Winter Hellatus. Itâ€™s not all bad. This is the time where we all can take a deep breath, sit back, and examine with objectivity the 10 hours of Supernatural season five weâ€™ve been given thus far. Itâ€™s a chance to see the forest from the trees and look at the work as one big mass rather than the week to week nitpicking. So, does this expanded view change what I thought of season five up to now? It all depends on the point of reference.
This season thus far hasnâ€™t been as explosive as season four. There were two reasons why season four came out strong like it did. First, the writerâ€™s strike that shortened season three left plenty to be told in season four. Also, because of the shape of The CW and the mixed messages coming from the bosses, anything beyond season four was in doubt at the time. Doubts that were erased the second â€œLazarus Risingâ€ aired and drew one million viewers more than normal. For a three million viewer show, that jump was too significant to ignore. It proved that more people actually watch this show than the numbers indicate.
That was then though, this is now. The â€œwowâ€ factor that existed from the angel reveal in season four is gone. Not that the storytelling isnâ€™t still strong though. Itâ€™s still superior. But the big surprises and question marks from season four donâ€™t exist in season five. The events have unfolded and the sad reality is Lucifer walks the earth. What plays out here becomes biblical prophecy. Okay, itâ€™s not the bible we know, but as Anna said last season, â€œSame bottom line.â€
Sure, the mythology could have been laid out rather quickly in two episodes. But thatâ€™s not what this show is about. Itâ€™s the storytelling dummy. Stories unfold slowly. Stories involve conflict, personal heartache, intense internal struggle, and in this case, some rather bizarre situations. There are breaks in between all that because life happens. Strange things happen during an apocalypse, just like when strange things happen when thereâ€™s no apocalypse. These guys have day jobs and time waits for no one. If that means a side trip to a wax museum in Ohio, so be it.
With every story, whether it be taking on Lucifer or trying to outfox a clever witch, the main focus has stays the same, the brotherly relationship. The stakes are higher, the suffering greater, but the premise the same. They must save the world and in the process save themselves. So, how well is this process going so far?
The mythology. I know itâ€™s not going as fast as some people would like, but when you really think about how many years Lucifer was in the cage, the angels and demons have gotten really patient. They all seem to accept that in time everything will go according to plan. As far as carefully plotting the beginning of the apocalypse and the timing of the reveals, the writing has been outstanding. Look at the progression. First Lucifer is freed. Sam and Dean are mysteriously rescued and Castiel is brought back from the dead supposedly by the same being. Then angelsâ€™ part of the plan is revealed, the Michael sword is none other than Dean in the form of his vessel. Then thereâ€™s a horseman sighting, War and an archangel is summoned, Raphael. Next comes the demonsâ€™ end game, Sam is Luciferâ€™s vessel, thus setting up the inevitable Dean/Sam conflict this show has been foreshadowing for years. Thereâ€™s a futuristic view of the apocalypse and suddenly the Croatoan virus makes sense. The Antichrist is found in the form of an eleven year old boy and he goes missing, uncertain which side heâ€™ll take. Another archangel, Gabriel, has been The Trickster the whole time and lets Sam and Dean know the real reason they were chosen to be the vessels. Finally, the one shot at killing Lucifer, the colt, doesnâ€™t work at all and thereâ€™s a heavy price to pay in the loss of two close friends.
Thatâ€™s quite a lot to show in ten episodes actually. A lot of these plots carefully tie in with whatâ€™s been revealed in other seasons too. Itâ€™s really good to see them build in this type of continuity and not leave things like the Croatoan virus and the colt hanging like they have been since season two. And bringing in The Trickster into the mythology is a stroke of genius. Go back and hear his words to Sam in â€œMystery Spot.â€ Suddenly everything the Trickster said and did in that episode makes sense. Suddenly everything the demons have done thus far makes sense.
Another well done story has been Bobbyâ€™s. For all the trauma heâ€™s suffered, his character arc thus far has played out well. His drama isnâ€™t too over the top but itâ€™s been well addressed. He isnâ€™t adjusting well to his paralysis but through Dean he sees he has a purpose. Itâ€™s part of that special bond those two have in pulling up other up out of their messes. That bond keeps getting stronger and stronger and to see it mature like this when Bobby needs help so badly is inspirational. Iâ€™m especially floored about how they got each other through the crisis in â€œAbandon All Hopeâ€ just through a radio conversation. Brilliant acting helps a writer make that work.
