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Last summer, I wrote an article titled "Supernatural Season 8 and the Case for Hope."  This essay was a reaction to Season 7 which, for me, told a story that was often devoid of hope and heavy on despair, while simultaneously lacking excitement.  In that season, the boys lost Bobby and (temporarily) Castiel, were forced to go underground, had to stow away the Impala, and basically couldn't catch a break.  But along with that, the Leviathan storyline seemed to lack a sense of urgency, Sam's broken wall story was underwhelming, and much of the season just rolled along without the emotional intensity of seasons past.  A lot of the time, it seemed like the boys just didn't care.  In my article, I discussed some ways in which I thought the upcoming season could infuse some hope (while also providing more intensity) in the show.

Now that Season 8 is over, I find myself looking back on it (in relation to my article) and wondering if it delivered.  So in this essay, I'm going to take the points from my previous article and attempt to determine if this was indeed a season filled with more hope and emotionally satisfying stories.   

The first point I made regarding a more hopeful season (and in turn, more optimistic Winchesters) was to go back to the beginning- that is, returning to the importance of the family business, especially saving people.  This is important because, even though Sam and Dean have undergone terrible ordeals throughout the series, they were often propelled forward by the fact that people were alive because of them.  When looking at the episodes of season 8, the boys did save some people; most notably Kevin and the other prophets in "A Little Slice of Kevin," Aaron in "Everybody Hates Hitler," members of the Cassidy family, including Ellie in "Trial and Error," and little Oliver in "Remember the Titans."  Now, a few more persons in peril saved by the boys would have been nice, but that's a bit more difficult these days.  Despite the show still having stand-alone episodes, the mythology of the season is often in the forefront now, so the format of the brothers coming into town, saving someone, then riding into another town has had to change a little.  The importance of saving people was definitely touched on in Season 8, however, when Crowley started killing people the boys had saved, knowing how close to despair it would bring them.  This is evidence that the show acknowledged the hope (and comfort) that saving others has provided to both Sam and Dean.

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Another point in my essay was that Supernatural needed to go back to the hope that love provides.  One way in which to do this was to give Sam and Dean a support system again.  In Season 7 the boys didn't seem to have anybody left to care about.  In Season 8, I wanted the brothers to have some people around them to not only care about, but to be hopeful for.  In this regard, the show did some things that worked and some that didn't.  The two elephants in the room are, of course, Benny and Amelia.  Regarding the Benny storyline, that quite possibly turned out to be the wrong execution of the right idea.  Personally, I loved Benny's character.  Having a vampire that desired to be good and delving into his backstory (while establishing a bond between him and Dean) added a nice depth to the Purgatory storyline.  However, having Benny (unknowingly) drive a wedge between Sam and Dean wasn't really necessary, and made many fans unhappy.  Now, I understand the need to create some tension between the brothers every season for story purposes.  Perhaps, though, the amount and degree of tension that Benny caused was a bit much.  It would have made more sense to make Benny's motives more of a gray area, thus lending some credence to Sam's strong opposition to Dean's friendship with the vampire.  In the end, though, Benny was a true friend, and ultimately was a support system to both boys when he got Sam and Bobby out of Purgatory.   

Regarding Amelia, it's probably safe to say her character didn't work.  Amelia and Sam's relationship seemed awkward from the start, and the way in which viewers got to spend time with her didn't allow for any empathy for her character.  We didn't get to see her motivations or her vulnerabilities, and we really didn't see what was special about her and Sam's relationship.  Her pairing with him, and his subsequent desire to leave hunting (spurred on by his relationship with her), seemed, given what we saw, quite forced.  In addition, Amelia was somewhat tied into Sam not having looked for Dean, even though he met her after that fateful decision.  This guilt by association, however, certainly didn't do her any favors. 

The rest of Sam and Dean's support system worked much better.  We got added depth this year in the characters of Garth and Charlie, making the audience invested in the hope of their survival.  Also, the addition (even if only for one episode) and subsequent survival of the charming yet nervous Aaron and his Golem provided the potential for another connection for the boys.  And as always, Castiel remained vital in terms of giving the brothers, especially Dean, someone to care deeply about.      

Another way I mentioned to go back to the hope that love provides was to make Sam and Dean more invested in each other.   In my essay, I explained that in Season 7, the Winchesters often seemed like nothing more than co-workers.  In fact, I wrote another essay during season 7 asking where all the brotherly moments had gone.  Many episodes had the boys seemingly apathetic in their interactions with one another.  Even in "The Born Again Identity" when Sam's mental health and life were on the line, Dean seemed a bit too resigned for the dire situation.    

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In Season 8, the brothers did become much more invested in each other.  And though the road to get there was controversial, we can say that now, Sam and Dean are in a good place (with each other, not with their current circumstances).  But let's look at that road for a moment.  From the beginning of the series, the brothers have always argued.  Whether it was about following John's orders, trying to save Dean from Hell, Sam's demon blood addiction, or just about how to accomplish their current mission, there has always been some sort of tension between the boys.  This season, that tension manifested itself with Sam not looking for Dean, Dean's friendship with Benny, Sam's desire to leave hunting, and Dean's subsequent anger with Sam's decision.  Though some of the conflict seemed heavy handed in the first half of the season, the brothers' anger was to some extent, evidence that they still cared deeply about one another.  In Season 7, with the exception of the first two episodes and maybe one or two after that, Sam and Dean didn't seem connected.  In fact, their apathy toward one another made a lot of the heart go out of the show (at least for me). 

