The seventh season finale saw the fall of Dick Roman, Bobby’s second death, the return of warrior Castiel and the banishment of Dean to purgatory. For an episode that managed to pack in so many happenings, the proceedings felt oddly disjointed. After positioning all the pieces onto the board for the past few episodes, the stage was a set for a grand conclusion to what’s been a lackluster season. But in addition to feeling disconnected, “Survival of the Fittest” lacked any real stakes. I mean, did anyone honestly think Dick’s wonky master plan had the slightest chance of making it past this episode? We knew the boys were going to kill Dick. The real question was the amount of collateral damage that would occur along the way. We know the brothers would survive. Meg’s a demon so it’s difficult to care if she lives or dies. Bobby’s behavior had earned him a one-way ticket to the other side. Castiel said it himself – he always gets resurrected – so no worries there. Our only concern was Kevin, whom we’d just met two episodes ago. Not much of an emotional connection there.
But on a show like Supernatural where life and death operate like an on/off switch, stakes have to be created some other way. This is where the seventh season fell short of the mark. As I’ve mentioned several times in my recaps, the Leviathan storyline has been underwhelming all season. Their plan was convoluted and silly and the personal motivation for Sam and Dean to kill Dick went out the window when Bobby showed back up as a ghost. Suffice it to say I wasn’t surprised when Dick went out with a whimper. This season’s big bad has been given little to do besides shoot a gun and talk slick during his hundreds of TV interviews. He didn’t even land a single punch when Dean confronted him! Sure, Castiel got thrown against a wall, but that was all part of Dean’s plan. Dick got a righteous bone through the neck and exited stage right to hopefully make room for a more menacing villain next season.
The second best part of the finale was watching Bobby make what might be his final appearance on the show. He finally crossed the line between friendly ghost and vengeful spirit when he nearly choked Sam to death and ultimately realized it was his time to go. I’m glad Bobby went out on his own terms. It would’ve been agonizing for Sam and Dean if they’d been forced to burn the flask in order to stop an out-of-control Bobby. Instead, the brothers’ surrogate father went quietly on his way as the brothers watched with pained expressions that said more than words ever could. The heartbreak was palpable on Sam and Dean’s faces. We as audience finally got the sendoff we’d been deprived when Bobby died. His final warning to the boys – “And when it’s your time, go” – seemed pretty ominous and I wondered if we’d see one of the brothers die again before the hour was up.
Alas, both the brothers made it out of the confrontation with Dick in one piece but in separate places. Sam was left behind while Dean was transported to… wait for it … purgatory! I can honestly say I did not see that twist coming at all. We’ve seen Heaven and Hell on Supernatural before so it only makes sense that we’d finally get a glimpse at purgatory, home of the dearly departed monsters. It was so refreshing to finally see a monster that looked like a monster instead of human serving as a meat suit. The creatures with the red eyes that surrounded Dean in the closing moments looked terrifying and part of me wonders if those are the Leviathans Dean helped lay waste to this season. Either way, with Castiel out of the picture (did he get captured or disappear on his own accord?) it appears Dean is in big trouble. Did anyone else get flashbacks to the third season finale and the image of Dean chained up in Hell? Now only if he’d been screaming Sam’s name as the screen faded to black…
Looking forward, I’m concerned that Supernatural is running out of stories to tell. This was a show that from the beginning had a five-year plan. Bringing the show back for a sixth season was a huge risk that didn’t pay off, as the Campbells, alphas, Eve and Castiel’s quest for power all added up to the weakest season of Supernatural to date. The arrival of the Leviathans in the seventh season premiere gave me hope that the show could rebound with a tighter narrative and more menacing villains. Sadly we were treated to a season even more subpar than the one before it. Supernatural felt rudderless at times this year, and when a show reaches that point, it goes one of two directions – it either continues to decline until it resembles a shell of its former self (Heroes) or it reinvents itself a finishes strong (Smallville). I have hope that Supernatural can turn in one of its best seasons the eighth time around. But after its sixth and seventh efforts, my faith is waning just a bit.
Here’s to hoping a purgatory prison break in the eighth season premiere can change that. Yep, I’m predicting it right now. Have your own guess for what our big bad in the eighth season might look like? Sound off in the comments below. Until next time: carry on my wayward brethren. Carry on.
Moment of the week
No lines jumped out at me this episode so I decided to dedicate this space to the Impala’s return. Welcome back Baby. It’s been too long. You look beautiful as always.