Supernatural Mid-season Roundtable

Supernatural -- "Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire" -- Image SN1102B_0169.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Jensen Ackles as Dean and Laci J. Mailey as Jenna Nickerson -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Supernatural — “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire” — Image SN1102B_0169.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Jensen Ackles as Dean and Laci J. Mailey as Jenna Nickerson — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Another mid season finale has aired and, as has been the tradition these past few seasons, we here at the Geekiary are hosting a special roundtable to discuss what’s happened, what could happen, and all the things that give us FEELS about this season of Supernatural so far.  This installment features the two reviewers for season 11 for the Geekiary, two frequent TV analysts, and a special guest from Blogcritic.  The finale left a lot of fandom talking, and we invite you to join the conversation in the comments!


First, get to know the roundtable particpants!

Name: Angel
Website you contribute to: Admin for The Geekiary, where I’ve been reviewing episodes of Supernatural for three years. I’ve also been a guest on several webcasts and podcasts including FEELINGS… with the Geekiary, Free To Be Radio, Genre TV for All, and A Cup O’ Tea with an Englishman in San Diego
When did you start Supernatural? Marathoned in in 2011 and caught up just in time for the mid season premiere in season 6.
What parts of fandom do you most closely relate to? I’m a Cas!girl, a Minion, and a Destiel shipper, and a hardcore Gisher (captain of 4 time runner up Team Subtext!)
Social Media: Find me on Twitter at @angel_kink

Name: Emily Rose
Website you contribute to: Writer for The Geekiary, former Supernatural episode reviewer and current convention coverage, founder and a moderator of SPN Anti-Bullying, guest on Free to Be Radio.
When did you start Supernatural? A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
What parts of fandom do you most closely relate to? I closely relate to the CasFans as a Minion, but can usually be found crying over Dean’s self worth and I have a tendency to challenge people who underestimate him to fight me. Strong proponent of Team Free Will, pirate captain of the USS Destiel, and a GISHer and proud member of Team Subtext!
Social Media: Find me on Twitter and Tumblr as @exorcisingemily

Name: Jessica Halladay
Website you contribute to: The Geekiary: Reviewing comics, analyzing Supernatural
When did you start Supernatural? Season 4, Wishful Thinking
What parts of fandom do you most closely relate to? I’m a Dean girl who loves Castiel. I hang out with Destiel fans though I’m not a shipper myself. Team Free Will for the win. Ultimate Robbie Thompson fangirl.
Social Media: Twitter: @tehjessicarae

Name: Lyda Scott
Website you contribute to: Blogcritics
When did you start Supernatural? I’ve watched since the premiere on September 13, 2005
What parts of fandom do you most closely relate to? I’ve identified as a Dean girl since the beginning. I’m also a Team Free Will and Castiel fan, and I love Dean and Castiel’s profound bond, no matter how it’s interpreted. I love Sam, too, though I usually relate more to Dean or Cas, and I’m a member of the “For Chuck’s Sake, Give Sam A Dog” club.
Social Media: I’m on Twitter as @Lyda_Scott

Name: Tami
Website you contribute to: Writer for The Geekiary reviewing Supernatural episodes.
When did you start Supernatural? I saw the Pilot on the night it aired, watched every episode since.
What parts of fandom do you most closely relate to? I’m a Cas-girl, with a strong attachment to Dean. I’ve been around SPN fandom long enough to remember the character faction infighting in the early seasons, so reactions nowadays don’t really take me by surprise anymore. I’m a firm believer in Destiel since the mess that was the end of season 6. I’m also a Minion, and frequent but very laid-back GISHer (varying teams).
Social Media: On Twitter as @BrningFeathers

Judging by Twitter reactions, one of the most controversial aspect of the season so far seems to be the relationship between Dean and Amara. What are your thoughts on the controversy? How does she stack up to other villains?

amaraEmily: Amara is the Renesmee of Supernatural. Like the Twilight character, she was ‘bound’ from birth to a male protagonist, started being framed within the story as a potential love interest while still a child, and within the span of a few episodes goes from being an infant in Dean’s care, to being a child lured by ‘candy’ and practicing lessons with her nanny, to peering through the bushes giving coy waves to Dean as a preteen, to caressing his face as she spoke of how they were bound as a young teen, to rapidly aged just enough to be an acceptable love interest age. It is the equivalent of the “Days Til She’s Legal” countdowns in celebrity rags featuring risque pictures of a under-aged girls, but with the added squick factor of having a 12-year-old’s touch described as “ecstasy, orgasm, chocolate cake.”

