In lieu of writing a review, I’m going to rank the winter finales. I find when I don’t have good things to say, it’s best to say very little. Here’s my very little: Castiel and Claire = boring; Crowley and Rowena = boring; Sam and Dean moments too few; still good.
Wish the MoC had been seeded better from Ask Jeeves to here, but I have been terribly spoiled by Person of Interest’s far superior writing and their ability to seed upcoming events so far in advance and with such attention that when the “event” arrives, we’re ready, waiting, and excited. While I enjoyed a positive John Winchester story, it made little sense. First off, where in Dean’s teenage years does this fit? Nowhere. Secondly, no way Dean, the Dean we know, ever told Dad off; however, finally something fond from both Sam and Dean about John.
Now, while I realize Cas’s and Crowley’s journeys are both in their fledgling states, sad to say I find them beyond boring at this moment. Hopefully they’ll get better, but if not, hey, I watch for Sam and Dean, I can dismiss the rest.
So, with my ‘review’ of the episode now out of the way, let’s spend some time on all of the show’s past winter finales and see where The Things We Left Behind fits.
What should a winter finale achieve? I think it’s simple: answer some questions, open up new ones, move storylines ahead, give us a big moment that leaves us breathless for the next episode.
Our past breathless moments range from interesting to mind blowing. Aslyum’s was pretty tame, while Croatoan was pretty intriguing. Sam regaining his soul was overdone for me, as I truly despised the entire storyline leading up to it and knew that what was to come was going to be equally as bad, or worse. Sam gone with Gadreel in control and Kevin dead no doubt left some breathless, but I never cared for Kevin, and was glad when he was gone, and I also disliked the angel possession storyline, so again, I didn’t find those interesting. Demon Dean returning, and knowing that the brothers are together working to rid Dean of the Mark is pretty cool, so Season 10 ranks well, so as far as excitement goes, I’m pretty excited for the demon Dean storyline. So in that respect, this episode ranks well in the winter finale category.
Did it answer questions? No. “Heaven and Hell” filled in the blanks for Dean’s time in hell. “Abandon All Hope” concluded Ellen and Jo’s story, and revealed that the Colt is useless against Lucifer, “Appointment in Samarra” returned Sam’s soul, Kevin died and Gadreel went rogue, finally leaving Dean no choice but to reveal his existence in “Holy Terror”, so “The Things We Left Behind” didn’t answer any questions – other than to have Amelia, the loving mother we met in “The Rapture”, decide to abandon her daughter and go “find herself.” Um, no. It does not rank well here.
How about moving the story forward, did “The Things We Left Behind” move the story forward? Yes, in the last 30 seconds. Did it do its job as well as say Season 5’s “Abandon All Hope”? Nope. That entire episode flowed as Bobby, Ellen, Jo, Sam, Dean, and Castiel all teamed up, for the first and only time, to try to stop Lucifer. Enter Crowley with the Colt, Meg with hell hounds and a devastating loss that still emotionally crushes me to this day and “Abandon All Hope” sets the standard for winter finales, to which “The Things We Left Behind” falters and faints beside. Same goes for Croatoan which begged a number of questions – most were not that well answered later on but that’s not the fault of this episode, and directly tied into the season’s overall mytharc: Sam and the special kids. Also, Croatoan had some fabulous brother moments and a scene I’ll still rewind and rewatch with Dean and the Sarge squaring off in the street with their guns. Great scene.
How does The Things We Left Behind stand up against Asylum, a straight up monster of the week episode? In some ways better, in other ways not. First off, Asylum had supernatural as part of it, the haunting at the asylum. This had supernatural elements tagged everywhere with an angel, a demon, and a human dealing with a supernatural mark on his arm, and the personal elements are everywhere, something I do adore, but they were disconnected and as I stated above, two out of three bored me and the third, which I did like, was too little.
On the other hand, Seasons 6, 7, 8, and 9 all are lumped together for me in the negative category. I’m glad that some of those episodes finally dealt with storylines that had languished far beyond their due date, but the death of Bobby was criminal and the brothers split up because of Benny and Amelia was overly dramatic – in the soap sudsy bad way. Those four seasons fall to the bottom of any ranking for me, and they tie for which is worst.
What of Season 3’s A Very Supernatural Christmas? Well, that episode just isn’t a winter finale, but it ranks up there with my top ten all-time favorite episodes. It was not constructed to be a winter finale, and it didn’t serve as a winter finale, other than through timing. The writers’ strike had so much influence on Season 3 that much of that season is an anomaly in that manner. So, for the purpose of this article, there are only nine episodes to rank, as Season 3 gets a pass.
So, just where does Season 10’s winter finale rank?
Well, the bottom tier is all full with Seasons 6 through 9.
Things get a little tougher from there. I guess to make a decision I’ll put “Asylum” as fifth ranked, which leaves “Croatoan”, “Heaven and Hell”, “Abandon All Hope”, and “The Things We Left Behind” as the final four. So, how do I rank them? Well, for episodes I’ll watch again and again, “Abandon All Hope” and “Croataon” are the top two, and depending on if I want to weep over Ellen and Jo’s death, or enjoy the brother moments that are scattered throughout Croatoan, then they’ll swap spots in Number 1 and/or 2. When it comes to distinct moments that I enjoy, such as Dean telling Sam about hell or Dean and Sam watching the Stooges or drinking whiskey or the final scene, or Dean and Cas talking in the restaurant, then “Heaven and Hell” and “The Things We Left Behind” will swap spots as Numbers 3 and 4.
For me, the most important part about an episode is the whole episode. When it comes down to it, the whole is more important than the part. I enjoyed parts of The Things We Left Behind, but not enough to watch it again.
If you feel like it, feel free to rank your own finales, and/or feel free to explain why you enjoyed this better than I did. Sometimes hearing another’s point of view changes how I view things, so feel free to expound on the positives. J
Until next time, thanks for reading, Elle2