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I already knew this would be a great episode the second it started. A scene that intense is the teaser? So, dig in, for this recap could get hairy. First, let’s get the credits out of the way. The writers are Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin, who really hit a major stride here. It’s good to see them produce something so good. The director is Jeff Woolnough, who’s done plenty of other shows (most recently Bones) but is a newcomer to Supernatural. He too brought something to the table we haven’t seen before.

First, I’m really amused by the “Then” sequence because it brings light to the fact that the boys have died plenty of times. We even got to see a few of the more graphic ones. I love it. We already know from the episode description they die again, but I adore how the show decides to be playful with it. It’s about time. They also tease about the amulet too. It’s about time with that too! We’ve missed it.

Okay, “Now” -  The camera pans along an impressive collection of empty and crushed beer cans, plus an empty liquor bottle, all littering this retro motel room. Dean is passed out on the bed in clothes and man what I would give to see that bender.   As the shot pulls away from Dean there’s a shotgun barrel pointed at him. He wakes up and reaches under the pillow, but doesn’t find what he’s looking for. A masked man has his precious gun and asks him if he’s “looking for this” as he drops out the cartridge. Dean looks over at Sam, who’s already uncomfortably awake and has his own gunman pointing a weapon at him. ”Morning,” Dean says to him. Not a good way to start the day.
 
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Dean’s gunman warns “hands where I can see them.” Dean looks at the guy and knows who it is. ”Is that you Roy?” He doesn’t answer and Dean knows he’s right. He turns to the other guy “Which makes you Walt.” Roy and Walt? As in Disney? How great it is to have such fun with references when coming up with gun toting yahoos. Roy and Walt look at each other and Walt lifts off his mask, saying it doesn’t matter. So Dean sticks with the flippant attitude. ”Is it just me or do you two seem a tad upset?”

Walt reveals his beef to Sam. ”You think you can just flip the switch on the apocalypse, just walk away Sam?” Sam’s heart sinks. ”Who told you that?” Um, let me see - I think it was those hunters in Oklahoma that got you to admit you started the apocalypse before you kicked the snot out of them.  Yeah, probably those guys. Walt lets Sam know that they aren’t the only hunters after him and cocks his rifle. Sam jumps and he’s really worried now. Ditto for Dean. ”See you in the next life,” Walt says. Sam starts pleading, telling him he can explain. He even uses the puppy dog “Please.” Sadly, Walt kicks puppies. The camera does the round robin of faces and ends back at Sam’s, just a split second before Walt blows him away violently with two shots. 
 
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SAMMY!!!! Oh my God, you bastard, you killed Sammy! Kudos the Jared for jerking back like that as those two shots hit him. Man does that get a viewer’s heart pumping! 

Dean jumps up and is warned by Roy to stay back. Ooooh, now Dean is pissed. That is a dude you don’t want to get angry. Or let me borrow a comment from Randal. Dean has his “I will burn a hole through your fucking soul stare” (yes he even trademarked it) as he gazes at his dead brother flopped on the other bed. Walt orders Roy to kill Dean but Roy has an issue with that. Killing Sam was right but Dean? Of course Dean isn’t tuning into any of this conversation because he’s still fuming over the corpse of his baby brother. Walt’s pitch is that Dean has made them and they just “snuffed” his brother. Do you want to live knowing Dean Winchester is after you? That’s a brilliant pitch. Even I would shoot Dean in that situation. 
 
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Dean comes to his senses and turns to Roy with that cold, hard stare. He challenges Roy to do it. ”But I’m going to warn you. WHEN I come back, I’m gonna be pissed.” I think Roy pissed in his pants after that comment. He totally believes Dean and can’t shoot, so Dean eggs him on harder. ”Come on, let’s get this show on the road!” Roy and Dean have the dramatic stare down, his finger is on the trigger but he can’t do it. Walt though, being the Sammy killing dick he is, won’t buy it and fires. In what I call “the best use of the title sequence EVER” the gun goes off and in perfect timing the blood hits the water. Awesome!!! I have a feeling this is going to be a great one.

“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” the vastly superior Bob Dylan version (no, it’s not by Guns N’ Roses) is playing on the radio of the Impala. Dean is in the driver’s seat sleeping and startles himself awake, likely because the good version of the song is playing. He gets out really confused about where he is. It’s dark and the Impala is just sitting in the middle of a blacktop road. The trunk slams and Dean looks behind him, shocked to find Sam. Except it isn’t Jared Padalecki Sam, it’s Colin Ford Sam! He’s holding a box of fireworks. ”Sammy?” He asks. Young Sam is all excited. ”Come on, let’s go.” Dean is confused. ”Weird dream.” You don’t dream about Sam as a boy Dean? Oh, that’s right. It’s usually hookers and fishing. 

Sam puts down the box and grabs a couple of firecrackers. ”Got your lighter?” Dean pulls one out of his pocket and smiles, for he hasn’t seen that one in years. He lights the firecrackers and he and Sam watch them explode into the sky. Dean’s face lights up in the most adorable happiness, a look that we so rarely get to see.  Then he remembers this. It’s 4th of July 1996. That would make Sam thirteen and him seventeen. Sam’s face is all smiles too.  ”Dad would never let us do anything like this. Thanks Dean, this is great.” He then gives Dean a huge hug! Oh wow, to think they were like that once. Why am I getting all misty only five minutes into the program?
 
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Dean isn’t sure what to make of the hug, but he eventually smiles. That feeling seems so lost on him. Sam lets go and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” comes back on again from the beginning. Sam lights all the rest and he and Dean watch them all explode into the night sky, HUGE smiles as both marvel at the spectacle. There’s no description I could possibly provide to say how great this scene is. With the music, the acting, the way the scene is shot with the red lights of the fireworks hitting their faces at the right moment, it’s incredible. They watch, Dean sees Sam’s joy, and then Sam moves closer into the action. He jumps around in slow motion as the sparks come down all around him. I don’t know how I’m getting through this scene to describe it. Wiping tears right now, I tell ya. 
 
Dean and Sam exchange more smiles, Dean watches the fireworks explode in the air and suddenly the quick flash of adult Sam and him back at the motel getting blown away comes to mind. He comes out of it disconcerted in the field all alone, calling for Sam. Dean goes back to the Impala and he’s definitely disoriented. There’s a nice shot of his blurred reflection in the hood of the Impala, there to symbolize his fuzzy state of mind. Dean hears static on the radio and then a voice. It’s Cas! Dean calls out his name and Cas verifies on the radio it’s him. Dean gets in the Impala to have the conversation.



