First things first
Before we get into this, I’d like to add a disclaimer. Though my friends and family are well aware of this, the internet is definitely not, so let’s clear something up. I love Supernatural. I love Sam and Dean. I love Castiel, and Crowley, and all the other characters, big and small, who have made the show what it is. I love and respect the writers, for bringing this story to life on screen. Supernatural is one of my favourite TV shows, and has been there as a support for – and often escape from – some issues in my personal life.
That being said, I don’t love the show so blindly that I can overlook the past few seasons. Again, just my opinion, but I think the show’s quality has dipped. Pretty dramatically, too. Which, as an avid fan, is sad, frustrating, and just a bit disappointing. Not having anyone around me who loves the show as passionately as I do, I found myself with a lot of thoughts on the matter and no clear outlet to express them. And then, I remembered my blog. Instead of inflicting this rant upon my loved ones, I could put it out onto the internet instead. Because people love opinions on the internet – right?
That Supernatural has ‘changed’ in itself is not the problem for me. No TV series could run for thirteen seasons and be the same now as it was when it started. Nor should it be. You’ve got to move with the times, and all that. Growth is as vital to a show as it is to anything in life. It’s like watering a plant. The show was well watered in the beginning, and bloomed into something new, exciting, and engaging. It grew naturally – organically – because the plot had direction, the characters had journeys, and the show had purpose. But somewhere along the line, when the show had reached its natural peak, those in charge of the watering can were reluctant to relinquish it, or to abandon their prize-winning plant. Instead, they continued to pour into it, even when the pot was at full capacity – plots and cliches were overwatered, while characters and stories were starved, drowning the roots of a beloved show in a vain attempt to sustain it artificially.
All things must come to an end – it’s a fact of life that not even popular TV shows are exempt from. There’s no shame in things ending. The only shame would be prolonging existence at the cost of quality of life.
Unfortunately, I’d say the last three seasons of Supernatural have been malnourished. Actually, if I’m being honest, the last season I enjoyed in its entirety was season 8 (an unpopular opinion, I’m sure, but it’s mine). After that, I liked half of season 9, maybe a third of seasons 10 and 11, and, if I’m being honest, I didn’t even finish watching season 12. The most I’ve watched of season 13 so far is the trailer, an act which would have seemed impossible to me this time last year.
I never thought I’d stop enjoying the show. Honestly, after finishing season one, I felt a deep, genuine horror at what I was supposed to do with myself when supernatural ended. As such, the knowledge that there were so many seasons out already to binge watch delighted me. It didn’t matter then what future seasons would be about. I think I just assumed that it would always be the same – the same quality, the same feel, the same excitement – no matter how many seasons were made. But that was then, when I approached this new and exciting show with a childlike ecstasy, and near-obsession. But I’m not a blind devotee. I don’t want to watch something that no longer excites me, that feels like a shadow of its former self – a gimmick. Supernatural feels as if it has outgrown itself. And now, maybe it’s time to talk about an ending.
I’m sure the show runners plan to end Supernatural ‘in style’. But I don’t think I necessarily agree with their interpretation of the phrase. ‘Going out in style’ doesn’t mean ‘going out big’ – not an almighty showdown, with angels and demons and witches and ghouls. And . . . God. There was a time when angels and demons were too big for the boys, when that kind of stuff was out of their league. Fast forward to season 11, and suddenly there’s a fight between God and his sister, a bomb inside Dean, and Mary being brought back to life after ten seasons. No one wanted that, no one asked for that, but that was what delivered in an ‘epic’ season finale.
That’s not the kind of final send off that Supernatural deserves. I’m talking about an ending that does justice to the show’s roots, and heart. And the heart of the show is the Winchesters. The entire show is the journey of two brothers, and despite all the different supernatural forces they face, they are the one constant – and they are human. So it stands to reason that the ending must be human, too. Not fantastical or inflated, not ‘end-of-the-world-big’. But human. Give it body, give it heart, give it life, but don’t try and make it bigger than the boys.
Honour the show by ending it where it started – saving people, hunting things, the family business.
Case in point – All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1. Other than it being the first real death of one of the brothers, what made Sam’s death in season 2 so powerful – and heartbreaking – was its humanity, simplicity, and irony. Irony, that of all the monsters and evil the brothers had faced and defeated, all of the dark magic and powers beyond their control, in the end, Sam was killed by a knife in the back, and died right there in Dean’s arms. It was a very real, very human death. If the show is planning on ending with a final death, then that’s the kind it needs to go for.
And, if that is the way they’re planning to end it, then I think Sam should be the one to die. Sam’s actually my favourite of the two, so it’s not because I want him to be killed off, or because I’d like Dean to be the last one standing. It’s because of the dynamic of the brothers. Personally, I think that would be the most tragic, and a call back to the first few seasons, where it felt like Sam’s doom was ever-impending. He’s the younger brother, and Dean’s always tried to protect him – that connection is deeply rooted in not just the character, but the show. Whether it was because of the demon blood, the visions, or any number of things, Sam has been in trouble, and Dean has saved him, often at great personal cost. What a call back to the show’s origin it would be to play on this connection one last time. The show now has infinite loop holes and such that allow beloved characters, both good and evil, to return from the dead repeatedly. Consequently, however, the stakes never feel high enough to warrant genuine concern over a character’s mortality, especially Sam or Dean’s.
