With the summer hiatus in full swing, it’s time to review my favorite Supernatural episodes from past seasons. We finished with season 5 in March and it’s time to pick things back up with season 6. The first season after Eric Kripke’s reign (and his five-season story arc) was inspired by film noir (I read that somewhere), with more emphasis on inner demons than external monsters. It wasn’t one of my favorite seasons.
Per TV Fanatic, TV.com, and IMDB, the favorite season 6 episodes are:
(3-way tie): Weekend at Bobby’s (603, and Jensen Ackles’s directorial debut), You Can’t Handle the Truth (606), and Appointment in Samarra (611)
The French Mistake (615)
(tie) Caged Heat (610) and Frontierland (618)
(Incidentally, this list differs from my previous post of the Best of Supernatural Season 6 episodes, probably because I used a different metric back in 2013.)
Your thoughts on “The Executioner’s Song?” Here’s mine.
It’s the Battle of the First Borns.
1. Jensen Ackles is back, baby!
In the past I’ve called him the most underrated actor in Hollywood. But recently he hasn’t overwhelmed me. His performances haven’t been bad—I don’t think Jensen’s talent or work ethic would allow that—but they haven’t been as riveting as I’ve come to expect. It was wonderful to see him back in full form again. Every single one of Dean’s scene in “The Executioner’s Song” was magnificent. Even before his confrontation with Cain, Dean’s fear and sorrow drew me in and didn’t let go.
This has been an incredibly hard review to write. No wonder season 6 was so unmemorable; it was a jumbled mess. Or maybe it’s a mess because I didn’t watch these episodes in order. Sometimes that can really screw with your head.
Grumpy middle-aged men.
Even so, the buildup to Sam’s soullessness was well done. Although his behavior was a bit “off” from the beginning, we knew something was wrong in “Live Free or TwiHard,” when he let Dean get turned into a vampire. In “You Can’t Handle the Truth,” he was immune to the truth spell. When we finally learned what the problem was in “Family Matters,” the saga continued but with a different focus until mid-season.
Many will disagree, but Dean was insufferable. When he wasn’t whining to Bobby about something being wrong with his brother, he was trying to run Sam’s life. Can you imagine how Dean would react if Sam tried to make every decision for him? In that respect, the show really does have the older/younger brother relationship down pat.
What the heck? The CW didn’t show any Supernatural repeats this week. Don’t they realize this messes with my viewing and reviewing schedule?
The Man Who Would Be King (620)
Lie to the Winchesters, get trapped in a ring of holy fire.
That “man” would be Castiel (who isn’t technically a man). The episode feels a bit like a season review, told from Castiel’s perspective. Cass tries to explain his motives for his questionable behavior all season. Cass rescued Sam from Lucifer’s cage, but left his soul in hell. (On purpose or botched job?) He burned Not-Crowley’s bones to get the Winchesters off Crowley’s tail, because he’d teemed up with the chief crossroads demon. He deceived the Winchesters to the point they no longer trusted him. And his worst actions didn’t occur until the next episodes!
I remember being confused by Cass’s actions in season 6—and not liking him very much. This episode was supposed to clear things up and show us that Castiel’s motives were righteous, even if his actions weren’t. I didn’t get it in 2011.
The season 6 title card caught me by surprise. How did breaking glass tie in to it? The Supernatural Wiki says it’s a reference to film noir, the genre season 6 was going for. Ok.
Live Free or Twihard (605)
Every Supernatural fan has her (or his) own reasons for liking the show, and that’s no more apparent than in the wide range of ratings any episode receives. TV Fanatic and TV.com gave this episode very high marks, yet it’s one of my least favorite episodes. I’m not a big fan of vampires—nearly all of Supernatural‘s vampire-centric episodes are on my unremarkable list. Or perhaps it’s because season 6 was mostly forgettable.
Dean Winchester: Vampire-hunting vampire
We know something is off about Sam, but don’t yet know what. He watches (and even smiles!) as Dean is turned into a vampire. Fortunately, their grandfather Samuel shows up with a vampire cure. How convenient!
Samuel, still one of the good guys at this point, chastises his namesake for not telling Dean of the “old Campbell recipe” for curing a vampire. He says it’s as if Sam wanted Dean to become a vampire in order to search for the alpha. The line inititally passed (by me) unnoticed. We learned about the shapeshifter alpha in “Two and a Half Men” (which I haven’t covered yet), but was this the first reference to the vampire alpha? Now that we know the key role the alpha vamp played in season 6, and what was wrong with Sam, Sam’s motivation is clearer. Letting Dean be turned and not curing him was cruel. But it worked. By entering the nest, Dean learned how the alpha communicated with his minions, and what his plans were.
What a great Supernatural week. We had the excellent season 8 finale; and the two “revisited” episodes, while perhaps not favorites, were ones I quite enjoy. Interestingly, both had the alternative title cards, making them somewhat “special.” But since you can’t rate two episodes in one post, we’ll have to split them into two posts. Here’s part 1.
Post-abduction, paranoid Dean
“Clap Your Hands…” begins with the theme and title card from X-Files. I only know this because close captioning says so, having never watched the series.
In the scope of the larger arc, we now know Sam doesn’t have a soul. No empathy, so no puppy eyes. And not much mourning when Dean is abducted.