I started this post way back in mid-season hiatus but couldn't get it to gel before the hiatus finished. Well with a new hiatus upon us and trying desparately to figure out something to write about, time to finish this up: a fun epilogue to my retrospective of the Sera Gamble years. The previous parts:

Around when I first started this review, WFB had a poll on which was the worst season of SPN. I've made no secret that my vote is for S9 but I was rather surprised that S7 was the winner. But then as I rewatched S7 over again, I started to notice more and more parallels - connections - between the two seasons. Maybe... we are all right? S7 and S9 are both the worst because they're the same season? You may scoff, but consider the evidence...

1) Both seasons are 23 episodes long. Ok I'm just listing this here for completeness sake as S7 was the first time the network demanded SPN add one more episode to their season run (before then it was always 22) so of course every season after will continue to have 23.

2) A word of God tablet breaks. Wait... that happened in S8 too. Maybe it's just a new show rule that no tablet can survive a season. Though I bet Metatron feels silly for killing Kevin since he was able to heal the Levi tablet with a touch. Apparently if the prophet was still around, Metay boy could probably get his angel tablet fixed right up.

3) "Sam Winchester" goes on a killing spree. And by that I mean something not quite Sam Winchester kills lots of people. In S7 it was leviathan pretending to be him, while in S9 it was while possessed by Gadreel. Hopefully now we all know: if Sam's face shows up at your door, don't let me him.

4) In the S7 episode “the Slice Girls” Dean runs into some Amazons, one of which uses him to make a kid. At the end of the episode he says to Sam: “Hey, you know what? I don't like it, either. I wanted to torch ’em just as much as you. Yeah, but, hey... next time they surface, we'll be ready. If we live that long.” When is the next time they surface? Well Amazons have 2 year cycles… Should a MotW episode in S9 have been the return of the Amazons? Well I'll let it slide even though the episode was written by the ERL-BB team which were still employed in S9. Yet even though I usually berate them for a lot of canon forgettings, this time I’ll let slide since even I forgot about the 2 year detail in the episode. But if it was my choice... it would have been interesting to consider an episode like Sharp Teeth or Purge replaced with the Amazons returning (perhaps one of them tries seducing Garth?) and Dean having to confront his babymama again.

5) Death (as played by Julian Richings) appears in the season premiere. Especially with S10 behind us now, this gets even weirder as since his appearance in S5 Death has not appeared in 3 out of the 5 possible premieres. There are plot reason for him to appear both times, but it is a bit strange. Though after S9 I now have this image of him and the Death of Discworld sitting around, talking about the “ones that keep getting away” in some sort of afterlife bar.

6) Crowley (as played by Mark Sheppard) appears in the season finale. Well this is more of a https://natewinchester.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3787&action=editrunning gag now in that since his appearance in S5, Crowley has been in EVERY season finale from S6 on. Then again if you have Mark Sheppard available, why wouldn’t you utilize him? What’s really funny is Crowley’s almost clockwork allegiance shift. S5- ally, S6- foe, S7- ally, S8- foe, S9- ally. S10 seems pretty obviously set up for foe which means if he survives, he’ll be back to ally in time for S11. (UPDATE: I left in the previous sentence from an old draft of this article since it turns out that in S10, I was largely right...ish. Though it ends with him declaring himself a villain, so it will be interesting to see if he turns ally in S11 or breaks the rhythm and stays foe.)



7) Charlie first appears in S7. Her final appearance is in S9. Well they’ve left a way open for Charlie to return, but at the moment it seems pretty unlikely as her skills and near mary-sue status made her a plot-breaking problem. (UPDATE: And to prove I'm fair, another prediction left in where I was... way off. Though they did kill her for real once she came back.)

8) Garth first appears in S7. His final appearance is in S9. True in that, similar to Charlie, they’ve left a way open for Garth to return, but at the moment it seems pretty unlikely as his werewolf abilities make him a potentially plot-brea... Wait a second! . . . REALLY? Both allies introduced in S7 are gone in S9? That just seems... mean.

9) Kevin first appears in S7. His final appearance is in S9. Oh come on!

10) A longtime ally is eliminated by an unhuman foe in episode 9 (Bobby S7, Kevin S9). Yes I'm somewhat cheating as Bobby was SHOT in episode 7.09 but he got the entirety of 7.10 to die in. Still that both of them are taken out in the 9th episode of the season is… oddly similar. No really, check out every other 9th episode of every other season and you’ll notice that it doesn’t happen. (Martin Creaser dies in 8.09 but since he had ONE other appearance before that it hardly seems to count.)