“You got to stop poking around in my dreams. I need some me time.” Yeah, well he shouldn’t poke around in your dead visions either. Castiel bluntly points out this isn’t a dream and deep down he already knows what this is. Dean flashes again of he and Sam being gunned down, except this time we get the delightful vision of Dean with the empty eyed stare on the bed. ”I’m dead,” Dean says in a flash of clarity. ”Condolences,” Castiel replies. Ha, a snarky angel even in these circumstances.  Dean wants to know where he is. ”Heaven,” Castiel replies. Dean is shocked, asking how he got to Heaven. Castiel tries to move things along, for his connection is difficult to maintain. Dean gets real worried though, not at all concerned about Castiel’s issues. ”If I’m in Heaven, then where’s Sam?” Oh, how wonderful, he’s worried that Sam probably ended up downstairs.

Cas wants to know what he sees. Dean doesn’t understand the question. Cas explains some people see a tunnel or a river. What does he see? He’s in the car on a road. Cas tells him to follow the road.  He’ll find Sam if he follows the road. Castiel’s voice fades away and the radio goes dark. Dean starts the car and drives. There’s a weird visual of the sky, which is literally the purple skies and numerous stars circling the dark side of the moon. Which is freakishly close. Some interesting imagination there. If this is inspired by some sort of film or other thing, please point it out, but otherwise it’s pretty cool. They’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.

 
 
Dean arrives to a lone house swarmed by Heaven’s sky and stops. There’s some sort of space age music that I only ever remember hearing during films at the science center. I think someone on the crew had the same warped childhood I did. Suddenly someone is carving a turkey and there’s Sam being served a portion. He’s in a shirt and tie and he’s all smiles, thanking the man. There’s a whole family there, including a little girl with braces next to him that’s all googly eyes for him. The man, who is apparently Dad, says to Sam he hears he’s new to McKinley. ”Yes sir, two weeks.” Interesting,must be a childhood memory thing. Dad mentions “Stephanie over here can’t seem to stop talking about you,” and I swear she looks like Blossom with braces. She of course gets all embarrassed, but manages to cop a feel of Sam under the table anyway. Lucky girl.  

 

Sam looks up and there’s Dean. ”Wow, just wow.” Sam’s a little confused. ”Dean, what are you doing in my dream?” Time for the rude awakening. Next Sam is in the other room with Dean, but the family carries on like Sam is still there with his seat now empty. Nice touch. ”Heaven,” Sam asks, very shocked to hear that. Dean say yes. ”How are we in Heaven?” ”Clean living I guess,” Dean jokes. Sam explains further. ”You, I get, sure, but me? Maybe you haven’t noticed I’ve done a few things?” Dean defends rightfully so that he thought he was doing the right things. ”Last I checked it wasn’t the road to Heaven that was paved with good intentions.” Dean has a good answer for that. ”Well if this is a Skymall it sucks. Where’s the triplets and the latex you know? Come on a guy has needs.” You tell us Dean. They’re your memories.

Sam turns back to the Thanksgiving dinner and something clicks. ”You know when you bite dust they say that your life flashes before your eyes.” Dean doesn’t get the point. Sam says the house is one of his memories. Dean gets it now because he woke up to one of his memories. He even tells Sam it was that 4th of July where they burned the field down. Sam doesn’t even smile over remembering that.   Uh oh. Sam concludes maybe that’s what Heaven is, reliving your greatest hits. ”Wait, so playing footsy with brace face over there, that’s a trophy moment for you?” Sam defends he was eleven years old and that was his first real Thanksgiving. ”What are you talking about, we had Thanksgiving every year,” Dean says not getting the jaded point. ”We had a bucket of extra crispy and Dad passed out on the couch.” Dean gives him a “touch锝 expression.

Suddenly, the room starts shaking and everything goes dark. Sam and Dean have the right mind to hide while the family carries on with Thanksgiving dinner like nothing’s happening. A bright searchlight shines through the room and Sam and Dean fight to avoid it. Everything goes back to normal after a few seconds and Sam and Dean try to figure out what’s going on. ”I don’t know but we’re taking the escalator back downstairs,” Dean says as he goes to the radio and tries to summon Cas. Sam is a little freaked out over what he’s doing. ”What does it look like?” ”Like you’ve lost your mind.” Now Dean explains that Cas talked to him that way before.  

Dean shouts for Cas and gets “I can hear you,” on the TV. Cas’ face is all distorted through the static and this is so a 1984 reference. Dean explains he found Sam and saw the weird beam of light. ”Don’t go into the light,” Castiel warns. ”Okay, thanks Carol Ann,” Dean says. For those that didn’t get that reference, that’s Poltergeist. Castiel says the light is Zachariah looking for them. ”You can’t say yes to Michael and Lucifer if you’re dead, Zachariah needs to return you to your bodies.” Sam sees this as a good thing, problem solved. 
 
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Castiel needs them for something else. They’re behind the wall and this is a rare opportunity. They need to find an angel named Joshua. ”No offense, but we are kind of ass full of angels. You find him,” says Dean.   Castiel can’t, since he’s not allowed to return to Heaven. From what I see, he ain’t missing much. Sam wants to know what’s important about Joshua. Rumor is he talks to God. ”So,” Dean asks. Cas gets all angry. ”You think that maybe, just maybe, we find out what God isn’t saying!” ”He’s touchy,” Dean says to Sam. Cas just needs them to follow the road. What road? ”It’s called the Axis Mundi. It runs through Heaven. Different people see different things. For you, its two lane asphalt. The road will lead you to the garden. You’ll find Joshua there. And Joshua can take us to God.” He again repeats the garden and asks them to hurry before the transmission goes out.
 
Sam asks Dean what he thinks, and Dean is ready to hit the “yellow brick” and find Joshua. I knew a Wizard of Oz reference would make it in this scenario somewhere. ”Really?” Sam asks incredulously. Dean is surprised he doesn’t. Sam is surprised Dean does, since he has been breaking out the “nos” and now he wants to help. ”Come on Sam, we are royally boned. So prayer, the last hope of a desperate man.” What’s interesting here is Sam has no idea just how much at wits end Dean is. I like how Dean’s attitude is making sense to us but perplexing Sam. Poor boy is in for some eye opening.

