So it’s coming up to the mid-Season finale again so I thought I’d look back at how other season’s have ended the run before the end of the year.
These episodes fall just before the half way mark for the season (usually episode 9 or 10). They are always significant character episodes and contain a critical plot point with regards the season’s major character and myth arcs as well. They invariably have a very intense scene between Sam and Dean. They see the wrapping up of some of the story from the first part of the season, and propel us into what dominate the will rest of the season.
Some end on a classic cliffhanger, all end with us cursing that we have to wait until next year to find out what happens next.
And they give us plenty to angst over, and write fic about, over the hellatus before the first episode in the New Year.
Season One - Asylum (aired 22 November 2005)
Kleenex Quotient: One supersized one
A brilliant episode that hit the mark with a great scary story, a wonderful supporting character in Kat, great brother banter and teamwork and OMG SAM SHOT DEAN.
We’d spent the first part of the season with the boys reconnecting, but also with a growing friction between them that comes to a head here. The episode uses the device of having something supernatural allow us an insight into the boys inner thoughts. We get to see that Sam is not just irritated with Dean, there is real anger here, and not only at their differing ideas on a course of action (obey Dad vs find Dad), but there are issues in their relationship that run deep. Everything that plays out in an epic way Season Four can be seen here.
Cliffhanger (seven week hellatus; next episode Scarecrow): The episode ends with Sam answering the phone speaking to his father for the first time in years, and the first direct contact
Season Two – Croatoan (aired December 7, 2006)
Kleenex Quotient: A big handful
A great kickarse mytharc MOTW episode full of great tension with the Crotaoan virus being introduced - even if it took 3 years for Kripke to work the Crotoan virus back into the plot.
At this point in the season, Sam has learned something more about “the special children’ and is struggling with what this means – for who he is and especially whether what’s inside him is something dark. Thus this episode is about him dealing explicitly with the morality of the situation. His line “It’s supposed to be tough, Dean. We’re supposed to struggle with this, that’s the whole point.” Encapsulates for me the philosophy of the Show - we can’t always know what’s right or wrong, but we always need to be examining why and how we act as we do.
Dean: I’m tired, Sam. I’m tired of this job, this life, this weight on my shoulders, man. I’m tired of it.
Dean, well he’s pretty broken. From the seemingly happy-go-lucky guy we met early in Season 1, the layers have slowly been peeled back, to reveal something of great sadness. And really for the first time Sam gets to see this.
Cliffhanger (four week hellatus; next episode Hunted): In an iconic scene by the river, Dean finally gets to the point of revealing to Sam, and us, what John’s dying words were.
Season Three – A Very Supernatural Christmas (aired December 13, 2007)
Kleenex Quotient: Whole Damn Box
We got a very special pre-hiatus episode in Season 3 with A Very Supernatural Christmas. with evil Santa, Weechesters, eggnog and amulets. It’s a different kind of conflict between the boys here – Dean wanting to savor a last Christmas, Sam unable to bear the grief the thought brings. While the episode title and opening credits satirizes a clichéd trope in Tv, at the same time the episode actually follows it as well, as we learn that really, the gifts the boys give each other is their love. And porn.
The revelation of the origin of the amulet is a wonderful moment, and highlights how great the show is at playing the long game with these sort of reveals, and an attention to character detail that makes them so much more 3-dimensional.
Cliffhanger (six week hellatus; next episode Malleus Maleficarum): There is a sense at the end of a moment of calm before the coming storm. I really see this episode as the start of the arc of Dean connecting with his desire to live in with this wonderful moment with Sam.
By the time this episode aired, the Writer’s Strike had begun and it was uncertain when the season would resume. Four episodes were able to be completed before they ran out of scripts, and these aired in January/February, before there was a 2 month break before the final four episodes of the truncated season were broadcast.
Season Four: Heaven and Hell (aired November 20, 2008)
Kleenex Quotient: A couple for the Dean/Anna scene (you know what i mean), plus a couple of hanfuls for the final scene.
Second of a two parter that began with “I know what you did last summer” those mytharc eps that packs a heap in its 44 minutes, and is a great one to rewatch given what we later know– Anna as an angel, her relationship to Cas, how far Ruby is prepared to go in her deception of everyone and her manipulation of Sam. We have Sam refusing to drink her blood to enhance his powers and we get a glimpse of the horrors Alistair can inflict. It’s quite clear from this episode, that the angels are not our friends.
Oh and Dean gets to have sex.
Castiel’s role in relationship to the boys is pushed into a point of open conflict, but I think its also a tipping point for him, as when we next meet Cas he has been demoted due to his connections with them.
Sam and Dean are not in conflict here, although it is what we they are going through individually that will push them apart as the season progresses.
It ends with Dean’s shattering revelation of his breaking in Hell, which has far reaching effects on him, and the mytharc.
Cliffhanger: (seven week hellatus; next episode Family Remains): Dean’s heartbreaking revelation that his time in hell actually measured many decades for him, and that after much torture he eventually became a torturer of souls himself.
Season Five: Abandon All Hope (November 19, 2009)
Kleenex Quotient: If you don’t get through at least a box, you’re probably already dead.
Shit gets real in this episode as Team Free Will goes at Lucifer head on, we meet Crowley and lucifer raises Death.
To this point in the Season, Lucifer has not seemed to be in any hurry to kickstart the Apocalpyse, and has little direct impact on the boys. Yet in this episode, with Ellen and Jo’s tragic deaths, his presence is bought front and center.
It also marks the point from which Sam and Dean’s relationship, which is still at a fragile place of recuilding, will break down again until evolving to a new place at the end of the season.
Cliffhanger (NINE week hellatus; next episode: Sam, Interrupted): We are left wondering how the hell the boys are going to defeat Lucifer.
Season Six: Appointment in Samarra (December 10, 2010)
Kleenex Quotient:One to chew on as you try not to bite your nails off!
Dean makes a deal with Death in order to try and get Sam’s soul back – while Sam is prepared to kill Bobby as part of spell to prevent it happening.
Dean gets to spend a day with Tessa, learning about the natural order of death, something the Winchesters have continually ignored.
Cliffhanger (7 week hellatus; next episode Like A Virgin): Death returns Sam’s soul, but is quite clear that it is deeply damaged, and what state Sam will be in when, if, he regains consciousness is unclear.
Season Seven: Death’s Door (December 10, 2011)
Kleenex Quotient: Cut down a whole forest.
A truly magnificent episode that spends most of its time in Bobby’s subconscious as he fights to live, and to tell the boys what he learned of Dick Roman’s plans. Heartbreaking, but with the great light moments provided by the wonderful Steven Williams as Rufus, this episode really captures the essence of Bobby’s relationship with Sam and Dean.
“As fate would have it, I adopted two boys. And they grew up great. They grew up heroes.”
Cliffhanger (four week hellatus; next episode Adventures in Babysitting): Does Bobby go with the reaper? Is he actually even dead? What do the numbers mean? Fandom needed hellatus to properly grieve for Bobby.