The urban fantasy series Supernatural was originally planned and played out as a five-year-long story, the first to hit television since Babylon 5. Like its sci fi predecessor, Supernatural told a set, solid, and remarkably consistent characterizations full of great chemistry. The original story centered around the questions of heaven and hell, Armageddon, and the presence of God. The original series didn’t claim to be a Christian story though demons, angels, and God filled its plot lines, so it can be excused perhaps for getting angels and demons wrong.
Just like Babylon 5, Supernatural didn’t stop making episodes when their story was told, and to do that they had to rob the original story of its final conquering glory. The original premise of Supernatural keyed on a surprise in the final moments of season five. When Sam and Dean had saved the world, not through force of arms or arcane prowess, but through sheer determined sacrificial brotherly love, God’s two misbehaving kids (Michael and Lucifer) were foiled rather than destroy the world in their temper tantrum. God, who had been posing as a prophet (come on, you didn’t seriously want a spoiler alert for five years ago, did you?) smiles that he has saved the world through the weak instead of the strong, and disappears to go his own way.
One thing that I respect the Supernatural crew for was that when they decided to keep going their original writer quit. He had told his tale and would not linger on the stage at the expense of what he had just done. The show continued in a pleasant but problematic way. The character chemistry is all there, with a well-intentioned but bumbling angel, Cass, buddy-cop drama with the Winchester boys, and the dynamic character of Crowley, Satan’s successor who delights too much in mocking the boys to just nuke them out of pocket.
BUT without God the system breaks down. Angels go to war with one another to claim power and enforce their vision of things. It started in season six and season nine continues the theme. They’re the super-powered absolutists (though they can’t seem to agree on a right and wrong without God telling them what to do) and in season nine they’re still trapped in earth.
I enjoy the later show, but I loved the true tale in seasons one through five. Consistent mythology is key to truly good fantasy, and they broke their mythology. Season seven broke their own internal consistency when the boys kill a single leviathan and that magically ends their threat forever, though I don’t remember ever hearing why that might be.
The irony is that Supernatural, who changed demons into former humans who sold their souls or went to hell in a strange parody of Catholic sainthood, has stumbled onto the truth about demons in the actual world. Watching Supernatural where without divine intervention men and women are playthings in an endless pursuit of ME/MINE/NOW that the angels seek out, each according to their ways, and you have the book of Judges with a higher body count re-written on the global scale. To keep the buddy-cop drama going the Winchester boys constantly lie, hide, and deceive one another washing away much of their honor and dignity that they had won in the earlier stories.
There are some serious truths hidden in Supernatural‘s ninth season: Heroes are flawed human beings who don’t just mess up once, but they stumble and continue to make poor choices. Oh, and the real scary demons, the ones that we would all be lost to without the hope and grace of God (for whom this show reminds me to be truly grateful)? They’re the ones with the white lights and the bright, shiny wings.
Supernatural may have driven their angel-war conceit into the ground with this season. It is hard to tell whether or not it has any more legs, but the show is still well-acted with some decent dialogue and nice supernatural action. I guardedly recommend it, but watch it with a clear mind how blessed we are that God is not absent, his angels not clueless, and we have God’s Word to show us the way.