Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer.
Every season the writers and creators are left with the daunting task of trying to come up with a new angle for the show. Not only something the audience hasn’t seen before, but something even bigger and bolder than the previous seasons. At the end of Season 12, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) were brought down to a new low. Instead of one of the brothers sacrificing themselves to save the world, their closest and most powerful allies paid the ultimate price. Castiel (Misha Collins), Crowley (Mark Sheppard), and Rowena (Ruth Connell) were all killed by Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino). Their mother, Mary (Samantha Smith), is presumed dead as she trapped herself on an alternate Earth with the Prince of Darkness. With the loss of so many allies, the story was left wide open for a complete makeover and a change of direction.
And one thing that the show has not done before was to bring a Nephilim, Jack (Alexander Calvert), a being born of one human parent and the other an archangel, into the mix. While this may sound like a positive event, the archangel father was Lucifer. Sam is convinced that if given the chance he will choose to be good like his mother, but Dean believes the evil will win out and the best thing is to kill him before he becomes too strong to stop. Before Dean can carry out his plan, Jack is already beyond their ability to kill. With this option taken away, they decide that they must try their best to keep him close and hopefully mentor him along the path to goodness. A task easier said than done as Jack has difficulty controlling his powers and ends up hurting people while trying to help them.
While the brothers deal with Jack and keeping the angels and demons from finding him and keeping him on the path of goodness, Mary and Lucifer find that in the alternate Earth archangel Michael (Christian Keyes) has taken over all of Heaven and is destroying both demons and humans that get in his way. But in this universe Michael is stronger than Lucifer and has his own plans of going through the rift where he can control two worlds. Lucifer manages to escape back through the rift in order to find his son while leaving Mary as a captive.
Unbeknownst of the events occurring in the alternate Earth, our heroes figure out a plan of creating another rift with Jack’s help and finding out what really happened to their mother. But with Jack’s powers being so unpredictable, he ends up transporting himself to her prison. Helping her escape, the two form an alliance with Bobby (Jim Beaver), an old family friend and a father-like figure to Sam and Dean, who died several years ago on the original Earth. Bobby is the leader of a ragtag group of freedom fighters that are helping the remaining humans and fighting against Michael. Mary and Jack decide to stay and fight.
Some seasons have a lot of stand-alone episodes with an even bigger story arc that culminates in the season finale. But this is not one of those seasons. The bigger arc dominates the plotlines and drives the story. While there is nothing wrong with that, it makes it difficult for individual episodes to stand out from the rest. Even so, there were two episodes that were intentionally created for the sole purpose of standing out and that the fans were excited to see.
The first was Episode 10 “Wayward Sisters” because it was an informal pilot of a possible spinoff series. Bringing in fan-favorite characters Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and Officer Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster) to lead a small group of young female hunters who were wards under their care. In this instance, they were all brought in to help find Sam and Dean after they had disappeared through the rift. While the episode kept true to the characters we have seen over several seasons, the storyline wasn’t spectacular enough to warrant the green lighting of the new series. The fan base was torn and either loved it or hated it. It’s always difficult to exceed expectations in a pilot and takes some time to get into a groove, but the premise has a lot of potential and hopefully will be tried again.
The second episode was Episode 16 “Scoobynatural” which brought Sam, Dean, and Castiel into the Scooby Doo episode “A Night Of Fright Is No Delight”. A very enjoyable episode that brought a certain amount of gore and violence into a childhood cartoon that most people remember fondly. For a full review of the episode, click on this link to see the previously expressed opinions of three reviewers from the Cinema Sentries team.
The four-disc Blu-ray set contains all 23 episodes from Season 13 and contains six special features.
“Into The Apocalypse: A World Without The Winchesters” is a feature about the creation of the apocalyptic Earth that Mary is trapped on. How the creators wanted to show a biblical version of the apocalypse that occurred as the demons and angels fought one another for control where God was not present and the Winchester brothers were never born. They delve into the scene locations, special effects, and wardrobe decisions that went into making it appear as desolate as possible with only a handful of survivors that struggle to live between the two clashing armies.
“Mystery Mash-Up: The Making Of Scoobynatural” an in-depth look into the process of creating the premise, the animation, the overall look, and the recording sessions involved in brining the two shows together. One of the more interesting aspects is that they made the animation to fit the recorded dialogue, which helped them keep the natural conversation and cadence in the actors’ performance.
“The Winchester Mythology: Nature vs. Nurture” - One of the larger premises in the series has been whether or not people have freedom of choice. Are they destined to behave in a certain way because it’s in their genetic makeup or can they overcome it through reason and upbringing? Jack starts off as a clean slate. And with the potential for great goodness or great evil, which side will win out. This is a major theme throughout Season 13 and only time will tell what side the Nephilim will finally end up on.
“Kansas-Carry On Wayward Son: Performance at 2017 San Diego Comic-Con” - Being that this song has become the unofficial theme song for the show, it’s about time that the band showed up during the cast’s Comic-Con panel to perform the iconic hit. Not only did the band perform, but all the walls in Hall H had giant video screens with clips of the show. The only negative was that for this special feature it wasn’t in any kind of surround sound and only in mono. While that’s the expected recording you would get at this type of event, it would have been nice if for the Blu-ray they had at least allowed for it to be coming out of all speakers. It really sucked all the energy out of the performance when you’re receiving all the cast comments in stereo and then a big rock performance in mono.
“Supernatural: 2017 Comic-Con Panel” was moderated by previous cast members Gabriel (Richard Speight Jr.) and Chuck (Rob Benedcit). The panel felt a little flat and other than mocking Misha Collins for being killed off there wasn’t much about it to make it interesting. A possible change of moderators may liven it up for future panels as it felt like they were trying too hard to be funny.
“Gag Reel” - The Supernatural gag reel feature is always one I look forward to. It’s not just a bunch of verbal flubs with the cast snickering. Those are never that funny. These are always filled with the actors intentionally messing up lines while staying in character trying to get reactions from the rest of the cast or performing silly stunts behind them.
The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p High Definition 16x9 1.78:1 with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Both continue the high quality that previous seasons have established. The video is crisp and clear with good contrast between light and dark, which is important considering that many scenes are shot in darkness and at night. The audio quality is immersive and unobtrusive as it accentuates the on-screen action. It holds the quality through both loud instances and softer scenarios.
Once again, this show gives the fans what they are looking for. It’s ultimately a show about family whether it’s by blood or earned through fire, and there is plenty of fire for everyone to walk through. The relationship between the two brothers is special, and all the characters are well rounded with subtle nuances that make them believable. The stories are never predictable and there is plenty of action and supernatural events to make things interesting. Once again this latest season holds up in quality and originality with those that came before. Fans will enjoy the story and the quality of the Blu-ray and mix of special features, commentaries, and deleted scenes throughout.
At the conclusion of every season I find myself wondering what can they possibly do for the next one that is original and fresh. It’s been going on for 13 years now and I keep dreading that one season that is terrible and results in the cancellation of the show. And every year creator Bobby Singer and the writers manage to exceed my expectations. I look forward to many years to come and would love to see it blossom into a franchise with multiple spinoffs.