Monday, February 13, 2012

Supernatural Spotlight: Season Five

As you may be aware, I sometimes accumulate more than I can handle, and of all varieties of items.  The gaming queue is no joke, but my DVD/Blu Ray queue is ten times worse.  When I managed to finish 21 games last year, what I failed to say is that time I used to game, was not used to watch DVD’s, so while I kept buying my favourite shows and games, only one queue was being reduced.  Which comes to the point of this blog, I’ve only just now finished watching Supernatural Season Five, which has been on DVD for over a year, maybe even two.  But what is just as compelling is how amazing the entire season was and how great the show continues to be despite its age.

If you’re unfamiliar with Supernatural, I’ll do my best to give you a crash course in less than five sentences.  The show follows the exploits of two brothers: Sam and Dean.  Sam is estranged from the family, but is brought back into the fold when their father disappears.  Sam and Dean were trained by their father to do what others couldn’t, or wouldn’t, fight monsters and demons.  After their father dies, Dean tries to protect Sam, but both boys die at least once in the course of the five seasons.  Sam eventually succumbs to the darkness that is within him and releases the Devil, which catches up to the fifth season.  A lot of other stuff did happen, but that is the main storyline.

The fifth season begins right where the fourth season left off, with Sam and Dean in a church where Lucifer is about to be set free from his cage.  The two miraculously get out and are placed on a plane, though they have no recollection of how they got there.  The season continues where the other seasons had left off, Dean being funny, but also reserved, knowing that the end is nigh and his brother, whom he can no longer trust, is responsible for it.  Sam continues his troublesome ways, putting the world in peril and being indecisive and self-involved.  I know, you can tell which brother I identify with and admire and which I’d like killed off, but Eric Kripke knows the key to his success is the combination the two brothers have on one another.

The story of Supernatural weaves its way through all kinds of folk lore, bringing things to life that most of us would consider unreal, while also broaching the subjects of responsibility, family and identity.  The crux of the story is the contention between the two brothers, ably described by the conflict in the fifth (and what should have been the final) season of Supernatural.  The show uses mythology about angels and has both angels and demons needing vessels to possess people in order to walk on Earth and be heard by people.  In this season, Sam is to be Lucifer’s vessel and Dean is to be Michael’s.  As the show indicates, Dean, the older brother who follows his father’s orders to a fault, like Michael, will face off against Sam, the younger brother who has made many mistakes, but was really their father’s favourite, like Lucifer.  This is all following the lore of the show, not actual Christian beliefs; though I’m sure they borrowed heavily from the ‘good’ book.

As the season comes to a close, Dean comes to terms with the fact that he can’t be Michael’s vessel and refuses to bring upon the apocalypse.  It is a constant mystery, to me, why this was so difficult.  For dramatic effect, it makes sense that Dean and Sam don’t want to comply, knowing that the angels are doing all of this without God’s consent.  But as the season progresses and the audience learn that God doesn’t feel it is his problem to intervene, it is there that I felt like Dean should have stepped forward.  The trouble with this battle is that no matter what, based on what they know, the apocalypse will cost many, many lives.  But in the end, that wasn’t the case, making the ending somewhat anticlimactic.  Sam’s decision to avoid Lucifer makes more sense, though he is a seriously flawed character and Lucifer promises him the world, Sam is at least smart enough to know that this isn’t a promise he can put much stock in.

What frustrates me most about Sam is best captured in the season five episode Dark Side of theMoon.  In that episode, two hunters find Sam and Dean and kill them, sending both to heaven.  All of Dean’s memories are with his family; either his father, mother or brother.  All of Sam’s memories are about him not being with his family.  I may over-identify too much, but Sam is always whinging about how his father was mean or his life unfair, but Dean spends all his time trying to keep his view of life, which family is an integral part of, intact.  Sam is an ungrateful child, Dean is the responsible adult.  And what are the rewards for the two?  At the end of the season, Sam supposedly dies, while Dean loses his brother and has to live with that forever.  The levels of sadness that Dean exhibits in a few short moments after Sam plummets into the cage are honest and indicative of Dean’s true desire to have a normal, family-oriented life.  The contrast between the two brothers makes for great drama, but also makes for more realistic characters.

The show closes with Sam, who should be dead, looking at Dean as he joins a former lover and takes up life with her.  It is at this ending that I was convinced that there wouldn’t be the same show the following year, but indeed seasons six and seven have basically continued, always another major crisis and one of the two brothers forced to make a major sacrifice.  The most notable, for me, is when Dean is forced to have his girlfriend’s and son’s memories wiped so they never remember him, once again an instance of Dean sacrificing what he wants for his brother Sam.

The show is great for a one-hour horror show, but I wonder if the show didn’t ‘jump the shark’ a long time ago.  There are great one-off episodes that don’t ‘fit’ in with the rest of the seasons, much like this past week’s episode that was as forgettable as ever.  But I wonder if Eric Kripke will let this show have a great ending as it deserves once he’s finally run out of stories.  If you’ve never watched Supernatural, you literally are missing out on a wonderful, thoughtful show that fills the gap left by Buffy, X-files and the like.  The first six seasons are on DVD and I’m debating jumping the DVD queue to bring season six up now that I’ve finished season five, but I might need a break, from Sam.

I’ve only scratched the surface on this show and could go on for pages and pages about this show.  Look for more blogs on this, and other TV shows, as I struggle through the winter months and Mass Effect.

No comments:

Post a Comment