(If you don’t get the title, it’s a Gilligan’s Island reference.)
Let’s talk about the other major characters besides Sam, shall we?
Dean – Previously i pointed out that the start of this season followed the same formula as the previous 2 beginnings of the show runner. It also ended up following the formula of S4, with Dean returning from an afterlife with a new friend. All in all there’s nothing innately wrong with Dean’s bits as written. It would have been more interesting had Gordon been the one Dean brought back, but Benny was a decent enough character to also be distinct from Castiel. One can even appreciate that there is a simplicity to Purgatory that some dark part of any person could enjoy. Had they done what they should have with Sam’s character, Dean’s story probably would have needed to be altered (else you’d have 2 cold, distant characters as your leads and that wouldn’t work long for viewers) but that’s for another time (if enough people ask me to).
Benny – See above. Nothing spectacular, but nothing horrible either. He was a good “workhorse” character straddling that line of major figure vs secondary.
Crowley – Of anyone, I would say Crowley comes out best in S8, most in character, better written, and entertaining. While I have said I enjoy the Leviathan story in S7 as a foil of humanity’s tactics against us, Crowley this season is the one who really pulls off successfully being the anti-Winchester. After all, how do the Winchesters stop all the monsters? Read up on their history, learn about them, formulate and execute a plan of attack. What does Crowley do? Read up on their books… Regardless of how things go from here, this season is Crowley’s best (even accounting for the clumsy retcon they tried to shoehorn into episode 8.17 that thankfully they seemed to have forgotten and shoved away).
Castiel – Penance in purgatory? A great idea that functions as a shout out to Christian mythology and is perfectly in keeping with Castiel’s character. The start of S8 for him was great.
Then he escaped.
Do you remember our previous discussion about villains? So let’s apply that test. Assume Naomi succeeded in her goals. What would happen? Why? Can you show your work?
If you’re starting to get a headache, you might notice that Naomi, at any point in the season, never has a clearly defined goal. The closest we get is the lines from episode 8.19:
I know you don’t want to believe it, Dean, but we’re on the same side – shutting the Gates of Hell, bringing Castiel in from the cold.
And episode 8.23:
I want nothing more than to see you shut the Gates of Hell, but I told you that you could trust me.
Yet in episode 8.17 she orders Castiel to kill Dean. Why? Why would she order Castiel to kill Dean? The trials to close the Gates of Hell began in episode 8.14, which means Sam was already under way attempting the trials. If Naomi is supposed to be the “intelligence division” of Heaven, then how can she not know that doing that would put Sam off of completing the trials? She even orders Castiel to report back to her on the Winchesters’ actions, how can she not know how loyal the brothers are? Not to mention that throughout the season, we see Sam growing weaker from the trials. If Dean died, his brother would never have been successful (if anything, he probably would be trapped in Purgatory – assuming he didn’t go on a roaring rampage of revenge against Heaven).
In episode 8.10 we see Naomi pull Castiel to Heaven to order him to kill Samandriel. Why? Why not just pull Samandriel to Heaven? Why not claim it was for angel first aid? Then she can have Samandriel die away from prying eyes AND gain everybody’s trust. Naomi literally chooses to do the action that will most hinder any goals conveyed, REPEATEDLY THROUGH THE SEASON. Like when Castiel is moving through all the Biggersons (a fun idea I’ll admit), and the angels slaughter one of them to distract him, why didn’t Naomi then say… resurrect everybody they just killed to try and gain Castiel’s trust? Why not put one angel in every Biggerson to grab Castiel when he appears? Why not use a sigil (like the Horn of Gabriel seen next season) to lure/trap Cas into one particular Biggerson?
What is Naomi’s plan? The problem is any answer is going to be entirely conjecture on the part of the audience with no conclusive evidence provided by the story. That isn’t always a bad thing, but in this case, she’s driving multiple major elements of the plot. It makes it impossible to trust any of the storytellers involved in this season. (too bad it’ll get worse)
In a way I almost feel sorry for Misha Collins in the last half of S8 because Naomi isn’t a character, she’s the writers, jerking him around to do whatever the script demands, common sense and character be damned.
Which is a shame, because I love Amanda Tapping. Imaging what could have had been had she played more of an anti-Crowley chess master working toward her goals, the season could have been as great as any of the Kripke’s.