The Road Ends: The Final Season of Supernatural
For the last fifteen years, those of us who are fans of horror and the paranormal have had our own version of what used to be known as “Must-See TV,” in the weekly adventures of two brothers, heirs to generations of monster hunting; their best friend, an Earthbound, disillusioned angel of the Lord; and a host of friends, allies, and enemies. Sam and Dean Winchester, in a tuxedo black 1967 Chevrolet Impala, began their journey all those years ago battling ghosts, vampires, and werewolves; now they find themselves battling God Himself, or, as he prefers, “Chuck,” for the survival of the Multiverse. And along the way they have inspired one of the most devoted fanbases in genre entertainment—and that’s coming from a lifelong Trekker! Of course I’m speaking about Supernatural, which has the distinction of being television’s longest-running genre series. That run has ended now, leaving those devoted fans not only missing their favorite series, but very conflicted about the way it ended— however, we’ll talk more on that in a bit.
The series was the brainchild of screenwriter and Television producer Eric Kripke, who had originally envisioned an anthology series dealing with modern American urban legends. He continued to develop and refine the concept over a decade before settling on something very close to the finished product, one of a pair of tabloid reporters traveling the back roads and byways of America, searching for the truth in the paranormal stories they cover. The “road trip” format was important to Kripke, as he felt that that was, “the best vehicle to tell these stories because it’s pure, stripped down, and uniquely American.”
However, when he pitched the idea to executives at the WB network, Warner Brothers’ broadcast outlet, the idea of tabloid reporters as the heroes fell flat. Kripke hastily changed them to a pair of monster-hunting brothers, and a pilot was ordered.
The first episode aired on September 13th, 2005, and was watched by nearly 5.7 million viewers in the US. Though average viewership tailed off somewhat, to a season-average of 3.81 million viewers, it was obvious that the network had a hit. When the WB and the UPN networks were merged in September of 2006, creating the CW network, Supernatural was one of the series that successfully made the transition to the new entity.
Under Eric Kripke’s guidance as showrunner, the series remained true to his vision of a dark, fantastical road trip through hell, a secret underground where Hunters battled the nightmare creatures of which most of us were blissfully unaware. Along the way Sam and Dean, portrayed to perfection by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles respectively, occasionally accompanied by their father John (veteran actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan), hunt the demon responsible for the deaths of the boys’ mother, Mary, and Sam’s girlfriend Jessica.
Kripke’s original storyline for the series was planned to last three seasons, but was expanded to five. At the end of the fifth season, when he felt the story had reached a natural stopping point, he left the series as showrunner. He was succeeded in the Sixth season in that role by Sara Gamble, who began exploring a deeper mythology involving demons, angels, Death, and God. The sixth season also featured one of the most popular episodes, “The French Mistake.” The title refers to a musical number in the movie Blazing Saddles, in which the entire cast of the Mel Brooks Western-Comedy literally breaks the “fourth wall” into a Busby Berkeley-type musical, and has Sam and Dean transported to an alternate reality—ours. They find themselves on the set of a TV series named Supernatural, in the place of two actors, Jared and Jensen. This began a string of so-called “Meta” episodes that had our heroes, if not breaking that fourth wall, then at least peeking behind it. These are some of the best-written episodes of the series; they are certainly among the best-loved.
When Gamble left after the Seventh season,
Jeremy Carver took over as showrunner, a position he held until the end of
Season Eleven. Under his direction, the mythology that Gamble had outlined
became more fully fleshed, as did Sam and Dean’s place in that mythos.
Unfortunately for many fans, this led the brothers away from the road trip
nature of their origin to a more organized structure, including a permanent base
of operations, known as “the bunker.” They discover family ties to a defunct
group known as the, “Men of Letters,” who had waged a more systematic and
intellectual war against the creatures of the dark some sixty years prior to the
Winchesters. It was they who had built the bunker, and equipped it with
artifacts, lore, and weapons. He was followed, from Season 12 on, by Andrew Dabb
and Robert Singer, who continued the storylines that he had originated.