They leave the house and there’s woods all around. No Impala, no road. They go back inside and Dean starts looking around, so Sam wonders what he’s doing. He’s looking for a road of course. ”You think the road is in a closet?” ”We’re in Heaven Sam, our memories are coming true, Cas is on TV, finding a road in the closet would pretty much be the most normal thing that happened to us today.” Dean then finds an old racing set in the closet. He remembers having one when he was a kid. He puts the car on the track and next thing he and Sam are in a different place. I should note of love this POV of Sam and Dean from the closet. If I ever get around to directing my movie, I’m borrowing some of these tricks. 
 
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Sam is out of his shirt and tie and back into his jacket and flannel shirt. Dean’s in something else too as we’ll find out in a second. Dean plays with the set and Sam is shocked. ”That is the road?” Dean looks around because where they are is very familiar. ”A bit trippy right?” Sam agrees and looks at Dean’s shirt. ”More trippy, um, apparently you wuv hugz.” His tone is completely mocking and it’s great. Dean tells him to shut up and he laughs. Dean looks around and figures it out. They’re home. Then who should arrive but Mary Winchester! She’s young and beautiful and has a really nice summer dress on. She has a big smile and asks Dean if he’s hungry. She looks like an angel and both Sam and Dean can’t help but stare.

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Mary pours Dean a glass of milk and Dean sits at the table looking so content. She asks if he wants the crusts cut off. Oh man, my kids are older and it’s been so long since I cut the crusts off for them.  They package PB and Js now without the crust, but that’s not the same. A crustless sandwich can only come from a mother’s love. Sam watches all this in a background unsure what to think. Dean says he’d love that and she does. Sam says “mom” but she doesn’t hear him. ”This is not your memory Sam, sorry,” Dean says. Sam is ready to go but Dean isn’t. He asks for another minute. ”Dean,” “Sam please, one minute.” Sam uncomfortably agrees. I wonder if this is hard for Sam to watch considering he never got this when he was a kid. Either that or its hard to him to see Dean in this, knowing how much Mary means to him. 

The phone rings and Mary picks up. It’s John on the other end and they begin to fight. Dean remembers, Mom and Dad were fighting and John moved out for a couple of days. ”Dad always said they had the perfect marriage,” Sam says. ”It wasn’t perfect until after she died.” Oh poor Dean, he actually knew that his whole life. I’m surprised he didn’t end up resenting John over that while he was growing up. Maybe he silently did and never said anything. Then again if that were true he wouldn’t have wanted to be so much like John. Relationships with parents are complicated, aren’t they?
 
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“What happens next?” Sam asks, now engrossed in the scene. A saddened Dean gets up, goes over to Mary, and gives her a huge hug. ”It’s okay Mom, Dad still loves you.” Mary closes her eyes like this is the most important hug of her life. ”I love you too,” Dean says. ”I’ll never leave you.”  Oh, thanks show. Go for the sucker punch to the gut. There’s so much more episode to go you know! The focus goes back to Sam, who’s so stunned he doesn’t know what to say. Now I’m really crying.
 
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Mary breaks the embrace and looks at her son lovingly. ”You’re my little angel.” (Cries more). Mom moments really get to me since I am one. I completely understand. Then she offers Dean pie. No wonder he loves it so much. There’s an emotional connection. That makes perfect sense. Dean goes back to the table and Sam starts shaking his head. ”What?” Dean asks, obviously uncomfortable that Sam saw that. ”I just never realized how long you’ve been cleaning up Dad’s messes.” It really has to be hard to see your family from this angle, especially when you were too young to remember.

Dean is ready to move on now. Sam and Dean look around and Sam finds in the drawer a postcard of Route 66. He has seen this before. Suddenly he and Dean are in a trailer and that postcard is on the wall with a bunch of others from other states. Dean wants to know where they are and Sam is all smiles. ”No way.” Then a beautiful Golden Retriever comes in and Sam is excited to see him. ”Bones!” He greets the friendly animal with lots of love. You see, this is really strange. Sam has never shown an interest in animals, while Dean has always been thoughtful of them. I wonder if something changed in Sam after losing this dog. It’s a great chance though to see Jared interact with a dog on screen though since he’s such a huge animal lover. 




“Bones?” Dean asks. Yes, Bones was his dog. Dean doesn’t understand and then it clicks. This is Flagstaff. Sam says yes with happiness and pets the dog some more. ”This is a good memory for you?” Dean asks offended. ”Yeah, I mean I was on my own for two weeks. I lived on Funyuns and Mr. Pibb.” Then he feeds the dog a piece of pizza. Oh, that must have been paradise. Dean is angry now and Sam doesn’t get it. Dean explains that Sam ran away on his watch. ”I looked everywhere for you, I thought you were dead. And when Dad came home...” Yes, we can fill in the blanks there. Sam’s looking a little ashamed now. ”Dean, I’m sorry, I never thought about it like that.” Dean drops it and goes out the door, seeing the road sign on the door. Poor Sam sits there for a few seconds and it’s clear he doesn’t want to leave. He even sadly pets the dog one last time and tells him to stay. I say in season six they allow a sidekick dog. Why not, it worked for Clark Kent.

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Sam steps outside and they’re on a blacktop road in front of an abandoned house. They both look around really surprised by where they are. It’s dark and the entire scene is lit by bright moonlight. Sam sighs for he knows what’s coming. Dean wants to know what memory this is. Sam claims he doesn’t know, but he so does. He tries to get them to move on, but then Dean remembers. ”This?” Sam looks ashamed.   ”This is the night you ditched us for Stanford, isn’t it? This is your idea of Heaven?” Sam doesn’t know what to say. ”Wow,” Dean says, “This is like one of the worst nights of my life.”

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Sam in apologetic tone says he can’t control this stuff. Dean gets angrier. Sam explains he was on his own, he finally got away from Dad. ”Yeah, he wasn’t the only one you got away from.” Sam tries to apologize, and Dean throws “You didn’t think of it like that” back at him. Sam tries to plea but Dean really goes off. ”Come on, your heaven is somebody else’s Thanksgiving dinner. It’s bailing on your family. What do you want me to say?” Sam defends, “Man, I never got my crusts cut off my P,B and J. I just don’t look at family the way you do.” Dean argues more, “Yeah, but I’m your family. We’re supposed to be a team. Just you and me against the world, right?” “It is,” Sam says as though there’s more to explain. ”Is it?”

