November 19, 2020
“Endings are hard. Endings are impossible. But then again … nothing ever really ends, does it?”
The end doesn’t begin with Kansas, which is odd and jarring, but don’t worry. It will show up later as the musical version of a FINISH HIM move from Mortal Kombat. Instead, Dean’s alarm clock rings and Van Morrison’s “Ordinary Life” takes us into the boys’ day. Dean stretches and groans himself awake … and then Miracle the dog comes bounding into the room. Yay! Miracle! Dean finally gets a dog! And his dog gets a big, loving good morning cuddle.
Sam is already up and out for his morning jog. He pauses at an overlook to enjoy the view of the lake and all the people just living their lives.
Dean wanders into the kitchen where Sam has bacon and (too dry) eggs cooking on the stove. The toast pops up and Sam warns that it’s hot. I imagine Sam says this every morning, and every morning Dean grabs a slice and bobbles it in the air while yelping “HOT bread!”
Because this is the rhythm of their lives now. This is the story they’re writing.
Ablutions after breakfast and let’s just pause and say thank you to Jared Padalecki and his trainer for this:
Beds are made (-ish, in Dean’s case). Dishes washed (with an assist by Miracle). Laundry done (with a kick to the balky machine by Sam). Weapons cleaned. 10:00 am and it’s time to call the internet. The boys sit facing each other in the library. Sam reports all quiet. Dean stares intently at his screen.
He’s got something.
They arrive in Akron, Ohio, and survey the scene. Sam asks Dean if he’s ready for this. Dean’s expression is determined. Resolute. He says he doesn’t have a choice.
“This is my destiny.”
The boys have arrived at the 43rd annual Akron Pie Fest.
Dean finally gets pie. HE’S NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING.
Sam takes a seat on a bench. A family walks by—the two kids are each carrying a balloon. It immediately took me back to Season 2 and “Everybody Loves a Clown” and I wondered if Dean was about to thwarted—AGAIN.
Dean walks over carrying a sheet cake sized box. Inside are six slices of pie—what looks like pumpkin, cherry, and at least two different kinds of apple. For the record, lemon chess is the finest variety of pie and that is a hill I will die on. Dean nearly collides with a passerby and it’s his glared look of, ‘HEY, RESPECT THE PIE’, that makes it poetry.
He sits down next to Sam and notes his “Sad Sam” face. Sam reluctantly admits that he’s thinking about Cas and Jack … if they could be there. Dean agrees and says he thinks about them, too. And that the pain isn’t going to go away.
“But if we don’t keep living, then all that sacrifice is going to be for nothing.”
FORESHADOWING! Also, that’s it? That’s all Dean has to say about Cas? But I’m sure it will come up later, right?
Dean elbows Sam and tells him to quit being an Eeyore. Grab a fork and get into this! Dean chuckles and grabs the (maybe) blueberry while Sam picks up the pumpkin … and smashes it into Dean’s face.
It’s the extra in the background (who turns out to be director Robert Singer) who starts laughing that made me wonder if this was improvised. According to Jared, it was in the script and he pied Jensen several times. For science. For the kids.
The plate slides off Dean’s face, leaving his nose and chin coated in creamy whipped topping. Sam laughs and says he has wanted to do that for a very long time. And you know, he does feel better now. Dean silently scrapes the whipped cream off his face and sticks the fork in this mouth.
You are a lying liar who lies if you say you weren’t imaging licking Dean’s face.
The next day, the boys do find themselves back on the job. The lead officer is surprised that the FBI is investigating home invasions now. Agents Singer and Kripke say they’re full service. The sergeant confirms that one of the victims was drained of blood. She calls it some kind of cannibal crap. The other victim survived, but had her tongue ripped out … and their two children are missing.
She shows them a sketch of a grinning death’s mask. After she walks away, the boys agree that they both recognize the face.
They repair to a second location under Kim Manners’ tree. Sam spreads out a map on Baby’s hood and Dean flips open John’s Demonic Day Planner to 1986. He says John was working a string of kidnappings along Rt. 77. He turns the book around to show Sam a witness’s sketch—the same death mask. The other details line up, too. Dean says he knows what this is.
Mimes. Evil Mimes.
