There’s a secret to making a fantasy story work effectively. You introduce subject matter that you know is ridiculous—whether magic, fairies, monsters or other supernatural elements—and then treat it seriously. You establish rules for your fictional universe. And then . . . you follow them.
In my review of Season 13 of Supernatural, I made a lame joke about the episode “Scoobynatural.” I wrote that I wished they had used the old cartoon Jabberjaws instead of Scooby-Doo, because I think this is where the series jumped the shark.
Honestly, that was just a cheap shot. The low point of this series for me, through Season 14, has been Season 7, the one about the Leviathans. But, the show rebounded after that one, until arriving at my second-least-favorite season—Season 11—the one that featured Amara the Darkness and good ol’ Chuck Shurley AKA God. The series was stunned but not knocked-out. It pulled itself off the ropes and gave us two more decent seasons.
And then this one. The penultimate season, as it turned out.
Also my third-least-favorite season. Yeah, that’s right. Out of fourteen seasons I’ve watched since the beginning of 2019, there are eleven that I believe were better than this one. Which is sad when you consider that the current season airing will be its last.
I think it all comes down to faith. The creative forces behind the series seemed to have lost their faith in their characters, and in the story, this season. Not coincidentally, Chuck/God returns as a character, and everyone has certainly lost faith in Him. It seems like God has to be painted as the bad guy in every television series he makes an appearance in. In Supernatural, he’s not just a bad guy, it seems, but a bad writer.
It’s disappointing. God may not be the only bad writer involved with this series.
Read on while I explain my own disappointment in the series further. I will also tell you about the things that I liked in the season and justify why I didn’t give the season a lower grade, even if it is my third-least-favorite.
This season is largely about sorting out the aftermath of Season 13 and then setting up the final season as if it was all a spur-of-the-moment idea. As the season opens, Lucifer is still dead, but his human host Nick (Mark Pellegrino) is very much alive. Jack (Alexander Calvert) no longer has his powers because the now-dead Lucifer stole his grace. Dean (Jensen Ackles) is now the human host of the archangel Michael, wearing a Peaky Blinders cap, no less. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Castiel (Misha Collins) are searching for the missing Dean.
It probably goes without saying, but be warned: SPOILERS TO FOLLOW & VERY SOON.
Just when I thought Dean was being set up to be the Big Bad of the season, he is suddenly, inexplicably cured of his Michael-ness by the end of the second episode. He has a scar from the two-pronged spear wielded by Dark Kaia (Yadira Guevara-Prip), the alternate reality version of Kaia Nieves, the dreamwalker who died in Season 13 because she helped the Winchesters. Dark Kaia is from the alternate dimension known as The Bad Place, not Apocalypse World like most of our alternate reality characters. If you’re having trouble keeping up, don’t even try.
Of course, I thought Michael was just laying low inside Dean’s head, waiting for a midseason reveal. Turns out he was really gone, but left a door open to reenter Dean’s mind at a later date. Which he does, of course. But, with the help of Death AKA Billie (Lisa Berry), Michael is locked away in a storage room in Dean’s brain for a while. This is highly reminiscent of that time Sam’s memories of being Lucifer’s prison wife in the Cage were walled off by the previous incarnation of Death. Using instructions given to him by Billie, Dean constructs a Ma’lak Box out of sheet metal and metal bars. It’s some kind of coffin covered in sigils designed to contain an archangel. Dean plans to lock himself in the box and have it submerged in the Pacific Ocean. And this is more reminiscent of Angel than a previous Supernatural plotline.
Although Dean seems resolute in his plan, it becomes a bit anticlimactic because it seems he’s easily talked out of killing himself.
Meanwhile, Jack seems to be dying without his grace. He gets increasingly sicker until he dies. He coughs a little for several episodes, and when we see flecks of blood in what he’s coughing up, we seasoned television viewers know what’s up. Then, in time-honored tradition, he comes back to life, but not until he goes to Heaven for a bit and meets his mother. I don’t even remember the reason given for Jack’s resurrection now. Do we even need a reason at this point? People can’t stay dead on this series. It seems that the Big Empty—you know, that place angels and other supernatural beings go after death instead of Heaven or Hell, which makes it another alternate plane of reality in this series—is now invading Heaven, or somesuch fertilizer load.
The point of Jack’s return seems to be to have an ultimate showdown with Michael, who is now using Rowena (Ruth Connell) as his human vessel after breaking out of Dean’s brain. Jack succeeds at killing Michael, consuming his archangelic grace and returning himself to full power. It seems he burns off what’s left of his soul in the process, unfortunately. Remember how Sam was when he didn’t have a soul? Well, like that, only with awesome Nephilim powers that Jack had trouble controlling when he still had a soul. What could go wrong, right?
Of course, Jack is becoming the Big Bad of the season, just as Dean knew he would eventually become all along. When it comes to the Winchester brothers, always bet on Dean.
