has been one of my favorite shows on television. I’ve consistently watched it through its best seasons (2 and 4) and its worst (6 and 7), but I have always stuck with the seriesand will continue to do so because of how much I love the show’s characters. However, even though I’ve enjoyed Season 10 for the most part (particularly Castiel’s storyline with Claire and Dean’s with Cole), there’s been something missing from it that has kept it from becoming one of
‘s more memorable seasons. Unlike other past years, in which
has been able to tell an interesting season-long arc, while also giving Sam and Dean more personal stories of their own, Season 10 is completely lacking any individual arcs for the brothers, instead becoming so focused, and thereby dragged down, because of this year’s main plot.
For example, let’s took a look back at Season 2 of
. In that season, the main plot that drove the action was Sam and Dean’s mission to find and kill Azazel and avenge their parents; it was simple and compelling, and it worked incredibly well, especially when everything culminated in the two-part finale, “All Hell Breaks Loose.” But the brothers’ hunting for Yellow Eyes wasn’t the only dramatic storyline that grabbed the audience’s attention that season; the series also had Sam dealing with his visions, which, at that time, he had no idea were caused by demon blood, while Dean struggled with the death of John and the task that his father had given him: save Sam, and if you can’t, kill him. These two stories connected with and informed the larger arc of Season 2; they gave Sam and Dean greater purpose than simply just hunting.
And this formula has also worked well even in later seasons of the show. For example,
‘s eighth season had Dean dealing with returning from Purgatory and his friendship with Benny, the vampire and Sam finding it difficult to return to the hunting life with his brother after having started a life with with a woman he loved, Amelia. Now, even though Amelia never worked too well as a character, the renewed struggle that Sam felt between having a normal life and one with his brother was still palpable, and his choice to immerse himself completely back into the hunter lifestyle and take on the trials, which would hopefully lock the gates of Hell forever but, by doing so, would also kill Sam, was enriched because of what we had seen him go through earlier in the season.
Unfortunately, Season 10 has been completely devoid of any individual, personal stories for Sam and Dean and has instead doubled down on the Mark of Cain storyline, which has given both Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles a chance to show off their acting chops, but has done little when it comes to exploring new sides of these characters. Instead,
has been reinforcing many of the same ideas and themes that it has expressed throughout the nine seasons prior to this one (family, brotherhood, sacrifice), and while I value all those messages and emotions (like most people, I’m sure, it was the connection between Sam and Dean that originally got me hooked on this show), it does disappoint me a little bit. It disappoints me because I know how truly terrific
can be when it tries to be something better, and the series has even shown that in its later, post-Kripke years (look at the past two seasons).
So while I’m excited to see how Rowena and Crowley and the Stynes plays into these final two episodes, and how (
spoiler alert for this Wednesday’s episode) Sam and Dean respond to the death of Charlie, I’m also hoping that the last two hours of Season 10 will signal a change, one that will lead to a more balanced and fulfilling S
. And I’ll keep watching until we get back there, because I know after one season or ten,
still has the ability to be one of the best shows on television, even it stumbles a few times along the way.
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Chris is the Managing Editor of TVOvermind. A graduate of Saint Joseph\'s University in Philadelphia, where he majored in English and Film, he has been writing for TVOvermind for over two years and has written about several different television shows, such as New Girl, Breaking Bad, Glee, and Homeland. Contact him through Twitter (@ckinger13) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’m with you, I’m a fan. Love the brothers and their complicated relationship. There’s nothing they wouldn’t do for each other and have proved this, time and time again. The mark of cain, loved this story line, Dean a Demon, come on how cool is Dean as a Demon. But , if they must, I guess, the mark has to go. I was very surprised by Charlie’s death, WTH and why can’t Castiel bring her back, like he did for Dean and countless others. Low angel powers? Can t wait for the finale so I can find out what’s going on.
I hadn’t really thought about it before in the terms you’re discussing, but it does track. For me, the problem with the season has been the feeling that it was one long apology for events in season 9. They want Sam to be desperate to save Dean, because they are trying to draw a parallel between Sam saving Dean from the Mark and Dean letting Gadreal possess Sam to heal him, so that they can make up for having Sam say that he wouldn’t go as far as Dean to save his brother. Now I personally thought Sam was being a brat at that moment in S9 (given that he had specifically told Dean HE wanted to do the Trials because he, unlike Dean, intended to survive them), but regardless, Sam made up for his harsh words in the season finale when Dean reminded him of what he said and Sam replied, “I lied.” So why spend a season trying to force Sam into Dean’s season 9 headspace, when it would have been perfectly in character for Dean to move past it because he always forgives Sam?
And if they really felt it necessary to have Sam spend ALL of season 10 in Dean’s beginning-of-season-9 shoes…couldn’t they have made Dean more of a menace? I mean, Sam was one flipped switch away from flatlining when Dean made the deal with Gadreal, but for all Sam and Cas saying over and over “Dean’s getting worse”…he really wasn’t that much wilder than when he first got back from Purgatory. They didn’t want to make Dean – The Hero of the story – too unsympathetic, so they held back…and severely diminished Sam’s motivation (and, frankly, Jared Padalecki’s motivation).
Can’t agree with you about s8, which was for me the low point of the entire series. Sam not looking for Dean, and suddenly wanting a normal life (that we saw him move on from in about s2) was a betrayal of the character of Sam and almost fatally undermined the brothers bond that is the main draw of the show. The non existent ‘deal’ was a total canon fail. Benny was divisive and dull and Amelia was awful. So I would NEVER use s8 as an example of a good SPN season arc.
However s2 is an excellent example of a beautifully plotted and paced season as was s5. And I totally agree that s10 has failed to excite because JC hasn’t got the balance and pacing right.
Another factor in this that you didn’t mention has been the, for me, failed attempt to make SPN more of an ensemble show. Cas and Crowley are now regulars but JC has no clue what to do with either, particularly Cas. Their stories have been disconnected from S&D, dull and pace-sapping.
The other huge problem, as you rightly raised, is the total repeat, with roles reversed, of s9. If JC wanted to rehabilitate Sam in the eyes of the audience he needed to start with presenting a credible ‘in story’ reason for him not looking for Dean when he was in Purgatory. He has devoted a whole season to teaching us that Sam actually would do anything to save Dean – something no one actually ever doubted before s8. He’d have been better off never rewriting that clearly established fact of Sam’s character in the first place as he did in s8 then compounded in s9. The audience never bought that Sam wouldn’t have looked for Dean, or that Sam wouldn’t do anything to save him. So who exactly is JC trying to convince in s10? Himself? He’s the only one (apart from extreme Sam haters) who ever believed any different anyway.
I believe SPN desperately needs a new showrunner. JC has been a disaster.
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