Okay, yes, these brothers have had similar disagreements like this in the past, and on the very same topic, but this time is different. Sam is not aware of the bad place Dean is in right now. After the events of “My Bloody Valentine,” Dean’s faith in Sam is wavering. I also know that when married couples fight, they like to nitpick and break open old wounds that have been lingering, even if said wounds were dealt with previously. So Dean’s reaction is likely one of just a tired man at his wits end. All he’s clinging to is his sense of family and here it’s getting blown apart. There are also theories that Zachariah planted these memories. I don’t think so. He may have allowed each brother to see the memories knowing what they would see thus causing a rift, but I don’t think he controlled them.
  


No more time for the family airing of grievances, for the Heavenly spotlight of doom arrives. Sam and Dean run into the dark woods and then jump behind a log. The big bad Zachariah arrives, noting the irony of running from angels on foot, in Heaven. ”With out of the box thinking like that I’m surprised you boys haven’t stopped the apocalypse already.” Oh, I get it”¦sarcasm. Zachariah snaps his fingers and its daylight now. Zack goes on, telling them he just wants to send them back to Earth, that’s all. Right. It’s a wonder he doesn’t try to sell them swamp land in Florida too. ”I mean that is before I tear you a cosmos of new ones.” Oh, there’s that vindictive spirit I was looking for.

Zack promises that by the time he’s through with them, they’re going to be begging to say yes. Sam and Dean decide to make a run for it, but Zack is right there. ”Guys, come on. You can run but you can’t”¦run.” They go in the other direction and there’s a masked wrestler with a cape there? Okay. He tells them to hurry, draws some sort of sigil on a nearby shed door and they enter a large room. It’s the roadhouse! Sam rightfully asks who he is and he removes his mask and cape. Those long locks of that mullet we all know and love fall out the back. It’s Ash! ”Buenos dias bitches.” He claps and turns on the lights. I love reunions. ”Welcome to my Blue Heaven.” Sam smiles, Dean is a bit bothered.  
 
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Dean and Sam come over to the bar, Dean noticing the roadhouse even smells the same. ”Bud, blood, and beer nuts. It’s the best smell in the world,” Ash says. He serves up two beers, letting them know up there’s no hangover. Sam asks the “no offense” question.   “How does a dirtbag like me end up in a place like this?” Ash says. He’s been saved. Sam clarifies this is his Heaven. Ash answers yes while cutting a hole in the bottom of the beer can and then downing the whole thing a la a makeshift beer bong. Sam, who’s playing twenty questions, is finding that he starts questions and then Ash finishes the sentences. The angels after them were in his head. ”So there are two heavens?” No, more like a hundred billion. It’ll take the angel boys “a minute” to catch up. Or several. Dean and Sam are totally lost. I’ve just going to transcribe what Ash says, because this does get kind of freaky.

“You see, you’ve got to stop thinking of Heaven as one place. It’s more like a buttload of places all crammed together. Like Disneyland. Except without all the anti-Semitism (strange comment coming from a redneck). You see, you got Winchesterland. (Holds hands out) Ashland. A whole mess of everybody else lands, put them all together, Heaven. Right? In the center of it all is The Magic Kingdom, the Garden. “ Yep, this episode is really loving Disneyland.

Dean asks if everybody gets their own paradise. Ash confirms this. ”A few people share, special cases.” What cases? ”Ah, you know, like, soul mates.” There’s a moment of awkward silence. So Sam and Dean are soul mates? Think about it, isn’t this the first time they’ve died together?   Most people can’t leave their “own Private Idaho.” That’s a B-52’s song and title of a movie for anyone that didn’t know that. But Ash ain’t most people. They don’t have his skills. ”I’ve been all over. Johnny Cash, Andre The Giant, (turns to Sam) Einstein.” Sam is fascinated by that one. He can really mix a White Russian. He also mentions the chick who wrote the Kama Sutra, but I’m not about to spell that.

“All this from a guy who used to sleep on a pool table,” Dean jokes. ”Yeah, now that I’m dead, I’m living man and a whole lot more.” So how did he find them? It seems our techno-geek mullet head rigged up his own scanner. He turns it on and the monitor starts screeching. That’s angel speak alright. They’re blabbing Enochian in which Ash is fluent. He heard that they were up, of course he had to come find them”¦AGAIN. Dean doesn’t understand. ”This ain’t the first time you’ve been here. I mean, you boys die more than anyone I’ve ever met.”   Dean’s surprised to hear this? You don’t remember dying all those times? Apparently not, for the angels “Windexed their brains.” That’s a good way of putting it. Still, they have to remember dying on Earth.

Sam asks if he’s found anyone else, like Ellen and Jo. Ash is really shocked to hear Ellen and Jo are dead and there’s a small break in his “Mr. Cool” routine. Nice touch. Sam confirms for a few months now and Ash overcomes his upset and comforts himself with the fact they went down fighting. Hmm, this kind of opens the door for them to come back, huh? Maybe not. Dean observes that going down fighting didn’t do much good. Cynical bastard. He asks about their folks. No, he’s been looking all over but can’t find John and Mary Winchester yet. But there is someone he knows for sure that wants to “drive” with them. He goes into the kitchen, comes back out and it’s Pamela! With eyes. And the trademark Ramones t-shirt. This is definitely Heaven for her. “Nice to see you boys again.” Ash “oohs” over the pun.

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Sam and Ash are checking out the Enochian monitor while Pamela and Dean drink and talk at another table. Ash tells Sam how nice it is to have a “practical application for string theory.” For the physicist that’s actually watching this show, I hope you enjoyed your private joke. Dean tries to catch up with Pamela, who smacks him on the head. “That’s for getting me killed.” She should have outright decked him. I guess this is Heaven. Dean doesn’t know what to say and we can tell the guilt is still killing him. ”If it makes you feel any better, we got Ash killed too.” “I’m cool with it,” Ash says, giving them the “rock on” sign.

Dean asks Pamela if she’s good. Yep, she’s good. She really means it. She recalls her death scene when she got shot and was coughing up blood, which is interesting considering she was stabbed. Given that fact though that there’s a whole mess of character continuity in this one and that’s the only slip up, I’ll let it pass. She remembers Dean said she would be going to a better place. “I was lying,” Dean says. “You were right,” Pamela replies. “My Heaven, it is one long show at the Meadowlands.” Sorry Pamela, but I can think of about eighty places better for concerts than that.

