Supernatural: Season 11, Episode 23 – “Alpha and Omega”

There were some sparks of life in the season finale, but did anything really happen?

Crowley: This is desperate, and stupid.

Dean: Well, desperate and stupid is pretty much all we got right now.

Carry on, wayward sons! It’s nice to see that no matter how much Supernatural changes throughout the years, one thing doesn’t, and that’s the spectacularly edited end-of-season montage set to the Kansas classic, “Carry on Wayward Son”. Perhaps this year, the song’s especially appropriate, considering that’s exactly what this week’s episode dealt with: carrying on.

After the events of last week’s episode, things looked pretty dim. Literally. After Amara (Emily Swallow) dealt a crippling blow to God Himself, Chuck (Rob Benedict), the sun in the sky weakened into an eternal sunset. (Considering how dimly lit the first couple of seasons of Supernatural were, however, this actually came off as a little sunnier than usual.) While Dean (Jensen Ackles), Crowley (Mark Sheppard), Rowena (Ruth Connell), Chuck, and even a Lucifer-free Castiel (Misha Collins) seem content to just wait and drink until the universe ends, it’s Sam (Jared Padalecki) who urges the others to quickly think up of a plan.

It’s a plan that sounds ridiculous on paper, but it gives the show plenty of opportunities to include some familiar fan-friendly moments. Everyone has to collect enough souls to build a bomb strong enough to blast Amara just as she blasted God. Forget Chuck’s theory that both He and the Darkness have to co-exist to make the world right, because He’s near death Himself; either both live, or neither can. Sam and Dean travel to a haunted asylum to harvest ghosts in a typical salted shotgun face off. Off-screen, Crowley learns that other demons have taken all of Hell’s damned souls and Castiel finds the other angels in Heaven mysteriously reluctant to help.

Finally, we learn the purpose of Billie the reaper (Lisa Berry), a character that has been demanding our attention since the beginning of the season. “When you want souls, call a reaper,” she says, before collecting hundreds of thousands of souls from the Veil into a magic crystal, which is painfully placed inside Dean. (This show keeps reminding us about the Veil, another Purgatory-like dimension in which spirits wait for their proper after-life.) Dean will be transported to Amara’s location, where he will literally blow himself up in the process of destroying her and saving the world. For some reason, everybody seems perfectly content with Dean’s impending death, including Dean.

Amara, meanwhile, sits in an ornate park with a bewildered look on her face. Her character, despite being the series’ most physically powerful villain, has been noticeably unpopular with fans of the show. You can’t blame the four separate actresses who has played her: they’ve done the best with the ridiculous material they have been given, but viewers looking for a satisfying end to her character arc will be disappointed. After speaking with a random bird-feeding widow (Barbara Wallace), her big confrontation with Dean is cut short by a guest appearance by Chuck. After all of this talk about her motives, her undeniable hold of power over Dean Winchester, and the fact that she is supposed to be the very essence of all that is bad in the world, it turned out that all she needed was some family counseling? She magically heals God, who retrieves the souls from Dean, and the two vanish in a happy swirl of white and black smoke.

Every season finale needs a cliffhanger, though, and Supernatural sort of gave us two. One, Dean finds himself in a dark forest; he stumbles into a clearing and comes face-to-face with his mother, Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith). Is he in Purgatory? Is he a ghost in the Veil? Has his long-deceased mother been brought back to life? Finally, we find out the purpose of the mysterious Lady Antonia Bevell (Elizabeth Blackmore), an English “Woman of Letters” who insists that the leaders of their organization want Sam stopped. She shoots Sam, and are we really supposed to wonder if he’s dead or not? After all, he’s been choked to death not once, but twice this season. Not to mention, death can’t stop the Winchesters; they’ve got God and the Darkness on their side.

Did the big finale live up to the hype? You could say that it was hit and miss, much like the rest of season 11. The heavily complicated main plot of this season, the destruction of “The Darkness”, was a disappointment, but it was frequently pushed to the sidelines in favor of more fun, monster-of-the-week-based episodes. The results have been a mixed bag, giving us some of the best (“Baby”, “Into The Mystic”) and the worst (“Just My Imagination”, “Thin Lizzy”) that the series has to offer. Just as the episode’s title symbolizes “the beginning and the end”, a good season finale closes up one plotline while starting up another. In that respect, “Alpha and Omega” was an unqualified success.

Supernatural will return on Thursday nights this fall.

RATING 6 / 10