SUPERNATURAL meets the Fonz (with skis)

Fonzie_jumps_the_shark[4]3 In the middle of fourth season, CW‘s enduring Supernatural had a daring episode that they titled “Jump the Shark”, dallying with a series-ruining concept but conveniently avoiding the idiom’s teeth. It actually worked… until sadly, the last episode of fifth season – originally slated to be the series’ finale – decided to try on Fonzie’s awkward swim trunks (not familiar with the “shark” term? Click here for enlightenment). From its anti-climactic rendering of the apocalypse to its pathetic representation of “God”, Supernatural‘s finale failed on almost every level, leaving me confused – should I be happy they decided on another season, giving time to rise above this limp swan song, or did the extension of the series actually cause the weak sauce? Either way, their version of “God” was as tired and eye-rolling as Alanis Morissette in Dogma.

As mentioned in our previous post, Supernatural had been dealing with an escalating, fascinating look at biblical components of demons, angels, apocalypse and God. Sadly, the culmination was anything but awe-inspiring.

Top 3 Reasons the Supernatural season finale fell short:1040323_0be1c6f7-f376-4604-8234-91ba201ccb2c-88

1. When Lucifer leaves his “weaker vessel” to inhabit Sam, the reverse happened; from an acting standpoint Mark Pelligrino was a stronger Lucifer than Jared Padalecki, so the devil lost his verve. The Ginormitron can play a competent bad boy, but Satan? Al Pacino he ain’t.

2. There was a fascinating symmetry between the two angel “brothers” – older Michael, younger Lucifer – and the two Winchester brothers (in regard to their dutiful/rebellious relationships with their father). This intriguing meta-commentary on brothers, sons and fathers, was evident but not capitalized on. If the apocalypse was going to be an anticlimactic, therapeutic chick flick moment, it could have been accomplished far better. In fact, having God show up – perhaps as actor Jeffry Dean Morgan, who played the Winchester boys’ late father in the show – could have punctuated the personal relationship of the brothers as a microcosm of life’s biggest struggle for meaning, identity, relationship and love with our Father in heaven.

1040323_e041d6ce-b797-4d0a-bfba-c9cf59a189ca-31-endings3. Lastly, the (Spoiler Alert) revelation that hack writer/prophet Chuck is God incarnate was just sad. The gimpy, Joan Osborne “what if God was one of us” wishy-washy bus-riding god concept played itself out in the 90s; it’s a tired pop culture cliche that seems cheap, beneath the solid and increasingly interesting work series creator Eric Kripke gave us the last two seasons. It feels sloppy considering the episodes featuring the character before. I had no doubt Kripke’s representation of God would fall short of the real deal (hence prepared to give a lot of grace) but this was cheap storytelling even compared against other diluted depictions of our Maker.

The episode begins with Chuck narrating that “endings are hard… fans are always gonna bitch, there’s always going to be holes, and since it’s the ending its all supposed to add up to something…” as if the show is trying to set up a defense for any dissatisfaction with the ending. It doesn’t hold water, because the apocalypse winds up boiling down to a couple people arguing in a cemetery and then falling in a hole. (Author Kurt Vonnegut once claimed that all stories boil down to one plot – “man in a hole” – but he was being facetious.)

1040323_b80e12b2-0e75-4f1b-bc01-edc48f24a842-mainAlso, since this isn’t the end of a series, but rather the end of a season, all you have to do is compare it with the other season endings; endings may be hard, Kripke, but the previous four were all better than this one. Even the teeth this “Swan Song” DID have – the death of beloved characters – are pulled minutes later when they’re brought back to life. Death has no sting, God has a muddled plan, and the best message we can pull is a vague notion that “family is important” which has literally been driven home (in an Impala) over five years of Supernatural television with more weight and worth.

I suspect a goodly portion of the ending’s weakness comes from the fact that Kripke and the actors caved to pressure and let CW milk the franchise for an additional season; I can’t help but wonder how “Swan Song” would have played if it were the show’s true finale. Still, the very reason I suspect it fell apart gives Supernatural’s crew space to salvage the series and give it a satisfactory sendoff. Hopefully the show will resurrect to its former glory, instead of meandering for another year like a zombie shadow of its previous self. Carry on, My Wayward Son has never been more poignant. Or necessary.

  1. stefy

    Great review, I totally agree. This finale was very disappointing, and the fact that Dean, a main character like Sam, had no importance and no role is proven by the fact that you haven’t mentioned in you review cause, really, there wasn’t nothing to comment about Dean, what a waste of time (and sorry for my English, it’s not my first language :))

  2. Carrie

    Thank you for this review. It truly was a lame season finale!

    I don`t want to be bearer of gossip, but there are rumors that one of the main actors had a “breakdown” causing Kripke to come to his “aid”. There are also rumors that this caused changes in how especially episode 100 turned out, and possibly the last episodes after that. Can anyone confirm this???

