It is now three weeks since the Supernatural series finale "Carry On" aired. If you read my "Threads" review of the finale, you know that I think it is a masterpiece of artistic narration. Everyone involved with its creation deserves to be immensely proud of their heartfelt gift to the SPNFamily. Predictably, with so much at stake delivered with such intense, emotional power, we are all now experiencing the fallout of that ending. I know I’m reeling from its impact. What is unexpected, though, is what fans are feeling.
From numerous conversations with friends, and weeks of seeing/hearing what’s been happening online, it’s safe to say that many (most?) in the fandom are struggling to process how they feel after seeing the last (at least for now) Supernatural episode in the series. I count myself among those who were deeply disappointed in how Supernatural ended, but even the fans who loved the show’s final chapter are finding if difficult to cope with it ending. However you feel about "Carry On", the creative team put immense effort into concluding a saga as epic as Supernatural, and the cast (Jared, Jensen and earlier, Misha) opened themselves to bare raw emotions during their final scenes. If we want to respect their, and our, emotional investments in this 15 year journey we've been on together, we need to genuinely admit and process the feelings generated by Supernatural's finale – and it generated a lot of feelings. We were all very passionate about the show so it makes sense that we miss it, but this emotional whiplash goes way beyond anything I (and others) expected.
The way I see it, we are all dealing with multiple triggers at once. First, we have to come to terms with the loss of something that was a big part of our lives. Secondly, every one of us had a different reaction to how the show ended, and that’s adding to our emotional payload. Thirdly, the community to which we’ve belonged is evolving. The media surrounding the show is moving on, relationships are shifting and our place in that community is inevitably changing. Lastly, all this change is taking place within the context of human emotions, so we’re all dealing with each other, experiencing both the treasured support and ugly contention that entails.
So… fans who loved the ending keep trying to convince fans who didn’t that they’re wrong. Fans who hated the ending keep trying to convince fans who loved it that they’re wrong. Why is it a competition? Why does our interpretation of the ending need validation from others? We all want our view to be the right view, the majority view, so that our opinion and feelings are vindicated. Some fans are lashing out rather than feeling alone. Some are being driven into the shadows to avoid becoming a target. Still others are keeping to themselves because their emotions are personal, or confusing, or sad, or whatever they’re feeling. But there isn't one right answer, so rage or fear, cruelty or hurt is being piled on top of our loss. It’s isolating us all at a time when we should be supporting each other more than ever.
So I asked The WFB writers (official team and guests) if they would try to put into words how they’re feeling. Words is what we do, so could we all stop, reflect, acknowledge what we’re feeling, then try to express those feelings so that other might recognize themselves in our words? Maybe hearing that others are experiencing similar reactions will give us all some comfort. We are not trying to add to the tally of one side or the other in the finale debate, but rather share that there is commonality in our diversity. We’re all feeling something different, and that’s okay. We’re in this together.
In most cases, I’m withholding the names associated with each personal reflection. I’m hoping anonymity helps you see yourself in the description of the feelings rather than identifying with favorite writers or character biases. Some writers chose to identify themselves, though, and that’s okay too.
There is a wide spectrum of reactions represented here, but recognize that we are just a few people. Maybe you see yourself in pieces of several of us combined, or maybe you don’t see yourself here at all. The point is that none of us are experiencing the same things, but we’re all experiencing something. We’re processing the best we can.
Own your feelings. They’re honest and real, but also respect that everyone else’s are just as real. It’s one of the things Sam, Dean and Castiel learned to do over the past 15 years, and it can be one more thing Supernatural helps us to do, too. Don't read this if you think it might add to your spiral, but give it a shot if it would help you sense that you are not alone. Because You. Are. Not. Alone.
Will writing about it help? Will writing MORE about it help? Something's gotta help. I have had an easier time dealing with the deaths of REAL PEOPLE than Dean's death. Dean's. Death. I can barely admit that that's what I watched two weeks ago. That finale was beautiful and gut-wrenching. I could feel the love that everyone involved poured into that episode. Yet I am still crying, still waking up thinking about Dean being dead and Sam being alone. I am so sad.
Part of this feeling is sadness over the end of the show and that would be here even if I had gotten the ending I wanted. I did not get the ending I wanted. I got the one I specifically did NOT want above all other possible endings - Sam and Dean separated. The heaven scenes saved me from compete despair. Andrew Dabb wrote an amazing episode that ripped Sam and Dean apart AND kept them together for eternity - that's an incredible feat - but it just HURTS. Watching Dean die and Sam grieve for decades has kept my brain screaming "It's not fair!!! Dean deserved so much better and Sam deserved to KEEP his brother!!!! After all they went through and all they sacrificed for so many!!! NO NO NO!!!!" Don't you dare take this opportunity to remind me that "it's not fair" has been one of THE most consistent themes of this show throughout. I know that. But...just....NOT DEAN! Death is not allowed to claim Dean.