11) And the ally that dies returns as a ghost (Bobby S7, Kevin S9). And the episodes they did so were… 7.18 and 9.14. So that time they didn't quite align unless you want to count clues that about Bobby’s ghostitude (those began in 7.13). This is just par for the course in SPN though. Sure if you’re on the show long enough you’re likely to die but on the plus side, you’ll probably get an after-death appearance too!



12) Castiel embraces pacifism. No that's not a joke. Remember S7? After Leviathan escaped him, and his brief tussle with the demons (after which he absorbed Sam's insanity), Cas went total pacifist - the boys had to drag him into fighting Dick kicking and screaming. It was apparently a consequence of his mental ordeal and he was extreme into it, wishing to not even harm animals. In S9 it’s more of a character growth as he vows not to kill any more angels (conceivably other things are ok for death still - no word yet on how concerned he is over animals). This is one of the commonalities that I think gives a strong “remake of S7” feel to S9. What’s also interesting is that the break between the two seasons where he went violent again was a consequence of Naomi's brainwashing. Was S9 character growth in Castiel, or a return to form once free of Naomi’s influence?

13) Castiel acquires a loyal female sidekick. This just makes me laugh with how closely these two parallel. Meg connects with and joins Castiel’s side full time in episode 7.17 while Hannah does the same in episode 9.18.

14) Main villain does not appear onscreen until midseason (7.06 & 9.09). This is a SPN staple. Azazel, Lilith, Eve, almost all the big bads in the show remain off screen until the climatic finale. Lucifer is the most notable exception appearing in the premiere then several times in one form or another during S5 with greater frequency than his predecessors. Their first appearances are somewhat close but even funnier is that Dick’s 2nd and more informative, substantial appearance was 7.09.

15) The goal of the main villain remains a mystery. Ok this is actually a common feature of SPN as the only times we’ve had a clear goal stated for the villain were in S4, 5, 6 and 8. S1 & 2 the discovery is an ongoing plot and S3 is debatable. Still in S9 we never really did get to know just what the main villain’s goal was.



16) In the finale episode the protagonists have to storm a base containing the main antagonist but it is surrounded his followers. This might seem like a “of course that’s a finale style” kind of thing but really think about it. Look at where a lot of the final confrontations end up happening: In a small building with a demon (S1, S4, S6, S8 – in a church in S4 & S8). In a graveyard (S2, S5). S3 with the house surrounded by demons is the only other finale closer to these two and S7 & 9 have the added distinction of taking place in commercial structures (even if one is under construction) larger than a suburban house.

17) Dean keeps a secret from Sam for several episodes. When DOESN'T this happen any more? The magnitude of the secret is different (killing a friend vs possessing Sam) but the fact remains that Dean is keeping something from Sam and what makes it different from the secret in S2 is that Sam wasn’t aware of the secret in the first place. It takes him a little while to figure out his brother’s hiding something.

18) When Sam finds out that secret in #16, the boys split up. This gets funny. Now if you consider the split in S9 to be where Gadreel takes Sam’s body and runs, then Sam is the one to depart both times. If you count only when the boys split up completely of their own free will…

19) The boys decide to split up while standing on a wooden construction that stretches over water. No really. The big difference is that in S7 it’s during the day while in S9 it’s during the night. When they split in S5 yes it was over a WOODEN park bench but note that there’s no large body of water. But for some reason wood construction just really drives these guys apart.

20) Then they reunite when intersecting on a case both were independently working on. This commonality becomes more visible when you compare both these to the S5 split. In S5 they are given an episode and half apart (I only count “The End” for half since they do reunite at… the end). Also the reunion is a result of active effort by one of them (Dean). In S7 the boys are apart not even half an episode. In S9 the boys are apart for 1 before reuniting. But both times in S7 and S9 they reconnect in the first act when both are working the same case and just HAPPEN to run into each other.

21) This line from Bobby: "And when it's your time... go." This was in the last episode of S7 and, as you've probably guessed, Bobby is talking about dying. Which becomes bittersweet in its echo as S9 opens AND closes with a brother refusing to go ahead and die when it’s their time. In fact, when you think about it it looks like we only got S9 (and will be getting S10) purely because the boys didn’t listen to Bobby.

