Among Supernatural fans, there's a lot of talk about the changes in narrative and style that the series has undergone over the years, and many show greater appreciation (in my view, exaggerated appreciation) for the first five seasons compared to the rest of the series. There is very little recognition of what has improved or (which is the subject of this thread) what has remained unchanged in Supernatural: its ethical-philosophical theme.
For purposes of clarity, this essay is divided into four parts: 1 is about the meaning or philosophy behind Supernatural. In 2 I will apply to the case of Amy Pond the arguments developed in 1. The case of Amy Pond is interesting for two reasons: first because it still arouses intense feelings on the part of long-term fans, who still resent with the end she had; and second because what happened to her is, on a smaller scale, the same thing that happened to Chuck throughout the series. 3 is about Chuck; I will try to defend the changes he went through at the hands of the writers. And 4, the last one, is about Jack.
Everything that happened in the series was built on the groundwork of a single ideological foundation: the defense of humanity and its freedom against the threats of the supernatural. The organizing principle of the series, that which decided the course of all events in it, giving unity to everything that happened in Supernatural from the Kripke era until this Thursday's episode, is not, therefore, the notion of good or justice, but that of humanity and freedom. This is proven even in the name that the group of heroes gave themselves at one point in the series: not Justice League or something like that, as is usually the case in hero series, but Team Free Will.
And, in fact, the threat to human freedom does not come only from beings like demons, who in the series embody evil, the will to of inflict pain in its purest form. Nor does it come only from vampires or werewolves, who, in my view, are not even evil, but do inevitably pose a certain risk to human life by reasons of instinct and feeling of hunger. The threat also comes from beings motivated by a feeling of good, of moral mission, by supernatural entities that try to change the course of human life for philanthropic reasons - to establish paradise on Earth, for example, or to protect the natural order.
That's why the angels, despite being the the antithesis to demons, ended up occupying a certain category of villain of their own already in seasons 4 and 5. And that doesn't just apply to rogue angels, like Uriel, who secretly worked on behalf of Lucifer, but also to mainstream angels like Michael and his supporters, such as Zachariah, who wanted to provoke the apocalypse "for the greatest good of humanity", as they thought.
Other entities with good intentions but with interventionist instincts - for example, Godstiel, who healed the blind and exterminated the Ku Klux Klan; or Billie, who wanted only the inexorable imposition of the natural order - were also exposed, ultimately, as villains in the course of events.
On the other hand, all supernatural entities that escape the villainous label can be placed in two related categories: those that do not have or that renounce the homicidal instincts natural to their species (for example, Garth and Benny); and those who leave behind their intention to meddle in human life and begin to appreciate humanity as it is, intervening as little as possible in human affairs, or intervening only to defend mankind against non-human threats: for example, Castiel; Chuck before season 14; Amara after season 11; Rowena as Queen of Hell; Jack; and maybe also the Original Death, at least most of the time.
Notice that, except perhaps for Castiel, all entities of the second category had at their disposal enough power to influence human history, including for "good", to defend order and justice. What distinguishes them as nonvillains, however, is, among other things, the fact that they have no intention of doing so, that they want to leave human life as it is. That's what the crossroads demon Zack said of Rowena: 'Uh, Rowena has a hard "people will end up where they belong" philosophy.' And Jack made it clear in the last episode that this is the path he will follow as a new God. He will not do “the Good” - he will let people try to govern themselves and hope for the best.
When the Shadow revealed to Sam Billie's secret plan - to replace God and impose the natural order without ever making exceptions - I saw on Reddit and Twitter that many fans liked the idea. Some also expressed disappointment at the fact that Billie ended up being exposed as a villain, because among other reasons she is played by a woman of color. On Twitter especially, they celebrated the double fact that one of the most powerful entities in the universe now took on the figure of a black woman and that she could come to replace God if the Winchesters followed her designs. In the series, however, following the orders of the supernatural is almost always a bad idea: it is something that ultimately ends, either worsening human existence, or killing the brothers. That is why the Winchesters rebelled against so many “good plans” besides Billie's: Michael's apocalypse; Metatron's hell trials; Death's idea of killing Sam and then sending Dean to another planet with the mark of Cain; and, finally, the story composed by Chuck. In all of these cases, they were manifesting the spirit of the series, that of asserting human freedom against the tyranny of more powerful entities.