Sam’s bitch face cannot. He says, yeah, it could be that—or it’s vampires.
“VAMP MIMES. Son of a bitch …”
Sam rolls his eyes and goes back to the map. He says if it is the same nest and the pattern holds, they’ll target Canton next.
The boys use John’s few notes to somehow find the exact isolated house outside of town that is home to children between the ages of 5 and 10. And then, I don’t know, they give the family the old benzene leak story to clear them out? However they do it, they’re lying in wait when the vamp mimes arrive.
Vampire of the first never sees Dean coming.
Dean takes the vamp from behind and it’s the fountain of bubbling blood as the head tumbles into the camera for me. Well played, F/X team. Well played. Vampire of the second takes two bullets soaked in dead man’s blood, one to the leg and another in the center of his forehead.
“Not a mime. Still evil though.”
Dean slaps the vamp back into awareness and circles around him as they question him … as though there’s any question who the alpha predators are. Dean explains that the vamp can be quick and tell them where the kids are, and he’ll get the machete. But if he takes his time and draws it out, he gets Sam’s blade.
The vampire seems inclined to take the “itty-bitty” blade, but oooh, poor choice. Let Sam tell you why. He says that a blade that small, he’s going to have to keep sawing and sawing to get the vamp’s head off. And he’ll feel it. Every muscle … tendon … every inch. It could take hours. It’s Sam miming the sawing motion with the blade that makes the line sing.
Oh, and if the kids are dead? Sam will use a spoon.
But the machete is quick. Clean.
“No muss, no fuss. You blink, and you’re dead.”
After taking Sam’s measure, the vampire decides machete. Machete is good. He says the kids are with the nest. They’re part of a harvest they take every few years. The vampires raise them and “juice” them. A reliable food source that helps them avoid hunters.
And so what Show is telling us, is that Jack brought the monsters back, too. Really? Dick move, kid.
A snick of the machete later and the boys arrive at an old farm. Dean feels certain that the vamp’s intel is good. “Dark. Creepy. Something out of Wes Craven’s erotic fantasy? It’s 100% the place.” He pops the trunk and they load up. Dean pulls out a small box and holds up a throwing star. Come on. One time.
It’s a no for Sam. His bitch face concurs after Dean almost wings him in the nugget with it.
Machetes it is.
The boys walk into the creepy old barn and find the two kids. Sam tells them to run and he and Dean turn to face four death mask-wearing vampires. Dean assesses the odds, nods, and says okay. Time to go to work.
Fight, fight, struggle, fight, and kudos to the stunts team and fight choreographer because this scene is really well done. Sam takes a head and then gets tackled by the vamp’s big fella. He hits the ground hard and loses his machete. BUNGIE!
Dean takes a head. Big fella knocks Sam out and turns to help press the attack on Dean. Together, the two remaining vamps pin Dean to the ground and this is where Cas or Jack or someone deus ex machinas in to turn the tide and save the day. Right? RIGHT?
A woman walks into Dean’s line of sight and she’s framed like we’re supposed to know her? Dean peers at her and realizes he does know her. Jenny is the victim turned vamp from their first vampire hunt in Season 1’s “Dead Man’s Blood”. And Jenny remembers him, too.
Dean is hauled to his feet and shoots a quick glance at Sam. He clocks movement and starts talking to buy time. He tells the other vamps that he and Jenny tried to kill each other back in the day. He says it’s like running into somebody from high school … somebody you don’t want to see. Dean tells Jenny she looks good—dead, but good. He wonders if she’s the big boss and Jenny says, no. She just called dibs.
Jenny fangs out … and promptly loses her head. Fight, fight, struggle, fight again some more. Big Fella knocks Dean back and he catches himself on a post. There’s a longish length of rebar angled out from the post. It’s in focus for only a moment, but long enough to telegraph that it’s significant. So Dean is going to back Big Fella up onto that rebar, pin him in place, quip and take his head, right? RIGHT??
They square up and charge at each other. Big Fella has the weight advantage and that gives him momentum. Momentum that carries Dean backwards and onto the rebar.
