Friday, August 14, 2015
Supernatural Review Part 2: The Gamble Era
Now onto the Sera Gamble era of the show (seasons 6 and 7). :)
While a lot of fans seem to dislike these two seasons, I really loved them, especially season 6. They have a nice tragic quality to them and since Sera Gamble wrote some of the best episodes in previous seasons she of course does an awesome job in this season.
The seasons under Gamble also have an epic quality to them as I stated last review; in fact, at times it comes across as as sounding like those old epic poems that were written long ago; one with heroics, flawed protagonists, sacrifice, the complexities of fractured friendship, etc. One last thing that makes this era unique is that Mrs. Gamble had to pick up the show after the Apocalypse and think 'now what?' What do the heroes do once the 'evil, bad, scary' thing they had to beat is done?
Well, this era explains and explores that to impressive and satisfying affect.
Season 6 is definitely one of my favorite seasons. It has such an air of tragedy about it that I can't help loving it. I know that it isn't a fan favorite but, in all honesty, I've always been a bit of a maverick...sooooo..
Yeah, I'll get back to the review...
Season 6 is where I feel like, besides the tonal shift, the characters' relationships to each other all become totally different and varied. Dean and Sam become a bit closer to being more like normal brothers, though they still have conflict; Castiel and Dean's relationship becomes a lot deeper, more complex, and much more tangled together. Dean and Sam become even more entrenched in Bobby's life and he's more their father figure than ever. Even Sam and Cas and Bobby and Cas have some good changes in their relationship (well, good AND bad).
Season 6 explores what happens to the hero after stopping the apocalypse and there is a sadness for all involved. Dean is living a somewhat happy- yet depressed and messy life- with Lisa and Ben (who he promised Sam he would try to reconnect with), Sam is, well, erm..soulless, and Castiel is floundering and unsure of himself in what is occurring (all he knows is that he wants to help Dean). Each story with the main characters is exciting and very well plotted. While the middle is a bit lagging, the beginning and the ending are both fantastic and make up for the lackluster midpoint.
The show begins showing Dean, as I said, living with Lisa and Ben (a woman he had a fling with a long time ago- and who he reconnected with on a hunt- and her son who he relates too) and while he's surface-level happy, he's still a mess after losing his brother (he looks but can't find anything to save Sam) to Lucifer. Seeing Dean in a relationship was very nice and I really do wish we could have seen more of Lisa and Ben. They both had potential and were good characters for Dean to care about and love. The relationship between Dean and Lisa doesn't work out for many reasons, but the fact that they do care about each other a lot does shine through quite easily (I wanted more Lisa character development, dammit!). A lot of people don't agree with this, but I do think Dean was in love with Lisa to a degree (not fully, not truly, but he was in love with her).
And then, Dean finds out that Sam is mysteriously alive- out of hell- and has been for a year (and Bobby knew all along). Also, surprise, we have family, Dean! Isn't that great!? And all of this comes crashing down on poor Dean's head and he has a hard time dealing with it :(
It becomes obvious as to why Sam didn't come to Dean sooner- he's soulless, body on earth but soul still stuck in the pit :( (poor Sammy) - but seeing how hurt and thinking about how Dean suffered alone for all that time is quite upsetting.
Also, on a side not, seeing Dean try so hard to protect the shifter baby- being the only person in the group involved that seemed to actually care- and then be unable to fight against the alpha was heartbreaking. Really represented how Dean's mental state is- he couldn't protect Sam, couldn't save him, and he now can't even save a small, innocent child (cries for all eternity).
It takes a while to figure out why Sam is different, but Cas does eventually realize it (even though he was the one that got him out of hell *cough*). What happens next is a dizzying bout of handling alphas, fixing Sam's soullessness, the war in heaven with Raphael, the rising of Eve (the mother of all monsters), and the secrety secret alliance between Castiel and Crowley that has been going on in the background (mwhahahahahha haha. ha. *falls down*).
Which leads me to the last few episodes and the best part of season (and one of the best episodes of the show). As charlie-minion says in this meta (http://charlie-minion.tumblr.com/post/126135310772/i-watched-swan-song-and-i-still-dont-understand ), season 6 makes complete sense when the last few episodes are taken into account. She mentions that everything Castiel did- misguided though it may be- was done for Dean. And she is absolutely right.
In "The Man Who Would Be King" we come to understand all the little snippets of scenes between Crowley and Castiel that we've seen and have been thinking 'huh'? about. In this episode we not only get a good look into who Castiel is (and his mental state), but also the brothers (especially Dean). We come to realize that our heroes- in cleaning up the aftermath of saving the world- are still just flawed humans (or angels, in regards to Cas), who make mistakes and are messy and horrible in their showings of love and care for each other. It's strikingly real and that's what makes the last few episodes of the season so heartbreaking. Because, really, everyone was just trying to do good but somehow that's not how it all turned out. People were crappy friends and made crappy decisions and it all falls down on top of them in an elegantly written tragedy that just makes you sit there and go 'wow'.