Even if the defense is that she’s an ‘ancient being,’ she is still portrayed as a child (not just portrayed BY a child, portrayed AS a child, underscored by her human-like development and lampshaded by Crowley reading parenting books to keep up with her changing moods as a teenager) until she is suddenly an ‘irresistible’ adult. A figure who because she’s ‘bound’ to Dean can make Dean want her, whose presence fills him with ‘bliss,’ who can kiss him and make him want that only moments after he attempts to kill her.

So I can certainly see the controversy, and I agree with it. Amara is a highly problematic character, hastily cobbled together from the pieces of better crafted villains before her. But while I could try to compare her to past Supernatural villains such as Lilith and Eve, the truth is the most recent portrayal of her was more Kilgrave from Jessica Jones. The problem is, while Jessica Jones used the villain’s control to examine the idea of consent, Supernatural uses it as an excuse to do away with consent altogether, adding in the ‘exciting’ taboo of psuedopedophilia.

Angel: As Emily said, she’s basically Renesmee.  I feel like she could have been interesting.  As stated in my review for the midseason finale, a being that has the equivalent of God’s powers and abilities, along with a major ax to grind, is definitely something difficult to beat.  Even the “God’s sister” aspect of it could have been intriguing.  But then they had to go and make the relationship with Dean strangely sexual, causing problems both due to her youth for most of the first 9 episodes, and also because of the dubious consent involved with Dean’s attraction towards her.  It’s all but implied that Dean is resistant against her advances.  He flat out says “no.”  And yet they’re “bonded” so he feels some sort of attraction towards her whether he wants to or not.

Seriously, who in the writer’s room thought she was a good idea?

SPN2Tami: The continued pushing of the very uncomfortable “romantic” vibes from Amara is really creeping me out, given the fact of Amara’s actual physical age, rapid growth, and Dean’s resistance.

In terms of her search for God and actions concerning everyone but Dean, she feels very much like a child throwing the world’s biggest tantrum. She wants what she wants, and if she doesn’t get it, she will destroy everything. No wonder God is avoiding her.

As for how she compares to other villains, I’m afraid she doesn’t stand up very well. We’ve had the immoral child monster already played to great success by the still eternally creepy Lilith, the sex-pot villain was done to much better success by both Abbadon and Rowena, and the villain that poses a great danger to others was done to greater success by Lucifer himself. Even the much unlamented Leviathans of season 7 did it better first in the category of “insatiable monster”. Amara just feels recycled, a villain made by a blender. It really takes the edge off her.

Jessica: This season is #SuperTwilight.  Twilight was the kind of ridiculous that I couldn’t put down until I read the whole series. Doesn’t mean I liked it and it certainly doesn’t mean that I want to see that kind of ridiculous drivel on my TV screen in my favorite show.  It feels like the showrunners have run out of ideas and it shows.  There’s a worrisome amount of pedophilliac text and subtext this season that makes me more than a little uncomfortable.  Amara was a baby in Dean’s arms and a few episodes later, a young teen getting way too handsy with him.  So you get a disgusting dose of pedophilia mixed with sexual assault on Dean’s character.  She has some kind of control over him and Jensen, bless him, plays Dean as uncomfortable and confused by it all. Like others have mentioned, who thought this was a good idea?

Stacking up to other villains?  She’s slightly better than Dick Roman, not quite as good as Eve. There’s a potential for her to be interesting.  But mostly I find her squicky and the show writes her in a way that completely trashes Christianity.  I get that they borrow and trash everything, but there’s a line where it becomes completely disrespectful.

Lyda: With the reveal that baby Amara carried the Mark of Cain, I worried that we were going to have a Twilight-esque storyline. It does seem likely now that’s where the narrative is headed, though I still have a modicum of hope that Amara’s fascination with Dean, though it’s framed sexually, is a smokescreen for something else: Perhaps his soul is missing or damaged or because he bore the Mark, she can’t just take his soul. I’ll take any explanation except that this primordial entity whose power is equal to God’s has fallen for Dean’s fanfiction green eyes and simply can’t resist him. I hated the Reneesme plot in Twlight, particularly where Jacob was concerned, and I cringe at Supernatural using any variation of that plotline.

As for Amara as a villain, I think that, as a concept, she has so much potential. I loved the scene in 11×9 when she calls down the lightning strikes and wreaks havoc; there is the possibility for a level of chaos and destruction that we haven’t seen on the show in ages. But I don’t trust the narrative to give the character a strong enough foundation, let alone the story framework, and if the narrative continues to focus on Amara’s fascination with Dean and to ignore the non-consensual elements of their interactions, then I have no hope of her fulfilling that potential. I just hope that we don’t wind up with another Eve scenario, where the “Mother of All” is shortchanged story-wise and then summarily killed.

