?Supernatural‘s fifth season was awesome. As fans of the show already know, the fifth season of Supernatural
ended with Sam and Dean narrowly averting the Apocalypse, starring Sam
as Lucifer’s walk-around-Earth suit. Dean tries to talk his
Devil-possessed brother out of duking it out with the archangel Michael
and killing a lot of people in the process; eventually, Sam is able to take control of his body again
through the power of love, and jumps back into the Hell Cage that had
contained Lucifer for thousands of years, and Dean makes his way to a former
girlfriend’s house, presumably to try to start a normal life. It was a perfect, epic end to the series.
Except the series didn’t end.
Thanks to support from the fan base, as well as the show’s overall popularity, the CW decided to renew the series for another season (and now we’re gearing up
for a seventh!). But the show was only intended to last five seasons — I mean, once you’ve done the Apocalypse, what else is there? Not surprisingly, season six was a little hit-or-miss, and this list breaks down the best and worst Supernatural s6 had to offer. For those of you who have only dabbled in the awesomeness that is Sam
and Dean Winchester battling ghosts and demons in an American landscape
that always tends to look suspiciously Canadian, be aware that SPOILERS abound.
5) Let It Bleed/The Man Who Knew Too Much
We begin with the two-pat season finale. “Let It Bleed” begins with the Winchesters still reeling from the discovery that Castiel (their good angel buddy) has been working with Crowley (the new demon in charge of Hell) right under their noses for an entire season. Dean’s angst is increased by a factor of ten when he finds out that his former girlfriend Lisa and her son Ben were kidnapped by Crowley’s demon thugs as a way of keeping the Winchesters from interfering with the quest to find Purgatory. Why did this episode make the top five? Because after Dean tries to torture Lisa and Ben’s location out of a series of demons in his signature No-One-Is-Allowed-To-Do-Bad-Things-for-Good-Reasons-Except-Me style, he’s so angst-ridden by the harm he inflicts on his loved ones that he asks Castiel to wipe all memory of him from Lisa and Ben’s minds. Now, this is not only douchebaggery of epic proportions, but makes no sense long-term: did Cas also painstakingly photoshop Dean out of all of their pictures? What happens when one of Lisa’s friends asks, “So how’s that guy you were living with for an entire year?” And wiping their memory doesn’t negate their association with Dean – as long as the baddies know of their connection to him, they’re still in danger. This was a cowardly attempt by the show’s creators to write them out of the story without killing one or both of them off. On the plus side, maybe this means that Dean’s relationship with Lisa is finally OVER.
“The Man Who Knew Too Much” follows Sam’s story as he confronts not one, but two versions of himself! In order to keep Dean occupied, Cas brings the wall separating Sam’s memories of Hell from his conscious mind crashing down. We’re treated to some tricky psyche-dividing mathematics that just don’t seem to add up, story-wise. We saw soul-less Sam earlier in the season do some bad things. We saw our regular weepy Sam when Death re-souled him like an old pair of shoes. So, weepy Sam manages to confront and kill soul-less Sam (in his mind). We’ve got that. But wait – there’s one more! And that’s when things start to get confusing. Meanwhile, the opening of Purgatory leaves us with these questions:
? Why would Crowley, after being cut out of the deal by Castiel, try to deal with the archangel Raphael instead? Raph’s endgame is to open the Cage and free Lucifer and Michael. Since Lucifer’s first order of business would be to crunch anyone who helped lock him away again, this helps Crowley how, exactly?
? We can has epic angel vs. angel battle with badass Heavenly nukes (which were important but apparently aren’t anymore), as practically promised and led up to all season? No. No we cannot.
? If Castiel is our newer, shinier God, then what now? It seemed as though one of the obvious difficulties in writing for a character like Cas is that he’s too powerful to write into the story effectively. Now he’s given phenomenal cosmic powers? I guess we’ll see how that turns out.
4) Mommy Dearest
After coming across a very brief and very vague piece of lore about “The Mother”, traveling back in time and having Phoenix ashes shipped by courier to Bobby’s house (more on this later), the Winchesters set out to hunt Eve with help from Winchester family friend/fellow monster hunter Bobby and Cas. Wait, you’re thinking – surely it can’t be this easy, right? Eve is the Mother of All Monsters, and she’s going to be defeated by the ashes of a creature that is probably her own offspring? Could you run that by us again, please? Oh. Never mind – she’s already dead. Tricky Dean, taking the time to plan ahead for once and swallow those ashes, which somehow end up in his bloodstream. That doesn’t happen immediately, however. Oh no, first Cas has to magically transport the four of them to Oregon, where Eve has cleverly hidden herself. Then he has to conveniently lose his magical powers just in time to be useless. Dean discovers a new type of vampire/wraith hybrid monster, which he names “Jefferson Starships” (okay, we’ll admit that was funny). Sam and Dean also get distracted by a pair of orphaned brothers and helpfully transport them out of town, too overcome by the “Awwww! They totally remind us of us!” factor to realize that one of them is a mini-Starship. When they finally confront Eve, she takes the form of the Winchesters’ mother to highlight their MOMMY ISSUES before going out like a punk.
