Final Thoughts on “Supernatural”

Final Thoughts on "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com

SPOILERS AHEAD

A few weeks back I posted about re-watching older seasons of Supernatural in anticipation of seeing the last few seasons I’d missed, including the series finale. I finally completed what occasionally felt like a gruelling trek, and I thought I’d share a few final thoughts about the show.

I actually almost didn’t make it to the end. The last season I’d seen involved a lot of sturm und drang about Lucifer fathering a child with an unsuspecting human woman. That season ended with baby Jack being born (and instantly aging up to a young man), in the process opening a portal to an alternate– apocalyptic– Earth. At this point, fan favourite Bobby is re-introduced to the show, while other favourites are killed off, including Crowley (RIP) and Castiel. Okay, I thought, this is going to be interesting.

Only it wasn’t.

Alternate Earth

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I think the writers really didn’t know what to do with the alternate Earth. Bobby and Charlie were brought back, but then nothing much really happened with them (definitely nothing that added to character development, the story arc, or to the show as a whole). There’s a bizarre alternate Castiel who is (thankfully) quickly killed. New characters are introduced and brought to Sam and Dean’s Earth in a side plot that, along with these characters, went nowhere. Most were killed or just disappeared, and in the last season any that were left were wiped out of existence (more on that later). And then there was the apocalypse. We already had an apocalypse season on Supernatural— who decided we needed another one? And why did anyone think viewers would care if angels were wreaking havoc on another planet? It was a strange choice and mostly (I think) an excuse to bring back another character no one asked for: (alternate) Archangel Michael.

Michael 2.0

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Boredom with what had initially seemed like it would be an interesting season soon turned to frustration. Not only did we have to sit through an alternate world’s apocalypse, but we had to endure human-hating angels led by apocalypse-obsessed alternate Michael. One stupid decision after another leads to him showing up on Sam and Dean’s Earth (which I’m calling Main Earth from now on), where Dean, going against all sense and reason, ends up giving Michael permission to possess him (AKA use him as a “vessel”) on the condition that Dean remain fully in control. Of course Michael never has any intention of keeping his word. Who could have foreseen this twist, other than literally everyone? It feels like we’ve seen this exact story a thousand times on Supernatural. Watching the characters make one dumb move after another was intolerable, and this was where I almost walked away from the show. I actually looked up series finale spoilers to find out if there was any point to keep watching. Ultimately, I decided there was, but if I had my way I’d purge this season, along with the “British Men of Letters” one.

Side note: the final season sees the return of original Michael, along with Sam and Dean’s half-brother Adam. Unlike alternate Michael, this works well, as original Michael helps the story along and gives the show a chance to tie up a longstanding loose end. And also unlike alternate Michael, original Michael’s motives actually make sense.

The Writers VS. Jack

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Instead of another apocalypse and alternate Michael, I really would have preferred more of a focus on Jack. He was something new on Supernatural— the son of Lucifer, and an incredibly powerful being in his own right (more powerful than an archangel, according to the show). Or, at least, he should have been. As with their treatment of Castiel, the writers found every excuse to diminish his powers (right until the very last episode). Who was this kid? Would he go full-on Damian at some point? Would he team up with Lucifer, or destroy his father and become the new Big Bad? Or maybe he’d beat the odds and side with good. So many possibilities– so few opportunities taken by the writers. He did exhibit a few abilities early on (like bringing Cas back from the dead), but mostly it felt like we were perpetually waiting for Jack to do something. Even when he lost his soul, it didn’t change much. Jack had so much potential, but it was frustrating (there’s that word again) waiting for him to reach it. Not that it wasn’t satisfying when he finally did, but at that point it was verging on too little too late.

