Supernatural: A Wild Ride From Beginning To End

Supernatural's swansong gives the show the goodbye it deserved.

supernatural Jared Padalecki jensen ackles

Supernatural has been a fixture in pop culture since its premiere in 2005. Since then, it has built a fanbase that’s become a family all around the world, and bears a memorable part in the lives of its audiences. Supernatural has provided its fans with conventions featuring the stars over the years, giving audiences the chance to interact with their favorite actors, building up a special relationship with its audience unlike other shows. Fans have tattoos with memorable quotes and characters from the show, plenty of Supernatural merchandise, and know the show by heart.

With the onset of Covid-19 this year, its finale was delayed. On one hand, it gave audiences more time to say their goodbyes, and on the other, it was torture, having to wait to see how the beloved show would end.

The final episodes leading up to the ending took their fair share of twists and turns, with the Winchesters scrambling for plans B, C, and D as they tried to outsmart God Himself. Mix in their attempt to save Jack, uncovering betrayals and losing more members of their makeshift family, to name a few, and they were in for a wild ride. It all ended on a high note, providing satisfying endings for the heroes, and keeping the spirit of the Supernatural family alive.

Given the disasters that were to come, it started off in a surprisingly lighthearted way, given the introduction of the sweet and kindly Mrs. Butters. It was nice to not dive back into the doom and gloom right away, and open with a feel-good type of episode, similar to the cutesy and silly tones of episodes like “Ghostfacers” and “Party On, Garth.”

I enjoyed Mrs. Butters’ character, given Meagen Fay provided a stellar performance and made me feel welcome as I watched. She was a pleasant and thoughtful wood nymph that gave Sam and Dean plenty of home-cooked meals and holiday celebrations; for once, the boys had someone taking care of them. Mrs. Butters’ presence was symbolic of the Supernatural family; given how much she genuinely wanted to help, and how she showed dedication to the Winchesters through her care for them.

However, the plot stuck to the Winchester reality of good things coming to an end. Like Sam’s short-lived romances that usually end on a deadly note, or the Winchester’s tragic history of losing the people they love the most, like their mother Mary and friends such as Bobby and Charlie, good things just don’t last for Sam and Dean.

I found it a tad unrealistic that Mrs. Butters could go from sweet to so incredibly sour in such a short time. Her personality change rushed the pacing of her storyline and lessened its realistic aspect. She served as a good minor character, changing the lives of the Winchesters for the better, if only for a little while.

Plus, the episode provided a very different portrayal of the Men of Letters: typically, they are the heroes, but in regards to how they brainwashed Mrs. Butters, they were shown to be cruel and manipulative, more villainous in nature. Even the heroes have their flaws.

supernatural jensen ackles

Speaking of flaws, Supernatural has had its fair share of those over the years, from Sam’s demon blood addiction to the brothers releasing The Darkness. Even with the end in sight, the show produced a filler episode in “Gimme Shelter”. The plot regarding the pastor’s daughter who is killing people she feels are sinners is overused and stereotypical. It seems to be a formula common among similar storylines; in which the pastor’s daughter is committing some form of wrongdoing, especially by the church’s standards. It’s something I’ve seen before in “Them That Follows”, for instance.

Considering the show was winding down, the episode was a waste of time, as though it was procrastinating in getting to the end. Instead of upping the ante, as the show did in Season 1 with the Winchester family’s hunt for the Yellow-Eyed Demon, the episode’s overall tone hit me as stagnant. Sure, vital information for the plot was revealed, but those bits of information could have been included in other episodes.

I wasn’t into Jack’s performance, either. He seemed too distant as he was telling Castiel about his impending death. In some form, he’s made peace with it, and Jack has always been somewhat distant, but the way in which he told Castiel, whom he considers a father figure, appeared robotic. He doesn’t appear guilty even as he reveals he’s been lying, and as he tells Castiel he will die, he is more matter-of-fact than anything. For a character that’s supposed to be half-human, his mannerisms weren’t very human at all.

One of my favorite aspects of Supernatural is the flashbacks it provides every so often into Sam’s and Dean’s childhood, especially where it concerns the history between the brothers and the cases they came across, like in “Something Wicked” or “A Very Supernatural Christmas.” “Drag Me Away (From You)” offered one last look into the past, as Sam and Dean are contacted by an old childhood friend that believes a monster from their past has struck again.

