Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Road So Far

This post contains mild spoilers of the level of short episode descriptions/titles, as well as wild speculation.

The countdown has begun. Starting next week, we have four episodes remaining. I can't believe we're this far along already, that the season is almost over. It feels like it just started.

I had a need to kind of coalesce the season, condense it into its essence. I intended to rewatch the whole season again before I wrote this, but of course it's not summer so I didn't have time. So instead of doing a one-line recap of each episode, I'll explore the season's main parts.

In many ways, this has been Dean's season. When the show was conceived, Sam was the focus, the hero, but immediately the brothers became intertwined and inseparable (in a metaphysical rather than physical sense). When a guy gets dragged from hell by an angel, though, he tends to become the center of attention.

Poor Dean has really struggled this year, and he still can't catch a break. Being selected by the angels seemed to indicate he was special, but Dean just felt like a tool for dicks...until he found out he was the first seal and therefore is destined to be the one to stop Lucifer from rising. Just a little pressure there.

In the meantime, he's struggled with finding out that his mother was not only a hunter, but the reason Sam got marked, she got killed, and they wound up on the path they did. Sam's marking has led to his use of this suspicious demon power. Dean still doesn't know the extent of Sam's secrets, and it's tearing him apart. If he can't save his brother, how can he save the world?

Sam may not have the heavy storyline this year, but it's not like it's light, either. With Dean gone, he turned to what he knew and what he had in order to keep hunting and to try to track and kill Lilith to punish her for taking his brother. He hasn't adjusted all that well to being in charge and then having that taken from him. He also sees himself as his brother's protector--maybe he truly believes Dean was damaged in hell and left something behind, but I think he's trying to justify his need to run things now, or at least to not be run by Dean, as well as trying to do for Dean what Dean has done for him for so long.

Certainly, once we got past all the hints of what he's chosen to do and found out what he was really doing (i.e., drinking demon blood to turbo-boost his demon-fed powers to better defeat his enemy), his storyline expanded.

The Angels
The whole angel thing delights me to no end, because it fits my own logic. If there is a God, he made humanity in his image, and we're inquisitive children. God also made angels, and angels are rebellious teenagers (ref. fall of Lucifer). So that makes God a parent, and any of us who have or are parents know that we're not infallible. So God's not infallible.

So why wouldn't angels make mistakes, too? They can crave something they can't have and make bad decisions and question themselves and their father. Faith doesn't have to be about God. In fact, it usually isn't, or if it is, God's mostly a filter. Faith and belief are about ourselves and each other, and in that context, the angels in Supernatural aren't that different from humans except for the PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS (but no iiiiitty bitty living space).

Essentially, the humans and the angels are fighting the same internal battles as well as the same external one, with often oppositional methods.

The Big Plan
Seasons 1 and 2 had the same Big Bad: the Yellow-Eyed Demon, later known to be Azazel. Season 3's Big Bad wasn't known for much of the (truncated) season, but when Lilith appeared, she was truly scary. So it's been interesting that she remains TBB in season 4 without showing up for 18 weeks. Of course, Alistair was a pretty good fill-in, if only for his effect on Dean.

It's still a bit fuzzy whether Azazel/YED and Lilith were after the same thing, if he worked for her, or if she just took over the plan once he was gone. Said plan is to break 66 of the 600 or so seals that exist to keep Lucifer imprisoned, which, once broken, will allow him to roam free and bring hell to earth.

The first seal was for a righteous man to spill blood in hell. Alistair explained that John was to be the righteous man, but he held strong. That's got to be devastating to Dean, but John had at least one thing, maybe two, that Dean didn't have. One is his sons. A father who would go to hell to save his son's life has a sphere of love that will give him strength. The other is experience and knowledge. I think he probably knew the scripture or lore that described the breaking of the first seal, and knew if he gave in, he was condemning his sons to the same fate he suffered. That's powerful motivation, even for 100 years.

The Future
We've got three parties that seem to know the future. The Prophet Chuck, who saw something really bad but is being prevented from telling Dean and Sam what it was. I'm latching on to the nuances in Chuck's writing of his visions. His interpretations of events aren't always what happens.

Zachariah, a powerful angel, seems to know what Chuck saw, so he has some prescience, too. How firm the future is, how unchangeable, is one of the big questions of the season, stemming from Dean's trip back to his parents' younger days. My interpretation of Zachariah's hold on Chuck is that it is fluid, and he believes the boys expectations will affect outcomes in a negative way, so he doesn't want them to expect what's coming.

And finally, high level demons like Lilith apparently can see or sense the future, too, because she claims to know she won't survive the war. Not news to Sam, who is of course bound and determined to take her out, even if he goes with her. But how much does she see? Can she only see what pertains to her? Again, fluidity seems to be a factor, because she offered to stop her quest, which would mean the war would cease and she wouldn't die, presumably.

Is it me, or is there an awful lot to happen and be answered in just four episodes? Next week we meet the third Winchester brother (and apparently never see him again, so that's why I think he's the "person close to the Winchesters" who is going to die). Then we learn about the man Castiel is possessing. Neither of those premises seems to lend itself too well to progressing the main storyarc, but then, I didn't think the meta episode would when I first heard about it, or the Prius-driving, latte-sipping Dean episode, either, and both did a great job of doing so.

The final two episodes are just starting to be talked about, and I haven't been seeking info. But they're called "When the Levee Breaks" and "Lucifer Rising," which inspires all kinds of fear. And questions:

1. Is Lucifer going to make it to earth?

2. If he does, will season 5 be about putting him back?

3. If he doesn't, what will happen in season 5? (Killer robots, supposedly.)

4. Are Sam and Dean going to take the final step that makes them mortal enemies?

5. If so, will season 5 be about them being apart?

6. If so, is Kripke insane, or just ensuring we'll hate the show by the end of season 5 so no one will try to tempt him to come back for a season 6?

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your personal viewpoint, we'll know many of these answers in five short weeks.

Your turn. What details did I leave out that are particularly important? Where do you think we're going? Are you excited, sad, apprehensive, or all of the above? Sound off in the comments! First-time commenters especially encouraged!