Not true with a finale. So, I thought I'd post this.
Also -- I will be replying to the lovely comments left on the finale Ramble -- I just had to get a few things in order (and apparently write this up) before I got to all of them. Plus...I might be delaying replying a bit on purpose because once I do...the hellatus has truly begun. I appreciate your patience (and your comments).
Mainly, when I write up my reviews, I focus on the way the story roles out and how the characters -- primarily Dean -- respond to that story. There are plot holes and hand-wave moments, but I'm willing to overlook those for the sake of the story and the characters I enjoy watching so much. It's not a critique-type review; it's nothing more than what I call it: a stream of consciousness reaction. And I know that it's probably overly-positive in some respects, but the bottom line is, I enjoy the show and the characters. If I didn't, I'd stop watching. So that enjoyment plays through the reviews.
Since Friday's finale, I've seen some reactions on my f-list by fans who were disappointed in the finale. Significantly so. Normally, I purposely don't seek out other reviews because I like enjoying the show and I know that to go elsewhere is to risk being brought down to Earth, so to speak. But these were folks on my f-list and I couldn't not read. Plus, I feel that everyone is entitled to their opinion and was curious about how other's expressed their thoughts. So, just because I enjoyed it, doesn't mean I can't appreciate why other's didn't. As @SuperWiki tweeted the other day: "A fandom without obsession and passionate arguments is just an audience."
I thought that hit the proverbial nail on the head when it came to the varying reactions to both this season and this season's finale.
To be honest, I couldn't disagree with many of the points made in the posts. They weren't rants -- the ones I read. They were thoughtful critiques measuring our show against it's own past and it's own rules, and finding it wanting.
Such as the following:
1) The final three episodes were slow and rather full of exposition, and the boys were handed a good deal of the answers by outside sources. I tried to apply a three-act play analogy, hoping the 3rd Act would culminate in more action, less talking. That wasn't the case, though I still contend that for me, the final moments made up for feeling the drag of minutes mid-way through. The pacing felt off -- which is why I think we needed so much explanation (or the writers thought we did, anyway). And too many bread crumbs had to be picked up too quickly at the end. The same felt true for me of the end of S6, so I'm hopeful that there could be changes across the board with S8.
2) Bobby. I really liked the idea of having him as a ghost when we first got the confirmation -- I saw so much potential for how that story could have played out. But the writers had him going vengeful so quickly it was almost as if they changed their minds and knew they had to finish his story by the end of the season. I do like that they had him redeem himself by realizing he had to stop what he was doing, and both learning and teaching the lesson that when it's your time, go. But in retrospect, there were different ways the boys could have learned that lesson (Dean learned it through his stint as Death, for example), and now that it's done, I almost wish they hadn't brought Bobby back -- despite how great it was to see Jim Beaver again. If he'd nobly sacrificed himself saving the boys, maybe I would think differently. But, while I thought his final farewell was a moving performance by all and made my heart hurt for Sam & Dean, it felt like the writers had this great idea and then either ran out of time or couldn't decide what to do with it.
3) The Leviathans - a slow, oddly un-threatening (though their plan should have held more weight in the fear department than it did) nemesis who was rather easy to kill in the end, once the right Dick Roman was found. An argument could be made for arrogance -- Dick never really feared the Winchesters until it was really too late. But even with arguments in defense of the way the story played out, it really was slow. This is the 2nd season in a row where I can agree to being underwhelmed by the Big Bad (which is one of the reasons I'm not sure I want a "Big Bad" story arc in S8...unless it's Crowley).
4) I've seen some comments about 'fanservice' as it relates to Castiel, Bobby, even the Impala. I've already talked about Bobby, and I totally agree that the Impala's return was not long enough and seemed to be just brought back for us (Dean not driving her just felt all kinds of wrong), and as far as Cas, well...I really enjoy him when he's onscreen -- even as bee-Cas -- but I don't exactly miss him when he's gone. I basically take him as they give him to us and watch how his involvement affects Dean. Regardless, I don't know that I am terribly bothered by 'fanservice'. We're talking about a show that's repeatedly broken the 4th wall. If they bring back a character (or car) just to make fans happy, well...I'm a fan. So...I'm happy. The only time it doesn't work for me is when the writers bring them back then seem to lose their way (see Point #2, above). I appreciate writing that introduces characters for a purpose that's meaningful to the plot or to the central characters -- which is why I'm okay with Cas' return; he could still play a critical role in S8.
