Well, then. Season six of Supernatural just continues to surprise me. I kind of hate it, but I also kind of love it.
After taking four or five episodes to set up the new equilibrium and figure out what the hell was happening with Sam, Samuel, etc. and settling into a new comfortable groove, “Caged Heat” basically blows all of that up in just episode ten. A number of the questions from the premiere episode have been answered — who pulled Sam out, what’s wrong with Sam, what’s going on in hell, etc. — but now what seemed to be a season-long arc with the brothers working for the new king of hell, Crowley, is over. Crowley is dead, long live Crowley. Sam doesn’t really care to have his soul back, since he now knows that it is being tortured by Lucifer as we speak. So…now what?
I honestly have no idea. Cas seems more dedicated to helping the brothers after the events of “Caged Heat,” and now that Crowley is gone, there will be more reshuffling in hell that could have some impact on what happens to Sam and Dean, but at this point, there is a lack of obvious direction for the series that is partially frustrating and partially exciting. I’ve been a fan of the series since the beginning, I certainly enjoyed the early seasons that weren’t so overwhelmed by mythology, but I can’t lie, seasons four and five were pretty damn great in my book. So it’s weird for me to watch the series blow up that mythology, start to build another one and then just tear it all down half-way through construction. It’s a risky move, it’s a crazy move, and I’m just not sure I know that it’s going to pay off.
On one hand, this could be another smart decision. It’s nice to not have any idea where the plot is moving and in the last few seasons, we’ve known the endings — Lucifer rising in S4, Lucifer going back to hell in S5 — with little question. Thus, it’s kind of fun to keep throwing out new ideas and then scrapping them just to keep the characters and the fans on their toes. However, on the other hand, the series works really well with mythological weight attached to the story and what the writers were building with Crowley, Alphas and Purgatory seemed like a really interesting plotline. It made sense; the brothers have gone north, they’ve gone south, and now it’s time to go sideways. Of course, Crowley’s death doesn’t necessarily mean that the Alpha and Purgatory stuff will go away, and in fact, I’m sure it won’t. But if so, I question the killing of Crowley then, because it feels more like a shock value thing than an actual plotted out idea.
As for Sam and his soul, I would actually love the season to just drop that plot. I get why it seems like a good idea to Dean, but it seems pretty obvious now that it isn’t worth it, and continuing to explore options to reach a result that really isn’t worth it feels like wheel spinning. I loved the finale last season, but I don’t want to retread that where the next 10 episodes say that Sam’s soul isn’t worth getting back or that it will kill him, and then when they do get it back anyway, the brotherly love nurses that soul back to life or whatever. That would be way too obvious and frankly, I prefer this Sam over any other version of him, ever. This Sam is awesome. Let it go, Dean.
I’m talking a lot about the future of the series without really mentioning “Caged Heat,” which is probably telling. Even in the last few seasons, the series has stumbled a bit with its mid-season finale/cliffhanger-type episodes. I know this episode isn’t the mid-season finale, but it sure feels like it and just like S4’s “Heaven and Hell” and S5’s “Abandon All Hope…,” it’s poorly plotted in a lot of ways, but features a number of strong moments. I feel like the episode is trying too hard to make us realize IT’S THE MID-SEASON(ISH) FINALE!!! Cas is back, with a vengeance! That demon B Meg is back! Samuel screws the brothers over! We learn more about Sam’s soul! There’s just a lot going on, but it doesn’t really hold together until the last 10 minutes, which is thrilling enough to make up for the nonsense with Hell Hounds or whether or not the brothers should trust Meg.
But because of the last few minutes and some great gags in the middle — like Cas watching porn — “Caged Heat” is successful enough. Perhaps bumpy episodes like this one is why Sera Gamble and the writing staff want to get away from the mythology or at least continue to make zags when we expect the season to zig. I still don’t know how I feel about where the season is going, mostly because I have no idea, but it’s been a weird and wild ride thus far, and there’s no reason to suggest it won’t continue to be that way.