Sam and Dean pursue Kevin, the ‘Prophet of God’ and his demon-destroying tablet, while also contending with the fall out from their year apart when Dean was in purgatory and Sam found love…
There is an unavoidable sense of redundancy hanging over Supernatural‘s eighth season, as this undead show continues to stumble around as if it were still alive, repeating things it used to do so much better in life…
It’s not that this season is particularly bad, just that last year and this are anti-climatic after the whole world-threatening armageddon of season six, which felt like a fitting end to the show. Now, we’re repeating arcs done before, such as the brothers finding each other again after time apart, although this time around it is Sam who gets to sample a ‘normal life’ before losing it.
The arc story of Kevin and his tablet is fine, even though the individual episodes don’t move things on so much as repeatedly emphasise the main points of the tablet’s supposed powers, which are surely just waiting to be unleashed in next year’s season finale.
The other arc, and the character destined to drive a wedge between the Winchesters, is that following vampire Benny’s rehabilitation after he busts out of purgatory along with Dean.
In between, stand alone episodes offer a Hands of Orlac riff in ‘Heartache’, a tired Sam-and-Dean lite ‘found footage’ outing in ‘Bitten’, the return of comedy hunter Garth as the ‘new Bobby’ in ‘Southern Comfort’, and an outbreak of cartoon physics in ‘Hunteri Heroici’. Actually, it is the latter two much more comedic episodes that work best this season, sprinkling the increasingly gorey horror of this show with some much-needed humour.
By the mid-season break of ‘Citizen Fang’ Dean’s friendship with Benny has forced the brothers apart. The story lines behind this have been presented throughout the season in an ever ludicrous manner. Repeatedly, Sam and Dean have stopped mid-scene to stare dreamily into space, launching a flashback to Sam’s time with Amy or to Dean’s struggles and friendship with Benny in purgatory. It’s become such a frequent trope that it causes laughter, rather than engagement with the drama. At one point, the two Winchesters are standing with Castiel—who is himself opting out of ‘real time’ to be grilled by Amanda Tapping (who’s she meant to be—God?)—when all three seem to have one flashback/disassociated state after another. Maybe not, but at times it felt close to it…
Verdict: Overall not bad (apart from the dreadful ‘Bitten’), just not vital television any more…
Episode 2 ‘What’s Up, Tiger Mommy?’: 6/10
Episode 3 ‘Heartache’: 6/10
Episode 4 ‘Bitten’: 3/10
Episode 5 ‘Blood Brother’: 6/10
Episode 6 ‘Southern Comfort’: 8/10
Episode 7 ‘A Little Slice of Kevin’: 7/10
Episode 8 ‘Hunteri Heroici’: 8/10
Episode 9 ‘Citizen Fang’: 7/10
Brian J. Robb