Dean knows something is wrong but he keeps his focus on Big Fella, grappling with him and trying to get purchase. Sam deals with his vamp and then finishes Big Fella. He doesn’t realize anything is wrong. He doesn’t notice how wet and ragged Dean’s breathing is. He surveys the bodies and stows his blade. Time to find the kids and get them out of there.
Dean looks down at his chest. There’s a hitch in his voice when he tries to speak. He says he doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. There’s something in his back … it feels like it’s right through him. Dean tries to point and winces from the pain. Sam is confused. Dean looks fine. He reaches around to check and Dean hisses and groans at his touch. Sam’s hand is covered in blood.
Dean sees it and shouts in pain and frustration. Sam is at a loss. He moves to get his hands up under his brother and Dean immediately waves him off. Nononononono. Don’t move him. He says the rebar feels like it’s holding him together. Dean blows out a shaky breath and tells Sam to just give him a minute. Sam reaches for his phone and says he’ll call for help, get the first aid kit. Dean calls him back.
“Sam … stay with me. Stay with me, please.”
The look on Dean’s face. Jensen is amazing and Jared is 100% his anchor. It allows Dean, in this moment of awareness, to be scared and vulnerable. Dean has so often been forced to push his feelings down for the benefit of others. So he can make them feel better. That was the role John put on him. But Dean seems to know that there’s no time now for facades.
Dean tells Sam to get the boys and get them someplace safe. Sam’s reality is getting a little fuzzy on the edges. He steps closer to Dean and gestures for emphasis. They are going to get the boys somewhere safe. Dean smiles and shakes his head.
“You knew it was always going to end like this for me. It’s supposed to end like this, right?”
Old habits are hard to break. Dean can’t help trying to make Sam feel better. To make himself feel better.
“Saving people. Hunting things. It’s what we do.”
Dean doesn’t want to go, but at least it’s with the knowledge that they saved two kids and maybe saved a few more families from the kind of loss that they went through. Sam tells him to stop. Just stop. He’s not trying to hear a goodbye. Not now. Not after everything, but Dean tells him it’s okay. It’s good. They had one hell of a ride …
Something in Sam’s face shifts. He realizes that Dean isn’t just saying goodbye, he’s letting go. So Sam does what Winchesters do and he holds on tighter. He says he’ll find a way. He’ll find another way but Dean shuts that down. He draws in a deep breath to make sure he gets all the no’s out. No bringing him back. Sam knows that always ends badly.
And honestly, who would Sam even go to? Rowena isn’t doing deals. Jack is hands off. And Death is dead.
Dean reaches out to him. He puts his hand on Sam’s shoulder and then rests it on his neck. There are a few things he needs his brother to hear. Dean smiles as he looks into Sam’s face, seeing him for the man he has become.
There he is.
I’m so proud of you, Sam. You know that? I’ve always looked up to you. Man, when we were kids, you were so damn smart. You never … you never took any of dad’s crap. I never knew how you did that. And you’re stronger than me. You always have been.
Hey, did I ever tell you … did I ever tell you that night that I came for you when you were at school? You know, when dad hadn’t come back from his hunting trip?
I must have stood outside your dorm for hours … because I didn’t … I didn’t know what you would say. I thought you’d tell me to get lost. Or get dead. And I didn’t know what I would’ve done … if I didn’t have you. Because I was so scared. I was scared …
Because when it all came down to it, it was always you and me. It’s always been you … and me.
Sam is in tears and shifts into bargaining, as though that might keep the end at bay.
“Then don’t leave me. Don’t leave me. I can’t do this alone.”
“Yes, you can.”
“Well, I don’t want to.”
Dean’s hand is resting on Sam’s chest. He balls it into a fist and presses. He says he isn’t leaving him. Dean will be with him—right here. Every day. Every day Sam is out there living and fighting …
“Because you always keep fighting.”
“I’ll be there, every step. I love you so much … my baby brother.”
Dean pauses and looks around the barn. The fear is starting to crash back in again. He says he did not think this would be the day … but it is. It is, and that’s okay. The plinky piano of “The Family Theme” picks up and SWEET JESUS, JUST LET US LIVE. Dean tells Sam he needs him to promise … he needs Sam to tell him that it’s okay.
“I need you to tell me it’s okay.”
Sam can’t do that BECAUSE IT’S NOT OKAY but it’s what Dean needs. He looks at Sam—pleading. Scared.
