Supernatural: Season 6 — a review

supernatural6

Series creator Eric Kripke stepped down as showrunner after the fifth season of Supernatural. He decided to concentrate on other things, including the television series Revolution, which I liked a lot; it was cancelled way too soon.

But, this show about the monster-hunting Winchester brothers continued on. For another nine or ten years, it carried on. This is my first exposure to the series, and I’m watching, on average, five episodes a week. I couldn’t do that if I didn’t like the show.

One of the things that I like about Supernatural is that each season has what is pretty much a self-contained arc. During some seasons, that story arc is apparent from the first episode. In others, it develops over the first few episodes. Season 6, the first without Kripke, was one of the latter.

Season 5 ended with Sam Winchester, as Lucifer’s human vessel, going into a cage in Hell with the third Winchester brother, Adam, who was the human vessel for the archangel Michael. In this way, Armageddon was prevented and/or delayed, and life continued on in a more-or-less normal fashion. Minus Sam and the other guy.

As the season begins, a year has passed. Dean Winchester has settled into an apple-pie existence with his lost love Lisa and her son Ben. The ’67 Impala is under a tarp in the garage, and Dean’s new life is idyllic, except for the demon traps drawn on the floor under welcome mats and a certain paranoia that’s become ingrained in Dean since childhood.

It turns out that Sam has been back from Hell for nearly a year. He doesn’t know who pulled him out, but it seems that Winchesters are unable to rest in peace. Sam says he didn’t let Dean know he had returned so that Dean could go on living a normal life. In the interim, Sam discovered some long-lost cousins, on the Campbell side of the family, and their maternal grandfather, Samuel, played to the hilt by Mitch Pileggi. The thing is, Grampa Campbell actually died during one of Dean’s time-travelling trips into the past. Turns out that he was pulled down from Heaven around the same time Sam returned from the other place. I like Pileggi; and, I never trusted him as Skinner, and I didn’t trust him here either.

No one has heard from Castiel, who apparently has his wings full with a civil war in Heaven. Put a bookmark in that.

Sam returns into Dean’s life because some djinns are hunting them. Dean joins up with Sam and the new extended family long enough to defeat the monsters, but he returns to Lisa and Ben, his new “family.” Even as I watched the first episode of the season, I knew this wasn’t destined to end well.

Soon, we learn a new term: Alpha. This is used to describe the monster that fathered the remaining monsters of its type. Vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters . . . they all have an Alpha. More on Alphas in a moment.

Castiel returns to the story in the third episode of the season. He helps the Winchesters figure out that another rogue angel, Balthazar, is selling off pieces of the weapons of Heaven, including the staff of Moses, in exchange for souls. God still isn’t around, so anarachy reigns in Heaven. The archangel Raphael shows up, but, before he can kill Castiel, Balthazar zaps him and turns him into a pillar of salt, like Lot’s wife in the Bible. Raphael isn’t dead; he just has to find a new host body.

The angelic civil war continues to be a thing throughout the season, and gets more complicated.

Bobby Singer finally gets his soul back from Crowley. In the same episode where that happens, we find out that demons can be killed just like spirits, by burning their mortal bones. Maybe I was supposed to know that all demons were once humans. I guess I knew that was true about some, but I guess it’s canon that it is all of them. Salt and burn their bones, and you can destroy them. We also find out that Crowley is the King of Hell now since Lucifer is gone.

In episode five “Live Free or Twihard,” we get a send-up of the Twilight series. The characters in the opening teaser are named Robert and Kristen: you figure it out. Sam, acting extremely out-of-character, allows Dean to be turned into a vampire. Turns out that he and Grampa Samuel Campbell are hunting an Alpha Vampire, and since Grampa has the vampire cure, there’s no lasting harm in turning Dean. Still, it’s a pretty cold thing to do. While Dean is still a vampire, he visits Lisa and Ben, and during his visit shoves Ben harshly. This effectively ends Dean’s relationship with Lisa.

While this is a difficult emotional blow for the character, it simplifies things story-wise. We’ve regained our status quo. Except that we haven’t. We soon discover that Sam returned from Hell without a soul. He is essentially a sociopath, unable to feel things such as empathy or fear, which has been what has made him such a good hunter since he came back. Dean takes the news hard, beating Sam unconscious and holding him until Castiel is able to confirm that Sam doesn’t have a soul.

As the season continues, we find out that Grandpa Campbell is taking orders from someone else, as he captures Alphas and brings them to other locations for interrogation. Cousin Christian Campbell turns out to already be a demon host, and Crowley is the one in charge. Crowley reveals that he’s the one who brought back Grampa and Sam, and only he can get Sam’s soul back. Now the Winchester brothers are forced to work for Crowley, capturing monsters high up the food chain for whatever nefarious project he’s working on.

