I hate to say it, but the writers have lost a tremendous amount of storytelling credibility this season. I feel like S8 was snippets of 3 different incomplete seasons with different emotional stories; it’s the Frankenstein of SPN. It literally was all over the map, instead of formulating a well thought-out cohesive story that was paced evenly where 1+1=2, it’s like the writers just threw what sounded like good ideas against the wall and ran with whatever happened to stick. And when the story stagnated and started sliding sideways (hehem, the first 10 episodes), they redirected and started throwing new ideas against the wall and ran with whatever stuck for the next 10 episodes. And then they said, “Oh, crap, we have to come up with an ENDING because we’re getting renewed for another season” and then puked out the last 3 episodes. I feel like the three different sections of the season weren’t strongly cohesive with each other, and it gave the impression that there wasn’t a clear vision. There’s nothing more annoying and unsatisfying to me than being dicked around by the first-draft of a story that’s being sold as a final product. Do not waste my time. Argh. :(
Let me elaborate: the first 10 episodes of the season are this beheaded version of SPN where it feels like they somewhat walk and talk and resemble Show, but they’re weirdly separated in what feels like a dramafied facsimile of itself until we wrap up Amelia and largely Benny and Sam and Dean chose each other and drink beer in a very unhappy, unsatisfying, unconvincing way. Then we get ~10 episodes building up the demon tablet storyline and the trials to shut the gates of Hell. Then in the last 3 episodes in swoops Metatron and the trials to shut the gates of Heaven. Then in the last 10 minutes of a 23 episode season that spanned 8 months, the whole shut-the-gates-of-Hell trial gets snatched away in a giant JUST KIDDING and were redirected to a storyline that is ~3 episodes old, nullifying the season-long build up and robbing the story of a good portion of its significance up to that point. It’s like the writers thought a great way to end a story is to have the Sam and Dean work on shutting the gates of Hell as the main story arc for an entire season and then have Dean suddenly believe Naomi based on her word and then waltz in and tell Sam, “Oops, we’re not going to shut the gates of Hell.” And did anybody else wonder what the heck Dean was doing leisurely drinking beer with Cas and waiting for Cupid to show up (only to just talk to her) when he just left Sam, who looks like walking death, to SHUT THE GATES OF HELL BY HIMSELF?!!?! But what has me really upset is the very real possibility that there may not be any consequences to the Hell trials and Sam “almost dying”. So he and Dean went though all of that for an entire season only to just literally walk away, and whatever crazy supernatural power was making Sam deathly sick and his arm glow just conveniently disappears? Um, no.
And why did Naomi have to die? She was becoming so interesting. Show, do you not do complex, multifaceted characters anymore? Or did you simply kill her because she was a woman or because she wasn’t Mark Sheppard or Misha Collins (see next paragraphs)?
Somehow I don’t think Show has the guts to kill Crowley because I feel like it would’ve happened in the last minutes of this episode (Sam and Dean don’t cure him, so they kill him instead). I feel like that decision isn’t driven by the plot because, to me, it makes sense to dispatch of Crowley as his story has become long-legged (Show seems to kill off everybody else in order to conveniently tie up storylines), but driven by Mark Sheppard and his popularity as an actor. I’m not too hot on the idea of Crowley running around in consort with Team Free Will, and it doesn’t make sense to me that Sam and Dean would just let him go after all the trouble he’s caused, how untrustworthy he’s proven to be, and the fact that he’s still the King of Hell (unless the half completed last trial somehow robbed him mostly of his demon powers or something equally as weird). So it’ll be interesting to see where S9 takes Crowley.
I do like the fact Abbadon is still a force to reckon with. And it would seem Show may be keeping Crowley on the board in order to have a Hell-side scuffle between him and Abbadon. But then again, I have to wonder how that power struggle will play into where Sam and Dean sit now that they’re seemingly no longer interested in closing the gates of Hell. Will they just go back to hunting/exorcising/curing demons again? Them standing down permanently doesn’t fit with their M.O.
The Men of Letters bunker lighting up was exciting. I’m tentatively hopeful that something interesting and surprising will spring from that. I also like that Kevin finally got stuck in the ubersafe Batcave and that he’s still around and kicking (and still pissed off that his life got hijacked because he has every right to be angry and resentful).
I like the idea of a whole-scale, forced evacuation of Heaven, but degraced!Cas could either be played in a really interesting way or it could reek of fan service in a stinky, gross way that would get in the way of the story similar to manufacturing ways to keep Crowley around when it makes no logical sense. Only S9 will tell. I guess.
And I'm sure I missed this because my TV was on the fritz (argh!), but but are we to believe that Metatron really just shut out all angels from Heaven but himself? No minion angels? By his own admission, he's not a warrior. And what's his "evil plan"? Hang out on an empty cloud and read books? Obviously I need to rewatch this episode ASAP.
Although I didn’t have high hopes for the season finale solving all the issues I had with the rest of the season, I certainly didn’t anticipate having a “What?!?! You’re kidding me!” moment at 9:56 pm tonight. Maybe after a re-watch of the entire season will mellow me out about the unevenness of S8, but until then (if ever) I’ll still be in my corner muttering about lost potential, my general disappointment with Carver, and my misgivings about S9. Here’s to hoping to be proven very wrong next season.
ETA: I think this post is really a reaction to S8 and how it didn't come together for me as a whole rather than a 8x23 episode reaction. To be fair, the last ~10 minutes of this episode were great, beautifully shot, and epic. In the larger context, however, their amazingness couldn't erase my sense of ughblahno!what?pphhbbttt when thinking about S8 in general, which is unfortunate because I want to be flailing around, freaking out in a good way. So to sum up: good finish but an overall not so good aftertaste. :(