Much like its predecessor, season 4 (S4), S7 was helped by following an excretible excuse for a series (S6 & 3).
This being an election year in the USA, this turned out to be the season of politics in SPN; along with all the standard issue “cheap-shots” at conservatives and right-leaning political persuasions. However, on reflection, was this to try and balance out that the main villains this season had as their master plan to provide everything many liberal and left-leaning political persuasions ask for? Free housing, free food, free health-care… the leviathans were going to give it all to us. But as the lesson goes: you can’t get something for free; the farmer cannot provide shelter, food, and care for the cattle for free. One wonders… if the leviathans were up front with their goals, would they have been elected? (come on, you know some people would have voted for them out of the “I’m not likely to be eaten” philosophy) Maybe this season was the most brilliant and subtle political parable in a long while. Although I wish they had made Dick more broad base appealing. i.e. Promising free care for the left, defense for the right (technically true from a point of view). While the politics stuff did get very old, it was interesting to see an antagonist kind of fight the boys at their own game – using the human world. And kudos to the show creators for at least doing something new with a villain. (aiming to domesticate us instead of destroying us like Satan wanted to) This is how you can do new storylines without constantly escalating the stakes. A good lesson for writers.
Character wise, while the boys finally displayed some character growth and turned down the angsting (or at least, worked to do something about it), the season was a relentless tease about removing allies from them, only to have said allies pop back up to move the plot along regardless. Again, I like Bobby & Castiel, but the scripts were growing over-reliant on them. Sam’s mental breakdown was pretty well handled and a relief after a season where robo!Sam went from being “off-but-ok” to “downright-evil-so-the-audience-stops-preferring-him”. Dean… at least he finally toned down being such an asshole by season’s end.
When it came to the arc, it was great to see the show runners learn from S5… even as they still fell short. Yes, it was nice to see even slight references to the ongoing leviathan problem in episodes that didn’t reference them, this constant reinforcement was missing in S5. HOWEVER, writers have to remember that reinforcement is more than just the obvious lines, it’s especially the subtle alterations. This can range from having mentions and nods to Dick Roman in background props, to actually having the characters do things like… warn other hunters/people about the leviathan – giving them tips, etc. Or even having one-off jokes like “Hey boys, you didn’t get arrested for your little crime spree?” all work to build the impression and sense of the world your story takes place in. With everything learned these past two seasons, I actually wouldn’t mind seeing S5 remade a bit. Perhaps in an animated form…?
All in all, I rank this season… about equal to S1 or S5. Pretty good, but not exceptional or great, it gave us what we expected.
Here’s hoping S8 is a stupendous knockout that closes the series on a high note.