Let’s take a moment( or a few weeks off) to reflect on Season 11. The episodes are tightly written save episode 3 (“The Bad Seed”) which stands out as my least favorite to date in a rather stellar season. Ackles direction is solid, but the script lacks umph for me save a few good moments. The Winchester brothers are together, united against a common enemy, The Darkness. Crowley loses his status as the King of Hell, and has been degraded to a position lower than a low (Game of Thrones much?) and he is currently on the run from Lucifer and the minions who despise him for his cowardice. Lucifer has been caged since season 5’s finale but is now out and about because Castiel permits Luci to possess him in order to knock off Amara(the Darkness). Lucifer lacks the weaponry to complete the task. Rowena meet her end by the double crossing Lucifer: a skill perfected by her son. Amara, God’s sister is out in the world with her particular view of humanity and along the way she has consumed many a soul, her favorite food. Yet, her “feelings” towards Dean are different and Dean feels something for her although he admits it is not desire or love, but he feels helpless in her presence. She predicts they will be one and why would he reject “Bliss”?
Sam and Dean share responsibility for the release of Darkness although Sam would argue it is more his fault as he insisted on casting the spell to save Dean. The angels have tried to corner Amara, and the demons follow Lucifer gladly because he has restored some of Hell to soul collecting and misery although he is rather self absorbed. Neither Heaven nor Hell are running well and the lack of solid, unegotistical leadership continues.
In most of the episodes the boys chase a Monster of the Week, but imbedded in each episode is a tidbit into their thinking with nods to the Winchester lore. Even “Baby” offers a view into their lives that the viewer always thought existed, but never saw with such detail until 11.4 The season is full of echoes of previous tropes and threads that long time fans find within the fabric of scripts. Sam explains the Amelia disaster. Michael is in a cage apparently not well mentally, and God is nowhere to be found except for an occasional high school play (season 10). Billie is the new Death and has assured us all that death for Winchesters will be permanent, thus raising the stakes for their adventures.Dean is hit more often than Sam and Sam is pinned to walls more frequently this season. Sam has been saving Dean’s arse often this season.
So as we head into this hiatus,the season has been one of rebuilding the brothers’ relationship,retoolingthe roles of Castiel and Crowley, and grinding out bits and pieces of Amara’s arc. The mix of comedy and tragedy is well balanced without a purely comedic episode. This is scripted drama at its best.
“Beyond the Mat” is a perfect place to hit the pause button. Dean goes from feeling the least valuable of the team against Amara to a position of determination. Sam does not judge Dean for any of his deanisms or choices, but tells his brother he is not alone, doesn’t have to martyr himself for the cause ,and has Dean’s back,”I got this, Dean”. That’s what family does for each other. (Remember Amy Pond?) Dean is more valuable to Lucifer as bait and Sam is the disposable prom date that said “No” to a dance at the prom. There are moments where other players choose sacrifice or deceit. The Winchesters choose honesty. Dean is going to save 1.Cas despite Cas’ sacrifice, 2.ice Lucifer, 3.destroy Amara and asks for help from Sam. And then, the “hand of God’ weaponry which Balthazar (remember him and his staff of Moses)once had control of are hidden all over the place if you know where to look. Such adventures may be a source of future scripts. Lucifer’s weapons, hidden in his crypts ( AH MEG), are not sufficient without other archangels to power up and are only good for one use. Thus where we are in the arc.
Ackles proves he is spot on doing both comedic lines and physical shtick as well as emoting pathos. Padalecki’s facial expressions continue to display emotional reactions that are believable and provide straight lines to offset the humor. Sheppard shows depth in his fall from power and his re-assertion. Collins spreads his acting wings as a Lucifer with enough Pelligrino to make the continuance of this character believable. The direction, sets, lighting and music are worthy of cinematic presentation. The action choreography takes your breath away. Special effects have been constant. And yes, there is an occasional wardrobe goodie such as a new jacket for Dean or sport coats for both brothers (the funeral of the wrestler). The sweaters in “just your imagination” are just fun! Thus where we are in the production process.
What to ponder during hiatus:
- Is this a set-up for the end of the season or show? Chuck forbid. Executive Producer Jim Michaels states on twitter, renewals from CW come April-May. Network President, Mark Padowitz supports the show. Have the writers completed episodes 22-23 or is it left open? Show is still filming during hiatus, so scripts are done to a certain point. Ratings are unchanged but could be stronger. Sometimes there is a early renewal. J2’s contracts are up for renewal. What is the cost of producing 23 episodes of high quality production and will the network go there?
- Dean is presented as the most vulnerable. Since when does he not heal? What’s with the bullet wound in the leg? Did anyone notice he is not doing too well when he drinks? He usually functions better. Although it is played to lighten the episodes, does it have a larger part? Sam rescues him from the bar and the tequila shots. Dean hears his liver screaming. Anything to find a demon. And I have re-watched several times and I think I hear Dean “passing wind” when he gets up off the bar bench in “Beyond the Mat”. Is this a sloppy edit? A glitch? An outtake that was not edited? Several times this season, Dean has stated he is not alright. Yes, we have seen early seasons such outtakes at Jared’s expense. Is this one deliberate? What do you hear? Oh, it is his jacket scraping the bench-not!
- Dean has had little choice in his life. His father thrust responsibility on him at a young age. He has no choice in being Amara’s chosen one. It is hard to believe the writers will leave him so impotent and thus his determination in this hiatus starting episode. Has he turned a corner for season 11?
- Sam suffers from headaches this season. Is it the intensity of the research of is there something else afoot? Last time he had headaches, he had visions. Have they stopped? Was it all Lucifer or is there another seeping in? Sam used holy oil to stop the rabid virus- could this weapon be useful against Amara? It did not contain Metatron- who is a loose thread out there.- during a previous encounter when he was angelic. Writers’ unfinished business can provide interesting elements to a story. What is the price for Metatron’s knowledge, if he has any? Who else was closer to Amara’s brother?
- Amara is more than an angel. She is the sister of God. What is her real point of view on humanity? What happens when she is near Dean? He affects her as well and tempers her destructive force. Has the learning curve about her brother’s work increased? Why did God lock her away? Was it rivalry and based on a need to be the One and only or was she a true threat to His creation?
- Does Crowley ally with the Winchesters to save his realm and himself? Is he more than Dean’s number one fan? Can Cas eject Lucifer in time for the end of the season without consequence?
- Locks and Keys. Loyalty. Sacrifice. Good intentions. Sibling rivalry. Death. Maybe Bobby and Rufus can intercede and find a weapon of destruction? Time to bring on old school hunters. And what about God? Hint: Robert Benedict been seen around Vancouver, much?
- Winchesters have always said, if it bleeds you can kill it. Crowley spilled Lucifer’s blood.
- Is Crowley better for Hell than Lucifer?
Ramblings aside, what are your hopes, desires, predictions for our WINchesters? In the meantime, take a look at the various charities Misha, Jensen, and Jared promote: Random Acts of Kindness, Always Keep Fighting, You are not Alone.