Supernatural‘s a bizarre aberration for The CW. While most of the shows on the network are aimed at girls and young women, Supernatural – although clearly having some appeal for that demographic in the form of the two leads – is very much a horror show with a clear(ish) target of young men and boys.
Now despite this fact, and the fact it’s not exactly the most trumpeted of shows, Supernatural is probably the second-best if not the best show on the network (Gossip Girl being perhaps the best despite a disappointing second season). And this fourth season has, despite the odds, probably been the best so far.
The fourth season has been the season of angels. After years without an angel in sight – and insistence by brother Dean that there’s no such thing as angels – they arrived in scary force at the start of the season to herald the start of the apocalypse.
Since then, the show has managed to stay reasonably on track with this arc, playing around with its new mythology and asking deeper questions than normal: "What are angels like?", "What is the nature of their faith?" and "Maybe there are angels after all, but where’s God in all this? Has he ‘left the building’?"
Which isn’t to say Supernatural has become all po-faced. The show has had some classic comedy pieces, including a very odd one involving a prophet who’s been predicting every episode of the show before it happened and selling them as novels and a classic horror movie episode. There have been a couple of duff episodes, but it’s still been of admirably high quality for most of the year, frequently serving up more creativity, humour and interesting ideas that the majority of mainstream shows.
Unfortunately, the finale, with so much building towards it, felt like something of a letdown, with its anticipated payoffs being shunted into the next season. While the advent of Lucifer presumably means Hell on Earth for season five, unless the brothers stop him in episode one and take up stamp collecting for the remaining episodes, it felt like so much tease and not enough to really grab: no big fight between the brothers, since that was in the penultimate episode; no exciting masterplan to stop the final seal being opened; no big angelic duels to fill you with shock and awe.
Instead, some reveals – the angels’ plans for the apocalypse, the revelation of the long-ranging plans the demons have had for the brothers – did rationalise much of the show’s continuity and avert real disappointment. But it still felt less impressive than previous years’ finales.
Nevertheless, season five looks like it’s going to be a cracker, particularly since it’s probably going to be the final one. Let’s hope they go for broke and really show us what they can do.