This season, even in the earlier episodes, Sam and Dean were anything but apathetic about one another.  That fact alone made me ok with it what I saw playing out on my screen because it suggested that all their anger was headed toward some major change in their relationship (at least I hoped it was!).  Also, the intensity of their feelings was evidence that what one brother did in relation to the other, mattered greatly to both of them.   

What we saw in the latter half of the season was a return to the brotherly bond that was ever present in those early years.  And with that bond was also a return to the show's heart.  We saw brothers looking out for one another again, finally talking to each other, and hugging (four times this season "“ a Supernatural record!).  Out of that bond also came a reappearance of something the show seemed to forget about in Season 7 "“ hope.  The brothers were able to hope for one another because they were shown to be so invested in each other.  For Sam, the hope was that when everything was over, he could take Dean to the light at the end of the tunnel.  For Dean, it was the hope Sam would be ok through, and after the trials.  There is more to say on the trials, but let's move to one last point.

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The last point I made in my previous essay regarding adding hope (and fulfilling storylines) to the show was that the boys had to want something again- and want it with a passion.  Specifically, I mentioned the more personal it was, the better.  Season 8 showed us a quest for tablets, and closing the gates of Hell.  That alone was probably not personal or compelling enough on its own.  However, we got something a whole lot more personal than that "“ The Men of Letters.  This revelation about the boys' heritage changed everything- not only because we learned something interesting about the brothers' family, but because it allowed both Winchesters, and particularly Sam, to forge richer, deeper, identities at a time when they (and perhaps we) really needed it.  As an added bonus, the boys finally gained a new home "“ one that would allow some positive, comfortable moments to sneak into their lives.   

Going back to the trials, their addition made everything deeply personal.  Having one of the brothers perform the trials, and having their be after-effects - in essence creating a road that would be very difficult to turn back from, provided tension in a compelling way, brought the brothers together, and effectively showcased the hope and fear that both boys were experiencing. 

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I know some were upset that Sam was the one to go through the trials, and some fans felt that left Dean with little to do.  I have read comments about Dean becoming too domesticated and being relinquished to Sam's caregiver again.  But for me, Dean was most recognizable this year as the strong big brother that I fell in love with in earlier seasons.  Only in this season, he was more grounded, open and confident.  Also, if we look at the episodes, Dean was quite proactive in most of them, formulating plans, and showing no hesitation in carrying them out.  His role was crucial in getting Sam through the trials, and ultimately helping Sam to stop, thus saving his life.   

So as I look back, I'm satisfied with how the season came together.  That's not to say it was done perfectly.  Some plot points were uninspired, Sam and Dean didn't always sound quite like Sam and Dean, occasionally co-stars detracted from the story instead of enhancing it, and a few of the episodes were written as if the writers had never watched the show before.  Overall, though, they got many things right.  And for me, the things they got right were instrumental to improving the direction of the show.  And so here we are now, with the potential for interesting consequences of this quest, (including side effects of the trials), and Sam and Dean very much invested in each other.  With the focus back on the brother's relationship and this potential for new storylines, I'm willing to see where the road will lead next. 

Ultimately, this season reached a turning point.  Things in the Supernatural universe seem to be changing.  Now, I have read many comments from those who like where Carver is taking the series, and those who absolutely hate it.  But let's look at what Carver and his writers did:  They created a new quest with the demon and angel tablets, and showed us some ripple effects of that quest.  They gave us personal storylines that ended up making every player on the board "“ Sam, Dean, Cas, Kevin, and Crowley -  go through interesting (and for some potentially major) character growth or change.  They gave the boys a richer, more layered identity through the backstory of the Men of Letters, which is ripe with potential new storylines.  They also gave the boys a home base again, somewhere where they could feel safe and viewers could get a look into the more quiet moments of their lives.  Last but not least, they gave us an excellent finale that answered some questions, but brought up many more.  So for me, they did the most important thing writers could do "“ they left me eager to see where the story goes next.

Last summer, I posed a question that summed up my wishes for season 8.  I wrote, "If season 5's "Swan Song" answered yes to the question "˜could love save the world?' then maybe season 8 should begin to answer the question "˜Can hope save Sam and Dean?'"  After this season, and especially the finale, I think I did get my answer.  Hope did save the boys.  The reaffirmation of Sam's place in Dean's world literally saved Sam's life.  And the notion that just maybe, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, and perhaps both boys could walk through it together saved Dean in a different way- by giving him new understanding and resolve.  

As we approach Season 9, I'm not really sure what question the show should try and answer.  Right now, things are wide open with possibility.  I'm more satisfied going into this season than I have been in two years.  So at this point, maybe the question season 9 should begin to answer is a simple one- what happens next?





Comments  

Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2013-06-25 17:50
What happens next indeed!

