Supernatural Retrospective – Part 17 (sacrificing random thoughts)

Part 16 (taxi crash)

Some miscellaneous stuff to push us into S9.

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So Metatron and Abaddon were introduced this season.  Let’s come back to them later.

Episode 8.12 – Like episode 5.19, this is one I’ll admit I liked on a visceral level, but must admit that it ultimately made the show worse off.  While there is an implied contradiction between “Henry” here and a line from episode 4.03, that can at least be explained by the “John got adopted” extrapolation.  Still, it removes the remaining auras of “ordinariness” to Sam & Dean.  Though I have to wonder, what if it was their paternal grandmother who was the letterman that time traveled?  I think there was far more story possibilities (though had Abaddon been possessing their grandmother, the Winchesters would have a running theme of possessed grandparents).  Regardless, I think the show missed a huge opportunity by killing off Henry in the same episode.  Letting him guest star for a few episodes before dying off (he would have fit in great with 8.13 and 8.14) would have really added something new and let the show make up for the missed grandfatherly opportunities in S6.

Episode 8.17 – As much as I just bashed 8.19, this episode had probably THE biggest crime against canon & common sense in it (yes, even counting the greek gods episode).  The revelation that Lucifer held the angel tablet just… why?  Considering how powerful both Castiel & Metatron demonstrate it is, why wouldn’t Lucifer ever bother to use it in S5?  Plus if you excised all the bits about Naomi ordering Cas to kill Dean, it not only barely affects the episode, but makes some of her actions throughout the entire season just a BIT more sensical.  If things are improved by the removal of an episode/plot/character/etc, that part of the story has failed.

Episode 8.23Not a lot to add to what I said in Alice & mine’s discussion about finales.  I do get it, there are some decent parts to this and emotionally powerful moments, that are ultimately meaningless in the wider context of the Supernatural universe.  I do want to repaste my point about how this finale DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY*:  Just shuffling events around would have made it work so much better.  Have Naomi and the angels promise to revive Sam.  Afterwards have Abaddon crash the ritual with Dean there and the brothers fight her off together (or even have Dean protecting Sam since he’s weakened).  During this delay, Metatron concludes his plot and the angels fall, THEN Dean tries to stop Sam because he thinks the angels won’t be able to hold up their end of the deal.  If you have a debate, shorten it between them: “We should close Hell anyway.” “and leave me to clean up Heaven by myself?  I can’t do it without you, man.”  THEN you have Dean holding his brother while the angels fall around them.

What drives it all to failure besides the lack of death consequences, is that NOTHING is outlined in the trials except in the broadest possible terms.  Why does Sam have to finish curing Crowley right then?  What if they took a break and then resume the next day?  The next week?  Are the trials on some kind of timer?  But parts 1 and 2 are 5 episodes apart while parts 2 and 3 are only 4 apart.  Why does it all have to be completed on the first try?  If say, Crowley was killed or got loose, could they get another demon and try again on trial 3?  Why is Sam’s death a concern for boys that know Death on a first name basis?  I’ve had another fan post some extrapolations on why (she’s even a regular reader here, hello! *wave*) but the critical point is that we’re never told.  Will Sam’s soul be the “lock” on the Gates of Hell?  Will it be oblivion?  Can he come back?  And to top it all off, the revelation that “Sam will die” is delivered by a LYING character, the show even comments on that:

DEAN
Hey, right now, talk to me. Is she lying?

KEVIN
I don’t know.

DEAN
Well, find out!

CASTIEL
She’s lying.

When canon is delivered by a lying character and nothing contradicts it later on, where the canon fact lands on the explicit spectrum can be calculated by “what reason does this character have to lie/tell the truth?”  With Naomi, there’s no way to tell.  If she’s lying about that, then she’s lying about wanting the trials complete, which makes her actions in e8.19 even more inconsistent.  Likewise, if she’s telling the truth, then she would have to be lying about wanting the trials complete, again putting into question e8.19.  If she was telling the truth about both OR telling the truth about her desire but lying about the consequence, it makes no sense as she just made it less likely the trial will be complete.  So what the hell?  This isn’t a character, it’s a plot device.

THEN to top it ALLLLLLL off.  After the crutch of it all…

Sammy dies (sort of) anyway.

So what was the point of it all?  What did Dean ultimately accomplished?  The show just flat out tell us “that heart-wrenching speech was a waste of time.”  ANY basically competent storyteller should know that if you hinge an outcome on a dramatic act, you don’t then have the outcome happen regardless of the act.  That’s a fundamental betrayal of the reader’s trust.

Which made what followed in season 9 not terribly surprising.

It wasn’t the angels that fell to earth in burning flames, it was storytelling.

Part 18

*Everyone took a drink, right?

