Let’s start with stating one thing clear: no, I’m not satisfied with this season finale, the main problem being that it didn’t feel like a finale at all. Nor I’m satisfied with this season, but that’s a whole other matter.
WARNING: This review contains SPOILERS for ‘Brother’s Keeper’
For starters, something that struck me as odd even from the promos was the fact that we had a regular case in this episode. In total, we got approximately 5-6 minutes of Dean working a regular case just to end up letting Rudy die and victim-blaming a girl for what she was wearing. All just to state that Dean had gone off the reservation, something we already knew after he beat up Castiel in the previous episode. And if we were supposed to see Dean feeling guilty, hurting Castiel should have been enough. It was only after that guilt/realization that Dean decides to do something about the Mark and contact Death.
On the other hand we’ve got Sam, Castiel and Rowena, who have finally found out the three ingredients to cure the Mark of Cain, one of them being something Rowena loves. There was no plot twist of Rowena actually loving her son deep down. Instead, we got Oscar, someone that kind of came out of nowhere and did little to serve the plot. It almost felt like a way to stretch Rowena, Castiel and Crowley’s story to accompany Dean’s. And it’s really strange to have ‘filler’ in a season finale. Sam leaves Castiel to it and goes off to meet with Dean to stop him from doing whatever he’s planning to do. Meanwhile, Castiel meets up with Crowley and asks him for help to find the ingredients. (And I wonder, if Sam later found out about the consequences, why didn’t he call Castiel to tell him to stop the spell?)
We got another Sam and Dean fight, which seems to be a classic of Supernatural season finales. I’m gonna be honest, Sam/Dean fights and arguments used to make me feel really emotional and tense. But after 10 years… yeah, they don’t hold that much intensity anymore. Why? Because you’ve seen it all and you know they’ll figure it out eventually. I bought the Season 8 fight with Sam’s speech because it felt as closure. And I was hopeful when Sam called Dean out on his codependency in Season 9. But… has anything really changed? Sam didn’t care much for the consequences of curing a Mark, which he called “a guess”. Dean said he did. But would he if the situations were reversed? It seems that speech only works when the one saying it is the one who has to save the other.
This led up to an interesting debate on whether Sam and Dean are evil. From the beginning of the series, both brothers were set as heroes and pure good. However, over time, we’ve seen them doing some questionable things, along with other details like forgetting about exorcising demons and just stabbing them with Ruby’s knife not caring for the human victim. But it’s the first time they actually talk about it. No, Sam and (free-from-Mark)Dean are not evil. But not being evil doesn’t equal being good. And here comes what I said before about the situation being reversed. When it came to killing Sam, Dean couldn’t do it either, even if it was the most sensitive option.
So Death died. Yeah. The character that got the most badass introduction in the series and the one who promised to rip God one day has been killed by Dean Winchester. Is Death really dead? There’s no way to know yet but if it really was Death’s death (what am I even saying) then it definitely felt anticlimactic. I personally refuse that this is the last we’ll see of such an important, epic and intimidating character.
Before I get into the deep stuff (mythology, religion, etc), let me talk for a bit about whatever it is that happened with Rowena, Crowley and Castiel at the end because we didn’t get any clear resolution there. Did Rowena have this power all this time? Apparently she uses the Attack Dog Spell on Castiel by saying Impetus Bestiarum (although I didn’t see any hex bag) and Castiel proceeds to attack Crowley. The spell is also supposed to kill the target unless Rowena chooses to stop it. Did Crowley die? Is Castiel safe considering Rowena left the room? These are questions that we’ll torture us during hellatus.
Let’s talk mythology now. There was a reconceptualitzation of the Mark. Apparently the MOC works as a lock that locks away the Darkness that existed before God and anything else. This does not only change the religion of the show, but also some aspects of Season 4 and 5, which were very heavy on religion, angels, archangels and God. Does this mean that there was a force that pushed Lucifer into rebellion? Where does that leave Free Will? Was Lucifer really at fault for what he did or was he just a victim? Feeling sympathetic towards Luficer doesn’t worry me that much now.
As many other people have mentioned, the ending had a lot Season 2 vibes. Remember when they accidentally opened the gates of Hell and all those demons escaped? Good times. I also got some Season 7 deja-vus with the Leviathans (let’s just hope they handle it better this time and that they don’t appear as white men in suits). The last scene also showed us an image that we’re already too used to seeing: Dean and Sam in the Impala seeing what it looks like the end of the world. However, Supernatural is a Monster of the Week show and the consequences of the season finale are usually only dealt with during the first three episodes of the following season. So I guess we can expect to see Sam and Dean dealing with regular cases even though the Darkness, the oldest and darkest (heh) force is free on Earth.
Supernatural keeps promising us the ultimate evil every season but then it always ends up being a bluff. It’s come to a point where the Winchesters are not even fighting evil forces anymore, they’re just fighting themselves and their codependency. No, I’m not saying that the show being about the brothers is a bad thing. Hell, it’s the reason why I fell in love with the show in the first place. I’m blaming the lack of originality. I didn’t have a problem with Dean selling his soul to bring Sam back in Season 2 and I accepted Sam working with Ruby in Season 4 to kill Lilith. But it’s Season 10, and we’re still getting the same thing over and over. The result? It’s lost its unpredictability. This show is about the brothers but, as Bobby said, “family don’t end with blood”. And it used to be like that. Sam and Dean were alone in the world after John’ death but they made friends along the road. It’s just that the show decided to kill them because of external reasons (Jo, Ellen, Bobby…) or because of the brothers’ sacrifices (Kevin, Charlie…). The main question here would be: can a supernatural/horror/fantasy show hold its own for +10 season using the same formula with just two leads?
Taking a look around on Tumblr, I can see that there are mixed opinions in fandom, the ones who criticise it having two main reasons: it was anticlimatic and repetitive. It’s not that the brothers fighting or sacrificing themselves or the world for each other is bad. It’s just that it’s been done so many times that it’s lost its impact. There’s always sacrifices and consequences. It’s a formula that has been stretched and seems like it’s going to continue to be stretched forever.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t completely dislike this finale. I enjoyed Rowena’s cleverness, seeing Death again and the revelation on the Mark as a lock for the Darkness. And, even though the Impala being stuck in a rut was kind of stupid, the special effects for the Darkness rising still managed to create some hype and expectations for next season. It’s just that I can’t allow myself to have high hopes for Season 11 after so many disappointments.