Um, well . . . so that happened.
When I was watching the “climactic” events transpire in “Let the Good Times Roll,” I could only think of one thing:
“Destiny can't be changed, Dean. All roads lead to the same destination.”
Yep, those are the infamous words uttered by Castiel to Dean in season four’s, “In the Beginning.” The Winchesters have spent their entire existence battling this one phrase, believing that they can escape destiny and let free will reign. They’ve defied odds, saved the world multiple times over, and gone through agonizing tragedy and extreme personal loss, but they did it all for free will. Well, as soon as Dean made his deal with Michael, it turns out Castiel was f***ing right all along. I was left with the feeling that it all really didn’t matter in the end.
I know, that’s probably too cynical a statement. After all, life is about the journeys, not the final destinations, right? What are the Winchesters without their horrific experiences, extreme physical pain, multiple deaths, and all their loved ones dying bloody? They have each other, right? They’re stronger, right? While I’d like to believe that, I’m angry that I never got to see Sam, Dean, and Castiel in those matching Hawaiian shirts, drinking beer on that beach with sand in-between their toes. I never got to see Sam experience the joy of Lucifer’s death for more than a few seconds. Bottom line, free will really sucks.
All Roads Led to This??
I watched “Exodus” and “Let the Good Times Roll” back-to-back a day after the finale. I wasn’t remotely excited to watch it live, and I put it off to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on those Thursdays instead. Lucifer was right about that show, we need continuous non-stop episodes every week. Anyway, I consumed both these hours of Supernatural with low expectations and skepticism. Was I pleasantly surprised? Not one bit. As with most other episodes this season, they both were clunky paint-by-number affairs that lacked any flare, proper pacing, or real emotional impact. Even the production value was lacking, making me wonder if they ran short on budget this season. Either that or the people behind the scenes stopped giving a crap.
“Let the Good Times Roll” was especially disappointing since it felt like an average episode instead of a finale, and a mediocre one at that. How in the world did we go from Bobby’s inspiring, “We will take back our world” speech to his loyal followers at the end of “Exodus,” to him and Mary walking in the park talking about how everyone has learned to love the comforts of this new world and don’t want to go back? Wait, what? Granted, the glacial pacing and the “As the AU World Turns” drama of “Exodus” felt like they were desperately trying to kill time rather than tell a fluid story, but didn’t Dabb actually read the script before shooting his? Or is this one of those “soft landings” again that he loves so much? You know, the ones that usually piss off fans wanting something exciting (still bitter about “Alpha and Omega”).
I can’t be too hard on Dabb though. I wanted to throw “Exodus” out the window too. What a freaking mess. I won’t harp on it too much (ha, catch the angelic reference there?), but again I don’t get the point of why Gabriel was even brought back. So he could explode Colonel Sanders and then die again? So he could give a speech to Lucifer and then get himself killed . . . again? By another brother this time? Why do Gabriel’s brothers want him dead? I get that this is a dysfunctional family, but it just doesn’t make any sense. He’s actually fun at parties. Although, Gabe did disappear into the woods for a while, so this could be another trick and he’s not really dead. Heck, he could be liberating the AU world as we speak. It wouldn’t be any crazier than his first “death.”
There were a few bits I liked in both episodes though. Dean and Sam’s private hug in “Exodus” did stir something inside, as did Jack and Sam’s scenes in the finale, even if they happened during a totally contrived situation to shoehorn Dean into an inevitable situation. It’s just hard to enjoy such bits when they’re sandwiched between such illogical madness.
This leads to the biggest problem I’ve had with Andrew Dabb’s scripts over the last few seasons. They are slow in the beginning, rushed in the end, and don’t take enough time to build into an emotionally powerful story. It’s just a set of events that happen. Case in point, remember last season’s “First Blood”? Instead of taking to time show Sam and Dean’s descent into madness while being incarcerated, justifying their desperate decision with Billie (and laughable escape from a maximum-security facility), it just happened through a quick montage that we were to believe happened over a space of time. That’s not emotional storytelling! Something got missed in the translation.
Then there’s last season’s “Red Meat.” It’s a script that Dabb finished for Robert Berens and man did it show. It was a riveting, dramatic, action-packed story three quarters of the way through. Then it all fell apart in the end—the part that Dabb had finished. He threw out a sorely needed emotional brotherly scene after that ordeal, not to mention Sam’s miraculous healing in a mere few hours from a debilitating gunshot wound. It gets really hard after a while to hand wave the sloppiness in the plotting and the missed emotional opportunities. The framework is there, but the entertainment value gets lost in the delivery.
“Let the Good Times Roll” had these issues. There was a mechanical logic to what happened. Previous lore detailed that only Michael was destined kill Lucifer. We’ve been told since season five that it could only be done with the “Michael Sword,” aka Dean—Michael’s one true vessel. Just take this dialogue from season five’s “The Song Remain the Same”:
Sam: They all say we'll say “yes.”