We get an entire episode that is an homage to The X-Files, even with an X-Files type cold open and opening credits. Turns out to be about leprechauns and fairies instead of extraterrestrial aliens, but it guest-stars Robert Picardo, so that’s a plus.

Meg the demon returns to the show. This time she’s trying to find the whereabouts of Crowley. She was a huge Lucifer supporter, so it makes sense that Crowley doesn’t like her much. Since Grandpa Campbell is still working for Crowley, the boys search his place, and, of course, get caught by Gramps while in the act. Grandpa Samuel says he’s doing all of this because Crowley promised to bring his daughter back. That would be Dean and Sam’s mother. Why not promise to bring back his wife? Sounds fishy. Samuel gives them to location where he drops off the creatures they catch for Crowley. Sam gets the demon-killing knife back from Meg. In the end, Samuel double-crosses them, and they walk into a trap. Ultimately, they manage to get out of the trap with the help of Castiel and Meg.

Castiel had made comments to Dean about thinking it wasn’t such a great idea for Sam to get his soul back. It’s been locked in Hell with Lucifer for a year, and wouldn’t be in great shape. Crowley later says the exact same thing. Sam has heard both conversations, and isn’t sure he wants his soul back now after it’s been the Devil’s stress ball for a year.

As the Winchesters escape this trap, Castiel appears with Crowley’s mortal remains. He asks Crowley if he can restore Sam’s soul, and Crowley admits that he cannot. Castiel burns Crowley’s bones and the King of Hell is dead. Isn’t he?

Dean makes a deal with Death himself, agreeing to do his job for a day if he’ll get Sam’s soul back inside of him. Meanwhile, Sam makes an agreement with the angel Balthazar for a spell that will keep his soul from returning to his body. The spell requires a patricide, so Sam attempts to kill his father-figure, Bobby Singer, and fails. Dean doesn’t make it quite an entire day in Death’s job, but Death puts Sam’s soul back anyway, putting up a mental wall so that Sam wouldn’t suffer the memories of his soul’s time in Hell. Good riddance to the Jason Voorhees Sam. He was genuinely scary.

It turns out that Crowley has been interrogating Alpha monsters to find the location of Purgatory, where there are millions of souls to give him more power. The Winchesters tangle with some dragons who are trying to open a door to Purgatory to let something referred to as Mother out. She’s going to be one Bad Mama-Jama, I bet. The Mother of all monsters, who calls herself Eve. You figure that one out, too.

There are several less serialized episodes between the release of Mother and the true beginning of the end of the season. We get a funny episode in which the brothers are zapped into an alternate universe where Supernatural is a television series filmed in Canada, and the Winchesters are actually two actors named Jensen and Jared. Then, there is an episode that is a homage to or rip-off of The Thing or that similar alien worm episode in early X-Files. The hunter Rufus Turner gets killed off in that one. So does Grampa Samuel, so goodbye Director Skinner. We get another alternate universe episode, which was the result of the Titanic not hitting an iceberg and sinking. Turns out that Castiel did this to create an additional 50,000 souls (the survivors and their descendents) for his war in Heaven. Meg gave us some hints that Castiel was playing a little fast and loose with the heavenly rules, and this is another clue. In this alternate world, Ellen and Jo Harvelle are alive, and Ellen is married to Bobby. And the Winchesters aren’t travelling in a ’67 Impala. The horrors. I was happy to see Ellen back, and Jo mentioned, but sad to see the Impala replaced so easily. Of course, time is repaired by the end of the episode. Then we get our cowboy episode as the Winchesters go back to the late 1800s because Samuel Colt supposedly killed a phoenix on a certain day, and they need the ashes of the phoenix to defeat Mother.

There is a four-episode string that finishes off the season. Mother is defeated, but in the process, the viewer and the Winchesters learn that Crowley is still alive. Even worse, Castiel and Crowley are working together to find Purgatory. They’ve made a deal to split the Purgatory souls, so that Castiel can win his war with Raphael. It was Castiel who raised Sam from Hell, it turns out. H.P. Lovecraft figures into one of the last episodes of the season. And why not? I’m surprised it’s taken this long, really. Opening portals to other dimensions so that elder creatures can come through was sort of his thing. In the end, Castiel double-crosses Crowley and takes all the souls for himself. While there are certainly bigger, more important things happening here, it is the betrayal of Castiel that hurts worst of all. Good storytelling.

As the season ends, Castiel is declaring himself the new and improved God.

Exciting stuff, and quite the cliffhanger. Full disclosure: I didn’t waste any time watching the first episode of Season 7 to see what happens. I know now, but I’m not telling.

Yes, I’m still quite the fan of the series. I don’t believe the show has jumped the shark at all.

Firewater’s Season 6 Report Card: A

A

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