It’s not hard to fall in love with Supernatural. From its game-changing combination of macabre humor, gut-wrenching feels, ride-or-die bromance, classic horror, and dashing leads, there are a lot of reasons why The CW’s sci-fi show about two monster-hunting brothers saving people is the longest drama in WB and The CW’s history--250 of them to be exact.
Supernatural roared into 2017 celebrating its landmark 250th episode, reminding everyone why you don’t mess with the Winchesters.
“First Blood”—a nod to the 1982 Sylvester Stallone movie that introduced John Rambo to the violence lovin’ masses—find Sam and Dean in the custody of the government after attempting to assassinate the President (or save him from devil possession). Instead of the good ole’ American torture, the Winchesters instead face a lifetime of deprivation and solitude, exiled from mother, Castiel and the motley crew that have become family. As awful as it sounds, they’ve both been to the far reaches of hell, so this is cake, right?
Sam and Dean channel yet another popular movie that you probably don’t have to ask your dad about--The Notebook—and die simultaneously in order to execute their escape from a prison that doesn’t exist. Once they’ve made it out of the prison, they discover that they’re trapped in the Colorado wilds with the prison guards hot on their heels.
I have repeatedly wished that Supernatural would embrace the fact that Sam and Dean are, for all intents and purposes, impeccably trained killers. Beyond the dimples, the hair, and those masterpieces they call faces, reside the skill sets that rival Navy SEALs. They were trained to killed monsters from very young ages and both have had their wares honed by years of hunting and stints in hell, The Cage, and purgatory. Finally, they own all of that. “What we have here is a failure to communicate. We’re not trapped out here with you. You’re trapped out here with us,” Dean threatens. Don’t get it twisted, Sam and Dean will always be the hunters.
In some of the best action sequences since season 9’s “First Born,” Sam and Dean booby trap a cabin and its surrounding land, humanely neutralizing the soldiers. Even the guy who gets a knife to the thigh gets a “you’ll live” affirmation and first aid kit from Action Sammy.
“Who are you?” A government stooge asks. “We’re the guys that saved the world,” Sam answers as they stroll away, unbothered. All that’s missing is the cabin exploding behind them for it to be a true action movie moment, but for a little show that barely secured a season 1 renewal, it's pretty damn cool.
Meanwhile, Castiel, the fallen angel, is in a very real tailspin. Without Sam and Dean, he has no home and no purpose. Misha Collins does tragically beautiful work as an orphaned angel who misses his family. He even tries his wing at the family business, taking up a tricky case. “I don’t know what I did wrong. I asked questions, but maybe they were the wrong people or the wrong questions. I just never found it,” he explains to a sullen Mary Winchester.
Ironically, “First Blood” is a brilliant and a bit disappointing representation of Supernatural then and now. It encapsulates the pure magic and badassery and brotherhood the show began with, and highlights the problems of an aging series. The awesome episode falls apart in the last eight minutes.
How did Sam and Dean manage to die simultaneously? Don’t act like you don’t know.
After a rare warm and fuzzy reunion in the woods with Sam, Dean, Mary and Cas, Billie gloats about making one last deal with the Winchesters. In order of to escape prison, which Dean admits was "worse than hell", she gets to reap a Winchester at the stroke of midnight. We’ve gone from Rambo to a twisted Cinderella (Are we buying that sensory deprivation is worse than Alistair's rack or Lucifer's Cage? Share your thoughts below).
The reveal is shocking, but the moment depressingly stoic. In the 250th episode, there are no broments or impassioned speeches about how Dean loves Sam enough to die for him (again!!) or how Dean has protected Sam for his whole life, and now it’s Sam’ There’s no one perfect tear or even a goodbye hug. Sam steps forward, convinced he’ll be the one to go (that Dean'll let him go). Dean glances at Sam a bit forlornly, determined to do the same. But Mary, who seems as disgusted and overwhelmed with this world I am 10 days post-44, puts a gun to her head. Billie is all but salivating. Has this been her plan all along?
It doesn’t matter because a distraught Castiel kills her with his angel blade. Has this been Dean’s plan all along? (It’s also not Supernatural unless they’re needlessly killing off women. Or decimating Eric Kripke’s canon). Castiel rails against the dying of the Winchester light. “This world… this sad, doomed little world needs you. It needs all the Winchesters it can get. I won’t let you sacrifice yourselves. You mean too much to me…You made a stupid deal and I broke it. You’re welcome.”
I understand an emotional devastated Castiel’s motives. He is a novice at existing in humanity, and was raised by Winchesters, absorbing all of their co-dependent, violent, beautiful dysfunction. He acts upon it in a moment with Dean’s impulsiveness and Sam’s heart.
Killing Billie, however, is as shortsighted, enraging and unnecessary as slaughtering Charlie Bradbury off-screen and dumping her in a bathtub.
Billie debuted just last season, and brought with it a badass and soulful energy that enabled her to turn potentially cringe-worthy dialogue “Say bye-bye to Luigi, Mario” into instantly quotable one-liners. She also balances out all that testosterone. All of Supernatural’s principle cast are white men, and have been since the pilot.
Lisa Berry’s Billie is also the first black woman to recur on Supernatural in its historically long run, which makes her death after just six episodes even more atrocious.
It’s a fair observation that Billie has already bailed the Winchesters out one too many times, and I don’t wouldn’t disagree. However, that is more of an indictment of the shoddy writing than Berry or Billie. I would also shine the light on Crowley (Mark Sheppard) who has been reclaiming his evil crown as the King Of Hell only to help the Winchesters the very next week for seven bloody seasons. While Sheppard can always inject a zany humor and treachery into a scene, his character outlived his usefulness years before they introduced his Bates-esque Mommy issues. Death on SPN is never the end, but this is a chapter Billie the reaper and her portrayor never deserved.
I must note that getting killed off actually works in favor for Supernatural’s few actors of color. This Is Us' Sterling K. Brown aka Gordon Walker just picked up an Emmy for his fantastic work in People V. O.J. Simpson and scored a part in Marvel’s much-anticipated Black Panther. Aldis Hodge, who played the man that killed Sam Winchester back when death was dreaded and irreversible, just won an award for Outstanding Ensemble for Hidden Figures. Here’s hoping Berry continues this trend and find a deliciously huge role in her post-Supernatural career.
“First Blood” ends with British Men Of Letters continuing his snakeoil salespitch to join them in their quest to rid America of monsters getting their first inductee: Mary Winchester.
Yes, Mary Winchester blithely agrees to work with the very people who shot, burned, drugged, and sexually assaulted her youngest son—the one she has never actually taken an on-screen moment to get to know. Is she working an angle? Is she so dejected with 21st century America that she’s recklessly acting out? It’s unclear, and while it’s incredibly hard to withhold judgment and to not wonder if anyone will ever remember what these people did to Sam and make them pay, it's an devilishly intriguing set-up for the rest of the season. We all know it’s never Supernatural without a little familial betrayal.
What did you think of “First Blood”? Was it worthy of the occasion? Do you trust Mary Winchester? How will you mourn Billie? Hit up the comments section below.
Small Screen Girl
I am an unabashed pop culture and TV-aholic with no plans to ever seek treatment. Explore this blog and see just how deep my obsession goes.