'Supernatural's Two-Part Finale And The Structure Of A(n Un)Successful Season

'Supernatural's Two-Part Finale And The Structure Of A(n Un)Successful Season

There are two types of "Supernatural" finales, and "All Along The Watchtower" is neither.
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When the CW announced that the season 12 finale of Supernatural would be a two-hour event, fans knew to expect some carnage. It's a staple of Supernatural finales at this point, and the show certainly didn't disappoint in that department. The final episode featured not one or two, but six recurring character deaths (seven, if you count Dr. Hess), contributing to the show's long-standing tradition of plot-twisting and controversial conclusions in more ways than one. Supernatural's season finales are practically famous for ending on game changers and cliffhangers, and this season's ending brought them not only in the form of Cas and Crowley's deaths, but in the introduction of parallel universes and the birth of a potential friend/foe as Lucifer's child finally makes an appearance in the last shot of the final episode. What separated this episode from past finales was not simply the fact that it was separated into two parts, but that it did not fit the formulaic structure that the majority of Supernatural's other finales have relied on.

Though Supernatural finales always go big in their final moments, those moments rarely come as a complete shock. Rather, Supernatural's most common, and often best, season finales deliver exactly what the rest of the season was trying to prevent. Season 3 is set on saving Dean, so its season finale kills him. Season 4 is set on preventing Lucifer from rising, so Lucifer does exactly that in the season's final moments. Season 8 is set on completing the trials to lock the gates of Hell, so the finale never lets Sam complete them. Season 9 is, once again, set on saving Dean, so Dean dies, once again. As predictable as you'd think this would make the show, the seasons that choose not to follow this formula often lack a satisfying ending to their over-arching plotline, mainly because the image that finishes off the finale tends to have little to do with the rest of plot and offers hardly any explanation or lasting impression on what came beforehand: the goal of the season is accomplished in the finale, but at an unforeseen cost.

Season 1's final episodes deliver the boys to their father, but its finale catches them in a car crash that nearly kills Dean and ultimately kills their father. The finale of Season 7 sees Dick Roman successfully killed, but Dean and Cas are sent to Purgatory in the process. Season 10 successfully removes the Mark from Dean, but releases the Darkness with it. The only season that benefits from this structure is Season 5, mainly because this type of finale lends itself more to endings than cliffhangers and Season 5 acts as an ending to the show's initial storyline.

Season 12's finale doesn't fit neatly into either of these categories, possibly because the season created so many plotlines to be resolved. There's the British Men of Letters plotline, Lucifer's child being born, Crowley trying to regain and maintain power over Lucifer, Mary's strained relationship with her sons, and Cas' internal struggle to find a home for himself despite Billie's warning that "cosmic consequences" were coming for him, all of which needed to be tied up in the last two episodes. In order to do that, the show splits its finale into two parts and addresses its plotlines separately. In effect, the finale's first part, "Who We Are," becomes a satisfying stand-alone conclusion to the Men of Letters plot and the Winchesters' character arcs so that "All Along The Watchtower" can focus on the plotlines that will continue into the next season, thus creating a final episode in which every plotline gets its own separate version of the Supernatural finale structure.

Crowley's plotline is the second type, as he gains control over Lucifer's life only by killing himself. The Lucifer plotline is the second type, as well, since the Winchesters cage him, but lose Mary in the process. Cas' plotline is the first type, since much of his arc this season has been concerned with Dean worrying over keeping him safe, but the finale ends both of their storylines with Cas' death. The decision to give each of these stories a separate ending within the show's final episode may have been a good one, had each of these endings been given the time to take hold and have a lasting effect, but each of these plotlines is closed in the last five minutes, leading to the major issue found in "All Along The Watchtower": the season's final moments provide none of the complexity, emotion, or focus that "Who We Are" promised.

