Supernatural “Alpha and Omega” Review (Season 11, Episode 23)

I sat for a long while trying to figure out how I felt about Supernatural’s season eleven finale. After watching it a few times, I kept trying to decide whether I liked it or not. The conclusion I reached is…kinda. There were several elements about it that I loved very much, but there were others that bothered me. So, let’s start with a few things I liked.

I really enjoyed all of the broments between Sam and Dean. Most of this season has been about repairing Sam and Dean’s relationship, and to be honest, it was desperately necessary. Pretty much since season four, Sam and Dean have been at odds for one reason or another. They’ve had moments where they put their personal issues aside to deal with the looming threat, but for the most part, they never actually talked about or dealt with any of their issues. Because of that, all the things they never talked about (but needed to) kept piling up between them until it got to the point where I wasn’t sure Sam and Dean liked each other much less loved each other anymore. It felt like their relationship was more about necessity than it was about loving each other. Thus, this season’s focus on Sam and Dean re-learning how to be brothers was a welcome change. They actually talked about their feelings and they asked questions when they wanted to know what the other was thinking. They didn’t just assume things and act on an assumption that may or may not have been accurate. In addition to having substantive conversations, the Boys were a united front like we haven’t seen since probably season three. When Sam was trapped in the cage with Lucifer, he was terrified but he knew his brother was coming for him and all he had to do was wait. When Dean realized that he was unable to kill Amara, he didn’t keep that information from Sam. He told Sam the truth and then trusted Sam when he said that he would handle it. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any drama between the Boys. Of course there was. They’re family. There’s always going to be drama between them because that’s just the nature of family. However, the drama felt more genuine because it wasn’t generated by one brother lying to the other and then digging himself in deeper by trying to maintain the lie. We’ve seen that for far too many years from the show, and allowing Sam and Dean to grow up a little and treat each other like adults was refreshing. Hopefully, this time the emotional growth and maturity we saw over the course of this season will stick.

Much of the interactions between Sam and Dean in this episode mirrored what happened in Swan Song. Back then, when they reached the conclusion that Sam sacrificing himself was the only way to save everyone, Dean backed Sam’s play. He didn’t like it. He didn’t want it. He desperately wanted there to be another way. But in the end, he respected Sam’s decision and stood by him. The roles were reversed in this episode, and a few of the details were different, but the outcome was still the same. Dean decided he was willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good (because he’s Dean Winchester and that’s what he does), and Sam had to put aside his desperate desire not to lose his brother and respect Dean’s choice. Sam and Dean’s goodbye scene in the graveyard was, in my humble opinion, the most emotionally powerful moment of the entire episode. They have been through so much together, and so much bad has happened between them because one of them refused to respect the other’s choices. At the beginning of the season, Sam told Dean that in order for them to stop repeating the same cycles they had to change how they were doing things. They even made a pact to stop disregarding the other’s choices even if they didn’t agree with the choice. Dean didn’t like Sam’s decision to take on The Mark in last week’s episode, but (after a bit of grumbling) he was willing to respect Sam’s decision. In this episode, Sam’s silence when Dean accepted the bomb and his reluctant acceptance of Baby’s keys in the graveyard was Sam’s way of respecting Dean’s choice. Jared Padalecki did a wonderful job of conveying Sam’s resignation with the fact that the soul bomb was their only play, his sorrow at knowing the plan was going to cost him his brother, and his determination to support Dean through all of it. In turn, Jensen Ackles did a great job of maintaining Dean’s strong facade in the face of everyone else, but letting his mask slip when saying goodbye to the person who means the most to him. Kudos to both Jared and Jensen for really great work.

I also liked the fact that Chuck and Amara’s willingness to talk to and listen to one another was able to save the world. Family is complicated. There are no two ways about it. It doesn’t matter what your family looks like either. Whether you’re related by blood or not. Whether you’re an all powerful being or not. Family dynamics are delicate and sometimes that balance gets upset. The healthy way to deal with that is to talk out your issues before they get out of hand. But whoever said that anyone in the Supernatural universe had a healthy approach to relationship dynamics? When Dean went to stop Amara, he ended up talking to her instead of blowing her up straightaway and that moment saved him and the world. Dean was speaking from experience when he told Amara about the nature of revenge and forgiveness. It’s taken him and Sam years to figure out what he told Amara, and because of that, he was able to reach Amara and help her get to the core of her issues. It all boils down to the fact that Amara was jealous and her jealousy morphed into anger over time. However, watching firsthand how her rage and desire for revenge ended up destroying everything was a bit of a wakeup call for her. The fact that she still loved her brother and watching him (and everything else) die wasn’t making her feel any better also made her more receptive to what Dean had to say. In the end, she and Chuck chose love and forgiveness over hate and revenge. They chose family. And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

The conversation between Dean and Cas in the car was also a nice moment. Sam and Dean have considered Cas family for a long time, but they never actually told him that so he didn’t know. That’s part of the reason he believed it when the angels, Amara, and Lucifer told him he was expendable. It also hasn’t helped matters that Cas’s relationship with the Winchesters has been kind of rocky since season six, and Dean kicking him out of the Bunker back in season nine was a pretty brutal blow. Add to that the fact that Cas’s angelic family has disowned him as well, and it’s been looking pretty bleak for Cas for some time. So Dean actually telling Cas that Sam and Dean consider him family was definitely something Cas needed to hear.

