Supernatural 11×23 Review: Alpha and Omega
The finale episode of Supernatural is always a bit of a wildcard. You never know what to expect. “Alpha and Omega” was a pleasant surprise.
Anytime the showrunner changes in a show, the future of that show is thrown into question. This year, Andrew Dabb, the showrunner of next year, was given the finale episode to write. This provides him with the time to wrap up the storylines of the previous showrunner and the ability to write in some of the threads of the storylines he intends to build on next season. Dabb is one of the better writers on Supernatural, but it’s still nerve-wracking, because you never know how successful it’ll be.
Supernatural season finales tend to vary widely in quality, depending on the showrunner and year. Some are fantastic, like “Swan Song.” Some are more of a confusing mess of illogical choices, like “Brothers Keeper.” Some outright rip your heart out, like “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” “Alpha and Omega” was somewhere in the upper-middle of the pack. It was a decent finale, but in a string of “could have been the finale” episodes, it felt a little bland. After the episode aired, I found myself thinking that it was as if the season ended with “Don’t Call Me Shurley,” and the last three episodes were actually the first few episodes from season 12, aired early. It’s most likely a side effect of airing after the extraordinary episode that was “Don’t Call Me Shurley,” but it’s something they need to work on in the future.
Supernatural has a bad habit of repeating itself. Each year, around the time of the finale, one of the trio will be designated the official season sacrifice. That person then goes up against the big bad, and either fails miserably or succeeds with horrific consequences. The one thing that never seems to occur to any of them, be it the characters or the writers, is to try to work it out in a peaceful manner via communication. So imagine my surprise when this time, that’s exactly how the battle was won. It was a bit anti-climactic, but it worked. Now if only we can get the Winchesters and Castiel to talk out their issues as well. We might actually get positive character growth.
All season long, Amara went on what was effectively an epic tantrum. It was unbecoming of an adult character, in my opinion, but fit Amara. She was, after all, basically an inexperienced super-powered teenager. It’s good to know that eventually, she could be reasoned with. Unfortunately, they waited far too late to develop her character. For the first time, I actually saw a character that was interesting, that had some depth. She was finally more than her rage; she was someone who was so concerned about the fact she was killing the plants that she refused to touch the birds. She cared, and she grew. The last time you see a character should never be the one moment where the character becomes interesting and worth caring about, as that points to poor plotting over the season arc. Hopefully, they work on that next season.
One thing confuses me, though. If Amara knew it’d be suicide to fatally injure Chuck, why did she? And if she could heal him, why not do that, at least a little? Keep him in a constant state of weakness, easier to control. Her actions seemed uncontrolled and irrational. I’m glad she was able to see reason by the end.
The statement Dean made about revenge only feeling good for a few minutes was interesting. Dean would know, considering he’s done it at least twice. Revenge only really removes a target, a focus. It can’t fill the hollow restless spot left behind after the fire goes out, not even if you’re too busy to think about it, like Dean was in season 3. Meanwhile, the consequences of what you did during your attempt to gain revenge can come back to haunt you, like Dean experienced last year. Interestingly, these experiences actually made Dean the ideal candidate to try to talk down the distressed Amara. He could empathize with her, something she badly needed in order to come to terms with how she felt about her brother. Although she never did apologize for the weird sexual harassment and stalker-esque behavior over the year, in return for Dean’s help, she did at least try to make up for it by giving him what she stated was what he “needed.”
An element that stood out in the conversation between Amara and Chuck was her comment about how she hated humanity because she couldn’t contemplate how Chuck needed to love someone who wasn’t her. She couldn’t contemplate that he could love more than one person at the same time. This conversation brought to mind the story told in season 5 about why Lucifer rebelled. He too couldn’t contemplate that Chuck could love more than just the angels. The thought that a person can only love one other person at a time and no one else is a belief born of insecurity, and I’m glad that both Lucifer and Amara grew enough in the last two episodes to move on from that viewpoint. If only it were as easy as a good one-on-one conversation to convince others who have that viewpoint. A girl can dream, no?