The episode goes back to the show’s roots in a case-of-the-week type of ordeal in which they once again face a monster; a monster that traumatized Dean, no less, providing one last glimpse into his background and providing further understanding of his character. Dean thinks of himself as a straightforward type of guy, but he’s really a vault of secrets, especially where it concerns trauma. Dean is haunted in more ways than one, so the flashback to this particular case provides more insight into just how screwed up his childhood was, and more information he’s kept from Sam.

Though the flashback was a compelling storyline, I was getting tired of Dean and Sam’s inability to really communicate with one another. Dean is keeping vital information about Billie’s plan to take out Chuck and Amara, which will kill Jack, from his brother. When he does finally say something to Sam, it’s no surprise that Sam is against the idea and angry that Dean kept it from him for so long.

You would think that, after all they’ve been through together over the years, they would’ve at least learned to hear each other out – but it’s still Dean’s way or the highway. The dynamic has long gotten old, and just episodes away from the very end, I would’ve liked to see more character development from the Winchesters, where they could at least hear each other out and not keep things from one another.

I had a similar problem with Amara’s character development, especially when it came to her storyline in “Unity.” Amara and Chuck were engaged in an argument that went down in an irrational manner. The entire thing was cliché. Amara has always wanted a relationship with her brother, and she allows herself to be manipulated by Chuck, falling for his tricks despite knowing better. She was unwilling to help him before, how could she just change her mind in a matter of moments? I thought her character suffered because of this particular scene. Emily Swallow has done a fantastic job portraying the character, and I felt that she didn’t get to reach her full potential as a result of the script.

Likewise, Sam and Dean are arguing over whether to let Jack loose on Chuck and Amara. Dean even resorts to throwing punches. It’s clear that Dean is done with Chuck’s game, but I never expected him to hurt Sam to get what he wanted. It’s not like he and Sam haven’t fought one another before, but this time was different, and totally went against everything the Winchester brothers are.

Again, the stakes have been high before, so why was Dean so willing to beat Sam up? The two didn’t come to blows back when they were facing the Yellow-Eyed Demon, and that was the very monster that began their lives as hunters. All Sam was aiming for was a different way to stop Chuck and Amara that would save Jack’s life. Their battle of wills just wasn’t realistic, and like Amara, both Dean’s and Sam’s characters weren’t portrayed in the best light in this instance.

Not to mention Jack’s sacrifice. He was literally a ticking time bomb, and the way the show built up his impending death seemed overstated, given Jack was sent to The Empty by Billie and survived the blast anyway. Sure, he was part of Billie’s plan to get the ultimate power, but it shouldn’t have been such an easy fix. The end of that storyline felt empty and unsatisfying.

The show has lost major characters along the way. Audiences undoubtedly remember Bobby’s final goodbye, and the devastating farewell in which Sam and Dean were forced to leave Jo and her mother Ellen behind to die. Castiel’s ultimate death in “Despair” was one of those standout goodbyes. Castiel exudes utmost vulnerability before he succumbs to death and is sent to The Empty, an afterlife for demons and angels. In a way, it was the ultimate “Destiel” moment between Dean and Castiel, who have been shipped by fans practically since Castiel’s introduction in Season 4.

supernatural misha collins

However, the “Destiel” moment lacked a certain emotional drive that I would have liked to see, like Castiel at least hugging Dean goodbye or Dean showing more of a reaction. That goodbye moment between the two best friends was a letdown in that respect. Dean seemed frozen, undoubtedly in shock, but it made him look a little too cold and distant as a result.

The acting between Castiel and Dean had more potential, and I wish the goodbye could have gone differently, with more feeling. I thought there was more reaction from Dean when he lost Castiel before to the Leviathans in Season 7. That storyline had more of an impact on me, especially with Castiel’s death by Leviathans, with Dean solemnly retrieving the only thing he had left, Castiel’s trenchcoat, and keeping it.

There were several points when Supernatural could have ended over the years – it was originally supposed to end with the conclusion of Season 5. I’m glad the show didn’t end there, but when I first watched “Inherit the Earth”, I thought it would’ve made a good finale. Everything that was wrong is made right, with people returned and Sam and Dean finally free thanks to their brilliant plan that ultimately outsmarted and defeated Chuck. It’s not the first time Dean and Sam have outwitted a supernatural being, given they’ve tricked angels, demons and The King of Hell himself over the years.

However, Jack is once again more robot than human in nature. Understandably, he’s the new God, and he’s intent on not being a “hands-on” type of God, so some distance is required. Still, Dean and Sam were like his surrogate fathers, ever since Jack’s birth. He couldn’t have shed a tear as he left, or even hugged them? Sam looked sorrier to see Jack go than either Dean or Jack himself.

