In honor of Supernatural‘s tenth season finally being made available for devouring on Netflix, I figured I’d devote a bit of space to my favorite bit of television fluff. It’s a good time for it, too, being Halloween season and all.
So, without further ado – or interruption from Moose, there – I’m offering up a quick list of each season’s best episode.
Season 1: Kicking things off with a bang, season 1 came out swinging with excellently researched and well executed lore, a good mix of old hat beasties everyone’s heard of with rarer mythology, and was smart enough to spend the season building the relationship that would define the rest of the series instead of clogging us up with dozens of characters later. It keeps the focus on the boys, though the specter of their father is omnipresent and we do get Meg and Bobby dropped in at the end.
For the “Best Episode” this season, it’s a hard pick; with the exception of “Bugs,” I pretty much adore them all. But I think the win has to go to “Bloody Mary.” The effects were great, the premise entertaining, and it had a perfect blend of humor and drama. Also, any time Sam almost dies is a bonus for me.
Season 2: Ditching John almost as soon as we finally meet him – and honestly, thank goodness, because I despise him in his “present day” appearances – the boys make some new friends and deal with persistent enemies, culminating in the end of their vengeance quest, the apparent reveal of just why Sam is “special” and the release of some new, hardcore demon enemies for the upcoming season.
Best In Season for me goes to “Tall Tales;” it introduces us to The Trickster (who will eventually be revealed as the Archangel Gabriel) so ties well into the series lore, but for the most part gives us a break from the heavy discussions of vengeance of predestined doom, being fairly light hearted at a time when the season needs it most.
Season 3: Dean’s a ticking timebomb on the highway to Hell, the Seven Deadlies and dozens of other high-level demons are loose in the world, most of the boys’ friends have been scattered or killed, and half the hunters’ world – if not more – are prepared to blame the Winchesters for all of it.
Best in season? That’s a hard call. Despite being a short season due to writer issues and being incredibly focused on one single thing – saving Dean from Hell – it may actually be my favorite season, and almost every episode here is 100% gold. If I have to pick one, however – and I do, from my own self-imposed rules – it goes to “Bad Day at Black Rock,” with one scene pushing it just inches above the others: Dean proclaiming “I’m Batman” after using the insane luck provided by a cursed rabbit’s foot to fend off the bad guys, who have captured Sam. The whole episode is slapsticky and amusing, while fleshing out Sam and Dean’s relationship, giving us an excellent introduction to seductively amoral Bella Talbot, and showing just how crazy hunters can get when they’ve been on the job too long.
Season 4: Dean returns from Hell only to discover that Sam’s been spending a bit too much time with Ruby, angels are real, and the apocalypse is eminent. Only the intervention of the Winchesters can stop the demons from breaking 66 seals which will release Lucifer upon the earth.
Best in show? Another tough call. I think “Sex and Violence” edges out the competition, but just barely. The presentation of the Siren – and the eventual reveal of who it is – is well done, clever, and surprising the first time you watch it. It doesn’t hurt that I have a terrible crush on the doctor Sam spends much of his time with in the episode. (Honorable Mention? “Monster Movie.” Schlocky black and white, amusing background of a shapeshifter who finds acceptance in old horror flicks and Dean’s discussion about being “rehymenated” are all awesome.)
Season 5: Lucifer’s loose, the boys are at each other’s throats, Rachel Miner as Meg appears; what’s not to like? Well, the loss of Jo and Ellen – though their deaths serve the plot and are well executed, and its not the last time we’ll see them, thankfully – and the return of Adam (who can just disappear from the series forever and make me happy) but they can’t all be winners. Unless they’re Season 3.
“Swan Song” comes in as the favorite, here; the format where the Impala becomes the central focus, and the way in which it’s done, provides an unexpected emotional punch that’s only accented when Dean stumbles onto Lisa’s doorstep at the end and breaks down. Also, how often do you get to see Castiel call someone “Ass-Butt” just before hurling a Molotov? Unfortunately, for the most part, it’s a steady downhill ride form this moment; the show’s still enjoyable, but “Swan Song” – which was intended, at one point, to be the series finale – still stands as the perfect cap, and the point where things could have wrapped up perfectly.
