Supernatural, on The WB (s1) / The CW (s2-15)
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Caution: Oh! So! Very! Many! Spoilers!
First of all I should say I'm going to reveal a lot, but not nearly as much as I'm going to leave out. But the show just keeps getting cooler, more complicated, and more bad-ass, every season. And yet, in spite of all the darkness and drama, there's always a fair amount of humor and humanity, as well.
The Road So Far...
Okay, there was this couple, John and Mary Winchester, and they had two young sons, Dean and Sam. One night (when Sam was still a baby), some sort of evil force killed Mary, and since then, John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has been searching for it. In the course of his search, he and his sons encountered plenty of supernatural things, and did whatever they could to put a stop to whatever evil stuff those things were doing, I guess. (They're not the only people who hunt supernatural monsters; they, and those like them, are called "Hunters." Though most of the world is unaware of the existence of monsters, so Hunters have to pretty much live off the grid.) But we don't actually see the hunting that John and his sons do together, because right after Mary dies, the show skips forward to Sam (Jared Padalecki), all grown up, finishing up college, and preparing to enter law school. However, Dean (Jensen Ackles), who never stopped working with their father, shows up and asks for his help in finding John, who left a message, but has disappeared. Sam wants no more part of that old life, but he agrees to help this one last time. They don't find their father, but they do get rid of a spirit that had been killing people, and find another clue about John's whereabouts. Sam goes back to school, but it seems the same evil thing that killed his mother all those years ago, now killed his girlfriend, Jessica Moore (Adrianne Palicki). So he leaves again with Dean, to look for their father, and along the way, y'know, do more hunting, like they did while they were growing up.
By the end of the first season, Sam and Dean do find their father, and the three of them confront the Yellow-Eyed Demon, who was responsible for Mary's death. They now have in their possession a gun created by Samuel Colt, specially made to kill demons. But... things don't go so well.
It begins with Sam, Dean, and John in the hospital, but I don't want to reveal anything about what happens at that point. All I'll say is that from now on, Sam and Dean will once again be hunting supernatural creatures without the help of their father. However, I should also say that occasionally we see other Hunters, some of whom are helpful and some who may even be enemies. One friend they can count on, however, is a guy named Bobby Singer, who knew their father, and who knows a lot more about hunting than Sam and Dean do.
We also learn that Sam was one of a number of special children, with different powers just beginning to emerge, and the Yellow-Eyed Demon has plans for them, which will be revealed by the end of the second season. After that, the demon (Azazel) won't be a threat himself anymore, but a gate is briefly opened which releases hundreds of other demons from Hell, and so a war is coming. Meanwhile, Sam and Dean have lots of other problems to deal with, as well as regular hunting. There's also an FBI agent named Henricksen who occasionally shows up, in pursuit of Sam and Dean, whom he considers killers, not knowing anything about what they really do.
The first two seasons were also adapted into a 22-episode anime series.
This season mostly involves the consequences of something Dean did to save Sam, which will eventually result in Dean going to Hell. Sam wants to stop this, but Dean's mostly just trying to enjoy the time he has left (one year). We also meet a demon named Ruby, who wants to help Sam and Dean, though Dean doesn't trust her. She gives them a knife that can kill demons. And there's a con artist/thief named Bela, who often runs into the guys, since she searches for supernatural items which can fetch a great deal of money from certain collectors. Plus, there's a powerful demon named Lilith, who has her own evil plans, and causes a great deal of trouble.
Season 3 ends with Dean in Hell, but at the start of season 4, he wakes up in a coffin and digs his way out, a few months after having gone to Hell. He had no idea how he had come back to life, but before long he learns he was brought back by an angel named Castiel, who says God ordered him to do it. Because they have plans for Dean. (We'll eventually learn that Castiel is possessing the body of a man named Jimmy Novak, who has been separated from his family in order to serve as Castiel's vessel.) Meanwhile, Sam has been hunting demons without Dean, but he's had some help from Ruby (now in a new host body). Dean isn't pleased when he finds out about this, and less so when he learns that Sam has been using his increasing supernatural powers to send demons back to Hell. But anyway, for the time being Sam and Dean go back to working together, though their relationship is strained.... Anyway, there are standalone episodes, but the overarching plot of the season involves Lilith breaking a series of seals that keep Lucifer confined to Hell. Sam and Dean try to stop her, but they're constantly failing. And their relationship continues to get more strained, as Sam continues to secretly work with Ruby, to enhance his own demonic powers, in the hopes of finally killing Lilith.
