Endings come at you fast, and almost always in hindsight. You rarely see the signs; it’s hardly ever a matter of pushing the breaks, and almost always more about taking your foot off the gas. By the time it all comes to a halt, it’s obvious, but as it’s happening, it’s easy to miss.
Supernatural has had its foot off the gas for a long, long time; some might even argue from the moment the fifth season ended, and Eric Kripke went to peddle his craft elsewhere. But for my money, it started after the sixth season. That was the last truly interesting Supernatural plot line; Soulless!Sam is and will remain one of my favorite characters to ever appear on the show. But then the boys stopped facing internal threats, and started beating back the external ones.
The biggest mistake of that seventh season is not the Leviathans; rather, it’s what the Leviathans were supposed to represent. Seasons 5 and 6 were about the brothers exploring the darkest parts of themselves, and stumbling upon the best of them deep down inside. The seventh season should’ve been Cas’s season, where all the hubris and rage and emotion that he had built up for four years burst forth and tried to take over the world. But he was denied this. He disappeared. Contract disputes, the show being about the Winchesters; there are any number of reasons why it wasn’t Cas’s season. But since then, we’ve gotten one retread storyline after another about the brothers betraying and forgiving and destroying the world in the name of the other.
But (and I’ve said this about other seasons, too), perhaps this is different.
The CW hasn’t announced that this is the last season of Supernatural, and I’m not going to say that it is, at least not definitively. What I do know is that the bulk of the first episode was devoted to the one thing the show has been punting down the road for over a decade: the Winchester brothers having to change who they are.
Sam rightly points out that they are super-duper good at hunting, but “that’s only half the bumpersticker.” They don’t save people anymore. They gut every demon without even trying to exorcise them; any monster is now a dead monster, regardless of how the monster is behaving. They’ve been leaving a bloody trail in their wake for years and years, and it keeps getting worse and worse. Sam released Lucifer, for Christ sake, in Season 4; who would’ve thought that the danger that he possessed would be minuscule compared to a thing like the Leviathans, or Metatron, or now The Darkness? They have unleashed a power so ancient that Death itself is unfamiliar to it.
It never changes because those two value each other over everyone else. They would rather millions die so that they can remain together, hand in hand, fighting the good fight.
The Darkness swept through this small, innocent town, and it murdered dozens. Crowley, forced out of his body by an attack by a enraged, bewitched Castiel, murders four more. Bodies are dropping all over the place, and they always have been; but the difference is that Supernatural almost always portrayed them as the cost of doing business. Sure, every demon that Sam, Dean, and Cas killed had a human trapped inside; but they had other things to do, and they couldn’t wait around to actually help them get free of their possessor.
But there are real bodies now. Real, innocent bodies, and every single one of them is on the Winchesters. Twenty, thirty, forty people—all dead. The blood on their hands is scattered all over the walls and floors, and on the operating table, where The Darkness destroyed a power line, and killed a young mother. Mike is dead, and his baby is now the human embodiment of The Darkness; two more lives gone.
Why? Why are we doing this? Why do they never learn? How many more unspeakable evils have to roam the Earth, and how many more times can the Winchesters pull a rabbit out of the hat and banish back from whence it came? So many people are going to die before this is all over.
Sam says to Dean that they have to change; that the way they have been doing things is getting them nowhere, and only making things worse. But he also says that he would release The Darkness again, in a heartbeat, if it meant saving his brother. Sam is on the right track, but he doesn’t really get it yet; the human cost has always been high in his line of work, and it rolls off his back. Sam doesn’t get it, and if Sam, the man of compassion doesn’t get it, then Dean doesn’t either.
That is why I think Supernatural is building towards a real end goal. Sam and Dean are recognizing that they are as much the problem as the solution. Sure, it’s great when they save the world and beat an unspeakable evil. It’d be even better if they had never released the thing in the first place.
If this bloodshed, with so many innocent bodies at its feet, doesn’t make them see why protecting each other at the expense of all others, then there is only one option: Sam and Dean Winchester have to die.
The brothers have to change, and they have to change now. I suspect they’ll defeat The Darkness, or at least corral it; they are, after all, the closest things to real superheroes as you’ll ever find. But if they are faced with the choice of living a life without the other, and letting the world burn, they have to choose the former. For the show’s sake, for the people on it, and for the audience that has devoted 11 years to it, the Winchesters have to change. Or else all these bodies, and all this blood, and all of those broken homes mean nothing.
Let’s hope Sam and Dean learn that sooner rather than later, and end the story as the heroes, instead of the ones who destroyed everything.
[Photo via The CW]