I’ve been doing these reviews for a while. I’ve written these as a fan girl in fit of excitement, nervous wreck, sobbing mess, livid ranting lunatic, bored out of my wit and the too often feeling of “meh”. So yeah, how do I categorize this one? The penultimate episode where low expectations were barely met when they should have been really high? Um, it was cute?
Right, cute is for bunnies, not the second to last episode of the entire series that was meant to wrap up the final season myth arc. This episode delivered the safest, easiest, and most predictable ending. It also managed to expose the glaring weaknesses that has plagued the series all too often in the later years. So yeah, it’s hard to label this one, but fan girl isn’t very happy.
I suppose I should judge “Inherit the Earth” both on its own and how it fits into the overall arc. On its own, not bad. It wasn’t complicated, that’s for sure, and it ended on a nice sentimental note. I thought the selection of both classic rock pieces were pretty good. A bit mellow, but these guys are mellower after 15 years. “Get Together” was a nice refreshing message in these recent times of total madness and “Running on Empty” is always a solid montage pick. I was pleased to see Jack finally reach his destiny after 3 seasons of handwringing. This was stress free viewing, that’s for sure.
But that’s the problem, it was stress free viewing! A walk in the park for sure and it shouldn't have been. It needed to be more. There was this massive, gaping black hole in the story, aka Castiel not being there to join team free will on this final showdown. I mean geez, could they have mourned his death for more than a minute? I also loved Betty the Reaper becoming the new Death, but couldn’t she have stuck around for more than five minutes? I won’t quibble about the blatant knock against continuity regarding her death since it’s already been well covered here. Bad show, bad.
The real rockstar of this episode was Miracle the Dog. What inspired casting! Dogs are not the easiest to work with and his chemistry with Jensen was sensational! Honestly, I felt a sucker punch to the gut when the dog disappeared, which ended up being the most emotion I felt the entire episode.
There was one massive strength of this episode and this has been consistent through the entire series. The cinematography and direction were superb. It’s nice to see them wind down with the same great quality we’ve gotten to know and love. Serge Ladouceur and John Showalter took full advantage of the amazing locations to enhance the story. It does help that they picked to film part of this in one of the more gorgeous locations on earth, Britannia Beach, BC. One of the scenes was filmed at the Britannia Copper Mine, which has been used for many television shows and movies, including a few “Supernatural” episodes. I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the mine in one of my Vancouver location tours a few years ago and it’s a really fascinating place. It definitely has some creep factor to it! The outdoor shots of the building are unmistakable too and contributed to the visuals quite well, especially at night.
Since the visuals were really the main highlight, here are some of my favorite shots:
(Look at the reflected light on their faces!)
(a nice homage to the director)
Unfortunately, I have to also judge this episode on how it fit in with the season fifteen arc, not to mention the series overall, and that’s where things massively fall apart. I knew that one episode wasn’t going to save all the shortcomings this season. But still, I hoped the story would be more layered, more brisk, more…emotional. It was a very mechanical delivery of a basic script that was no doubt challenged by the COVID 19 pandemic. But still, a pandemic doesn’t mean that you can’t heighten the emotion in a story or do more with some really strong actors at your disposal.
(I'll take one of those beers, Dean)
I’m stunned to say, but for once Nightsky and I are in agreement. I wanted to love it. Heck, after watching, I even did an immediate re-watch, which is rare for me in these later seasons, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I didn’t. The second showing did not improve the first. If anything, I found it all too simplistic, too clean. Making Chuck the villain at the end of the last season was a huge risk and I expressed that concern back then. Now that we’re on the other side of it, every fear that I had about pursuing this plot has come true. Instead of building a rich, dynamic, and complex story around all the possibilities that could happen with being on the wrong end of the wrath of God, we got a whiny deity having a big hissy fit, diminishing a once amazing character and the legacy of our heroes. It was quite damaging.
Can anyone believe that Chuck, aka God, the almighty, would wipe out the whole world just to punish Sam, Dean and Jack? Make them live on Earth alone with their guilt over knowing what they did? What?? At least he was right when he said that it didn’t make for an interesting watch. The problem is, that was Chuck’s motivation? Look at The Avenger’s: Endgame, which was mentioned by me for comparison after last week’s ending. Thanos had a motive. It was a compelling motive, thus making him a sympathetic and somewhat relatable character, even though what he was doing was very evil and destructive. Chuck had no reason for doing what he did other than to be petty. He’s acting out because he got bored? This show is smarter than that! Someone as complex as God and we essentially get the rudimentary temper tantrum of a 2 year old?
If you’re going to pull off God as the villain, don’t make him a one dimensional villain with no chance of redemption. Chuck has been depicted in the past as a very complex character. Just look at seasons 4, 5, and even 11. He makes his grand return in season 14’s finale and suddenly he’s all terrible? He created this amazing, complex, beautiful, intricate freaking world, and then other similar worlds as well. So, after all these years, it turns out God was just hanging around for entertainment purposes? He was always evil to the core, even though he was characterized as “the light” in season 11 while his sister destroyed everything? Remember when he helped save the world in season 5?
Chuck was meant to be a lovable goof that just happened to be the creator of the world. He was a normal slob among us, humble yet concerned about humanity. Sure, it turned out he was a hack writer, but he still had a shred of decency and pride in his work. There was good inside him. Metatron could see it. A redemption story would have added layers to his actions, or at least setup some damn good drama. No, instead he was all bad and there was no hope of defeating him because who can defeat God? The story doesn’t fly if there’s no tension in the struggle. It was all hopelessness and despair because Chuck was unconquerable.
