Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,

Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,
You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Supernatural Review Part 1: The Kripke Era

(found on tumblr; made by 'savedean'.) 


If you follow me on tumblr, you've probably seen how much I've been posting about Supernatural. Well, that's because I've been really obsessed with the show, especially since I've been watching the seasons regularly over the last few months. I finished season 10 (and I'm currently caught up), so I thought I'd start my three-part review of the show. I'm breaking it up into reviews over the different show runners the show has had (Eric Kripke, Sera Gamble, and Jeremy Carver; Robert Singer worked on all of them as well). 
Each show runner brought something new to the table with the show and the change with each one is one of the main reasons why the show is still up and running after 10 years (and we're getting an eleventh season! :D). 
Eric Kripke- the guy who created the show- starts the show with an eerie, dark tone. The show was a lot bleaker and scarier when he was in charge (while with Sera Gamble, the  show gave off an epic tragedy vibe, and with Carver the show gives off a bleakness with rays of hope, which the show lacked in earlier seasons). 
The show also has a lot going for it in general. The acting is phenomenal (seriously, the main actors are super freaking talented), the characters are very well developed, the show has great world building, as well as pretty good continuity (it's not perfect, but it's better than most shows that have less seasons). The show does have it's problems, of course, which it needs to work on, but the show is good enough that I would still definitely recommend it (for mature viewers, of course, due to the level of violence/gore and the inappropriate scenes that crop up a few times).

The show, basically, is about two brothers named Dean and Sam Winchester who are 'hunters' , which are humans who know about the supernatural (monsters, demons, ghosts, witches, etc) and save people from the things that go bump in the night. The world has since expanded and has grown to include things such as angels, heaven, purgatory, leviathan, knights of hell, the mark of Cain, etc. Along the way, they make their own family since they lost their first one, and learn that 'family don't end with blood.' 

Season 1 of the show has a pretty simple premise which is strong enough to hold the viewer's interest until we get to the more complicated seasons that follow. The season (after showing the fire which launched their dad on a  'revenge' mission to kill the thing that killed his wife (and the boy's mom) ) starts with Dean showing up at Stanford, Sam's school, to help him in finding their dad (who had taken off and appears to be missing). The search for their dad, and later them working together, is the overarching plot for the season, as well as the emotional states of the two leads. 
One of the great things about this show is that it balances the world building and the mythology with the character development. While the characters appear one way at first glance, the farther one gets into the season the more wrong about the two boys- and their father- the audience is proved. Dean Winchester is far from the devil-may-care ladies man that we meet in the pilot. Sure, he is silly and is attracted to women (I also believe him to be bisexual and I will get to that later), but he's also got a ton of empathy, cares about people, is very good with children, loves his family and will do anything for them, is very intelligent and good at his job, and is actually a very emotionally driven person (and very emotional in general). Sam, while a very good 'kid', is also much more confident in some areas than his older brother (I've always felt he has a stronger confidence in who he is as a man than his brother), is much more like his dad, has a darker side that we don't expect, and while he is very book smart he is by no means a bad fighter and is excellent at all kinds of combat.
The show also gives us a variety of in depth looks at a variety of topics, one of my favorites being the beginning of looking into what exactly 'faith' is. It- and praying- is brought up throughout the show at various times (even before the Angels arrive!) and each time it gives us many a thing to ponder and think about. The show has a depth to it that many do not and- beneath the surface level- their lies an excellent wealth of meaning. I also appreciated the look at racism, the subtle analysis of classism, the underlying damage children with abusive/neglectful parents experience (not only with the effects of this abuse on Dean and Sam, but with others as well; this story-line gets more explicit in its telling later on), the beginning peeks at the effects of effemeniphobia on men in an overly macho culture (this is a good, subtle story and I love it so much since I identify with it so much), the complexities of bullying, and even more.
Plus, it's just a lot of fun and there's lots of cool action scenes and monster hunting and who doesn't love that?! :D (well, some people don't, but I'm being silly here, so there XD). And that fact that Dean Winchester is extremely pretty doesn't hurt. 

