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The Problem with Supernatural

There is so much blue steel in this image.

Supernatural is one of those shows that I watch on and off. It’s not that it’s a bad show — in fact, at times, it is quite good — it’s just the show tends to commit one very singular sin time after time.


Tonight’s episode, “American Nightmare,” began with a woman walking into a church, her hands and feet punctured and bleeding, her back flayed by an invisible whip, and she was speaking in tongues. Eventually, it’s revealed that she was a case worker at Child Protective Services and one family has a daughter with psychic abilities that the family is convinced are from the Devil (hence the self-flagellation and Latin chanting).

At the end of the episode, the daughter is finally freed from her evil mother and is sent to live with an aunt in California. Dean himself gets a bit of a happy ending as he finally gets a text from his newly-alive mother (long story). And all in all, this looks like one Supernatural episode that will have a happy, if not entirely bloodless, ending.

And then the psychic daughter, on her way to California, gets shot and dies.

This is the problem with Supernatural: they introduce characters and quietly build them up. Sometimes they are one-episode characters, sometimes they are multiple episode recurring characters. They take the time and effort to build up these characters and cast good actors in the roles...and then just kill them all off.


At first, it didn’t seem that bad. Over the course of the first two seasons, Supernatural had built up a steady supply of recurring characters and then killed a bunch of them in the second season finale, which was fine. It was the finale, that’s generally what happens. And then in the fourth season, they killed off FBI Agent Victor Henricksen, who had just been poised to become one of the brothers’ allies. And in the fifth season, they brought back recurring allies Ellen and Jo Harvelle just to kill them off in the same episode.

Now don’t get me wrong: these were great episodes. “Jus in Bello,” the episode where Henricksen dies, is one of the best Supernatural has ever done. But his death is literally tacked on at the end and was not needed. Ellen and Jo die to ramp up the stakes, which I understand, but was it really needed? The stakes were pretty high as is.


Unfortunately, their deaths weren’t the end. Supernatural found it’s own trope: introduce a new and interesting character (Rufus Turner! Kevin Tran! Abaddon!), put them in a bunch of episodes, and then kill them off.

And then do it again. And again. And again. When I heard that Charlie Bradbury (played by fan favorite Felicia Day) died in the most needlessly stupid way possible, I knew I probably wouldn’t watch Supernatural again.


(Don’t even get me started on the fact that most of those killed are women or people of color. Seriously, as soon as the introduce a female or POC recurring character, it’s a countdown until they kill them off. Four main characters on the show right now and all of them are white dudes.)

But this new season intrigued me. The last few seasons were bleak festivals, with each brother searching for more and more stupid things to do. Dean takes on the Mark of Cain to stop Metatron but then dies and becomes a demon but then it reverted to a human but then they destroy the Mark of Cain (somehow killing Death in the process?) but that unleashes the Darkness which turns out to be God’s sister who wants to destroy the universe and somebody stop this insanity.


Thankfully, the last season ended with a more hopeful note: Sam and Dean’s mother, Mary Winchester, was resurrected as a thank you for Dean helping God (Chuck) reconcile with his sister. (He didn’t resurrect their dad, because he knows he’s busy over on The Walking Dead killing people.)

With Mary Winchester alive, I thought that perhaps this season would do better. Perhaps they could keep some more recurring characters alive, like Mary, and not just keep on using Castiel and Crowley over and over again (seriously, when are they are just going to kill Crowley, I don’t understand).


But nope. This episode was actually really good until the last minute when they took what could have been an interesting recurring character and killed her. Thanks, Supernatural. Thanks a bunch.

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