And there's Godstiel. RUN!!!
The Man Who Would Be King (HANDS DOWN! MY SECOND FAVORITE AFTER SWAN SONG)
Let It Bleed
Two and a Half Men
The French Mistake
Exile on Main St.
Weekend at Bobby's
Live Free or Twihard
Clap Your Hands If You Believe
The Man Who Knew Too Much
My Heart Will Go On
...And Then There Were None
Appointment in Samarra
Season 6 is a very Destiel-y season for me and for good reason: this is where I started to see the romantic love angle from Castiel's side. Now, a lot of people didn't see it until "The Man Who Would Be King", but I saw it early on in the season (but it definitely was extraordinarily prominent there). I remember thinking that, when the season started, that there was just something different in regards to Cas when he was around Dean and it wasn't long before I picked up on it. Castiel, at this point, is definitely head-over-heels in love with Dean (though I believe he doesn't quite understand it yet). And like I've read elsewhere, Castiel is a being who loves selfishly but with everything he has and the results are he doesn't think clearly and jumps onto a plan that he thinks will help the man of his affections without realizing that it was wrong. But of course, the most obvious thing in the season is just the way he looks at him, especially that longing/tragic/sad stare(s) in "The Man Who Would Be King". Those really got me since that is exactly what I look like when I pine.
At this point, I don't see it from Dean. He clearly viewed Castiel as his 'family' (Dean never really says anyone very close to him is his 'friend' for some reason) and he was in love with Lisa. However, his utter trust in Castiel is truly inspiring and the fact that Castiel broke it when all he wanted was to protect him just makes everything even more sad. Also- even though they were fighting against each other- Castiel still wanted to protect Lisa and Ben and healed Lisa when she was dying. And this was when they were on opposite sides!
Even if you don't ship it, you can't deny that they do love each other in some capacity.
Missed Castiel while he was gone but was really glad when he came back! :D Also, CHARLIE! :D KEVIN! :D And JO! :D And MEG! :D (more on this below).
Season 7 is another great season of the show (which is something I'm always going to say since I love the show, so yeah...-_-) which continues Sera Gamble's tragedy narrative. The brothers have to deal with many losses and this is the season where they really have to become adults and learn to handle things themselves (after the death of Bobby....even though he does become a ghost for a bit). And not only that, they have to deal with the fall out of Castiel's betrayal, Sam's memories of hell being back (and him having hallucinations of Lucifer), and the Leviathans who are extremely hard monsters to beat (and also...Dick Roman...don don don >:D ).
The show starts off with Castiel running around, trying to be God (I may not like what he was doing, but I do like that he healed people and that he made the KKK get disbanded which honestly should happen in real life) until the Leviathan souls become too much and they take him over (though he does try to make things right by attempting to banish them all back to Purgatory and his wish before he 'died' was to redeem himself to Dean); he then walks into a lake and doesn't resurface (though Dean finds his trench coat and holds onto it).
The character arcs this season are actually all very interesting and even though there are some things that are a bit uneeded (like the Amy Pond thing), overall I loved them.
Sam's is the most pronounced, so I'll go over it first. This season, Sam has to deal with the fact that the wall Death had put in his brain to protect him from memories of his torture in the cage (in hell) was knocked down by someone he considered a friend (Sam and Cas weren't all that close at this point, but I think Sam would've considered him that). The hallucinations he gets because of this are slowly driving him crazy. For a while, he almost thinks he's still in hell but (in a beautiful scene; probably my favorite Dean and Sam scene) Dean discovers a way for him to realize that the things he's seeing aren't real (the wound on his hand that he has which definitely didn't happen in hell). Seeing Sam struggle with this- since it gets worse and worse throughout the season until Castiel's return- is heartbreaking and really gives him a good story arc. Also, the end of the season where he is completely left alone really makes you feel for him- especially with Crowley's words echoing in the air (eerie..). You are completely alone.....
Dean's, like usual, is a bit more subtle. Here he has to deal with a boatload of guilt. He drinks more this season than normal and is just..very miserable. His best friend betrayed him and while he was pissed at Cas he still was devastated at his death, his brother is falling apart, he killed a monster who was in a gray area and now he feels guilty, he loses his father-figure Bobby, and the world is just screwed up (no wonder he's a mess). Plus, he has a guilt complex the size of the sun, so that doesn't help his downward spiral. What makes this whole situation even sadder is that, when he does get Castiel back, his friend doesn't remember him and when he does he quickly takes Sam's madness upon himself and- after being in a coma- he is a shell of his former self and isn't all right in the head (which makes it even harder for Dean since they can't TALK about what happened- sure they got to talk briefly, but it wasn't enough for an actual resolution). Dean is a mess this season and even though he does keep fighting he's- like Sam and Bobby point out- just not completely there.