How do you feel about Castiel’s inclusion in this season?

SPN3Tami: The season started out so well. Castiel was in nearly everything, including the delightful surprise that was “Baby”, and was at least mentioned when he wasn’t involved. I also enjoyed the PTSD sequences, a refreshing change after years of “no damage ever sticks” with the characters in this show. A little bit of realism in the story is good for character growth. Sadly, as soon as we start to get hope that he’ll be used well by the show, he disappears without a trace. This is especially frustrating, as he could have had a great positive impact on the midseason finale, with his experience involving the cage. Instead, he’ll have clean-up duty.

I’m also not appreciating the number of parallels of Castiel they seem to be attaching to Amara. Both characters are immortal beings with a strong attachment to Dean, which involve recognizable marks on one of the members of the party. Both saved him from a dangerous situation (even though the Darkness was responsible for the danger of the situation Dean was in when she grabbed him). Both did extensive people watching. Both worked unsuccessfully with Crowley. So far, the main differences are gender, species, and that Cas is good and light, enthused by Humanity and protective of creation, while Amara is the opposite.

Why the writers chose to contrast Amara and Castiel like that, I’ve no idea. Perhaps it’s to unsettle us, or maybe a backfired attempt to make us attached to her quicker. Perhaps it’s to set up a compare and contrast scenario for Dean later. Perhaps it’s to set up a future conflict between Amara and Castiel. Who knows?

Personally, I’m hoping for a face-off between Castiel and Amara, winner takes all. I’m rooting for Castiel. Creation (and Team Free Will) needs him to succeed.

Emily: There were moments that seemed as if they could be promising for Castiel fans: Robbie Thompson’s inclusion of Castiel in “Baby” was a surprise and a delight, giving us some great moments for the character even without him physically present. His interactions with Metatron always give a different perspective on Castiel, and there were PTSD flashbacks for him, and a hint at his current mental state in that discussion.

Unfortunately, though, that’s all we’ve gotten. Otherwise the character is being used as an “attack dog” in a spell, being tortured by his family, or being written out in increasingly ludicrous ways: from Netflixing all of the shows that, courtesy of Metatron’s pop-culture download, have got to feel like reruns for him, to suddenly being off to Gaza to get books of lore that are dismissed as useless as soon as they’re introduced on the screen, to being forgotten entirely in the midseason finale though his absence unravelled the plot around it.

As soon as the story raised the idea of God contacting Sam, or reaching the cage, or getting into and out of there without endangering Sam, keeping Castiel out of that plot made no sense: not only is he an ally, unlike Rowena and Crowley, he is the only being they know of to get into the cage and out again, hauling Sam with him no less.

Angel:  I prefer him watching Netflix and resting up instead of just not being mentioned, so the episodes at the beginning of the season seemed like a delightful change of pace.  Sure, he’s not in every episode, but there was a valid reason for it for a while.  Dean wanted him to recuperate and relax in the bunker.  But things fell apart towards the midseason finale.

The entire premise of the midseason finale was that they needed to get into the cage somehow.  Crowley framed it as an impossible task.  But wait, don’t we know someone who was able to get into the cage before? That’s right – CASTIEL.  #WheresTheAngel, indeed.

supernatural 11x2 2Lyda: After a promising start to the season, the last three episodes (11×7, x8, x9) have set us firmly back in Casnesia territory. It’s disappointing, especially after the beautiful episode that was “Baby” (11×4), where Castiel wasn’t seen but was very much heard. At the end of 11×6, I remember thinking that it seemed Dean and Castiel were about to have “a talk”; instead, the camera followed Sam out into the research room and reiterated his visions of the cage. I’ve since wondered if something was cut that would’ve explained Castiel’s absence. Regardless, it’s not difficult to give a quick mention to clarify why Castiel, who had been Netflixing and living in the bunker for weeks, is suddenly gone. Considering that episode 9 revolves around Amara, Lucifer, and the Cage, Castiel’s absence and the lack of any acknowledgement of that absence makes no sense. At this point, even if 11×10 offers a flashback, it won’t resolve that particular issue of the midseason finale. It takes a character making one comment to explain Castiel’s absence; narrative cohesion shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Jessica: Recently he’s been completely underutilized, especially in the mid-season finale.  Not having him in that episode made absolutely no sense – not even a mention.  Most of the writers are remembering that he exists and at least mention him if he’s not in the episode.  Robbie Thompson really utilized Castiel well for an episode that Misha doesn’t physically appear in. He made it evident, no matter what the other writers do, that Castiel is a big part of Sam and Dean’s everyday life.  It’s just too bad that some writers forget that bit of continuity. I’d say more Castiel and less Crowley would be a good idea.

