5.4 The End
First of all, please bear with me while I abandon all modes of journalistic impartiality to say, “Hot dang! Sam Winchester looks sexy in a white suit.” There, I’ve said it. It’s over and done with. It’s finito. My fan-girl has been exorcised in time to bring you this week’s non-biased, informed review of Supernatural, episode 4, The End.
Because, you know, I feel bad about highlighting only one element which makes up the series overall. Sure, the show contains more chiselled jaws and model-esque cheekbones than a poster campaign for an undisclosed fashion outlet but that’s only one part of what makes for such addictive viewing, right? But wait a minute. The show’s tagline “scary just got sexy” already pushes any hope of critical acclaim off a very steep cliff. To advertise to its majority demographic, i.e. teenage girls, in such an obvious way is the equivalent of attaching a neon sign to the backs of its primary cast which simply reads: ‘Watch this show because I’m hot.’
If the creators are so adamant about giving us this impression, it’s hard not to reel in the ‘sexy’ element to any review of the show. So, maybe I don’t feel bad about mentioning it at all? Maybe I feel justified. Still, there’s that other adjective to consider.
This episode is one which attempts to use its ‘scary’ calling card to greatest effect. While older episodes, such as season one’s Bloody Mary or Hook Man relished in the retelling of classic urban legends, The End ditches the old clichés in favour of a newer breed of horror story, borrowed from the reanimated cultural interest in zombies.
The End brings the series back to what it was always intending to be, an episode which plays like a mini horror movie only this time, with an established back story and characters whom we can identify with and feel empathy towards.
Written by Ben Edlund, who is fast becoming this season’s head writer and scribing saviour, the episode is set five years in the future where the demonic Croatoan virus has turned the majority of the population into flesh eating, rampaging, zombies. In this Dean-centric episode which, in my opinion, marks the season’s pinnacle thus far, the elder Winchester is sent on a time-travelling mission by archangel Zachariah in the hopes that Dean will understand the consequences of his actions if he says no to Michael. The task: to survive gunfire, bloodshed and the remnants of a dying civilisation for three days.
The whole landscape of the episode speaks of the devastation that five years of apocalyptic horror can bring. There’s burnt out cars, graffiti strewn walls, even a guest appearance from the surviving members of the US Army, who have tanks, machine guns and seem to enjoy killing zombies to the tune of Do You Love Me by The Contours.
In his trip through the firmaments of time, Dean encounters his future self, a changed, more vicious character, giving Jensen Ackles room to experiment with two versions of the gun slinging, anti-hero he will, no doubt, be remembered for. This Dean has an even heavier burden to carry, what with protecting the last bastions of humankind from the ‘Croat’s’ who wish to devour them.
Misha Collins also has a chance to play future Castiel, who’s now slumming it with mortals after abandoning his powers as an angel. There are some funny and slightly sad moments here, from the former angel’s new ‘sex guru’ status to his sombre conversations with Dean where he admits to popping amphetamines to cope with the downsides of being human.
The climax of The End brings us neatly to the topic of Sam Winchester in that sharp, white suit. Present Dean has his first face to face meeting with Lucifer, in the form of his brother, whom we find out has said “yes” to the devil’s requests. It’s a chilling moment, and Jared Padalecki plays this dark role well, appearing sinister and yet, oddly reflective, as he regales Dean with the story of his fall from grace. What Padalecki manages to do, in my opinion, is not only play the role of Lucifer, but play him as Mark Pellegrino does. This further cements the eerie notion that the devil can control anyone at his beck and call,even Sam Winchester.
With its similarities to the 28 Days/Weeks Later formats, the episode felt more violent and bloodthirsty than usual and, in short, not what you would typically expect from a show purposefully aimed at females. There was still some choice Kodak moments thrown in for good effect, but overall, the feeling was that, as long as the characters remained grounded in a back story based on relationships, every other aspect could be brutal, masculine and savage. One of the reasons, perhaps, why The End seemed to work so well as a standalone episode.
Its only major drawback was its length which, of course, couldn’t be helped. Having set itself up successful as a mini horror movie, Supernatural’s allocated forty minute timeslot seemed to end prematurely, with some of the scenes appearing rushed.
Still, The End was exciting and enticing, proving that Supernatural has grown and matured as a series. It managed to leave out any excessive emotion, which, at times, can be cringe worthy, yet kept hold of the strong relationship dynamics which have kept the fans coming back for more.
The last scene sees the brothers back in all their duo-demon fighting glory, so even if Paris Hilton stars in next week’s episode, at least we can sleep safe in the knowledge that they can dice her together, right?
Read our review episode 3 here. Catch the show on Living in the UK.