Supernatural S11E23 “Alpha and Omega” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Picking up right where we left last week, Chuck is lying on the floor, dying. In slightly better news, Lucifer has left the building, leaving Cas the sole inhibitor of his vessel again.
- Rowena tells the boys to come outside and witness what looks to be the slow death of the sun. Their theory is that it’s Amara’s first step towards destroying life on Earth.
- Chuck teleports everyone back to the bunker, and Dean makes a choice: he’s giving up. Drinking ’til the end of the world.
- Across the ocean in London, a raging British upper class stereotype, Toni, is also observing the changes in the sun. Turns out she’s a Woman Of Letters, and she’s got the Winchesters on her radar. Next stop: Kansas.
- Back at the bunker, Dean takes Cas on a trip to get more beer, thanking him for stepping up when he and Sam wouldn’t on the way. Sam, meanwhile, isn’t happy that everyone’s just given up; he isn’t going down without a fight.
- His plan? Kill Amara. With Chuck dying, that would keep the balance intact… Yep, that’s the logic he’s banking on.
- But how to do it? Chuck suggests using light – a lot of it. Hearing that, Cas puts forward the idea of using souls, full of energy and light. With enough, Rowena can craft a soul bomb.
- There are a few different options they can use to get souls: Heaven, Hell and ghosts. With that in mind, Sam and Dean head over to Waverly Hills, one of the most haunted places in the USA.
- Rowena gives the boys a crystal that they can use to contain souls, and with it they get to work nabbing as many as they possibly can.
- It’s still not enough, but there’s an ally of sorts that they hadn’t thought to take advantage of: their reaper friend, Billy. She draws in hundreds of thousands of souls for them to use, with the caveat that she’s helping out because it’s the end, after all.
- There are a few clauses to keep in mind for using the bomb: it has to be used by someone who can get close to Amara, and whoever carries it will literally be the bomb. Knowing what’s at stake, Dean agrees.
- With Dean’s death on the horizon, the boys take a trip to their mother’s grave for an emotional goodbye.
- Chuck sends Dean straight to Amara, right in the middle of a park where Amara has been spending time ruminating on the effects of her actions – including on herself. She’s withering away, slowly but surely.
- She explains that it’s not her that’s causing the death of the sun, but Chuck’s slow death. With one of them gone, the balance shifts. She never wanted him dead; she just wanted revenge.
- The rest of the gang take up residency in a closed-down bar, waiting for Dean to succeed. Things are skewed a little when Chuck disappears.
- He reappears with Amara and Dean, and Amara wants to talk. Dean thinks that they might be able to heal past scars passively, and amazingly, it looks like it’s working. Amara admires Chuck’s work, she doesn’t want to destroy it.
- Amara takes Chuck’s hand, and the world starts to heal. She restores Chuck, takes the bomb from Dean, and smokes up to Heaven with her brother to talk things over.
- Sam and Cas arrive back at the bunker, believing Dean to be dead. But they can’t muse on it for too long; there’s a surprise waiting for them. Toni. She banishes Cas, and shoots Sam…
- Dean’s got a surprise waiting for him as well – a present from Amara. His Mother, Mary Winchester.
“Carry On Wayward Son” is playing; God and the sun are dying; a Winchester is sacrificing himself. It must be a Supernatural finale!
The boys have been facing stakes higher than the last stakes for a long time now, but for maybe the first time ever, this time Dean completely gives up.
He can’t see a way out of their predicament, and who can blame him? Between God slowly on his way out and the sun burning up, it’s an unmistakably dire situation. It’s even got to the point where, when they do think up a plan, Sam barely protests (verbally, at least) when it turns out Dean’s got to die for it to work. Maybe it shows some maturation in their relationship, but it also emphasises just how bad their situation’s become. Sam refuses to let the planet die, and if that means his brother has to sacrifice himself, he’s just going to have to let it happen.