What about Crowley and Rowena? Does their inclusion feel different from last season?

SPN2Lyda: I once loved to hate Crowley; since his near-humanization in season nine, he just doesn’t have as much bite. Meg’s admonishment, “Crowley’s always the problem” (7×21) rang true for a long, long time, and there was always a delightful tension to his interactions with the Winchesters. They might collaborate or declare a temporary truce, but Crowley wasn’t to be trusted. Over the past two seasons, there have been so many opportunities for Crowley to show his hand and reveal that he’s playing a long con, but it never comes to fruition: The simplest explanation – usually pertaining to the Winchesters being a soft spot now – usually turns out to be the truth. I find that disappointing. Even in 11×9, Crowley seems clearly surprised by the failing wards — but what if he weren’t? What if he’d been angling to get The Book of the Damned this entire time? What if he wanted Lucifer in his debt? That sort of storyline just seems much more interesting to me than whether or not he’s the Winchesters’ friend or if Rowena loves him.

Now, as for Rowena, I love her: She is sassy and smart, and I like her much better when she’s conniving away from her son. I am actually hoping that she is the one playing the long con in 11×9 and that we’ll learn she’s working with Lucifer and/or Amara. It would be interesting if Rowena, who exudes vivacity and wittiness, became the real contender for the Big Bad throne. I don’t want to see her killed, though, so I hope that she’s savvy enough to stay alive and pop up every so often to ruin everyone’s lives — kind of like Crowley did in the early days.

Angel: Like last season, Crowley is still getting on my nerves.  He hasn’t been given a decent plot in a while, which is sad because I used to adore him.  It’s really disappointing.  Rowena, however, is amazing.  Despite that finale being a complete dud, her inclusion elevated it from ‘atrocity’ to ‘atrocity plus something interesting.’  A definite improvement (though still completely abysmal, let’s be real).  Ruth Connell has been a gift to this show and this fandom.  She’s managed to develop a rapport with the SPN fandom at an alarmingly fast rate and fits in really well with the other cast members.  In just a few short seasons, she managed to earn the record for having been in more episodes than any other actress (which is kind of a sad record, but you know, I’m happy for her).  She’s incredibly beautiful and talented and I don’t care how much trouble Rowena causes, I want her on my screen as often as possible.

Tami: Personally, for Rowena, I feel that not much has really changed. She spent all of last season alternating between being chained up and working for others on spells, then trying to forward her own interests without much luck or success. Thankfully, she always ends up successfully escaping while the others are down, often with valuable prizes. In her few appearances this season, she’s continued this tendency. She’s amazing as a character and I love her sense of humor, but she’s starting to get a bit repetitive. Let’s shake things up a bit for her, have something go her way. Maybe she should get her “Mega Coven”.

Crowley seems to be repeating his actions from season 7 this year. He started out working with a dangerous foe to further his own ends, and when that failed, he agreed to help the boys with their own projects to beat the now-uncontrollable foe using a similarly uncontrollable force. At this rate, I’m expecting Crowley to come out of the season with all the winning cards while everyone else suffers badly over the second half of the season. Last season, he was pretty much just a sidekick right up to the end of the season, when he regained his self-determination. It’s only midseason, so there’s hope for improvement for Crowley if the writers want to try for it. I hope they do, as Crowley can be a much better villain than the watered-down mustache-twirler we’ve had the last season or two.

crowley2Emily: They’re certainly more involved. I think my issue here is that Crowley, of all the characters, is most tied to Amara (being “bound” to Dean aside, we see Crowley with her more than Dean, who is able to do MotW episodes without much more than the odd alt-rock music video wannabe swirling darkness low-saturation flashback to her during them). And Amara this season is… do you remember the Leviathan? I feel about Amara what I felt about Leviathans, except the show is trying to take itself seriously about The Darkness.

Shuffling Crowley, who was a terrifying villain in Season 8, off to being the foil to Amara, reading parenting guides and feeding her souls and demons without knowing what exactly it is he has in his hands, does him a disservice as a character. I prefer my villains more villainous than either Crowley or Rowena are being portrayed: they are no longer a threatening presence, they are comic relief paired with self-serving motivations. I truly hope they find a better direction for the characters, that better uses the talent of the actors.

