When it comes to reviewing TV shows, you can imagine how different covering a season premiere is from a Blu-ray release. In the case of premieres, you may be afforded one to five episodes from whatever network it may be, whereas the home video set will have the entire season at your disposal – and you’re viewing it in hindsight. Obviously, the former option has you screening something for the first time, so it’s understandable the producers and other folks want some cards held close to the vest. But the double-edged sword here is that the more a critic is given, the better they’re able to formulate an informed opinion of the final product.
To be entirely honest, I was actually hoping that I’d eventually get to review Supernatural: The Complete Fourteenth Season on Blu-ray. For those of you in the “SPN Family” who’ve read my critiques before, you may remember how I had a lukewarm reaction to the premiere when it aired last October. Amazingly enough, nobody flung poo my way on Twitter. Instead, my fellow fans of the long-running horror series actually backed me up because they shared many of the same complaints.
The reason I’m airing all this in the open is because I’d have definitely given season 14 a better review score had The CW coughed up, say, at least two more episodes at that time. Had they done that, then I’d have sung a very different tune. In other words, the premiere episode alone made me think we were in for yet another year of angel-demon politics and the like – and we thankfully didn’t get that. When Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) boldly declared there would be no new King of Hell, it turned out that was actually a mission statement for the show going forward. Normally, viewers would find such dialogue to be hyperbole, but it rang true.
To briefly sum up what did happen without spoiling too much for those who aren’t caught up, season 14 picks up several weeks after where the previous year left off. Basically, Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) is still possessed by Michael from Apocalypse World, and he doesn’t waste much time putting his grand plan into motion. Most fortunate for the people of what we’ll have to call “Earth-1,” the elder Winchester is separated from his angelic co-pilot before long, so he, his brother and other key allies like Jack Kline (Alexander Calvert) form a formidable resistance.
As is the case with any season of Supernatural, there are some glaring highlights which are just impossible to avoid discussing. For me, “Mint Condition” wound up being my favorite episode of the bunch, as it paid tribute to ’80s slasher flicks and featured an abundance of DC Comics titles and collectibles in the background. If you also dig stuff like Halloween and Friday the 13th, you’ll probably love this one as well.
But to longtime viewers at large, everyone is going to want to stick around for the 300th episode, “Lebanon.” In it, Jeffrey Dean Morgan finally returns as John Winchester, and it makes for an emotional rollercoaster that’s arguably worth the price of admission alone. Besides this, “Moriah” likewise deserves a mention because the closing minutes of said season finale were a game-changer of the highest order, effectively setting up the fifteenth and final season.
For my money, this was easily the best season to have thus far been spawned from the Andrew Dabb-Robert Singer era. Before, they’d had some problems structuring the previous two years, not to mention obvious disconnect between A and B plots. Really, it often felt as though we were watching TV Show A and TV Show B, and there was little to no overlap. To their credit, everything ties together nicely this time around, as the stuff involving the Winchester Boys combating Michael – compounded with Nick’s (Mark Pellegrino) downward spiral and journey to reuniting with Lucifer – collide with a surprising turn in Jack’s personal arc. It’s all very intricate and I was completely enthralled.
Moving on to bonus features, I have to say that while there’s some very enjoyable supplemental content to digest, none of it is entirely earth-shattering. Featurettes like “Supernatural Homecoming: Exploring Episode 300” and “The Winchester Mythology: The Choices We Make” are a fine way to spend a lazy Sunday, yet they don’t quite compare to what was offered on the sets for seasons 1-5. But I guess it’s pretty hard to continuously come up with new ideas in this department after so long.
If anything deserves your attention outside of the feature content, I’d say it’s “Supernatural: 2018 Comic-Con Panel” because it really paints a picture of how the cast and crew are like family. I find it reassuring to see how well they get along, and the requisite Gag Reel also hammers home that point. By now, I’m sure each of you know better than to skip watching those because they make for real knee-slappers.
Having said all this, I’ll wholeheartedly recommend Supernatural: The Complete Fourteenth Season for anyone curious about picking it up. I never once got tired during my binge and happen to be hard-pressed to come up with anything I disliked enough to put even the weakest of bitter tastes in my mouth. Let’s just hope the showrunners keep up the momentum on their way to the finish line.