Well, it's been a long 2011 for the Winchesters. They started the year with a traumatic soul-replacing operation for Sammy and it ended with the death(!?) of my favorite character of the series. So, in keeping within the scope of season 7 (of course with plenty of retrospective jabs at season 6 likely) what was my opinion of this season?
Posted by Wilson Crawford at Sunday, January 01, 2012 39 Comments
I'm really enjoying this season so far. Why? Because of a few good and a few bad things.
First off, after season 6 (which started off unbelievably terribly, got better, then worse, then better, and then kind've strange at the end) I was having plenty of doubts about the arc of season 7. Then came the Leviathans. I grew to be absolutely enamored with the idea of leviathans taking over, and bringing something new to the table in the Supernatural world. So far, they're definitely different from other big bads, and while they still have frightening tendencies to underestimate the Winchesters like previous big bads, they have a comedic side to them that I find well-done if a bit immature. (And let's face it, Supernatural loves the immature-but-hysterical comedy a la "The Rise of Dick") But they're also kind've terrifying as well. They're icky and hungry, (The first time I saw that leviaface, I thought I was gonna die) and while not omniscient or dimension-altering "douchebags" like Zachariah or Raphael, they've obviously got nefarious deeds going on in the background of this season. This is most evident in glimpses in between Winchester scenes here and there throughout the 7th season, and sometimes it has taken front stage in 2-3 episodes like "Slash Fiction" and my personal favorite "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters" where we get a combination of weird, funny, and twisted occurrences like watching how they punish their failures ("NOT THE BIB!!?") and a peek into what they're planning for humanity (poor grandma!). Overall, they're a bit different and here and there they are lacking in common sense (which is how big bads are always disposed of by the Winchesters inevitably) but overall I am liking the leviathans this season. It's more clear-cut than the hit-and-miss red herrings (and missed opportunities!) of season 6.
Let me get to the elephant in the room! The highs and the lows of this season have been very polarizing, and it's a sign of the biggest threat to the show's credibility and lasting quality: The schizophrenic episode-to-episode differences...from the back and forth brotherly issues to the unbelievable drops in quality of the story... There's been a few episodes to me this season that are absolute duds...episodes I'll never watch again even though they have a few really great parts inside of them, and they're really bothersome to me because they seem to be sandwiched between generally well-written and entertaining episodes... I can't understand why the kitschy and off-putting Egyptian god episode had to happen... And how just a few weeks later we'd have the rather excellent "The Mentalists" which pulled off the Supernatural standalone classic formula quite well. It must all point back to the difference in direction or writing...In the last 2 seasons we've accumulated a few new writers that are (in my humble opinion) butchering the flow of the show. I know, in every single season there's some bad episodes, roughly written, and they felt off or just wrong for the show, but since season 5 that direction has become the norm... I'm expecting 1 horribly-written episode for every 2 I enjoy...and that's not something I want to be expecting from my personal favorite television show. It's weird for me, as a viewer to see the dialogue go downhill to the point that the brothers sound like morons that can't finish a complete sentence without a half-assed pop-culture reference or a forced grunt, or something equally facepalm-worthy. I'm not gonna go out and say that Supernatural has always had sterling dialogue (or that even in its prime it was top-of the line dialogue)--quite the opposite. I remember season 1 being fraught with scenes where Dean's arrogance was more annoying than funny, and Sam's mopey dialogue was just as meh... but they hit a middle ground that made the characters who they are without always being so overdone, and every once in a while we'd get great one-liners, and episodes full of wit. Now, not so much... Let me go back to the Egyptian god episode... Rewatch the bar scene, the whole "trial" scene and tell me that that isn't some of the most awkwardly-written bullshit you've ever seen? The only redeeming factor is that Sammy watches The Good Wife.
Alright, let's move on! The guest stars this season have been great for me. I really enjoyed "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" for the return of Buffy vets (but even more for the awesomely disturbing death scenes!) and we got Hallucifer and Crowley back on the show as well. Dick Roman is proving himself to be a possibly awesome big bad, (all the best ones have style and political power, after all) and I enjoyed Jewel Staite's turn as Amy as well. I wouldn't say that the roles written for the guest stars are particularly incredible, but they were good, and they did their part to make season 7 enjoyable for me.
Now, let me preface this next part with a disclaimer: I'm back and forth on my opinion of Sam and Dean this season... This is the one part I don't feel like going into detail on (but it is probably the most important aspect I should discuss) so I will list a few points.
-I honestly still don't know what to make of Dean killing Amy. I think that this could've been written better to reflect his character's needs rather than making it look like the whole scene was to give Dean a secret and to shock fans by having Dean slaughter Amy in front of her son, as well as the aftermath of Dean vs. Sam for the next few episodes.
-Sam really seems to be mellow with this whole Lucifer on the brain thing...and I think that it's all a facade for a later breakdown, but if not...then they've unsuccessfully dropped this storyline...and that's not good to me.
-"Back to basics" is the theme of the season. Get rid of the impala, get rid of the fake IDs, destroy Bobby's house and his wealth of information, take Bobby out either completely or at least his capacity to be their researcher (and friend)...Melt Cas and take him out of the picture...I don't know yet if this is going to end up being a good thing for the narrative, or if it will end up failing and we'll see the writers try to fix it all and make things go back to the way they've been... Either way, this plot line is really risky and I can't see it completely paying off.
Overall, I think that there've been really great moments in this season and truly terrible ones, where the pokes at the fanbase (Becky Overdose!) have been more offensive than entertaining, but the story arc still has plenty of promise for the second half to be good television. I think that I am able to enjoy this season more because I've finally adjusted my expectations to be more conservative, and I just ignore or let go of the things that really irk me, and look forward to where the story could be going. Supernatural is not dead yet. They've got some truly wonderful episodes and ideas and characters going for them, but they need to iron out the kinks BADLY before they do anymore damage to the Supernatural name. We need to get a hold of these writers that are allowed to throw drivel at our characters and put them in the perspective of Ben Edlund, or we need some more direction from Guy Bee...Something to make it flow better, because there are 2-3 episodes in a row that work, and then there's 1-2 that just ruin the momentum of the season and threaten the overall quality of season 7. I think that the best episodes of this season have ended up as some of the overall best episodes I've watched in 2011, up there with all of the top 10 shows I listed last week or so, but they're dragged down collectively with the unapologetically blah episodes here and there.
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