Was season 8 perfect? No, but I think it did exactly what you so eloquently pointed out. It gave us a chance to open up the Supernatural world some and see the brothers come together in brotherhood truly again. It, too, left me wanting to see where they go next, and that finale still lingers for me. The Men of Letters storyline is probably the most fascinating and can really go any direction, so I'm excited to see what else they might come across in that bunker---you know, after the whole angels falling thing settles a bit.

I'm so glad you posted this. This show is about hope, and for me in my life right now i needed that. That's the biggest success for this season by far. Thank you for writing this.
TeresaPezzino
# TeresaPezzino 2013-06-27 10:59
Quote:
What happens next indeed!
"that finale still lingers for me... I'm excited to see what else they might come across in that bunker...
"Lingers" is definitely the perfect word! And considering how BIG that Men of Letters building is from what we can see at the front door, the possibilities are amazing. And I really hope Dean gets his ping pong table!
Thisoldbag
# Thisoldbag 2013-06-25 18:22
Lovely and I completely agree. Season 7 lost the passion I so love about this show. But Season 8 brought back the passion and the hope (my hope) with it.
Thank You!
Grace232
# Grace232 2013-06-25 18:45
Yes! Yes! Yes! I do not disagree with a word. Thank you for so eloquently explaining why I am so happy with this show again - and why I cannot wait for October 15!
Prix68
# Prix68 2013-06-25 18:46
A very nice summary. S8 wasn't perfect but it was great and it gave us back the heart of the show we all love so much. I thought Dean's character showed tremendous growth and maturity and I think Sam doing the trials was definitely the right call. The Men of Letters was pure genius on JC's part. The "boys" needed to grow up, cause they're not boys, they're men now. We needed supporting characters to add dimension to the show. I see S8 as JC getting things back on track so we can have a super S9. Can't wait!
Leah unlogged
# Leah unlogged 2013-06-25 19:08
Thanks Metamorphic Rocks, You have hit on almost every reason that I both loved and disliked about this season. I feel exactly the same as you about S7 it seemed dismal, devoid of many of the things that I previously loved about the show. Even though this season will always be split into 2 smaller seasons - S8 pt ! (yuk) & S8 pt 2, I still appreciate that it brought the brothers back together. Loved the hugathon. I really hate that the characters had to do really cruddy things to each other to arrive there. I am hopeful that some of the really great things that were accomplished will invigorate this show that is entering it's 9th season. Many shows at this point are zombies (dead but still shuffling along). I am looking forward to seeing where this is headed.
BookLady
# BookLady 2013-06-25 23:26
Totally agree!

Really glad to see the brothers caring about each other and following their essential characters - Dean caring for and protecting younger siblings - not just Sam, but Charlie as well - and Sam not wanting his brother to be out there alone despite what it cost him...great to see. They're back! Hurray!

But, yes, what's next?!
Amyh
# Amyh 2013-06-26 11:14
I wish I had someone in RI to talk to about all this but much like Sam...I dont. So I will here and I hope somone can help me see what you all do. Honestly? I dont see anything in the way of Hope for Sam.

Carver reset Sam to wanting normal in the beginning of S8 and then supposedly get him to a place where he kno0ws Hunting is where he is suppoised to be and wants to be.

In the beginning (the series no the episode) Dean declared Hunting the family business...but honestly it wasn't. JOhn never wanted hunting to be permanat for his family. It was supposed to be a temp gig. DCean is the only one who decided this was the 'family business'. Sam was involved was of Johns mind...it was a temp thing.

I dont get how deciding not wanting to be with a cranky, nasty, adulterous (once a cheater) woman helped Sam figure out his place belonged in the hunting world. It just meant that knowing Dean would ONLY accept him as family is when he is hunting...and as Dean is the only person Sam feels close to adn definetly loves he was willing to hgive up all his hopes and desires for himself to have Dean in his life.

The MOL failed to show Sams place for me. It doesn't work as a Home because I dont see anything that shows that SAM thinks of it as home. All he does....literal ly.... is research. We dont see him personalizing anything or just replaxing or treating the MOL as anything as a workplace. Does he consider it home because this is where Dean is? I dont know. for all I know Sam considers the bunker Deans home and he is crashing there?

I simply feel as if I haven't been given enough from Sam's pov ....hunting...t he MOL.. to know what he thinks about things. I mean according to the writers after Dean disapppeared Sam 'imploded", fell apart and ran.

Dean has a history of disappearing... hell, even dying via the supernatural. What has Sam done to shore himself up mentally and emotionally when his 'stone # 1 dies or vanishes again? Will he be up to the task? Will he fall apart again?

The writers have given so little thought to where they took Sam in sesaon 8 and how it would affect him adn the 'brother bond' going foreward and didn't give him the emotional exploreation that is desperatly needed in favor of some manufactured 'brother conflict'.
eilf
# eilf 2013-06-26 12:18
Amyh I have to say that regretfully (because I would much rather be happy) I agree wholeheartedly with way too much of what you have to say here. Hopefully things will improve next season.