It isn’t just Chuck. All the main characters this season were conveniently shoved into their little boxes in lieu of any real development or importance. “Supernatural” is supposed to be the heroes’ journey of Sam and Dean Winchester. Then why were they cast as side players in all this? As mere humans, they had no hope of defeating Chuck, UNLESS they could appeal to that decency that he displayed in prior seasons. They could talk him off the ledge, possibly with Amara’s help. A cosmic intervention maybe. Instead, Sam and Dean themselves were reduced to myopic storylines that embraced their stereotypes. Dean was boxed into a narrow sighted jerk who’s only instinct was to kill what he didn’t like. He wouldn’t accept Jack as family? Sam was boxed into the smart guy with that nagging feeling who had to make the practical decisions, and got to have a small love interest on the side. The trouble is, he didn’t do much. He was often forced to the background.
(Great hair shot though!)
Were Sam and Dean ever needed in this story? By making Jack the savior, it deemed them useless. You think Jack would have turned out okay if it was just Castiel playing parent to him? I say yes, because Castiel was the only solid rock in Jack’s corner. Sam and Dean certainly weren’t blindly supportive. I mean geez, they tried to lock him in the Ma’lak box! They were constantly questioning whether he was good or evil, and they were even acting all black and white about him before he was born. The son of Lucifer, he must be evil, even though he came from a good mother. Castiel had his epiphany and Sam and Dean didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt. They tried to stop Castiel! Jack in the end saved them, which was technically all of humanity, because of his good nature, not because they earned it, especially Dean. All they did in the end was luck out. They have become what I call the “accidental tourists” in the plot, becoming successful despite everything they did. That is not my idea of the heroes’ journey. That’s two jerks who got lucky.
I’m still fuming over the whole notion of Chuck writing the Sam and Dean story. That ended up being canon? So all this time they were in the hamster wheel spinning at the whim of God. I call total horsesh** on that. That’s because Chuck gave humanity free will. He even admitted this in season 11 to Donatello. They had choices. Sure, he got annoyed with a few of those choices, but they had them. They were never not free.
So, by Chuck being gone, did all the monsters go away? Are Sam and Dean’s burdens of protecting the world gone? Are demons and angels gone? Will they happily exist knowing what they know about the horrors of the world out there? No, they are not free. In this episode, why didn’t they learn that they’ve always been free? That free will is a myth? That if one thing doesn’t mess with them, another will? I think Jack was trying to get that message across in a way at the end, but it obviously didn’t sink in.
Jack: I'm around. I'll be in every drop of falling rain, every speck of dust that the wind blows, and in the sand, in the rocks, and the sea.
Dean: It's a hell of a time to bail. You got a lot of people counting on you, people with questions. They're gonna need answers.
Jack: And those answers will be in each of them. Maybe not today but... someday. People don't need to pray to me or to sacrifice to me. They just need to know that I'm already a part of them and to trust in that. I won't be hands on. Chuck put himself in the story. That was his mistake. But I learned from you and my mother and Castiel that... when people have to be their best... they can be. And that's what to believe in. Well... I'm really as close as this. Goodbye.
That’s why the ending to me was just a false sense of security. Free is when the fight is done and they are finally at peace. Who knows, maybe that’s exactly what will happen in the series finale.
Ugh, then there’s Michael and Lucifer. We finally get the current world Michael and Lucifer showdown, the one that Sam and Dean have been preventing since early in the series. Bleh. Talk about a little bitch slap fight of light. Remember in season 5 when Lucifer was gut-wrenching terrifying? Remember Michael’s larger than life appearance in “The Song Remains the Same?” So, how did they become this? The return of Lucifer was just another horrible reminder of the all the wrongs they’ve done to his character since season 5. They kept him in the cartoonish campy clown box and then kept Michael in the good son box. Michael did have some presence at the beginning in the church, but it was all too short. Their big fight was over in a couple of minutes. Turns out it was all a weak plot device just to make Jack more powerful. It was very disappointing given how important these guys have been to the series for years.
Speaking of Jack, I love the character. But this setup of him as the new God makes no sense. Yes, he’s God’s grandson, but he just takes over like that? It all seemed sort of accidental. He spent 3 years drifting around, doing what he was told, until he figured out he could get enough power to be God. I suppose that was meant to reflect his child like innocence, but the writers never really pushed him out of that box. It’s not like he became a big man at the end of this. He could have been so much more as a character. His only redeeming moments were with Castiel, who really should have been there with him for this final fight. It was really unfair he wasn’t.
I suppose Jack’s outcome supports the whole, “All roads lead to the same destination” thing, ditto for Michael and Lucifer, but this road kind of sucks. I guess Castiel didn’t say that road had to be interesting, just that you would get there eventually. So Chuck has no power, no one cares and he was replaced by the miracle child. Adam did get his revenge I guess. However, that invalidates everything Chuck brought to the story before. That invalidates everything Sam and Dean sacrificed before this. That invalidates a huge chunk of the series, the chunk that most will say was most the entertaining and memorable. This ending will not be memorable, despite using the sentiments of the carvings on the table.
My complaints about characterization through the years have been well documented, but this episode was the flashing neon sign showing the struggles this writing team has had in the last 4 to 7 seasons with building multi-dimensional characters. This episode just seemed to complete the transition of taking once complex characters and turning them into single sided buffoons. Its lazy writing and instead of making corrections, the choice was made to blame it all on the hack writer in the story, Chuck. I don’t think that worked one bit.
Overall grade, a C- for the episode (the visuals were that good). Everyone was just thrown in their little boxes and went with the flow since it was all pre-destined anyway. Talk about a boring watch. I’m just happy the dog lived.
(That's a good boy!)
Again, thanks so much to Raloria for the screen caps. They were especially important this week given all the gorgeous shots we got from the director.
Read more of Alice's insights on Supernatural! Reviews on every episode of the series are on Alice's Writer's Page and in WFB's Episode Guides!