Um, what else? We see Castiel fairly often. We also see an associate of his, an angel named Uriel, who has no patience for Sam and Dean. And eventually we meet another angel, Castiel's superior, Zachariah (Kurt Fuller). We also meet a fallen angel named Anna Milton, who becomes an ally to Sam and Dean for awhile. And we meet a guy named Chuck Shurley, who gets visions and writes a cult series of "Supernatural" books about Sam and Dean, under the pen name Carver Edlund. And there's a demon named Alastair who Dean knew while he was in Hell. And we learn a bit about the time he spent in Hell, which... well, a great deal more time passed for him than passed on Earth, and some terrible stuff happened, but I won't spoil it. Still, Dean has a lot of angst over it. Anyway, eventually... Sam and Ruby work together against Lilith, which turns out to be a mistake, though I won't say why. Meanwhile, Zachariah and Castiel stop Dean from stopping Sam. Dean is meant to ultimately stop Lucifer, but that's only after Lucifer has risen, to start the Apocalypse. Castiel ultimately turns against Zachariah and helps Dean, but it's too late. At the very end of season 4, Lucifer does in fact rise, though we don't actually see him, as yet. (Incidentally, I don't recall Sam having any supernatural powers after this season. But it's possible he didn't stop having them until later. I really don't remember how that changed.)
The main plot of this season is that Dean is meant to become a vessel for the archangel Michael (but first he has to say yes to this), while Sam is meant to become a vessel for Lucifer (again, he has to say yes); meanwhile, Lucifer has a temporary vessel (Mark Pellegrino). There's this whole thing about how Michael and Lucifer are brothers, just like Sam and Dean. And they have daddy issues, just like Sam and Dean, except of course that their father is God. There's also a third archangel, Gabriel, who we eventually see, and his identity is rather surprising. Anyway, Sam and Dean desperately try to find some way to stop Lucifer without either of them agreeing to become vessels. Castiel is on their side, and so is Bobby, of course. Eventually they learn that Lucifer can be returned to Hell, if they obtain the rings of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which serve as a key when combined. Though it's still not much hope of victory. Meanwhile, there are occasional stand-alone episodes, as always, which aren't directly tied to the major story arc. In one episode, we meet Sheriff Jody Mills (played by Kim Rhodes, best known for "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody," which I find amusing, since Dean once made a joke about that show, at the end of season 4). Jody will occasionally show up to help the Winchesters (or ask for their help), in subsequent seasons. Anyway, there are various twists along the way, and we see some old characters show up occasionally. Naturally, there's always a bit of humor, but this season is the most dramatic and darkest yet, of course. And... it was originally meant to be the final season, the end of the story that was originally conceived by the creator, but... it got picked up for a sixth season. (Incidentally, Chuck Shurley was seen a few more times this season, but in the finale he disappears, very mysteriously.)