Abrupt Exits

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To borrow a much-overused phrase from the show “I get it”: a lot had to happen in the final season and we couldn’t necessarily have long goodbyes with a lot of characters. But it was disappointing the way some of them left. We’re lucky to have had a final visit with Rowena (awesome witch, the new Queen of Hell, and one of my all-time favourite characters), but too many other characters didn’t get more than a passing mention. It would have been nice, for example, when Dean went to heaven, to see someone other than (original) Bobby and, eventually, Sam. Why not a quick cast reunion at the end? At least they could have given us a final glimpse of Cas and Jack. And what happened to the people from the alternate Earths (which, reminder: includes us, as established in an earlier episode)? Chuck destroyed all the alternate Earths, and then wiped out nearly everyone on Main Earth, including the people rescued from apocalypse world. Jack eventually restores everyone on Main Earth, but he also implies that he’s going to be sticking with just the one earth. Never mind what ultimately happened to everyone on the alternate Earths, we don’t even know what happened to alternate Charlie and Bobby, whether they ended up anywhere or simply ceased to exist forever. All I’m saying is a little closure would have been nice.

It wasn’t all poor choices and unanswered questions, though. The one thing I think the show really got right in the final season was:

God as Villain

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It probably created some controversy to make God (AKA Chuck) the ultimate villain on the show, but I think it works. Let’s face it: from his long absences (including during serious crises) and his lack of interest in his creations, to his fits of cruel vengeance/punishments, and his habit of playing favourites, God is half-villain already. Supernatural re-imagines him as a hack writer who plays with people’s lives for his own entertainment. He torments Sam and Dean (whom he claims are his favourite “characters”) and “cancels shows” (destroys all the alternate earths) because Sam and Dean don’t want to play along anymore. He wipes out every person and animal on Main Earth just so he can watch how Sam, Dean, and Jack will cope. When Dean is thrilled to discover a dog that was somehow missed, Chuck wipes out the dog while watching Dean’s reaction. His arrogance is ultimately his downfall, and when Jack absorbs all of Chuck’s power, it’s the best possible outcome. Chuck is left as a normal, powerless, human to live out his life and die; meanwhile it’s pretty clear that Jack is going to make a superior God. It’s a good end to the story arc and an interesting take on biblical mythology. I think it was a fitting conclusion to the series.

So, is it worth watching Supernatural? It’s not the best show, but as I’m discovering watching some of what else is out there, it’s not the worst one, either. Supernatural has multitudes of great characters, overall decent acting, a few really creative episodes, and some solid writing and storylines. They even managed to introduce a group of actually scary vampires in the last episode. Better late than never.

What did you think of the end of Supernatural? Share in the comments…

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A Few Problems with TV’s “Supernatural”

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Spoilers Ahead

I’m not exactly a fan of Supernatural, the long-running (and recently concluded) series featuring the monster-hunting Winchester brothers (Sam and Dean) and associates. I am, however, a fan of several of the characters, which is why I’ve stuck with the show. I’m currently re-watching older seasons in anticipation of catching up on the last couple I haven’t seen yet, including the series finale.

The thing is, no matter how much I try (and I have tried), I just can’t pretend this show doesn’t bother me on numerous levels. I’m not trying to ruin anything for the fans out there (who I’m sure far outnumber detractors like me), but someone needs to say it. Supernatural has problems. Here’s four of them.

  1. “Librarians”

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In season 8 Supernatural introduced the “Men of Letters,” a secret society that, among other things, made a point of amassing and preserving vast stores of occult and magical knowledge. Sounds pretty cool, right? You’d think so, but apparently the show’s writers disagree, as multiple characters repeatedly refer to the Men of Letters as “librarians.” And it’s never a compliment.

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First of all, fiction is full of librarians who could hold their own in the Supernatural universe. Secondly, the show itself establishes that the Men of Letters were also men of action– they just put a little more thought into their actions than the Winchesters and their fellow “hunters” tend to. More importantly, though, is that real-life librarians deserve better than this kind of casual derision. Yes, they spend an inordinate amount of time with books (not sure why that’s a bad thing), but they also help people and improve lives on a daily basis (here’s a story from last year as just one example). Librarian as an insult? You’re only showing your own ignorance.

