Oh show, what are you doing? Last week held such promise. There were hints that we were finally going to be rewarded for our patience. What happened?
I donâ€™t expect all episodes to be loaded with action and jaw-dropping brotherly drama, not to mention ground breaking plot twists. Some episodes need to just be two brothers working a case. â€œAll Dogs Go To Heavenâ€ was all about that. Unlike â€œWeekend at Bobbyâ€™sâ€ though, instead of getting something that felt right, I got that uneasy feeling that again something is just too wrong. Instead of that wrong gradually progressing toward being a right, itâ€™s just frustrating me with more inconsistencies and back steps.
However, Let me start with the good stuff for â€œAll Dogs Go To Heavenâ€ wasnâ€™t a total waste. It actually had some really good qualities. For one, itâ€™s the strongest monster of the week story weâ€™ve gotten all season. The monster, despite killing three people, turns out to be a sympathetic and relatable character, something thatâ€™s been sorely lacking from the other stories thus far. He was turned into a skinwalker because he had nothing and was finally given a purpose just by being part of a family. Even though his instructions were to become the family pet and wait for the order to turn them, he fell for his family though and became overprotective. For the first time we see a wrinkle in this master plan of monsters to take over. What happens if thereâ€™s thousands out there like Lucky? The kind that wonâ€™t turn on those they love and will fight back? It says something about the human spirit triumphing over all threats, much like we saw in the first five seasons.
This MOTW plot would then seem like an ideal parallel for Sam and Dean, wouldnâ€™t it? Dean is a loved one dealing with his own monster. Heâ€™s a lot like Lucky the dog, he has a mission, but ideally must protect his family. So, thatâ€™s when we get that glimmer of hope, right? Dean somehow manages to get through, to prove that Sam does have good inside him and will do the right thing we push comes to shove. No such luck. When I end up rooting for the dog more than Sam, somethingâ€™s terribly wrong.
Speaking of Lucky the dog, where did they get this animal? That German Shepherd is easily one of the best acting dogs Iâ€™ve ever seen. Heck, heâ€™s better than most people. How can a dog be so expressive? You actually believed there was a human inside longing for love and companion. More so, how can a dog show more compassion and sympathy in two scenes than weâ€™ve gotten from a lead character all season? Bravo to Lucky and his handler. Get that dog a lead role in a movie now. Better yet, thereâ€™s your skinwalker spin off series.
The monster story too had plenty of suspense the way it unfolded. Guessing who the culprit was in the murders was quite interesting. The idea of skinwalkers turning into family pets was creepy and yet another sacred family institution is blown. As Dean said, â€œI donâ€™t think I can look at a dog the same way again.â€ The chase scene between Sam and Lucky had me quite captivated as did the entire shoot out in the warehouse. Very well done.
Also well done? Dean Winchester, sniper. Me, thud. There were also many great lines, something that always sets a â€œSupernaturalâ€ episode above the rest.
However, it is really hard to enjoy a good monster story when a character that you have grown to love over five seasons ends up distracting by being an insufferable bastard. It becomes more uncomfortable than enjoyable after a while. So, for those that find nothing wrong with the season six Sam Winchester storyline, let me say Iâ€™m pleased it is connecting with you and you can stop right here knowing that the episode succeeded in the capacity you had hoped. For the rest of you that are having as much trouble as I am, the rest of this review is for you.
Letâ€™s Get Candid Now
I apologize fandom, for I do love my show, but my usual strong patience is wearing thin. â€œAll Dogs Go To Heavenâ€ finally pushed my buttons. What you are about to read is the opinion of one reviewer. I do not claim to speak for a group of fans or a fandom, so take it for what itâ€™s worth. Iâ€™m finally going to let some doubts loose, for eight episodes is enough time to absorb whatâ€™s been given. Iâ€™m going to speak my mind and then look forward from here.
For those of you that are familiar with â€œSmallville,â€ do you remember this? At the end of season two/beginning of season three, Clark runs off to Metropolis affected by the red kryptonite and gets to live the life of evil Clark for a while. He is without a doubt a total jerk. Itâ€™s fun for a small bit but then gets unsettling. Eventually he gets the sense knocked into him by Jonathan in a spectacular way and goes back to normal. Let me recall, that happened in episode 8 right? 10? The whole season? No, it was the end of episode 1. That was about all we could take of that insufferable Clark Kent.
