REVIEWED: SEASON 14 (ALL EPISODES) | WHERE TO WATCH: E4, ALL 4, APPLE, AMAZON, MICROSOFT
Supernatural is a show that’s simply too stupid to stay dead. It’s now at the end of its fourteenth season, and though we’ve been promised that it will be over by the fifteenth season, we’ve heard that line before. With so many stories behind it and so much lore, Season 14 is the point where the series finally started to collapse under its own weight.
The result is a weird storytelling black-hole in which no light or fun can escape. Pretty much every single episode runs about after itself, tying off loose ends from previous seasons. Of course, at the start it deals with the major cliffhangers from the last season, and it is a delight to watch Jensen Ackles caper around as the villain for a while. Throughout all this, characters from previous episodes and ideas from past story arcs all collide to do interesting if not terribly original things.
As you might have gathered, this means that most of the episodes are arc-plot related and alas this is where Supernatural has always been at its weakest. The ever-growing narrative has always been messy, but at this far along the wayward road, it’s just unwieldy. Instead, it’s the standalone stories that shine. ‘Mint Condition’ is a delightfully silly homage to both collectors of geeky things and slasher movies. Monster of the week story ‘Don’t Go Into The Woods’ feels like it could have been slotted into an earlier season and is an enjoyable romp. ‘Optimism’ is a nice dumb take on paranormal romance and ‘Lebanon’ is a strong take on ‘what if’, though it suffers from the show’s own history weighing it down.
The performances from the main cast remain as solid as they always have; though at this point we don’t get any surprises. Supernatural is still essentially a horror-themed soap opera, drawing on popular aspects of western cultural folklore to fill the gaps between a tale of two squabbling brothers, their best friend and Jack, who is essentially the adopted son of this unconventional family. As such, the bulk of the drama is about the relationships between these four men, with the titular supernatural elements merely functioning as confusing window dressing.
Supernatural is a shadow of itself, although it’s still packing a punch. It’s gone far beyond self-parody at this point, with its meta-narrative now part of the central plot. Despite all these flaws, we will still be watching Season 15. If it keeps its promise, the apocalyptic battle royale promised from the very beginning of the show will be one to watch, though probably best not to take it too seriously.