Just in time for Halloween, I've got a rundown of the first part of Supernatural's seventh season. If you've read this blog, you know I had less-than-favorable thoughts on the sixth season of the CW juggernaut. So is the seventh season any better?
The answer seems to be: yes . . . no . . . maybe?
(SPOILERS for anyone not keeping up on Supernatural).
So let's start with the good news: Castiel. The Winchester's stoic divine ally turned a lot of heads when he conspired with the demon Crowley in a dark yet particularly well-written story-arc last season. Less well-written, however, was his sudden declaration he was God in the last five minutes of the season premiere. This in turn sparked an Internet fury and even a "Save Castiel" campaign.
Fortunately, this development actually worked a lot better than it initially seemed. Mischa Collins can play the crazy card a lot stronger than I anticipated, and his deadpan behavior only ups the fear factor. It turns out, however, Castiel was being influenced by the biblical Levithans after he absorbed the souls of Purgatory. Now that the Levithans are out in the world, Castiel is MIA - and presumed dead after the Winchesters found his bloody raincoat. While I'm not quite sure how dead he is, I like that the showrunners took Castiel off the board to give the Winchesters more of a run for their money.
This brings up to the show's new villains: the Levithans. These mysterious creatures are among the oldest things in Purgatory, if not the universe. The good news is, on paper, they present a worthy adversary for our heroes, who have now thrown down with monsters, angels and demons. My hope is they will also explain who killed H.P. Lovecraft - an interesting tidbit seen late last season. Unfortunately, the Levithans so far are only terrifying on paper. These cannibalistic shapeshifters (not to be confused with Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) have long tongues and impossibly large rows of razor sharp teeth, all seen with SyFy channel CGI. The ghosts and demons of Supernatural seasons past looked a lot better than these piranha faces. What's worst is that since they are basically shapeshifters, it calls on the Winchesters to forget all the skin-walking variety of shapeshifters they've fought in the past to make it interesting. Bottom line - the Levithans so far aren't as interesting as their Biblical name implies.
Dean's character development is another cause for concern this season. In "The Girl Next Door", we are introduced to Amy (played by the lovely Jewel Staite of "Firefly" fame). Amy is a Kitsune - a mythical fox creature able to take human form. During her childhood, she saved a young Sam from her ferocious mother, so Sam repays the favor by letting Amy walk after learning she had to kill in order to life of her son. Dean, however, goes behind Sam's back and confronts Amy, killing her in cold blood . . . in front of her son.
On paper, Dean's motivations for this act look somewhat solid. He's dealing with Castiel's rather dark death as well as Sam cracking up with hallucinations of Lucifer. He's convinced sooner or later "the other shoe will drop" and Amy will hunt innocent humans. But even accepting that Dean killed a murderous monster (when is a stretch in Amy's case), it's still hard to see Dean sloppy enough to do it in front of said monster's ten-year-old son. The results make Dean look either incompetent or terrifying hardhearted. The result seems out of a character either way you cut it.
So where does this leave "Supernatural" as a whole? Well, specifically, the show is a lot stronger than it was last season. While they were some pretty funny episodes last season, there were a lot of downright horrible episodes canceling out the good. This season seems to be the reverse - while they haven't been any really funny episodes, there haven't been any stinkers either. As a result, the seventh season seems particularly consistent.
But on the same note, I'm still a little bit concerned about the show's future. At this point, both Winchesters have literally been to Hell and back. They've fought all manner of angels, demons and monsters - and its clear even the new showrunners are pressed for ideas. Aside from Staite's kitsune, there hasn't been anything really new. Even the Levithans seem a rather bland mix of previous monsters. More to the point, there hasn't been any episode so far which I felt justified a seventh season . . . or developed the character in a way I felt needed to be seen. I'm definitely going to be watching until the end of this season, but I'm starting to think it would be better if this were the end of Supernatural altogether.
(That's it for this rant. Check out a new Blue Yonder Wednesday)