In a way, it’s symbolism of the core relationship of the show, because at the end of the day, it’s always been Sam and Dean against the world. However, even if Jack is now God, it doesn’t erase his history with the Winchesters or his former life. He should at least come to dinner every so often, or act a little more personally when he interacts with his father figures.

The finale, “Carry On”, is aptly named, given Supernatural’s theme song has become “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas, and because it’s about Sam and Dean carrying on as they always have, this time trying to navigate a life of their own without their story being written for them.

However, the episode’s atmosphere is initially disconcerting, given Sam and Dean are one moment eating pie and engaging in normalcy, and the next, they’re fighting for their lives in a vampire nest. For being free, the two don’t take long to fall back into old patterns. Even in episodes past, when the Winchesters take vacations or a break from hunting, they inevitably find themselves back on the hunt before they know it. Still, it wouldn’t have killed them to live the good life free of monsters for at least a little while.

The way that Dean was killed was mediocre. Compared to all the other times Dean survived certain death, and even came back from death after being hit by a car and torn apart by hellhounds, being killed by rebar to the back was nothing short of disappointing. Dean always wanted to go out bloody and fighting. It would’ve been more appropriate for him to get overpowered and killed by the other vampires while Sam was knocked out. Plus, killing Dean off for good was a risky move in itself. Killing Dean off completely goes against Supernatural’s history of bringing him back, and in that light, really doesn’t suit the show’s content.

However, Dean and Sam’s heartfelt goodbye actually makes up for that lame cause of death. I was certainly touched by Dean’s teary farewell, in which he told his brother how proud he was and how much he loved him, among other sentimental things. Likewise, I could see Sam falling apart as he realized Dean was dying, and wouldn’t be coming back this time. That goodbye established a permanency of change the show had never done before, and it amplified the impending separation between the Winchesters.

If I could change one thing, though, it would be Sam’s reaction as Dean said his goodbyes. I wish Sam would’ve said more, or at least expressed how much he loved his brother in return. Sam didn’t take the opportunity to say what he needed to say, but perhaps it was because he was giving Dean that chance instead. Additionally, I would’ve liked to see Sam leaning on his friends instead of dealing with his grief alone: where were Donna, Garth, and Jody when Sam needed them?

Plot-wise, I understood why Dean was chosen to die first. Dean was a hunter through and through, and Sam was the one who always wanted something more, even leaving his family behind prior to the events of Season 1 to pursue his dreams. It’s a welcome aspect, as Sam finally gets the normalcy he always wanted, settling down with a woman and raising a son, whom he names Dean.

It’s implied that Sam taught his son to hunt, given his son shares the same tattoo Sam does, so it seems Sam found a balance between the dark and the light. That element seems to run parallel to the manner in which Jack now runs Heaven and Earth, with his own balance of dark and light.

Jack isn’t in the finale, but he’s mentioned, having changed Heaven so everyone could be together. I appreciated that the show offered that perspective, so that audiences knew Dean would get to be with Bobby, his parents, and everyone else he lost along the way in his lifetime. It was a Heaven that Dean, alongside everyone else, deserved. Plus, Bobby mentions that Castiel helped, meaning that Castiel isn’t trapped in The Empty following his death, answering another question that may have otherwise lingered in the minds of fans.

Supernatural -- "Carry On" -- Image Number: SN1520C_0272r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Jared Padalecki as Sam and Jensen Ackles as Dean -- Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sam eventually joined Dean in Heaven, the brothers together once again, but I wish they could have been surrounded by more of their friends and family members, like their parents, Bobby, Charlie, Jo, Ellen, Castiel, and Jack, for instance. It would’ve struck me as a more heartfelt goodbye with more of these beloved characters present. However, the nod to the very first episode through both Sam’s and Dean’s outfits, as well as the bridge, plays a part in making up for the lack of characters present, officially acknowledging the end of the road by remembering where that road began.

All in all, Supernatural hit the right tones and provided an ending for its characters that made sense given the circumstances. Some performances were off at times, like Dean’s, Sam’s and Amara’s, and some storylines could have been excluded, like that of the pastor’s daughter who was killing sinners, for the sake of sparing audiences of filler information.

Still, the finale and the episodes leading up to it found other ways to make up for those inconsistencies. Childhood flashbacks, references to the very first episode, the reappearances of familiar faces, fitting endings for our heroes, and a compelling storyline in defeating the ultimate villain, God Himself, are all welcome elements that made up for what the show lacked in the end, and provided the Supernatural family a goodbye they deserved and had long been waiting for.

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