2. Mary Shelley Didn’t Create Frankenstein

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Season 10 brought us the ill-conceived Styne family, an ancient clan into all kinds of evil, including murder, Nazism, and really poorly stitched body modification (seriously, this is your thing– learn how to sew). But– big reveal– it turns out the family’s name was originally… Frankenstein (groan), and that their family friend Mary Shelley, after spending a few days at their estate and seeing what they were up to, wrote her book to try to warn the world. In other words, Frankenstein isn’t a work of Shelley’s vibrant imagination (and one of, if not the, first works of science fiction), but rather non-fiction based on something she witnessed.

Seeing as how women writers throughout history have been consistently ignored, suppressed, forgotten, and denied credit, for Supernatural to come along and discount the achievement of one of the few who did receive her due… let’s just say that Supernatural owes Mary Shelley a huge apology.

3. The Writers vs. Castiel

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Introducing angels to the show is generally acknowledged as being one of Supernatural’s smarter moves. Castiel especially turned out to be a great character, with some decent development over the seasons. Unfortunately, the writers backed themselves into a corner with angels. Debuted as incredibly powerful beings who can destroy a human just by existing in their natural state, the writers subsequently were forced to find ways to make angels far weaker than they started out. As the Winchesters’ protector/friend Castiel gets the brunt of this– the writers spend the rest of the series finding excuses to take away his power. Poor Cas loses his mind, gets stuck in purgatory, is put under the control of another angel, and even becomes human, among other things. Even when he is at full strength, the writers ignore the extent of his abilities, inexplicably render them useless (“I can usually heal anything, but not this…”), or simply pretend he doesn’t exist. He can be summoned by phone or by prayer, yet he often “isn’t answering,” or more often, the Winchesters don’t bother calling. There are so many times when Cas could easily have dispatched demonic enemies or fixed an unfortunate situation (like, say, bringing Charlie back to life), but it’s inconvenient to the story, so he’s nowhere to be seen. What all this amounts to is a lot of poor and/or lazy writing that ultimately lowers the quality of the show. F for effort, guys.

4. Sucky Vampires

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Vampires aren’t the focus of Supernatural, and it’s a good thing because the ones on this show are awful. From the hideous rows of fangs to their bland personalities, I have to wonder why the show bothered including vampires at all. Mercedes McNab, who brilliantly played student-turned-vampire Harmony on Buffy and Angel, shows up as a vampire in one season 3 episode of Supernatural. Her character mostly spouts exposition and whines about being hungry before Dean finally beheads her. Other vampires throughout the series are similarly unremarkable (although there was one storyline that had potential, about vampires taking advantage of the Twilight craze, but it ultimately missed the mark). Even Benny, who befriends Dean in season 8 and actually gets a story arc, serves mostly as a source of tension between Sam and Dean. Not every vampire is going to be a Dracula or a Spike, but it takes some skill to make all of yours forgettable.

There are other problems with Supernatural (like Sam and Dean’s casual willingness to murder innocent people just because they’re possessed– remember when they used to at least try an exorcism first?), but I’ll leave it here. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my points? Share in the comments…

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Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

The Most Fiendish Vampire

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Today is International Rabbit Day, a day to honour and learn about rabbits, both domestic and wild. In that vein (see what I did there?), I thought I’d post about the most fiendish vampire of all: Bunnicula!

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Outwardly appearing like any other pet rabbit, Bunnicula strikes terror in the hearts of other pets as he roams the house in the dead of night, draining vegetables of their vital juices!

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Can anything stop Bunnicula? Only time will tell…

Okay, Bunnicula is more fluffy than fiendish, but he’s still one of my favourite vampires (from a cherished children’s book series of the same name).

Are you a Bunnicula fan? What’s your favourite rabbit fact? Share in the comments…

Read more about Bunnicula here.

Learn more about rabbits here and here.