I suppose first I have to spoil some things about how season 5 ended, to explain the current situation. I'll also have to mention some other things that happened previously. Um... first of all, there was this woman named Lisa whom Dean had been involved with some years before the series started. We meet her in one episode in season 3, and she now has a son named Ben. At the end of season 5, after Sam and Dean avert the Apocalypse, Dean goes to live with Lisa and Ben, and tries to have a normal life. As for Sam, he had sacrificed his life to trap Lucifer in Hell again. But now he shows up, alive, and it turns out he's been back for about a year... he'd been brought back to life soon after his sacrifice, but didn't want Dean to know, as he wanted his brother to finally have a normal life. Sam has so far been unable to learn who's responsible for resurrecting him, or why. But he's not the only one who's been brought back. There was an episode in season 4 in which Dean was transported to 1973, where he met his father, John, before he'd married Mary. Dean learned that Mary and her whole family, including her father, Samuel Campbell (Mitch Pileggi), were Hunters, though John never knew that. I think even later, after Mary's death when John became a Hunter himself, he had no idea she had been one. Anyway, Dean and Samuel worked a case together in 1973, but Samuel wound up being killed by Azazel. And now, in season 6, Samuel has also come back to life, and has no more idea than Sam of how it happened. But Sam and his grandfather have been working together, hunting, for the past year, along with some distant relatives who are also Hunters. And apparently, supernatural activity is very much on the rise lately. Dean is torn between his old life and his new one, but in the second episode, Lisa tells him he should leave with Sam, but come back whenever he can. Though things end up getting pretty intense, with all the stuff that Dean and Sam get into, so eventually... things don't really work out with Lisa and Ben.
Anyway, Sam and Dean eventually learn that Crowley (Mark Sheppard), a demon who was of some importance in season 5, has now become the king of Hell, and he's the one who returned Sam and Samuel to life. However, Dean had been concerned ever since he teamed up with Sam again, because something about Sam didn't seem right. And now they learn that Sam's soul is still trapped in Hell, though Crowley says he could restore Sam's soul, if they agree to work for him. He wants them to hunt Alphas, which are the progenitors of various races of supernatural creatures. Crowley believes an Alpha could tell him where to find Purgatory. Of course Sam and Dean aren't happy about working for Crowley, but they have little choice. Though there's the question of whether Sam really wants his soul back, and whether it really would be good for him, considering the torture it would have endured from Lucifer, who's trapped with Sam's soul. Meanwhile, there's plenty of other stuff going on this season, as Castiel is leading a civil war in Heaven, against Raphael (who wants to get the Apocalypse back on track), so he has little time for Sam and Dean's problems. Incidentally, as I re-read this review a few seasons hence, it occurs to me that I never mentioned a rather important fact, and I don't even remember in which season we first learned this, but now seems as apt a time as any to mention it. The fact is, at some point in the past, God had apparently left Heaven, because He was just tired of... everything, I dunno. (And who can blame Him?) So um, none of the angels even know where He is, and it's not clear if or when He'll ever return. I don't even know when He left, but for quite awhile, it seems like the angels had all pretty much been on autopilot. They're all followers, not independent thinkers, so it's hard for them, not having a leader. But Castiel, because of the time he's spent with the Winchesters, is now something of a rebel, at least compared to all the other angels. This makes some of them look up to him as a leader, but others... not so much. Hence the war.
There are also various incredibly powerful artifacts which have disappeared, which Castiel wants to find, but so do lots of other beings (angels, demons, whatever). And as I said, there's lots of increased activity among various creatures, every type seems to be recruiting (that is, turning people into monsters), and apparently there's going to be some kind of major war at some point. I dunno. It's a pretty complicated season with lots of stuff going on, and as dark as ever, if not quite as epic as the previous season. But as always, the show does manage to work in a bit of humor now and then. Well... lots of surprises are revealed before the season ends. Castiel has a falling out with Sam, Dean, and Bobby, though I don't want to reveal why. At least not yet; I'll probably have to explain that when season 7 comes around. I'll just say that while most of the season seemed... as intense as ever, but as I said less epic than season 5, in the end it seems all to have led to something even more epic, in a way. And I think it was worth taking a whole season to build up to what will come next....
Okay, so... to explain season 7, I must reveal that in season 6, Castiel had basically consumed a ton of souls that were in Purgatory (which Crowley also wanted to do). This made Cas so powerful that he came to see himself as the new God. Also, Sam eventually got his soul restored (by Death), along with a wall in his mind to prevent him from remembering his time in Hell... because those memories would drive him crazy. At the start of season 7, Cas causes a lot of trouble, but before long, he realizes he was wrong, and sends the souls back to Purgatory... however, some remained within him. They were Leviathans, the very oldest supernatural beings around, whom God had trapped in Purgatory a very long time ago. Now they break free of Cas, and become the major villains of the season. They eat people, but they can also shapeshift to look like anyone they touch. So they start taking on positions in society. The main one, we eventually learn, has taken the form of a businessman named Dick Roman, and he has a big plan for humanity... which we don't learn the full scope of til near the end of the season, so I won't spoil it. Meanwhile, Sam had gotten his memories of Hell back, so now he's tormented by visions of Lucifer, who tries to convince him he's really still in Hell, and all that he sees is actually an illusion.
