Supernatural Season 9 Finale Review: How to Train Your Demon
OH. OH SNAP. Supernatural went there! The show did it! I spent a good chunk of "Do You Believe in Miracles?" being angry about this and angry about that and WTF is with all the underwhelming character deaths this season... and then Dean died and became a demon and it was AWESOME.
I screamed. I screamed and we were in the middle of some really nasty weather and my shinier half came running because he thought, like, a tree had gone through a window or something, and I was like, "DEAN WINCHESTER IS A (PROFANITY) (PROFANITY) DEMONYESSSSSSS."
To which I screamed, "GET AWAY FROM ME, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND."
Anyway, you fine people do understand. Look at this face.
That is the face of a geriatric show that realizes its time is limited and doesn't give a crap anymore. Sometimes that sort of attitude backfires and we get "Bloodlines," but sometimes it gives the cast and crew the freedom to irreparably alter their landscape of the characters. For most—if not all—of Supernatural's run, the roles of Sam and Dean have been clearly defined, and the writers have strayed very little from the Dean-is-good, Sam-is-bad dynamic.
That sort of thing can get tiresome after awhile. The jabs about Supernatural repeating the same story over and over again have been coming since at least Season 5, and the tone of the ribbing has definitely changed. The comments about the meaninglessness of major character deaths, the static character development, the parade of lesser apocalypses went from being tongue-in-cheek references to Supenatural's "pattern" to showing increasing frustration with the show's inability and/or unwillingness to get out of its narrative rut.
Season 9 wasn't without its flaws—Abbadon's death was rushed and underwhelming, Gadreel's apparent death aborted any possibility for a proper resolution to his story, "Bloodlines" was f*ing terrible, and Sam n' Dean spent pretty much the entire season loathing one another which, even for them, is a record.
However, it can't be said that Season 9 didn't strive to do something completely different. The Winchester-conflict-of-the-season felt organic and justified in a way that it never really has. Castiel spent some quality time as a mud-monkey, and was very obviously altered by the experience. Sam got to be an angel for a hot second and it only took six seasons for the prophetic words of Dean's dream-self in "Dream a Little Dream of Me" to come true, but finally—finally—Dean is a demon and Jensen Ackles will get to put on his best evildoer face. For someone who was disappointed that Abaddon's threat of possession never came to fruition, this is a surprising treat.
Demon Dean also sets up Supernatural for a potential resolution to one of the most haunting failures of its other occasionally demonic brother: Sam not saving Dean from hell at the end of Season 3. It'll be interesting to see how much of Dean's true self remains in his new demon-bod. Despite all the bloodlust, in the end, Dean realized that the Mark of Cain was altering him in a way he didn't like. In Dean's mind, his greatest fault was getting off the rack in hell and torturing other souls, not just because it was one of the seals to release Satan, but because it was also the first step toward becoming a demon the old-fashioned way: through endless torture and soul-altering cruelty. In Dean's mind, the absolute worst thing he can become is the sort of thing he'd want to hunt. He was even willing to let Sam die back during the demon-blood days, rather than see his brother transformed into some sort of monster. If this new Dean is even slightly self-aware of who he is and what he used to believe, then Crowley isn't going to have the great and terrible weapon of mass destruction he thought he was getting. However, if Demon Dean is completely unaware of the man he once was, then Sam's gonna have his work cut out for him.
It's a good thing he learned how to cure demons last season, amirite?
Word is still out on whether Season 10 is going to be Supernatural's last season. Personally, I'm leaning toward it being the final one. The path laid out in Season 9 and "Do You Believe in Miracles?" leads to an interesting narrative that feels like something the show needed to save for last. Sure, Metatron was merely imprisoned at the end of his reign, which means a jailbreak is always on the table for him, and Crowley is still out and about and pulling Dean's demonic strings, but for the most part, the Big Bad of Season 10, if we're to judge from the Season 9 finale, is no outsider: It's the Winchesters themselves.
Heading into season 10, Dean and Sam's roles have been completely reversed. Dean is a baddie and Sam has to save him. We don't really know how the trials work, or if Sam can just pick up where he left off, but theoretically, by curing Dean, Sam will finally complete the third trial and close off hell for good. He may also die, so there's that drama, but whatever, you and I both know that he's going to cure Dean. The writers can't introduce "cure a demon" to the arsenal and then not use it when it really matters: when Dean needs it.
Castiel's Season 10 story is a little less clear, and "find new grace or die" seems pretty run-of-the-mill by comparison to the Winchesters' arc, which has literally been nine seasons in the making. With Metatron in prison, heaven is once again without a leader, and in the wake of Cas's victory over Metatron, it seems that the lemming-esque angel crowd is once again giving Cas that starry-eyed hero-worship stare. I loved Castiel as a commander of an angel army and if Season 10 sees Castiel picking up where he left off—restoring order and civility to the angel ranks, teaching them how not to be awful, and, of course, looking for his grace—then that would be alright. I'm just concerned by how that will work alongside the epicness that the Winchesters are now set up for. So much of the psychological baggage they're unpacking goes way, way back: Dean's time in Hell, Dean being a "weapon," Sam looking for redemption and a place in his own family. I just don't want Castiel's story to feel tacked-on for the sake of giving Castiel screen time.
Overall, "Do You Believe in Miracles?" certainly tripped in places, but it was fast-paced and game-changing in the way that Supernatural's best finales are. Nine seasons in, and we're still exploring new territory.
– Dumb Winchester Sighting: Okay, Sam. Lock bloodlust-crazed Dean in a room full of stuff he can use to escape. Brilliant idea. Oh, and then stick the magical semi-sentient monster blade in the first box you see, in the middle of the first place Dean will probably look, and lock it up with something Dean could've probably picked when he seven. With his eyes closed. YOU ARE IN A FREAKING MAGICAL BUNKER. TRY HARDER.
– "Like winning a People's Choice Award—not quite the same thing, is it?" Wooooow. Rude? Was that rude?
– "I'm proud of us." STOP IT.
– What's on your Season 10 wishlist? SAM CURING DEAN. SAM DURING DEAN. Ahem. Go on...
– Oh, and more spellwork. The fact that Sam and Dean (but mostly Sam) keep overlooking the valuable potential of learning a few simple spells is frustrating.
– Thanks for reading this season! See you in September/October! <3
What'd you think of the finale and the season overall? What's on your Season 10 wishlist?
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