As way leads to way, the soulless Jack ends up accidentally killing Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith). Winchesters all die multiple times. It’s an hereditary trait, apparently. Castiel knew something was wrong with Jack, so Dean, naturally, blames Castiel for not saying something about it. An angry Dean has become kind of a series trope. Jack tries to fix things and resurrect the Winchester mom, but fails. Castiel determines that Mary is in Heaven, happy and at peace. I haven’t reached the end of Season 15 yet, but it’s beginning to look like she’s going to stay that way.
More on how Jack’s story arc ends this season in a moment. Let’s talk about Nick for a minute.
Nick, formerly Lucifer’s human host, somehow turns out to—in many ways—be a worse person than he was when he was the Devil’s personal Mini-Cooper. He goes full-on Ted Bundy serial killer as he seems to be investigating his family’s murder. The culprit turns out to be a demon known as Abraxas. It turns out that at some point in the past, Mary Winchester had trapped Abraxas in an Enochian puzzle box (think Hellraiser). Nick succeeds in his story goal. But, it seems he’s not finished. He escapes from police hospital custody (he’s a serial killer now, remember), and then returns to his old house, the scene of his family’s murder. His wife, not surprisingly, is now a ghost haunting the place. However, Nick is no longer interested in his dead family. He’s more interested in trying to resurrect Lucifer. It seems his time with the undisputed Lord of Sin has changed him in some fundamental way. He is now truly evil.
Nick ends up kidnapping the prophet Donatello, injecting him with stolen angelic grace, also using some of Jack’s blood that he got somehow, all in a confusing attempt to raise Lucifer from the Big Empty. Jack goes all Antichrist on him and snaps his bones and boils him alive. Goodbye forever, Nick. This is right before he also kills Mary Winchester, who was admonishing Jack for the way he killed Nick. Not for killing him, you understand. For killing him so flamboyantly.
That sets up our season finale, now that we’re back on Jack. The plan is to get Jack into the stupid box Dean built to kill himself in. This happens, but of course it’s just not strong enough to hold him. Now Jack seems to be having Lucifer as his imaginary friend, the way Sam used to. Things do not look so good for everyone else in the world as we’re going into the finale.
Then we hang a sharp left turn into Crap-Town as Chuck Shurley/God returns to the series, a literal deus ex machina. He has arranged things so that Dean will have to sacrifice Jack, the way Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his son. The title of the episode is “Moriah,” by the way. Dean doesn’t come through for Chuck, so this series’ version of God has to take matters into His own hands. He introduces a new enchanted weapon he calls The Equalizer (seriously), that inflicts the same harm on the person who uses the gun as its intended victim. When Dean doesn’t use it on Jack, God kills Jack anyway. Then Sam shoots God, wounding, not killing, him. Since we’re now in the hands of an Angry God/Hack Writer, God retaliates by releasing all the souls from Hell.
The season ends with Dean, Sam, and Castiel surrounded by the walking dead. Meanwhile, Jack is met in some sort of afterlife by Billie Death. Yep, that happened.
The events of the final episode seem to make everything else that has happened in the series so far, ultimately, pointless. It’s almost as if the writers actually hated this show.
Now that I’ve told you why this was my third-least-favorite season of the series (so far), allow me to tell you the things I liked about it.
As I’ve said before—perhaps in a different way—this series is the entertainment equivalent of donuts to me. The worst donut I’ve ever eaten was still pretty-much okay. Substitute pizza, if that’s more your jam (or jam, if that’s more your . . . eh, forget it). Anyway, what I’m saying is that I still enjoy a lot of this series, even when it is ultimately disappointing me.
This season had one 4-star outing for me, Episode 13 “Lebanon,” in which John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is pulled from an earlier timeline when Dean makes a wish on a magic pearl liberated from an evil pawn shop. You were led to believe that Dean’s deepest wish would be to get the archangel Michael out of his head. But, no, it was a one-episode reunion with dear old Dad. There is a reunion dinner, with the entire Winchester family in attendance. Emotionally manipulative? You betcha. But still effective. The episode also has a John Wayne Gacy killer clown interlude that was genuinely scary.
Of course, John has to go back to his timeline so that things are not permanently mucked up. He’s fated to sacrifice himself to save Dean from his first death, remember.
While no other single episode was as good to me, there were still other things I liked.
There was a filler episode about a haunted comic book store that was a slasher movie crossover. I liked that one a lot. It was somehow a Thundercats crossover as well. I know, right?
An episode about a housefly monster was interesting. And another about a gay eyeball-eating Gorgon. Like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes. And eyeball eating. The one about a man creating a seemingly-idyllic Norman Rockwell-esque town in Arkansas through mind control also had its good moments, but mostly because I live in Arkansas, I suspect.
With only twenty episodes in the season, we had slightly less filler than most seasons, which means the bulk of Season 14 was devoted to serialized content. Which I would applaud if the resolution of the seasonal arc actually resolved anything. As I mentioned before, it doesn’t.
Supernatural has twenty episodes remaining before it completes its run. Here’s hoping that Season 15 is one huge redemption arc.
Firewater’s Penultimate-Season-Blues Report Card: B
You were expecting a lower grade, I know. Donuts, my friends. Donuts.