How does that dad joke go?
Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven eight nine.
Get it? Seven ate nine?
Lame, I know. But somehow fitting when talking about the seventh season of Supernatural. This is the season where the Leviathans are introduced into our fictional universe. Leviathans are the oldest creatures created by God and banished to Purgatory until Castiel messed up royally and released them into the general population.
I thought about the joke because it had the number seven in it, and because it suggests that seven is hungry and a bit scary (at least to six). Leviathans are also hungry and the season eventually begins to be about the Leviathans treating humans like cattle, dosing them with drugged high fructose corn syrup to make them docile and fat (especially Americans), and eventually eating them. And, like the joke, this story line is a bit lame.
Don’t get me wrong. Supernatural remains highly watchable, even at its worst. It’s just that this was my least favorite season since the writers-strike truncated season three. As usual, the show reinvents itself in a bid to keep the stories fresh. Only this time it turns into something that I didn’t like as much. I’ll explain why. Just realize this is going to be chockful of SPOILERS. You have been warned.
Season 6 ended in an intriguing way, with Castiel announcing himself as the new God. This was after he double-crossed Crowley and sucked up all the souls from Purgatory himself. During that finale, Cass also destroyed the mental wall protecting Sam from memories of his time in the Hell cage with Lucifer. So, we begin this season highly caffeinated with potential plot lines.
It turns out that Castiel sucks at being God. Plus, he’s not built to contain that much power. The Winchesters and Bobby Singer make a deal with Death to open up the portal to Purgatory again so that Castiel can return the souls to where they belong. This works except for the Leviathans, who decide to hang around and wreak havoc for a while. Castiel ends up releasing all of the Leviathans, and their black goo, into the water supply. Then Castiel disappears, presumably dead.
That’s one of the things I didn’t like about this season. The actor Misha Collins was no longer a series regular. Oh, he returns later in the season, as I suspected he would, but he was absent for most of it. In fact, he initially returns as an amnesiac, only to have the terrible memories of what he did return to him. He can’t cure Sam of his Lucifer hallucinations (which are slowly killing him), but he decides to take Sam’s affliction on himself, since he was responsible for it. This means Castiel’s return is a temporary one, as he is locked away in a psychiatric hospital until he is brought out again at the end of the season. He’s dusted off, reinserted into the plotline, and given the new quirk of being a little insane.
In effect, he didn’t return at all.
The story arc of Sam experiencing the Lucifer hallucinations had some good moments, and I like actor Mark Pellegrino, but these moments were inconsistent. For a long while, it seemed that Sam was okay and was dealing with the hallucinations fine. Then, he wasn’t because the shift in plot required his mental deterioration. Castiel takes the problem away with his angelic powers and Sam is back to his old self.
In fact, there is little character development with the Winchesters at all this season, in my opinion. They experience more personal tragedy—which I’ll discuss in a moment—but it seems to affect them all of one episode and then everything is back to status quo. Even though we’re constantly being told how big a deal the Leviathans are, there doesn’t seem to be an emotional attachment there.
After the Leviathans frame the Winchester brothers for a murder spree, we also lose the ’67 Chevy Impala for most of the season. This is like taking KITT away from Michael Knight. It just isn’t done. We also lose the rock star aliases, and new ally Frank eventually vanishes as well.
Then, Bobby Singer was killed off. This was the personal tragedy I mentioned earlier. The brothers grieve hard for a single episode, and then seem to move on. I know, the Winchesters have experienced more than their share of deaths. But, Bobby’s death seemed to affect me more than it did them. Sure, there were reminders of Bobby throughout the season, and some quiet emoting, and Dean seemed to take on Bobby’s drinking problem in addition to his own. It just didn’t feel right, somehow.
Of course, Bobby returned as a ghost, connected to his flask instead of his remains since he was given a proper hunter’s funeral. Then we have to lose him again by the season finale, because he’s deteriorating into a vengeful spirit. Like Castiel, we lose Bobby twice. Unlike Castiel, it doesn’t seem that Bobby is coming back. And that makes me sad. It also takes points away from the season.
I love the special effects on the Leviathans themselves. The Big Mouth effect is scary enough, but also a bit funny. I also enjoyed James Patrick Stuart’s turn as the Big Bad Leviathan, Richard “Dick” Roman, although the dick jokes become over-abundant. Mark Sheppard is back as Crowley as well, and he’s always enjoyable in his oily, snide way.
Twenty-three episodes is a long stretch, and there is plenty of filler here. Almost as if the writers understood that the Leviathan season-long arc was on the weak side, we get a lot of monster-of-the-week episodes. A few of them are even memorable. There are more ghosts, killer clowns, demons and even Amazons. Also a Japanese alcohol monster that can be seen only by the intoxicated. This one looked a lot like the girl who crawled out of the television sets in The Ring.
We get guest stars, too. James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter, two Buffy alumni, make an appearance as feuding husband-and-wife witch team. Jason Dohring and Nicholas Lea appear in our obligatory Dean-Travels-Through-Time episode. And ubiquitous nerd-girl Felicia Day appears somewhere in the final act of our Leviathan arc. Like all nerds, I enjoyed seeing her again.
The season finale is effective overall. We have a new Prophet of the Lord in young high school student Kevin Tran, but he’s taken prisoner by Crowley as the season concludes. Dean and Castiel were relocated to Purgatory for some reason after Dick Roman is eliminated, and Sam is left all alone. No Bobby, no Dean, no Castiel. No Meg, even, because Crowley got her, too. I’m also a little confused over what monsters are left aside from vampires and the leaderless Leviathans. I know there will be more, but I think all of the Alphas were killed except for the Alpha Vamp.
The Impala makes its triumphant return in the finale as well. We probably all expected that. But, even this return to normalcy lacked bite for some reason. As the season ended, it just seemed like we were going through the motions.
I’m optimistic that Season 8 will right this ship again. I’ll let you know after I watch it.
Firewater’s Season 8 Report Card Grade: B+