Jessica: I just find Crowley and Rowena’s portions on nearly every episode to drag a little.  It feels disjointed a bit and the writers spend too much time on them.  Rowena is more interesting than Crowley, but she hasn’t been around as long either.  The writers can’t ever seem to make up their minds on whether Crowley is Dean’s BFF or if he completely hates the Winchesters and wants to kill them.  He’s become a joke, which is sad.  Mark Sheppard is an excellent actor who should be given better material.  I want to like Crowley, but I don’t as much anymore.

One of the ongoing controversies of Supernatural is the treatment of women, LGBTQ+, and POC characters on the show. Do you feel this season has changed at all in this respect?

Season 10 felt so incredibly different when it came to the treatment of women and I had a lot of hope that it was turning over a new leaf.  Then it killed Charlie and I don’t feel like season 11 has been able to recover from that massive mistake.  Then they made the antagonist a femme fatale type character with an extremely low cut dress and I wonder what sort of fluke led to such a female positive season 10.  
One thing I’ll give this show credit for is Rowena.  Ruth Connell has had more episodes than any other actress on the show at this point.  While that’s sort of sad in the grand scheme of things, I am enormously pleased that she’s been given such a pivotal role in the ongoing plot.  I hope her Lucifer fangirling continues and we can keep her on our screens as long as possible.

supernatural 11x2 3As far as LGBTQ+ goes, I was hopeful when they introduced a queer woman at the beginning of the season, but then she was promptly killed.  You’d think after the Charlie mess they’d have been a bit more cautious about this.  But nope, they introduce her and kill her almost immediately.

When it comes to POC characters, well, this show continues to be overwhelmingly white.  None of the regularly occurring POC characters who are still alive (and wow, that’s a depressing way to start this sentence) have really shown up this season, which is depressing.  

Do better, Supernatural.

Tami: I agree about Rowena being a bright spot of light this season. I had brighter hopes this season in terms of diverse characters, thanks to last year, and actually thought they’d be fulfilled for a while. Sadly, the potential shown in early episodes was quickly squandered. The new Reaper Billie, played with great aplomb by a lovely actress of color, hasn’t been seen since.

And the fact that they very quickly killed off other diverse characters like the LGBTQ+ Sheriff and the body-swapping angel Hannah deflated my hopes that this season would be different than previous years.

There has been good spots and characters in later episodes, but outside of Rowena and the masterpiece that was the episode “Baby”, the season has not been good in terms of diversity or representation. The women die, especially if they look in any way different, and the world of Supernatural continues on as white and male as ever.

Emily: I’m going to disagree about Rowena. While I thoroughly enjoy Ruth in the cast, the character of Rowena often comes across as a caricature to me–as if the character was constructed to further the nearly comedic light we are being presented with for Crowley in the recent seasons. The tone doesn’t work for me, and the ‘shrewish, hateful mother’ archetype has never really appealed to me.

Donna2Similarly, while I love Donna and she is a character I truly hope to have gracing my TV for years to come (alongside Jody, hopefully–Wayward Daughters, anyone?), I think that the writing for her episode reduced her to stereotypes and catchphrases. Donna has been kicking ass and taking names, why is she still “fat sucker Donna” who carries salt in her bag because of her diet and is needing relationship advice from the Winchesters (now THAT is a scary thought).

There are some great characters that I feel are being unfortunately under-used, and when they’re brought in it’s with not nearly as much care and consideration as I would have hoped to see. Billie the Reaper was an intriguing addition, but beyond the one scene we have not seen her again. Hannah, as portrayed by Lebanese actor Lee Majdoub, was nuanced in his performance… and then run through with an angel blade. Beyond that, the cast remains fairly white-washed, and the same lack of care has been shown to LGBTQ+ characters since Charlie’s death. The sheriff introduced in the start of the season being casually revealed as queer, without it being treated as a huge deal, would have been fantastic–if she hadn’t had her soul sucked out and ended up killed within the same episode. Crowley’s sexuality was turned into an uncomfortably awkward and out of place murder-orgy to cement it in the canon, as if to prove he’s evil and so it’s okay. You don’t get points for offhand inclusion followed by messy deaths, or literal demonification of queer sexuality, so far as I’m concerned: that’s not representation. Representation is about providing relatable, interesting characters that minority audiences can relate to. Supernatural is notoriously terrible at it.

Jessica: Last season was looking up as far as adding more women and writing them respectfully. I wrote extensively about the great things Supernatural was doing with women last season…. That is until the Nepotism writers killed Charlie off. It’s been downhill since then.  I still have some hope for this season, seeing Donna and Jody again. Their episodes are usually excellent. In general, when there is representation in Supernatural, they are quickly killed off.  And no, I’m still not over them killing Charlie.