When this fact is borne in mind - that Supernatural is about human freedom and not universal good or fairness - it is possible to explain some of its most controversial moments as well: for example, the murder of Amy Pond at the hands of Dean and the course that God took as a character.
2. On Amy Pond:
For those who don't remember, Amy Pond is a one-episode character in season 7, a kitsune who, as a teenager, used to be friends with Sam and saved him from being murdered by her own mother. She reappears years later, with a sick child that she needs to temporarily feed with human flesh for him to recover. Amy, however, does not choose her victims at random: she only attacks men involved in violent crimes. Sam stops her in her tracks before she can make a new victim, but after she explains her situation, he lets her go. Later, however, Dean prepares an ambush against Amy and kills her without Sam's knowledge.
Many fans (including me) received this episode with some bitterness, first because Amy was not a bad person, and second because what she did is not even unthinkable in the universe of the series. The two brothers had already done, and would later do, horrendous things, especially when they are under some influence of the supernatural: for example, Sam when he drank demon blood and when he lost his spirit; and Dean when he was under the influence of the mark of of Cain.
Dean himself has a tendency to put his family's interests (especially Sam's life) above everything else in the whole world. He should therefore have had more empathy for Amy. He never would have let Sam die even when he behaved like a monster. Why didn't Amy have that same right, to defend her family's life? For fans, that was not fair - and I agree with them.
However, what Amy was doing goes against the organizing principle of the series: she was sacrificing human lives for the sake of a non-human, which is a violation of man's freedom from encroachments of the supernatural. When Amy met Sam, she embodied the ideal of a good monster in the series, defending a human being from another monster - from her own mother! As an adult, however, she turned into the opposite, at least from the philosophical perspective of the series.
That is why it is also not possible to force a very close analogy between Amy Pond and Benny, as Sam and some of the fans did: because, during Benny's stay after his return from Purgatory, he did not try to hurt any human being - with the exception of Martin, who wanted to kill Benny for things he didn't do, endangering his human great-granddaughter in the process.
3. On Chuck:
Chuck went through the same change as Amy, but in an even more radical way: in the beginning, he was the Platonic Form of a good supernatural entity, as demonstrated by the way he justified to Dean his absence from human affairs - with an eloquent defense of man's free will against the yoke of all-powerful beings like himself.
In the end, however, he revealed himself to be the exact opposite of what he had appeared to be: he had been writing the history of mankind all along, and, in particular, that of the Winchesters, down to their crushes and love affairs!
This change, however, was not planned willingly by the writers, as most of us know. The original plan for season 11 was for Chuck to sacrifice himself to take down the Darkness and rid the universe of her nihilistic impulses. With his death and Amara's, the universe, which had already lost Death at the end of season 10, would have been freed from the presence of all-powerful entities, leaving it, for better or worse, a place of more equality, where the risks posed to human freedom would be smaller than they had ever been in the past. The writers' original plan, therefore, was not for Chuck to betray his words; it was that he fulfilled them in its most literal and extreme sense, which included his death and that of his sister.
All of this went down the drain, because the studio that produced the series did not want something like "the death of God" to be filmed. Since season 11 was not to be the last, writers were not at liberty to do what they wanted. They had to obey the studio's plans for Supernatural to be renewed. Thus, God and the Darkness survived the season finale and, as the plan to rid the universe of cosmic beings came to nothing in the end, Death was brought back in the form of Billie, and the Empty became a person rather than a literal empty.
My impression is that the writers of the last seasons did not want to abandon the view of season 11. Therefore, the tension exposed this season - how to protect human existence and freedom from the whim of cosmic beings - remained to be resolved later.
The writers of the last seasons could solve it as the writers of season 11 initially planned, making God face a greater threat than himself and sacrifice himself heroically in the end. I think that's what the fans of Season 11 Chuck would have preferred. Supernatural, however, is not a historical documentary - it is art, and the artist has to follow certain commandments for his final product to succeed. One of these commandments is to not bore the audience and, therefore, not to repeat himself ad nauseam in the course of his work. As the season 11 plan, to make God leave as a hero in an act of self-sacrifice, was ultimately vetoed, the writers had to find another solution to fulfill the meaning of the series, and so they took the risk of repackaging Chuck as a villain from whom the Winchesters should protect the human race.
