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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Supernatural Series 10 (Second Half)

Series 10 (Second Half).

Right, let's get this over with. Much like the Once Upon A Time review of last week, there's no sense holding off, may as well just get it done and dusted.

The latter half of Supernatural's tenth series sees Dean struggling with the Mark of Cain, while Sam enlists the help of hacker-turned-hunter Charlie and immortal witch Rowena to locate and translate the Book of the Damned, a tome of curses that may hold a spell that will destroy the Mark. In so doing, the Winchesters are brought into conflict with both Crowley and an ancient, sorcerous family, the Steins.

I'll be honest, if I find a series as exhausting to watch as Supernatural, that's usually a bad time. Even Once Upon A Time, which I think is terrible, I consider an adequate way to fill forty lazy minutes a week, rather than an energy-sapping well of boredom and weariness. Supernatural was never exactly a high quality show - it just wasn't - but time hasn't done it any favours in that regard either, as it limps on, seemingly purely on the justification that Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have families to feed and need the work, and becomes increasingly more and more phoned in every week.

If I'm bringing up OUAT a lot, it's because these two series, made by different people and airing on different channels, somehow managed to come up with identical plot twists in their finales. An ancient, evil force that manifests as a swirling darkness, sealed long ago by the Big Good of the show and inside an undying human host whose actions are warped by it, despite the fact that this flies in the face of previous plot developments? Bloody check, I'd say. 

Cain, showing up for only an episode, is the closest thing to a compelling villain
the series has.

Even the execution is the same, with the Darkness - either one, they are literally both named that - making its appearance as an evil cloud and enveloping the protagonists within the last minutes of the episode.

Don't mistake me here, the charge I'm leveling at these two shows isn't plagiarism - I believe entirely that both shows came up with these twists entirely independently, probably while patting themselves on the back for how shocking and dramatic it all was - but it is a damning example of how cliche and unoriginal both series have become. 

In OUAT's case, their flagrant disregard for their own continuity could be somewhat excused in that the contradictory element was from way, way back in their first series - not so with Supernatural, whose entire 'oh no, there's no way to remove the Mark without consequences' schtick, introduced in episode eighteen of this series, contradicts episode twelve of this series. 

In that episode, Dean is de-aged into a fourteen year old boy while retaining all his memories of being an adult, and the Mark is removed in the process, only reappearing when he later chooses to return to being an adult. The show even gleefully presents the de-ageing process as an entirely valid and consequence-free way of freeing Dean from the Mark, no doubt to try to add pathos to his decision to return to being an adult to save his brother - but it's never mentioned again, and no reason is ever given why powerful witch Rowena wouldn't be able to reproduce the spell, which was after all cast by one of her own colleagues.

Rowena, meanwhile, is probably the funnest character in the series.

It's an oversight that makes all the drama seem false, and that's not exactly helped by how the writers seem unable to decide if their dramatic writing is going to be just lackadaisical, devoid of any kind of impact or effort, or just cheap, throwing out exhausted and misogynistic cliches like, for example, brutally killing off Charlie just to generate angst for the Winchesters, a cheap and uncomfortable fridging that served very little plot purpose, hinged on every character in the show acting like idiots, and tied in with Supernatural's long and sordid history of murdering all of their female characters.

(A lot of people had speculated that because Charlie wasn't romantically interested in the Winchesters and never would be, she'd be safe from dying. Apparently not so - the Supernatural writers just can't help killing off any women in sight.)

These two doughy white dudes, meanwhile, are entirely safe. 

Also not helping the writing is the fact that there's a small parade of recurring villains - Metatron, Rowena, the Steins, Cain - but nothing resembling a main villain for the series. None of those recurring villains ever seem like a compelling threat, and without a main villain, the series feels even more lifeless than it normally would.

So, all in all, another very lacklustre, very tired series, and one that's hammered in what I've been saying for a while: Supernatural needs to be allowed to die. It should have ended half a decade ago, but the CW and the showrunners just won't let it go. It's become a farce at this point, and an entirely unnecessary one, because let's be honest here, it may be popular, but it's far from irreplaceable. 

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