Season 6: Sam has escaped from the Cage, Samuel Campbell has been dragged down from Heaven, Crowley’s King of Hell, Castiel is engaging in more and more questionable campaigns in an attempt to curb the civil war in Heaven, Meg’s on the run and Bobby’s being cranky. There’s a lot going on here, but in all honesty, it doesn’t feel like the season really moves the plot or mythology forward until the last few episodes. It feels like filler, or a refractory period after the big bang of Season 5. Overall, probably my least favorite season.
But there are good points; chief among them is “Weekend at Bobby’s.” Bobby has always been one of my favorites, and showcasing just how much he does for the hunter community (including Sam and Dean) and the frustration he experiences when he’s trying to take care of his own messes is entertaining. Plus, seeing the neighbor lady with the crush on him get covered in woodchipper-ed Okami is just hilarious.
Season 7: Cas is God. The Leviathans are coming. Crowley’s in hiding. Bobby bites the dust. We get a new prophet in the form of Kevin Tran. (“What’s a Kevin Tran?” almost everyone asks upon hearing about him. One of the more amusing running gags in the series) Also, we find out that exploding Dick sends you to Purgatory. (Bad puns ahoy!) We’re also unfortunately exposed to Charlie, who will never be one of my favorites.
The winner here in this writer’s opinion is “Survival of the Fittest.” The multi-pronged assault on Sucrocorp, in which all our heroes (and anti-heroes) acquit themselves honorably and save the day – at great expense, admittedly, and of course once the threat has passed, Crowley goes back to being a douche – is amazing and entertaining to watch, and Dick’s face when he realize he’s been beaten is epic.
Season 8: Dean finds his way out of Purgatory and hooks back up with Sam, Cas, Kevin and Garth on a noble quest to seal the gates of Hell, while Cas and former Heavenly Scribe Metatron are working some mojo of their own. It picks up at bit from the lows of seasons 6 and 7, but as a whole, the season is 90% Sam whining about being a grown-up who can handle himself, and about the things he’s lost along the way.
Best in Season here? “Bitten.” It’s not really tied to anything else in the series, doesn’t involve Benny or Metatron (who are both awesome) and doesn’t serve to advance the overall plot, but the arthouse indie film style and the actual emotional resonance it packs – especially with Kate’s final, tearful pleas at the end – is just amazing.
Season 9: I’m torn on this season. It may be the best since Season 5, and could indicate the series is getting a second wind… or it could be the last gasp of a dying man. There’s plenty to like here, as the angels turn on each other while trying to get back into Heaven, Metatron declares himself God, Crowley spends much of the season as Dean’s “Junk in the Trunk,” and we met luminaries like Cain, who has decided that beekeeping is the way to while away the time after you murder your brother and become Hell’s finest soldier before deciding it’s a bad gig.
I almost want to give this one a tie, because there’s two great episodes here. One that advances the main plot and mythology, the other being a highly entertaining one-off. But since I couldn’t issue a 16-way tie for Season 3, I suppose I have to pick, and that means “#thinman” edges out “Meta Fiction” in the awesome category. The Ghostfacers (best supporting characters!) return on the hunt for a Slender Man ripoff who, it turns out, one of them actually created. The punchline of nothing supernatural going on at all, and the falling out between the Ghostfacers serving as a parallel to Sam & Dean’s increasingly strained relationship is exceptionally well done, and the crazy, monster-obsessed murderers are entertaining as all hell to watch, especially when they explain how it was all done, Scooby Doo style.
So there you have it; my favorites from each season as I prepare to devour Season 10. What about you folks? Have you seen the show? Do you adore it? Hate it? Why? Got a favorite episode? Let us know in the box below!