Lyda: Before “Dark Dynasty” (10×20), when I thought Felicia Day might actually become a regular, I thought Supernatural was making real progress. Like Angel, I feel like Charlie’s death shifted something fundamental in the show, and it hasn’t recovered yet — I’m not sure it ever will. I love the female characters we do have – Jody, Rowena, Donna, Claire, etc. – though I don’t think the narrative always treats them well, and it bothers me that I can often tell who wrote an episode simply by how the characters are written. I thought the introduction of characters like Billie and Amara was promising, but we haven’t seen Billie since 11×2, and until 11×9, Amara’s mainly been seen in overused flashback footage.

I do think that some of the writers are taking greater care to flesh out the guest characters: Jenna, her Grandmother, and Len, for instance. However, that more careful construction loses some of its impact when characters like Jenna are summarily killed. Supernatural still needs to do better in its treatment of female, POC, and LGBTQ+ characters across the board.


How do you feel about the mid season cliffhanger?

SPN1Tami: Aside from the fact you could see it coming from a mile away? Sam was facing the character most known for lying to him and trying to pull things over on him. Why didn’t he expect that? For that matter, why didn’t Crowley expect something? He doesn’t trust anyone in that group.

That said, I did quite enjoy Sam’s reactions in the last few minutes of the episode, even if I do think he really should have seen it coming. Great acting there.

Angel:  I’m torn.  On the one hand, I enjoy the general direction of the plot, as the Heaven/Hell part of Supernatural is very appealing to me.  On the other hand, Sam’s been tortured enough and I’m afraid about the connotations of him being stuck in the cage again with him.  The bunk line could be construed a number of different ways, too, and it made me highly uncomfortable.  Torture in general is something that is far overplayed on this show, but when it crosses into the realm of body autonomy and consent, it brings an entirely new ick factor.

I do hope they remember that Castiel is able to get into the cage, though, and he saves the day again.  And hopefully he can grab both body and soul at the same time because, as amusing as soulless!Sam was, that did sort of cause a rift between the brothers and Cas for a while.  I mean, it’s not like he meant to leave the soul behind, but that was a pretty gigantic boo boo.  Maybe while he was binge watching Netflix he saw season six and it’ll be fresh in his mind as he goes after him again.

Jessica: I thought it was one of the stupidest episodes I had seen in a long time. The Darkness was such a laughable concept when they rolled it out last year, and it didn’t materialize into anything great this season.  I do think there are some good elements there, I’m just too turned off by Amara and Dean’s creepy connection and the complete disrespect to my religion.  Like Lyda says below, I’m completely underwhelmed.  The best part of the episode was Lucifer. Giving us some history and sass.  But, there wasn’t anything we didn’t see coming. They really should have chosen better writers for such an important episode. Not ones whose plot holes have plot holes.

Lyda: I’m underwhelmed. I see the cliffhanger in three parts: Amara being struck by the pillar of fire; Dean resisting Amara’s thrall; and Sam resisting Lucifer’s thrall but being captured. If Amara’s truly smote, then that’s just anticlimactic — all of that build-up and for what? If she’s alive, then there may be some large-scale carnage coming in the second half of the season; let’s hope it’s well orchestrated if so. Dean truly seems to want to resist whatever effect Amara has on him but will that continue? Or will the “bliss” she offers – particularly after he finds out about Sam – be too tempting? If any aspect of the midseason cliffhanger has me on edge, it’s Sam: I cannot believe that he’s back in the Cage, though truly, did anyone – besides Sam – think that God was talking to him? If anyone else had written this episode and given Sam full credit for the smart, savvy hunter that he is, then I would be more whelmed. But this episode paints Sam as gullible in a way that I can’t easily accept. In addition to Sam’s too-ready belief that God has been speaking to him, why does he bow so readily to Rowena’s insistence that they not wait for Dean?

I do wonder about what’s missing from the cliffhanger, too: Where is Castiel, and what is he doing? No way is he going to be happy with the Cage scheme (unless 11×10 reveals that he has been in the know the entire time, which I doubt will happen). On the bright side, could Sam’s incarceration and Dean’s ensuing meltdown lead to Castiel finally delivering on his promise to carve out Crowley’s heart (9×10)? Or will the King of Hell reveal that he truly does have a heart of gold and help save Sam?

Really, though, I just want to wrap all of Team Free Will in blankets and make them hot cocoa. It’s painful to see the pain this storyline is putting them through. I’m not convinced the narrative pay-off will be worth it, for them or for us.


