Review of the season 7 finale "7.23 "Survival Of The Fittest"
Supernatural season finales, is there anything as exciting and harrowing? I must admit I spent the whole week sweating on it. I'd managed to stay relatively spoiler free. I didn't read any of the preview articles. I didn't watch any of the preview clips. Then the Upfronts came along and I'm afraid I'm weak willed and couldn't stay away from Jensen in that grey suit, shiny tie and hiatus scruff, so bam...suddenly I knew more than I wanted to know about where the brothers were going to find themselves at the end of "Survival Of The Fittest". Between Mr Ackles and his extra tall buddy, apparently masquerading as Grizzly Adams, I was spoiled rotten; both in plot possibilities, prettiness and the wonderful visual of the boys voting with their 5th extremity. Thank you Jensen. That will forever be seared into my mind's eye to muse over!!!!!!
What was I saying? Oh right. Finale.
So Saturday comes along (remember I'm an Aussie) and I wake up extra early, feeling slightly nauseated and in a flop sweat. The closer it gets to the time the more I'm overcome by a sense of dread. I mean I literally feel like I might throw up a little. I'm so concerned about Sam and Dean Winchester I'm having a minor panic attack! Is this normal? I know most of you would say, yes, yes it is and I know nearly everyone outside of my Supernatural family would say, no Amy it certainly is not, please get a life. Then I would explain to them how I have a life, rich with stories of love and loyalty, of brothers and family, of heroes and villains, of rising above expectations, of falling to temptation, of shiny black cars and the myriad of emotions and frailties that make up humanity and they would walk away shaking their heads as I grinned triumphantly! But I digress. I was so nervous before watching this finale I didn't know what to do with myself. Then Carry On Wayward Son started and then I cried.
I never compare season finales to each other. I never say, oh it wasn't quite "Swan Song" or it didn't grab me like "No Rest For The Wicked." I let every season finale stand on its own merits. They each sit within the structure of an overall season arc. It's like comparing apples and oranges, they taste different, so why bother. "Survival Of The Fittest" launched us with a jetpack strapped to our backs, screaming towards season 8. Holy fudgin' crap. What a kicker! For some reason I didn't see it coming even though I'd discussed ad nauseam what the end might be and Purgatory was certainly on the discussion list. I knew Dean would find himself in a tricky situation, I just didn't think it would be alone in Purgatory with Sammy back on Earth not knowing where Dean had gone. We were left with them apart and normally that would leave me in a state of horror. But not this time. On the contrary. I'm so damn excited about what this opens up that I can't stop thinking about it. Sure we've done the brother's separated and in Hell before, but that was through self-sacrifice and to some degree choice. We've also done the brothers separated through emotional conflict but that was once again, through choice (and you'd be right in assuming I don't like that). This time Dean was simply zapped away, caught in the jet stream of Dick Roman's whatever the hell that was. Sam's left behind with no real clue what just happened to his brother, though being the brainiac he is, it's not going to take him long to reach the conclusion Dean has been sucked into Purgatory. But they weren't prepared for this. They weren't prepared to be separated. It wasn't discussed, they weren't expecting it, they didn't want it. This makes the whole thing feel very different to me and I dig it! I gotta say though, who the hell would want to save the world? Look what happens when you do! First Sam goes to Hell after stopping the Apocalypse now Dean goes to Purgatory after stopping the Chompocalypse. That sucks ass! But it's so goooooooood! Ooooo it's so good! The possibilities!
First things first. So we've despatched Dick. The Levis have been neutered, with Dick sent back to Purgatory (WHERE DEAN IS!) and the rest of them left wandering the earth Dickless, practically impotent. Their story reached a climax and exploded. They couldn't pull off their master plan for creaming humanity. It was all cocked up by those pesky Winchesters. Awww come on! It's my last chance to get in as many dick jokes as I can! Ok I'll stop now. Sorry.(Yeah, I'm so not sorry). Anyhooo, I enjoyed the Leviathan as the big bad this season, but I think their one failing was their lack of interest in the Winchesters. It made them feel less of a threat because their threat was global and in being about everyone, it lost the personal touch. Also, the Leviathan represented people we might have come in contact with, as in the corporate douche-bag up on level 5, so in some ways they were too familiar to be really scary though in other ways that familiarity made them all the more frightening. But, for me they lacked the creepiness of say Lucifer. Actually I found Lucifer disturbingly hot; (even though we know he burns cold), my bad, but I'm sorry, the Devil was smokin', so he's probably a bad example for me to use! But do you see where I'm struggling to get to? The Leviathan were almost too worldly to be otherworldly and in that sense lacked a bit of punch. But I did enjoy them or I should say, Dick. I love Dick Roman. He was smarmy and smug and so awful he was wonderful. James Patrick Stuart relished that character. You could see how much fun he was having with Dick Roman. Totally great villain. Also, the Leviathan plan was masterful and they were certainly different and I applaud the Supernatural creative team for pushing the big bad a bit and creating something that wasn't your typical monster. Can I ask a question though? This might be a dumb one. It came to me while watching that last scene of Dean being surrounded but the critters in Purgatory. If the Leviathan are goo, how do they normally get around? Ok, so they shifted into humans on earth, but I wonder what form they take in Purgatory? Are they just a slick of ooze sliming their way across the ground? That doesn't seem very frightening! Unless they're like the Blob! The Blob! Oh we need a Blob monster next season. How cool would that be! Whoa, I digress!
