“Survival of the Fittest” Review
By Bekah James
Supernatural 7.23: Survival of the Fittest
Written by: Sera Gamble
Directed by: Robert Singer
Music: “Carry On My Wayward Sons” by Kansas, “Vincent” by Don McLean, “Born To Be Bad” by Steppenwolf
Okie dokie, Supernatural fans. This is it; the episode that will keep us talking and slathering for Season 8 for the entire summer. I don’t know about you, but I had to watch the ep three times before I was really ready to discuss it with my secret circle of SPN fan friends.
Firstly, it is fitting that Sera Gamble wrote the episode, what with her retiring as show runner. Eric Kripke did the same in Season 5. I know Sera has had her critics, but she took the difficult task of extending Kripke’s five-Season arc into a seven-Season stretch. I do think that it is time for her to move on. Her ideas have not held me as captive as Kripke’s did. I’ve got high hopes for new show runner Jeremy Carver. He’s written some of the benchmark episodes of Supernatural: Mystery Spot, In The Beginning, Free To Be You And Me, Changing Channels and Point Of No Return. This man knows his stuff, and knows how to use Sam and Dean to the best of their potential. Not to knock Sera here, but I’m stoked for this change.
The script itself was strong. I’ve never had a problem with Sera’s writing. She gave us some pretty funny-slash-tragic moments with Castiel, but she also gave us an extremely touching farewell scene for Bobby. Even though we all knew Bobby had to move on in the finale, it still made me tear up. I don’t know if it was Sera or Bob Singer who made the decision for Dean not to watch Bobby go up in ghostly smoke, but it simply broke my heart. He couldn’t watch him die once and for all. Dean is such an emotional guy. I love that.
Misha Collins must have had no small amount of fun playing CrazyPants Castiel. Watching him zone in and out of lucidity… and playing Twister with himself… was a joy. I am glad he came around and agreed to help the boys. But really, was there ever really a doubt that their trusty angel sidekick would do anything but? Not for me—I mean, not after he popped up alive mid-Season that is.
Mark A. Sheppard put his best Crowley forward this week. He was as smarmy as ever—just the way I like him. I will confess that I wasn’t sure which way he was going to go. I mean, he very well could have double-crossed the boys, which would have kept the Leviathan thing going into next Season. I’m super glad that didn’t happen. Mark is such a good actor that he gave nothing away with his performance. It is not often that I look at an actor and say “yes, this guy is definitely that character”. For me, the list is short—and at the very top of it is Mark. I tell you, when it started looking like Crowley might fall on the side of Dick, my palms started sweating. I don’t want Crowley to ever truly die. He is too much fun. I can’t imagine Crowley ever actually killing either one of the boys—he enjoys poking them too much to kill them! I think it is a mutually beneficial relationship they have going on. Just add a pinch of Castiel and mix well with a dash of Meg and you have a perfect combination for mischief, mayhem, and madness. And to that I say… YAY!
I was way skeeved out by the idea that Dick was going to weed out the undesirables from the food pool. By way of coffee creamer. It was an amusing twist, however, that on the undesirable list were the skinny people—and the smarties. What a statement that was! Of course, it was a play on the age-old Hitler-esque theme that is so popular these days (all days). Of course, the twist being that the Levis wanted to eat their inferior race… gross.
Yes, I did not like the Levis. At all. But I sure did get a charge out of all of the big wigs around the conference table discussing market research and blah blah blah. James Patrick Stuart made Dick into such an awesome business man. Even though he was a monster as old as time itself (or whatever), he still appreciated a nice PowerPoint presentation and fresh orphan sushi. I actually rather liked him this episode. I thought the scenes with Crowley and Dick were some of my favorites this week. They were great foils for one another, and Mark and James exhibited a nice and strong on-camera chemistry. To bad Dick went and got himself neck-skewered. I mean, for him; not for us viewers. For the viewers, yay; for Dick, boo.
Okay, so the Impala is back. I’ve been waiting for this for weeks and weeks. All of us have been. When Cas popped Dean to the covered up car, there was no mistaking what was about to happen. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for Dean to whip the cover off with the flourish of Season 6… and then he didn’t. Okay, I was willing to hang on to my seat until The Moment happened. Surely it would be on a two-lane road, chrome gleaming in the sun. And… ah… there it is! I was cheering and doing this ridiculous little dance I like to call the “Oh Yeah! Woo-hoo!” dance. The song… meh… could have been better. It lacked the gut punch pride of “Back In Black”, but whatever. And then… it went crashing through the Sucrocorp sign. Aaaaah! I had suspected it was not Dean when the Impala was fishtailing all over the road—Dean would never! But as soon as it flew through all of that glass, I knew. No way would Dean risk his baby to crash into asign; a window or even the side of a building, sure, but not a damn sign! So, I felt a little cheated. It was Meg. I wanted to see Dean with the Impala, windows down and Sam smiling in the front seat. It would have been like the family was back together at last. But no. My biscuits are a little burnt over that one.
Jared and Jensen really went for it this week. If you can’t trot out your best acting abilities at the finale of Season 7, when you know that your little show that could has been re-slated for a cushy Wednesday night at 9:00 time slot for Season 8, well, when can you? The comedy—dark, just the way Sera likes it—was well timed and well delivered. The angst was at, like, 11. My only note was Jared’s wide-stanced OMFG WHERE’S DEAN?? face at the very end. Dick went kablooey and for some reason, that snapped Dean and Cas into Purgatory. (I’ll get to that in a mo’) So, Sam is shocked to find Dean gone. Again. I don’t know, but I like to think that if I was Sam, my face would be like: “Sigh. Here we go again. Fuck. I wanted a week off and a high-dollar… massage.” I guess I don’t believe that he would be uber shocked that his brother is off to some dimension without him. And really, they take turns, right? In Season 3, Dean went to Hell. Season 4, they both went to Heaven; Season 5, Sam went to Hell; Season 6, Cas lost his marbles; so, yeah… Dean’s up for some time in Purgatory. Shocker.
Okay, so about that Purgatory thing. REALLY? Purgatory! Does that mean we’re going to have half a Season with the boys separated again? And just why in the hell did Castiel zap away and leave Dean to the foul beasts of Hell—I mean, Purgatory? Couldn’t he have whisked Dean to safety? I’m going to assume that Cas snapped out to find a good hiding spot and will be back in the first second of the first scene of Season 8 to retrieve Dean. He better or I’m going to be upset with him; crazy or not, don’t leave your friends stranded in Purgatory. I think that is, like, in the Bro Code or something.
Anyway, as far as finales go, it was not my favorite. It didn’t have the finesse of Swan Song (the best Season finale of any show ever), or the emotional devastation of Seasons 2, 3 or 6. Maybe if they’d saved Bobby’s final death for the end, I would have been sobbing when the credits rolled, but I was left rolling my eyes instead. I hate to even say that. I’m sorry guys. I did like it, but I was hoping for just a little more. What can I say? After seven years, I hold the show to remarkably high (and yes, perhaps impossible) standards. Of course, this finale beat the Grey’s Anatomy lame-ass-Richie-Valens finale like a giant stealing lunch money from a one-legged leprechaun.
Huh. When I think of it that way… hell yeah. Survival of the Fittest indeed.
See you in Season 8, Superfans!