When I started watching S6 of Supernatural I did so knowing that it was not considered the best, by it's legions of adoring fans. I also did so not really caring that it wasn't considered the best by said legions of adoring fans because a) those same legions of adoring fans had been particularly vocal about their dislike of several characters I happen to be very fond of and so their opinions are suspect to me and b) I had a nagging feeling that a lot of the backlash was probably down to there being a new showrunner and that can often lead to people getting 'different' confused with 'not as good'.
As it turns out, and much as it pains me to say it, they were right.
Of course, professing a nagging disappointment with this season is nothing new, is it? I'm not being original at all here, am I? No, I'm just regurgitating (or will be when I get around to actually expressing any opinions and not waffling rubbish) the same old complaints that everyone else had over a year ago. At least, I assume I will; I don't really know why people didn't like the season, since I avoided reviews and discussions for fear of spoilers. That same avoidance of media on the subject of the show may mean that a lot of my conjecture has already been (long since) proven right or wrong, or was common knowledge from the start; I don't know, so please feel free to tell me.
The reason I'm coming to this so late in the day, when I was so close to being all caught up, is that I was thwarted in my every attempt to pick up the Season 6 DV... Nah, don't worry, I'm not going to repeat that in yet another post. Moving on.
It had been a long time though, between seasons, so for the most part any flaws in the early episodes were lost on me as I was just glad to be back in this world, but it didn't take long for that nagging feeling of something isn't quite right here to start scratching away at my subconscious. All the elements seemed to be in place, but they just weren't gelling the way you knew they could.
Sam returning from Hell - spoilers ahoy for the rest of the post - without his soul may have seemed like an intriguing and potentially exciting story avenue to explore; and to be fair to them they were probably feeling the pressure to come up with a different angle to the one they used when Dean came back in S4; but it was a storyline which failed to take into account that the Sam and Dean chemistry, the brotherly affection even when they looked ready to kill each other, was the glue that holds the show together. They could survive without it for one, maybe two weeks, but a storyline that required Ackles and Padalecki to play genuine estrangement for half a season was a shocking mis-read of what makes Supernatural work, and what the audience wanted to see.
It beggars belief, to be honest, that someone who has worked on the show for as long as (new boss) Sera Gamble has would be that far out in their concept of the show. Especially since I seem to have the idea in my head from somewhere that she was heavily influential in bringing angels into the show; a masterstroke for which we should be eternally grateful, because it marked a quantum leap in quality. If that's true though, how do you go from getting something so right, to screwing the pooch so spectacularly?
Moving on from the incredibly poor understanding of how this show works and on to the incredibly poor understanding of how stories work. Take the character of Samuel, for example; deceased male relative of the boys, experienced hunter, able to be tempted by promises of being with their mother again; it can't have been just me that thought they had obviously wanted to use the Dad for this storyline but Jeffrey Dean Morgan turned them down. That's pure speculation on my part though, I don't know yay or nay.
|Mitch Pilleggi. Legend|
If you can't have JDM, though, then Mitch Pilleggi is no slouch as a replacement. And using Samuel instead of John at least let them use the line "...the difference between you and me? You know how to live without her", which for some reason really got me. Not sure why.
While Pilleggi is awesome in the role, the Samuel character does have one pretty massive flaw this season; namely, he dies. In a blah episode in which a bunch of other characters die as well. His story just ends, without ever really reaching any kind of climax. You don't bring people back from the dead and then kill them off again without there being some kind of point to it, some kind of redemptive arc, or at least a cool fucking battle. Did Season 6 of Buffy teach us nothing?
Damp squib ending of Pilleggi's character aside, the season as a whole was full of these narrative dead ends. The 'Mother of All' character that came out of nowhere and went back the same way a couple of episodes later being a prime example. It's ok though, that whole storyline wasn't a pointless detour at all, because the boys mother showed up so it must have been important. Yeah, right, you're fooling no-one, people. The wall in Sam's head is another; all that angst over something that gave him a couple of migraines. I ask you.
As the series draws to it's depressingly limp close we learn that Castiel has been in cahoots with the baddies all along, in a compromise designed to win the civil war for control of heaven. The boys don't like this one little bit, despite the alternative being a genocidal monster taking command upstairs, so they give poor Cas a right old tongue lashing. "We were like Brothers, man!", shouts Dean at one point. "How dare you take a sensible stance and acknowledge shades of moral grey in your attempt to save all of creation from a lunatic with an apocalypse fetish!" he then doesn't go on to say.
|Castiel. Unfairly Maligned|
Yes, the last few episodes seem intent on making us condemn Castiel for his actions when, let's face it, he's only in the wrong because the writers say he is. His actions seem perfectly reasonable to me. Misha Collins plays the hell out of it of course, because you'd expect nothing less, but it all smacks of desperation; by rights Castiel should just be telling the brothers to man up and stop being a pair of whiny bitches, not moping over whether he's doing the right thing.
Oh, and the way in which Dean figures out that Castiel has gone 'bad' is utter bollocks and makes Cas look like an idiot. Which, lest we forget, he is not. He is an angel, and in serious contention for the role of the new God; the guy's no dunce. Or he shouldn't be, written properly.
You're probably reading all of this and thinking that I hated this season. I didn't. There were several episodes; mainly the comedically slanted virtual stand-alones; that I loved wholeheartedly, the chemistry between the main players (when they were allowed to show it) was as good as ever, there were some surprising but welcome appearances by much missed favourites from earlier seasons, I actually liked all the Lisa and Ben stuff (Dean can't stay an immature ladies man forever) and guys like Pilleggi, Mark Sheppard and Sebastian Roche added a touch of class to the recurring roster of characters.
|Lisa and Ben. I was sorry to see them go.|
The problem is that the good things are fewer and further apart than they've been in any season since the (formulaic and really rather dull) first. I'm really hoping that things pick up a bit next season. (Don't tell me, all of you that have already seen it.)
|A touch of class. But too little too late?|
Oh, and was the fact that Eric Kripke came back to write the finale seen as a slight to Sera Gamble? It was certainly my thought when I saw his name in the credits.
So there you have it. My rambly and possibly nonsensical thoughts about Supernatural S6. They've been a while coming, so it feels good to get them off my chest. Next week, a little bit of Flash Gordon.