She goes on, saying how amazing it is and that he should see it. Dean doesn’t like that idea. He believes her, but doesn’t like the idea of spending eternity trapped in his own universe while the angels run the show.  Wow, that does sound Matrix like, doesn’t it? Then he goes on to say it’s lonely, it’s The Matrix. Wow, I didn’t catch that reference the first couple of viewings. Strange how we’re thinking alike there. No, it isn’t. ”Attic’s still better than the basement.” Touche Ms. Barnes, Touche.

Dean sees she isn’t getting his point. For example, the roadhouse feels real, but it’s Memorex. Real is “down there.” Pamela doesn’t care, it’s close enough. She’s happy and at peace, so it’s looking pretty good.   Oh, plus she has eyes. That’s a bonus.  “What, you trying to sell me a time share?” Dean jokes. She knows that Michael wants to take him out for a test drive. ”What happens if you play ball with him? Worst case.” Dean says a lot of people will die. Pamela doesn’t see that as a bad thing since they get to go there.  She can tell she’s making him mad, and says he just doesn’t need to fight it so hard. That’s a perfect break for Sam announcing Ash found a shortcut to the Garden. Ash does the “rock on” sign, Pamela does “hang loose.”  Par-ty!

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Ash draws a symbol on the outer door that looks more like a quadratic equation than an Enochian symbol, but hey, if it works. He warns that Zack is going to be watching every road to the Garden. Sam gives Pamela a big hug, practically swallowing her in those giant arms. She warns to watch his ass. I’ve noticed this time Pamela isn’t anywhere near as flirty. She should have at least grabbed his ass or something. Earth Pamela would have done that. Dean goes for his hug, but she reaches out and gives him a long deep kiss instead. Lord knows she’s been wanting to do that for a while. That sparks the jealously of hoards of fan girls. Yep, it’s every bit as dreamy as she imagined.

Ash’s turn for goodbyes, but I doubt he’s going to get a hug and kiss. Instead, he has some dead on accurate words.  “Gentlemen. I don’t mean to be a downer or anything but uh, I’m sure I’ll see you again soon.” Dean gets a smile from Pamela and tells Ash to keep a sixer on ice for them. He opens the door and they leave. I love the visual of the scene changing from the bar to the inside of their old house just by panning across the door. Does everyone like it when I point out cool little directors tricks? It’s the dork in me.

Sam and Dean are shocked to find they’re back home. No wait, I use “shocked” too much. How about “Taken aback?””Knocked for six?” “Bewildered?” Ah, fun with a Thesaurus. Needless to say, it’s not where they want to be. They decide to look for the road again and then Mary appears. She’s in that trademark white nightgown. I wonder if Samantha Smith and Misha Collins get together at cons and share horror stories of having to wear the same outfit every appearance. I’d be griping. Anyway, Mary is playing caring mother, asking Dean why he’s up. Dean apologizes, says he loves her, but she’s not real. Real is overrated Dean. He tries to explain they don’t have time but she goes on with the “please tell me your nightmare bit.” She’s sucking him in, but he catches himself and says they’ve got to go. “Then let me tell you my nightmare Dean, the night I burned.” Uh oh, me thinks she’s an illusion. 

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Blood pools on her stomach and Dean and Sam are a little bothered. Okay, a lot. Dean tells Sam they should leave but Mary pulls authority. ”Don’t you walk away from me!” Poor Dean is disturbed now. “I never loved you,” Mary says, going for the mindfuck now. ”You were my burden, I was shackled to you.” Whatever she’s saying must be working, for Dean listens like his world is ending. ”Look what it got me,” and she has yellow eyes. Hey, that’s Sam’s burden!  Is that the general rule of this show?  Everyone close to Dean must wear the yellow eyes to taunt him?  It always works.

Sam tries to get Dean’s attention, but Dean is entranced. Then the lights go green and there are bricks on the doors and walls. Oh yeah, they’re trapped. Mary loses the yellow eyes, puts on her malevolent look and goes on with her monologuing. ”The worst was the smell. The pain, what can you say about your skin bubbling off.” Now Sam is sucked in too and getting his heart crushed. ”But the smell, you know for a second I thought I left the pot roast burning in the oven. But it was my meat.” Dean backs away in horror, feeling around the brick wall while she continues. “But finally I was dead. But the one silver lining, at least I was away from you.” Ooh, she’s really digging deep. “Everybody leaves you Dean, noticed? Mommy, Daddy, and even Sam. Ever ask yourself why? Maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you.”






I’m not sure what it is, but she must have some sort of spell over these guys, for both Sam and Dean are just taking this in with horror and heartbreak. I guess hitting their mother is not the most appropriate thing, but it isn’t their mother, is it? I’m assuming they sensed that but couldn’t risk it. Zachariah tells her easy and Sam uses that “you did this?”accusatory tone. Who else would have??? He’s just getting started, wondering how they thought they could sneak past him into “mission control.” Sam calls him a son of a bitch, and again I wish swearing was allowed, even if it was bleeped out. You Mother****** would have been more appropriate. 

Sam and Dean are suddenly restrained by two henchmen and Zachariah has an evil point. ”You know, I would say the same thing about you Sam but I have actually grown quite fond of your mother, or at least the blessed memory of her.” He kisses her neck and she loves it, making Dean wince. Me too! He goes on that they’re going to be logging a lot of quality time together and now Sam is pissed too. Interesting reaction considering he doesn’t have much of an attachment. ”I’ve discovered she’s quite the MILF.” Dean gets tough, telling him he can gloat all he wants but he’s still balding. Zachariah reveals he has six wings and four faces in Heaven, one of them is a Lion. They see his human form because they are (he strokes Mary’s arm and Sam gets disgusted), limited. You’re evil!

Zachariah snaps away Mary and it's time for the physical torture part of our program. Dean talks smart about the bald guy getting him to say yes and Zachariah punches him in the stomach. He announces he's cleared his schedule, orders them to get Dean up and he hits him again. Now Zachariah goes through the "evil villain scorned" speech. "I was on the fast track once, employee of the month every month forever. I'd walk these halls and people would overt their eyes, I had respect!" Uh oh, evil villain on the edge. Not cool Zachariah. 