Emily: I feel that fairly often, the scripts from this writing team have big ideas, but sloppy execution. They come across more like an extended promo for an episode, full of choppy cuts meant to titillate and tease, but they have about the depth to them as an extended car chase. They’re sound and fury, and little substance. I relate to Supernatural through the characters, and while they will show things happening to the characters, they do little to examine what they mean for the characters, or how they feel about it, such as ending on a threat of sexual assault towards Sam and assault against Dean.

Additionally, they have succumbed to one of the most frustrating weaknesses I encounter in television writers: they are so enamored of themselves and their own creations, that they view themselves as the sole creators of canon, ignoring a decade worth of storyline before them. Their Book of the Damned is more powerful than God, because they created it, and it is the only way into the Cage regardless of canon. Their angel, inserted in a strange conversation with a demon in the bar at their last episode, should be of interest to everyone to see again. They refer back to their own episodes constantly, because it is the only continuity they provide: regardless of if their past episodes held to established canon. The characters will act out of character, because they are forcing the characters into their plot, rather than allowing characters to be the driving force of the plot. It’s all a very shallow form of storytelling, and one I feel is condescending to the audience. I rarely find their work enjoyable.

Join our conversation in the comments! What do you think about this season so far?

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They identify as queer.

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10 thoughts on “Supernatural Mid-season Roundtable

  1. Good round table! Interesting points made and reasoned. My knee jerk reaction to the “cliff hangers” of the mid-season finale 1. I dislike Sam standing there crying instead of acting like a hunter he has been for so long (second episode of Sam crying for himself – very woobie) 2. Could not care less if Amara is alive or dead 3. I’d like to see Dean have something more interesting to do than be a space cadet for a Renesmee-Esque character.

  2. I am terribly disappointed that Carver & Co haven’t learned their lesson about letting The Nepotism Writers handle a pivotal episode. Interesting point that they refer to their own episodes – seems those are the only ones the dismal duo has ever watched. This episode was riddled with lines that didn’t sound natural or easy for the characters/actors to speak. I think one of the more veteran writers must’ve helped out quite a bit with the Lucifer dialogue. I could buy that Sam wanted so desperately to believe it was God giving him visions that he let his faith chase away any doubts IF someone had written it well. I’m honestly ready for SPN to wrap it up.

  3. Well, I’m enjoying the season. Since I never read/watched Twilight, I’m not having the same reaction to Dean/Amara that you all seem to be having. Dean’s not remotely interested in a sexual relationship with Amara – she seems to be the one in charge. I think there’s more of a non-con issue (with Amara as the perpetrator) than Dean having a relationship with someone underage.

    Cas missing is a crime. I see no reason for it and it’s a distraction.

    Still, despite Cas being missing, I’m enjoying the season — for now. I’m finding the old school vibe is working for me. I like the boys being on basically the same page. Sam, at this point, has come as clean about what’s going on as could be expected. Dean needs to fess up to losing his free will in Amara’s presence. I also see more layers and depth than perhaps some of the reviewers. I find myself re-watching most episodes multiple times to get all the details. Plus I like the epic nature of the story. I think the are working on a grand scale and tying in to MOTW episodes effectively.

    I will say that if Cas does NOT come back to play a larger roll in the second part of the season, I will be seriously disappointed. My patience is running thin on this particular issue. This is definitely his “territory” and why he’s not in the thick of things confuses me.

    Despite this concern, however, I’m anxious for Jan 20th. I KNOW Cas will be in that one and am hoping his role will become more evident.

    1. I agree. Jensen has definitely portrayed Dean as not being into Amara. She has control over him. It’s not romantic.

  4. Y’all are awesome – you hit all of the big issues without the season so far. I just think it’s a new low in writing quality, series vision, and general taste level. Like, for the big climactic moment of the cliffhanger for the mid season finale, what did they use? A rape joke! That’s what they thought was the right thing to use to lure viewers back after hiatus.
    What are the promos going to be: ” Tune in to find out how many ways Sam Winchester has been violated.” I mean, it’s beyond creepy into downright sick. They DELIBERATELY used sexual violence as the implied threat for both brothers. Despite knowing their main demographic is young people, with the largest segment being teen girls.
    Not to mention that every episode with Amara had implications of pedophilia (often used as a joke) and frequently with th connotation that she, as a child, was being deliberately sexual and/or predatory. Even some of the episodes without Amara contained pedophilic references, like Plush, about a children’s performer killed for suspected child abuse. It really spans the season in a way that seems..planned. And why anybody would think that was a good idea….?
    I…just…think they’re going to the SPECIAL hell

    1. ITA they are using the rapey vibe but I don’t think they are playing it as a joke. It’s certainly not for laughs. They are playing it for horror. They are playing it for a metaphor for loss of Free Will. Now if you fine THAT (use of rapey vibe as a threat or use of rapey vibe as a metaphor for Free Will) offensive – I totally understand. But I think it’s unfair to say they are using it as a joke. Even the Crowley dialog (which usually is as about as insensitive as it possibly can be) was more about “what is happening?!” than making a sexual innuendo joke.