“I need … I need … I need you to tell me that it’s okay. You tell me it’s okay.”
Dean has been holding his left hand against his chest like he can feel the rebar through his skin. Sam places his hand on Dean’s and tells him it’s okay.
“You can go now.”
The tension drains out of Dean’s face and a smile flickers at the corners of his mouth. He captures Sam’s hand between his and leans forward as much as he can. Sam meets him and rests his forehead against Dean’s.
Dean’s right arm goes slack and falls to his side. He closes his eyes. A single man tear rolls down his cheek. He takes his last breath and then he’s gone.
DEAN’S GOING TO BE FINE THOUGH, RIGHT? WE’RE GOING TO COME BACK FROM THE COMMERCIAL AND SAM WILL FIND A WAY TO FIX IT, RIGHT? THERE’S STILL THIRTY MINUTES LEFT IN THE EPISODE. THERE’S STILL TIME.
We come back from the commercial to Sam and Miracle standing in front of a hunter’s pyre. Dire Straits’ “Brothers In Arms” begins to play and Mark Knopfler reaches into my chest, rips out my heart, and shows it to me.
So for what it’s worth, here’s my take on Dean’s death.
How does Dean Winchester, the Righteous Man, the man who has killed gods, demons, angels, monsters, Hitler, and Death—TWICE—how does he get taken out by a piece of rebar?
Because this is the job. That’s how Jensen describes it in the retrospective hour. They’re ordinary guys in extraordinary circumstances doing a job. One that they’re exceptionally good at—but even the best have a bad day. There isn’t a blaze of glory—there’s just a bad day. Shit goes sideways … only now they don’t have Chuck writing their story and putting his thumb on the scales to tip the odds. That’s the price of freedom.
And somehow, Dean dying in the most random way on an unexceptional hunt, feels oddly, perversely poetic? Because it feels real. It feels like life.
Time passes. Did Sam have a wake for Dean, or was it too much to bear? Did he call Jody and Donna and other hunters? Did he stop running errands in town because he didn’t trust himself to answer when Jackson at the liquor store or Martha at the post office asked about Dean?
The alarm goes off and Sam goes through the motions of his day. Run. Eggs. One piece of toast. He sits alone in the library with Miracle. Just sitting. He goes to Dean’s room—everything is the same like it’s waiting for him to come back. He sits on the blanket chest—but not the bed, because the memory foam still remembers Dean and always will.
Sam hears a buzzing and sorts through Dean’s desk looking for a phone. There are files on the desk, one of which is either a job application or job offer for (possibly) a construction project manager which means Dean was thinking long term about a future without hunting and that just hurts so much I can’t even think about it so we’ll just move on to the desk drawer.
Sam pulls open the drawer that’s filled with old cell phones. They’re labeled CIA, DHS, Coroner, State Patrol, and the fabled Dean’s ‘Other Other’ Phone, which shows a call from the 512 area code.
It takes Sam a long minute to answer and say, hello. The man on the other end is looking for Agent Bon Jovi. He says he’s in Austin and they’ve had a few bodies turn up without their hearts. His friend Donna Hanscum (Yay! Donna!) said Agent Bon Jovi was the guy to call. Sam chokes back his tears and says he’s on his way.
Sam packs a bag—Dean’s duffle, not his usual backpack—and heads to the door with Miracle right on his heels. He walks up the stairs and pauses on the balcony. It took Sam a while to feel like the Bunker was more than just where they worked. But now without Dean, it doesn’t feel much like home anymore. He walks out the door and turns out the lights.
So Sam is heading to Austin … where he decides to settle and start and a new life. COMING JANUARY 2021, GET READY FOR RECAPS OF WINCHESTER, TEXAS RANGER.
While Sam deals with the Austin werewolves, we cut back to the funeral pyre. Flames engulf Dean’s shrouded body. Thick black smoke billows into the air, fades, and resolves into blue sky. I wondered briefly where Dean was going to end up. A soul that’s been to Hell can’t go to Heaven. Was he going to end up spending eternity in Hell with Rowena working on a way to magic him back up topside?
Dean looks around at the lush green mountains covered in conifers, hears the bird song, and realizes where he is. Well, at least he made it to Heaven.