He pulls himself together. Then he was assigned to them. "Now look at me. I can't close the deal on a couple of pathetic flannel wearing maggots?" Wasn't overconfidence considered a weakness in Star Wars? Zachariah does have an Emperor Palpatine thing going right now. Everyone's laughing now and they're right to do it. He doesn't care what Sam and Dean's answers are anymore, he's going to take it out of their asses. It's personal now and he warns the last person they want in the history of creation of their asses is him. "Lucifer may be strong, but I'm petty." Or pity, I honestly couldn't tell which. Petty makes more sense. He promises to be that little angel on their shoulder for the rest of eternity. Well that sucks.

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A gentle voice interrupts. Zachariah pulls the douchy  “I’m in a meeting line,” and that makes me really mad now, touching off the memories every arrogant prick manager I’ve ever worked with.   Trust me, there have been many and they’re all like that.  The other man respectfully asks to speak to Sam and Dean, but Zachariah can only muster an “excuse me?” Asshole. This soft spoken black man knows Zack’s busy but is afraid he’ll have to insist. Zachariah, being in full-on dick mode, tells him he doesn’t get the right to insist jack squat. The man agrees, but “the boss” does. His orders.  “The boss” must be code for “God” among the angels.   Sam and Dean are flabbergasted over this and Zachariah gets scared, pulling a “you’re lying.” Now why would he do that? Of course this man, who we presume to be Joshua, says “I wouldn’t lie about this.” “Look, fire me if you want, sooner or later he’s going to come back home, and you know how he is with that whole wrath thing.” Gotta love the quiet guy that gets to use threats if he has to. Speak softly and carry a big stick.   

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Zachariah and his henchmen disappear, leaving a disconcerted Sam and Dean alone. Joshua stares at them and then one camera swipe later they’re in a garden. It’s a weird looking jungle inside a greenhouse type building. ”This is Heaven’s garden?” Sam asks, still not full of surprises. ”It’s nice-ish, I guess,” Dean says, trying to make the most of it. Joshua tells them they see what they want to there. ”For some it’s God’s throne room, for others its Eden, you two I believe it’s the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. You came here on a field trip.” Ha! Another shameful Ohio mention. I love it. That’s the way to work a budget. 

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Sam smiles at the memory and then figures out he’s talking to Joshua. Yes, he is. He talks to God? Mostly God talks to him. Sam tells him they need to speak to God, its important. Dean wants to know where he is. On Earth. ”Doing what?” ”I don’t know,” Joshua answers honestly. He doesn’t know where he is either. ”We don’t exactly speak face to face.” Well, this is going well so far. Dean doesn’t understand. If God’s not talking to nobody then”¦”Why is he talking to me?” Joshua finishes. Wow these Heavenly beings are certainly good at finishing sentences. ”I sometimes think it’s because I can sympathize, gardener to gardener.” He also confesses between them he thinks he gets lonely.  “Well my heart’s breaking for him,” Dean says in a sarcastic tone. Watch out Dean, remember, smite first, ask questions later.

Sam wants to at least “get him a message for us.” Joshua admits God actually has a message for them. Back off. Huh? ”He knows already. Everything you want to tell him. He knows what the angels are doing. He knows that the apocalypse has begun. He just doesn’t think it’s his problem.” Wow, this has Milton written all over it. Dean gets mad so Joshua gives him a stern reminder. ”God saved you already. He put you on that plane. He brought back Castiel. He granted you salvation in Heaven (turns to Sam) and after everything you’ve done too. It’s more than he’s intervened in a long time. He’s finished. Magic amulet or not, you won’t be able to find him.” Well, that’s a spirit breaker. 

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Dean doesn’t understand, God could stop it, stop all of it. Joshua admits he could, but he won’t. “Why not?” Dean commands. ”Why does he allow evil in the first place? You could drive yourself nuts asking questions like that.” Dean is furious, wondering how God will sit back and watch everything burn. Oh Dean, there you go driving yourself nuts again. Joshua knows how finding God was important to Dean and he’s sorry. Dean reacts by going into one of his bitter rants. “Well forget it. Just another deadbeat Dad with a bunch of excuses, right? I’m used to that. I’ll muddle through.” Joshua gives him a huge look sympathy while he says all this, and now I see why God talks to this dude. He cares. He’s no ordinary angel.
  
“Except you don’t know if you can this time. You can’t kill the devil. And you’re losing faith, in yourself, your brother, and now this. God was your last hope. I wish I could tell you something different.” I don’t know what it is, but this part crushes me. We see Dean’s last bit of hope slip away. Sam sees the truth and it really hurts, and Joshua is oozing with sympathy even though he has to deliver the bad news. If I’m not a heaping mess by here, this does it. 

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Sam asks how he knows he’s telling the truth. Joshua doesn’t like the implication he would lie. No, but he’s not the first angel they’ve met. ”I’m rooting for you boys. I wish I could do more to help you, I do. But, I just trim the hedges.” Dean wants to know what now. They go home again. ”I’m afraid this time won’t be like the last. This time, God wants you to remember. Joshua holds up his hand and Sam and Dean are bathed in white light. Yep, total wreck. It’s going to take me a few minutes to get to the final scene, and that’s even worse! Damn you all. 

Back to the motel room of carnage and among the beer can litter are two blood spattered Winchester corpses. I know this is gruesome, and obviously disturbing, but I can't help but be captivated to the shots of these two guys dead in such an awful way. So, if you can't stand the sight, look away and the next two screenshots.  

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Sam is the first to wake with a violent gasp of air, which is fair since he died first. Dean then pops up with a far less violent gasp. Both brothers are way beyond freaked out. There aren’t words. Sam asks Dean if he’s alright. Dean asks to define alright. I believe in this context, alright means breathing. In that case yeah, he’s good. Sam examines his completely bloodied and torn apart shirt, and Dean gets up and makes a call on his cell phone. 

I laugh hysterically over this, because I'm so emotionally spent I just need a good laugh. On the back of Dean we can see the exit holes where the bullets went right through him. That's likely correct when firing a rifle into a body at close range, but it's so funny they paid attention to that amount of detail. Kudos to the director for giving us a small bit of relief. I do mean small.    

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The brothers are packing while leaving the bloodstained sheets where they are, and poor poor Cas is leaning against the room divider looking like his world just ended. Probably because it did. "Maybe Joshua was lying," Cas says, the shock of it all hitting him harder than the Winchesters. Sam way in the background tells him he doesn't think he was and he's sorry. Dean especially watches Castiel with crushing concern, like he feels every single bit of his angel friend's pain. Probably because he does. 