However, what bothered me about that conversation was Dean’s nonchalance about Cas saying yes to Lucifer. Cas letting Lucifer in wasn’t the right decision to make. That wasn’t even a good decision to make. Dean not even discussing that with Cas was disappointing to say the least. Ultimately it worked out ok, but there was no guarantee of that when Cas said yes. More than that, it’s not as if Cas didn’t know that 1) Lucifer is a liar, 2) it took more than just Lucifer to lock Amara away the first time, and 3) Lucifer is dangerous. Dean ignored all of those facts in favor of telling Cas he did the right thing, but it simply is not true. Perhaps Dean felt it was the wrong time to say anything about it because, as far as both of them knew, the world was literally about to end. I get that Dean was trying to tell Cas how important he is and possibly say goodbye to his friend. But the show has a really nasty habit of brushing Cas’s bad behavior to the side while leaving Sam and Dean to clean up the mess. For example, the Leviathans were entirely Cas’s doing. However, instead of keeping him around to help the Winchesters clean up the mess Cas made, the show took him out of the narrative for most of the season. When he came back, no one could really confront him about his choice (which Cas justified in almost the exact same way he justified saying yes to Lucifer) because he was off his rocker. This presents a problem because if Cas doesn’t get called out for his poor choices then he’s going to keep making them. He’s not going to move forward as a character, and nothing is worse than a stagnant character. Given the show’s track record when it comes to calling Cas to the carpet for his poor choices, I’m not holding out very much hope that the show is actually going to spend any significant amount of time working through why Cas keeps making this same bad decision over and over again. I sincerely hope they will, though, because I want Cas to mature as a character and make new mistakes.

I also wasn’t thrilled about Mary’s return. I get that Mary is a much beloved character within the Supernatural fandom, but her primary purpose was to be the impetus for the Winchesters getting into hunting. The show tried to add some more depth to her character in season four when they revealed that she was from a family of hunters and wanted out of the hunting life just as much as Sam did. But all of that seemed as if it was done more to draw parallels between Mary and the Boys and to give credence to Azazel’s and the angel’s interest in Sam and Dean rather than to add layers to Mary. It ended up serving all those purposes, but ultimately, Mary is still a rather two-dimensional character. Furthermore, she has been more of an idea than anything else for both Sam and Dean but especially Sam. Neither of them ever got the chance to really know her, and as much as they both wish she had never died, they’ve moved on with their lives. Her absence is just a fact of their lives, and I’m 99.999% certain that Mary’s return isn’t what Dean wants most. But Amara “gifting” Dean with his long dead mother fits with Amara’s rudimentary and superficial understanding of human emotion. I’m not saying that there might not be some very good emotional ground to mine, and I will reserve full judgment until I see what direction the show plans to go with her. But I don’t believe it would be beneficial to have her around long term, and I would rather the show had just left her dead and gone.

This was a much more subdued season finale than we’re accustomed to in this fandom. It wasn’t lacking in emotional moments, but it left us with much smaller scale problems than we’ve had in the past. Honestly, how do you even go bigger than God and his sister? I sincerely hope this means that the show is planning to dial it down for a bit and go back to a MOTW format for a while because that’s really what worked best for them this season. The Amara storyline was pretty blah all around, and trying to wrap that up so quickly caused some sloppy writing towards the end of the season. Also, I don’t think the show understands that it’s ok not to have Sam and Dean caught up in apocalyptic situations every season. The show is about saving people and hunting things, so I’d be glad to get back to just that for a while. It also looks like we’re going to be expanding the MoL a little bit, and I’m actually looking forward to that and have been since season eight. Although, that first meeting looks like it could’ve gone better. Overall, I enjoyed this season for the most part. I certainly enjoyed it much more than the last few. We got some interesting and well done MOTW episodes, and Sam and Dean finally being brothers again. Out of all the characters we met this season, I think I like Billie the best. She’s wicked cool, and this finale left me wondering whether Billie is the new Death. She did say she was about to reap God, and Death said he would reap God one day. Things that make you go…hmmmm? Speaking of which. What WAS that between Billie and Crowley? Inquiring minds want to know. So what did y’all think of the Supernatural finale?