As an aside I don't actually feel that Charlie or Castiel or even Garth were in any way shown as a support system for Sam in this season. Which is fine because they are there for Dean but Sam does NOT have the same ability or opportunity to talk to any of them.
Amyh
# Amyh 2013-06-26 12:47
Oh god...I forgot to mention the 'support system'. Apaprently if Dean makes a friend or new family member and he 'tells them all about Sam' they are autimatically Sams friends/family as well even though they've exchanged two words in the context of the current case together.

Lets SEE on screen please Sam talking to and opening up to Charlie or Sherriff Mills or Cas. There should be at least ONE person Sam should be able to talk to...someone who is willing to listen to him and willing to try to understand him. Someone Sam feels comfortable enough with; whom he TRUSTS to open up to.

Right now....there isn't one person on the show that fits that description. They ALL get their information - bare facts - about Sam from Dean which is wholy unsatisfying.
Sharon
# Sharon 2013-06-26 13:00
Quote:
Oh god...I forgot to mention the 'support system'. Apaprently if Dean makes a friend or new family member and he 'tells them all about Sam' they are autimatically Sams friends/family as well even though they've exchanged two words in the context of the current case together.

Lets SEE on screen please Sam talking to and opening up to Charlie or Sherriff Mills or Cas. There should be at least ONE person Sam should be able to talk to...someone who is willing to listen to him and willing to try to understand him. Someone Sam feels comfortable enough with; whom he TRUSTS to open up to.
.
That is what I thought Amelia was going to be but I was wrong there. I not sure it will ever happen they seem to think Dean is the only one that can understand what 'family' or 'friendship' is.
eilf
# eilf 2013-06-26 13:01
I thought that person was Ellen, but that theory was removed in 'The Mentalists' (I dislike that episode ...a lot). Currently it could SO easily be Jodie Mills, honestly! It kills me that they have characters they could use for this purpose ... and don't.
KELLY
# KELLY 2013-06-29 01:29
I want to be happy with it too! But I agree with so much of what you said as well, Amyh. I wasn't completely happy with the way Dean was portrayed, but Sam's characterizatio n and lack of POV have just about killed the show for me.

Don't get me wrong, Meta R, I agree with you about the hope this season. It was missing for a while and I cheer its return. And I loved the hugs and the brother moments. And while I have my issues with Dean's characterizatio n, I definitely prefer this Dean to last year's apathetic version. (it really bothered me in BAI too). In fact I loved most of the things you loved. Baby being back. Having a home at the Batcave. Connection to the story. I couldn't stand Amelia but did like Benny. I even thought the wedge he brought worked once Sam FINALLY says what he has been feeling.

But I would still take S7 issues over S8's. (And definitely S6 over both-kinda of loved S6). Sam didn't have much of a voice in S7 and the Hellucinations were hit and miss. But I still felt like I understood and knew him. I even understood Dean's apathy. They'd both been through so much. I just thought that if even anything could pull Dean out of it would be Sam almost dying-but it's not like he gave up and said bye Sam, I'm going to go live the simple life now. Which is basically what Carver had Sam do. But the worst part is that there was never explanation why. And that is just bad storytelling IMO. So I hope some of the others are right and they pick it next season. Because otherwise S8 is almost a complete wash for me. I can't even watch the second half without feeling a little depressed, which I thought I'd be able to. (Exception is EHH) So obviously still extremely disappointed in Carver and the season. Sorry for the bummer post, but that's what they get when they take away your happy place :D
isleofskye
# isleofskye 2013-06-26 13:12
I'm all for hope. It's a wonderful thing. But there's hope and then there's reality.
IMO this season has no positives at all except to be so bad that season nine can only be better.
X
From the beginning it was wrong.
1) Sam not trying to look for Dean has been thought OOC by the majority of fans and it is; it was so wrong that everyone believed that some kind of reason would be put forward for Sam's unusual behaviour, and most, like myself were disappointed when it wasn't.
Then Carver didn't let it alone. He brought up Sam's not looking repeatedly, even in the teaser for the last episode, just to remind us

2) Because of it we had completely contrived brother drama when at the end of season seven the brothers were fine with each other.

3) The Purgatory story-line went nowhere. Benny was used exclusively to drive a wedge between Dean and Sam, just as the highly unbelievable and badly written love story between Sam and Amelia was.

4)The accusations thrown at Sam by Dean were uncalled for as they had already forgiven each other and moved on way back in season six, and the ridiculous accusation that it was Sam's fault that he was souilless is just incredible!
If Dean was going to be angry about that, he should have taken it out on Castiel who pulled Sam out soulless in the first place.

5)The brother drama in the first ten episodes was unpleasant to watch and in the end was never resolved; it just petered out.

6) The MOL story-line was a good idea but it went no further than providing a home base for the brothers.

7) The bunker was supposed to remain a big secret because of all the important supernatural lore it contained, but in the end everybody gets to visit including a powerful god.

8)During the entire season, past canon was continually trashed instead of being built on.
For what reason I don't know; either the writers didn't bother looking up past story-lines or, it was just lazy uncoordinated wtiting.

9) After the MOL episode, nothing else really happens. We find out the brothers have to do three trials to close the Hell gates, a weak story line to begin with and it ends up with them not closing them at all, thus invalidating the whole season.