As I said above, the acting of the main cast is superb, with both Jensen and Jared giving us Oscar-worthy performances. Each has a talent every actor should aspire to and I look forward to seeing what these two guys will do in the future. 
They make you really identify with and feel empathy for their characters and you start caring about them pretty early on. I especially felt close to Dean, who I feel is similar to me in a lot of ways. We're both the oldest sibling, we have a similar personality type, we both have effemeniphobia, and there are just a bunch of little things I see in him that I also see in myself (such as getting snappish when people tell us what to do and saying things like "I know, I'm not an idiot", our awkwardness at comforting someone and preferring to try and fix the problem, our empathy for kids, etc).

Favorite episodes of season 1

Devil's Trap
Phantom Traveller
Dead in the Water
Bloody Mary

Season 2 starts off with a bang and is definitely one of the show's strongest seasons. 
It continues to widen and develop the world, gives the story a opened scope, and introduces new characters into the mix. Dean and Sam both get excellent character arcs and both grow tremendously. Sam's purpose and connection to the demon who killed their mother is finally revealed (to an extent) and his story this season is excellent and exciting to watch unfold. Dean's story- a quieter but no less powerful narrative- shows him struggling with his father's final command (to kill Sam if he were to go dark side, which is something he can literally NOT do) as well as beginning to lose hope in not only his job but in the meaning of his life.  Both brothers also have to struggle with their father's death (Dean especially, since his father's died in a deal to bring him back and he now views himself on borrowed time). 
Not only do the brothers get more development, but we meet new characters. Bobby Singer- who appeared once in the season 1 finale- appears several more times throughout this season and his integration as their father figure is cemented pretty quickly (and he is a much better father to them than John Winchester). We also meet Jo and Ellen Harvelle, a daughter and mother duo who run a road house for hunters (Jo ends up becoming a hunter herself, later on) and are both badass ladies and I love them both so much ! (they beat Dean and Sam in their first entrance..hahahahaha XD :D ). Ash is another important character this season, as he helps them with information, as are Gordon and Victor (who have good roles in the show, though I wish they'd been expanded upon). This enlarging of the cast and of the world really helps to give the show a stronger, grounded feel which makes it even more enjoyable. 
Funnily enough- even though (according to what I've heard) Mr. Kripke hadn't decided to use Angels in his show at this point-, the show makes another excellent episode exploring faith (I know, it's random to bring up, but they just did SUCH a good job with this topic that I have to mention it again). I especially like how Dean- unlike Sam- has little to no faith and doesn't pray (compare this to him in season 8, just saying ;) ), but him and Sam almost kind of change places here. Dean sees a miracle happen and while Sam looses some of his faith when what he thought was an Angel was just a ghost, Dean starts getting an inkling that maybe there is something possibly good out there. This show is just so deep sometimes and you really have to watch it to get the full impact. 

This season ends with another huge bang with a great circling of themes-  John sold his soul to hell to save Dean in episode 1 (of season 2), while here Dean sells HIS soul to hell (only getting 1 year instead of the usual 10) to bring his baby brother back to life (seeing Dean's low value of himself is so heart breaking :( I'm really glad he's got Sam and Bobby now and that he'll get Cas later to be good emotional support). Then the gates of hell are opened, more demons walk the earth, their father is freed, and Azazel is finally killed in a badass scene.
Definitely what you want in a season and in a finale. 