This is seen most clearly in Cas' death scene. The entire season was spent looking back to the show's glory days, so it's fitting that Dean ends his season with Cas while Sam's final shot is with Lucifer's son, a character that, despite having been born in the final moments of the episode, already parallels Sam's arc from season 4 and 5 not only in his connection to Lucifer, but in that both characters are expected by the angels to bring destruction because of that connection. However, as emotional as Cas' death should be, the scene feels sudden, strange, and unfair to Cas' character. Ending Cas' season 12 storyline with his death before Cas has been able to finally address the line he walks between Heaven and Earth, a decision that might have been addressed after his first visit to Heaven in years had he not been stolen away by Kelly and Jack, does nothing for Cas' season 12 character arc. His death stops the action of his story while he is still living with the same uncertainty as he was in the beginning, especially since his death is preceded by him barging into the alternate universe Jack opened up and attacking Lucifer with a useless weapon without any apparent rhyme or reason. His character saw more development in the first half of the season in episodes like "Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets" and "Stuck in the Middle (With You)," yet the show chooses to ignore this, continuously bringing back the question of where "home" is for Cas despite ending these episodes with a blatant, resounding answer of "with Sam and Dean."

This odd stasis that Cas' death leaves his story in combines with the rushed attempt to tie up three storylines in last minutes of the finale and makes Cas' death feel more hollow than heartbreaking. On paper, Cas' final moments sound tragic. Between his "wing shot," which fans have wondered and worried about since the ashy imprints angels leave behind in death were first introduced in Season 4, and Dean falling to his knees beside him, shut down and barely aware of Sam running back into house and potential danger, the finale might have brought on a few tears if it had taken the time to both give Cas a satisfying reason for dying and give Sam and Dean the room to properly react. Instead, Cas' death is used for shock value. I'm sure it won't continue to remain as quick and pointless as it came across, considering Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins both commented on the lasting effect his death may have on both of their characters in Season 13 at Jus in Bello Con just after the episodes aired. But for the time being, the scene has been crafted in a way that only allows for shock.

Though Jensen definitely provides some heart to the scene, Andrew Dabb's writing and Bob Singer's direction leave Cas' death feeling empty. The camera barely shows Cas after he falls until the final wing shot, which should have been a poignant image and makes sense to hold off on, but with Singer's lock on the other actor's faces (either close-ups or low-angle shots looking up from around their waists) and the way the scene is forced to move on so quickly in order to deal with Lucifer's appearance and his and Mary's disappearance, what should be the season's gripping final moments almost seem to forget Cas until Dean falls beside him, manage to completely overshadow Crowley's death, which is a low blow considering Cas will be back while Crowley definitely won't be, and leave the season without the satisfying close that "Who We Are" originally offered. The season never actually feels like it delivers.

This inability to fully deliver in season finales has been an issue for Supernatural ever since two-part seasons were introduced to the show around season 6 and became a staple of the show in season 9. Mid-season finales after the show took to this type of season structure no longer marked a turn in the action in the same plotline, but the beginning of a different plotline, thus creating season finales that needed to integrate several plotlines into their big reveals and cliffhangers rather than just one. This constant mixing of plotlines that are irrelevant to one another combined with the show's continuous attempts to match the neat build and plotline that was the first five seasons has led to larger and larger plot points, each trying to cover the many, many bases that were created to cover the last larger-than-life plot point. Abaddon is introduced in season 8, Dean takes up the Mark to defeat Abaddon and becomes a demon in season 9, Dean loses control of the Mark and kills Death and releases God's sister in an attempt to rid himself of it in season 10, Lucifer is released to contain God's sister in season 11, and an alternate dimension is created by Lucifer's son and used to contain Lucifer in season 12. The stakes continue to get higher and higher as plotlines from the first half and second half of the season converge and suddenly the season finale must create a way to combine the wall in Sam's mind and the sudden appearance of the rest of the Campbells with Eve's rebirth, the war in Heaven, Crowley and Cas' partnership and the search for Purgatory, or reconcile the fall of the angels, the war in Heaven, and Gadreel's involvement with the Mark of Cain and Abaddon's plotline, or, in this case, address the British Men of Letters, Lucifer's escape, the child Lucifer created during his first escape of the season, Castiel's apparently impenetrable ties to Heaven, and Mary's relationship with her sons. At this point, it's almost a good thing that this season did nothing in terms of character development for Sam or Dean, or else this finale might have had more on its plate to shove into its final minutes.