Something unusual occurred in the finale. No one died. Usually, someone dies, even if they don’t actually stay dead. For the very first time, the season ended without any last-minute fatal bloodshed. This fact excites me, as I went into the episode fearing that they intended to kill Chuck. The fact that we get to keep God, even if he is hidden for a while, opens up all sorts of avenues for storytelling. For example, now that he’s got time, maybe he can rebuild Gabriel and the deceased good angels. It’d be a good place for him to start.
The introduction of a brand-new character in the finale actually annoyed me a little. Over the last few years, the show has developed the habit of dropping an important character into the center of the final episodes to influence the plot, usually with little to no buildup in previous episodes. Take last year, for example, where for some reason the hunter Rudy became some sort of personal pivot point for Dean. While it works that way in real life, in television, it’s just confusing. Now, I do like the idea of a fully functioning Men of Letters chapter, and am open to the thought of it being an aggressive and likely somewhat evil group; the way the bits with Lady Toni were written reminded me strongly of “Bloodlines”. That is not a good thing, as that episode had some issues. Hopefully, especially as he wrote both, Dabb can learn from the mistakes of the previous episode and avoid them in season 12.
I did like Lady Toni. She reminds me strongly of Bela Talbot from season 3, and I think she’ll make an interesting adversary, if they can avoid the mistake of reducing her to a caricature or an under-developed love interest to one of the guys. Not dumbing the guys down to give her easier wins will also help. However, all the scenes of her traveling to the bunker were a bit much. I’d have much rather lost one of the scenes in the middle if it meant Castiel and Chuck had a very necessary talk. As it is, we don’t know if they did and we just didn’t see, or if that’ll have to wait for another visit long down the road. Considering how Cas’s feelings of being useless and broken led to his actions this season, and that he needed an explanation as much as Lucifer did, I find that unbearably sad.
A running theme through the episode was the importance of family ties and how they affect people/beings. It’s interesting how the episode actually included several types of attachment and multiple states of those ties. The Winchesters are a good example of strong family ties. In his attempt to talk Amara out of destroying everything, Dean mentions how he and Sam stay together through everything, an example of a strong family bond. Sadly, it sometimes proves to be a bit too strong to be healthy, but in this episode, it was perfect. Their relationship with Cas is an example of the strong bond that’s formed with found family, which is equally important to the well-being of the group. For both blood and found family, knowing they had support helped each of the guys do what they had to do during the events of the episode.
Chuck and Amara actually stood as the most recognizable example of repaired family bonds. They start the episode as a fractured family unit, both smarting from what the other had done and their own responses. It could have gone very badly, but with the assistance of an interested outside party, they managed to put aside their differences. They made an effort to listen and understand where the other side was coming from, and to articulate their own position without falling back on angry words or violent action. In doing so, they managed to work out the issues separating them, and both improved. Now Amara is a whole new character and Chuck seems like he might a little less of a jerk in the future. It’s a much needed bit of character growth for both characters.
Meanwhile, the monsters in the room are sadly stuck in an unenviable position. The angels seem to have written off their own father. Even Cas seemed to be resigned to keeping Chuck at arm’s length. It’s sad, since they all deserve to have the support and answers from their creator. Hopefully, by the time Chuck returns, they’ll be ready to talk. Meanwhile, Crowley and Rowena have their own strained relationship, where family interaction seems to be comprised mainly of sarcastic comments and barbed observations. It’s fun to watch, especially Crowley’s reactions to Rowena’s attempts to bond with Chuck, and must be a blast to write and act out, so I doubt it’ll change any time soon. But I hope, in the end, that they also get a positive resolution. Hopefully before one of them dies. After all we’ve seen about them in recent years, I think even they need it.