First we see Castiel from the perspective of the Winchesters, which is the back of him looking up toward the sky. "You son of a bitch. I believed in-" Whoa, he has taken after Dean. Speaking of, Dean watches like he wants to give up too. This is really hurting him. Then the camera shows Castiel's face from the other perspective and this angel has just lost all faith. A faithless fallen angel? One who now likely believes he sacrificed all for nothing? How depressing.   

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Cas turns around and fishes out of his pocket the amulet. Dean’s prized possession. ”I don’t need this anymore.” He tosses it to Dean. ”It’s worthless,” he says with all hope gone. ”Cas, wait,” Sam says, ready to offer some comfort but Castiel flies away too quickly. Sam’s frustrated and declares with some spirit, “We’ll find another way.” Dean is staring at the amulet at a loss for words or fighting spirit. ”We can still stop all this Dean,” Sam says. “How?” Dean asks, out of hope just like Cas. Sam doesn’t know. ”You and me, we’ll find it.” Dean looks at Sam vacantly, grabs his bag and heads for the door. He stops, sees the trash can by the door, and somberly drops his precious amulet into the trash.

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You know, that priceless symbol of strength, family, and hope. The treasured gift given to him by Sam when he was twelve. Other than the Impala, his most cherished possession. Sam watches all this with the same grave concern that Dean just gave Castiel. Dean leaves without saying a word, and final shot is on Sam, who’s using everything he’s got to hold it all together and figure out what next.  Welcome to the status Sam of being the only person in this group of four warriors that hasn’t lost hope.

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Well, there you go, the saddest ending I’ve ever seen on the series. I don’t think Dean was rejecting Sam necessarily by throwing away the amulet. I think he was rejecting everything that mattered to him. God, the need to save the world and yes, family. It wasn’t going to take much to push Dean over the teetering edge and this was more than enough to just completely crush his spirit. I’m most intrigued over what Sam’s going to do about this. Will he continue to fight? Will he pull Dean out of this? Or will they go their separate ways? The next six episodes are going to kill me!

Comments  

anene
# anene 2010-04-07 04:05
This would be the first time i will be disagreeing with you Alice. I think Zachariah was manipulating which memories of Sam came up with the intent to destroy Dean's faith and hope to get him closer to saying yes. He tried and did in season 4 to the extent of kidnapping Dean and imprisoning him so that he won't be able to get to Sam and warn him. It took Dean persuading Castiel to leave and it was already too late by then. He tried breaking Dean's hope and faith in Sam by sending him to the faux future and asking Dean to say yes to stop Sam from giving in to Lucifer but luckily, Dean learnt a different lesson than intended.

This time around, he manipulated which memories were shown to break Dean's faith in Sam. When Joshua told them God had left the building coupled with his faux Mary manipulation, a Dean who had been wounded and feeling like his brother didn't value him and love him and wanted to get away from him destroyed what little hope Dean had. Zachriah knows the brothers are stronger when they are together. Breaking them apart is an excellent tactic.

What helped was Dean's belief in that your greatest memories represented your heaven. There was absolutely nothing to back that up. It was Sam who threw it out there as a guess that heaven may be the reliving of your greatest hits. Ash and Pamela's heaven were completely different in the form it took. Ash had the never changing roadhouse while Pamela had the never ending show at the meadow-lands. None of them said anything about reliving their greatest hits. The fact that Sam and Dean's were so different in form is a big clue that it was not all without manipulation.

And for me the biggest reason that makes me disagree is that when Dean questioned Sam, shocked if that was a happy moment for him? Sam's reply was "I don't know." I don't think he was saying that for Dean's benefit. He genuinely sounded like he really didn't know like he never thought about it. And in all honesty, it probably was more of a victory for him than happy because i don't think anyone would be happy about their father telling them "if you walk out that door,don't ever come back." and leaving the only other person who knows and understand you who would be Dean to Sam. And clearly it wasn't happy for Sam because he was still upset and sad about what their father said to him as he unleashed four years of locked up hurt at John in "Dean Man's Blood" where he yelled and confronted John about it on the roadside. That scene and Sam's "i don't think dad would want to see me" to Dean didn't speak of happy memories.

So with all that contrary evidence, i respectfully disagree that and conclude that it was all manipulated and geared to break Dean's confidence in the one person he needs the most.


In another topic, i actually believe Sam and Dean share the same view of family a lot more than they both think. Sam craves for a normal family setting: thanksgiving with all its trimmings, going to college as a good thing, safe and non-hunting e.t.c All things associated with what we view as a normal family. Dean craves for the period pre-mum burning on the ceiling and Dad's vengeful hunting. He also craved for a simple quality bonding time with Sam rebelling and sneaking behind a parents back. None of his memories were off hunting. Very similar view in my opinion. Sam may have never gotten the crusts cut of his PB&J but he craved for it to have happened.
And last of all, How is remembering your parents being separated and you comforting your upset mother a greatest hit? I honestly doubt that it is one of Dean's happy memory. He didn't look it. Even more proof that it was handpicked to break him even more.
The flipside that i bet Zachariah wasn't counting on was that it would all give Sam an understanding of his brother and energizing him to keep fighting and helping his brother.


P.S: Sam and Dean are total soul mates. It is now cannon. Anyone who watches the way Ash says it to Sam and Dean would totally see that he was referring to them unless why bring it up? In fact i watched that scene a couple of times. Ash looks between them very nonchalant like it was plenty obvious that they were before he went on not to mention the look on Sam and Dean's faces.

Sorry for the long ramble. :-?
anene
# anene 2010-04-07 04:20
Oh and anyone with half a brain would guess that Joshua was either Jesus Christ or God himself in disguise. And most importantly, the whole 'i wash myself off the whole apocalypse. Your're on your own" is a huge test from God. He wants to see if they would still have faith in the face of adversity and exercise their freewill. A test Sam is passing so far and Dean and Castiel are failing miserably.
I feel more for Dean simply because the whole fiasco had been engineered to destroy whatever hope and faith he had left. After loosing faith in his brotherhood, God checking out didn't get as much thought and rational consideration of it being a test like it would normally take. As fpr Castiel, i was disappointed. For an angel to loose faith in God and curse at him is pitiful and just plain disappointing. Of all three, i expect him to have the most faith left. And the whole he is turning human excuse doesn't fly with me. Angels were not made from humans so i don't understand how they can turn human simply by not being in heaven. Anna had to reap out her grace. Lucifer rebelled from God and displayed the same human weakness of emotions but he never became human. SO yeah, i almost felt sorry for him due to Misha's great acting but caught myself. Until further notice, i don't like this version of Castiel.
Tash
# Tash 2010-04-07 08:05
Great review Alice I agree with much of it. That scene with Colin as Sam was simply stunning. The episode was beautiful to look at all round.