So the boys burnt the flask. No surprise there, it's what I thought would happen. Bobby did indeed request that the boys burn the flask and put him out of his misery. It was his choice. How it was done was beautiful and unexpected though. To not see Bobby flame out and to only see the glow of the flames on the boy's beautiful, tragic faces was a masterful touch. It made it a far more personal to just have Sam and Dean experience it (and Cass silent on the stairs I guess), and it also saved us the distress of seeing one of our favourite characters go up in smoke. Watching Bobby die the first time was enough for me. The burning of the flask held the emotional wallop I knew it would and once again I bawled my eyes out for the loss of Bobby Singer. I was never in love with the GhostBobby scenario, as much as I enjoyed the moment we saw him again and the extra time we got to spend with him. In hindsight, I'm not really sure what the reasoning was in bringing him back. He helped the brother's work through the clues, but they could've got there alone and frankly I would've preferred that they did and though he offered more information on what he remember from Dick's office prior to being shot in the custard, most of that Frank had already worked through via the numbers. So really, in the end, what was the point? I love Bobby to pieces so from that perspective it was good to see him, but the circumstances were so harsh and so unfair. Still, I don't feel his original death was marred by his reappearance as a spirit with vengeful tendencies. I still look at "Death's Door" as being his true out. The question now of course is whether he's gone for good, or as much as anyone ever is in Supernatural. Being as we are about to explore Purgatory, I imagine there's a chance he could pop up again. I prefer to think of him in Heaven with his wife and all the people he's loved over the years, it seems unfair that after everything he's done, after everyone he's saved, he be in Purgatory with monsters. But it's been said before that we really don't know where spirits go when they flame out. Are they put to rest? Or as they were spirits and didn't move on after death, does that put them in the realm of Purgatory? Because Bobby possessed a maid, does that put his eternal soul in jeopardy? I hope not. I don't want Bobby's story to keep dragging on. I'm kind of done with it now. We've said goodbye to him twice, I don't want to say goodbye to him again. I guess there's the chance that when we get Dean out of Purgatory, if Bobby is there he could ride Dean's coat tails out, but, to be very honest with you, I don't want that. As much as I love Jim Beaver, as much as I love Bobby Singer, I don't want to have an easy out. Is this the end of Bobby Singer? A big part of me says yes and I'm cool with it. Thank you Bobby and R.I.P.
Seeing Dean in Purgatory at the end of the episode left me wondering if he's going to think he deserves to be there. He's alive I gather, though that's weird because everyone else in Purgatory is dead. I'm hoping he doesn't get overcome by the malaise of the season and start to think this is his destiny. He believes he's a monster, a killer. He carries guilt about everyone he's ever known who got caught in the crossfire of his life and ended up dead. He carries guilt for each and every soul he tortured in Hell. Is this the place he always thought he'd wind up? Will his stint in Purgatory help him get over some of those feelings of self-loathing and give him a new view on life when he emerges? In biblical terms, Purgatory is where the soul goes to be cleansed of all past transgressions in preparation for ascension into Heaven. This could be a good thing for Dean. A bloody good cleansing. As much I was freaking out about Dean being in Purgatory, in the dark and murky woods, surrounded by God knows what, part of me got a little thrill. I like nothing more than seeing Dean go into full on Hunter mode. The guy is so skilled and so smart, seeing him faced with insurmountable odds and conquering them is a joy to behold and let's face it, we know he's going to be ok. I just hope that he's not shell shocked when he emerges. I hope this experience isn't another one that damages his psyche. I hope it makes him stronger somehow. I'm wearing my rose coloured glasses again aren't I?
Seriously though, I have absolutely zip idea how this is going to play out. One must imagine there are a lot of monsters down there who'd like to see Dean Winchester dead. Are you kidding? A bunch of them are there because of him. But who else is there? There were monsters and spirits who weren't evil that would've ended up in Purgatory. What about all the people Ash couldn't find in Heaven? Angels? The dead ones, are they there? They don't have souls, so you'd think not but who knows. Is Adam there because Michael has a hold of his body and so his soul has been expelled? Who and what is actually in Purgatory? See how exciting this is! What a great big fat unknown. There's an opportunity here for the writers to create a whole new Universe, with new lore and exploration and development of existing lore. I'm so thrilled by this twist. It's an absolute corker.
