Now that the worst season ever is behind us, let’s move on to when Carver & Co went for broke, with a big bad called… the DarknessTM.
Whatever else I can say, a villain of “God’s Sister” is certainly ambitious.
. . .
I feel like I’m forgetting something.
Carry the 1 and…
That’s right! There was a S10 after S9.
As the overlong joke has hopefully proved, the biggest crime of S10 was that it was utterly forgettable. While S9 was bad, it was memorable in how awful it was. Why? Why is S10 so… blah?
Certainly part of it is that they decided to back off on the arcs, and gave us more MotW episodes. Let’s compare it with other seasons. Depending on how loose/broad you want to define MotW (example: should episode 10.11 count as MotW or arc?). By a rough count, it has anywhere from 11-14 episodes that are MotW. S7 had around 13 (if you don’t count 7.10 and 7.17 – which could be). S8 is… hard to count since the arc of the trials didn’t even start until the 14th episode. But we have S4 which had, while being 1 episode shorter, only 9 MotW (for those curious: 4-6, 8, 11-14, 19). Up to or over half of your season being filler is not going to help it stick in your audiences’ minds.
But there’s more.
If you’ve been following this series from the beginning, recall how we examined that foreshadowing helps build up a world and establish its realism for the audience. Episode 1.12 foreshadows that Dean hates people dying for him, which pays off later when John does so at the beginning of the next season. John is able to wrest control from the demon possessing him while attacking Dean, and demands to take the bullet to kill the thing in 1.22. This foreshadows the end of
the series season 5 where Sam is able to wrest control from Lucifer and take “the bullet” to end that threat once and for all. When you break foreshadowing, it better be for a good reason. “The End” showed us a Lucifer-controlled Sam killing Dean. So in Swan Song part of the audiences’ brains are expecting that Dean might die to a Lucifer-controlled Sam again. But things have changed between the episodes. Things are different as pointed out even within “The End” itself, so when the foreshadowing swerves, and Sam gains control, we accept it.
Previously I pointed out that a lot of rage felt towards S8 was springing up from a betrayal of the foreshadowing we had seen previously way back in S3 – with no indication that anything had changed with the character (indeed between the soullessness and crazy spells, he had barely had any character growth).
Well what also happened in S3? A foreshadowing of Demon Dean. Not much foreshadowing, just a sliver. Enough to give the viewers some expectations, but leaves plenty of room for the writers.
What did we get? A Dean that was more in character with his S1 persona than we had seen the previous seasons. What was different? What made Dean demonic? Heck he even showed more courtesy towards the woman he slept with than soulless Sam did. How did Sam without a soul end up more evil than Dean as a demon? He was mean to Sam in the 2nd and 3rd episode, but anyone remember 4.21? 5.02? 6.06? Heck episode 1.10 had the brothers fighting and being mean to each other. Being indifferent to Baby was about the most “evil” and out-of-character moment for Dean but those were still just words (not like he actually tried to hurt her). Was it the singing? We had him singing in episode 3.16.
Almost every instance you might pick of Dean being changed by the Mark of Cain, you can find him doing that things without the Mark earlier in the show. While yes, that can be a sign that he still is the same character (and there should be some continuity between changes) the idea that a character now a demon depends upon the show demonstrating that there are lines the character previously wouldn’t cross, now being crossed. But by this point, the show had blurred any lines Dean had to the point we couldn’t be sure which side he was on. It also warped the structure to be protagonist-centered morally to the point we couldn’t tell when something was supposed to be condemned and when it was justified.
Ironically, the previous seasons the show runners had pushed the envelope on Dean so much, that when he was supposed to turn evil, there was no where left to push him without making the character unforgivable to the audience.
So rather than a figure of his nightmares, we find Deanmon being more like the original character we had known. Once again betraying the show’s foreshadowing. And once again the fandom grew frustrated and angry, even if they weren’t quite sure why.