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So, Alice and Nate got talking and...
The question is, why do the worst episodes? In poring through the entire catalog of "Supernatural," we found it way easier to come up with a worst list than a best one. That and Alice also went through old articles and found her most viewed article ever was her Ten Worst Supernatural Episodes list from back in 2012! There have been MANY bad episodes since then so it was time for an update. Nate was all too eager to join in on the fun.
Today is part one, or episodes 6-10 on each author's list. In a few days, we'll cover episodes 1-5.
This is harder than I expected. Oh not because I think the show is always wonderful - after well over 200 episodes, some are just not going to be as good as others. At other times, I find myself disliking a storyline or character arc, which was over several episodes - should I count all of them? So let me explain my method for selecting these ten.
I had to remember the episode. More than a few episodes I would rank as bad, but ultimately so forgettable they’re not even worth bringing up again (this is my opinion on episode 8.15 “man’s best friends…” - it’s not good, and barely memorable).
Related to the above, I personally count faults against the canon and worldbuilding more than most. A bad monster of the week episode - well you can skip it in a rewatch and not miss anything, we can all pretend it never happened. This also helps cover up bad moments of character. But a bad arc episode? Momentous events which are supposed to impact our characters? Well those ruin episodes that come after it and I find extra guilty.They invoked feelings of distaste and are poorly executed. It wasn’t enough to just make me hate it. For example, I personally hated the death of Bobby - but I can’t argue that it wasn’t very well executed and handled well in story. The show wanted me to hate that death and it succeeded. So to make this list, an episode also had to fail at what it wanted to do.
So without further ado, in an order that will probably be different tomorrow..
10 - "Red Sky at Morning" (3.06)
This will be my one exception to the above listed rules - and part of that is just because I can’t tell you off the top of my head what happened in it. The only saving grace in this episode is Lauren Cohen in a fetching dress (and Dean in a tux if that’s your preference) as well as the first mention of Castiel. Yes it’s true! If you listen to the ritual the boys say at the end, Castiel’s name is invoked during it. Otherwise this episode is just a mess, narratively and the characters don’t seem to know what they want. The shame of it is that I really liked the idea of Bella and think she could have been a great catwoman to Dean’s batman. But this episode is the best example of how much trouble they had with her execution
9 - "Rock and a Hard Place" (9.08)
Just an episode made up of sheer cringe and while it doesn’t impact the season arc much, I am docking it for what it did to character arcs. Dean had a whole thing about not wanting to torture again in S4. In S9 most of his troubles arose from breaking his conscience and sticking Gadreel in Sam. More than most anyone, Dean should know about having a personal moral code and not breaking it. Yet in this episode he just casually tosses that all aside to get with a favorite porn actress. Early show Dean - I could see this fitting in with his character, but by now? After all the character is supposed to have gone through? No. To make it worse, this could have been a chance to show a side of Dean that we don’t see often, one that is understanding towards others, even a little sweet, and not just a horndog. Just imagine the episode had we gotten to see Dean intimate with someone emotionally instead of physically. Instead of a chance to grow and develop the character, this episode has the show just flanderize him.
8 - "LOTUS" (12.08)
The president being satan is certainly an evergreen option for any show, as the fans of the party opposite of whatever president happens to be in the white house will already think that of him/her. So when you have a set up threatening to drag down the show into petty politics which are beneath it, you better make damn sure that the payoff is worth it. (pun intended) So what was the point? What was the payoff? Was it all to make a kid? Lucifer’s previous vessel was a literal rock star with numerous women fawning over him - he could have spawned an entire baseball team of nephilim without any suspicion. Was it to give the boys a challenge? They reach the president and save him in the very same episode. To toss them in jail? Again, they’re out of supermax prison by the next episode. No real stakes, no real consequences. Then in the following season, the show says that wasn’t even the president! So we mucked around with SPN’s world-building for… what, a one off joke? This is just pathetic.
7 - "Bring 'em Back Alive" (13.18)
I honestly debated between this one and LOTUS, as they’re almost a tie. So what’s up with this one? First of all, we have Dean & Ketch on a magical journey that accomplishes… nothing. Zero. Zip. The entire effort could have happened off screen and then be referenced in a throwaway line for all the difference it made. Second of all, we have a retcon of Gabriel’s death in S5. A moment in the show that was amazing and had great impact on the audience as it culminated a powerful character arc, was now cheapened. And it made no sense within the canon of the show! To top it all off, there was a simpler solution in the middle of it: Have Dean & Ketch rescue the other world’s Gabriel. Then this episode would have actual weight! Things would pay off and go in interesting directions. Instead this was just an episode absolutely wasting my time, meaning it is just slightly worse than LOTUS.
6 - "The Things We Left Behind" (10.09)
I’ll admit, my tastes may run a little counter to some of the SPN fandom - and that’s ok. Part of this is that I actually like the concepts of Bela and Claire. Emphasis on the IDEA of them, even if I have to admit that their executions were so often lackluster. So in a lot of ways I probably hate this episode more than even Claire haters as it had the job of bringing in a great source of potential drama and character examination into the show, and failed. This gets even worse because by now the show seemed stuck in a rut and could have used Claire to take it in the new directions that Jack would do several seasons later. Not to mention this is one of the few episodes that made an effort to give John Winchester some redeeming qualities after Jeffrey Dean Morgan left the show. On paper I have ever reason to love this episode, but it’s all just so… bleak and poorly executed it damn near makes me weep for what could have been. If I ever do another SPN fanfic, it may have to be on a “fix” of this episode.
(Coming up on page 2 - Alice's choices!)