The prize: ending the Apocalypse. The price: Samâ€™s life. Season 5â€™s horrific finale left Dean alone, as Sam descended into Hell. Now a different man, Dean vows to stop hunting and devote himself to building a family with Lisa and her son Ben. Then, mysteriously, Sam reappears, drawing Dean back into the old life. But Samâ€™s a different man too. Heâ€™s returned without his soul. How the Winchesters confront this greatest challenge yet to their powerful bond is the troubled heart â€“ and soul â€“ of the profound and thrilling 5-Disc, 22-Episode Season 6. As the brothers struggle to reunite, they must also battle deadly supernatural forces. Demons. Angels. Vampires. Shapeshifters. And a terrifying new foe called the Mother of All. Season six of the fantasy-horror-drama series Supernatural
continues its almost perverse streak of setting the bar at the end of each season so impossibly high that its successor could never surpass the roadblocks in its path, only to leap over them with the same amount of aplomb, wit, and complexity the program has shown throughout its network run. When audiences last saw the Winchester brothers at the end of season five, Dean (Jensen Ackles) had abandoned hunting demons in favor of family life, while Sam (Jared Padalecki) had apparently lost his battle with Lucifer in the season finale. But as season six reveals, Sam is alive and well, though missing a soul, which makes his subsequent hunts with a reluctant Dean merciless and focused on a plan not entirely understood by either man. As the brothers grapple with shape-shifting infants ("Two and a Half Men"), vampires (the unfortunately titled "Live Free or TwiHard"), leprechauns (Robert Picardo in "Clap Your Hands If You Believeâ€¦"), horror icon H.P. Lovecraft ("Let It Bleed"), and a variety of homegrown monstrosities, they discover that Sam's soul is in the possession of the demon Crowley (Mark Sheppard), who is using it to manipulate Sam into locating the souls of Purgatory, which could turn the tide of a civil war raging in Heaven towards Crowley and renegade angel Castiel (Misha Collins). The Winchesters must then stop the infernal duo's scheme before an even greater apocalypse can occur. With such high stakes and grim fates hanging in the balance, it's a wonder that Supernatural
can spare a moment for its trademark quirky humor, but such episodes as "The French Mistake," where the brothers arrive in an alternate reality where they assume the identity of Ackles and Padalecki, or the aforementioned "Two and a Half Men," display the producers' knack for combining the lighthearted with the show's trademark depth and darkness. Most impressively, the season sets up Supernatural
for a seventh go-round that promises--yet again--to top its predecessors.
Extras are again substantive and plentiful, with "Jensen Ackles: A Director's Journey" focusing on the actor's debut as helmer on "Weekend at Bobby's," perhaps the most interesting of the lot, with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew. Somewhat weightier in tone and content is "Soul Chasers: Supernatural and the Quest for the Soul," which explores the concept of the soul from religious and philosophical perspectives. Writers and executive producers Sara Gamble, Ben Edlund, and Bob Singer are featured on commentary tracks for "Clap Your Hands" and "The French Mistake," while the latter is covered in collections of alternate takes and outtakes and a stand-alone blooper reel. Two episodes of Warner Bros. Japan's Supernatural: The Anime series, both featuring Padalecki and Ackles as the voices of Sam and Dean, bring the set to a satisfying conclusion. --Paul Gaita