When I say that Supernatural has gone to hell, I can understand why there may be some confusion considering the subject matter of the series. So let me be clear. Something terrible apparently happened between seasons nine and ten of the show, and for once, it wasn’t Armageddon. Last season was typified by out-of-character silliness (Crowley and Dean singing karaoke), terrible new faces (Rowena, the stereotype in high-heels), a primary plot that should have been great and wasn’t (the removal of the Mark of Cain), and the death of a character who could have done a lot to revitalize the series (Charlie). Add to that the phenomenonally slow pacing on a show where things usually happen so quickly you have to be careful not to look away (or risk rewinding), and even episodes like “Fan Fiction” or “The Things They Carried” couldn’t save season ten. And it’s already looking like eleven isn’t going to be any better. “Out of the Dark, Into the Fire” picks up on the moments after Sam and Dean release the Darkness, some pre-Creation (maybe) evil which immediately unleashes a Walking Dead type of plague, turning everyone outside, but within some undefined area, into a zombie. The zombies soon have the brothers and a wounded LEO holed up in the local hospital where Dean finds a father protecting his newborn daughter after the death of her mother. Problem, Daddy’s already infected. Amara’s father asks the LEO Jenna Nickerson (Laci J. Mailey), a young woman he’s seen in church for years, to take care of his daughter while he disappears into the night in an attempt to protect her from the danger he knows he will soon become. Which is, of course, ironic when we find out, at the end of the episode, that she bears the Mark of Cain herself, making her the Darkness or something akin to it. Unfortunately, while the Amara angle may have had some promise (and I’ll get to how they shoot that promise in the foot), the rest of the episode’s lack of imagination is too distracting to allow us to care. For one, zombies? Now that vampires have had their day, everyone and their mother—including Jane Austen—is doing zombies. Was it really necessary on a show that should be light years ahead of the paranormal curve to do zombies? And if so, to generate them much in the same way as Night of the Comet? Is the Impala made of lead? Not that I have a problem with creative theft. If it is creative. But the lack of that quality is evident when the writers steal from themselves by having Sam and Dean get into an argument over something they resolved a decade ago: the younger Winchester suddenly remembering that he wants to heal the supernaturally afflicted rather than kill them (and made more urgent when he himself is infected). So he stays behind to try to heal the zombies while Den takes Jenna and Amara to safety. While this and other storylines that creep along through “Out of the Dark, Into the Fire,” it’s not until “Form and Void” that any of them go anywhere. Sam figures out how to save the zombies, but only with the help of a Reaper who seems like aiding him or Dean is the last thing in the world she wants. Instead, she’s there to tell him that, if either he or his brother shift this mortal coil, it’s gonna be for keeps. But she somehow lets slip that the problem with the zombies is that they are Biblically unclean, a situation easily remedied. Soon, he’s cleaning up the zombie menace. Crowley, in the meantime, separated from his body by Castiel at the end of last season, has grabbed another meatsuit, indulged in a middle-class Bible Belt orgy (that he didn’t even start), called in his minions and gotten back to his usual duds just in time to show up at Jenna’s grandmother’s house where she and Amara have holed up and where things are very wrong. The baby has already started to exhibit disturbing powers, and soon both women suffer. Dean and Crowley vie to be the one to address the problem but neither win as Amara outgrows her own meatsuit-like self and emerges as a much older child. Which, frankly, seems to be the writers throwing away what even one of their characters, Crowley, recognizes as a golden opportunity when he tells Dean that he knows Winchester cannot kill Amara because he saw how the human looked at the child. From the moment the baby was introduced and we found out she was, if not the Darkness, at least deeply connected to it, it seemed as though we were going to get a lost part of Dean picked up and woven back into the character—the part that spent a year as de facto husband to Lisa and father to Ben. To watch Dean, who enjoyed and did well being a father have to slowly come to the realization that the child he was fostering was evil would have presented some interesting narrative possibilities on a show that has focused so much on family. But in keeping with the disappointments of the last year, that goes right out the window. As does the possibility of ever seeing Hannah again. The Castiel-under-Rowena’s-spell subplot that wraps up in “Bad Seed” is frustrating because of how unbelievable it is and how little we get in return for being expected to believe. Rowena’s Attack Dog spell seems awfully low-level, so the idea that they have to jump through so many hopes (and loop Rowena back in) to reverse it just feels strained. When, in retrospect, you realize that, in bringing Rowena back, they accomplish little (since she gets away, again with the Book of the Damned), this plot move makes even less sense. And yeah, sure, she lets Dean in on Sam’s secret agreement to kill Crowley, but a) the two brothers are terrible at keeping secrets from each other and need no one else’s help to fail in doing so, and b) Dean didn’t seem all that upset by it. So again, why bring her back at all? But in the meantime, we lost Hannah, who has been, in previous seasons (and especially last season) a particularly interesting character—caught between conflicting loyalties but doing her best to navigate them fairly ethically—and again for very little gain: to learn that heaven’s in turmoil again and the angels are out of control. When you consider how closely this follows on Charlie’s death, and the fact that Amara’s storyline offed Jenna (who might have gone someplace), I’m back to worrying about the distinct lack of women on the show. Especially when those women seem more interesting than many of the men. Ah, but now we have Amara, and as far as I can tell, she’s the only place we have to pin our hopes for a decent season. Everything else feels so paint-by-the-numbers, she is the only bit of narrative sunshine in the mix. And that promise comes from the ambiguity of her character. I mean, yes, she sucks souls for nourishment, but Crowley seems to have made two mistakes when it comes to Amara: the first is that he can control her. It’s obvious that he cannot, at least not for much longer. But more importantly, he seems certain that she is an absolute force of evil. But there are some indications that she might not be. If they can turn that ambiguity into the lynchpin on which the first half of the season rests, we might just have something worth watching. Maybe. Based on the writing decisions we’ve seen thus far in season eleven, I wouldn’t be willing to wager on that. Because sadly, Supernatural’s season ten killed more than Charlie. I think it also did away with our faith that the series could continue to deliver. I’m certainly not holding my breath. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.