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Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

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Chances are when you think of vampires you’ll think of Damon Salvatore, Mitchell from Being Human, Selene from Underworld, or any of the other fanged creatures-of-the-night that populate modern culture, including Mara from Love Lies Bleeding. The vampires we’re familiar with are (generally) human looking, powerful, often charismatic and attractive, with a thirst for blood and a dislike of stakes. But that wasn’t always the case. History and folklore are full of vampires that are nothing like what we’ve come to expect. Here are five examples…

Lilitu/Lilith

Lilitu are female blood-drinking monsters originating in Babylonia. They’re said to attack and destroy men (while the male version, lilu, prey on women and infants). It seems that over time the Lillitu combined with stories of Mesopotamia’s Lamashtu, and eventually morphed into Hebrew mythology’s Lilith and her demonic children. Banished to the wastelands by God for refusing to be subordinate to her husband Adam (yes, the one from the garden), Lilith arguably had a way cooler life as an independent woman, Queen of Demons, and mother of monsters. As in her ancient roots, Lilith is known to drink blood, usually from babies (she also eats children). An alternate version from Sumer describes her as an infertile “harlot” whose breasts exude poison, and who seduces men and drinks the blood of mothers and babies. She’s said to have wings and the feet of a bird. Lilitu/Lilith is also pluralized to describe a group spirits or demons with the same attributes. She/they are repelled with special amulets (which can still be found for sale).

 Alukah

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Speaking of Lilith, the Alukah is a sort-of demonic werewolf-vampire hybrid that can fly and is also thought to be one of Lilith’s children (or possibly Lilith herself). “Alukah” is a Hebrew word that literally translates as “horse-leech,” but can mean blood-lusting monster or vampire (and can also be used as a title for Lilith). Alukah’s thirst can never be satisfied. It will die if it goes too long without blood, but if it dies with its mouth open, it can continue to feed on children for a year, so it should be buried with its mouth stuffed full of dirt to prevent that from happening. Alukah is also the Hebrew version of an Arabic blood-drinking demon named Aulak or Aluwqah (from the root of an Arabic word meaning “to suck”). Alukah can be warded off with specific incantations.

Dhampir

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Coming from the Balkans, Dhampirs (also spelled dhampyres, dhamphirs, or dhampyrs) are the offspring of vampires and humans. Their existence is attributed to the intense attraction male vampires have for human women (on the other hand, it’s rare for female vampires to mate with human men). Generally they have most of the strengths of their vampire parent, such as heightened senses and a longer lifespan, without the pesky drawbacks like intolerance to sunlight and garlic. They can also have magical abilities. They look human, but sometimes are described as having prominent facial features and teeth, a tail-like mark on their back, or no nails or bones. It’s also said that they don’t cast a shadow. While dhampirs can eat regular food, they do need to drink blood– although they can control the impulse better and don’t need to feed as often as vampires. Dhampirs have a supernatural ability to recognize vampires and often become vampire hunters– apparently professional dhampirs could still be hired in Kosovo as late as 1959. Unlike most of the lesser-known types of vampires I’ve written about, many dhampirs have made it into pop culture, including Blade, Rayne (from Bloodrayne), and several of the characters from Vampire Academy.

Lhiannan Shee

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Also known as the Lhiannan (or Leannan/Leanan) Sidhe, See, or Si, this Celtic vampire is a type of fairy. Almost always described as a beautiful woman (often with long hair and green clothing, as well as long nails and sometimes cloven hooves), the Lhiannan Shee is often attracted to creative men whom she inspires and slowly kills (sort of like a Muse with a body count). Besides inspiration, they can also bestow fame, luck, and wealth. Almost impossible to get rid of once she attaches herself to someone, the Lhiannan Shee visits her lover at night and is visible only to them. Lhiannan Shee usually drain “life force,” but they will also drain blood; either way their victim wastes away. The only way to escape the Lhiannan Shee is to reject them as soon as they’re encountered, which enslaves them to you, rather than the other way around.

Bhūta or Préta

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In India, men who are mentally ill or were born with a deformity, or who suffer an untimely or violent death, are thought to become a Bhūta (also known as Préta): cursed spirits forced to wander the earth hunting for blood. Bhūta take the form of balls of light, insubstantial apparitions without a shadow, or bats and owls. They possess and reanimate corpses in order to attack the living, which they do at night. Occasionally a Bhūta gets a craving for milk and will then attack an infant that was recently fed. Their victims inevitably become sick and die, although it’s easy to escape the Bhūta by simply lying down on the ground (something they’re incapable of doing). There’s also a special ceremony that can be performed twice a month to placate the Bhūta and prevent it from attacking anyone. Bhūta are also strongly repelled by the smell of burning turmeric, and will completely dissipate if they’re exposed to it for too long.