Thatâ€™s all I could think about after watching the end of â€œAll Dogs Go To Heaven,â€ episode 8 of this season. Sam Winchester still isnâ€™t getting anywhere with this new immoral and heartless jerk persona. Iâ€™m waiting patiently for Dean to remove the red kryptonite and bring back the Sam we all know and love but itâ€™s not happening. Is this the Sam Iâ€™m supposed to accept now? I canâ€™t watch this Sam Winchester anymore. It isnâ€™t the character with whom I grew emotionally attached. He isnâ€™t the flawed yet sympathetic man that does everything in his power to save the world from the horrors he knows while making a bunch of mistakes along the way.
Why is Sam even hunting? Thereâ€™s no desire, no passion, no belief in the good of humanity. Not to say that doesnâ€™t make a compelling storyline. It does. For about two or three episodes. When youâ€™re building your whole season on that or even half, it eventually becomes more about alienating the viewer than extending a storyline.
Iâ€™m not sure I needed another episode to drive home the point that Samâ€™s a lying bastard. Thereâ€™s no way he was telling Dean the truth at the end about wanting to go back to the old Sam. How do I know? Watch the signs. The whole episode Robo-Sam was in full force without giving us even a tiny hint that the old Sam is there. Sure, he was brutally honest with Dean the entire episode (which was hard enough) but that doesnâ€™t mean that he was honest at the end. We canâ€™t take his word for it and even Crowley acknowledged heâ€™d sell Dean for a dollar if he needed the soda. I want to believe Sam. I honestly do. But I have no reason to believe him. Nothing happened in that episode, even the tiniest hint, that Sam remembered his old self. Why would he tell Dean he remembers that Sam and wants to go back that way? Because heâ€™s trying to manipulate Dean. He can tell Dean is frustrated and ready to bail and for some reason unbeknownst to us wants Dean around.
Yes, part of me was hoping for even a tiny breakthrough in this episode. Perhaps a memory from Sam of what he used to be like that shakes him. Maybe something in Deanâ€™s possession triggers it, much like the army man in the Impala. Anything! Give me some hope, even faint hope. The sign that Sam isnâ€™t so far gone heâ€™s beyond redemption. After all, hasnâ€™t that been the true spirit of this show? Two dedicated brothers fighting insurmountable odds together with nothing but hope and family loyalty on their side?
What if Sam never gets his soul back? We know Crowley isnâ€™t going to give it to him. Iâ€™m still not even convinced this is the real Sam. I still hold out hope thereâ€™s a punch line here somewhere but my patience is out. We need hope by episode eight. We need to know that recovery for the brothers possible. We want to see Dean get some sort of relief, not continue to be beaten down by this â€œcrapâ€ situation. Itâ€™s a dog episode, right? Throw us a bone!
I never really saw it this way before, but Iâ€™m beginning to think that Samâ€™s soul has been the real heart of this show. Since thatâ€™s been missing, so has the main appeal of â€œSupernatural.â€ The rich brotherly relationship. Itâ€™s okay that theyâ€™re broken, scarred, have some disagreements and have personally experienced the most unimaginable horrors going. The fact is, after all that, they never stopped trying to make the world a better place. Until now. I donâ€™t think either is even trying anymore. The only thing theyâ€™ve determined in season six so far is that they canâ€™t work together that well.
I accept characters must change. Characters must evolve otherwise they get stale after a while (and so does a show). I do like some of the changes to Sam's character, like his ability to be more candid with Dean. Deanâ€™s evolution this season may be very painful but it's also been quite good. He finally got his chance at what he always wanted only to find it wasnâ€™t what he needed. The problem is Sam isnâ€™t fulfilling that need either and it's killing his fighting spirit. They're in a pattern of misery and mistrust with no hope of relief anytime soon. Itâ€™s just plain depressing. If I wanted to get this depressed, I just have to turn on the nightly news.