Of course, as always, there are standalone episodes, as well as the major story arc. And there are some cool guest stars this season, including one episode that has both Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters. And an episode with Jewel Staite. And an episode with Felicia Day; the title of her episode is "The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo," but aside from being a great hacker, I'd say her character, Charlie Bradbury, had very little in common with Lisbeth Salander. But Charlie becomes an important ally against Dick Roman, and she'll play an important recurring role in subsequent seasons, as well. Also this season, Sam and Dean get some help in a few episodes from a guy named Frank Devereaux (a conspiracy theorist who kinda reminds me of Frohike from The Lone Gunmen). And... big, big, big spoiler alert: (mouseover to read) Bobby is killed by Dick, and eventually comes back as a ghost. But in the season finale, after coming dangerously close to devolving into a vengeful spirit, he realizes Dean and Sam must burn the item that was keeping him around, so he could move on to the afterlife. (Dammit!)
Though this paragraph isn't blacked out like the end of the last one was, it's still got plenty of spoilers for the latter part of the season. So be warned about that. ...Sam's Lucifer problem is eventually taken care of by Castiel (whom the guys had spent most of the season thinking was dead)... but the way he solves Sam's problem leads to other problems. And Sam and Dean get some unexpected help from Meg, a demon whom I don't think I've mentioned before, though she's made trouble for the boys periodically, ever since season one. (She possessed a new vessel starting in season 5, played by Rachel Miner.) Even Crowley is helpful, because Dick is apparently an even greater threat to him than the Winchesters are. There was also an advanced placement student named Kevin Tran, who was preparing for college, but turns out to be a prophet... which means he can read the word of God on tablets that have been buried pretty much forever. He helps Sam and Dean, but then gets taken by the Leviathans. And after Dick is killed in the season finale, Kevin and Meg both get taken by Crowley. And even though Dick is dead, there are still plenty of Leviathans around that need to be dealt with. And Sam is now alone, because Dean and Cas both disappeared when Dick died. It turns out they'd been transported to Purgatory, which is full of the souls of evil creatures that would love to tear them apart.
Hmmm. So... we don't really see Leviathans again, at least not that I recall. I thought they'd be a threat even without their leader, but I guess not. Maybe there were some, but if so, they weren't important. What's important is that after a year in Purgatory, Dean escapes, but not with Castiel. Instead, he escapes with a vampire named Benny. Because of what they went through together, they're now friends, which is something Sam finds practically impossible to accept. Meanwhile, for the past year Sam had given up hunting, and settled down with a woman named Amelia, though that didn't work out. (There will be flashbacks to both Sam and Dean's past year, for the early part of the season.) And now Kevin Tran starts translating the demon tablet, learning about a series of trials that must be performed in order to close the gates of Hell forever. And there's a Hunter named Garth (DJ Qualls), whom we first met in season 7. Until now, he's mainly been used for comic relief. But in season 8, he takes on a role in the Hunter community much like that of Bobby Singer. And Castiel eventually gets rescued from Purgatory, by an angel named Naomi (Amanda Tapping), who is apparently the new ruler of Heaven. She now uses him to cause some trouble, but I don't want to get into specifics about that. There are also a couple more episodes with Charlie Bradbury. And we learn about an old organization called the Men of Letters, who dealt with the same kind of stuff as Hunters, but were more organized and intellectual about it (rather like the Watchers Council from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Apparently John Winchester was supposed to be a legacy, but his father disappeared when John was just a kid, so John never learned about the group's existence. (Kind of ironic, then, that he unwittingly later married a Hunter.) And the group was pretty much killed off in 1958, by a demon knight named Abaddon, who now time travels to the present (2013). But Sam and Dean find the abandoned headquarters of the Men of Letters, and make it their own base of operations, from now on. It also turns out that there's an angel tablet. And the guys eventually meet an angel named Metatron (Curtis Armstrong), the scribe who'd written the word of God on all the tablets in the first place. He gets Cas to help him with a series of trials to supposedly close Heaven, just as the Winchesters were trying to close Hell. But Metatron lied about his true agenda. And that's all I want to say for now....