Dean: I know. It's getting annoying.
Sam: What if they're right?
Dean: They’re not.
Sam: I mean, why, why would we, either of us? But . . . I've been weak before.
Sam: Michael got Dad to say “yes.”
Dean: That was different. Anna was about to kill Mom.
Sam: And if you could save Mom . . . what would you say?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if Mary or Sam were in danger, Dean would go there. In this case, it was Sam and Jack in peril and, strangely, Michael just happened to be there at just the right time. That’s the beauty for a writer when falling back on the “all roads” Castiel prophecy. It means you’re going to get there somehow, someway. If it means a Michael from an alternate universe crosses dimensions and shows up at exactly the right time, so be it. We have a winner, despite its plausibility.
I get it though, Dean tends to make reckless decisions when it comes to saving Sam. If he had a chance to do a well-thought-out decision, he might not have made this choice. Or he would have tried to find another way. Without Sam there to give his input, there wasn’t another option presented in the heat of the moment. So, it wasn’t totally out of character. It was also completely predictable too. If you don’t believe me, well, repeat after me: “All roads lead to the same destination.”
There was also no scenario that made sense in the lore that Sam could kill Lucifer short of being possessed by said Devil and driving an archangel blade through his own heart. I’m actually happy he at least got to play an important part by throwing Dean!Michael the archangel blade. It still ended up being a mild victory, but you can’t fault it not following canon.
However, there were some slip-ups, and this is where the inconsistencies interfere with episode enjoyment. Remember how the first apocalypse was averted thanks to Sam because the entire planet was in danger? How the big Michael and Lucifer showdown would nuke half the planet? We FINALLY get the showdown, thirteen seasons in the making, and instead of destroying the earth with brute force, Dean!Michael and Lucifer fly around like they’re in a high school production of “Peter Pan.” Lucifer dies rather quickly and Michael walks around town afterward in a new suit. That’s one f***ng disappointing wait.
What’s bothering me most though is the execution. Michael’s attack at the gas station and then banging viciously on the bunker door served no purpose other than to show that Michael was a hot-headed dick. Why was Michael like that? It didn’t follow any previous canon. Michael picking up Dean by the neck and strangling him in the bunker lacked the grandeur of his entrance at the Campbell house in the aforementioned “The Song Remains the Same.” In that episode, Michael’s confidence in his true destiny gave his character swagger, multiple layers, and intrigue, and he was only in one scene! He was meant to be feared though, as shown with his wrath against Anna, which was swift but calm. This S13 AU Michael was just an ass, a trait that seems to be in every character these days. This wasn’t the angel that was stepping up, ready to face his destiny with both grace and wrath. Now, he is far less relatable to the audience and that’s the poor characterization that’s been derailing these stories.
No one is trying to put any finesse into storytelling, let alone attention to continuity. They’re just going through the motions, jumping from one part to the next without any sort of fluidity, tone, emotional impact, or logic. Remember when Sam decided to say “yes” to Lucifer in season five? They deliberated over that plan for an episode, weaving the agonizing decision into an action-packed story in “Two Minutes to Midnight.” Then there was that opening scene in “Swan Song” where the brothers had the very touching conversation on the Impala with Dean reluctantly giving his blessing. The foreboding and turmoil in everyone’s faces and body language as they went through the plan twisted my gut into knots and left me emotionally devastated for weeks after Sam fell into the cage.
In the S13 finale, Dean quickly says “yes” to a supposedly weakened Michael, who acknowledges that he knows Dean is his one true vessel. Say what? How did Michael know that especially when Dean didn’t exist in the other world? If that was the case, why did Michael want him dead? All of this was crammed into the end part of the episode. We didn’t even get to see Sam struggle with what happened for more than a second. I’m not saying Dean’s decision should have played out like Sam’s in “Swan Song,” but it came across as a cheap shock value stunt rather than a gut-wrenching moment that left an impact.
It wasn’t just the writing that fell short though. I’m not sure what happened with the direction, but something went very wrong there. There was no build-up of dramatic tension, the ending was rushed and choppy, and we got none of those iconic “less is more” moments where the actors are allowed to sell the story just with pained expression. We got a cheesy fight sequence on high wires that has always been so beneath this show. Then we got a freeze frame at the end? Seriously? I wonder if Robert Singer was channeling his “The French Mistake” counterpart.
Kevin: Or we could have them fly at the window, then freeze frame. Then cut to black, act out.
Bob: Freeze frame.
Kevin: Um . . .Yeah. Freeze frame.
Bob: Fine. Whatever. Season six. Moving on.
I see him right now, looking at the dailies with a deadline looming and going, “Whatever. Season thirteen. Moving on.”
