It’s been a weird season of Supernatural. Since the beginning of the series, it excelled at taking us all on this great mythological ride. But whereas past seasons found a way to make every episode relevant to the larger story arcs (even the humorous episodes chock full of campy goodness), this season’s main plot seemed to hobble with a limp leg toward resolution. Don’t get me wrong: Each episode was good for what it was meant to be, but some were so lacking in purpose that a few felt like they could have been absorbed by other episodes, which was frustrating as a viewer. Forgivable (because the show is just that fun), but a little frustrating. But last night’s episode sent every minuscule gripe and grievance straight to hell where they belong. In the end, they made it all work and brought me to tears several times in the process. With little regard for the emotional health of their audience, here’s how they did it. Cue “Carry On Wayward Son.”
We opened with Chuck the prophet sitting at his keyboard, hard at work on one of his novels and narrating the history of the beloved Impala. Seemingly random, yes, but like with most things having to do with Chuck, there’s so much more to it. We returned to the Impala history and Chuck’s narration throughout the episode, and I could have listened forever. From Sam’s army men being stuck in the ashtray to Dean shoving Legos in the vents as a kid to the story about the boys driving a thousand miles to catch an Ozzy show, these are the nuggets that have brought these characters to life over the course of the show. And the tiny nods to past episodes in Chuck’s commentary (like Dean convincing his father to buy the Impala) felt like little rewards for tuning in for five seasons. A thank you from the writers and our departing Kripke, if you will. P.S.: You’re welcome.
As expected, Dean hopped on board with his overgrown brother’s plan to say yes to Lucifer and (if necessary) sacrifice himself to put Lucifer back in his cage. There was kind of no choice, both in terms of the boy’s options and in terms of closure for Sam. As he said, “I let him out, I have to put him back in.” So to Detroit they headed, with jugs of demon blood in tow, despite Dean’s (and our) “bad feeling” about it.
Tears part one: On the way, Sam took rare moment of peace (save Castiel’s snoring; “What a little angel”) to have a heart-to-heart with Dean, making him promise not to try to bring him back if he ended up having to jump into Lucifer’s cage. Dean as expected scoffed at the idea of abandoning his brother, but Sam quickly revealed his hopes for Dean. “Go find Lisa, pray she’s dumb enough to take you in, go to barbecues and football games. You go live some normal, apple pie life, Dean.” We later learned Dean promised he would.
But it wasn’t just weepy moment after weepy moment last night because it wouldn’t be a finale if we didn’t have a few moments of pure terror, like when Lucifer!Sam spoke for the first time. “I was just messing with you,” he told Dean in a frighteningly apathetic voice. “Sammy’s long gone.” Or when we saw Sam covered in blood after his demon feast, with his mangled prom date at his side. Ugh.
Of course it all culminated with a battle between Lucifer!Sam and Michael!Adam. And Dean being Dean, he crashed the party, which neither of the aforementioned reacted very well to. L!S particularly didn’t appreciate when Castiel holy fired M!A, so he blew him up, complete with flying red matter. Tears part 2. To top off the horror, Lucifer snapped Bobby’s neck with a flick of his wrist. Looking back, because Bobby (or Yoda…?) had “just gotten back to eye level,” it wasn’t likely the show would just kill him off, but then again, this is SPN we’re talking about. They’ve killed the main characters several times. So in the moment, I thought Bobby to be dead, which led to tears part 3.
The next part was possibly one of my favorite scenes of Supernatural ever. Still in Lucifer’s control, Sam gave Dean and epic and gruesome beat down. Dean just sat there and took the abuse, convinced Sam would bubble to the surface and regain control. He did; but only after spotting the previously referenced ash tray army man in the back of the Impala. It was the trigger. Seeing the toy set off a series of memories for Sam, dating back to the very first episode, and they were all shown in a quick, moody montage. Tears part 4. Back in control, Sam opened the cage and before Michael could convince him otherwise and jumped in, clutching his nemesis.
Luckily, both Bobby and Cas were brought back after Sam jumped into Lucifer’s cage, and Cas healed Dean’s disgusting bloody face. We closed learning Cas had his angel powers back and possibly new responsibilities in heaven. Dean and Bobby parted ways, with Chuck telling us that it is the last they’ll see each other “for a very long time.” True to his word, Dean went to Lisa’s, and she welcomed him with open arms. Tears part…oh, whatever. I just cried a lot, okay? Especially when Dean asked Lisa in an uncharacteristically vulnerable voice if it was too late to take her up on her beer offer. Chuck’s (and Kripke’s?) final thoughts sum up the episode best: “No doubt, endings are hard. But then again, nothing ever really ends does it?”
I can only hope that as Sera Gamble steers the ship next season as well as Kripke has. But after last night, I see the transition as less of a handing over of the reigns and more of clean slate for her to build upon. All in all, last night was a worthy pay off for our five-year investment. Yes, there will always be minor flaws and criticisms for every season (and season ender for that matter), but much like the Impala, it’s really the blemishes that make Supernatural beautiful.
So what did you think of the episode, PopWatchers? What the hell is Sam? What’s next? Why is Kripke so cruel? And will this pain ever go away?! Ok, I strike the last two questions from the record on a claim of insanity. But nonetheless, wow. Say it with me: wow.