So... what Metatron had tricked Castiel into helping him with was a spell that ejected all the angels (except Metatron) from Heaven, so now they're all stuck on Earth. And Metatron had also taken Castiel's grace (which is what gives an angel its power), so now he's just a human. Meanwhile, Sam had spent the previous season performing the trials that would allow him to close Hell, but that didn't end up happening. However, the trials had caused him so much damage that he nearly died. Dean prays for any angel to help save Sam, who is now comatose in a hospital. An angel named Ezekiel (Tahmoh Penikett) answers his prayer, but the only way to save Sam is for Ezekiel to possess him, which Sam has to agree to. So Dean finds a way to trick Sam's unconscious mind into doing that. Then Sam wakes up, and most of the time he'll be himself, but occasionally Ezekiel takes over, to talk with Dean or help him out, before going back to the work of healing Sam (which would take quite awhile).
Sam and Dean take Crowley captive, locking him up in the Men of Letters' bunker. Meanwhile, Abaddon begins turning demons to her side, as she doesn't believe Crowley deserves to be king of Hell. Meanwhile, Kevin spends all his time studying the tablets, trying to find ways to defeat both Metatron and Abaddon. Also... at the end of last season, Sam and Dean had been injecting Crowley with human blood to try and restore his humanity, and this season he's addicted to human blood... which of course makes it easier for Abaddon to convince demons to turn against him, because it makes him weaker (that is, it gives him a conscience). Also, a civil war starts between two factions of angels, one led by Bartholomew and one by Malachi. Cas ends up killing an angel who worked for... one of them, I forget which, and steals his grace. So he becomes an angel again, though using grace that wasn't his own couldn't last forever (which kinda reminds me of Kikyo, on Inuyasha). And we eventually learn that "Ezekiel" isn't who he said he was. He's actually an angel named Gadreel, who had been in Heaven's prison for thousands of years, ever since letting Lucifer into the Garden of Eden. Now he wants to redeem himself, and Metatron convinces him he can do that by joining his side. He orders Gadreel (in Sam's body) to kill Kevin, and after Gadreel does this, he delivers the angel and demon tablets to Metatron. Later, Crowley helps Sam expel Gadreel from his body, who then re-possesses the one he'd originally been using as a vessel. When Sam finds out Dean had tricked him into agreeing to possession, he's furious (he would have rather died). And of course now, he has to remember killing Kevin. (Dammit!)
Whew, so much happens this season! Dean learns that the only thing that can kill Abaddon is the First Blade (which Cain had used to kill Abel). But he has no idea where the blade (actually the jawbone of an ass) is, so he entrusts Crowley with the task of finding it. Meanwhile, they meet Cain himself (Timothy Omundson), who transfers the Mark of Cain to Dean's arm, which is necessary for him to be able to use the blade, if and when he finds it. (And it does get found.) Of course, using the blade takes a major toll on Dean, and Sam begins to worry. (Those two crazy brothers never stop finding things to argue about.) And eventually a bunch of angels convince Castiel to become their leader. (The main one of his followers will be Hannah.) By this time I don't even recall what was going on with the whole war between Bartholomew and Malachi; it's possible either or both of them were dead. But for the remainder of the season, Castiel's group is pretty much the main opposition to Metatron, who had been recruiting lots of angels, himself. And he'd been using the angel tablet to make himself more powerful, and wanted to become the new God. (And of course he could let any angels on his side back into Heaven.) One good thing I can say about Metatron is that he appreciates pop culture (books, movies, etc.), and at one point he transferred a knowledge of all that into Castiel's mind. Which is just really fun, because for all this time, Cas has rarely if ever gotten all the pop culture references made by people like the Winchesters (or Crowley, or Metatron). But now he does. Anyhow... there are stand-alone episodes. Garth stops being a Hunter, for a reason I don't want to spoil. And we see Charlie in a Wizard of Oz-themed episode. And there was a backdoor pilot for a possible spinoff series, but that never materialized.