Iâ€™m also pragmatic. When Sam gets his soul back, and thatâ€™s assuming if (yes, the writers would go there), things just all of a sudden wonâ€™t be hunky dory. The brothers arenâ€™t going to ride off together in the Impala all smiles. Absolutely not. The fact remains Sam experienced the worst possible hell anyone can imagine. Even possibly worse than Deanâ€™s. When the emotions come with those memories, the results will be quite devastating. It all goes back to that heart thing. Whoâ€™s going to help him through it? Sam helped Dean through his trauma by just being there, sympathetically listening and having his brotherâ€™s back. Dean will have to come through in ways he never has before.
Isnâ€™t that though what drew us to these brotherâ€™s Winchester? No matter how bad their situation, how dire their outlook, they were able to honestly share their fears and concerns? For example, remember the talk at the end of â€œLong Distance Callâ€ even though they were at odds the entire episode? How about Dean finally coming clean about Hell at the end of â€œHeaven and Hellâ€ and â€œFamily Remains?â€ Even the words of extreme hurt and betrayal in â€œWhen The Levee Breaksâ€ made for some great brotherly drama. Then thereâ€™s the bittersweet and oh so devastating parting at the end of â€œGood God Yâ€™all.â€ What did these have in common? Brutal, heartfelt honesty that happened after we saw in fantastic detail what led up to these moments.
Samâ€™s confession at the end of â€œAll Dogsâ€ just ended up being one more inconsistency of his rather erratic behavior all season. I donâ€™t believe him. I donâ€™t think Dean does either. Iâ€™m not sure either cares. Iâ€™ve been giving season six a fighting chance. Itâ€™s caught my attention for being at times avant-garde, inventive, intricate, different. There have been some great story lines this season. I for one absolutely loved the shocking twists from â€œLive Free and Twihardâ€ and â€œYou Canâ€™t Handle The Truth.â€ To see the brothers like that with each other takes them down a very intriguing path. The acting has been better than ever. Jared and his challenge of playing this new robo-Sam is knocking it out of the park. Jensen has been incredible as the barely holding it together Dean, uneasy over the fact that his brother could turn on him in a seconds notice.
But the truth is we viewers are simple folk. TV is entertainment. TV is escapism. We watch shows like this for the flawed hero. In the case of â€œSupernaturalâ€ we watch for TWO flawed heroes, brothers that will do anything for each other and cover each otherâ€™s weaknesses. Even if we took Sam out of the equation this season look at poor, poor Dean. He doesnâ€™t know what to do either and his frustration reflects what this fan is feeling. He doesnâ€™t feel like a hero. He at this point is going through the motions. Weâ€™ve clung on each week waiting for something to give, something to break in the true soul of this show. Still nothing. Does anyone find it strange that the feel good episode of the season has been "Weekend at Bobby's" which had about five minutes of Sam and Dean in it?
Anyway, I do feel guilty for this rant, for I should have no say in creative license. I have to take what Iâ€™m given. Unfortunately, and this is the perils of a show in its sixth season, a deep emotional attachment happens. What Iâ€™m feeling now is not unlike what many felt at the end of â€œSwan Song.â€ I have two choices. See how it plays out or move on. Iâ€™m naturally going to see how it plays out because Iâ€™m in too deep. The question is how deep will my emotional investment be from this point forward? That is what makes this show unique for me. When the emotional attachment is broken, Iâ€™ll end up watching â€œSupernaturalâ€ the same way I do â€œHouse.â€ Casually, when thereâ€™s time, as background noise while Iâ€™m working on my laptop. â€œSupernaturalâ€ isnâ€™t there yet, but itâ€™s getting oh so close. When Iâ€™m more emotionally engaged in a season of â€œSmallvilleâ€ than â€œSupernatural,â€ something has indeed changed. Iâ€™m thinking not for the better.
Okay, rant over. Iâ€™m not going to dwell, because that ruins the fan experience and thereâ€™s still plenty of season left. Letâ€™s move on, especially since this week will be a much needed break with an Edlund wacky concept. No grade for â€œAll Dogs Go To Heavenâ€ for I just canâ€™t objectively rate this one. Why donâ€™t you all tell me your grade? I'm curious about what everyone thinks.