Have you heard of these vampires? Which do you think is scariest? Tell me in the comments…

Read my previous posts on this subject:

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Don’t forget to download my books:

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com
Download my books and get more vampires now…

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If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Further Reading

Vampire Folklore by Region

The Queen of the Night

The Case for Lilith

Dhampir Wiki

Lhiannan Shee

Bhuta

Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology: Bhuta

World Dracula Day: 5 of the Count’s Best Crossovers

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo via the BBC.

Tuesday is World Dracula Day, when we celebrate the anniversary of the first publication of Bram Stoker’s vampire classic Dracula. Over the 123 years he’s been with us, The Count has encountered all sorts of other characters, some more memorable than others. Here are some of my favourite Dracula crossovers…

Dracula vs. King Arthur

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

After making a deal with Lucifer to become a vampire, Lucifer then decides to send Dracula back to Arthurian times to take over the world. Hi-jinks ensue over the course of this comic book’s four-issue run. It’s maybe not the best-executed crossover (Lucifer wants to send Dracula back in time to before vampires existed so the Count can start turning humans and spreading evil– so why send him back to the time of legendary heroes? Why not to, I don’t know, any other time in history that wasn’t legendary?), but the concept of Dracula vs. King Arthur is a good one, and Camelot fighting Dracula is a fun idea (Merlin as sinister anti-hero doesn’t hurt, either).

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

As two of the most popular monsters, it’s no surprise that Dracula has faced off against Frankenstein*. In fact, the two have met many times over the years in movies like Dracula vs. Frankenstein and Les expériences érotiques de Frankenstein (ooh la la); pulp novels like Frankenstein Meets Dracula; and comic books, including The Frankenstein-Dracula War and A Story of Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein, which came with a corresponding LP so you could listen to the story as you looked through the book. Whether you root for the undead or the reanimated, these stories have you covered.

*Yes, Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster. It’s been 202 years of people calling the monster Frankenstein– can we just accept it?

Dracula vs. Zorro

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Zorro and Dracula meet on a ship heading to Europe and become instant enemies. Although it’s hate at first sight, the fight doesn’t get serious until they meet up in the catacombs of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (as one does). As a fan of both Zorro and the Count I’m not sure who to root for in this mashup, although I am slightly disappointed that (spoiler) Dracula doesn’t turn Zorro. Now that would be an interesting story…

Dracula vs. Sherlock Holmes

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

I don’t know why I was surprised that Dracula has met up with Sherlock Holmes, but he has– and numerous times, too. I haven’t seen or read any of the existing versions (yet), but there’s one Dracula/Sherlock crossover I would love to see, and that’s one put together by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, creators of the BBC’s Sherlock and Dracula (2020). It’s true I didn’t really enjoy their Dracula miniseries earlier this year, and the last season of Sherlock left a lot to be desired, but if the two of them were inspired and brought their A game, they could make a crossover for the ages with their versions of these characters. Dare we hope?

Dracula vs. Batman

World Dracula Day: The Count's Best Crossovers, blog post via Aspasia S. Bissas

It’s definitely worth seeking out the animated The Batman vs. Dracula if you’re a fan of either character. Based on The Batman TV series, the story brings Dracula to Gotham, while also featuring some of the typical characters you’d expect, like Penguin and Joker. The movie touches on the influence of Dracula on Batman, which I appreciate. The animation is fantastic, especially for Dracula and the other vampires. I actually reviewed this movie years ago on my other blog, if you feel like taking a look (I have since come to appreciate Dracula more as a character). I don’t think there are any plans for a sequel, but I would love to see more Dracula-Batman stories.

There are other great Dracula crossovers, but I’m going to save those for another post. In the meantime, which is your favourite (including those not mentioned here)? Who would you like to see Dracula go up against? Share in the comments…

Happy Dracula Day!

Aspasía S. Bissas

Aspasia S. Bissas's books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw
Want to read about vampires that aren’t Dracula? Download my books FREE…

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If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