“Survival Of The Fittest” S7 / E23
- B+ Community Grade
The season finale of Supernatural has enough going on in it that I almost wish the writers had shifted some of the material to the previous episode and spared us some of the things that dragged that one down. As it is, it was a strong finale that had to suffer the indignity of being preceded by a speed bump, but at least it brought the season home with an hour of TV that was almost free of dead spots.
The biggest, nastiest cherry-filled flavor turd in the chocolate box is still the Bobby storyline. Bobby is still possessing the maid from the hotel and using her body as a vehicle for his murderous pursuit of Dick Roman. In a clumsy piece of plotting, Sam and Dean realize this when they’re sitting outside Dick’s corporate headquarters, planning to raid the place themselves, and spot the maid sashaying toward the building, having somehow zeroed in on the one big gap in the Leviathans’ security net. When Sam saw the maid and deduced that she was Bobby’s meat puppet, it was the first time tonight that either brother had given Bobby any thought at all, after all the concerns they’d had that he might “turn vengeful” and run amok. Sam accosts Bobby, who, naturally, turns on him violently, which, naturally, causes him to realize how out of control he is. So he ditches the maid, and he and the Winchesters go back to their room and destroy the flask that’s been keeping Bobby’s spirit tethered to this mortal world, freeing him for good. It made for a sweet, rueful farewell scene for Jim Beaver, no matter what we had to go through to get there. (That includes the music, which seemed to be trying to see how close it could come to turning into Fanfare For The Common Man without getting sued.)
Even so, this is probably Misha Collins’ episode. He's a standout on a night when pretty much everybody came to play: Even Mark Sheppard, as Crowley, is more funny (and scary) than smarmy. (Crowley is invited to parlay with Dick Roman, who offeres him Canada, as a demons-only preserve, after the Leviathans take possession of the Earth. Seriously, what kind of deal is that for a crossroads demon? What kind of blues songs about selling your soul are going to come out of the Great White North?) Castiel is delivered to the Winchesters by Meg, who can’t stand to babysit him any longer; “He was your boyfriend first,” she tells Dean. And when Dean goes outside to find him sitting in the car, listening intently to Don McLean’s “Vincent,” you get a strong sense of just how insufferable a battling angel turned shell-shocked conscientious objector might be to have around, especially for a born carnivore like Dean.
After that, there may be one too many easy laughs from Cass saying or doing strange things, such as playing Twister by himself, to remind us that he is, as the sensitive amateur therapists surrounding him put it, “Fruit Loops.” But there was also a real undercurrent of sadness to the broken Castiel, a sense that he really doesn’t want to fight anymore because he genuinely doesn’t trust himself to know what’s right anymore, and that, if he isn’t a warrior, that may not leave him room to be much of anything. (His condition also provides the occasion for one transcendent sick joke. The Winchesters have been out defiling crypts to get the bones of a nun, in a choice scene that gives Dean the chance to show just how picky the discerning monster hunter can be when it comes to picking the right dead nun. Castiel walks into their room, picks up the paper bag containing the nun’s remains, takes a sniff, and says approvingly, “Mmmm, Sister Mary Constant!”)
Supernatural isn’t always sure how far off the deep end it needs to go in supplying a cliffhanger for its season finales. This one took a middle path, with Dick Roman dead and the Leviathans scattered, but with Crowley looking suspiciously pleased with himself and Dean and Cass dispatched to a creepy-looking forest where sets of red eyes peered out of the darkness. Cass explains that they’ve been sucked along with Dick Roman’s soul to the place where the souls of monsters battle it out with each other for all eternity. Dean concludes that, by this, he means they’re in Purgatory, but with a set-up like that, the beauty part is that everyone playing along at home can make up their own joke. Me, I yelled “New Jersey!” at the screen, but I have a thing for the classics.
- As always with the season finales, the action is preceded by a season recap-montage scored to Kansas’ “Carry On, Wayward Son.” But I think this might be the first time they’ve been able to use the line “Lay your weary head to rest” to cue a shot of Sam laying somebody’s weary head to rest by lopping it off.
- Crowley’s best line: “Never trust anyone. A lesson I learned from my first business partner.”
- Dick Roman demonstrates how a corporate super-villain talks: “I think this just might be the slickest little genocide in history. Just sayin’: I smell promotion!
- Robert Singer, who directed the episode, scored more memorably striking visual compositions than I remember seeing in an hour of Supernatural for quite a while. I especially liked the eerie, early-morning vision of a string of limousines quietly arriving at Roman’s company, all in a line, with a hint of whitish mist hanging in the air, and the unsettling, sustained shot of Sam and Dick Roman facing each other at the moment of impact.