Supernatural Review by John Keegan

Supernatural 10.03: Soul Survivor

Supernatural 10.03: Soul Survivor

Written By:
Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming
Directed By:
Jensen Ackles

Well, so much for that.  This episode may be roughly equivalent to giving Sam a way to suppress Lucifer for a while so that the writers can keep the Brothers Winchester together, but considering how much time they spent setting up Demon Dean and how he ticks, this seems ill-advised.  Of course, this is a typical Buckner/Ross-Leming script, so ill-advised is perhaps to be expected.



 

As usual, when these writers are involved, everything seems “off”.  The characterization is a bit wonky, the dialogue doesn’t quite fit, and so much of that seems to be most evident with Crowley.  If there’s one consistent flaw that they managed to avoid this time, it was their penchant for introducing guest characters as if the audience should have known them all along.

 

If I were more cynical about the current status of Supernatural, I might suspect that Carver was intentionally assigning these two writers to episodes that were probably not going to work anyway.  Or, at the very least, struggle to come remotely close to the interest level of what had come immediately before.  The order of the day was reversion to the status quo, at least temporarily: Dean is sorta back (but still has the Mark of Cain), Sam is sorta back (but still on the verge of terrible life choices), and Castiel is sorta back (with another dose of angelic Grace).



 

Still, the underlying problems aren’t resolved, and this episode feels less like an interesting curve in the road than a delaying tactic.  So much of the ninth season was a delaying tactic that I’m not at all looking forward to rehashing the same criticisms again.  That’s been the weakness of the Carver Era: on paper, the character and plot arcs are a brilliant callback to the original Kripke Era, yet the ridiculous amount of padding is dragging the final product into the ground.

 

A lot of my issues center on Crowley, because his current status is a tricky balance between conniving mastermind and whiny ex-BFF.  The fact that Crowley has been partially humanized is a nice reflection on Castiel’s appreciation of humanity.  If there’s a core concept to the Carver Era that aligns with the “Winchester Gospels” idea, it’s that the Winchesters ultimately have a hold on the presumptive power players of Heaven and Hell.  Their trials no longer seem pointless; their struggles have an impact on the entire order of the spiritual universe again.



 

It’s a great idea, and there is still the potential to run in the same dark territory that made the fourth season such a success; Dean’s current situation is a clear spiritual successor to his post-Hell PTSD days.  How this episode ends leaves me concerned that the writers will try to have a run of episodes that sets aside the underlying issues in favor of comedic fare, and after seeing how poorly that worked last season, I’m rather wary.


Our Grade:
C-
The Good:
  • The overall structure is coming together well enough
The Bad:
  • This writing dup continues to struggle with characterization and dialogue
  • Demon Dean is set aside way too quickly for my liking

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Supernatural by - 10/23/2014 6:46 AM161 views

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