SPN Season 7 Thoughts: Part II

I’ve already talked about a few of the things I really liked about Season 7. Overall, it was a solid season and a good outing for a show as old as it is.  But just because I liked the season as a whole doesn’t mean that I liked everything. For the most part, I can understand why TPTB made some of the creative decisions they made. But I didn’t like all of them. Let me not get ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the things I wasn’t so fond of this season:

1. My primary complaint with this season is one that has actually bugged me for a long while: killing off all the supporting characters. I’ve seen interviews in which Sera Gamble and Robert Singer talked about isolating the boys and making it them against the world. I get that. But the Winchester universe was already pretty desolate after season 5. There was no need to totally wipe out the supporting cast. TPTB seem to be under the impression that they need to kill off everyone the Winchesters meets so that we (the audience) can understand how dangerous hunting is and how no one is safe. Seven seasons in, I’m pretty sure we all get it. Hunting is dangerous and no one ever makes it out alive. Point taken. I don’t need the writers killing off everyone that gives the Winchester universe color to remind me how dangerous hunting is. TPTB seem to be using death for shock value instead of the death being organic to the story and meaning something. Bobby’s death meant something, but that’s because we’ve had seven seasons to get to know him and observe his relationship with the Boys. Most of the other supporting characters haven’t been that lucky. It seems that TPTB have forgotten just how important great recurring supporting characters are to a good story. The supporting characters reveal more layers of the main characters through their interactions. One of the scenes that jumps to mind as illustrating this point is the first time Dean met Rufus in S3. Rufus was grouchy, always had a wisecrack ready, had deep scars left on him by the life, and was a good hunter. He is exactly how I would imagine Dean will be if he lives long enough. Their conversation revealed what Dean professed his outlook of his future to be vs what is actually was. It revealed how scared and desperate he was becoming. And it gave us a glimpse of how the hunting life affects folks who live long enough. I can’t even begin to start talking about how much Bobby has added to the SPN universe. The same goes for Ellen, Jo, Ash, Gabriel, Chuck, and a whole host of others we’ve lost along the way. Now, I’m aware that we need to lose people from time to time. And I’m not opposed to that. But I just don’t feel like the Boys needed to lose EVERYONE and everything. This season they lost their father figure, the only place they could really cal home (Bobby’s house), their car (the only constant they’ve ever really had in their lives), and all the hunters that have meant anything to them. Heck, they even lost all of their rock aliases. By taking away all of their ties to the world, the writers removed a lot of what gives the characters motivation to continue fighting to save the world. Why would Sam and Dean keep fighting to save a world to which they no longer have any real, tangible attachment? Everything they’ve ever fought for has been taken from them. All of the people they really care about are gone. What’s the point? Several times throughout the season Dean said that he keeps going for Sam and Sam said he keeps going for Dean. That’s not enough. They need relationships outside of each other that matter to them. They need real ties to the world. The Winchester universe needs regular supporting characters to help build and reveal the characters’ layers.

2. The writing wasn’t as strong on all the episodes as I know it can be. One of the main reasons I initially fell in love with this show was the quality of the writing. I’m not saying the writing was godawful like, say, most of the other crap on tv. It’s still some of the best writing on tv, but it wasn’t up to the high standards I’ve set for this show. I suppose maybe I’ve been spoiled by the writing we got in earlier seasons from Raelle Tucker, John Shiban, Jeremy Carver, Sera Gamble, and Ben Edlund. I don’t know. But I do know that SPN is capable of so much better than some of the fare we got this season (Yes, I’m looking at you Season 7, Time for a Wedding!). I’ve always enjoyed Gamble and Edlund as a writers, and I mentioned how much I loved Robbie Thompson (Seriously, tie the man down in the writers’ room. He’s not ever allowed to leave this show. Ever.). But I was really disappointed by veterans Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin. They’ve been with the show long enough to know these characters better than they seem to. Sam and Dean didn’t sound like themselves in Dabb/Loflin episodes and I don’t really understand what accounted for that. It’s as if they decided to just phone it in since we’re in season 7. That was also the case with Adam Glass. Glass’s episodes are generally hit or miss anyway, but I was just highly unimpressed by what he gave us this season. I don’t know whether it’s just that I’ve set the bar so high or whether they just didn’t write as well as I know they can. But in either case, the writing on more than a handful of episodes was shaky at best.

3. The Big Bad Leviathans weren’t, well, big or bad. I mean, yeah, there were a lot of them and it sucks that they wanted to eat us all. But how does that make them any different from any of the other monsters on the show? There are a lot of things that want to eat us. There was nothing that made them any more scary or interesting than any of the other creepy crawlies. As a matter of fact, the Alpha Vamp was scarier than the leviathans. And to be honest, I was quite disappointed by how lackluster the leviathans turned out to be because I had such high hopes for them at the beginning of the season. Maybe the primary reason they turned out to be so meh was the lack of lore surrounding them. Lucifer was scary in part because there is so much written about him and most people had their own ideas of who and what Satan is. So for Supernatural to have our heroes face off with him made for great drama and a great villain. In contrast, no one really knows anything about the leviathans so there was no built in fear or concern about them. That coupled with the overall poor writing concerning them made for very uninteresting and common villains. I will say though that I enjoyed James Patrick Stewart as Dick Roman. The leviathans overall weren’t very entertaining, but Stewart seemed to have a fantastic time with his role which made him quite entertaining to watch.

I have a few other nitpicks like the directing on some of the eps, but those are just personal taste kind of things and not what I would consider overarching problems. Like I said before, overall I think it was a solid season. The things I mention above are things I think could’ve made it go from good to great. There were a few storythreads that were mentioned but never really dealt with over the course of the season; (Dean’s drinking for one) which they also did in season 6 (the season I like to pretend didn’t really happen) and it bothered me then too. But I don’t like to dwell on it.

Let me end on a positive note. Season 7, even with it’s problems, was enjoyable and took our characters in some interesting directions. If some of the above issues can be resolved, season 8 has the potential for greatness. We have (sort of) new blood coming in with Jeremy Carver as showrunner. He’s one of my favorite writers and he’s also had some success running the American version of Being Human. I also listened to what he had to say at Comic Con this year, and he seems to realize that the Boys need to step back from some of the mythology a bit and focus on relationships. That was one of the strongest elements of Carver’s episodes. He really understood and captured the brother dynamic. Just as an aside, I’m really hoping Ben Edlund doesn’t get his wish of working dinosaurs into the story because I have a feeling that would be weird and uncomfortable for us all. At any rate, season 7 ended strong and set our Boys up to take off in some fantastic directions. I’m really looking forward to season 8.

Well, that wraps up my initial thoughts about season 7. I’m planning to do a re-watch before season 8 starts, so I may have some new ideas then. Until then, peace, love, and joy to all. 🙂

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