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Supernatural Season 8 Review: Escaping Purgatory
From start to finish, Season 8 of Supernatural did well to keep me intrigued. I won’t lie, some issues in writing dragged it down a bit for me, but as a whole, Season 8 succeeds in keeping an old show fresh. Season 8 has the strongest opening and closing of a season of Supernatural since Season 5. Seeing Dean fresh out of Purgatory, scruffed up and bloody, gave me instant excitement, for I knew something special was afoot. And I feel that the Purgatory story arc was one of the strongest the show has seen in a while. The Angel’s falling in the final scene was not only visually stunning, but also built massive hype for Season 9.
While I still enjoyed Seasons 6 and 7, they each carried pretty massive flaws. Season 6 had imagination, but lacked focus. Season 7 had focus, but lacked imagination. Fortunately, Season 8 holds both of those candles. That being said, Season 8 is far from perfect. It loses points due to occasional contrived writing and continuity errors. Most things might slip by the casual viewer, such as Sam’s mention of he and Dean going to the Grand Canyon, while Dean stated in the 2nd Season that they never went there. Others, such as Sam easily getting into Purgatory via a rogue Reaper, while Purgatory was impossible to access in Season 6, are a little bigger. Not to mention Benny finding Sam almost instantly inside Purgatory.
The biggest issue that Season 8 suffers from, though, is Sam. I’ve always liked Sam, but his character is pretty badly hurt in the 1st half of the season. I didn’t care an ounce for Amelia. If they can somehow bring her back and make it a worthwhile story, then great. I’d rather she was wiped off the planet. I would’ve been fine if Sam mimicked Dean in Season 6; keeping a normal life, but still searching for Dean. I guess we can’t have everything. The only thing I can conjure up to save Sam’s character is that maybe he is still a bit mentally unstable from his whole wall incident, but I doubt it at this point. I feel he gets a bit of redemption throughout the 2nd half, though. I honestly do think Sam is deeply sorry, and Sam and Dean’s scene at the end of “Sacrifice” was very emotionally impactful.
Now, it is time to get past all the nasty tasting subjects. Let’s clean our palettes and discuss the finer points of Season 8. First and foremost is the characters. I’ve liked pretty much all of the side characters this Season. Supernatural generally does well with their side characters. I didn’t care much for Frank last year, and I’m still not sold on Garth. Benny, on the other hand, had the potential to be another top character for me. I’ve heard he could make a come back, and I hope that plan comes to fruition. “Blood Brother” goes in my top 5 for the season. Naomi and Metatron were both great. Amanda Tapping and Curtis Armstrong worked the characters beautifully, and the writing for each was top notch. Charlie brings some fun and a side of tenderness this season, and Kevin has grown on me a bit. Dean, Cas and Crowley are all has great as ever. Hopefully, Sam can stay on the course he was on in the 2nd half of Season 8 and can be his old self in Season 9.
One of the greatest strengths Season 8 has is storytelling, sans the Amelia incident. Dean, Cas and Benny in Purgatory was amazing. Then, Cas’s return to Earth, followed by the introduction of Naomi was incredibly well done. Naomi using Cas to get the Angel Tablet, then hunt Cas and the tablet down after his rebellion was another strong plot, and transitions perfectly into what causes the final scene. On the flipside, Crowley and the Demon Tablet was equally entertaining. I know some fans probably wanted closure, but I appreciate the use of that arc. It was a good way to patch up Sam and Dean’s relationship . What I’d like to see is Crowley becoming Sam’s Cas. It would be an interesting dynamic, and well… Sam really needs a friend. Who knows, maybe Crowley will save Sam from whatever the hell is happening to him now that he bailed on the Trials.
I have high hopes for Season 9, and for the possibility of a Season 10. I’m going with the assumption that the Angels still have their powers. They just can’t get back to heaven. I can’t wait to see what kind of havoc they will cause on Earth. I’m sure their initial confusion for what expelled them from heaven won’t stop them from continuing their war. I’m sure as well that Cas is going to have more trouble than he can manage from some vengeful Angels. He’s a bit helpless at the moment. I’m willing to bet he’ll get his grace back somehow, possibly in the next finale.
All in all, Season 8 was a huge step up from Seasons 6 and 7. Strong plot, interesting characters, and plenty of good episodes held it together. Earlier this year, I ranked Supernatural‘s seasons, placing Season 8 in 6th place, between Seasons 7 and 1. After the finale, I’ve moved 8 to fifth, settling itself between Seasons 1 and 3. I’d be happy to hear what you think of Season 8 and where you’d place it amongst the rest of the seasons.
- Goodbye Stranger
- As Time Goes By
- Blood Brother
- Everybody Hates Hitler
- A Little Slice of Kevin