3) Mannequin 3: The Reckoning
Or, as I like to call it, “Supernatural and the Case of the Haunted Kidney.” This episode showed promise as good “monster of the week” fare, but it somehow managed to take a cool title and a decent concept like ghostly murder by mannequin and turn it into something emo and “meh”. After Sam gets over a Hell-flashback in which his pretty face is burning up, he and Dean get on the road to check out the death of a janitor, who was killed by an anatomy mannequin while cleaning the lab. The two brothers adopt their FBI personas and wave their home-made EMF detector around but get nothing. Before they can investigate the death of a second victim (this one in a textile factory, with more mannequins), Dean gets a worrying call from Ben about Lisa, and leaves Sam to look into the mannequin thing while he goes to break up with his already ex-girlfriend for the eightieth time. Sam tracks down the source of the mannequin-hauntings to a woman who was accidentally killed as the result of a practical joke played on her by the victims – and there’s one joker to go. Even though Sam salts and burns the dead woman’s bones, the last practical joker still gets strangled by his sex doll. After enduring a boring “Goodbye, Lisa – for realz this time” montage on his way back to Sam, Dean rejoins his brother just in time to learn that the ghost’s remains are not yet completely destroyed. She’d donated a kidney to her sister before she died (facepalm). After the ghost possesses Dean’s beloved Impala – which raises some disturbing implications for his relationship with it – some shrapnel from the car’s impact kills the ghost’s sister, thus ending the threat (even though all the jokers were dead already).
2) Caged Heat
The gist of this episode is as follows: after bitching and moaning about having to hunt Alpha monsters for Crowley, Sam and Dean join forces with the Lucifer-loyalist demon Meg to break into Crowley’s monster prison in order to get Sam’s soul back. Specifically, this episode clues us in on the fact that Grampa Sam, aside from being somehow alive again at the beginning of the season, wants Crowley to bring his daughter Mary (Sam and Dean’s mom) back to life. Why not go for the family deal, Gramps, and ask for your wife to be brought back, too? Singling your daughter out is creepy. Also, our stuffy angel Castiel, despite being so shy he was sweating bullets in a brothel when Dean was trying to get him laid in the fifth season (insert slashfic joke here) feels free in this episode to watch porn and make out with a demon for no apparent reason. And while Meg set her Hellhounds (invisible for budget reasons) on the Winchesters and killed Ellen and Jo last season, she now takes one for the team and fights more of them off – which gets her captured and tortured. Note to Supernatural writers: if an episode is going to involve some naked torture, can we not throw one of the guys in there? Let’s give a little something to the ladies. It almost seemed as if the goal of this episode was to completely disregard everyone’s character history and do whatever, and the result was an incoherent mess. Even re-watching this episode after seeing the entire season doesn’t make it any better.
1) And Then There Were None
You know that problem you have, when your hit show is moving from one story arc to another, but you find yourself with one or two old characters that you need to gracefully write out of the season altogether in order to focus on the more important new things? Neither do I, but I’d hope that anyone could come up with something a little more creative than “Let’s just kill everyone off! Problem solved!” (dusts hands). This episode focuses on Eve’s first aggressor move, which consists of sticking her tongue in the ear of an innocent truck driver who only wants her to turn to Jesus (ah, the Evil Slut angle. That’s never ever been done before). The brain slug monster that Eve puts in the guy’s ear causes him to murder his entire family, which leads to a family reunion for the Winchesters – Grampa Sam and Cousin Gwen stop by to investigate, and Bobby is surprised to find Rufus there as well. What follows is a game of Musical Hunter, with the brain slug jumping into the heads of Dean, Gramps and eventually Bobby. The bodies pile up fast, with Gwen, Gramps and Rufus (!) biting the dust. The result of this character massacre is a ho-hum message of doom from Eve to the Winchesters: “We’re here, we’re coming for you, you’re all going to die.” Blah, blah, blah – nothing we haven’t heard before.
The best begins on the next page.
5) The French Mistake
Though Supernatural has ventured into meta territory before, even fans were surprised to see how far down the rabbit hole the show’s creators were willing to go. When Raphael sets an angel hitman named Virgil on Castiel and his allies, Balthazar sends the Winchesters to an alternate universe as a diversion so he can locate his stash of Heavenly nukes. Sam and Dean don’t know that they’re merely a distraction however, and find themselves on the set of a TV show called “Supernatural”, and everyone there thinks that they’re two actors called Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Granted, it sounds way too “cute”, but the funny is really brought home when the Winchesters mistake Misha Collins for Castiel, and find that he is a Tweeting machine (bonus points to real-life Collins, who Tweeted his character’s Tweets when the episode first aired). There are quite a few fond references for the show’s devoted slash fans, and an absolutely hysterical scene in which we see Dean trying to act like “Jensen Ackles” acting like “Dean” – it’s like a Mobius strip of meta goodness (his “angry face” is priceless). And while the episode does tend toward the self-indulgent, the “Eric Kripke” death scene is pretty fun to watch.
