Supernatural: The Little Engine That Did
It all began with a 5yr/5 season plan by show creator Eric Kripke, and in its first season we met two boys, brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester that hit the road fighting all sorts of supernatural nasties from ghosts to demons--hence the name of the show, Supernatural. There are a few episodes during the first season that seem to go along a little slowly and then there is the season finale that leaves you practically gripping your seat and wanting more. By season two the story is starting to come together and you’re hooked. There is no going back. After watching the show’s first 6 seasons, episodes back to back over a 3 week period on instant watch on Netflix, I had to wonder why this show isn’t as popular as it is because it has everything--heart, gore, horror, and a sense of family. You can’t really go wrong.
For a show that has some great writers and an addictive storyline during its 6th season run I had to admit that for a number of years, I actually skipped it. In my own assessment, I was up to me eyeballs in supernatural shows for a while: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Charmed, and all of them had plots that if you missed a few episodes you’d be lost, and since Supernatural looked the same way, I skipped it. Wrong move.
After becoming obsessed with this show for a time I scoured for more information on it and found out for years it’d been teetering on the ratings brink, never knowing if they’d be picked up for another season or not. Unstable ratings status notwithstanding, that didn’t stop the show’s writers and producers from giving it their all and the stories they told over the years really were outstanding.
My all-time personal favorite season of all was season 6 even though there are plenty of people that felt the show should’ve ended after the initial 5 season run, but I totally disagree with that. I thought the story involving the brothers, especially Sam, was one of the most interesting ones as far as their relationship as brothers went. Jensen Ackles was great, as usual, but we got to see a side of Jared Padalecki on the show as an actor that we’d never gotten to see before. The plot was still riveting, and this time we had three dilemmas the brothers were dealing with (there are spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen season 6 yet and intend to--don’t read any further if you do plan on it): Sam having no soul, trying to find a way to defeat “Eve”, and the war their pal Cas was dealing with and trying to conquer. One of my favorite episodes was My Heart Will Go On where life’s timeline had been altered and the Titanic didn’t actually sink. Great stuff.
But all things eventually come to an end. I guess having six stellar seasons (in my opinion at least) was pushing it because as we entered season 7, from the first episode I could tell something was off. The season premiere felt almost rushed and all wrong for the TV series I’d come to love. The new villains seemed almost…commercial. And corny. Previous major villains like Yellow Eyes (Azazel), Lilith, Alastair, the Devil, and even Eve didn’t come off as contrived as the Leviathan in season 7. The brothers' struggles and emotions weren’t tapped into as well, the stories felt thin like they belonged on another (lesser) TV show. Not only that, but I resented the fact that they were made to work with a demon that caused them so much pain over the years: Meg, a demon that once killed one of their closest friends during the first season, a demon that nearly got their own father murdered, a demon that possessed Sam and locked itself inside of his body and murdered other hunters during season 3, a demon that got 2 of their best friends killed by hellhounds during season 4 (Ellen and Jo). Did the producers forget everything she’d done and just had a ‘what the hell’ moment in season 7? Were they trying to point out the fact that Sam and Dean were just plain desperate, so desperate, that they were willing to let go everything from the past and just work with her? I thought that was sick since loyalty is one of the biggest things with those two and it was as if the writers just chucked that right out of the window. Or Sera Gamble just thought a little girl power would be cool. And then they killed the character Bobby Singer. WHAT??? In a way I can understand it because he was one of those characters that was probably meant to die during season 2 anyway or something, but it just seemed to come out of nowhere and for no reason at all. And I loved him. The episode where he died was so wonderfully written, honestly, and Jensen Ackles’s performance was outstanding, but again—did they have to kill him??? Maybe I shouldn’t bitch about that, though, and bitch about the fact that Ben Edlund, whose work I normally love, wrote and directed one of the worst episodes I’ve ever seen on the show during season 7. The last handful of episodes in the season, including the finale, were just so bad, I thought the writers and everybody had just completely given up on the show by then. Supernatural has had some of the best season finales I’ve ever seen; it gave the definition of a good season finale. But season 7? I couldn’t believe that was the season finale! They brought the Impala back after many episodes of it being off the show completely, but Dean wasn’t even driving it! Another fellow viewer said that it was an 'f-you' to the fans from Sera Gamble, maybe a last screw you to the audience after she stepped down as show runner. The '67 Impala that the brothers drive is a character in her own right and having her gone was a little bit of the show missing. All of us that are loyal to the show missed her, I know it. And then they crashed her. For no reason at all. Literally. I can slap them for how bad that finale was.
