I struggle with Andrew Dabb scripts. While Robert Berens turned his script into a work of art, Dabb’s “All Along the Watchtower” felt like a story was thrown at us with a lot of random bits and we got to see what stuck to the wall. Some of it that did stick just looked like a garbled mess in the end. I get that plotting mytharcs isn't easy, but often the movement from scene to scene felt jagged. There was too much story exposition in parts and some pieces just didn't fit well with others. Pacing again was an issue. However, the story that developed did come together in the end and there was plenty to absorb, but I'm still not sure how much I liked it.
What I Enjoyed
How about I start with what worked for me? My favorite parts were the moments between Kelly and Castiel. Those two had a real tenderness between them and I like how they were both trying to adjust to the reality of what was coming. Kelly was going to die. She had to face the horror of not seeing her child grow up and become the special being she believed he would be. She was still doing all she can though like leaving recorded messages, putting together the crib and painting a mural on the wall. Girlfriend was living my dream by the way. No, not the baby stuff (been there done that) but being able to call an actual guy named Sven and bitch at him about trying to assemble his crappy Swedish crib. How many of you have bought something at IKEA and needed to give a guy named Sven a piece of your mind?
Castiel was really on edge, wasn't he? I guess of all the responsibilities he's had to face, father has to be one of the scariest situations. Stocking up on diapers though knowing your kid will be a Nephilim may not have been the wisest idea though. Lucifer coming after them didn't help but let’s face it, Castiel and Kelly weren’t exactly very discrete with their baby shopping as well as house rental. Despite the pressure though, Castiel strangely took the alternate universe with stride though, didn't he? If I was there, seeing that ribbon that breached time and space, I would be pointing out that something was seriously wrong with this picture. "This is effed up dude!" But I understand, when you’re an angel all hopped up on faith, you’re willing to overlook all sorts of things.
I did find it pretty clever that the alternate world scenario tied into the previous episode conversation between Dean and Mary. What if Mary didn't make that deal? John dies, Sam and Dean aren't born, and the apocalypse happens anyway. The earth is reduced to rubble because the Michael/Lucifer showdown happens. While I was trying to process the semantics of that, I told myself to shut up because I was so thrilled to see Jim Beaver back on my TV. I’m just happy that Jim has managed to be in every single season of “Supernatural”. Does this mean we’ll see more of AU Bobby? Perhaps he’ll cross over into current world? Yeah, I doubt it too but that did sound nice, didn’t it? I say AU Bobby and Mary end up hooking up.
I’m happy that it's been established that Sam and Dean won't run into their alternate selves since they weren't born. They so far seem to be the only ones that don't exist, except John, who is dead. I personally think dual roles are overdone. I mean, how many times can Barry Allen run into alternate versions of himself? No wonder he's a screwed up mess right now. Sam and Dean don't need that. But that's not to say they won't be exposed to other worlds now. How many alternate universes are there that this kid can open up?
The setting of the cabin was absolutely beautiful. I've visited tons of places and have never experienced anything more beautiful than that Sea to Sky drive on Highway 99 north of Vancouver, with the gorgeous ocean and bay views through the entire drive. I highly recommend it to everyone. If Castiel and Kelly were really getting away there, that cabin would cost a freaking fortune. But yeah, Washington can be cheaper.
What Bothered Me
“Okay let me just get this straight. So, we beat the Brits, we kicked their psycho tea swilling asses. And instead of popping champagne and heading to Vegas, we get Lucifer.”
Look, I get it, I know what show I watch. It’s supposed to be one horror after another. You know, the hits keep coming sort of thing. If we did get a season finale of Sam and Dean popping champagne in Vegas, I’m sure the season would close out with many confused fans. Happy fans, but confused ones. But think about this. This season has been lackluster, slow, and loaded with plenty of filler. Story lines were introduced early and didn’t progress much until the last few episodes. Why is everything getting thrown at us at once? Especially IN ONE NIGHT? Honestly, I would have rather seen it all play out gradually earlier and had that season finale of one wild trip to Vegas once everything was set in motion from 12.22. Call it the “Supernatural Hangover.” Because after a whirlwind season, we all need to blow off steam. Wouldn’t that have been a much better use of an episode 23? But no, everything was anticlimactic instead, and once again the piss poor pacing of the season leaves us cold in the end.
The real problem though was there were just so many plot holes it made me wonder how much attention to detail was really put into this rather than falling for anything that was supposed to be shocking. Here’s a list of the more obvious ones:
- They need to find Castiel and Kelly, so everyone grab a laptop! Let's look at real estate records! How Sam would find a lease to a James Novak in a remote center of nowhere is beyond me. That cabin looked like a place where someone makes backwoods cash deals. If Sam and Dean can check records, can’t Lucifer?
- A Nephilim being born opens a rift in time and space? Was that ever explained why? Shouldn’t the same thing have happened when say…and archangel is killed? Or Death?
- Kelly is in labor and Castiel decides to go check out the other world? Furthermore, if he’s gone in the other world, wouldn’t time in the current world not matter? She shouldn’t have noticed he was gone at all. Since the early part of the episode was a bit exposition heavy with how Kelly and Castiel were preparing for the baby and Sam and Dean were looking for them, wouldn’t a small sentence about time mechanics in parallel universes help?