A new ground rule has to be set up, therefore, in the final episode, or better yet, the beginning of the final season. It needs to be laid early enough in the season to be known, to let the audience be conscious of what it means, but not attribute it to the main characters. Say there is an enemy that needs killing off, and killing off for good. It doesn’t need to be the BIGGEST big bad they’ve ever faced – again, keep it human. But someone dangerous, a threat that cannot be ignored. Through some means or other, the boys convince someone in power to help them, someone good or bad who also wants the big bad gone for good. there is a certain day on which the big bad must be killed on, or by, and he or she promises the boys that all deaths on that day will be absolute – the big bad cannot return. he cannot help the boys kill it, but he can ensure that it stays dead. No angels or demons can revive them. Death told Sam in season 9 that he was capable of such, and I’m sure on a show like Supernatural, there are several other beings that could plausibly promise the same. Preferably someone stoic, absolute, so that it is known that they cannot be bargained with. Their involvement on this occasion was purely because the removal of the big bad would benefit them. On the final day, the big bad is killed but then, so is Sam or Dean.
I’ve thought of two potential ways, or storylines, that could put this into effect for the finale. I’ve provided a loose outline of them below.
After defeating the Big Bad, the boys begin to drive home. Relieved, they talk in the Impala, driving back in the dark. But then – either a character spurned by the boys in an earlier episode, or a friend of the Big Bad, has tracked them, and seeks revenge. The boys round a corner along a dark road lined by forest, music playing, when the character appears right ahead of them, in the middle of the road. Either Dean swerves, or the character forces their car, and the Impala flips, crashes off of the road, and rolls down into the forest. It crash lands – smoke, broken glass, and silence. Dean wakes first, and tries to wake Sam, who is badly injured, either impaled by something, or stuck. The car then catches fire. Dean forces the driver door open, but Sam’s door is jammed, pushed inward. He can’t get him out. Then, Dean is either pulled backwards by the enemy, or blown backwards by the blast, with Sam still inside. Or maybe Dean gets him out, and holds him as he bleeds out from his wounds. Dean watches as the Impala burns, and Sam dies in his arms.
So, someone – either an old character, or a new one who has yet to be introduced – has been following the boy’s journey. Someone with allegiances to the big bad, someone who has been wronged by the boys, or someone a little unhinged or obsessed. For example’s sake, let’s call the character X. The boys believe X to be a being of some kind, but they are in fact human. Maybe X lost a loved one in an apocalypse, or other event throughout the show. For whatever reason, this character blames the boys for what has happened – namely Sam. X has found and read the books by Carver Edlund, and followed the boys undetected for years – maybe flashbacks to earlier seasons could be shown, with X watching in the background. The character believes that none of what has happened would have happened if Sam had died when he was supposed to, and stayed dead. Every event since has been a direct result of his survival. Sam, X believes, is the cause, the root, and the biggest mistake of all. And it’s a mistake that X has taken upon themselves to rectify. The character sets about killing Sam. Maybe first, X tries to trap him in a fire, like baby Sam. But Sam escapes, and the boys aren’t immediately aware that it was X – that is revealed later. X rethinks, and realises that he misunderstood. Although the fire could have killed Sam when he was a baby, it didn’t. The knife in the back, however, did kill him. That was the death that should have stuck. So, X sets a trap, and reconstructs the events of All Hell Breaks Loose part 1, as closely as he can. X breaks Sam’s arm, beats him up. They knows it won’t be exactly the same – tells him as much. No Bobby this time, no haunted town. and it won’t change any of the events that came afterwards. But, X believes, it will prevent any future event or deaths that Sam would cause by staying alive. As predicted, Dean arrives to save Sam. This is part of the character’s plan, the reenactment. But unlike the first time, Dean reaches Sam in time, and manages to shoot X before X can stab Sam. With the danger apparently over, the brothers are relieved as Dean rushes over to Sam. There’s a feeling of elation, of relief – a feeling that this was how it was supposed to have happened the night that Sam died. That Dean would reach him in time, and save him before Jake could ever get to him. Dean puts a hand on his shoulder, says ‘let’s go home’. Dean helps Sam up, and the two begin making their way out of the warehouse. But, as they are leaving, one of X’s henchmen or accomplices, who Dean had knocked unconscious or thought he had killed when he snuck in, appears with a gun. He aims at Dean, who is trying to remember which way he came in, and does not see it. Sam sees, and shouts Dean’s name, before moving in front of the bullet. There’s a moment of shock, surprise, horror. Dean shoots the attacker, and catches Sam as he crumbles to the floor. Just as he did in season 2. He begs him not to die, and holds him as he bleeds. But Sam dies in Dean’s arms, like he did in Season 2, only this time, he can’t bring him back.
I appreciate that the above probably reads like angsty fan fiction. And I suppose it is a bit. I’m a fan, and in a world where an individual fan could get an input into how the show ends, this would be mine. I’m not expecting anyone to read it, really. As I said at the start, I just had a lot of thoughts floating around about the show, and I had to put them somewhere. Supernatural will forever be one of my favourite shows, and I hope that when the time comes for it to end, it’s an ending that does justice to the cast, the crew, and the fans.
Carry on, my wayward son.