But I don’t want to leave this article on a bad note because I still really do love the show, I love our lead actors, I love all the people that built the show up over the past seasons into something I fell in love with even if they seriously annoyed me with season 7. Don’t get me wrong, now everything about season 7 was bad—I especially loved the episode “Penny Perriwinkles Clowns” because it felt like they were getting back to a bit of the old Supernatural with that one when they were working a case, and also the humorous aspect wasn’t lost. I laughed a little too much during that episode. And I will be watching when season 8 premieres this coming October. I don’t know if Sera Gamble was really the main problem, but they’ve decided to bring back one of the old writers, Jeremy Carver, as show runner who wrote some really great episodes in the past as well. I don’t know if he’ll be able to take the show back to what it was after it’s been so far removed from what it used to be, or if it’s going to be season 7 all over again, but I love this show too much for me to not continue on the journey with the wayward sons for another year.
Regardless of what took place last season, I can still appreciate the brothers, their struggle, their story, and Eric Kripke’s creation. Supernatural will always hold a special place in my heart and I will always go back and look at my favorite episodes (I’ve seen all of them at least twice; a lot of them I’ve seen multiple times) and be glad that I was there enjoying the ride while it lasted.
Jared Padalecki was asked on a panel not too long ago how he would introduce people who don’t watch the show to it, what episodes would he tell them to watch to get them into it. In response he said that he believed that they have all the fans that they’re meant to have right now, that whoever found the show and watches it and loves it are their fans and he wouldn’t bother to bring anyone else in. I think he’s totally wrong about that. New people are introduced to their show all the time, and just because they’re not paying hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars to go to their conventions and they see a lot of the same faces that they have from the beginning almost, it’s not fair to think that they don’t have any new viewers. I only just started watching and caught up with everything last year. And no, I doubt I’d pay a few thousand dollars to travel to one of their panels for a generic meet and greet with celebrities, I don’t care how much I like the characters they play on TV, even if I had that kind of money to blow. Just because their numbers may not change that drastically as far as viewership is concerned, one thing they should remember is sometimes other people stop watching and along comes a new viewer; people pop in and pop out, catching an episode here and an episode there. Some people love the show, some people like the show, and some people seem to love to hate on it (I’ve interacted with a lot of the fans of this show and they complain endlessly; they are seriously some of the most annoying fans I’ve ever chatted with in my life), but what Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles should know is that we appreciate their efforts. I do. Even when the writing isn’t great. I even appreciate the writers’ efforts who are sticking around and intend to try and make this upcoming season better than the last one. This is the only show that I know not only the main actors, but I know the behind the scenes people as well. I want Phil Sgriccia to put his loving caring touch back into the music again. I want classic scenes like the one where the boys escaped in SWAT uniforms and drove off to the sound of the Styx’s “Renegade” and the one where they introduced Death’s character to us. I want episodes that send shivers down my spine with the emotional weight like the one where Jo and Ellen died in such a dramatic fashion; I want episodes where there’s humor infused right along with the drama and the hunting and having it all integral with what the brothers are both going through, what they’re dealing with, who they are as characters (that’s the part of them we can relate to and what we fell in love with in the first place). We got glimpses of what the show used to be in season 7, but we didn’t get the whole show and what it always was. What I mainly want is for our brothers, those two guys that we love, to get back on the road and face their problems with the dignity and humor that they’ve always possessed in the past. I want them to be those two guys that we can’t wait to see every week. I just want that old feel of Supernatural back. They have so much material from past seasons that they can still use in the upcoming season 8 to tie up loose ends and maybe prepare the show to segue into a movie later on. Even I’ve come up with better ideas than they had as far as season 7 goes, but I’m just a viewer. No matter how frustrated I get that’s what I have to always remember, and they’re in charge. I just hope that Jeremy Carver can actually manage to turn it around, take it back to what it once was, or at least go in that direction. I don’t want the little engine that is Supernatural that’s been going all these years to end on a note of disappoint. The show is better than that. And if you don’t know, you should probably go back to the beginning and watch—then you’ll understand what I mean.