Still, even though I can agree with those points, the bottom line is that I enjoyed S7. Maybe I just enjoyed being able to see Dean; maybe it was that I found it more my style than S6. I don't know for sure. I do know I had fun. And while I love a riveting, take-your-breath-away, how are they even still standing type finale as much as the next guy, I think that, ultimately, the finale achieved the most important job of any season finale: setting the stage for what comes next.
It engaged us for next season, setting up players and positions and circumstances that we can speculate upon all during the hellatus and revving us up to be on our couches, eyes glued to the TV when S8 premieres. Whether that was Sera's clever writing, or Jeremy's clever revisions, I don't know if we'll truly find out (though I know we all have our own suspicions).
So, with that, I have some wishes I'd love to see in S8. I know I'm not alone in some of these as I've seen random comments on Twitter and my f-list. I've not read any codas or tags yet and don't know if I will, to be honest. But I would love to hear your wishes for S8.
These are just early thoughts through my admittedly Dean-colored view. I know there were some who weren't pleased that the brothers were separated again, but I liked it. I really do see this as a fantastic way to give each of the brothers a unique storyline and offer some intriguing storytelling opportunities. Also, I think exploring Purgatory a bit further than we did Hell and a bit deeper than we did Heaven would be intriguing.
I want partnership to be a theme. The brothers acting as brothers -- which they can do even when parted. There are things they've learned from each other that can play through in the episodes until they're reunited. Sam taking care of the Impala or sweet-talking information out of a lady. Dean out-smarting a monster instead of out-fighting them. Something that says, "I was thinking of my brother when I did this."
Then when they are reunited, I want them to be brothers again. Like the small moments of remembering their childhood (aka the Playboy scene in the 2nd to last episode). Laughing together, working off of each other, fighting for each other. Without either of them dying the feeling we got in Season 2 when they ripped our hearts out and pasted them back in over and over.
I would also like more of the boys working things out -- through discovery, research, or conversation -- than people revealing things to them. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed a good many of the guest stars in S7, but rather than everyone else around the boys being lucky or smart, I want to see them pull off the last-minute save without added input. I'm all for guest starts as they offer us another view into the boys' lives and give them someone to react to that's different from each other. But I would love to see Sam and Dean be the ones to figure out Crowley's secret, or the way to kill the Kappa, or...whatever (obviously pulling examples out of my...hat).
And like I said in the 2nd to the last ramble, I'm good with not having a new "big bad" this year. I'd be perfectly happy if the big challenge was simply getting Dean out of Purgatory, then dealing with him being back, finding their own brand of "normal" (as in where to they fit in this world, can they have lives outside of hunting, will they ever have relationships, or are they all doomed) and fighting monsters off one-by-one in the meantime.
No body left in the lab means (to me) that Dean didn't actually die when he was sucked into Purgatory. If he didn't die, then I'm thinking he's going to have to survive the 'monster lands' as a human -- Hunger Games-style. They showed us Purgatory as if it were an actual place -- but does it have water, regular animals, edible vegetation? Does it have cycles of day and night? I would love to see him having to find shelter, find food, fashion weapons, operate in survival mode. Finding ways to live off the "land" as best he can, staying alive, killing whatever comes after him (or trying to). I see a beard in his future, even. He's always been street-smart, but lately we've seen a lot of answers and solutions given to him. Have him remember and use the hunting skills his dad taught him, what he had to learn on his own growing up as he did, what's helped him make it this far in life.
Cas said that all of the souls there were monsters -- but what were they before? Angels? Demons? I'm sure vamps, shifters, werewolves, all of those are there, too. How many will Dean "know" or will know him? I would love some ways to play on his memories, some monsters stronger than others, some easier to take down. Can he actually kill them? Is Cas right -- are they all monsters or could he run into someone who is human? Someone he might know? How does time pass in Purgatory? However long they have in there in the show, I would like at least 2-3 episodes of it, showing what he goes through. They can elongate the time however they wish, so long as it's not another "4 months later" and he's crawling out of a hole.
When he returns to the world, I would love to see his experience there playing with him. Have some Hurt Locker-Dean. A moment of having to buy cereal and flummoxed because that's the biggest decision he has to make that day and how does that even matter? Jumping at loud sounds or the roar of an engine. Going into fight mode at the smallest threat or touch. Not able to sleep in a bed -- the floor more comfortable at first. Not a season full of this, but having the reaction actually play out for an episode or two. Show, don't tell.
