Supernatural‘s eleventh season has come to a close. The Darkness/Amara arc is now part of the road so far instead of the road ahead. She’s the latest threat the Winchesters have had to face in their many years of saving people and hunting things, and she’s been the most dangerous. I mean, they went biblical. It’s hard to top power of the highest level. Given Amara’s strength and the events in the penultimate episode with her brother God, a.k.a. Chuck, it seemed like the season finale was poised for an epic showdown to top all showdowns. Instead, “Alpha and Omega” went another direction.
Before I discuss why the resolution worked, let’s look back. Pretend “Carry On Wayward Son” is playing as you read. From the moment the audience learned about Amara’s very personal relationship to God, we suspected he would return. It was made clear he sort of had to. Amara was unstoppable. Hands of God couldn’t derail her. Lucifer-possessed Castiel couldn’t deal much damage. Sam and Dean were beat back repeatedly, while Dean’s bizarre connection to Mark and Amara kept him from being effective anyway. God stepping in was their Hail Mary pass, their last shot.
The return of the deity and his identity was a reveal years in the making. “Don’t Call Me Shurley” dropped the news about Chuck Shurley being God nonchalantly and without the usual marketing fanfare that comes with such twists. Then again, fans have long suspected Chuck is God, so maybe twist isn’t the word: it was confirmation.
God vacated his position for human reasons some of us can understand; simply put, he was burned out and weary. He only came off the sidelines because he knew better than anyone what his sister was capable of doing. And for my money, God’s family troubles have been the most intriguing part of having him in the picture.
It makes sense. Family is the core of Supernatural. The series wouldn’t have lasted 11 seasons without the relationship between Sam and Dean. We’re invested in the brothers — why they do what they do, how they interact, and how they live. Emphasis on they. So, to have the overarching storyline of the season center on different family dynamics but ones that still very much affected the Winchesters was smart.
From one perspective, God is the father of all of us so the familial theme is present in the biggest way possible. Take it down to a smaller scale and consider the tender way God defended Lucifer to Metatron and said his son was never a villain. Think about how much he was pained by the idea of throwing his sister back into a cage. We don’t need to relate to God because like Metatron pointed out, God isn’t one of us. However, there were snippets of humanity in Chuck that were easy to hold onto and those snippets tied into the heart of Supernatural.
Fast forward to the unavoidable outcome: the Darkness finally has to be dealt with and it’s on God to take care of business. The previous episode featured a battle with Darkness on one side and the Winchesters, their allies, Lucifer, and God on the other. Everyone contributed with their specialty, a la Oceans 11, but it wasn’t enough. Amara was angered by her brother’s presence, and it didn’t go well. She severely wounded her brother, and the end of the world was more nigh than it’s ever been in the series.
That meant our heroes would rally and come back with some clever, strong move to finish Amara off in the finale, right? Not exactly. Amara and Chuck’s connection means both have to live or both have to die; it’s the only way to keep the scales in balance and to stop the universe from falling apart. With Chuck dying, Sam’s plan to take Amara out of the equation too was outside the box and not a direction I expected events to go.
The Winchesters and their friends did indeed come up with a creative plan to snuff the Darkness out with the light of hundreds of thousands of souls. Rowena made a soul bomb and implanted the weapon into Dean since he, in theory, could get close enough to Amara to detonate it. This part doesn’t work. Nobody believes for a second Dean Winchester is going to permanently die. Supernatural’s stakes don’t stretch to Dean and Sam (it’s why the gunshot at the end didn’t make me bat an eye); it’s not something you should expect to change until you know the show hasn’t been renewed for another season.
Knowing the bomb wouldn’t work, my mind spun with other possibilities. I couldn’t have guessed Amara’s end wouldn’t be an ending at all, but a beginning. Dean talked her through her bitterness towards her brother. God and the Darkness came to understanding and did a fancy version of riding off into the sunset to work on their problems. Does heaven have a family counseling department? Chuck and Amara are going to desperately need it.
My initial reaction was confusion — and that was before the resurrection of Mary Winchester, which I’m not going to touch. That was it? The big bad they’ve been building up for an entire season sees reason and pulls a 180? Then I realized, it’s as it should be.
For one thing, what does it say about the current state of television dramas for my knee jerk reaction to a lack of blood and battle to be disappointed? Also, hey, we’ve seen Amara in action throughout the season and we saw a brawl with everyone in the penultimate episode. I’m not saying it’s always going to be the right choice for villains to literally come to the light, but in this case, why wouldn’t it be?
Putting aside practicalities such as how dumb it would be to cut Chuck out of the picture already, sibling bonding was a bold direction for the finale. This is a story as much about God and his poor decisions as it is Amara. God, who is supposed to be forgiving and benevolent. If any conflict should end in a peaceful resolution, it’s one with God. So in tha way, it’s not a cop out. For these two characters, it adds up; forgiveness should be the answer. Ultimately, the decision to open her mind and let go of revenge made Amara a stronger character, not a weaker one.