My efforts to write a review of Supernatural season 4 kept hitting an impass. Finally I realized that the season untimately revolved around a character that’s been dead for 2 and by examining his overall plot, would help us understand and grasp what this last year taught us.
So apparently from Day 1 Azazel has wanted to free Satan. But to do so, would require:
1) A righteous man would have to shed blood in hell.
2) break 64 other seals.
3) A human would have to choose of their own free will to kill with demonic power the first born of Lucifer: Lilith.
Azazel already had an idea on how to accomplish 3. He would give a child a taste of the demonic so that they would then have the power to kill Lilith. But he can’t just walk into people’s houses and drip blood into the kids, so he spends several years (particular in the 70s) making deals with people so that he might return at their child’s 6-month birthday.
At some point during all this, Mr Yellow-Eyed gathered a host of demons to follow his command. Not only would an army of his own on earth make step 2 considerably easier, but it might also distract the forces of heaven long enough for him to free the big bad.
Fast forward nearly 20 years later, John Winchester has sold his soul. Several months later, Azazel begins gathering his “special kids” for a showdown to see who is the most powerful. By now John’s been in hell for probably 30-50 years (hell time) and Azazel is confident that he will break at any moment, accomplishing #1 and setting everything in motion. However the Winchesters have to go and screw everything up and the Yellow-Eyed Demon ends up toast.
So what about Lilith? If she agreed, even wanted to sacrifice herself for Azazel’s plan (and let Satan free), why did she try to kill Sam so much in season 3? After much study the answer appears to be: because the plan was scrapped. With John free, there’s no righteous man in hell to break the first seal. Apparently her plans changed to basic world domination and she just wanted Sam & Dean out of the way. However, at the end of the year, not only have their efforts to rescue Dean failed, but her effort to blow up Sam failed as well. This gives Lilith what she needs: A righteous man in hell (again) that might break the seal and confirmation that Sam really does have the mojo to kill her eventually. Thus we come to season 4.
Why did the YED ‘infect’ so many kids in the first place?
Ever heard “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? In the season 2 episode Hunted, we even have a hunter named Gordon running around, killing the special kids. It doesn’t take a lot of foresight to realize this was a likely possibility and that you might want some extra kids on hand just in case.
So why have the competition? Why not use all the kids?
Remember that Azazel isn’t liked by anyone. Also in season 4 we see that as Sam grows in power, he gains the ability to kill demons with his mind. Demons like Azazel. If one might eventually get the power to kill him, it wouldn’t be smart to cart around a dozen or so of these brats, all longing to off the tyrant at the first opportunity. 1 he can handle. More than that is a risk.
Still, why have a competition at all? Why not just pick a kid at random?
A common theme running throughout Supernatural is the intelligence of hunters. Azazel himself explains that he wanted Sam on the road, gaining the training and smarts needed to lead the army of the damned. Again we are looking at a worse case senario: someone trying to stop his efforts (which did happen at the close of season 2). So if you need something important done – something that a lot of people might try and prevent – you’d obviously want the best person possible to do it. In this case, the competition was Azazel’s method for determining which kid would be best able to handle letting the army out, then leading it to break the seals.
(these are the most common questions I’ve been asked offline, any others?)