As far as sci-fi series go, Supernatural breaks the mold in more ways than one. It recently became the longest running sci-fi series in television history, beating the previous record-holder Smallville. Its expansive mythology is something to be admired, combining folklore, urban legend, Christian mythos and fantasy in ways few other shows have ever managed to do. Besides that, the show has never been shy about venturing into meta-fiction and incorporating its fervent fan base into the story. Nor has the show been shy about bending the world in which the Winchesters live. Time travel, body-swapping, parallel universes, Oz—Supernatural has done it all. With that said, one has to wonder how else the iconic sci-fi show can push the envelope and manage to continue surprising, and thrilling, its fans.
Lucky for us, we’re about to find out. With its eleventh season fast approaching, fans are waiting on the edge of their seats to find out what’s going to happen next. Numerous spoilers have already leaked about what the upcoming season has in store. However, probably the most exciting spoiler to come out during the summer hiatus is the show’s plans for an episode centered around the Winchesters’ trustee 1967 Chevy Impala, Dean’s “baby” and arguably the most overlooked character in the franchise. One could say it was a long time coming; after all, besides Sam and Dean, the Impala is the only character that has been there from day one. Not only does it fit perfectly with the aesthetic of the show, but it was also the vehicle that allowed the characters to travel in and out of different horror movies every week. More than that, it has been there through the Winchesters’ ups and downs, through good times and bad. Let’s take a look at the top five ways in which the Impala has played a pivotal role in the series:
1) “They were never, in fact, homeless.”
Uprooted from their home in Kansas, the Winchester brothers were raised on the road, traveling from town to town with their hunter father. As such, their sense of stability was severely disrupted. Amidst the chaos, one thing stayed constant, besides each other: their father’s Impala. Sam and Dean grew up in that car, a fact that was highlighted in the show’s pivotal season 5 finale “Swan Song,” in which we see Sam and Dean carving their initials into the car’s dashboard. The car was their home. For that reason alone, the Impala should be given a place of honor.
2) It helped save the world
When Dean drove to Stull cemetery to confront Lucifer in Sam’s form in “Swan Song”, it seemed all hope was lost. The Winchesters’ plan to throw Lucifer back into the pit had fallen through and the final confrontation between Michael and Lucifer, which would scorch the earth, was on the horizon. However, Dean wasn’t about to let Sam die alone. Accompanied by Castiel and Bobby, Dean rushed to do whatever he could to help Sam fulfill his mission. However, the character that really tipped the scales in Team Free Will’s favor was the Winchesters’ Impala. It triggered Sam’s memories, allowing him to seize control of Lucifer and save the world.
3) It has stood witness to countless “Boy Melodrama” scenes
As everyone who watches the series knows, the Winchesters are no strangers to heartache and angst, nor are they strangers to heart-felt confessions. More often than not, these confessions occur on the roadside with the Impala at their backs. The Impala has served as their anchor, increasing the sense of intimacy of these scenes. In addition, it has served as an outlet for the boys’ emotions; fans aren’t going to forget Dean’s frenzied assault on the car after the death of their father any time soon. Regardless of the emotional turmoil that the boys are going through, however, the Impala is always there to offer them comfort.
4) It served as their link to each other
Being hunters with a divine destiny is a dangerous gig, and the Winchesters have regularly paid the ultimate price for doing their job: their lives. It’s no secret that the Winchesters have died. A lot. It’s also no secret that the Impala serves an important role in times of death in the Winchester family: providing a link to the deceased party for those left behind. When John died, the Impala served as Sam and Dean’s link to him; when Dean died, the Impala served a similar function for Sam. The same could be said when Sam died at the end of season 5, with Dean being so overcome by grief at Sam’s death that he couldn’t even drive it. All in all, when one Winchester died, it became the responsibility of those remaining topside to take care of the Winchesters’ home—and none of them have ever shied away from that responsibility.
5) It’s sheltered them from danger
Over the course of 10 seasons, the Winchesters are not the only ones who have taken multiple beatings; their Impala has as well. The Impala has been shot at, run off the road, rammed, driven into buildings and totaled so many times that it’s a wonder that the car could be salvaged at all. Often, the damage to the Impala was just as heart-breaking as the damage to the boys themselves. Moreover, the Impala has provided a shelter for the boys in some of their most dangerous moments. Probably the most poignant example of this was in the show’s season 10 finale, in which a disbelieving Sam and Dean sat frozen inside the Impala, watching the Darkness barrel toward them. As of right now, we don’t know whether the Impala was enough to fend off the Darkness for long, but we do know that the boys have a better chance of survival inside the Impala than if they had been caught out in the open.
If it’s not clear by now, the Impala is an important part of not only the Winchesters’ lives but also Supernatural itself. It’s the Winchesters’ home, their sanctuary and their saving grace. Regardless of what dangers the Winchesters are facing, the Impala is there, ready to see them through it. As such, the question fans should be asking in regard to the upcoming episode isn’t “Why are they devoting an entire episode to an inanimate object?” but rather “What took them so long?” It’s about bloody time the Impala got the recognition that it deserves, don’t you think?