Of course Dean is not entirely on his own, Castiel was sucked into Purgatory with him. I'm pretty sure Cass just went on a recon mission when he disappeared. We needed to end up with the visual of both the boys alone. It wouldn't have done to have Cass by Dean's side while Sam is shown alone in the lab. We needed the synergy of the two shots of the brothers in their isolation. Cass zapping away was for creative and cohesive emotional resonance. Did you notice Cass' voice at the end when he spoke to Dean? Sound familiar to you? It was deep, gruff and straight talking Castiel. No bees. No craziness. I think that feeling like Dean is offering some form of forgiveness and helping the Winchesters to put an end to Dick and not destroying everything as he feared, has brought Cass back. I said in my write up of "Reading Is Fundamental" that I thought Cass was hiding behind his craziness because to do otherwise is to face what he'd done. We saw this idea come to fruition when he said he couldn't help because he'd destroyed everything and he'd destroy everything again. He was terrfied to try; terrified he'd blow it. I'm glad Dean yelled at Cass to clean up his mess. It may not have seemed to get through to him in the moment, but I'm sure that it did. Add to that watching the boys suffer as they put Bobby to rest and Dean's "Bottom of the ninth and you're the only guy left on the bench, sorry I'd rather have you" speech and Cass seems to be coming back from his place of self doubt to be more like the Angel we remember. He was the only one who could help, so he had to help. It was his fault. He needed to "nut up" and I'm glad he did. How he helps in Purgatory is yet to be seen. Can he pop back and forth between the dimensions of Purgatory and Earth? Or is he stuck in there with Dean, which will be interesting seeing as their relationship is still not quite solid. I'm very interested to see what has become of Cass, what his abilities are in relation to Purgatory and to what level he is reborn and able to assist.
But I don't want Castiel to grip Dean tight and rescue him again. It's Sam I want to save Dean. Neither of the brothers have been able to rescue the other from the big threats"¦i.e. being in Hell. Sure on smaller issues they've had success. Like in "Faith" when Sam took Dean to the healer or in "Appointment in Samara" when Dean got Death to restore Sam's soul or "The Born-Again Identity" when he brought Castiel to restore Sam's mind. Under those circumstances they've been able to save each other and they've always found a way to save each other emotionally, but neither could find a way to get the other out of Hell, however, Sam knows how to crack the door to Purgatory. The trouble is, what gets out if he goes in? That's if the story goes that route. Sam's never done very well on his own, neither has Dean for that matter, they aren't whole without the other brother, but Sam's not really as alone as Crowley attests to. He does have a few friends still alive that he can call on for help, or support. There's Sheriff Mills, there's the hunter Garth. There are people out there for Sam. Crowley is wrong on that count. But Sam's been through a hell of a lot this season, his mind is only just starting to repair and now he's without Dean and doesn't know where Dean is or if he's alive. The guy's on shaky ground at best, how will he deal with this blow? Man, poor Sammy. Something tells me he's going to go at this problem like a dog with a bone, because there's no way he'll rest until he knows his brother is ok. Remember how he was when the Trickster/Gabriel killed Dean? Gah! I scared for him! But on the flipside, I have so much faith in Sam and his strength and his smarts and his love for his brother. I'm pretty excited to see where he goes with this problem. I'm also interested to see how long the writers keep the brothers apart.
And even though the brothers are apart, they kind of are still together, because you know their primary focus will be worrying about the other. Dean also has the task of staying alive and Sam has the task of cleaning up the Leviathan mess and rescuing Kevin and possibly Meg from Crowley but you know neither brother will be far from the other's mind. So, that's why I'm ok with this separation, because it's not coming from a place of anger between the Winchesters and I can only see it making them stronger both as individuals and as a team. I'm not one of those fans who's all, oh Dean needs a story, Sam needs a story, for me it's THEIR story. I'm happy when we explore both of their characters individually and see their individual development, but it's their relationship that holds the most joy for me and I can't wait until we see them restored. Having said that, I do hope we get at least a couple of episodes to explore this separated scenario. I hope the writers are brave enough to believe we can cope with that. I know I can, because the aftermath will be epic.