The look of this episode was simply outstanding. The effects were amazing, especially the collection of the souls and the final appearance of Chuck and Amara. The white glowing smoke and black smoke twisted around each other as they left looked amazing. The direction of the episode was lovely, with a lot of interesting angles used for group shots. I particularly liked the way the bar scene was shot during the restoration of the sun. Even props gets a kudos from me, particularly for the reappearance of the key box (which is technically a duplicate key, as Lady Toni has it while in England), and for the look of the Winchester info board and the Soul bomb collection crystal. They were gorgeous, especially the purple geode crystal used as the bomb. Meanwhile, if you pause and look closely, the board has a lot of interesting materials attached to it. There’s a bunch of info on Castiel, the middle names of both Sam and John (shown as William and Edward, respectively), several pictures of Henry Winchester, and the first known picture of Millie Winchester, also known as John’s mother and Henry’s wife. I was enthralled.
A few final thoughts, as we wrap up the season:
I was amused that my interpretation on the last episode review, the guess about the light and the state of the sun, was accurate. It was an unspoiled shot in the dark of a guess. I’m glad I’m still able to predict the plot in an ever-increasingly illogical show.
Thank you to Dabb for the conversation where Dean made sure Cas knew he was appreciated and called him family. While not exactly what I’d prefer he call him (disclaimer: I am a Destiel Shipper but I try not to let it influence my reviews in any way), it is what Cas would need to hear, having effectively alienated his original family in order to help the Winchesters. The angels, after all, use that term to denote family species-wide. It’s also one of the closest types of personal relationships that Dean could possibly slot him into. So I’ll take it, and simply hope for more another time.
If the demons stole all the souls from Hell while Crowley was occupied, does that mean Hell is empty?
Haggis was a great magic word, and very fitting. Both because they’re Scottish, and because a Haggis is a small bag of Offal bits while the crystal was a small container full of awful bits. (Sorry, couldn’t help but make the joke. Only made for wordplay, I’ve no opinion on the dish or the Scots.)
Why did they put down the salt ring in the room at Waverly Hills Sanatorium? It didn’t stop any of the ghosts at all. Was it to fake out the ghosts? Was it to filter out weaker ghosts? It just seems superfluous.
They never said what would happen to the souls used in the bomb after it blew up. Do they move on, just kinda sit around, or do they vanish from existence? Because if it’s the latter, that seems like rather bad luck for people whose only issue was that they died after Metatron decided to try to play God.
The show says Chuck and Amara lived alone, then he created — in order — the Archangels, the Leviathans, the Angels, and then Humanity. So when exactly did Death and his Reapers come up? Did they predate or come after the archangels? And if after, why was Raphael so eager to open Purgatory? He would have known what was in there.
If the English Men of Letters group was big and important enough for private planes and a private car, why had no one in the US hunting community ever heard of them? No one can stay that secret.
Lady Toni had better have only shot a warning shot, or a charging moose will be the least of her problems. The same goes if she doesn’t wash the blood off the wall and floor. I doubt Dean will like anything she did in that last scene.
Dean admitted to loving chick flicks. So, exactly which chick flicks are Dean addicted to? Dirty Dancing is a given, considering his statement in “Slash Fiction” that “Swayze always gets a pass!”, but what others does he enjoy? “The Notebook”? “Love Actually”? Personally, I’m betting on “The Cutting Edge.”
Where is Cas’s car? I hope he landed either near it or near Dean. Either way, someone gonna need a lift.
If the Winchesters just got custody of the planet, do the angels now have to listen to them? And is there any way to get Chuck to pay for support? The guys could use a decent legal income.
I did not expect that cliffhanger. Mary is alive? Is John wandering around somewhere, or is it just her? Will they use this to bring back random family members? What will her reaction be to Sam? Or Cas?
Going into the final episode of season 11, I wasn’t sure what to expect, in storyline or episode quality. While not the best finale, “Alpha and Omega” was decent enough that it managed to sooth my nerves and interest me in both what was happening and what might be coming next. I look forward to seeing what Dabb has in mind in season 12.
See y’all next October.
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