This episode also managed to hit on some very primal fears for mine, chief among them being the idea that on any 'ole normal work day (and it WAS a normal work day for the Winchesters), someone you love can suddenly be gone forever. They are there your entire life, they are essential, and now they are just gone. Like being killed in a car accident on the way home from the store on some otherwise-perfect day. If you are the one left behind, like Sam, your entire world has changed in an instant and there is not a single thing you could have done to prevent it. In a situation like that, you have absolutely NO control over something so essential to your own life and to your own happiness. That is completely terrifying. It also hit on an even older long-held, bizarre fear of mine...from Dean's perspective, KNOWING you are about to die and knowing you suddenly have only minutes to tell someone you love everything you most need to say to them. (In this Covid era, it's so much worse that many cannot even have THAT.) Since I was a teenager, I have been haunted by stories of people pinned in a car crash or industrial accident where everyone knows that once they free them from the wreckage, blood loss will kill them. They are alive, but will be dead as soon as whatever is pinning them is moved. It is one of my longest-held fears that I would be the one about to die OR that I would be the one racing to the scene, trying desperately to get there in time to hear those last words. And THERE IT WAS - both sides of that deep-seated fear, playing out right in front of me with the two characters I love most in the world (who may as well be real people to me after fifteen years).
And now I'm dealing with something that has brought me joy for fifteen years morphing the thing that is making me cry daily. Like the death of an actual essential friend. How can this thing I need, this thing I have used as a way of coping, as an escape for all these years, now be the thing I need an escape FROM? I do not have a clue how to do this.
The night of the finale I actually dreamed that my best friends were dead and I was alone like Sam. I dreamed I was looking at them, lying dead in coffins. It was so vivid, I was incredibly relieved to wake up, shaken, but so glad it was only a horrible dream. The finale REALLY got to me, people!
I knew the end was coming for over a year. I even told myself to be happy that these men we were so lucky to have for fifteen years were going to finally be able to be home more. To be fathers and husbands in a way that was actually fair to their families. I still think that. But when the price of that is losing something I love so much, I’m terribly, selfishly less enthusiastic.
I am trying to do things to make myself feel better. I can’t say they’ll work for anyone else. I don’t even know if they’ll work for me. I feel like I'm flailing around for ANYTHING and at times like this I'm glad I'm not inclined towards drugs or heavy drinking. Though some drinking has helped.
I walk outside every morning, for at least an hour, to clear my head. Even if it’s really cold out. I used to listen to classic rock while I walked but right now it can't be that, so it has to be podcasts - still Supernatural-adjacent. Rob and Rich's Kings of Con (the Podcast) or this week’s Michael Rosenbaum's Inside of You podcast interviewing Tim Omundson.
I started a rewatch - just one episode once a week on Thursdays. I was afraid to do it but my spouse, who has suffered through fifteen years of my obsession, said she wanted to watch it with me from the beginning and I was too surprised and too touched to say no. As I watched the "Pilot" for the first time in many years, I fell in love with 20-something Sam and Dean immediately, all over again, and the fact that I only thought about Dean dying 50 times instead of 1000 seemed like a win. They were magic right from the start. I could not NOT love them.
I am trying to pursue my own (probably financially ill-advised) Supernatural project to share in January. I don’t care if I’m too late or end up being the only one interested - I’m doing it anyway because I love this family of fans and still want to have a Supernatural project to look forward to.
I very reluctantly read a trusted friend’s fan fic about what life was like for Sam between Dean’s death and his own. I'll link it here but please read the tags/warning. I don't expect anyone else to want to read about how Sam got by until he joined Dean in heaven - I didn't even know if I wanted to, but I found this reassuring and realistic.
Mostly I’ve talking to anyone who will listen in the SPNFamily - very close friends - strangers online - anyone.
I mailed some gifts to fans in the U.S. (Illinois, Georgia, and Texas) as well as several that went overseas to Portugal, Ireland, and South Africa; people who were strangers to me and doing that reminded me that we are everywhere - all over the world - and we are loving this same thing together with equal intensity. We truly are not alone even though it sure as hell feels that way when I am lying awake at 3:00 in the morning crying over the finale, then trying to fall asleep so I can spend the next day at work attempting to somehow NOT think about Dean dying and Sam being alone. (Whoa - when I typed that, after I typed "Dean" the next suggested word by my device was “driving” not “dying”. That’s hopeful. Maybe it’s a sign. I’ll take anything right now!). FYI I have not yet succeeded in NOT thinking about Dean dying while at work. That finale hit me so hard I wonder if I need some professional help sometimes. But I'm trying to lean on my SPNFamily instead; on those who understand how painful it is for some of us to go through this loss. I am here for others to lean on me too. I truly hope that, eventually, the love for this beautiful thing that was created and nurtured is what will remain. Until then, I'll be DM-ing my Supernatural friends at 3:00 am for the foreseeable future.