Anyway, Dean eventually manages to kill Abaddon, so Crowley once again becomes king of Hell (and kicks his human blood addiction, apparently). And I don't want to spoil the details of how everything plays out regarding Metatron, but he is eventually defeated and put in Heaven's prison. (And Hannah is now kind of in charge of Heaven, I guess.) I do feel it's kind of ironic, the way in which Castiel manages to beat Metatron... I mean, I so totally saw it coming, because it's such an obvious cliche, probably not something Cas ever would have thought of if Metatron hadn't made him pop culture savvy, so it's hard to believe Metatron himself didn't see it coming. But it was still neat. And then... we're left with one of the show's trademark cliffhangers, which I'll wait to spoil until next season. As usual.
So. At the end of season 9, the Mark of Cain had turned Dean into a demon. Since then, he and Crowley have become best buds, wandering around having fun. Then this guy named Cole tries to kill Dean, because Dean had killed his father years ago, when Cole was still a kid. (The guy's dad was a monster of some kind, a fact about which Cole was totally clueless, and he himself isn't a monster, doesn't even know monsters exist.) Of course, Cole totally fails to kill Dean, and Dean could have killed him, but didn't. Cole will show up a few more times throughout the season, though. Meanwhile, Sam's been looking for Dean, with no idea what's become of him. But eventually Crowley tells Sam where to find Dean, and Sam gives Crowley the First Blade. Meanwhile, Hannah gets Castiel to (reluctantly) help her find rogue angels who have decided to stay on Earth, and attempt to force them to return to Heaven. But the grace Cas had stolen last season was wearing out, and when he's finally near death, Crowley shows up, steals a rogue angel's grace, and gives it to Cas. It's still not a permanent solution, but at least Cas will remain alive, for the time being. Sam takes Dean back to the Men of Letters' bunker, where he and Cas try to cure Dean of his demonic nature. That happens much sooner than I would have expected, but he still has the Mark of Cain on his arm. And as long as he does, he's in constant danger of becoming a demon again, if he isn't careful to keep his bloodlust in check. So the season's main story arc will involve our heroes looking for a way to rid Dean of the Mark, though Dean has a lot less faith than Sam that that's even possible, and he wants Sam and Cas to kill him if he ever turns into a demon again. (But even that may not be possible, since the Mark supposedly won't allow its bearer to die.)
Also this season, the show celebrates its 200th episode, Fan Fiction, in which fans of Carver Edlund's "Supernatural" books turn the story into a school musical. And it's awesome. And at the end of the ep there's a special appearance by a character I wasn't expecting to see, which was cool.
Later, we meet a centuries-old witch named Rowena (whom I quite like). She becomes an enemy to the Winchesters, briefly, and later... we learn that she's Crowley's mother. (Well, actually the mother of Fergus MacLeod, whom Crowley had been before he died and became a demon.) Anyway, she ends up a prisoner in Hell, but before long she starts acting like a queen mother, much to the horror of all the demons. And she constantly harangues Crowley, particularly about how he seems to have become the Winchesters' "bitch." She tries to get him to act more like the king of Hell, but in part this is because she wants his help with a problem of her own. Which he eventually does, but then he kicks her out of Hell. Meanwhile, there are a few episodes in which Castiel tries to reconnect with Claire Novak, Jimmy's daughter. Since Cas had taken over Jimmy's body and left his family, Jimmy's wife had gone looking for him, and now Claire was looking for her. And she's not happy to have Cas hanging around, since he basically ruined her family's life, and seeing him reminds her of her father. But eventually things sort of work out between them. And... at one point, Sam and Cas enlist the help of an old ally to break Metatron out of Heaven's prison, so that he could tell them how to remove the Mark from Dean. However, it turns out he'd lied about knowing a cure for the Mark, and he manages to escape from Castiel's custody, and steal back the demon tablet. But in the process, Cas finds the last bit of his own grace, which Metatron had previously stolen from him, so now he doesn't have to live on grace stolen from other angels, and won't have to worry about it fading again.