Castiel- while not there for the majority of the season- is still a strong presence in the story arc. And when he does appear, his awesome character development continues. He realizes he has made a very shitty mistake and sacrifices his sanity to save Sam, who he hurt so much. He also- while he's Emmanuel and even when he gets his memory back- wants to comfort Dean and do right by him. He spends a long time in the season with his sanity pretty much gone, but even then he still tries to do what is right. He helps Dean and Sam when he can and even when he doesn't want to kill anymore, he still throws himself before Dean and helps him kill Dick Roman (and therefore setting things right, since it was his fault- along with Crowley's- that the Leviathans got out of Purgatory).
Bobby also gets some great development, especially in his death episode (he does come back as a ghost for a while, but still, he does die).We see why he's such a good father figure yet why he never had biological children (he was worried he'd turn out like his abusive father, but he realizes that he WAS a good father to Dean and Sam and that he shouldn't let his shitty parents define who HE is) and we see how and why he's such a good hunter.
Besides this, we also see some welcome familiar faces and some new cool characters.
Meg Masters- who came back in her second vessel in season 5- is just great here (as she was in season 6). She has some badass moments and I really enjoyed seeing her slowly begin to develop some genuinely good traits (her care for Castiel is really sweet, even if I do ship Destiel). Definitely a favorite character of mine :)
Jo also makes an appearance as a spirit and has a nice chat with Dean. As a favorite of mine, seeing her again was a real treat. Hope we can see her again soon
For new characters, we have Kevin Tran and Charlie Bradbury, both of who give a nice bit of diversity to the show (Kevin is a South Eastern Asian-American and Charlie is a woman and a lesbian). And what's nice is that neither character is a stereotype. Sure, they have some 'stereotypical' traits but they are both fully fleshed out and real characters that are welcome additions to the show.
Kevin Tran is a high school student applying for college when he suddenly called to be a Prophet of the Lord and is able to read the tablets (leviathan, demon, angel) which are of great importance in this and upcoming seasons. He is an important character who grows a lot and having a character around my age on the show was very exciting for me.
Charlie- while only appearing once this season (she becomes a recurring character from here to s10)- is such a dynamic character that she immediately makes an impression; since, not only is she a non-stereotypical lesbian who is more than her sexual orientation, she is SUCH an accurate representation of a female geek (we pretty much NEVER see accurate female fans in fiction). She is smart, quick on her feet, and helps to save the day in a really cool way (also, she can't flirt with a guy so Dean talks her threw it..... XD *cough* Dean is Bi, pass it on *cough*. Before that, Sam used Hermione to help her be brave and she has a Leia tattoo that she got at ComicCon....yeah, she's awesome!).
The show ends with poor Sammy all alone :(, poor Kevin kidnapped by Crowley :(, and poor Dean and Cas stuck in Purgatory :( (OH YEAH!!!!).
The Born Again Identity
Survival of the Fittest
There Will Be Blood
Reading is Fundamental
The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo
Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie
Adventures in Babysitting
Meet the New Boss
Defending Your Life
Hello, Cruel World
Party On, Garth
Castiel sadly does not have a physical presence for most of the season, but there is still a good amount of Destiel in it. Cas continues to show me that he loves Dean in a romantic way as well (getting right in front of Dean when confronting Dick Roman, his horrible guilt at what he'd done, his encouraging words when he was Emmanuel because even without his memories he loved Dean, etc) as showing a deeper care for Sam (which was nice; really enjoy how their friendship develops later on! :) ).
While I didn't see it from Dean on my watching of the season, looking back and thinking on it, I think this was when he started having romantic feelings for his Angel friend. He kept the trench coat (literally carrying it in the back of every stolen car they had when they couldn't use their Impala), he grieved for his friend for months and months without any closure, and when he gets Castiel back he basically doesn't hesitate to be willing to move past it (in fact, he was willing to move past it at the beginning of the season, or at least try to). I definitely see it in season 8 from Dean's side- as I'll get more into in part 3- but I'm convinced this was when it started and when he hadn't quite put a name to it (which, I believe, he figured out in Purgatory).
So endeth the review (again) ;) >:D XD
I hope you enjoyed the review! Now on to the more hopeful (and more Destiel-y) Carver era!! :D (coming soon!)