A familiar voice agrees. The camera pulls back to show Dean is standing next to a weathered building. Bobby Singer—OUR BOBBY—is sitting on the porch. I was managing up until this point, but this is when the sobbing began. It’s like when goddamn Vincent came out of the bamboo and laid down next to Jack.
Dean has a confused. This doesn’t seem familiar. He asks Bobby what memory is this? Bobby laughs and says it isn’t. He calls Dean an idjit. Dean is still befuddled. It must be a memory, because the last he heard, Bobby was in Heaven’s lock up—the consequences for helping Cas break into Heaven in Season 10.
Dean takes a seat next to Bobby, who explains that he was … but now he’s not, thanks to Jack. That kid of theirs made some changes. He set some things right. He tore down all the walls to make Heaven what it always should have been.
Everyone happy. Everyone together.
Bobby gestures and says Rufus (RUFUS!) lives about five miles that way with Aretha.
“Thought she’d have better taste.”
And John and Mary have a place together over yonder. Dean’s breath catches and something childlike washes over his face. Bobby says it isn’t just Heaven … it’s the Heaven Dean deserves.
“And we’ve been waiting for you.”
Bobby reaches down and opens the green Coleman cooler (COLEMAN!) that’s sitting at his feet. Dean takes the offered beer and tries to process. So Jack did all that?
“Well … Cas helped.”
Dean smiles and chuckles fondly … and that’s it.
Now, I’m fine with the focus of the finale being on the brothers. Yes, family don’t end with blood, but it started with Sam and Dean and I’m content that that’s where it ends.
Castiel has inarguably played a huge role in the show. He’s a huge part of Dean’s life. So how. How does Cas’ death get hand waved away in just a few lines, when past instances of losing his angel have devastated Dean. And on top of that, HOW does Show have Cas make a nakedly vulnerable, heartfelt declaration of love that changes how Dean sees himself and helps save the world AND NOT PROVIDE ANY RESOLUTION other than one line, Dean’s response to Chuck—“That’s not who I am.”
It’s not fair to the characters and it’s sure as shit not fair to the fans, especially to those feeling the hurt of being queerbaited AGAIN.
And so as much as I personally feel satisfied by this ending, Castiel’s absence will always rankle.
Bobby says it’s a big new world out there. Dean will see. Dean still isn’t so sure. He takes a sip of beer and reacts with happy surprise. He says it tastes like the first drink he ever shared with his dad. Bobby asks if it was quality stuff. Dean says, no. It’s crap. But the feeling it evokes is fantastic.
“It’s almost perfect.”
Bobby gently says he’ll be along. He explains that time works differently in Heaven. While he waits, Dean has everything he could ever want or need or dream. I’m going to pretend that I didn’t watch the last season of The Good Place and that the having of everything you could ever want or need or dream presents challenges of its own. I’m just going to go with it.
“So I guess the question is, what are you going to do now, Dean?”
Dean seems flummoxed by the question until he sees that Baby has appeared, nose pointed towards the road. She has her original KAZ 2Y5 plates. Peace settles over him. Dean smiles and tells Bobby he thinks he’ll go for a drive.
The camera pulls back and we see that Dean and Bobby have been sitting on the porch of Harvelle’s Roadhouse. Harvelle’s! That means that Ellen and Jo and Ash are inside! And Ellen and Mary are totally best friends who have adventures together and play pool with Sassela!
Dean walks to the car and glides his hand along her flank. He settles into the driver’s seat with a sigh of contentment.
He turns the key and revs her engine. “Carry On” blasts out of the radio and Dean beams.
“Ahh. Love this song.”
With a whoop, Dean drops the gear into drive and heads off down the road. As he drives, we see Sam’s life. He walks through the park with a tow-headed toddler. The boy has DEAN embroidered on his overalls as though we might have any doubt about who this kid is.
Sam plays catch in the backyard with an older Dean 2. Dean rarely got to throw a ball around because John wanted him to practice with the double-barrel. But Sam has found a balance to life that eluded him when he was younger and that his own father never could.