Castiel. I adore Castielâ€™s character but the writers thus far havenâ€™t done this guy much justice or given Misha Collins much to work with. Especially when he made such a strong impression last year. Only â€œAbandon All Hopeâ€ gave us a glimpse of how strong, determined, and loyal in this fight he is. Before that heâ€™s been throwing blame, being wishy-washy with his mission to find God, doesnâ€™t have a lot of screen time, and his purpose overall diminished. His behavior in â€œI Believe The Children Are Our Future,â€ is bizarre and to see him wither away to a drugged out mortal hippie in â€œThe Endâ€ isnâ€™t too comforting either. I wonâ€™t even cover how the good idea on paper to have Dean take Cas to a whorehouse didnâ€™t translate well on the screen. Sure, I admire Castielâ€™s faith in God when all other angelsâ€™ have lost theirs, but heâ€™s hardly been Godâ€™s warrior except for that latest episode. Heâ€™s been Godâ€™s whiny wimp.
Sure, there are still many intriguing possibilities for Castiel though. First, his friction with Sam in â€œI Believe The Children Are Our Futureâ€ is a great contrast to his close relationship with Dean. I see possibilities if Sam decides to go off on his own again. Dean might not be able to stop him but Castiel will. He wonâ€™t let the same mistakes happen again. Thatâ€™s just me speculating though. Itâ€™s possible nothing comes of it either. I also know Anna is going to be coming back. Her and Castiel have some real chemistry amidst their tension and Iâ€™d love to see how she reacts to his betrayal of her. Also very interesting is Castiel and Gabriel. Through their final stares at each other a history exists there. Letâ€™s hope thereâ€™s time to find out what it is.
Another bad thing, and I know itâ€™ll serve a higher purpose, but Iâ€™m also missing Deanâ€™s amulet. Thatâ€™s been a part of him so long, to see it missing for half a season is troublesome.
So far, the character development hasnâ€™t been the strongest. Forget the afore mentioned issues with Castiel. Letâ€™s focus on Sam, Dean, and the brotherly relationship.
Samâ€™s character development throughout the series has been uneven at best. I honestly didnâ€™t have a good understanding of his character until â€œMystery Spot.â€ He was a complete mystery in seasons one and two, and season three slowly began to unfold those layers. By season four, when his characterâ€™s descent was brilliantly plotted, those layers were often exposed down to the raw nerve and it was frightening. He really is a very dark guy. Heâ€™s moral though and did what he did out of a twisted sense of self-sacrifice for the greater good. Granted it all backfired on him, teaching the most valuable lesson that good intentions are the pathway to Hell.
So, in season five so far, how does Sam take what heâ€™s learned? The first two episodes are awesome character progressions. In â€œSympathy For The Devil,â€ he must face the backlash for what he did. He takes it all like a man, but we see how crushed he is by both Bobbyâ€™s (yes, even though it isnâ€™t the real Bobby) and Deanâ€™s words. He needs them both now more than ever and they turn him away. Sure, it helps that the real Bobby gives him support at the end, but Deanâ€™s lingering hurt is too much.
â€œGood God Yâ€™all,â€ is an ideal look at how bad things really are for Sam. He wants to try and pick up where he left off, do what he does best, but reality hits him hard. Thereâ€™s a reason he was hooked on the demon blood. He craves that power. He wants that control. Throw in his brother who canâ€™t trust him to make the simplest of decisions and Sam canâ€™t cope with it. He doesnâ€™t trust himself anymore to make the right decisions and he doesnâ€™t want to hurt more innocent people. Without Deanâ€™s support, he chooses to abandon hunting and part ways with his brother.
From there though, Sam goes back into the mystery mode that so plagued him in seasons one and two. He tries to live that normal life but it doesnâ€™t take long for him to get sucked back in by hunters bitter over fighting the war he started and by Lucifer himself. The trouble is, Dean wonâ€™t let him back. Then Dean does. Sam wants equal footing. Dean agrees. From there everythingâ€™s all hunky dory? We fans know Samâ€™s issues are still lingering. We know he still craves power. We know what drove him to choose Ruby over Dean is still there. We know he still has his powers and can use them. The trouble is, we arenâ€™t seeing it. We see some of his guilt about not doing the right thing creep up in â€œI Believe The Children Are Our Future,â€ but that isnâ€™t a very deep look or big character reveal. All weâ€™ve gotten is Lucifer and Gabriel throwing similarities at him about his actions and Luciferâ€™s. Where are those headspace digs like what War gave him in â€œGood God Yâ€™all?â€ The kind of things that Jared sells so well with one troubled glance? There havenâ€™t even been subtle reminders or flashes or remorse like when he has to kill someone possessed by a demon with the knife.
Then thereâ€™s the lingering thought that was triggered in â€œThe Endâ€ and left with us big time in â€œAbandon All Hope.â€ What in the world will happen to Sam in six months that will make him say yes to Lucifer in Detroit? I trust the writers to show Sam gradually taking that path and not all of a sudden agreeing because of something Dean said. As in â€œLucifer Risingâ€ Sam can be nudged in a dastardly direction through manipulation, like some deep personal hurt over a tampered phone message. Itâ€™s going to be a long six months seeing that unfold. It is my guess that all his issues start to surface in the second half of the season and Sam will slowly unravel. Itâ€™s my guess though. Anything else would be lazy.