- Wouldn’t Chuck be God in the alternate universe? So if he interfered and helped a set of heroes prevent the apocalypse in the current world, wouldn’t he have done that in this world too? That’s just one of many things we can bring up in the, “How did this alternate universe come to be?” scenario, but it’s one that makes you wonder that if angels and demons exist, then God should exist.
- Why were Sam, Dean, and Castiel more pre-occupied with the alternate universe than, I don’t know, the immediate matters of the Nephilim being born? Why did Castiel have to show them this world at all? Because it was interesting? There was nothing of crucial importance between that world and the current one.
- I’m trying to grasp the timing of this. Mary goes to help Kelly alone (???), gets blasted, and then shows up with Enochian Brass Knuckles to help Sam and Dean? Um, wasn’t there a woman in labor that needed her? Or was the child born by then? If so, wouldn’t she be taking care of the new child?
- Why did Castiel burst into the alternate world angry right at the time when the baby was supposed to be born and the rift supposedly closed, essentially assuring his own death. What happened to that faith stuff?
- If Crowley wanted to close the gates of Hell and move on, then why the act of self sacrifice? That wasn’t part of the deal.
Let’s get to my biggest nitpick of all, which is more of a sweeping criticism. We call it…
Onto the cavalcade of deaths, shall we? It started with Rowena, who we really didn't see die, did we? All we saw was a burnt corpse. She was clever enough to survive all these years and had plan B in action when Lucifer supposedly killed her the first time. Gabriel knew the trick of creating a mirror image of himself. Maybe Rowena knew it too.
You know who else probably knows that trick? Crowley. Did you see how Crowley had a flippant reaction to his mother's death? He should have been more upset, especially given his new “epiphany.” I think those two had a plan and are now hiding in Boca Raton with Republicans.
Can you picture Crowley staging a heroic, poignant death? I suppose he saw himself as the hero in his own story and wanted to go out knowing he defeated Lucifer, but he didn’t, right? His death didn’t close the rift. That baby being born did. It made no sense for him to impale himself and I think he knew that. I think the alternate universe was his out. His chance at a fresh start. I couldn't be more thrilled over his grand (and very honest) revelation that he hated his job as the King of Hell. Of course he did! I got really, really tired of watching him in the ridiculous bureaucratic role. I'm so pumped that we won't be seeing Office Hell anymore. But Crowley has NEVER done an act of self sacrifice before. He's always been ten steps ahead. As beautiful as his act was, I don't buy it for a minute. He had an out with this plan.
No, that doesn’t mean I’m saying that Mark Sheppard will be back. I’m not sure what’s going on with this whole online controversy, but what’s happening behind the scenes doesn’t impact for me what’s possible for Crowley. He’s in the wind for now as far as I’m concerned and not really dead.
Then there’s Castiel, who’s death makes even less sense than Crowley’s. This one irks me, because a Castiel resurrection at this point will cheapen the powerful and emotional scene of his death. I mean, they showed his burnt out wings! He’s dead. We didn’t even get that in “Swan Song.” So, if they do bring Castiel back, there’s a few ways it could happen. I suppose the Nephilim Jack might have that power to do so. Castiel was supposed to take care of him, or did Castiel see his own death when Jack showed him the future? I just can’t figure out what Castiel knew. I do know that if Misha does come back, they either have to go with AU Castiel or AU Castiel was the one that came out of that rift and regular Castiel is in the Alt reality with Mary and Lucifer. No matter which scenario happens, the overall result to me will make no logical sense in the scheme of things. His return will exist just to have that tearful Dean and Castiel reunion, while bystander Sam watches in the background with glistening eyes.
Then there’s poor Kelly’s death. My question is, what’s stopping giant Nephilim Jack from bringing his mother back? He did it before. Then again, maybe he wants Sam and Dean to do that? Mary was blasted by the power of the little dude before she came outside to fight Lucifer. Maybe he sent her to do that? After all, he knows the future, or is it just alternate realities? My head hurts.
As a side note, Mary may not be dead, but what an awful way to get her out of the picture now that she has reconciled with Sam and Dean. Death sounded better. I’m sorry, but these writers decided to bring her back, they should be writing some damn storylines for her! Have some balls writers. The ways they’ve come up with Mary to be separated from Sam and Dean is really, really contrived.
I don't want to over speculate with possibilities because a lot of the potential from a new storyline hasn't been realized. Just look at Mary's return and the British Men of Letters. How about when the angels fell? Demon Dean? Castiel and Dean in Purgatory? I have serious doubts that this writing team can pull off anything too ambitious. But as of right now, the door is open where ANYONE can come back. Could this mean then that other supporting characters other than Sam and Dean aren’t needed because a new one could be brought back every week? Intriguing notion, but no Castiel and Crowley makes “Supernatural” a dull show. Look at season twelve. They weren’t in it hardly at all, especially later in the season. I don’t think the season benefitted from their absence. But then again, Sam and Dean weren’t there much either, so it may not just be a slight against them.
Overall grade, a C. I just couldn’t get past the lazy plotting. Silver lining is it wasn't as bad as last season's finale. Am I excited about season thirteen and be back to review it? We'll just add that to the list of cliffhangers.