Supernatural: A Retrospective

Supernatural ended this past week.

I thought the series finale was about as good as the show was ever likely to have–and between this and the recent finale to The Good Place, I am happy to see shows I love getting proper send-offs. I wasn’t able to watch the ending as it aired, but I did watch it immediately after work on Friday with the wife. But we’ll get to the finale itself in a bit. I’m going to take a little time here to reminisce about a show that genuinely meant a lot to me.

Supernatural debuted in 2005, but it wouldn’t be until the third season when I started watching it. The first episode I saw, the tenth of season three, was “Dream A Little Dream Of Me“, and told the story the Winchester Brothers–Sam and Dean–entering their friend Bobby’s dreams to save him from a dream monster (or something). Also, it took place in Pittsburgh! Kismet. At the time I had started watching, I had moved into an apartment with my dad during one of the clean runs in his life. He needed someone around to basically keep him on the up-and-up, and I needed a place near my new job at the time. It worked out.

supernatural 3x10 Dream a Little Dream of Me on We Heart It
From that first episode I saw! “You’re gonna die! And this is what you’re gonna become!”

My dad was a big nut for most genre stuff. He was a lifelong fan of Conan. He is one of the reasons I got into comic books when I was a kid. He would watch or read anything about aliens (it was always a safe bet to get him books on alien theories for special occasions). I was skeptical when he told me he had found an interesting new show to watch because, well, he was into a lot of crap. Still, I started watching Supernatural with him, and we were both quickly engaged in the story of Dean trying to avoid losing his soul to hell that season.

We didn’t actually call the show “Supernatural”; we called the show “Sam And Dean Are On A Mission” as our little inside joke to the fact that for something like three or four weeks in a row, that was the entirety of the episode summary for each week’s upcoming offering. I ended up getting him the first two seasons of the show on DVD so that we could catch up on The Road So Far in preparation for season four.

Over time, DVDs of the most recently released episodes of Supernatural replaced books on trying to prove the veracity of aliens as the best gift I could get him each year. And as the fifth season started–the season that saw the Winchester brothers confront Lucifer himself to stop the apocalypse–I met the woman whom I would eventually marry a few years down the line.

During the early days of our relationship, we spent a lot of time sharing TV shows that we each liked. I marched her through the then entire run of Arrested Development’s three seasons. She had me watch both seasons of Rome with her. And as the end to Supernatural’s fifth season drew near, I wanted to share that with her, so we borrowed my dad’s DVDs and I got her caught up.

Supernatural Season 5 - Gasbo SciFi Australia UK Drama & Other Stuff

And just as my dad had gotten me turned onto the show, I got Amanda into it. Supernatural became appointment viewing for us, and even as she and I moved in together, we would still compare notes on the newest episodes with my dad when we visited.

Supernatural was allegedly “supposed” to end with the wrap to season five, and its resolution that saw the boys defeat Lucifer and stop the end of the world… even though it came at the cost of Sam being trapped in hell. But the show had grown and developed a massive fandom, so The CW pushed the creators to keep the money train going.

It’s fair to say that for as cohesive, tight, and engaging as the first five years of the show were, the next ten fluctuated dramatically. Season six was wildly unfocused as it rushed through far too many plot points and never seemed to have a finish line in mind… but it also produced “Weekend at Bobby’s“, almost inarguably one of the top episodes of the series. It’s really hard to follow up “two normal dudes who behead vampires to save random people defeat SATAN and save the world”, you know? And you could tell the showrunners were struggling to keep the stakes high.

Subsequent seasons saw the threats of Leviathan, the Queen of All Monsters, the Mark of Cain and more as Supernatural chugged along. They had the audacity to kill of Bobby Singer, the long-running mentor of the brothers, in just the seventh season (though the actor that portrayed Bobby did manage to appear at least once in every remaining season, whether in memory or as a ghost or an alternate reality version). Not that Supernatural ever had an issue with too few or not interesting enough supporting characters. One of the major strengths of the show was the cast of characters with which the creators surrounded Sam and Dean.

Such as Crowley and Castiel

In the twelfth season, Sam and Dean saved all of everything again, this time from Lucifer and his soon-to-be-born son. Because what not? To be honest, I think the 11th and 12th seasons had been Supernatural’s strongest stretch since the season 5 faux-ending, which made it all the weirder when it was the season at which Amanda and I stopped watching. With no real end in sight, and having survived the roller coaster years, I think we silently and mutually decided to let the show go for us on a high note.

When it was announced that the fifteenth season would conclude the series, we came back to be a part of the conclusion (having ultimately just missed two years). There was a lot to catch up on–why was this Jack kid important? What is The Endless? Why is Chuck/God suddenly the villain?–but we seamlessly fell back into the show’ grasp as it pushed through an extensive COVID delay to its ending.

And that ending. It was about as appropriate as it ever could have been. When the Winchesters defeated God in the penultimate episode of the season, it was reasonable to assume that the finale would be some kind of ultimate resolution (maybe in the mold of Six Feet Under) or clip show. What we got was the boys each finding their own version of peace in the new world. Dean dies a very Shakespearean “let me deliver an extended monologue” death in a fight with vampires and enters heaven. Sam struggles with the loss of his brother until he finally moves on and has the life that “the family business” had kept from him. And when an older Sam peaceful passes on, he and Dean are reunited in the great beyond. Amanda cried a lot. But it was a pretty perfect ending for the characters.

Supernatural' Recap: Season 15, Episode 20 — Series Finale Ending | TVLine

My dad never made it to the end of Supernatural. He met his own great beyond a few years back after some occasional relapses into his darker habits. We still talked through much of it, when he was more available and not in jail. With his lifestyle, I’m not sure how much of Sam And Dean Are On A Mission he saw in his last years. Even at his best times, he couldn’t usually afford a luxury as simple as basic cable, but I know he would go to the video store and rent DVDs of the show, and then we would talk about how it wasn’t as good as it used to be.

I am typically not an emotional person. When I got the call from the hospital that my dad was found in his apartment and was dying, it came more as a relief than anything because I imagine… it was very hard to live his life. I never cried over it or even felt particularly bad. It was just a very matter-of-fact thing that happened, and when someone that important to you bounces periodically in and out of your life, it’s probably just easier when it’s all over and you doubt have to worry about what happens next.

But during that finale, I thought of him. Less than a month after the two year anniversary of his death. Would he have enjoyed how the show wrapped up? Hopefully. I did. Life isn’t a fantasy series on The CW, and I don’t believe in the afterlife; I just don’t have it in me. But Dean got his ending of driving free forever. But it’s a nice thought that somewhere my dad is watching Supernatural and reading Conan books forever. Hopefully with some aliens.

WOW, this wasn’t what this article was supposed to be AT ALL. I sat down with the intention of just reviewing some of the show’s best moments and how the ending stacked up, but that is NOT what my fingers typed. Sorry, guys!

Anyway, Supernatural season finale! Yes. Uhhh, let’s call it a 9.5/10, I don’t know. What did… hm… what did you think?

Until next time… take care!

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