Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S11E23 – Alpha and Omega

In the twenty-third and final episode of the eleventh season of Supernatural, well, this happened. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

I think this is a fitting end to season eleven because it highlights the things the show did right this year. It’s also a story that’s all over the place, variating from one tone to the next, giving us details of a potential story and then yanking them away from us. So, “Alpha and Omega” ends up being satisfying on a number of fronts while being hopelessly frustrating on others.

LET’S TALK.

The Dying Sun

I think that in hindsight, I massively misinterpreted what happened here, and you can see the evidence for it ALL OVER the video for this episode. I heard Amara say that she wasn’t responsible for the sun dying and that it was due to God’s weakening, and my brain went, “Well, someone else must have done that.” Yet it’s a much more insidious thing: God’s death required the death of his creation. And in the first time in Supernatural history, the rest of the world watched it happen.

The snippets we get of this story are fascinating and surreal, which means that I felt cheated by how little of it there was. At the same time, it’s a strange thing to nitpick because Supernatural has always made their conflicts intensely personal instead of wide-reaching or political. That’s fair, since a show should be able to choose what their focus is. But the whole urban fantasy trope of hiding an “alternate” universe within our own feels tiring after eleven seasons. I’ve seen so much of it, and this felt like the first genuine attempt to pull back the curtain. But it’s just a peak. The multiple newscast sequences give the audience a glimpse into a universe where something terrible and awful is happening to the whole world.

Andrew Dabb’s script takes this and gives the existential suffering to the main cast instead. Sure, we see those protestors warning others of the end of the world, but it’s Dean, Crowley, Rowena, and God who all give up. They’re the ones who resign themselves to an inevitable fate: the world is just going to end. And I don’t blame them! Prior to Rowena’s construction of the soul bomb, I had not a single idea how Amara could be stopped. Still, it’s strange that the show wouldn’t show us much of anything outside the compound. What else is dying because of the sun dying? Are people freaking out around the world? All I knew was that everyone in the bunker was sad and hopeless, and it’s an unsatisfying focus. The show could give us some other story, but we get one that makes it hard to believe that anything significant to the main cast. They’re not going to kill off anyone on the screen, so what risk is there in portraying their ennui?

Ultimately, that’s where Supernatural keep missing the mark. In this specific context, there’s no risk in the story.

The Soul Bomb

This same issue is why Dean’s decision to be the bomb felt so weird. There was an undeniable finality to this script. I won’t try to say otherwise! These people were saying goodbye to Dean, and it did feel real. But how many times has a Winchester died? How many times have Sam and Dean said goodbye? While I appreciated the emotional depth to Dean’s conversation with Castiel, he had virtually no development within this season, so it still felt like too little too late on top of repetition. I wanted to believe the sincerity on the screen, but how can I do that if I know that Dean isn’t going to die? So I lacked the suspension of disbelief as the team collected souls and then inserted them into Dean’s body. All of this was to give him a powerful character moment, one that never quite came to fruition. (Well, I have complicated feelings on that, actually. More in a sec.) It doesn’t help that the entire cast of characters revolves around Dean in the second half of “Alpha and Omega.” What about their development? Why introduce Billie if she’s just going to provide the magical solution to the soul bomb conundrum and then disappear without a single insight into her character?

Well, we know why.

There’s something very cool in the idea of a soul bomb. I admit that. And it’s weird to never get to see  it. But… I have complicated thoughts on that.

The Confrontation

In the end, we get an explanation for Dean’s connection to Dean – sort of. I think that this episode confirmed that Amara was desperate for an emotional connection after she “lost” her brother. She chose Dean as a strange version of a substitute for God. I guess? But hey, WHAT DO I KNOW? (Very little, apparently.) I was much more impressed with the way this show took Amara’s revenge narrative, allowed her to confront God about it, and then DID NOT PUNISH HER FOR HAVING SAID OPINION. I am still shocked that there was an actual HAPPY ENDING on this show. Like, WHEN DOES THIS HAPPEN? (Well, it did recently in “The Chiggers,” BUT STILL.)

Look, I have no problem saying the resolution of this conflict is cheesy, but Supernatural has its whole thing with family. So I found it thematically appropriate that family matters in the end for Amara and God. The two of them – especially Amara – have legitimate issues with one another, and the show doesn’t say that they shouldn’t resolve them. Instead, God accepts Amara as she is, which is a huge step in the right direction. It matters. Their future is merely hinted at, but in the wake of it, Amara thanks Dean for trying to come to a solution that didn’t involve destruction. If he hadn’t done that, the world would have ended. So here’s where I’m conflicted: I’m tired of the threat of Winchester death being a plot device, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the idea of Dean being the voice of reason who talks his way out of a problem. He gave Amara a third option that she’d not considered; he empathized with her by explaining why revenge hasn’t ever worked for him. DEAN EMPATHIZED WITH SOMEONE TO END A CONFLICT. YES. YES.

So the writing is actually fantastic in this context. Dean’s sacrifice doesn’t happen, but I didn’t feel cheated by it. Instead, the show goes in a completely different direction. It may feel a little weird, since the big fight isn’t a fight at all, but if the show can give me emotional character parallels instead? I’m fine.

Toni Bevell

Well. I admit that there’s potential for this storyline, but you know what? Supernatural has teased me before. If the Men of Letters are the Big Bad in season twelve, I don’t want the show to also ignore the claims that Toni makes. The Winchesters are responsible for a LOT OF SHIT. A lot. Shall I make a list? No, that’ll take forever. But I’m going to wait until I see how this shapes up before I get excited.

Mary

BUT YEAH, I’M GOING TO UNEQUIVOCALLY STATE THAT AMARA’S GIFT TO DEAN IS THE MOST SHOCKING THING THIS SHOW HAS DONE IN AGES. WHAT THE FUCK IS SUPERNATURAL GOING TO BE IF MARY WINCHESTER IS SUDDENLY ALIVE AND WELL. I DON’T KNOW. I CAN’T FATHOM IT. IT IS VERY EXCITING.

Please don’t mess this up.

A note about season 12: I am going to hold off on commissions for season 12 because I have no idea what my schedule will be for the fall. As of this review, I have three chapters left in my final edits for my novel before I start submitting it, so I don’t want to load myself up and then find out I can’t make time for reviews. I will let y’all know in the fall if it is possible to cram the show back into my schedule. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who commented, bought videos, and otherwise supported me through Supernatural. I’m not done with it, but I still want to say nice things to all of you. You’re the best.

The video for “Alpha and Omega” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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