Favorites episodes of season 2
All Hell Breaks Loose part 1 and 2 
Houses of the Holy
What Is and What Should Never Be 
In My Time of Dying 
Everybody Loves a Clown
Tall Tales 
No Exit
etc (since I love pretty much all of this season, to be honest)

Season 3 continues the epic story by developing our already ongoing characters, adding some new badass women (Ruby! Bela! YAY! :D), and giving us an excellent story with Dean struggling with his fear of going to hell in a year ( :( ) and the rise of Lillith: a powerful demon who becomes a major figure for the next two seasons. 
One thing I really appreciated this season was the cool female characters that were introduced. Our first character is Ruby, a demon, who is a very important character for the next two seasons (she is played by two different actors). And she's SO COOL. She's an awesome fighter, is capable, and has a non-romantic part in the story (this gets a little derailed in season 4, but it all makes sense in the finale, so all's good); also, she gives them her demon killing knife, which has been a great help throughout the show :D. Another character I appreciated was Bela. She is a bit of a con and she is so smart and sneaky! On several occasions she tricks and cons the brothers and it is absolutely hilarious and fun to watch! I love Dean and Sam, don't get me wrong, but it's always so nice to see competent women in fiction (especially those who aren't of the supernatural). 
One of my favorite parts of this season was how well Dean's desperation and fear were handled and how in character it was. He tries so, so hard to be strong and to appear all right but it's obvious the poor baby is scared and doesn't want to go to hell/die :( Sam continues to have a 'destiny' surrounding him- this time it being that he can defeat Lillith- a danger who is rising in the wake of Azazel's demise- with the powers he has due to the demon blood in him. 
Bobby Singer continues to be a welcome presence in the series and I'm glad he was included in the series for as long as he was :) Those brothers needed a good father :) 

But then the season ends with Dean going to hell and Sam crying and Dean being in hell screaming and just NOOOOO :( :( :( 

Favorite episodes of season 3

No Rest For the Wicked
Dream a Little Dream of Me
A Very Supernatural Christmas 
Mystery Spot 
Jus in Belo
Bad Day at Black Rock 
Bedtime Stories

Season 4 is probably one of my least favorite seasons (there was some stuff in the early episodes that squicked me out a bit- nothing that bad, but it still rubbed me the wrong way), but I still love it and it's a good season, because we finally get ANGELS and CAAAAAASSSS!! :D (Castiel). 
If there is one thing in the theology of the world I'm glad the show did it was them bringing Angels into the mix. Most stories with the supernatural or magical beings never include Angels and if they do they aren't anything like the ones found in the Bible (and God is never really brought up). Here, however, the Angels are used in an excellent way and God has an actual presence in the narrative, even if he hasn't been seen in a long time (and there is a certain character who has SOMETHING to do with God *squints at Chuck and leans forward in suspicion*). 
I especially love the introduction of Castiel, played by the fantastic Misha Collins. He brought a new, fresh aspect to the show which just added to the overall enjoyment of it. He provides a great contrast to Dean and Sam and, to be honest, I find him to be very relatable. Him and I are very much alike (he comes across as having aspergers like me- Misha Collins has even stated that he believes the character to be on the spectrum-, as well as being ace like me; we have a lot of the same personality traits and we're just so alike it makes me happy! :) ). Castiel also ends up being such a good things for the Winchester boys- and vice versa- and I love their little family and I just want everyone in this show to be happy by the series' end :( 

The character's arcs this season are also, again, fantastic. With the few episodes touching on faith and angels and heaven in previous seasons in mind (as well as Dean and Sam's reactions), the both of them interacting with Angels is definitely a treat. The Angels are definitely not what they were expecting (Sam thought they'd be all morally upstanding while there was a lot of corruption in the upper ranks; Dean thought they didn't exist, so he was more receptive- I think- to Castiel and how the Angels, in reality, were). 
The story of preventing Lucifer from walking free is an eerie and good one and was played with just the right amount of hidden menace to feel like it was a viable threat. The twist at the end was also very good and exciting and leads well into the next season and the apocalypse! 

Also, for my fellow Abrahamic religious followers, I want to give a warning. While I personally don't mind most of the uses of my faith in the story, I know others could possibly be offended. So, if you want to watch it and you are sensitive about certain things in your religious beliefs, I'd look up about what happens in the show and see if it's something you are okay with or not. 

