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Cue the cowbells – it’s time to look back on the crazy ride that was Season 9 of the hit show Supernatural! Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years, you already know about Sam and Dean Winchester – brothers who follow their father’s footsteps as hunters to fight supernatural beings that roam the earth – and that their lives are about as normal as they can be for two thirty-something’s who’ve gone to hell, purgatory, and team up with an angel named Castiel who’s only just understanding pop culture references after arriving on Earth in the season four premiere ‘Lazarus Rising’.
This season has been atypical of the Winchester’s perpetual curse of bad luck, with Sam almost dying and Dean allowing an angel to take possession of his body to save him. Their petty arguments seemed to evolve into a longstanding brotherly feud which unfortunately was never resolved, as Dean was killed and became a demon.
It’s no joke that the Winchesters brothers have always had a rocky relationship. At the start of season one, Dean was 26, Sam was 22, and their lives revolved around trying to find their missing father. Now, at the end of season 9, Dean is 35, Sam is 31, and both of them need some major sessions with a hunter psychologist. Their relationship is beatifically dysfunctional, as neither one seems able to cope without the other. One of them is usually lying to the other, or both of them are keeping secrets, and when it all blows up they either end up in a heart to heart or brooding silence where neither of them acknowledges their faults.
This season, Dean lied to Sam about being possessed about the angel Gadreel, and Sam was not uncommonly suicidal. He was angry with Dean for not being able to save him and blamed him for just about everything else, which was quite unfair. Dean was also battling his own demons with the First Blade and the mark of Cain, and trying to stop Metatron’s takeover of Heaven and Earth. Sam and Castiel team up with a host of heavenly subjects to protect Dean from the blade, Metatron gains human followers, and Castiel finds the true source of Metatron’s power. However it all seems a little too late, as the Mark of Cain transforms Dean into the Winchesters worst nightmare during the season finale – a demon.
So what does this mean for the unstable relationship between Sam and Dean? Unfortunately, the chance of reconciliation seems slim, and it is doubtful they’ll be honest with each other, especially since now Dean’s a demon and if the past nine seasons are anything to go by, it’s common knowledge that demons lie.
Even if the petty feuds between the Winchester brothers seems a little overdone, there’s no doubt that Jared Padalecki (Sam) and Jensen Ackles (Dean) delivered another solid performance this season. Ackles and Padalecki really embodied their characters, and it was great to see Dean moving away from his usual hilarious antics and going towards a much darker place. It was also great to see Padalecki mimic the way Tahmoh Penikett played Gadreel while the angel possessed him.
Supernatural seems to love writing awkward, unstable relationships, which is exactly how one might describe Dean’s relationship with angel Castiel. The pair has been inseparable after the arrival of Misha Collin’s character, and it’s no secret they share a ‘profound bond’ after Castiel saved Dean from hell and they shared a stint in Purgatory. However, the trouble is that while Castiel is an ‘angel of the lord’, he’s has very human emotions when it comes to Dean, and he repeatedly betrays and atones their friendship. Maybe it’s because they resemble a long-suffering married couple, or that Castiel has become an honorary Winchester. Whatever the case, the angel and now-demon’s relationship will be even more strained, especially since Castiel’s grace is failing and he’s facing his own mortality.
Although the season ended dramatically for Sam and Dean, the rest of it was overtaken by the angels and demons. With the many story arcs of Metatron vs Castiel, Castiel vs Crowley, and Crowley vs Abbadon, the show really reflected the intricacy of the relationship between the ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ of the show. However it was a pity that Castiel and Crowley didn’t have more screen time together, as they both stole the spotlight this season. It’s obvious why Misha Collins (Castiel) and Mark Sheppard (Crowley) are season regulars next season. Some of the better scenes in the season came from Castiel struggling to adapt to human life without his grace, and Crowley with his battle against Abbadon for the throne of hell, complete with his witty dialogue and condescending tone.
The main qualm about the season was the haphazard weekly monster jaunts that were either nostalgic or repetitive and had nothing to do with the overall storyline. It was also obvious that Sam and Dean seemed to have become more callous with their hunting, shooting first asking questions later. Maybe it’s because they’ve become jaded over the years and the past seasons haven’t exactly been kind to them. Whatever the case, it was obvious the brothers had changed for the worse.
Although Season 9 had its ups and downs, it was great to see such an amazing line-up of guests stars, such as Alaina Huffman as the wicked Abaddon, Curtin Armstrong as scheming Metatron, Felicia Day as lovable Charlie, Osric Chau as the long-suffering Kevin, Timothy Omundson as retired demon Cain, Tahmoh Penikett as the Grigori angel Gadreel, and Kavan Smith as Magnus/Cuthbert Sinclair. But the best surprise of the season? Seeing fan-favourite Richard Speight, Jr. return as the angel trickster Gabriel.
Even though this season was an uneven mix of storyline and filler, after nine years the show still has the capacity to provide interesting storylines and intriguing characters. The season 9 finale was possibly the best ever in the history of the show, setting up a dark road for Dean in Season 10 as he settles into his new life of being a demon. Such a major departure of character is a real game-changer on the show, illustrating that the long-running series still has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Season 9 verdict: 8/10