The revelation of the season 14 finale came to us as a shock. But it was not as desperate or arbitrary as some of us think. It must have started to spring up in the writers' minds since they started to think of the character of Jack, who, already as a fetus, in season 12, gave his mother and Castiel visions of a better world that he promised to fulfill. In order for Jack to reform human existence, however, it was necessary for him to ascend to its helm and, therefore, to take God's throne from him. So it is more likely that a confrontation between him and Chuck was, not the result of a brainstorming session for the season 14 finale, but something that the writers had been planning for years. For Jack to be a true improver of humanity, however, it was necessary, in order to be consistent with the meaning of Supernatural, that he be a defender of human freedom, and that the one he was taking down represented his opposite, a threat to human free will from the very beginning, or at least less, from the moment when Jack, still inside Kelly's womb, realized that humanity was in need of liberation.
4. On Jack:
With Jack's victory, the vision of season 11, that of a universe without supreme beings with the power to intervene in the destiny of humanity, was fulfilled - more or less. Chuck lost his powers to Jack, and Amara was assimilated into him (thus fulfilling her desire to spend more time with her great-nephew). Death was killed a third time and, even if another one emerges, Jack, who contains within himself the power of two cosmic entities and the two greatest archangels, will be far superior to him or her. The Shadow does not pose a threat because it doesn't care about anything but sleep and, in any case, it doesn't have the power to invade Earth, especially now that it has a more powerful guardian than Chuck had ever been.
The only exception to this is Jack himself, who is now the most powerful single entity in history. But there are two things we have to take into account: first, we know that he is committed to the preservation of human freedom. Those visions he showed Kelly and Castiel, of a paradise on Earth, were not of a literal paradise, but of ungoverned human freedom.
And second, Jack also differs from all previous cosmic entities in a more fundamental sense: unlike them, he, as a Nephilim, is part of the human race. His apotheosis, therefore, implies, at least on a symbolic level, the elevation of all humanity as the most powerful entity in the universe. While season 11, in its initial draft, planned to defend human autonomy by eliminating all cosmic entities, season 15 fulfilled that same purpose by elevating a human being to the position of the greatest entity of all.
In my view, Jack's humanity makes all the difference. This Thursday's episode I didn't see live (I have since watched it), but, as usual, I followed what was going on in the live thread of this /r/Supernatural. I remember seeing someone inform, after Michael was introduced to the episode, that Adam had died. When I read this, I felt immediately that Michael was going to turn against the Winchesters, because Adam (whom he liked) was the only link he had with humanity. Unlike most angels, he came to develop a relationship with his vessel, and the affection that he came to have for Adam represented the potential he possessed to become a defender of humanity (perhaps similar, more or less, with the love that Castiel had for Dean, from which, as Castiel himself explained, his love for humanity later blossomed). The decision to remove Adam from the scene was a way for the writers to anticipate what Michael was about to do.
Jack, however, has a more fundamental relationship with humanity - he doesn’t merely love a human or occupy a human vessel. On the contrary, humanity is part of his essence. His relationship with humanity is something that cannot be broken, especially now: Jack is so powerful that no one can steal away his human soul anymore. And, if that wasn't enough, as Jack himself recalled, he was raised by the Winchesters, who are the quintessential embodiment of human freedom - or "human disorder", as Billie put it more tendentiously.
Until not too long ago, I was of the same opinion as most fans here: that Supernatural has undergone so many changes over these 15 years, that it is no longer possible to recognize it when comparing the beginning with the end. Now that all these thoughts came to me, thoughts that only started to spring up in my mind after the return from the covid hiatus, I think, on the contrary, that the series has been of an amazing consistency all this time. The changes that have taken place are more aesthetic or superficial: new species have been introduced, perhaps a more politicized, feminist edge may have been detected. But in its essence, in its deepest meaning - as an unapologetic glorification of humanity - Supernatural remained the same from beginning to end.