So to summarise. This season accomplished zero
It had no point to it at all.

I understand that one should be positive, but just to push to the side the obvious faults isn't fair either.
When something is well done ,it should be praised but the discrepancies should be pointed out too.IMO
novi
# novi 2013-06-26 23:19
The Purgatory story-line went nowhere.
It can be explained, I think, by the change of the show-runner. Since Purgatory never was JC's idea he may not have felt like playing with it. Diffy to develop somebody else's thoughts. To me, it's amazing that the show still remains quite a solid bulk of consistency at this point. I bow (or rather curtsey:-)
And -oh my! - how diverse the opinions are, almost on anything! How would it ever be possible to satisfy all these often opposite wishes and desires? Some people are too creative for their own good, bcs they will always be disappointed.
isleofskye
# isleofskye 2013-06-27 11:11
Replying to Novi.
X
I think Purgatory was a great idea, only it was carried out badly.
I believe Sera's plan was that Sam would get his brother out of Purgatory, and If Carver had continued with that idea instead of what he did go for, things would probably have been more interesting.
X
As for satisfying everyone, of course it's impossible but if you write good, interesting and logical stories for your episodes, I think most people would be happy.
X
The Gran Canyon error for example is perhaps a small thing, but Dean clearly stated he had never been and everyone who has watched the show knew it, except the writers.
If I was a writer for a show, any show, I would go and inform myself of all that has happened to the characters in past seasons, simply because it's my job and I would take pride in doing it right.
X
All I ask is that the current writers respect the characters of Sam and Dean and the past history of the show; after that they can go wherever their creativity takes them
novi
# novi 2013-06-28 14:23
If that Sera's plan (or rather yours) about Sam saving Dean from Purgatory had been implemented it would have been a very interesting turn, the whole new bifurcation in SPNuniverse, and I would love to see Sam playing for a change a big brother (and isn't he big!?), dragging Dean out of trouble and taking care of him. Unfortunately, what's done etc. And we have to put up with the only reality that is. I really don't think that the writers don't respect the characters, surely they're trying their best, though of course their best often leaves a lot to be desired. To me, the main difference between the writers' and fans' approaches lies in the attitude toward the canon. They obviously see a bunch of texts written by some script-writers who they consider equal not as a sacred tablet, but a relatively
free zone where every new writer is entitled to bring something of his/her own. Sometimes it works well, though I wouldn't say that it's a right approach. As one cute little villain from LARP and Real Girl put it,"No rules - chaos". So there should be rules and consistency and logic. Only no one can expect of a TV show the same level of rationality as of a book written by one Creator. And even there - take Joan Rowling who did a truly brilliant work developing her world, and whose books are extremely well structured. And still , the idea of one country with two communities living on one land but having different history, educational system, government, even currency - that's ridiculous!
I'm afraid I sound boring, sorry. I know that being a fan means being emotional and biased, and tolerance is very offer just a synonym for indifference. But I'm biased too - I loved S8 and what it gave us, and I so want other people to share my happiness!


that's ridiculous!
isleofskye
# isleofskye 2013-06-29 01:29
replying to novi.

No, I get it. You love season eight regardless of any discrepencies there might be, and I understand and respect that. :)
X
However, I love the show as much as you but if there are things that don't make sense or are unbelievable, I can't ignore them, for they spoil my enjoyment of this unique show.
X
The show has built up a certain mythology and world of its own and if the writers don't stay true to the tenents of that world and its past, then everything seems just out of place and awkward.
isleofskye
# isleofskye 2013-06-26 13:12
I
Dot
# Dot 2013-06-26 13:59
This post captures a lot of why I felt season 8 was a more energetic and hopeful season. Season 6 was compelling in many ways but also did a lot to alienate me. In season 7 my enthusiasm for SPN really started to fall and I wondered if I'd keep watching. But Season 8 pulled me back in, got me excited about the show again. Definitely wasn't perfect but on the whole one of the stronger seasons in a while. Although the arc was shaky in spots, I did find the Sam and Dean story of Season 8 gripping and the brothers were emotionally honest with each other, it dug in a direct way into each of their issues and the complications of the brother relationship. In Season 7 they seemed so trapped together, going through the motions--they cared about each other because they care but the relationship wasn't very dynamic. S8 did bring growth.

I have some ambiguity about how things landed, but as you said, what happens next--if this is a stage of the growth, then that works for me. But if Dean is going to continue to be shut in as being Sam's caretaker/prote ctor as his chief role, and Sam continues to be the one with the freaky supernatural illnesses who has to keep leaning so hard on Dean, that's going to aggravate both their issues, and it's bad for both of them in different ways. I'd like to see more of a shakeup.

The supporting characters were also a major reason why S8 had more energy. Having Castiel restored to the story and a part of the Winchesters extended family in such a strong way made a difference, and I also love Charlie, Kevin, Benny...I think SPN and Sam and Dean need these characters, the story needs these characters and there need to be relationships beyond Sam & Dean to matter.

