Supernatural season 8 episode 23 review: Sacrifice

The final episode of Supernatural's eighth season has got Caroline excited about the next season...

This review contains spoilers.

8.23 Sacrifice

“The angels are falling” – yes, that’s what it looks like, Dean, and it’s getting people very excited for season nine. Given the ominous title of the episode, I think a lot of long-time fans were a little concerned about, or even just resigned to, the fact that we might be saying a temporary goodbye to one of the Winchesters. Thankfully, breaking a tradition the show started way back in season three, none of the good guys had to die in this season send-off, and the main driving force of the year – shutting the gates of hell – really had nothing to do with what went on or how we’re moving forward.

This episode was actually a lot less action-packed and apocalyptic (except for the end) than previous finales, and this is no bad thing when you consider how disappointed we were after season seven. Instead of any big showdown between the Winchesters and whatever big bad they happened to be hunting, we get to watch Dean and Castiel drink in a bar and Sam attempt to medicate the demon out of Crowley. The fact that the brothers were separated out of choice was different in itself, with an emphasis on their struggles stored up right until the end – I guess the writers are learning to keep the brotherly speeches for special occasions.

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It was thought going in to this episode that Crowley and Naomi would be the big threats to overcome, but neither got the chance to really enact their plans. We can assume that Naomi is dead and Crowley is a ‘cured’ demon – the question of whether an unfinished ritual diminishes his humanity left until next season. No, the real bad guy turned out to be Metatron, and he’s looking to be a great villain for next year’s run. He’s the worst kind of bad guy because he thinks what he’s doing is righteous, and the fact that he’s managed to empty heaven means that the brothers are going to have some big problems to deal with as soon as we return. 

I’ve always enjoyed the angels as villains much more than the demons, since it’s less obvious and the writers have always seemed to have more fun subverting what we know about those characters. Remember the fun we all had in seasons four and five, when almost every week introduced us to a new biblical character? It was the creative peak of Supernatural, and I’m very excited that the show is going back to it. I’m not entirely sure what form these fallen angels are going to take on earth, but we do know that Castiel is one hundred per cent human, and that’s another thing I’ve enjoyed in the past.

And – I can’t say it enough – nobody had to die! Even Kevin managed to survive by camping out in the batcave, and Castiel’s insensitive speech to him early in the episode suggests that he might be sticking around. A prophet of the lord seems like something the gang might need now that heaven has been commandeered. The best thing is that the batcave is still intact as I believe every fan was expecting the brothers’ safe place to blow up or collapse at some point before the season ended. It’s smart because it allows us to have characters like Kevin stick around without having to go on the road with Sam and Dean.

Overall, this finale had the gumption to try something different, resisting the urge to trot out yet another good vs. evil fight that inevitably leads one of the brothers to a heaven/hell/purgatory dimension. It’s refreshing and, for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about what we’re going to see in the subsequent season premiere. Castiel is human!? Sam is still glowing!? Crowley is human(ish)!? Biggest of all, the angels are descending from heaven in a shower of awesome, and the reality that the Winchesters have been living in has changed forever. Bring on season nine.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Clip Show, here.

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