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The Road for the Brothers Winchester remains compelling in Season Ten!
I've been a fan of SUPERNATURAL for a very long time. I still remember when I first watched the show. My future wife, Patti, and I were in the midst of a cross country journey, and we stopped in Missouri for a couple days to visit my close friend Daron. He got us hooked by watching several episodes of the fledgling show's first season DVD. We picked up our own copy of the season as the journey took us to states further on down the road, and a love for the series was built traveling much the way Sam and Dean Winchester do in the series.
For the next five or so years, SUPERNATURAL was my favorite show on television. After a while the program seemed to repeat itself a bit much and, I'll be honest, my wife and I took a little break about midway through Season Nine. I just wasn't loving the show anymore, and a respite seemed the best way to remember why we loved the show. With Netflix, there was a constant allure to get back to the show and see what we missed. This past summer, I got caught up on the episodes I missed in Season Nine. The show wasn't bad, it never has been, but it wasn't great like the early seasons either. I mean, how could you even expect it to be. How many band's ninth album is their best? Well, let me tell you, old dogs can still produce stunning results.
The heart of the show has always been the saga of the Winchester brothers as they battle demons, angels, and every monster you could imagine. It's stripped down and raw without a huge cast of characters. Sure, there's always a big baddie, their angel sidekick Castiel, their friend/foe ruler of hell Crowley, and some mentor figures like Papa Winchester and Bobby. In the end, the show succeeds because of the fabulous chemistry of lead actors Jared Padalecki (Sam) and Jensen Ackles (Dean).
The brothers or The Boys, as my wife and I refer to them, have died, been demonized, resurrected, possessed by angels, sent to purgatory, hell, you name it. Hell! For crying out loud, they defeated Lucifer back in season five. They've been through so much that it's hard to raise the stakes any further. For a long time I missed the simpler concept of a "monster movie of the week" series creator Eric Kripke based the early episodes on.
So, why's are the new episodes so good? Well, Season Ten springboards off of events from last season. If you recall, Dean was imbued with the Mark of Cain, which made him a raging maniac, then he died, and was resurrected as a demon with the help of Crowley. The early episodes deal quite a bit with Demon Dean. This is a pretty cool happening and one that throws the series into uncharted territory. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the season continues to focus on Dean's travails due to the Mark, amongst other things, and Sam's efforts to save his big brother. This makes up the key plot line serving as the spine of the narrative of season ten.
There's a lot more going on to carry the load. Let me start with the character of Cole played by Travis Aaron Wade. He's a thorn in the Boy's side through a lot of the early going of the season. Basically, Dean killed his father during a hunting expedition more than a decade ago, and Cole's doing some hunting of his own. It's a strong plot line that makes for some entertaining moments. The dynamic is very good between the actors and it builds in some nice backstory and even adds another character worthy of cheering on. While this may only amount to a b-story, it's a great diversion for the season.
The strangest episode, but probably the most enjoyable, is the series 200th, entitled "Fan Fiction." Shows like BUFFY and PSYCH have given their fans a full on musical episode with their principal players crooning. SUPERNATURAL, on the other hand, brings us a high school musical recreation of the Brothers Winchester. The songs are an absolute hoot, let me tell you. And, the evil entity, Calliope, makes for a memorial double centenary baddie for the program!
Not only are Sam and Dean front and center with some amazing developments, but series regulars Crowley (Mark Sheppard) and Castiel (Misha Collins) also get some meaty moments. Let's start with our resident angel Cas. Much like Data on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, the series has done a great job of humanizing Castiel over the years. This season is no exception, with some excellent moments between him and Heaven-mate Hannah, as well as his host's daughter, Claire. Castiel continues to be one of the best supporting characters on TV.
Rowena (Ruth Connell) is a Scottish witch that's deeply involved in much of the season's mayhem, but as it turns out, she's got a pretty special connection to Crowley. This connection adds some poignant moments for Sheppard's character. When you look back, it's pretty amazing how deeply the series has explored characters like Castiel and Crowley. They could have been just another angel and demon, yet they are so much more, especially this season.
The ending is the epic conclusion you'd expect from a season finale on SUPERNATURAL. Most of the threads coalesce and the key conflict of the block of episodes draws to a fitting end. As per the usual, we get a hint of what's to come next season. All told, this was one of the finest seasons the show has produced in quite some time.
If you've ever owned a previous season of the series on home video then you know you'll get your money's worth on the extras. There are the usual things like hilarious goofs, deleted scenes, and a few commentary tracks. You'll also get a look at the San Diego Comic Con panel from 2014 as well as a four more interesting documentaries. Those docs include a focus on the fans, an inside look at the musical episode, the mythological influences, and a look back at the first nine seasons. This isn't by-the-numbers crap just to fill out the Blu-ray. These are substantial extras that will be a lot of fun for fans of the series.
Hard to fathom, but Season Eleven will be starting shortly, and that puts SUPERNATURAL in the top 30 longest-running scripted shows in American television history. The Road So Far has been a long and winding one, and I often wonder just how long it can last. Then again, if they can maintain this level, well, then I hope the end isn't in sight. Carry on my wayward sons!
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