Looking forward to seeing what happens in S9, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2013-06-26 15:10
Thanks for posting this Metamorphic Rocks. I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. Was this a perfect season? No, I don't think it was, but IMO it delivered what we were all hoping for: the brothers united with a common goal again. So, there is definitely hope going into season 9. Have a great Hellatus. 8)
Ginger
# Ginger 2013-06-27 01:31
I found S8 to be a massive mess. It left me completely disillusioned – so much so that I have no hope or expectations whatsoever for S9.

As far as Sam and Dean go, I thought the writers gave us caricatures of who these two are. I thought Dean's character showed some real growth in the Part I of the season, but that was abruptly stripped away, and the only supposed growth I saw for Sam was the final scene speech where he sort of admitted that he had let Dean down repeatedly and was trying to prove that he was reliable and trustworthy.

I found the season's mytharc exceedingly weak, and the pacing, plotting, and the majority of the writing atrocious. I don’t see that getting any better, unless some talented and experienced writers are brought on-board (and I see no plans for that) and Carver turns Being Human over to his wife and concentrates on this show and the Winchesters (which I also don’t see any plans for).

The MoL’s had the potential to really open up the series with new and exciting storylines, and to give the Winchesters something to sink their teeth into. Unfortunately, that turned out to be only a means to cut production costs. It certainly didn’t come across to me as the vehicle to Sam committing to hunting, and I don’t even know if Dean is considered a part of it or not. At first, he seemed to reject his role in the legacy (despite decorating his room and making use of the kitchen facilities), but was happy that Sam liked it, and then in a one-off episode, he was bragging about being a legacy to one of the overnight guests invited into the 1,000-year-old super-secret bunker.

Purgatory was captivating…a ll 16 minutes and 20 seconds of Purgatory flashbacka…bu t that turned out to be nothing more than a means to re-introduce Cas and cause contrived tension between the brothers…and waste another good character.

The Samelia story was truly awful and not even worthy daytime TV. Thankfully, there were only 20 minutes 22 seconds of Samelia flashbacks, but they seemed to dominate S8 Part I.

I don’t like the support characters that Carver has repopulated the SPNverse with. They come off as fools or comic book characters that don’t fit into a horror/drama show at all, yet truly interesting characters are killed off while the inferior ones are used over and over again. I think this trend will most definitely continue in S9.

I got no emotional boost from the healing of the mythical “brother bond” in the finale after trudging through a totally disappointing season.

Throughout, though, there were a few positives about the season. Notably, the production team maintained their high standard of quality – good for them.

I thought there was some exceptionally good acting done this season from the two leads and several of the supporting cast. In particular, I thought JA did some of his finest work this season, but I’ve seen no acknowledgement of that from anyone. I think it’s pretty obvious that without these two actors, this show would be nothing and the glaringly bad writing and management would be even more noticeable.
isleofskye
# isleofskye 2013-06-27 10:55
I agree with you completely.
I saw no emotional growth or maturiy with the brothers whatsoever. They were far more mature in season seven, but then I'm one of those strange people who enjoyed season six and seven, both IMO being far superior to season eight.
X
I continue to see nothing positive about this season except for the great acting and ongoing chemistry between Jared and Jensen, with kudos to the special effects team, for they did great work.
X
I agree about the secondary characters too. There are none of them up to the standard of an Ellen or a Bobby, or a Pamela or any of the secondary characters we had in earlier seasons, to whom one became attached to and cared about.
X
I do hope season nine is better but as you say
there isn't much to be happy about if the writers don't get it together.
X
My fear is that Sam and Dean will be even less present than before and without the two leads the show is nothing;
The only character who really managed to hold an episode without the brothers was Bobby.
castiels cat
# castiels cat 2013-06-27 18:30
I enjoyed the first part of the season and found the last half more difficult to watch. I believe Carver was trying to fix Sam' character this season. All of the past supernatural nonsense prevented character growth. So Sam was given a most human story with love, jealousy, hatred, and self pity. He' s made mistakes throughout the series but in this season they were his own and not the result of supernatural machinations. The trials gave Sam the opportunity to lose the demon taint, chose to do something important to his brother and bear his burden for a change, and also forced him to confront the mistakes if his past and finally admit out loud to himself, God, and Dean that he is sorry for the times he's let his brother down. Three cheers for Carver in attempting to rehabilitate a character that an appreciable part if fandom despises because he' s been allowed to avoid all personal culpability for his actions to the point that Sam felt absolutely no guilt in S 7 (DyL).

This season also saw a Dean that had survived purgatory and emerged a hardened warrior and leader. This Dean was more accepting of himself and his feelings. We saw this expressed in close relationships like Cas and Benny, and in the affectionate, mature mentoring of others like Charlie, Garth, kevin and Krissy.
We also saw Dean tell Sam how he felt repeatedly. Dean had to because Sam never apologized, seemed to feel no guilt. But also because Dean sucking up and taking Sam' s asshattery is the hallmark of what makes their relationship dysfunctional. There is meta upon meta of Dean being the abused party in a toxic relationship with Sam. Again I applaud Carver for having the guts to tackle this head on, even if he had to temper it with the ridiculous foray into grotesque fanfic tropes with infantilized Sam and caretaker Dean. I truly hope that we have a relationship with mature men next season.