The addition of the Men of Letters, and similar groups, would drive the show’s storylines for most of the remaining four seasons, as the series grew ever more cosmic in scope, culminating with the Winchesters leading the fight against God Himself, with the fate of the universe in the balance.
When the Covid-19 interrupted final season ended on November 19th, the problem faced by the writers and producers was a nearly insurmountable one—how to bid farewell to two beloved characters in a way that doesn’t disappoint a generation of fans. Many would agree that, in that task, they missed the mark. Which brings me to my guest author for this piece; someone far more emotionally invested in Sam, Dean, and Castiel than I, my sister Cathy. She asked to share her admittedly strong reaction to the series finale with my readers, and I was happy to be able to include her unique perspective in this article.
Hi, I’m Cathy, the Unimonster’s sister. I have
never been a person that is grabbed by someone or something, except for Princess
Diana, who has been my idol since childhood. But in September of 2020, I had
some time off and I had decided to binge the show Supernatural. I am not a
fantasy or horror person but I fell in love with the brothers Winchester. I got
on board with the monsters, demons, and angels, but my heart was in the story of
the brothers. What I think sold it the most was the actors that were chosen, who
were absolute perfection in my opinion. These two were born to play these parts.
As they grew and got older and had to learn how to understand their differences,
it led to some of the best episodes of the show. In the season eight finale Dean
says that “… there is no me without you …” to Sam. To me that sums up there
story right there.
As the series went on and they started to add more and more characters I have to say that I really missed the two of them on the road together. I have watched the first 5 seasons so many times and the last 4 only once. There are two characters that helped make the show so special and they are, of course, Bobby and Cas. Bobby’s love and guidance for the boys was exceptional. He was there no matter the facts, Sam tries to kill him; a week later he is helping him chase dragons. Bobby should have hung around longer. He would have fallen in love with the bunker.
Then there is Cas. Can I just say that there is no reason that Cas cannot tell Dean that he loves him without it turning him gay? Dean has been a mentor for Cas on Earth and Cas loves him like a brother. People need to stop turning it into something else and let these characters be family to each other. That’s why I like it when they call him Cas Winchester. The relationship between the three of them has given us some of the funniest moments of the show. Remember when Cas announced that he had had sex? The brothers were at a loss for words, but Dean was damn proud. They say there are Dean Girls and Sam Girls—well for the record I am a Dean Girl. I am a Jensen Ackles fan for life now.
I must put in here that my favorite part of the show was when Dean had the mark of Cain and he was nothing but a badass. When he turned into the demon—damn, he was hot. Also when Dean was working on Baby he was, of course, dirty and sexy. I think what makes the two guys so sexy and stellar is the fact that they are such wonderful people in real life. From the way they treat their fans, to the way they are with other cast members, to the love you can see that they have for each other.
And that is why I have issues with the whole last season. They took Dean’s life out of him, if that makes sense to the reader. It did not have the feeling of the series. Then they decided to have him die in such a “non-Dean” way. He was supposed to go out guns a blazing; that is what he always wanted. Jensen giving the ‘death speech’ was superb acting in itself. I did not like the story line but they both put in a hell of an acting job in that episode. As for Sam we know nothing of his life after Dean’s death; we know he had a son named Dean and I guess a wife. But was the son a hunter, or just a civilian? We deserve to have some answers. Sam and Dean ending up in heaven together of course is the way it should be.
I cannot believe that I never found this show until now, but I am glad I did find it. It has become part of my life that I truly enjoy. If the week has sucked I can turn on the TV and find the beautiful smile of Dean and the funny times between the brothers. It is nice to have something that you can depend on being there to but a smile on your face. That is why I am a Supernatural girl for life.
Well dear readers, there you have it. While I have several Supernatural devotees in my life, none are more so than my little sister. She never understood my various genre addictions, but now we have something else to bond over, and I think she has gained a glimpse into my world that has heretofore eluded her.
Creature Feature © D. Dyszel 2021
Dick Dyszel - Voice Actor