WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Season 11
Let me be honest: I consider myself a Castiel fan. I love the character and I truly believe he improved the show, brought a lot to the table and made the dynamic between the brothers a whole much better. But he’s not the reason why I started binge-watching this show (after all, he didn’t appear until Season 4). What made me obsessed with Supernatural was Sam and Dean: their personalities, their story and their relationship with each other.
Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for stories with siblings as the main characters and, sadly, these relationships are often not that explored in the majority of shows. Or at least not when it comes to adult siblings. Eric Kripke really knew how to play with the brotherly element: Dean calling Sam ‘Sammy’, Sam pulling his puppy face to soften Dean, Dean being a jerk to his little brother but still protective… and, on top of that, we had paranormal stuff, mysteries, horror, action, plenty of badassery and classic rock music. What else could I ask for?
The addition of Castiel made everything even better, and the Apocalypse storyline made Season 4 and Season 5 my ultimate favourites. Sadly, those were also the seasons where Sam and Dean started lying to each other and having really serious fights. Seeing them like that really hurt me, but I understood that some brotherly drama was long overdue and it only made the show more realistic.
However, something changed from Season 6 onwards. Sam and Dean seemed to be disconnected from each other the majority of the time. They kept lying to each other, fighting, and there was always something that made them go their own way. Same thing happened with Castiel, as the showrunners always found some reason to keep him separated from the Winchesters. It would be interesting for one season, maybe for two. But it went on for 5 seasons. And it got boring, tiresome and even frustrating at points. That is not why I started watching Supernatural (and before anyone says anything, I was too invested in the characters and its universe to stop watching and yes, you can criticize your favourite shows).
So what is the difference between the Supernatural from the beginning and the Supernatural from the last few seasons?
Basically where the conflict lies and how they deal with it. The first time there was something off with one of them was during Season 2 with Sam and his demon blood. At the time, Sam was open about his visions with Dean and Dean was supportive. Next season, Dean had only one year to live before he went to Hell. He had problems dealing with it, but he was still open about it with Sam. Season 4 came in with Sam and his demon blood addiction, and that was when he started lying to Dean. Ever since then, everything has involved either lying, or one of them having something wrong with them that made them act differently: soulless Sam, the trials, the Mark of Cain… Castiel wasn’t exempt from this either: Godstiel, his supposed death, Naomi’s control…
This is where I believe the issue with Seasons 6-10 lies: the problems that Sam, Dean and Castiel have had lately has always had something to do with themselves. They weren’t 100% them and this always affected their behaviour, leading to lying, fighting and more drama. When was the last time we actually saw Team Free Will being themselves, free from any external influences and getting along? Probably in fanfiction.
And, if we’re lucky and they keep this up, in Season 11. Castiel has been freed from Rowena’s spell and is slowly recovering and watching Netflix wrapped in a blanket in the bunker. Sam’s Darkness infection only lasted for an episode and he later told about it to Dean. Dean is finally free from the Mark of Cain and has asked Castiel for forgiveness. After that great 3-episode season opener, we got what was probably one of the best Supernatural episodes we have seen recently: ‘Baby‘. Honest talk between Sam and Dean, remembering their parents and calling each other ‘jerk’ and ‘bitch’, listening to rock music in the Impala, working on a regular case, and we even had Castiel on speakerphone. After that came ‘Thin Lizzie‘, with more Winchesters getting along, bringing back the EMFs, Sam being a nerd and Dean being a dork. Doesn’t it feel nice?
Of course we are only 5 episodes in, and we can’t really make any general assumptions for a season that is going to be 23 episodes long. However, I am LOVING what I’m seeing so far, and it seems like that’s also the general feeling in the fandom. I haven’t seen much wank on Tumblr and everyone seems to be at peace for now. At this point, giving us Wayward Daughters would be the icing on the cake. Well done, Supernatural.