I'd also like the time with Cas to impact him a bit, too -- like maybe he can't sleep without someone nearby, watching his back. And I'd like their shared experience there to help Dean forgive and reunite these two as friends -- make Cas' return be purposeful in that it helps Dean grow and learn emotionally. I think it's important that Dean have his friend back, recognize he's worth that friend.
Eventually he'll be able to re-enter the world and be his normal self, but then what? Fight more monsters and send them to where he was? How will that affect him mentally? Will he be more or less likely to want a regular life? Will he still have a driving desire to take care of Sam as before? And will the fact that Cas was in Purgatory with him affect his relationship with Sam? One thing I do not want to see is any "wedge" being driven between the brothers because of this. I mean, sure, there's the fact that they're both going to be going through things neither one will be able to truly understand, but I want that to help bond them further, not drive them apart.
I do not want Dean to "replace" the closeness we've watched him reestablish with Sam by needing Cas more. That was something I really enjoyed about S7 - how the brothers started to be brothers again. I want that to be the thing that saves them in the end -- each of them keep fighting because they know their brother's out there, fighting, surviving, looking for them or looking for a way back.
Having Sam on his own like this is a great way for him to overcome the understandable hesitancy he's had since Cas healed him from Lucifer. I would like for him to get stronger -- not shut off emotionally like he did in Mystery Spot, not seek out a crutch like he did with Ruby after Dean died, but come into his own as his father's son, a savvy hunter who knows how to defeat monsters and can research to find where Dean is. His emotions could be his ally in this, serving to fuel his hunt and find is brother. I would like to see what Sam's really capable of when he's put to the test and doesn't have demon blood or hellvision to help or hinder him.
I would like him to seek out Sheriff Mills -- because I adore her, and because she saw how Sam was when Dean was sucked to the 1940's and would understand -- and use her to help his research. I would love for him to circle back to Visiak's house or story and figure out how she found a path out of Purgatory. I would love for him to have to engage the Alpha Vamp for help, leaving them with a moral dilemma of sorts later -- he helped get Dean out, can they kill him now?
I want to see him focused on getting Dean back, killing baddies only when they get in his way or threaten him or someone he's nearby -- not having him seek out jobs/hunts until Dean is back. I want to see him have to contend with Crowley -- would like to see them try to match wits -- and keep that guy off his back (and aside...I would like to get to the bottom of Crowley as well, because I'm not 100% convinced he's 100% demon). I would like to see him have to maybe even get a job or something because he needs to fund his search. Something that super-imposes a "regular" life against Dean's "irregular" circumstances. I would also love to see him take care of the Impala in a "for Dean" way.
When Dean comes back, I would love Sam to have to find a way to navigate around this Purgatory Traumatic Stress Disorder brother of his. How does Sam cope? Does he remember his Hell experiences? Does he try too hard? Not hard enough?
Obviously he still has his powers in Purgatory as he was able to "blink" out there at the end, but it would be interesting if those powers were limited. I would like him to still be "bee-Cas" at first at least -- using the experience in Purgatory -- perhaps having to save Dean from something, but unable to heal him -- slowly return him to his powerful 'angel of the Lord' persona. I think it would be interesting to see him be vulnerable to some of the creatures -- actually killable. But I don't want him to die -- just be vulnerable to death.
I would really like something about his experience in Purgatory to restore his faith (stranger things have happened). And I would like for him to be looking for a path out while Sam's looking for a path in. It would be super-awesome if they find each other in one of those random chance/destiny moments. And I would also love it if when they free Cas and Dean, the Leviathans are sucked back in to replace them, but that could really be wishful thinking.
When they get out, I would love for Cas to go to Heaven to finish "cleaning up his mess" as Dean put it and help restore a bit of order to Heaven so that the boys might have some angels on their side again, rather than everything in and out of the world against them.
I have no idea what all to expect from Jeremy Carver by way of arc and "big bad" and anything else beyond Purgatory, but I do think he's set up for a great start, and I'm excited to see what's to come. Heck, I'm excited to see Dean again, but that's a given. Purgatory could last a whole lot longer than just Dean's time there and the aftermath of his return.
What do you guys think? What is your wish list? What are you looking forward to? What are you worried about?
(And, PS...I know I've not been keeping up on replying to posts right away this week, but I will reply. Cross my heart.)