The plan in question is to create a bomb out of souls, step one of which is harvesting the souls themselves. It leads to a somewhat incongruous ghost-hunting scene right in the middle of the episode, and whilst it’s fun to watch Sam and Dean bust a ton of ghosts, it doesn’t have any particular impact on the episode as a whole, since Billie the Reaper steps in to gather all the souls they need anyway. It could have been taken out to allow time, for example, for Castiel to have his moment with Chuck – his Father. Everyone else got time to speak with him, and Lucifer got to have an entire therapy session with him, but Castiel is once again left to the side. It’s a real shame, and seems like an incredible disservice to Cas as a character. Really though, with the way he’s treated it’s almost a surprise he gets to say a proper goodbye to Dean!
Speaking of scenes that could have been replaced with something more salient to the plot, let’s talk about Toni. She’s the embodiment of the stereotypical American view of British people, living in a small mansion with servants waiting on her and serving her tea in delicate teacups. It makes you want to roll your eyes. That aside, though, way too much screen time is given to Toni packing her bags and making for the USA. Then again, maybe we’re biased – she does end up shooting Sam, after all…! For all that, it does look like she’ll be bringing an interesting plotline into season 12, given that she’s from a UK branch of the Men Of Letters.
Of course, at the core of this episode is the final face-off with Amara. It’s probably safe to say that with the way the plot has been progressing, most people would have been expecting an epic battle with a bang; an impressive, VFX-filled fight for survival against Amara to save the world. In a complete plot twist, we get the opposite: Dean talking sense into Amara, bringing the conflict between her and God down to a very human level. It took Amara nearly killing her brother to see it, but she doesn’t want to destroy Chuck’s work; she’s just been having a really, really big hissy-fit over being locked in a cage for millennia. As a culmination of an entire season, it veers dangerously towards feeling like a cop-out, something thrown in at the last second as a quick-fix, but it’s so rooted in the heart of Supernatural’s core values that it actually works. Just.
Overall, “Alpha And Omega” does well in tying up this season’s story arcs, keeping us guessing throughout and offering a solution that might not be the epic battle we were hoping for, but still about manages to feel like a satisfactory end with a few surprises to lead us neatly into season 12. It’s going to move away from the apocalyptic and back to ground level stories with the emergence of the British Men Of Letters and the resurrection of Mary Winchester, which should come as a relief after past seasons escalating and escalating the odds. Where can you go after a family feud between God and his sister, after all?
- Everything comes to a neat close this episode – Amara figures out exactly what it is she wants, nobody has to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, and God survives!
- The emotional scene in which Dean says goodbye to his closest friends and family by his mother’s grave. The throwback to the pilot episode all the way back in season one (“No chick flick moments”) that’s thrown aside to reaffirm what we all know (“You love chick flicks”) is a particularly tearjerking moment.
- Dean talking to Cas in the Impala, making known what’s only been hinted at in the past – that Cas is their best friend, their brother; that he did the best he could letting Lucifer use him as a vessel – was sorely needed and incredibly overdue.
- As heart-breaking as it is, Sam letting Dean take possession of the soul bomb and do what’s best for humanity, even if it means his own life, shows a real progression in their relationship.
- Sacrifice is such a worn-out theme on Supernatural, so it’s a great plot twist in that for once it doesn’t actually have to happen to fix everything.
- Rowena and Chuck reminiscing on when their kids were younger – Fergus for Rowena, and Adam and Eve for Chuck, of course.
- There are some beautiful VFX happening this episode, particularly in the ghost hunting scene, Billie drawing in souls and Chuck and Amara smoking out towards Heaven.
- Toni the walking British stereotype takes up far too much screen time.
- Cas should have got his moment with his Father. Hopefully it’s still not too late?
- The ghost-hunting scene, whilst fun to watch, feels out of place.
And the Random:
- Toni’s corkboard full of Winchester paraphernalia is worth a pause to check out, containing tidbits such as mugshots, a Winchester/Campbell family tree, a photo of Jimmy Novak (Castiel’s vessel’s original owner), amongst other things.
- Incredibly, “Alpha And Omega” marks only the fourth-ever Supernatural episode with no deaths.
- Writer Andrew Dabb is taking over from Jeremy Carver as showrunner for season 12.
Review by Jessica Anson