So what are your thoughts? Are the seasons too much alike or is it just coincidental? Is season 9 an inferior copy or superior remake to S7? A loving tribute or "I can do better" taunt? Or is there an even greater (or sillier) conspiracy theory I missed? (All a plot by Sam's hair? A set up for the next GISHTWHES?) And after this journey, do you have new appreciation for Gamble's double dose? Or has it made you more appreciative of Carver's collection?
 

 

Comments  

AlyCat22
# AlyCat22 2015-07-08 00:14
What is it they say about how there is really no such thing as new songs because every musical note has been used in every possible combination by now? Or something like that. Maybe they are just running out of combinations so that it rounds back to what looks like an intentional ripoff but is really just a statistical certitude. ;)
Nate Winchester
# Nate Winchester 2015-07-13 10:32
Maybe, but I'm one that thinks there's plenty of more stories to be told in the Supernatural universe (indeed, I'm trying to ("http://spnver se.wordpress.co m/")) than have been told so far. Even with Sam & Dean, they never have done what I wish was a season-long arc: Training new hunter(s).
spnlit
# spnlit 2015-07-08 13:20
I liked Gamble's double dose better than Carver's season 9 and 10. The story line was more cohesive and consistent; the issues were monster/ big picture related as opposed to commonplace mommy, BFF, and teenage whiny dribble, the story centered on the brothers who acted and spoke more consistently as their established characters without contrived disputes and long term angst and the stories of the supporting characters (Cas and Crolwey) were part of the whole; interwoven with Sam and Dean who remained the center.
samandean10
# samandean10 2015-07-08 15:58
I agree. Season 6 was light years better than 9 and 10, and even 7 was better for the reasons you stated. Maybe the best episodes of 9/10 were better than the best of 7 (not sure) but Season 7 was more consistently GOOD. And most importantly, there was much less bro angst. That angst has been a major plot element of all 3 Carver seasons so far.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-07-08 20:35
I think EK was still heavily involved in S6. Specially the last half. I think there is an article somewhere in the WFB archives about that subject.. S6 had it's share of bro angst with Souless Sam and Dean trying to decide what he wanted to be and what the hell was wrong with his brother. Then the second half really fell apart. Bro angst seems to be a staple of the show but it never gets resolved (or it is resolved and then forgotten by the next season).
S7 started out great and then the silly Amy angst story dominated the next several episodes and Sam's struggles were dropped. So yes the bro angst was still there. In S7 they seemed more like business partners to me. Dean was drunk all the time and Sam was silently going through????? This was the season the J's had pretty much decided the show had run it's course. They were done. They have certainly been more excited about the show under Carver's reign.
At least in S8 they liked each other in the second half. S9 was great in the first half I thought. I loved the angel possession story until the second half when nothing much came of it. The last half of S9 really fell apart.
S10 I thought had the brothers very much together after Dean was partially cured. There were too many pointless fillers but when the story came back to the brothers it worked really well for me. Of the three seasons I think S10 worked the best. I remember reading an interview with either Carver or Singer where he said that they were going to start out with 3 or 4 heavy mytharc episodes and hope the fans stick around for the last half. I think Carver and Singer are well aware of the problems with the show. I don't know why it doesn't seem to be fixable. Lack of good writers, lack of the availability of Jared and Jensen...I don't know. But the middle 5 or 6 episodes for the last few seasons seem to be a problem lately for the show. S10's fillers I will have to admit weren't very good to really bad (Halt and Catch Fire).
But still we come back for more....
samandean10
# samandean10 2015-07-08 20:46
Quote:
In S7 they seemed more like business partners to me.
I actually really liked their relationship in season 7. Only 1 episode of Amy angst and then they seemed really like brothers in almost every episode-affecti onate, supportive. It was the least angsty season since season 3. I loved Dean's concern about Sam, Sam's desire not to worry Dean- it worked for me. Unfortunately many of the episodes were not terribly exciting.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-07-08 21:09
I didn't see too much concern from Dean after Hello Cruel World. He seemed more angry at Sam than compassionate to me. There were a few episodes that worked well for me. Robbie Thompsons first 2 episodes were fantastic (plus I loved the introduction of Charlie) and there were some that were fun (Plucky's). But once Bobby died (I hated the hospital scene between the brothers. Sam was clearly struggling and Dean could barely speak to him) Dean started to spiral even more into depression. They spent several episodes doing their own hunts. I got the feeling Jensen wasn't enjoying the direction of his character either. Even in the BAI, Sam was dying and Dean goes on a road trip. Sam gets cured and the concern is for Castiel. For someone who wrote some of the best brother moments in the history of the show Sera kind of let the that ball drop in S7 after the first 2 eps. Probably because she knew she was on her way out by the end of the first half, the season just became a jumbled mess.
spnlit
# spnlit 2015-07-09 11:45
Quote:
Quote:
I got the feeling Jensen wasn't enjoying the direction of his character either.
What gave you that feeling? Was it reported in an interview or did JA make a comment at a Con? The only comments I know of is that JA stated that for season 7 he did complain that the Impala was put on ice and in Season 9 he sent a letter to Singer( I think) asking if there was light at the end of the tunnel in regard to Dean's spiral into darkness because it was getting to him.