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5 thoughts on “Supernatural Retrospective – Part 17 (sacrificing random thoughts)

  1. Agreed – Lucifer holding the Angel tablet made no sense; he most certainly would have used it as a weapon to defeat Michael in Season 5. Likewise with all of the HoG (Hand of God) weapons that cropped up in recent seasons. Then again, S11 finished off the assassination of Lucifer as a character in the SPN universe by portraying him as a caricature of his former self.

    Agreed on Henry – would have been nice to keep him around for part of Season 8, maybe even to train Sam and Dean in some MoL tricks of the trade.

    “Have Naomi and the angels promise to revive Sam.” We’ve had this argument a few times; If God wants you dead as a sacrifice for closing the gates of Hell, then what makes you think an angel(s) could revive him? And yes, I know it was never implicitly stated but rock beats scissors and God beats angels so it makes a lot of sense in the order of things in the world of Supernatural. There have been other cases of the angels not being able to save someone, Amelia Novak’s soul feeding a Grigori being the most recent that comes to mind. Speaking of S9, Sam was making a deal with Death that if he died he would stay dead and that nobody could bargain for his life or find a way to bring him back. If Death has the power to do that (and can be taken out with a cheap Home Depot garden implement by MoC Dean), what makes you think that God did not have the power to prevent any attempt to revive Sam?

    Naomi was the result of a poor attempt at a redemption arc at the end of Season 8; she was certainly manipulative but they tried to portray her as having seen the error of her ways at the end of the season. IMO this effort needed to start before the last half of the season finale.

    • What about rezzing Charlie the 2nd time? 😉 Let’s face it, here lately it’s been entirely up to the writers whether angels have their powers or not.

      *wave* I was hoping you’d stop by! 🙂 I enjoy our “Death is a joke/Death is awesome” routine.

      Part of the “angels rez Sam” is the idea that the show wants us to have an emotional reaction to the angels falling at the episode’s end. By the music and framing, it seems we are supposed to be horrified/sad/depressed/etc at the sight, but the story has expressly worked against that since their appearance in S4. At least with the promise to Dean we’d then have a cause to care about their fall.

      If we go by your idea, I would have had them state that Sam’s soul after the trial would be the “lock” keeping the Gates of Hell closed and that’s why he could never be revived as it would undo his work in addition to the word of God reason.

      Now if you really want to get meta, God (confirmed in S11) wrote/decreed that Sam dragged Lucifer and Michael into the cage. So how then do we later on have Sam & Lucifer out of said cage? 😉

      Regardless, the point is that NONE of it is ever made clear. It’s even worse that Naomi is the one to deliver this bit the extrapolation must stand on. Since the entire season established her as a character that lies, there’s always the counter of “she’s lying about what God wants” and we’re all back to where we started. That certainly makes it a failure of storytelling.

      she was certainly manipulative but they tried to portray her as having seen the error of her ways at the end of the season. IMO this effort needed to start before the last half of the season finale.

      There was a hint of her redemption in Taxi Driver but we all know how well that went. I think the key problem is that we were never shown “why” she had turn around.

      Does that mean the audience always has to see it with a character? If it’s one that has been established as lying we do, otherwise we’ll never know for certain whether the contrition is real or another deception. Garak from DS9 (one of my favorite characters – I really should call myself Elim Winchester) is a great example of how to do this well. But then he had several seasons and excellent writing behind him. 😉

      • Other than the great VFX and the potential fall out for humanity, I really didn’t give a crap when the angels fell. You are right in that the show plays fast and loose with the whole angel resurrection thing (Charlie, as you mentioned, being a great example). However, I always viewed Sam’s case a little different because it was God, from a tablet that was the word of God. If you remember, Metatron gained God-like powers when he tapped in to the angel tablet, and Castiel was released from Naomi’s control when he held the tablet.

        I do like your idea that Sam’s soul could have been the lock for the gates of hell.

        As far as Castiel raising Sam (sans soul) from hell, always had a big problem with that in Season 6; maybe an archangel could pull that off but a regular angel? Not so much. I thought they did a decent job of explaining how Amara being released cracked the cage; that can make sense. However, the whole Rowena thing, with summoning Lucifer from his case to a temporary holding cage in limbo; that felt a little weird. Would have made more sense that Amara being released allowed Lucifer to escape the cage, but I supposed that would mean Michael could have escaped, too. Speaking of Michael, has any character been treated worse on the show, Adam included?

      • Other than the great VFX and the potential fall out for humanity, I really didn’t give a crap when the angels fell.

        Yeah, hence one of my fixes. I think the writers and the show REALLY wanted us to give a crap there and well… I’d be really curious if there are any fans out there who did.

        However, I always viewed Sam’s case a little different because it was God, from a tablet that was the word of God.

        Now THERE’S another debate we can have fun with! What separates the tablets from the SPN books??? (other than the medium) After all, Swan Song heavily implied that we were watching Chuck (later God) write out what was happening right then. lol We should get some wine and record our drunken arguing, I bet some fans would be entertained.

        And no, I haven’t forgotten Mike and Adam (really wish Michael had been the one released in S11).

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