It’s official: I’m out on Supernatural.
After a season and change spent trying to find a reason to keep watching, I’ve given up the fight.
What does it take to disenchant me, distance me, from a text that, for better or worse, has taken up most of my headspace–and ruled my pen–for almost two and half years?
[Which I realize sounds nine kinds of crazy, but it’s true.]
Easy: I started rewatching season 1.
Now, to be clear, I’m not pining for the damn show to be what it once was. It can’t be, it shouldn’t be, for the simple reason that the story Kripke and co. were telling back then? It’s done, ended with a heartbreaking bang at the end of season 5.
The Powers That Be, they should have let sleeping Sams lie.
But sometimes stories aren’t allowed to have a life of their own. I get that. There’s money and employment and hell, a whole fledging network to take into account. That’s what happened with Sam and Dean: the story was done, but the audience, the network, everybody was clamoring for more. And the call of empty pockets, I’m sure, didn’t hurt either.
So the sweet painful ache of the first five seasons, one beautiful arc bending towards sacrifice, towards that awful twist of love and pain that makes you sacrifice yourself to save the world, to save your brother–it can’t be recaptured, if only because the fundamental tension that made that narrative thread run has been cut.
All good stories, they always come to a close. Don’t let Chuck tell you otherwise.
This is a long way of saying that Supernatural can’t be what it was, and that’s ok. I’m good with that. But what I’m less sanguine about is that the series hasn’t been able to figure out the answer to the question of what now? It doesn’t have to be the same show–indeed, things have gotten pretty fucking ugly when it’s tried to be–but it needs to be something, to have some sort of identity.
For me, it feels like the show’s been veering all over the road for quite a while now. Although there’s much in season 6 to appreciate (thanks to “The Man Who Would Be King,” IMHO), season 7’s pleasures were scattered and season 8 was a mess. At this point, season 9 reads more like Gabriel’s wet dream that anything else: talking animals, Sam getting uber-touched by an angel, Castiel being a little lost lamb.
It’s different, Supernatural. And that’s ok. As is me taking my leave.
In the echo chamber of my own head, then, I’m choosing to pretend that season 5 was the end, the end of a story in which all Dean Winchester wanted to do was save his brother, Sam. All Sam wanted to do was to live his own life. Neither of them got their way.
In the end, Sam died. He saved the world. He saved his brother. And that was his choice. No matter the cosmic machinations that conspired to put him in that Kansas graveyard: in the end, Sam chose to die, to give up his own life for Dean’s. He did that. It was his choice.
And Dean? He was lifted from hell, only to find one on earth, in the end: a life as the only survivor. The last of the Winchester line. A boy without his brother, a fate he’d once sold his soul to avoid.
In the end, Sam saved him. Not just by dying, but by coming back to his side. By giving them a few more years together to remember why they loved each other so.
Love, that’s what saved the world, kept it out of the angels’, the demons’, grip. Love enough to consciously embrace one’s fate, to transform it from duty to choice.
A beautiful tragedy.
Sam saved the world. Dean had to learn how to live without him. And that’s it. That’s the end.
I wish it had been allowed to stay that way.
For me, I’ve decided, it did.