Sera kind of let the that ball drop in S7 after the first 2 eps. Probably because she knew she was on her way out by the end of the first half, the season just became a jumbled mess.
How do you think she dropped the ball and what is the jumbled mess?
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-07-09 12:58
I do remember that Jensen made a comment that he wished that Dean wasn't so depressed in S7. He did say he wanted the car back pretty early in the season. I couldn't tell you where the comments were from but will dig around and see if I can find them. As far as the last half of S7 went? Ghost Bobby. Leviathans (unkillable and unstoppable) that ended up being defeated by Borax. Suddenly a tablet shows up with all the answers. Sam turned into wallpaper. Crazy Cas (and what happened to his "wife"). I don't know for me the season lost focus and I just assumed because SG was on her way out.
samandean10
# samandean10 2015-07-09 13:03
Quote:
Sam turned into wallpaper.
I don't know about that. He got married AND got beat up by clowns! What more do you want?:D
spnlit
# spnlit 2015-07-09 13:27
:D
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-07-09 16:02
Hmmm....I guess he was kind of busy.:)
Nate Winchester
# Nate Winchester 2015-07-13 10:50
On my rewatch I was surprised how it seemed to hang together better than I first thought.

Well, the Leviathan-Borax thing is actually brilliant on a deep, meta level but we'll set that aside for now. A lot of S7 definitely did have a feel of being written into a corner. Had I the power to do it all over and keep everything mostly the same...

1) Slow down the confrontation between the levis and the bros. Let Cas die & release them. Let Sam suffer from his hell memories. Then let Dean & Bobby spend some time fixing Sam as they morn for Cas, bringing the family together while the Leviathans spread out and figure out the world.

2) Drop the Amy arc. I love Jewel, I even love the thought of Sam having a "first love" of a monster girl (an idea so nice, they did it twice) but Dean killing her and then having the brief arc of separation. (so... I guess Sam had less craziness without Dean?) I'd say if they wanted to do that, have the monster be of some kind that can help Sam & it plus being a girl that he knew helps in the recovery. Then have the Leviathans take her out to push the conflict forward (maybe she ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time).

3) Move the "impersonating Sam & Dean" bit to after they first confront Dick Roman. (then again, I'd also change the season so that Dick was a human collaborator with the lead Levi) Though it's a bit of a question why say... the Levis didn't impersonate Bobby and try to infiltrate the family.

4) Cas needs to be brought back and "redeemed" in some way. Instead of fixing Sam (since he broke Sam in the first place), it can be to tell the boys about the tablet. Then they can race to find it. (for balance issues, instead of all levis knowing everything that cas knew, maybe make it so that each one got a segment of his memory - the one that knew details about the tablet, was an early one that got put on ice)

Mix in throughout the family gathering together. Sam & Dean again become the fine pair they were in S2. Have Bobby be lost but introduce Kevin soon after and adopted completely. Add Frank & Charlie for some spices then top it all off with a growing debate and examination about people that are working for the leviathans and what it means to fight for a world that maybe doesn't want to be saved.

Cook for 23 episodes and I think you'd have a right good dish.
Nate Winchester
# Nate Winchester 2015-07-13 10:33
That's pretty close to my general opinion.
YellowEyedSam
# YellowEyedSam 2015-07-08 16:41
Come back Sera, all is forgiven!