A woman stands on the porch in the background watching them. Her face is too blurry to make out her features, but that is Eileen. I don’t know what circumstances of Covid or scheduling prevented Show from bringing Shoshannah Stern back, but SAM MARRIES EILEEN AND HAS A FAMILY AND A LONG, HAPPY LIFE WITH HER AND NO ONE CAN TELL ME OTHERWISE.
A few years later on, and Sam sits in the dining room helping teen!Dean 2 with his homework. Or maybe they’re researching lore. Whatever the subject is spread out before them, Sam beams with pride at his boy. The walls and mantles of Sam and Eileen’s home are filled with family photos. John, Mary, and Dean
Cas, and Jack are still a part of their lives.
The decorating choices though are interesting. The living room is wallpapered in a large yellow and green floral pattern. There’s a smaller green and pink floral paper in the dining room. I imagine when Sam and Eileen walked in for the first time, the memories of Bobby’s house were so strong that Sam told their realtor to put a full price offer in immediately and made Eileen promise they would never take the paper down.
As happy as Sam’s life is, it’s one that co-exists with grief and absence. An older Sam walks out to the garage and pulls the cover off Baby with a flourish.
She’s still in mint condition, a sign maybe that Sam taught his son how to take care of her, the same way Dean taught him. Sam eases himself behind the wheel and I thought for a moment that he was about to take her out for one final hunt, and that’s how he went out—but it’s not.
While Sam’s hunting days are long past, the memories of that life with Dean are still vivid. His brother’s loss is still fresh—as Dean said to him at the pie festival, the pain isn’t going to go away. So he shares that pain with the only other person who might miss Dean as much as he does. Sam slowly reaches out and deliberately places his hands on the steering wheel. It’s a moment of release, when he lets the grief in and lets it wash over him, safely confined inside Baby. Baby is still home.
And y’all, not to take away from the emotion of this scene, but quick—spot the difference.
Sam’s story draws to its inevitable close. He’s an elderly man. He lays in a hospital bed set up in the living room with the yellow floral wallpaper. He’s still wearing his brother’s watch.
Dean 2, now an adult, comes and sits next to his father. The son has an anti-possession tattoo on his forearm. The fuzzy edges suggest that he’s had it for some time. We don’t know if Sam and Eileen raised Dean 2 in the life, but they must have taught him enough to be able to deal with trouble if it came looking for him. They taught him enough to keep himself and the people he loves safe.
Dean 2 takes his father’s hand. Sam smiles up at his son. Dean 2 says it’s okay …
“You can go now.”
“Carry On” begins to play again, women’s voices singing in a slower, minor key. We stay with Dean 2 and Sam and then shift to the Impala. Dean drives her onto a narrow bridge, stops and gets out. He walks over to the railing and looks out over the Heaven that Jack—and Cas—have made for him. He seems content and at peace. There’s a timpani drum roll on the song that sounds almost like the flutter of wings.
Dean realizes there’s someone behind him and breaks into a smile. He doesn’t have to turn around to know.
They’re both essentially wearing the same clothes they did in the Pilot when they stood on a different bridge arguing about hunting versus a normal life. There was tension and hurt after many years apart. Now, there’s just joy.
They stand facing each other until Dean pulls Sam into a hug. YAY! HUGGING! Dean doesn’t really let go of Sam as they break apart. He claps him on the shoulder and puts a protective hand on the back of his neck.
I’m pretty sure this is where Jared and Jensen fully break character.
The boys turn and stand against the railing. Sam and Dean contemplating a new chapter; Jared and Jensen closing one.
The camera pulls back from their view of Heaven, the screen goes black, and then Jared and Jensen offer a thank you to the fans.
Thank you, the fans. Through blood, sweat, laughter, and tears, you’ve kept us on for 15 years.
There’s no way we would have ever been here without you and your support and your love, so thank you. We will remain forever grateful for the opportunity and the honor to play these characters for so long, and we felt you guys here with us all the time. So thank you.
The camera pulls back again to show that the crew have joined Jared and Jensen on the bridge, including Executive Producer/Showrunner/Director Bob Singer, Co-Executive Producer Jim Michaels, and actor Jim Beaver. They wave to the camera and we hear Bob Singer say,
Supernatural airs in our hearts and on our DVD box sets. Follow Whitney on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.