Whenever a television show makes it beyond four of five seasons, viewers have cause to be impressed, but commonly worried as well; often a series has played out their greatest themes by then, most of the arcs have come full circle, and whatever the narrative was trying to say has been shouted at you, or possibly sung as a libretto. It’s done its thing, and now wants the three act play to become six or possibly twelve acts.
Supernatural is on its way to a ninth season. And besides finding new, improbable ways to keep their universe fresh and untested, the show also seems to have realized the key to infusing the story with new life—by allowing its main characters, who started the show at ages 22 and 26, to grow up. And what that has meant for the eldest Winchester brother, Dean, is a glorious transformation from posturing, macho alpha dog to… well, something that is no longer capable of being pared down into a caricature. It’s been an awesome ride.