4) Live Free or Twi-Hard
Even the title alone is almost enough to put this episode in the top five! Sam and Dean begin to investigate the disappearances of young teenage girls, who all happen to be fans of a certain series of novels starring sparkly emo vampires. It turns out that the real, nasty kind of vampires are capitalizing on the romantic but unsafe notions potential victims had as a result of Twilight‘s inexplicable popularity. This is the first time that our suspicions about Sam being not-quite-right after his return from Hell are absolutely confirmed, as he watches one of the vampires subdue and turn Dean. And this is also one of the few times that Dean has had to fight against even darker instincts within himself, as his desire for blood leads him to enter Lisa’s house and endanger her and Ben. Though it seems just a little too convenient for there to be a sudden “cure” for vampirism, Dean actually leads Sam and Gramps to the nest of the Alpha vampire and slays them all before being able to take it himself. When he’s free from his bloodlust daze, the memory of Sam sitting back and allowing him to be turned comes rushing back – this is not the same Sam that sacrificed himself to stop the Apocalypse.
This season’s time-traveling episode was a Wild West riot, as Bobby comes across an obscure piece of lore that could hold the key to defeating Eve (which immediately led to one of the worst episodes, but we’ll let that go for now). When Dean finds mention of a Phoenix in the diary of Samuel Colt (yes, that Colt), he suggests that he and Sam “Star Trek IV this bitch!” The plan is to have Castiel send the two of them back in time so that they can collect the ashes of the Phoenix mentioned in the diary. We get additional confirmation that Dean is much more of a nerd than he thinks he is when Sam accuses him of having an Old West fetish, as well as having the lines of every Clint Eastwood movie memorized. Things get even better when we see Dean’s romanticized illusions shatter (his wardrobe is all wrong, the whiskey’s as smooth as gasoline, and all of the saloon girls have syphilis). Meanwhile, we find out that even the angels working with Castiel have started to notice that something is up with him, and his lieutenant Rachel attacks and severely wounds him. He takes refuge at Bobby’s, where we discover that human souls are indeed a source of power. Cas juices himself up enough to bring the Winchesters home, but they missed out on the Phoenix ashes. Fortunately, Samuel Colt planned ahead (way ahead) and had them shipped by courier.
2) Weekend at Bobby’s
For everyone who’s ever wondered how Bobby manages to be there just when the Winchesters need him, this episode holds all the answers. And it’s not only the many, many problems of Sam and Dean that Bobby has to deal with – he’s got shit to take care of himself. Although Crowley said that he would return Bobby’s soul after the Apocalypse was safely averted, it turns out that he was lying (gasp!). So while Bobby doggedly pursues a way to force Crowley to hold up his end of the bargain, he also helps Rufus bury an okami in the yard (Note: stab those seven times!), fends off a nosy Fed, accepts fruit cobbler from and shyly flirts with the woman next door, breaks into the library to dig up some lore for Sam and Dean, and torches a demon’s bones to see what happens. And his day’s not over yet – no, first he has to listen to Dean accuse him of being selfish (which earns both Winchesters a well-deserved lecture) and then rescue the nice lady next door from the not-quite-dead okami. But Bobby also discovers that when he does remember to ask for help, his friends are there for him, as Rufus tracks down some info on Crowley, and Sam and Dean go international to threaten Crowley’s bones in Scotland. Bobby’s soul is restored, and he even gets to keep the use of his legs.
1) The Man Who Would Be King
We finally get the inside scoop on what’s really been going on with Castiel, and by extension, the Civil War in Heaven. Castiel gives the viewers a sense of his nearly-eternal perspective and how much the Winchesters shook things up when they stopped the Apocalypse. We learn that it was Cas who went into Hell alone and raised Sam (but didn’t manage to get all the pieces). Post-Apocalypse Heaven is a confused mess, with the angels not knowing what to do next. When Cas tries to explain the concept of freedom to them, it doesn’t even register – which Raphael exploits in order to take control. He gives Cas an ultimatum: submit and recant, or die. Either way, Raph intends to free Michael and Lucifer from the Cage so that the Final Battle can be fought. When Cas refuses to kneel, Raph smites him into next week, and gives him a day to make up his mind. Cas considers asking Dean for help, but can’t bring himself to ask more than he’s already given. And then Crowley shows up and proposes an Arrangement – the two of them can fight Raphael off together if they can open Purgatory and use the power of the monster souls. Cas agrees, and divides Heaven against itself to buy them some time. When Bobby and the Winchesters find out that Cas has hidden his dealings with Crowley from them, they trap him in some holy fire and yell at him for a while, without letting him finish any of the many explanations he tried to give. At the close of the episode he begs God to send him a sign to let him know, either way, if what he’s doing is right. God doesn’t answer.