Eh, there’s a spoiler for Season 3 / Season 4 if you care about that sort of thing.

Cookiemonger and I have been watching Supernatural, and we recently began Season 4. Let’s start this conversation with the point that I have a lot of problems with Supernatural. I think on average I like the show more than I dislike it, but it has some pretty big problems – a big one is Dean’s character development this season.

In previous seasons, Dean was the character who believed in pretty much anything because it helped him get his job done. His belief wasn’t really predicated on any kind of need, except to get the job done. Dean was about doing the job. If anyone was going to get hung up on philosophical conundrums, it was Sam. That’s his schtick.

00_04.Team Free Will

“Sam, who is this jerk and why is he in the middle of our Dynamic Duo?”

Season 4 has seen a complete reversal of their roles. With Dean’s inexplicable return from Hell at the beginning of the season (Angel did it first in Buffy), his character underwent a transformation that has actually impeded his ability to do his job – he rejects the concept supernatural good guys, and The Big Guy Upstairs.

Never mind the fact that Dean himself has confronted a trickster god, and has on at least two occasions encountered Reapers – creatures who give and take life. Never mind the fact that Dean has been fighting ghosts since Season 1, Episode 1, and knows that they “go somewhere” when the ghosts die, or otherwise pass on.

Dean’s new conflict is this ridiculous, “why do bad things happen” spiel that the angel who pulled him out of Hell is (apparently) helpless to answer. There are actually a lot of reasons why the angel might not answer Dean – lots of good reasons, really – but great big flaw feels like a betrayal to his character. Dean was the believer.

I think you could argue that Dean is asking a stupid question (and it is a stupid question, it’s one that an entry-level student of theology could answer) because he isn’t really an intellectual, but that also hasn’t been a noticeable weakness before. He had lots of spirit, in an “Angst, What Angst?” sort of way, and he was the go-getter.

Obviously I don’t know how the rest of the series goes that I haven’t seen yet, but I have to say – if this is the first step in setting up for expanding the central cast, it was the wrong step. I won’t say that Supernatural has the best writing – it doesn’t – but Dean was an awesome character and this was a pretty big misstep.

Maybe it gets better from here on out, but the show has been getting harder to watch. Sam wasn’t all that engaging of a character to begin with, and he only seemed to work because he was a foil for Dean – Dean who was pretty much the strongest character. (It was honestly less a dynamic duo and more a hero-and-sidekick deal.)

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