Favorite episodes of season 4

Lucifer Rising
On the Head of a Pin
When the Levee Breaks
The Rapture
Lazarus Rising
Criss Angel Is a Douchebag
Death Takes a Holiday
It's A Terrible Life

One of my favorite pairings ever is Destiel, the pairing between Dean/Castiel. Since this is the first season in which Castiel appears, I will have a little segment at the bottom of each season's mini review, explaining how I view the relationship at this stage.
In season 4, I do NOT see there being a romantic angle. At this point, they aren't even really friends. Castiel, I feel, gains a lot of affection for Dean over the course of season 4 (starting with when he pulled Dean Winchester from hell)  and begins- when he sees the corruption of heaven- to put a lot of faith in Dean. Dean dislikes/distrusts Castiel at first, but by series' end he has a strong respect for the Angel and it looks like the two might be on their way to becoming friends. They have a lot of great scenes and I am currently writing a fanfic about these two which explores their relationship and this season has been a treat so far :) 

(for a good understanding of their 'profound bond', definitely read this awesome meta from one of my favorite tumblr bloggers, charlie-minion - Go here ). 

Cas Healing Dean - damon-and-alaric-dean-and-castiel Fan Art

Ah, season 5. Probably my most favorite season (along with 2, 9, and 6) of the entire series' run. It has got an epic feel to it what with the apocalypse coming to a head and the Devil walking the earth. This season is one seamless story in a lot of ways and this strong, overarching narrative does many a great favor to its storyline.

Now that Lucifer is free (thanks to Ruby's manipulation of Sam into thinking he was doing the right thing), Dean and Sam both find out that they are Angel vessels- particularly, the true vessels for Michael and Lucifer. Not wanting to be forced to fight the other and pretty much wipe out the world, Dean, Sam, Bobby, with the help of Castiel and later Jo and Ellen decide that they chose Free Will instead of predestination and won't let themselves be ruled by fate. 
This is Eric Kripke's last season and he definitely goes out with a bang. Had this been the last season of the show, I would have been content, since everything was wrapped up nicely (well, except for the HOW DID SAM GET OUT OF THE CAGE?! :O That, thankfully, got answered in season 6) and it had such an emotional impact. When the show finally does end it needs to be as good as Swan Song.
Seeing everyone work together towards their goal of saving the world- with everything hanging in the balance- was a lot of fun and I hope we get something like this in season 11 :D

 "So, what's it all add up to? It's hard to say. But me, I'd say this was a test...for Sam and Dean. And I think they did all right. Up against good, evil, angels, devils, destiny, and God himself, they made their own choice. They chose family. And, well...isn't that kinda the whole point? No doubt -- endings are hard. But then again...nothing ever really ends, does it?" (this is why I think Chuck has something to do with God- either he's God's vessel or he's God but he wiped his memory and doesn't exactly remember who he is; I'm going with the former, since in Swan Song he seemed...very aware and more sure of himself than he had before. What I do know is that he wasn't a prophet like we were lead to believe). 

Favorite episodes of season 5

Swan Song
Abandon All Hope
Point of  No Return
Two Minutes to Midnight
Changing Channels 
Dark Side of the Moon
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
The Song Remains the Same
Sympathy for the Devil

By the point of season 5, I believe that Dean and Castiel had reached the point of being friends. I  didn't sense any romantic feelings between them during this time, but I still loved their interactions and it was clear that they cared greatly for the other. I don't think Dean ever really had true friend before Castiel and the same can be said for Cas (everyone else seemed to have been more familial in nature to Dean, except Jo, but even they weren't really 'friends'), so seeing them bond and grow closer was especially nice. As I stated, they do love each other, but it isn't romantic (Castiel, especially, seems to have a very close emotional attachment to Dean). As charlie-minion stated in her excellent meta, Castiel views faith and love as interchangeable, since how he showed love to his father was through faith. By the end of the season, Dean has not only his friendship, but his faith and love which will prove to be both a positive and a negative for the world and for their relationship as a whole (and for the rest of the show!).

So endeth the review ;) 
Supernatural is definitely an amazing show and- if you can handle the subject matter- one that I'd recommend greatly. :) 
On to the Sera Gamble era! :D (and the Carver era! :D)