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Review: Supernatural 11×23 “Alpha and Omega”

So we’ve come, as Boyz II Men once crooned, to the end of the road, or at least the end of another season. The pre-titles sequence, set to the show’s anthem, “Carry On My Wayward Son”, was a reminder that there have actually been some pretty awesome stand-alone episodes this season, which for a show about to start production on its twelfth season is no mean feat.

That said, I’ve been worried that the overall mythology of the show was set to implode with the appearance of God Himself in the latter part of Season 11, and curious as to how we move beyond a scenario where the stakes are pretty much as high as they can possibly be – i.e. the impending death of God and the Universe.

With Amara having left her brother dying, and the sun beginning to fade, it seemed all hope was lost for our rag-tag bunch of unlikely world saviours. There was good news on the Cas front at least – with Lucifer having been purged from his vessel (who knows to where), the angel was back and seemingly in good shape. Rowena, Crowley, Sam, and Dean were all similarly unscathed, and set about trying to find a way to kill The Darkness with Chuck’s reluctant blessing. While Dean seemed more concerned with being blotto for his impending doom (which is his MO, to be fair), Sam worked up a theory that if Chuck died, and Amara was also destroyed, balance would be restored to the Universe. Reasoning that only an inconceivably large amount of light could defeat Amara, the gang hit upon a plan to use souls as fuel for the mother of all nukes.

With both Heaven and Hell’s soul reserves depleted, it fell to the Winchesters to harvest some from a notoriously haunted asylum. This gave us a slightly incongruous segment in which the boys carried out a good old fashioned hunt, complete with shotguns filled with salt rounds, and this only served to make me nostalgic for the days when they were actually vaguely afraid of ghosts! Additional souls were procured with the surprise help of Billie, who wasn’t down with the idea of reaping God. The news that she was raiding the veil for supplies did make me question what’s supposed to happen to all these poor souls. What becomes of them once they’ve been used as a dirty bomb?! I mean, the show has been a bit blasé about civilians and meat suits for years now, but up until a few weeks ago, Kevin would have been one of those souls…

Anyhoo, with the soul bomb made, it was down to Dean Winchester to set it off. As the only one with a personal connection to Amara (which never was really explained beyond the fact that Jensen Ackles is really, really attractive, unless I missed something fundamental), he was charged with getting close enough to detonate it, the catch being he would have to become the bomb. Again, I know he was built with accommodating an archangel in mind, but seeing what harbouring additional souls did to Cas, it’s a wonder he wasn’t Winchester soup within seconds. Dean had just enough time to visit Mary Winchester’s grave and say his goodbyes before Chuck beamed him up. Kudos to Jared Padalecki, whose brimming eyes in that scene were heart-breaking, as was the little kiss Sam planted on his mother’s tombstone. I also loved that Cas offered to go with Dean to his death. It seemed totally plausible to me, given that Dean had told him earlier that he was their brother, and as an observer, Cas knows that’s what Winchester brothers do. There were lots of visual throwbacks to “Swan Song”, and Amara and Dean’s encounter in the garden was deliberately very reminiscent of his conversation with Lucifer in “The End”.

Supernatural -- "Alpha and Omega" -- SN1123b_0021.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Emily Swallow as Amara and Jensen Ackles as Dean -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

But here’s the problem. Drawing such obvious comparisons with those classic episodes only serves to remind the viewer of how safe the show has become. We know at this point that neither Sam or Dean will stay dead. Without them, there is no show. There’s also no one left for them to lose with the exception of Cas and Jody (who is ‘out’ of the life, to all intents and purposes), and having been told that either God or Amara dying would mean the end of everything, we knew from halfway through the episode that the only way this storyline could possibly end was with a reconciliation. Having Chuck and Amara make up and leave together also neatly dealt with the problem of what to do with God. On the one hand, it was refreshing to have crisis averted through talking and peace-making, rather than conflict and death, but it left me feeling that Supernatural had rather painted itself into a corner this season.

We were left with two rather unexpected cliff-hangers to carry us through to the next season though. The introduction of Toni from the British chapter of the Men of Letters who turned up at the bunker to apprehend Sam (although why she would have thought during the actual end of the Universe was a good time to finally make a move is anyone’s guess) and Amara’s parting ‘gift’ to Dean – the resurrection of Mary Winchester. If we assume that Toni shooting Sam (although it happened off-screen so maybe not) happened after Amara’s departure, it is feasible that she believed having his mother alive is the thing Dean would want most. But would he? Really? After all this time? Perhaps that is something they will examine next season, the complexities of getting someone back after you’ve grieved and moved on. And if Sam is actually dead, perhaps Billie will make good on her promise to keep him that way? It seems odd that we got all that foreshadowing only to have her turn up and save the day in the finale.

So, a mixed bag of a finale. While there was certainly a lot to love about it, it felt too safe to warrant any real emotional pull. I do miss the days when that last episode of the year could rip out my heart and stamp all over it, and the agony of Hellatus was almost too much to bear.

Final Grade: C

+ Crowley suggesting a method of bomb transportation to Dean was possibly one of my highlights of the season. You can always rely on Mark Sheppard to nail a biting delivery.

+ Bro hug!!! About time too. I did like that Sam was clearly devastated but respected Dean’s decision, in a reversal of “Swan Song”, and at the same time you got a suggestion that he was going to try everything he could to get his brother back after the fact. Jared knocked it out of the park this week.

+ The scene in the garden with the old lady was particularly moving. I loved that she admitted to hating her son a bit for wanting her out of the way.

– When will TV land realise that we Brits are not all aristocracy who have titles, butlers, and perish if we don’t drink tea every hour?!

– I felt the script wasn’t there this week. There were one-liners and clunky bits of dialogue which jarred and made the overall tone of the episode patchy. I just don’t believe Dean would ever tell Cas letting Lucifer in was the right thing to do.

– After readying us for the end of existence, it seemed there was only one possible outcome for this episode, which felt a little flat for a finale.

Extra Thoughts: It will be interesting to see how they deal with Mary next season. Having been brought back by The Darkness, perhaps her restoration will be more curse than blessing. Could she even be shaping up to be next season’s Big Bad? And let’s not forget Lucifer is wafting about somewhere, possibly looking for his former vessel. Let’s hope he has some new tricks up his sleeve in Season 12!

So did this episode burn with the power of a hundred thousand human souls, or did it fizzle out like a damp sparkler? Sound off in the comments or let us know on Twitter!

 

About the author

Katie Young