Review: Supernatural 5×1

Sympathy for the devil


In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, The CW
In the UK: Moving to Living/Virgin1

This is it – what could be the final season of Supernatural. It’s come a long way over the years, from being a simple horror story of the week series for young adults weened on Scream, Saw, et al, to being a surprisingly effective, funny and even thoughtful musing on the nature of God, angels and devils as depicted in the Bible.

When last we left those pretty Winchester boys at the end of season four (look away now if you haven’t seen it), Hell was about to arrive on Earth and the Apocalypse was about to begin – something that the heavenly host of angels was surprisingly keen to see happen. As a way to end a season, it’s hard to top. So as we enter season five, what can we expect to see?

Oh, it’s that bloke who plays Jacob on Lost.

Compared to last season’s unnerving premiere, this feels a little anticlimactic and even normal. The boys are back in action, along with Bobby, Lucifer isn’t truly walking the Earth yet, there are lots of demons to slay, including (if you can remember that far back) Meg, and the angels with the exception of Castiel are still behaving like dicks.

But there’s a little more bubbling beneath the surface than all that initially indicates. There are suggestions, for example, that a higher power – you can guess Who – is taking an active interest in things and ensuring that certain impossible events come to pass to help Heaven triumph over Hell. So, the Supernatural universe is expanded a little, intellectually and theologically, and I’m sure similar will crop up in later episodes.

We also have some character moments, with Dean no longer able to trust Sam because of his actions in season four, although this doesn’t feel quite as raw as it should do – as though the requirements of the format are dictating what the characters do and subduing them, rather than the characters forcing the format to alter slightly as the natural outcome of the events depicted.

And lastly, we get our first glimpse into Lucifer and how he works, which builds on the show’s previous angelic mythology nicely. What Lucifer plans on doing and whether he’s going to be the pure evil we expect or whether he’s going to be shown as no different from the other angels should prove interesting – particularly since he’s going to be played by Mark Pellegrino, now best known as the equally mysterious and powerful Jacob on Lost and a very good actor indeed.

On the whole though, this isn’t quite the slam dunk of last year and exists more as a plot continuation episode than a showcase of Supernatural‘s capabilities. I’m hoping that as the season builds, greater writing pyrotechnics will be on display, but at the very least, it should be a decent enough run for the show’s final* year. Fingers crossed, though, we might see something special.

* Although the cast have signed up for season six, even if the writers have said the story they have finishes with season five.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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