I saw a competent , leader throughout for Dean; however it was hard to stomach episode upon episode of caretaker nonsense at the end. They really need to give him the proactive mytharc next year unless they want to bleed viewers.
st50
# st50 2013-06-27 19:41
castiels cat, I will not argue with you, but I just want to say I've hardly ever seen a post that I disagree with more than I disagree with yours.
I'm not overly fond of this season, and don't see the hope that Metamorphic Rocks does. I much preferred seasons 6 and 7 over this one but I find the different viewpoints fascinating.
Thanks for sharing your point of view. It's interesting, but I personally don't see any of what you see in this.
KELLY
# KELLY 2013-06-29 01:49
st50,this is not really regarding Castiels cat comment (cause I'm with you-completely disagree). But I actually did see signs of hopefulness on the show this year-which I did like. Mentions of the future, of having this legacy, the kids' that were hunting, but also having a regular life (even at the end they said they weren't going to look for trouble but would take on anything in their path).

To me those were hints that maybe Sam and Dean could live to a ripe old age and have a life beyond hunting but that still included it. I mean it very well may not, but it is more than we've gotten in several years. As far as the rest of it see above :D
st50
# st50 2013-06-29 07:45
Kelly - HI!! Glad to see you posting again. You've been missed. :-)

SO glad you can see some hope. I still struggle with it.

Maybe there's hope for the hunting world in general, but I don't see that the guys are in such a great place - which is my major point of disagreement with Metamorphic Rocks in this article. If there's a future for them, after hunting, I don't see them settling down to any sort of actual friendship.
They have SO many issues that they are really still not talking about. Dean saying essentially "you're wrong to feel the way you feel, it's not like that" doesn't exactly fix their relationship. (How often do we, on this site, say essentially the same thing, and have it go over like a lead balloon!)
:D
They've got to keep talking... and these guys are such incredible masters at NOT talking..... I don't have a whole lot of hope that they'll ever truly work it out. In spite of all the wonderful hugs that prove they do love each other, if they can't/won't/don 't fix their own relationship (ETA: which, imo, was in a mess, but not BROKEN before S8), all the rest of it really doesn't matter in the end. Sometimes love just isn't enough to keep two people together.

But I'd love to be wrong on that. Here's hoping we all get something to love in season 9!
Cheers!
KELLY
# KELLY 2013-06-29 11:44
st50, awww. Thank you. That's sweet. I have a crappy job right now where I don't have access to a computer while there and by the time I get home I'm not in the best of mood. So I've started several posts and then cancelled them due to excessive whinyness (again see above) :D I haven't gone in yet today so maybe this will be less angsty

Or not.'Cause I'm not really hopeful for the show at all, in all honesty, right now. And I agree with you that I'm not sure that with the direction the show is taking as far as their relationship I will be in anyway satisfied with their relationship at the end of the show.

BUT I think (though I've not gotten anything right about this show this season -so....)the show is TRYING to project a hopeful view. Maybe even foreshadowing that the guys may actual have a longish, happish life ahead of them. BUT I'm not sure I will consider it a happy ending at all. I just don't seem to be on the same page as Carver (and good portion of the viewers) at all.

Last season, they were more like coworkers than brothers. It seems like they took that complaint to heart and gave of lots of brotherly moments-which I adore. But it was at the expense of Sam's character and the heart of their relationship, which is the core of the show for me. So I'm keeping a smidgeon of hope that that they'll fix it next year, but honestly think that most of the viewers seem happy enough so I don't think they'll bother. I just don't think any of the writers left see Sam the way that I do (or Dean to a lesser extent). So I don't have a lot of hope that show in that regard.

See this is why I haven't been posting. So freaking maudlin :D
st50
# st50 2013-06-29 12:01
We may be in the minority, Kelly, but I'm right there with you!
Hope the job becomes less crappy, and we see more of you around here.
:-)
LEAH
# LEAH 2013-06-29 12:17
Hey Kelly, just want to say I hope to see you around more too! Your insights and debating skills are missed. Plus your humor. :-) Plus having someone on my side in "soda wars". :lol:
Sharon
# Sharon 2013-06-28 04:17
You know Castiels cat people are entitled to their opinion's even though I may not agree with them. I am just interested to know why Sam must always feel guilt or say sorry or pick up his burden?

Has Castiels behaviour / actions been that much different and yet would you say the same words about him that you have said about Sam. And I have to admit I am at a loss as to what guilt Sam was suppose to be feeling in season 7 after his wall had been brought down?.

How much guilt is Sam suppose to have laid at his feet ? or do we all pretend that what happened in the cage did not happen and so we can continue to demonize Sam and call him wrong?. I think Sacrifice summed alot of things up for me in not only in attitudes from the writing but within the brothers relationship and in how Sam has been made to feel . Maybe it is just that I dont see either Dean or Castiel has innocent parties in all of this and Sam the sole perpetrator in this relationship that is suppose to be the heart of the show.
I dont know really what more Sam is suppose to do that the other two are not expected to do , why his wrongs are so different and why the show felt that bringing up his past mistakes was in any way fair .