Also there are several more episodes with Charlie, who returns from Oz, and later tracks down a spell book (The Book of the Damned), which might contain a way of removing the Mark of Cain. Once they have the Book, they find that it is coded, and a codex written by a witch who had been killed years ago is needed to decode the book. The codex is eventually found, but even that is pretty hard to decipher. Anyway, Sam secretly makes a deal with Rowena, who wants him to kill Crowley. He agrees, but chains her up in a basement to work on decoding the Book. Rowena receives some help from Charlie in cracking the codex (which has got to be an actor allusion). But there's also a powerful family called the Stynes, who used to own the Book, and they want it back. The secret of their power is pretty freaky, but as powerful as they are now, it's nothing compared to when they had the Book. So, they cause a lot of trouble trying to get it back, most importantly by eventually killing Charlie. (G**! F***ing! Dammit!) But Dean gets revenge against them for what they do... but his revenge leads to serious trouble with the Mark. Meanwhile, Sam tries to kill Crowley... and fails. Hard. In the season finale, the Mark is finally removed, but the consequences... well, I'll hold off on revealing that until next season. (Though I will say that it reminded me a bit of what happened a few weeks earlier on the season four finale of Once Upon a Time, but on a much larger scale, on this show.)
So, what happened when the Mark of Cain was removed from Dean was that something called "the Darkness" was released. When that happened, Dean met the Darkness, in the form of a woman named Amara, who believes the two of them are now bonded, since he was the one that released her. But their meeting took place... I don't know, on like a different plane of existence, or something, and it was very brief, before Dean reappeared on Earth, and reunited with Sam. After that, Amara is born as a baby. And over the next several episodes, she'll grow by leaps and bounds, so we see her at at a few different ages, before she finally appears the same age as when Dean first met her. For awhile, Crowley has young Amara locked up, while trying to gain her loyalty so that he can eventually use her. But she consumes various demon souls, which makes her stronger. Eventually she leaves, and starts consuming human souls. Meanwhile, a couple of angels kill Hannah, after which I guess various factions will vie for control of Heaven. But eventually the factions will come together, because they realize they need to be united to stand a chance against Amara. (Various low level demons and angels had previously realized the same thing.) Meanwhile, Sam begins getting visions of the Cage in Hell where Lucifer is locked up (and where Sam himself had been trapped, between seasons 5 and 6), and he believes the visions are a message from God. He eventually gets the idea that God wants him to go back to the Cage, though of course Dean is totally against that idea. Also, Castiel tracks down Metatron and retrieves the demon tablet from him. (Metatron is human now, and I have no recollection of that happening.) And of course, as always, there are standalone jobs for Sam and Dean to work as Hunters, whenever they're not trying to track down Amara or figure out how to deal with her. (I really enjoyed the episode with imaginary friends, including one named Sully, played by Nate Torrence.) Anyway... we eventually learn that Amara is God's sister, and once she reaches her full strength, she'll be just as powerful as he is. She wants to find him and get revenge for locking her away eons ago, but as usual, he's nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Sam and Dean finally enlist the help of Crowley and Rowena to contact Lucifer and ask for his help against Amara. However, when he asks that Sam invite him to use Sam as his vessel, Sam refuses. But then, somehow, Sam ends up back in the Cage, at Lucifer's mercy (or lack thereof). And Lucifer tells him something I'd suspected pretty much from the beginning, but I won't spoil that just yet....
Unfortunately, after the midseason break I had to stop watching the show, so I don't know when I'll be able to continue updating the review.
Carry on, my wayward son....