Actually it'd be a dream come true if Eric came back as showrunner! Sigh :(
Bevie
# Bevie 2015-07-08 17:19
I hate the bro angst. Which is why I prefer season 10 to both 8 and 9. Watching the brothers being nasty to each other is not pleasant
viewing for me. I'm hoping against hope that in season 11 they are working together and caring about each other as they did
in seasons 1-3 inclusive. (My favourite seasons)

If only they could get Raelle Tucker, Cathryn Humphries, John Shiban, Ben Edlund or Eric himself back in the fold. What's Eric
doing now anyways?
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-07-08 21:12
I think I read that EK had some kind of show for SyFy coming up. I would love John Shiban. Ben Edlund would never come back. Tucker and Humphries have gone on to far more successful shows.
I agree I liked S10 the best of the 3. And yes death to the blame game.
novi
# novi 2015-07-09 00:27
To me the biggest difference between S7 and 9 is that the focus of S7 was on the story and S9 was all about characters and their relations. Dean of S7 was constantly busy looking for ways of beating levis, it was all action (with exception of Bobby's death of course). In S9 (like in all Carver's seasons for better for worse) we found themselves in a dark realm of emotion. Down and down walked Dean Winchester of S9 nto his personal hell of guilt, offence and anger, and that gave Jensen Ackles a possibility to do a really great job of performing the gradual, consecuitive change of Dean's condition and behavior. Which was a real pleasure to watch (sweet sadness sorry);) And the finals, guys, the finals! I don't think of blaming Sera Gamble, she was leaving etc., but never ever have we got such a disappointing, suddenly weak resolution of a conflict. Invincible leviathans, really?
Nate Winchester
# Nate Winchester 2015-07-13 10:53
Ironic since usually people would think the girl would give us the emotional, character season while the guy gives the action-plot season! ;)

A mix of both really does work best and is probably why Carver/Gamble worked well when they were both under Kripke than when either is in charge.
samandean10
# samandean10 2015-07-09 08:56
Quote:
Down and down walked Dean Winchester of S9 nto his personal hell of guilt, offence and anger, and that gave Jensen Ackles a possibility to do a really great job of performing the gradual, consecuitive change of Dean's condition and behavior.


That's exactly why I preferred S 7. A half season of Dean's increasing angst would have been fine. But it continued throughout S 10 as well. Other than in a small handful of episodes this year, Dean was never regular Dean. To me, MOC Dean was almost as different from regular Dean as Soulless Sam was from Sam. And for that reason, the brotherly relationship was missing in action for most of this year. Yes, they weren't fighting until the last part of the season, and we got lots of brotherly concern and support from Sam. But we got none of the old Dean's affection and concern for Sam, save for a few episodes. The old Dean would have been absolutely wrecked that he tried to kill Sam with a hammer. MOC Dean left it at "does Sam want a divorce?" It was never mentioned again! From that point on Dean had mostly minimal interest in or concern for Sam, except for a few occasions. I missed the Dean who endlessly worries about and tries to protect Sam- that was practically his defining characteristic. S 10 Dean had only one thing on his mind, the MOC. That's why, right up until "close your eyes Sammy" I really thought Dean was going to kill Sam. He'd spent the whole season almost completely detached from him emotionally, then the last couple of episodes in which he actually seemed to dislike/hate him--killing him would have been the logical culmination of that. Although I'm glad he didn't!

Although I completely agree that the S7 finale was not great. I absolutely loved S 10's finale BECAUSE Dean's love for Sammy was the crux of it. Finally, what I'd been waiting for all season!
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2015-07-09 18:26
I DVR'd and just finished trying to watch S9 on TNT; found myself skipping thru big chunks of the second half of the season; the first half was good, but I found the second half of the season to be downright unpleasant at times. So, as someone who had initially voted for S7 as the worst season ever, my vote would be different now.
samandean10
# samandean10 2015-07-09 20:03
"Unpleasant" is a perfect description of the second half. Of the last 12 episodes, I think I only really liked 3-4, and many of the others were intolerable, mostly because of the nastiness between the brothers. That 2nd half is why 9 is the worst season for me.
Nate Winchester
# Nate Winchester 2015-07-13 10:56
Yes! Victory! :D

The first half kind of works because it's all about "promise." "Oh what could happen next!" The 2nd half (I'd mark it at "episode where Cas gets 'grace' back") is when they had to start paying off all that promise and the audience realized, "Wow ya'll wrote a bunch of checks your talent couldn't cash."
Nate Winchester
# Nate Winchester 2015-07-13 11:03
Updated with 2 pictures to REALLY show the parallel! (I realized my links may not be visible at first glance)