      An again, without any Twilight background, I haven’t seen any pedophilia vibe.

  5. Good review. I agree with almost everything and if it stays that way it might be one of the worst seasons for me.

    I still have hope for Amara and I think a great way to give her more depth would be to have a talk between her, Castiel and possibly Lucifer. I want them to have their own narrative about her and God not connected to Sam and Dean (although that’s probably not going to happen but it’s my hope for the next episode for sure). If they try to make that story more compelling I would be okay with her not being the best villain. I’m also not too concerned about the baby/Renesmee stuff I’m just not seeing why it was done in the first place because it only suffocated the entrance of the darkness and the story they planned.

    1. Disappointed about the Cas issue, which IMO is continuity. After the first several episodes of his being involved – part of the bunker life, doing research, providing vital information, included even if offscreen – he’s suddenly just not there at all? sunning on the beach in Gaza?? C’mon, writers, you’re smarter than that. This is just lazy.

      I’m still trying to be optimistic about the Amara storyline too – it has so much potential, which so far they’re wasting. I disagree with the Renesmee connection – in that, I don’t see it. I do see that the writers/showrunners very clunkily overplayed the development of this weird ‘bond’ between Dean and Amara (of course they did, that’s what they do). That said, IMO they were very clear that it’s not romantic, that it’s very one-sided and involves Amara using her hold over Dean to neutralize his free will. Definitely noncon, if you’re looking for a buzzword. Definitely threatening.

      Re Lucifer and the bunk comment: IMO that was not a rape joke. It was the opposite of a joke; it was deadly serious and an overt threat. Watch Sam’s face (Jared was amazing in this scene): he got the message loud and clear. It’s supposed to be wildly uncomfortable and grotesque and squicky as hell. Both the Lucifer/Sam and Dean/Amara storylines are the same: ugly and dangerous. No one is making light of the situation, least of all the writers. Don’t you think that’s significant?

      That said, as a mid-season finale it fell completely flat. Somebody said that these two writers typically have grand ideas and poor execution. That’s it in a nutshell. I also wonder what they’re all thinking for the rest of the season. If things continue at this level they won’t have a twelfth season to plan for. I hope they’re looking to wrap it up.

      1. It’s good to be optimistic about Amara. I want to be. I just can’t get past the two issues I outlined in my article. But I want to like her so bad. I really do. I’m not sure if any writers can fix the issues that bother me, but if they can my tune about her could change.

  6. There are a lot of good points being made here–some I agree with and some I don’t.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about Castiel and his absence from the midseason finale. Most people point to the fact that Cas was able to get Sam out of the cage before, but they forget one critical bit of information. Sam didn’t have his soul when he came out. Cas /thought/ he had rescued Sam, but he hadn’t, not really. I love Cas, I really really do, but I don’t blame Sam and Dean for perhaps being a little unsure about whether Cas would have what it takes to help in this instance, both because of his current state and because of his past attempt. I’m very anxious to see how the next episode resolves the questions raised now, as this finale definitely had a “to be continued” feel of a legitimate two-parter.

    I do think the writers intended to keep Castiel away from Dean (and Sam by extension) as we saw with Cas’ last conversation with Metatron. He’s been goading Cas for a long time now, trying to keep Cas isolated from everyone–the angels, the Winchesters–in an attempt to weaken him. I think Metatron is trying to get Cas to let his guard down long enough to retrieve his grace and the Demon Tablet. I definitely feel like there is more coming in Cas’ story.

    And maybe I’m just as gullible as some of you believe Sam to be, but I did want to believe that God was speaking to him. My heart sank right along with Sam’s when Lucifer revealed that it was him all along. Seeing at least some aspects of my faith in Sam’s prayers kept me from feeling like the show is actively disparaging my faith. And I even identified with Amara herself as she ran around the world screaming for God to show Himself.

    Overall, I did find this episode to be pretty exciting! And I have enjoyed quite a lot of this season. But maybe that’s because I’m still seeing so much potential in the continuing story–there are lots of pieces still in play that just couldn’t be addressed in one episode. And I’m a fairly new SPN fan, so I got to scream through season 7 a LOT faster than the longtime fans did. And maybe I’m not quite out of my “honeymoon phase” with this show yet, either. But at least I’m excited to see what’s going to happen in the next episode, which is the goal of basically any storytelling venture ever. So there’s that.

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