Supernatural S09E23 Review: "Do You Believe in Miracles"
The Supernatural season 9 finale was, as expected, packed full of action. Some of it good, some of it bad and some of it ugly. There is a lot to unpack, and a lot I would like to be excited about, but as with the rest of the season, I feel torn between loving concepts and cursing the execution.
It was heavy with parallels from past seasons. In a way, season 9 has all been "metafiction" - a great unpacking of themes and motifs and running gags. In some places, this was Supernatural doing what it does best; in others, it rang hollow. It almost feels as if this show is doing its victory lap - basking in its glory, acknowledging the cheering crowds and milking every last drop of adrenalin before collapsing into a gasping, sweaty heap.
The whole Metatron arc is a poorly disguised, but nonetheless interesting, metaphor for the struggle between creators and fans over ownership of the content. Writers see themselves as the God of this little world that they've stitched together over the last nine years (which is why gave Chuck the pen name Carver Edlund), and Metatron is a stand in for fans who sometimes forget that though they love the show, and feel a sort of entitlement to what happens in it, they are not God here. Sometimes the popular opinion of what should happen is not what is best for everyone involved, no matter how right you think you are. Of course this portrayal doesn't really cover the other side of the argument, about what happens when creators get stuck in a rut, but given that they are the narrators I don't really expect it to.
On a more positive note, there was a lot of good, exciting and new ideas to be taken from this finale. Setting Dean up as next season's big bad is (while painful for the viewers who love him) a brilliant way of shaking up the stagnating relationship between the Winchester brothers. Sam has come around to realize how much his brother means to him a little too late, and there are no last minute speeches, deals or convenient instances of teleportation to save them this time. Dean is a full blown demon, and that is (hopefully) not something they can hand wave about without some serious consequences. This gives me hope that Supernatural and its creators are gearing up for a second wind after all.
"You're going to die - and this is what you're going to become"- Dean, Season 3
The most successful arcs of this season would have to be that of Castiel and Crowley, even if each of their respective adversaries fell a little too easily in the end to really be worth all of the fuss. Castiel has of course grown in leaps and bounds. He's gone from insane wannabe God, to a fallen angel searching for redemption, to a human, to the kind of leader that the angels needed to bring an end to the bloodshed. He's more emotional, he has a better understanding of people than before, and he's found a kind of inner peace that the brothers could really learn from. He's forgiven himself for his mistakes and gone about changing his patterns so that he can become the person (or angel) he wants to be, and for himself, not the approval or forgiveness of others.
Crowley has also changed a lot. While I was worried earlier that he was loosing his venom and just becoming another toothless, funny side character, I think that Mark Sheppard has managed to pull off this transformation with a lot of soul. He's a big part of what made this season work, and I really look forward to watching him struggle with himself and his thirst for power next season.
And of course, an honourable mention must go to Gadreel. Even though I feel that, with everything going on this season, he was extremely under utilized, he had depth and charm. I was always rooting for him to come right and redeem himself, even at his lowest point, and I'm glad that he got a hero's ending. However, I do wish that he had at least survived rather than off himself for the cause. Depending on the format of next season, he might have made a good new addition to Sam and Castiel's party. Having another angel around to help with heavy lifting, and to give us a mile marker of how far Cas has come (or even someone that he could interact with in a way that highlights his "otherness") would have been great fun. Alas, no. He has instead joined the ranks of the fallen. That said, his death scene was perhaps the most interesting and dynamic that Tahmoh Penikett had on the show.
What I liked:
- Castiel's pop culture knowledge saved the day! Seriously, if Metatron hadn't injected him with all of those stories, he probably never would've figured out a way to trick him into having a villain monologue over an intercom system for all the angels to hear.
- Sam forgiving Dean, and the touching scenes between them this week
- The parallels with season 3 episode "Dream a Little Dream of Me". Dean has become what he has always feared he will, and now it's up to those who love him to convince him once and for all that even as low as he's fallen, he too is worth saving.
- Cas saying "wookie". I would listen to that all day.
- Gadreel's panic at finding himself back in his old sell
- Crowley's monologue at the end about how he never intended for Dean to be his cannon fodder.
What I didn't like:
- I take serious issue with the fact that a group of humans were able to beat an angel to death. There is no way that they should be able to overpower him at all, cut off from heaven or no. This is a symptom of a larger problem writers have had this season with forgetting, retconning and down right ignoring their own monster lore
- Sam's crying face. Not one of his finer acting moments, even though the rest of the scene was touching.
- I kind of feel like the writers have forgotten how to write Sam convincingly when he isn't possessed by something or missing his soul, because his dialogue lately has been way off (at least in my opinion). Hopefully now that Dean is the one with the issues we can get a glimpse of good ol' Sam next season
- Metatron's death felt rushed. They should have had him go on his Marve mission a few episodes ago and stretched it out so that more time and care could've been taken with the final battle (I have the same problem with Abaddon's death).
Reasons to tune in for Season 10:
- Demon!Dean and all the delicious fallout
- We still need to see how Castiel will deal with his borrowed grace problem. Misha Collins being renewed as a season regular is reason enough for me, if I'm being honest
- I have a feeling that Crowley is going to be front and center next season as he deals with his looming crisis of self. He wants to be King, and a demon and a human all at once. He's constantly looking for elegance in an ugly world, and he tries to fill Lucifer's shoes with as much style as he can muster.
- Looking forward to the shenanigans between Crowley and that son of his. I'm also curious as to what consequences keeping him in our timeline will have.
- I want to figure out what's happening with the vale now that Metatron has been ousted and the tablet destroyed. Has Kevin finally moved on to heaven?
For better or worse I'm in this thing until the very end. It's going to be a long summer of speculation and angst for Supernatural fans, and I'll be excited to see what new wonders await us in the Fall.