Supernatural Season 8 Review

Warning: mild spoilers abound.

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The 8th season of SUPERNATURAL wrapped on Wednesday to a phenomenally cool scene with a nearly-dead Sam, Dean and Castiel standing outside a chapel watching thousands of angels being expelled from heaven as they rain down to Earth in fiery comets.

With as great as the last twenty seconds of the season were, one would imagine the rest of it would have been equally as good.  Sad to say no, but glad to say that it was an enormous leap forward from an abysmal season 7.  With SERA GAMBLE tapping out as showrunner from 7 and JEREMY CARVER triumphantly returning, it was almost as if Cpt. Smith handed the wheel to his co-captain right after drunkenly blasting the Titanic straight into the iceberg and blaming him for not keeping it afloat.  Luckily, Carver was able to get back on track quickly but not without hiccups.

A whole bunch more inside!

Season 7 left us to deal with an extremely stupid implementation of a halfway cool storyline.  Cas had just become god (in his own way) and unleashed some funky new bad guy from purgatory.  Shortly thereafter, they managed to neglect every single thing that made SUPERNATURAL awesome in the first place to deliver an un-SUPERNATURAL-ed SUPERNATURAL, or expressing it mathematically, (SUPERNATURAL) – (SUPERNATURAL) = (Donkey Farts).

In full disclosure, SUPERNATURAL is one of my all-time favorite shows.  I never really got into it until a little over two years ago, but the never-ending season cycling on TNT was kind to me until I made the genius move of asking Santa Claus for every season on Blu Ray.  Having not made a formal list for at least 15 years, that little sucker owed me one.  Let’s put it this way:  If I could only watch one show for the remainder of my life, I would gladly pick SUPERNATURAL on repeat forever.  If I had to sum it up in a few words, it would go like this:  Classic rock, sweet cars and killing monsters.  Pure bliss.

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Many purist fans dismiss the sixth season as non-canon since the show was originally planned to run only five seasons total.  Its immense success and loyal fanbase quickly made subsequent seasons a foregone conclusion, and I personally think that season 6 had some of the best episodes of the entire show.  Not the strongest overall, though… that crown would rest on the head of 3 or 5.  But nobody can possibly argue that THE FRENCH MISTAKE and WEEKEND AT BOBBY’S weren’t simply terrific.

super9Then in rides season 7 like an accidental streak mark in your favorite pair of undies.  It started off with a boatload of potential but ended up suffering from a severe lack of focus, bastardization of characters, and willful neglect of everything that makes the show great.  They didn’t have their car anymore, they seemed to cast a bunch of bargain-bin extras, the great usage of practical effects was replaced by an awful looking CG villain, the funny recurring jokes were overused to the point where they can never be used again, they dispensed with the ever-faithful soundtrack and worst of all, they killed Bobby.  Not only that, but they screwed up Castiel’s character so badly it was almost offensive.

Not like SUPERNATURAL isn’t nefarious for killing off every great character on the show except for Sam and Dean.  I personally think that it makes things difficult when you can’t have even an occasional returning character.  The longest running third-tier character is probably Sheriff Jody Mills, but who really knows after this season.  At least Crowley has been there faithfully for the past several seasons and still performs way above admirably.  In fact, he’s one of the best parts of the show nowadays.

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Anyway, Season 8 was overall pretty good.  They got back to the gritty tone of seasons past, they actually made the return of the leviathans tasteful, and they even made the most mind numbing character in the history of the show (Garth) charming and lovable.  The season really kicked into full gear with the introduction of the god-trials and usage of some of the old standbys like hellhounds.  There were some of the standard ‘experimental’ episodes such as “BITTEN” which was quite good, some of the ‘silly’ episodes that were split between great (“LARP AND THE REAL GIRL”) and pretty stupid (“HUNTERI HEROICI”).

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THE GOOD:  The season as a whole.  Not perfect, but light years ahead of the previous season.  The direction of the story.  We seem to have gotten back on the rails of an interesting plotline.  Now with the happenings at the conclusion of the season, there should be ample fodder for season 9.  MARK SHEPPARD continued to be amazing as the Winchester’s nemesis and king of Hell, Crowley.  His performance in the finale while Sam was turning him human was captivating.  Glad to know he’s still somewhat alive-ish?  My only concern is that his tagline of “hello, boys” started to get a bit cheesy near the end… please don’t ruin this character to slapstick.  Garth.  Garth was great when he was there (surprisingly so), but was unfortunately absent from the last half of the season.  The new ‘Winchester HQ’.  Having a base of operations is something the boys hadn’t really experienced since Bobby’s house.  I would have liked to see more about it, though.  Dean loving LARPing.  The Braveheart makeup?  Priceless.

super3THE BAD:  Let’s tackle the worst one first… the flashbacks.  Sweet jesus, it took almost half the season to tell us literally nothing about Sam and his girlfriend and their dog.  It turned the whole affair from SUPERNATURAL into DAYS OF OUR LIVES, complete with the soapy camera effects.  Shame, shame.  Very similar with the ballad of Dean and Benny in Purgatory.  Wrap that garbage up in three or four episodes and move along.  Underutilized characters.  Benny was cool and all, but not really explored to the extent they could have.  And what about that ultra-time-travelling-demon Abaddon they killed, then un-killed then re-killed.  Overall, she really didn’t do all that much comparative to Ruby, Meg, Lillith, etc and was killed way too easily at the end.  Speaking of killed easily, Zeus from the episode “REMEMBER THE TITANS” was one of the best extras in years, and he was killed within 20 minutes of meeting him in the episode.  Make some of these folks recurring, dang it!  Oh, and Bobby?  Bring him back just to throw him away again?  Sorry, but that’s not how they would have done it.  Lack of focus.  God trials, then no god trials.  Cas is there, then he’s not there.  Same with Garth appearing a couple/few times and then not again.  Naomi the angel was also a very random here-and-there addition and never really fleshed out or explained.  Quite frankly, she seems downright bipolar.  Dean’s bromance with Benny.  Did anybody else half-expect them to start making out?  Dean is a tough-as-nails hunter and while I bet he could find respect through loyalty, it seems way removed from his character to get that cheesy.  Samandriel.  I forgot about this assclown, but talk about overacting your part…

super2CAN WE PLEASE:  Bring back the classic rock!  At least the season finale came in with “Carry On My Wayward Son”.  Can we throw an instance of “Lonely is the Night” in there too for crying out loud?  Seriously, I’ll come up with the soundtrack myself if you guys are out of ideas.  I’ll even do it on the cheap.  Please, please, please, please kill off Kevin Tran already.  Did everyone see earlier where the show kills literally everybody?  This kid irritates the hell out of me.  At least his whiny little P-I-T-A of a mother is gone, so that’s a step in the right direction.  Find a good supporting cast and stick with them for a while.  This point has not been difficult in the past.  As far as I’m concerned, go ahead and kill off anybody you want to!  My point is, when you have something good going (Zeus), use his character over at least a tiny story arc of 2-4 episodes rather than instantly killing him.

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If season 7 rightfully deserves a “D” grade for being confoundingly awful, season 8 gets a solid “B”.  Now can we get back into the A to A+ range of every other season past?  We will find out this fall when the ninth season starts up sometime in October.