The editing as well continues to take the wind out of any hint of an emotional story. Take Sam and Jack facing their “Sophie’s Choice” with Lucifer, and Dean’s decision to let Michael in. Why were they wildly bouncing back and forth between those scenes? Both scenes were not of equal caliber in the matter of importance department. Sam and Jack’s scene was part of this story, but Dean’s dilemma was an epic event that was thirteen seasons in the making! Sam and Jack’s moment was touching, but it should have played out uninterrupted on its own, before moving onto to the Dean, Michael, and Castiel scene. Slowing down the story to let the actors sell these critical moments is what Supernatural has always done best, yet for some unforgivable reason they chose not to go there. They haven’t been lately. I’ve said it in reviews before, it’s short attention span theater, not tension building. The wild cutting back and forth during both dramatic moments was too distracting and took me away from the story when I should have been engrossed in it. I instead started yelling, “Squirrel!”
This is all why I’ve hit my breaking point with Supernatural in season 13.
The Red-Headed Monster
I want to tell you what I’m having the hardest time with after watching this episode. I cannot believe that loyal fans out there, even a few long-time ones, were calling this one of the BEST . . . FINALES . . . EVER. What??? You can’t be serious. It is not even in the top tier. How can any episode that basically phoned it in for the first half hour, completely forgot the ending of the week before and then gave us one of the silliest, campiest fight scenes ever in this series, then gave us a quick “shock” ending be “the best.” This was up there with “Bugs” in terms of low budget cheesiness.
“Carry On, Wayward Son” is supposed to be the teaser that gets us excited about what is to come, not the best f***ing part of the whole episode. I do give “Let the Good Times Roll” credit for delivering one of the best “Carry On” sequences ever, but that’s the only part of this episode I will ever watch again. Something is seriously wrong here.
I used to cherish season enders. They were must see events. Nothing is more perfect than “Swan Song,” but I can understand if you’re not a fan. It was a rather traumatizing ending. How about then “No Rest for the Wicked”? I white-knuckled it the entire hour and then saw my heart shattered into a million pieces after that ending. How about “All Hell Breaks Loose Part II”? Dean’s speech over Sam’s dead body still has me crying buckets. If you’re not a fan of the earlier seasons, then how about the masterful “Sacrifice” at the end of season eight? You can’t deny how spectacular those scenes between Sam and Crowley were, and that ending! After watching “Let the Good Times Roll,” I went “meh” and went back to doing my laundry.
Heck, I even thought the reveal at the end of season nine’s, “Do You Believe in Miracles?” when Dean’s eyes opened black was more shocking. But we all know how that went come season ten. Three episodes of Demon Dean. That’s exactly what I fear with Dean!Michael come season 14. Maybe that’s why I don’t share the excitement. I’ve been burned too badly before. I’m also not sure I relate to this fandom anymore, who will enjoy just about anything if the boys are in it. Anything? I . . . just . . . can’t! It has to be good too! Life is too short for bad TV.
Just for grins, since I’ve raised the subject, and we probably could use a distracting exercise during this long summer “hellatus,” here is my list of all Supernatural season finales from best to worst. Feel free to share yours in the comments.
- Swan Song
- No Rest for the Wicked
- All Hell Breaks Loose Part II
- Devil’s Trap
- Lucifer Rising
- The Man Who Knew Too Much
- Do You Believe in Miracles?
- Brother’s Keeper
- All Along the Watchtower
- Survival of the Fittest
- Let the Good Times Roll
- Alpha and Omega
I’ll tell you what I did love. Lucifer is FINALLY dead. Thank freaking Chuck. He overstayed his welcome by four seasons. The more they tried to work Lucifer into this story, the worse it got. The horrible inconsistencies in the canon and his behavior, turning this once menacing and chilling foe into a cartoonish scene chewer, grew more irritating with each appearance. I couldn’t stand his histrionics in this episode. Or the last. Or the one before . . . Please, please, for the love of all humanity, do not bring him back, ever.
So, um, we get a do-over with Bobby and Charlie, huh? Are they going to kill them again, like they just did with Gabriel? I see what will probably happen here. Everyone will learn Michael is in this earth, and they’ll all mobilize for their chance to take him out rather than fight the war in their earth. Glad they all got to enjoy some happiness before that happened. They certainly got more than Sam did.
Can we get enough of Samsel in Distress? To think that this was the season where it happened the least. Had to get that in the end, didn’t you, Mr. Dabb?
Does Castiel have a purpose anymore? Once again, he wasn’t given much to do. Seriously, he only has one potential story left at this rate. He gets to stick around to say, “Remember when I told you about that ‘all roads’ thing. HA!! I was right. Suck it.” I implore, please bring someone in that takes a real interest in angel lore and give Castiel a spinoff. Hear that, Ben Edlund? We need you!!
Overall grade, oh, I keep waffling between a C- and D+. I’m rather disappointed; this was a big failure in more than the writing department. Perhaps everyone just needs a long break. I’m definitely one of those people.