But they did and once again I see the same accusations thrown at Sam that I have seen so many times before( of course not having Sam look for Dean as made it easy) and no doubt will be brought up again next season. I dont believe there will ever be true balance in the brothers relationship until we do hear Sam's voice and not him trying to destroy himself because the writers had to remind us how many times he has let Dean down .
Thisoldbag
# Thisoldbag 2013-06-28 08:48
While I do not agree, I do find your view very interesting. Perhaps because I am the younger sister and there was a lot of this kind of verbal abuse in my family, so I tend to see thru Sam's eyes.
I always thought the complete opposite, that Sam needs to stop apologizing for everything and Dean needs to stop feeling the need to forgive. That is the adulthood I want to see.
When we get to a point in our own lives where we realize why we are who we are, understand we've made mistakes, understand that because we have choices that we will make more mistakes and learn to atone or live with the realization that we did the best we could based upon the information we had at that moment in time. But beyond that, to realize that those we hold in our hearts, be it brother or parent or whoever, that they are human also and they have and will make mistakes as well, then there is no need to blame and therefore no need to forgive.
Sam & Dean need to accept each other for who they are and stop feeling they need to prove themselves to eachother. This is alot to ask of this show but I am always pleased with every step toward that goal.
josieposie
# josieposie 2013-06-28 16:19
castiels cat-I am with st50, Sharon and Thisoldbag in our disagreement with your post, your right to your opinion and my wish to not argue with you but I do have to say that I was rather annoyed at your blanket statement " Three cheers for Carver in attempting to rehabilitate a character that an appreciable part if fandom despises....." Really? An appreciable part of the fandom?? I'd be interested in seeing your facts.
isleofskye
# isleofskye 2013-06-29 01:52
Replying to Castiel's cat
X

Each of us has our own opinion, but usually an opinion is based on fact, so I can't agree with what you have said in your post.
X
If Sam has made mistakes, something which is debatable and too long to go into here, he has certainly more than paid for them. with 180 years of torture with Lucifer.
X
Where your implication of Sam not caring for Dean comes from, I don't undestand, as Sam has professed his love for Dean and his willingness to die for him many times.

Perhaps a re-watch of Mystery Spot and Sam's obsessive searching for Dean, or Sam's desperation in wanting to substitute himself for his brother in Hell,or at the end of season six when he takes in all his memeories because he doesn't want to leave his brother out there alone; or a host of other instances.
X
Dean in Sacrifice said clearly and categorically that he puts Sam before anyone or anything. Period.

These brothers live and die for each other and for no-one else.
That's the basis of the show and their 'dysfunctional" relationship is what makes the show unique. It's what brings in viewers, not the contrary.
judyann
# judyann 2013-06-27 18:51
Nice article. I agree with what u have written. I do I have one thing to say is that I believe that it was right for Sam to do the trials. It gave Sam the redemption he felt he needed to overcome his past. As much as I love the character Dean, his gob is taking care of Sam. He does this extremely well it is what keeps him going. Sometimes it is the hardest job out there. Just my thoughts on the season!
RGNYC Rebecca
# RGNYC Rebecca 2013-06-28 17:23
Great post, MR. I loved Purgatory and Benny and Dean. I loved the MOL story line (and the potential for future stories) and the bunker. Loved how Dean made a home with his room and Sam made it his home with the careful cataloging of documents. I loved the last half of the season episodes with Charlie and the trials (Sam being purified) and the splendid episode that was Sacrifice.

I did not like the occasional glaring writing errors. I did not like Sam not looking for Dean--but I accepted it and moved on. I was not thrilled with the Amelia flashbacks but also accepted that we could see a little glimpse of what Sam was going through even if we had to make up the difference with our imagination. I hated when Dean brought up Sam's past issues that to me were forgiven in season 6 when Sam went to hell for craps sake. I hated that certain characters were killed off.

But even as I want to keep listing what I hated (why didn't Sam keep a freaking phone for Kevin's calls!) I keep thinking of things that I loved (Dean and Sam in war paint, the hugs, the beautiful speeches in Trial and Error) and there is just so much more to love than to hate about season 9.
Even the really bad episodes are still worth watching over again. I can't say that about most tv shows. Long live Supernatural! Cheers!
KELLY
# KELLY 2013-06-29 23:58
Oops this was a reply to you, Leah and st50, I click wrong I guess.
I'VE BEEN MISSING DEBATES!!! The horror! :)

I actually have been working a lot of hours, but on the upside I'm getting very little pay. Sooo that's feels totally worth it. But on the non-sarcastic bright side, starting Monday I get 2 full days off each week. So maybe I won't be so whiny. I'm definitely still on your side of the soda wars, Leah. Dr. Pepper is the only reason I get function some days. E's crazy. It's a gift from God.
st50
# st50 2013-06-30 08:37
E's been kind of MIA as well. (Quite a few folks are, actually) Hope all is ok.
Maybe it's a soda-wars undeclared truce during hellatus?
(So sorry, Metamorphic Rocks, for going so far off topic).
Leah unlogged
# Leah unlogged 2013-06-30 11:00
Ha, I knew that one would get ya, Kelly. You can never pass up a good debate! :D E will pop in with a greenface no doubt at some point.