cycles… Should a MotW episode in S9 have been the return of the Amazons? Well I’ll let it slide even though the episode was written by the ERL-BB team which were still employed in S9. Yet even though I usually berate them for a lot of canon forgettings, this time I’ll let slide since even I forgot about the 2 year detail in the episode. But if it was my choice… it would have been interesting to consider an episode like Sharp Teeth or Purge replaced with the Amazons returning (perhaps one of them tries seducing Garth?) and Dean having to confront his babymama again.
5) Death (as played by Julian Richings) appears in the season premiere. Especially with S10 behind us now, this gets even weirder as since his appearance in S5 Death has not appeared in 3 out of the 5 possible premieres. There are plot reason for him to appear both times, but it is a bit strange. Though after S9 I now have this image of him and the Death of Discworld sitting around, talking about the “ones that keep getting away” in some sort of afterlife bar.
6) Crowley (as played by Mark Sheppard) appears in the season finale. Well this is more of a https://natewinchester.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3787&action=editrunning gag now in that since his appearance in S5, Crowley has been in EVERY season finale from S6 on. Then again if you have Mark Sheppard available, why wouldn’t you utilize him? What’s really funny is Crowley’s almost clockwork allegiance shift. S5- ally, S6- foe, S7- ally, S8- foe, S9- ally. S10 seems pretty obviously set up for foe which means if he survives, he’ll be back to ally in time for S11. (UPDATE: I left in the previous sentence from an old draft of this article since it turns out that in S10, I was largely right…ish. Though it ends with him declaring himself a villain, so it will be interesting to see if he turns ally in S11 or breaks the rhythm and stays foe.)
7) Charlie first appears in S7. Her final appearance is in S9. Well they’ve left a way open for Charlie to return, but at the moment it seems pretty unlikely as her skills and near mary-sue status made her a plot-breaking problem. (UPDATE: And to prove I’m fair, another prediction left in where I was… way off. Though they did kill her for real once she came back.)
8) Garth first appears in S7. His final appearance is in S9. True in that, similar to Charlie, they’ve left a way open for Garth to return, but at the moment it seems pretty unlikely as his werewolf abilities make him a potentially plot-brea… Wait a second! . . . REALLY? Both allies introduced in S7 are gone in S9? That just seems… mean.
9) Kevin first appears in S7. His final appearance is in S9. Oh come on!
10) A longtime ally is eliminated by an unhuman foe in episode 9 (Bobby S7, Kevin S9). Yes I’m somewhat cheating as Bobby was SHOT in episode 7.09 but he got the entirety of 7.10 to die in. Still that both of them are taken out in the 9th episode of the season is… oddly similar. No really, check out every other 9th episode of every other season and you’ll notice that it doesn’t happen. (Martin Creaser dies in 8.09 but since he had ONE other appearance before that it hardly seems to count.)
11) And the ally that dies returns as a ghost (Bobby S7, Kevin S9). And the episodes they did so were… 7.18 and 9.14. So that time they didn’t quite align unless you want to count clues that about Bobby’s ghostitude (those began in 7.13). This is just par for the course in SPN though. Sure if you’re on the show long enough you’re likely to die but on the plus side, you’ll probably get an after-death appearance too!
12) Castiel embraces pacifism. No that’s not a joke. Remember S7? After Leviathan escaped him, and his brief tussle with the demons (after which he absorbed Sam’s insanity), Cas went total pacifist – the boys had to drag him into fighting Dick kicking and screaming. It was apparently a consequence of his mental ordeal and he was extreme into it, wishing to not even harm animals. In S9 it’s more of a character growth as he vows not to kill any more angels (conceivably other things are ok for death still – no word yet on how concerned he is over animals). This is one of the commonalities that I think gives a strong “remake of S7” feel to S9. What’s also interesting is that the break between the two seasons where he went violent again was a consequence of Naomi’s brainwashing. Was S9 character growth in Castiel, or a return to form once free of Naomi’s influence?
13) Castiel acquires a loyal female sidekick. This just makes me laugh with how closely these two parallel. Meg connects with and joins Castiel’s side full time in episode 7.17 while Hannah does the same in episode 9.18.
14) Main villain does not appear onscreen until midseason (7.06 & 9.09). This is a SPN staple. Azazel, Lilith, Eve, almost all the big bads in the show remain off screen until the climatic finale. Lucifer is the most notable exception appearing in the premiere then several times in one form or another during S5 with greater frequency than his predecessors. Their first appearances are somewhat close but even funnier is that Dick’s 2nd and more informative, substantial appearance was 7.09.
15) The goal of the main villain remains a mystery. Ok this is actually a common feature of SPN as the only times we’ve had a clear goal stated for the villain were in S4, 5, 6 and 8. S1 & 2 the discovery is an ongoing plot and S3 is debatable. Still in S9 we never really did get to know just what the main villain’s goal was.
16) In the finale episode the protagonists have to storm a base containing the main antagonist but it is surrounded his followers. This might seem like a “of course that’s a finale style” kind of thing but really think about it. Look at where a lot of the final confrontations end up happening: In a small building with a demon (S1, S4, S6, S8 – in a church in S4 & S8). In a graveyard (S2, S5). S3 with the house surrounded by demons is the only other finale closer to these two and S7 & 9 have the added distinction of taking place in commercial structures (even if one is under construction) larger than a suburban house.
17) Dean keeps a secret from Sam for several episodes. When DOESN’T this happen any more? The magnitude of the secret is different (killing a friend vs possessing Sam) but the fact remains that Dean is keeping something from Sam and what makes it different from the secret in S2 is that Sam wasn’t aware of the secret in the first place. It takes him a little while to figure out his brother’s hiding something.
18) When Sam finds out that secret in #16, the boys split up. This gets funny. Now if you consider the split in S9 to be where Gadreel takes Sam’s body and runs, then Sam is the one to depart both times. If you count only when the boys split up completely of their own free will…
19) The boys decide to split up while standing on a wooden construction that stretches over water. No really. The big difference is that in S7 it’s during the day while in S9 it’s during the night. When they split in S5 yes it was over a WOODEN park bench but note that there’s no large body of water. But for some reason wood construction just really drives these guys apart.
20) Then they reunite when intersecting on a case both were independently working on. This commonality becomes more visible when you compare both these to the S5 split. In S5 they are given an episode and half apart (I only count “The End” for half since they do reunite at… the end). Also the reunion is a result of active effort by one of them (Dean). In S7 the boys are apart not even half an episode. In S9 the boys are apart for 1 before reuniting. But both times in S7 and S9 they reconnect in the first act when both are working the same case and just HAPPEN to run into each other.
21) This line from Bobby: “And when it’s your time… go.” This was in the last episode of S7 and, as you’ve probably guessed, Bobby is talking about dying. Which becomes bittersweet in its echo as S9 opens AND closes with a brother refusing to go ahead and die when it’s their time. In fact, when you think about it it looks like we only got S9 (and will be getting S10) purely because the boys didn’t listen to Bobby.
So what are your thoughts? Are the seasons too much alike or is it just coincidental? Is season 9 an inferior copy or superior remake to S7? A loving tribute or “I can do better” taunt? Or is there an even greater (or sillier) conspiracy theory I missed? (All a plot by Sam’s hair? A set up for the next GISHTWHES?) And after this journey, do you have new appreciation for Gamble’s double dose? Or has it made you more appreciative of Carver’s collection?