I will say this for the end of season 12, though. This finale is absolutely cleaner than most of the show's other recent attempts, undoubtably due to the decision to spread itself between two episodes. "Who We Are" is one of the show's best episodes in a long while. Robert Berens is able to create some incredibly touching, heart-wrenching moments, especially between Sam and Dean and Dean and Mary (I got chills from Dean's first "I hate you"), and the writing is tight and well-paced. "All Along the Watchtower" may lack some of the power it was trying to channel, but it does introduce some really intriguing plotlines for season 13, especially in the introduction of alternate universes, through which old and new characters may (re)enter the canon. In the end, though, this awkward, fast-paced almost-closure to the season rests in an odd place between the two established types of Supernatural finales (a combination that only ever truly worked ten years ago, during season 2) and leaves an after-impression that is not so much disappointing as it is void of grip or emotion, especially in the afterglow of "Who We Are," and the time it gives its most important moments and characters to breathe, and the potential it represents that Supernatural should continue to strive toward.

Cover Image Credit: Supernatural

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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5 Reasons Why The Saints Are Inbound To Win The Super Bowl

With the Saints rolling this year, there are 5 crucial reasons why they have a great chance to make the Superbowl.

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When you're reading this is February, you're gonna ask yourself, "How did he know?" I'm a wizard; that's why I know the Saints are going to the Superbowl this year. I'm just kidding, but in all seriousness, I can say with confidence that the Saints have one of the better chances in the NFL to make it to the Superbowl. Below are 5 reasons why they'll make the Superbowl in February 2019.

1. Breesus Christ

The Saints have Drew "freaking" Brees. I literally do not need to say more, but I will anyway.

Drew Brees is the best quarterback in the league period. He will break the record for most passing yards in a career this season, and he has the record for highest completion percentage. To all the people that say Tom Brady is better, you're wrong. Tom Brady has always had a defense to rely on when he needed; Drew Brees hasn't.

Whenever the Saints need Brees, he's always there. The Saints rely on him to get them out of big holes and us Saints fans know that he's the best QB in the league and will lead us to another Superbowl this year.

2. Lighting and Thunder

Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram being the best running back duo in the league isn't new news. We saw all of last season that Ingram was a bruiser and Kamara was a shifty back. They form a lighting and thunder duo. This season, Ingram has been suspended for the first four games and the Saints were still able to go 3-1. Just imagine how great the Saints are going to be when Ingram comes back this week. It's going to be SCARY.

How do defenses stop Kamara, Ingram, Brees, and Thomas? Defenses beware because the Saints are marching in.

3. Can't Guard Mike

Michael Thomas has been unstoppable this year. No one can guard him. In my opinion he's the best receiver in the league, and while others disagree, they can't deny the impact Thomas has had for the Saints. With the best QB in the league, Thomas is in a prime position to lead a major push to the Superbowl for the Saints. When the offense is rolling, no one can stop the Saints. Cornerbacks can prepare as hard as they need, but they can't guard Mike.

4. Boonk Gang

The Saints defense made major strides last year and helped propel them to many wins. If not for a freak play that resulted in the Saints losing in the divisional round, I believe the Saints would have moved on to the Superbowl. While the defense has been pretty bad at the beginning of the season, in week three, the Saints defense showed what they are capable of. With Ingram coming back and controlling the pace of the offense, watch for the defense to get much better through the season.

5. "Put me in Coach Payton"

Sean Payton may be the second best coach in the league after Bill Belichick.

Coach Payton has had the Saints offense in the top 10 offenses every single year since he became head coach in 2006. With his offensive creativity and his ability to use players such as backup QB Taysom Hill in positions where no other coach would dare to use them, Coach Payton will be the driving force in leading the Saints to the Superbowl.

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