  3. Kady

    THIS. Everything about the archangel smackdown failed because it wasn’t Dean saying the words back to Sam and vice versa. And everything about the resolution failed because it erased 95% of the season 5 mytharc. IMO, this finale was an epic fail that makes season 4 a waste of time (and money for those of us who bought the DVDs) and ensured that the show’s worst season ever (whither pacing and continuity?) went out with a whimper. I hope Sera Gamble takes note because I predict an exodus of viewers if she doesn’t fix this within the first three episodes of season 7.

  4. Trick

    Gads, can they cancel the show after S5 and stop torturing fans? The show clearly outlived itself.

  5. stefy

    @ Carrie: I don’t know if it’s true, but if it’s true I don’t know why Jensen hasn’t ran away from those two spoiled brat. I really wish Jensen has gone away from this show, he was so happy to have his role in the mytharc (of course Jared, like Kripke, didn’t see any need to involve Dean, bleah..), they said “Dean will have his own role, Dean will be the leader, Dean won’t be anymore the destiny’s chaffeur, etc.” and they lied to him, and to us, I don’t know how he can trust again these persons

  6. CindyRuth

    We have no idea what happened or didn’t happen among Jared, Jensen or Kripke since we weren’t there. All we have to go on is people’s opinions and viewpoints on gossip, never reliable. But if you’ve met Kripke in person (I have) then you know that he is as stubborn and pigheaded as a person can be. His vision stayed the way he wanted it to for season 5. Whatever his plan was to start with did not change no matter who had a breakdown or hissy fit, or better ideas or suggestions (actors or writers). That much I do know.

    If anyone is expecting to see Al Pacino-caliber acting on this show, then they are in for a huge disappointment. Although both Jared and Jensen do very well with the material they are given, this ain’t Shakespeare. The finale was good considering the writers and the plot, which was thin to begin with. Anyone with loftier expectations should tune in to a show not on the CW.

  7. stefy

    I know, it’s not Shakespeare and I don’t expect that, but I expected more balance between the two main characters, it’s not so difficult even for a tv show. And while I think that Jensen can do better things than Supernatural cause he has a natural talent, Jared not, he’s a very limited actor

  8. James

    I agree CindyRuth, rumor spreading feels like a waste of time. On your other point, just because a show is CW doesn’t mean qualities don’t vary dramatically. Smallville’s writing has gone up and down like a rollercoaster. Supernatural’s writing has soared higher than Network failures like Heroes (after first season). I mostly compared the quality with other Supernatural seasons. The apocalyptic finale and plot wrap-up simply had opportunity to be thicker.

    After all, consider the source material:)

  9. Cindy

    P.U. to S5 and to the season finale, especially. Showcase your best actor next time, writers and showrunner, and maybe then you’ll have a winner. So much agreement with this review, and especially with the thought that any writer/showrunner who has to cast blame on the fans(who have a history of loving the season finales of previous seasons)for not liking it BEFORE the reviews even come out, was well aware of the fact and knew somewhere inside himself, that the finale was indeed sub par. Shame on you, Kripke.

  10. Louisa

    Whitney Houston had a God-given gift with her voice (before she threw it away) and was raised by a singing family, sang in church choirs, etc. That doesn’t mean that any other singers who appeared on stage with her were less talented; they just didn’t have the same gifts.

    Same with Jensen Ackles. He was raised with a father who was (and maybe still is) an actor in and around Dallas. Jensen knew and learned the ins and outs with his father’s help. Jensen has also a natural ability. Doesn’t make Jared less talented. Jensen is four years older and has more experience. Jared has come a long way since the days of Gilmore Girls; his progress has been remarkable. Both he and Jensen are focused, hard working and studious, they are both constantly working to improve. I predict both of these guys will be successful in their chosen field. My hope is that their careers are elevated to a point where they will receive the respect they deserve.

    And that is my opinion.

    As to the finale, while it left something to be desired, I didn’t see it as the massive, epic failure that so many people seem to think it was. Disappointing? Yes. But I have seen much, much worse. It is too bad we didn’t get to see Jensen as Michael; however, he gave stellar performances in The End and throughout the season, so I cannot gripe too much. Overall, I would give the finale a 7 out of 10.

  11. Tash

    Ok, first off, does anyone really believe that one of the actors can get Kripke to change his entire storyline when last season Jared, Jensen and Misha could not get Kripke to change his mind about using a whoopie cushion in an episode? Seriously? Grow up, it doesn’t work like that.

  12. Leigh

    I seem to be in the minority who loved the finale, and I really don’t think Dean did “nothing”. Come on, he was the catalyst for Sam to overcome Lucifer. Without him, the battle would have taken place and half the world turned to ashes. Dean had a crucial role, and the wonderful thing about it, is that he did it all while being human. No supernatural powers, no extras – just heart. In other words, the Dean we (sane people, that is) know and love.

    As for the acting: While Jensen was superb, as always, for the first time I also appreciated Jared’s acting. I thought he did much better in the finale than in the rest of the show. My only regret for Dean not saying yes to Michael, is that Jensen lost out on an opportunity to play Michael. However, her doesn’t need to play another character to showcase his incredible acting skills. That man is long overdue an Emmy award.

  13. Randall Chrisman

    I think at one point during the season Dean said something to the effect, “You aren’t jumping the shark if you never land…” I beg to differ.

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