And speaking of Crowley, why does he need Kevin? What's he want with a Prophet. I get why he took Meg, she's been a naughty girl in his eyes, but Kevin? I'm scratching my head at why he'd need the protector of the Word of God. I'm really starting to pitch a tent in the Crowley's not a demon camp. I don't know what he might be, but I'm starting think he's not what he seems. He has way too much power. Look at the power he was wielding in this episode. He got out of his contract with Dick, which you'd imagine he couldn't have as demon contracts are unbreakable, he seems to know everything, he has a veritable army at his disposal, he appears to be more powerful than the Leviathan, than Lucifer. He totally boned the Winchesters again and got everything he wanted. Is he just damn clever or is he something else completely? I'm pretty sure our frenemy Crowley will be a major player in season 8 and seeing as I totally love him, that can only be a good thing.
Of course the other character that featured in "Survival Of The Fittest" was The Impala! Baby is back and looking purdy! I may have fist pumped the air and hollered WOOOOHOOOO, when she came down the highway! How lovely was that first scene"¦silent, except for some birds tweeting, until you start to here her thrumming in the distance and then Born To Be Wild kicks in. It was perfect. Did you notice when she was hooning down the highway and bursting through the gates of Sucrocorp there were two guys in the front seats? And did you notice that we didn't see the lines "Don't die" "Yeah you too" that were in the promo? I heard a lot of people complaining that we saw Meg drive the car but not Dean, but go back and look. I think they cut a scene. I think Sam and Dean are in the front seat and somewhere between the burst through the gate shot and Meg driving through the sign shot, they cut out a scene. I reckon after crashing through the gate they originally pulled around the back, Sam and Dean got out, told Meg she knew what to do"¦maybe there was a snarky line about not hurting his car from Dean, Meg tears off, Sam, Dean and Cass are at the back door of Surcrocorp, they do the don't die lines we saw in the promo and go inside, maybe Sam goes in that way and Cass and Dean another way "“ that's how they split up "“ and then cut to outside again and Meg drives through the sign. This is how I think it went down before they had to lose some time in the edit! Because there are definitely Sam and Dean look-a-likes in the front of the Impala right up until Meg gets out. Go look! Wait"¦finish reading first. I promise I'm nearly done.
So there we go. "Survival Of The Fittest" was a doozy and I think it was pretty damn awesome finale. Once again, everyone's performances were spot on. Jared's alone Sam at the end was excruciating to witness. Season 7 has come to an end and we are left with a lot of very cool and exciting questions. How will Sam find out that Dean is in Purgatory? Will his fragile, barely healed mind be able to cope with this latest crisis? How will Dean survive Purgatory? Who or what is in there with him? Any old friends that might help? How hot is he going to look fighting for his life? How will he get out? Will Sammy be able to rescue him? What's Cass' role in getting Sam and Dean reunited? What's with Crowley and what's he want with Kevin? Will the boys rescue Meg? Is Bobby gone for good? Who's going to tow the Impala out of that sign and was Sammy paying enough attention to Dean to be able to fix her, or will her repairs go on Burt Aframian's credit card? Why didn't everyone run when Dick started pulsating! If they'd just got out of range, we wouldn't be in this sticky mess! Sorry"¦just had to get one more in there. But the biggest question of all, .HOW ARE WE GOING TO SURVIVE UNTIL OCTOBER?!
Well, thanks for reading and supporting me here. I'm really stoked to be a part of the team at The Winchester Family Business and can't wait to get into writing up the next season. Of course with it being on Wednesdays now, it puts a spanner in the works for me a tad, but I'll figure it out. I'll still make sure I have everything up for you to read over a cuppa on the weekends. In the meantime, I have the All Hell Breaks Loose III convention in Sydney next weekend with Misha, Jim, Richard, Traci and the Ghostfacers, AJ & Travis, so that should be a hoot and I'll be writing that up for you. Plus I'm off to VanCon in August (insert epic squee here) and in the mean time, I promise to think up something so that I can still contribute to this awesome site.
Oh one more thing. I'd like to thank Sera Gamble for 7 years of beautiful story telling. She's one of my favourite writers of the series and many of her episodes are amongst the ones I go to constantly. "Faith" is probably my favourite episode ever and those of you who know me are aware of how I've chosen to express that. I love her work. I find her personally inspiring both as a would-be writer and a female television professional. I will miss her voice terribly and I wish her all the best. I'm excited to see what she does next and I know I'll be following her career with interest. I'd also like to welcome aboard Jeremy Carver, he too is one of my favourite writers and I couldn't be more thrilled with his inclusion back into the fold for season 8. Very few writers have delivered such beautiful narrative as Jeremy has and I'm sure the show will flourish under his deft touch. Who else can see this show doing a Smallville, 10 seasons anyone?
So, let me know your thoughts and theories on the episode and I'll see you soon with a write up of the shenanigans at the Aussie con"¦we are a little naughty us Aussies!
Bye for now, keep the faith, October will be here before we know it!