Midseason Report Card: How Jared Padalecki is lifting ‘Supernatural’ season 9 to new heights

Sam -Typically when you have a show in its ninth season, there are going to be some instances of people complaining incessantly about this or that. There are often not a whole lot of reasons to believe that a show can really keep people engaged in a show after being on the air this long.

But “Supernatural” has really pulled off something impressive here and beaten the odds, even if it did go through a down period for a while. Seasons 6 and 7 to us were off years, but the show started to regain its magic last fall, and season 9 may be one of our favorite seasons so far since the early years. The primary story is concise and meaningful, the side stories are almost all entertaining, and having Misha Collins as a series regular again helps to give both Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles some much-needed room to breath a little bit.

The shining stars – For us, it’s all about Padalecki. He was brilliant at the end of season 8, and he’s kept that going this year by basically playing almost three separate characters. You have of course the confused Sam Winchester, Gadreel, and then “Ezekiel,” who he did a good job pretending to be for much of the first nine episodes. Every one of them had their own character, and he and the writers took this serious rather than making it into a comedy show.

Meanwhile, Misha and Jensen had some great material, but above all else we really loved the writing this season. “Slumber Party,” “Bad Boys,” and “Dog Dean Afternoon” (animal voices aside) were all pretty great standalone episodes, and then you of course had the excellent fall finale this week and “Heaven Can Wait,” a great larger-story episode from Robert Berens that had Castiel living the gas station life.

Finally, there was that Kevin shocker … and it was legitimately something we didn’t see coming. We’re going to miss the guy.

What needs work – For one, hire better voice actors for animals next time, and that would’ve turned “Dog Dean Afternoon” into a classic.  Most of the show feels now like a well-oiled machine, and “Rock and a Hard Place” is to us the only episode in the fall that felt like a letdown. It had a great first half, but then sort of just teetered off from there. The only other thing that we could say is that we would have loved to have seen more Crowley, but we know that Mark Sheppard has been a busy guy this fall with this show and his role over on “White Collar.”

Overall – A pretty awesome nine episodes that reminds us of what the show does so well in challenging our imagination and crafting that great balance of comedy and humor. This is one of the best sci-fi franchises of this generation, and the fact that the people still put in great work nine years into it’s run just shows how invested they are in the series, and to one of the best fanbases on TV. Grade: A-.

If you want to read some other entries in our Midseason Report Card series, just be sure to click here.

Photo; The CW

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