I think that Zach chose which memories to show though, in order to hurt Dean the most, take away the last of his faith in himself and Sam, his family and set him firmly on the road to saying yes. I think the memories were real but not necessarily the guys "greatest hits" except for Dean's first memory.

Joshua was a bit odd, oozing sympathy like you said but also managing to hit every one of the hurts Dean suffered this episode. I am very suspicious of Joshua. Pamela was also very suspicious. I agree that the continuity on show is pretty poor at times but I can't imagine that Tracey would not have remembered how her character died. Bit of a clue slipped in there maybe. Coupled with how hard she was pushing Michael's agenda I doubt that Pamela was real at all.

This was one of the better episodes of this season by quite a bit, I have to admit I am surprised considering the writers but kudos to them they did a pretty good job.
Karen
# Karen 2010-04-07 08:31
Hi Alice
Love the recap…always so entertaining.
I also like your production notes as I don’t always catch them myself.
As heart wrenching this episode was, I loved it.
That firecracker scene has been added to my top 10.

I’m afraid I’m one who also believe Zack was choosing which memories to use.
Just like Joshua was able to see Dean’s faith failing, I believe Zack could see it too and played on it. Possibly heard Dean’s plea to God for help, just as Castiel did back in The Monster at the end of this book.
All of Zack’s plans have been foiled, he has now become a laughing stock and is no longer respected amongst his fellow Angles. So he is playing dirty…or dirtier.
He needs to break their spirits, their free will, their hope and most of all their alliance.
By breaking their bond and having them turn on each other, he has a better chance of them saying yes. United We Stand. Divided We Fall.
I have to agree with anene’s arguments here aswell, why were Dean and Sam going thru different memories and not staying in their own Heaven world like Ash and Pamela.
It just seemed too orchestrated to me.
I also thought Pamela was off…not grabbing Sam’s ass, not calling him Grumpy.
Anyway our team free will is in trouble.
Our beloved brothers are falling apart along with Bobby and Castiel.
The next 6 episodes is going to be a killer...going to have to stock up on the Kleenex,smellin g salts and heart medication.
SPNFAN
# SPNFAN 2010-04-07 09:55
Anene, I have to disagree with what you said about Cas. I mean...that man fell from heaven's graces because he believed in what was right and even when Raphael and the others mocked him for looking for god...he still persevered and never gave up hope because he had faith in his father, he trusted that god would not abandon his creation and that he would help if he was made aware of the dire situation they were in right now. But, to be let down by someone he believed in so much really hurt him...especiall y now when the whole situation with the apocalypse seems hopeless and there is no other way to defeat Lucifer. It is only normal that he feels angry and dissapointed... just because his an angel doesn't mean he has no right to feel angry. Atleast he only believed that god truly abandoned them when he heard it from "god" himself unlike the other angels(whom just assumed that he was dead or gone). Anyways, Alice, this is an awesome article and I really like the way you got all the small changes in the boys expressions and all the references. Honestly this was an awesome tear-jerking episode and it is officially one of my favourite episodes. Jensen and Jared did an absolutely wonderful job and although Misha only had a brief appearance...he made an impact with his amazing acting. Dean and Cas hopelessness really crushed my heart,and hopefully they will be able to pull themselves out of this ditch soon. Finally, I really hope Sam picked up the necklace before leaving and gives it back to Dean when he is needs it. Dean (and SPN) just won't be the same without the necklace. It is almost like losing the Impala...
P.S Can't wait for this week's ep!!!!
Julie
# Julie 2010-04-07 09:56
Again Alice, thanks so much for a wondeful recap. Testement to your writing and the prog that I am now again in tears. What a heartbreaking episode, I was an emotional wreck most of the way through and then came the killer punch of the `amulet in the bin.` Like you I am also sure this was not a rejection of Sam.
While other episodes had scenes/moments which reduced me to tears this one sustained the emotional involvement all the way through, the fireworks and the kitchen scene, even the screen caps of this set me off.
Team free will seems to be totally disintegrating before our eyes, held up at the moment by Sam, but how long can he keep paddling for everyone else?
I have no idea how much we should believe and how much is all planted evil from Zach, who I now officially hate as much as I did Alistair , as lets face it, we know what he is capable of and the lengths he will go to to achieve what he wants.
I think the next 6 weeks are going to be a little traumatic for both Team Free Will and for us, after reading what is going to happen in the 100th ,(I cannot resist spoilers!!) just how low can they make rock bottom? I think I will need to share Karens stock of tissues etc.
BTW got great alternative for your `shocked` problem-- good old irish term `Banjaxed`, something I think we are all going to be very soon.
Randal
# Randal 2010-04-07 13:56
Ai, ai, yeah. That was my Axl-doing-Dylan impression. Sorry about that. Check out the difference between the fourth and fifth cap. Can these dudes do the whole range of emoting with only the face, or what?

A minor point, but I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the 'condolences' line was more than an angel-human cultural disconnect. You all know damn well that Cas is learning our ways.

Alright, Misha Collins needs to be in a comedic version of 1984. Big bucks just waiting to be made, I tells ya.

I loved the interplay between the two, that, as you said, Dean is at wit's end and Sam isn't connecting as we beyond the fourth wall are. His burgeoning turn to take the reins of going-down-swinging.

As for the cleaning up dad's messes part, that was another punch to the gut. The dude's been the rock for decades. And I don't think resentment of Sam's "escape" is what fuels whatever discord they have, but merely at a lost opportunity for family because of Azazel's plans. Re: the dog and Flagstaff: when we're in our own world, we're really in our own world. Think of someone texting away on their phone, oblivious to his or her environment. Same gig here. Even if only for the briefest of moments, Sam had escaped the hunting life.

Now, onto Stanford, I can easily see that being both a memory (if not a 100% happy one) and a Zachariah curveball. And yes, those of us that are married know exactly what you're getting at here. Hell, for all intents and purposes, that's how close their relationship is (settle down, Wincesters). The smallest (okay, apocalypse and hunting and such are larger than a foible, affectation or a late cable bill) differences can feed on themselves. Thus, as you say, selective choosing. Choosy angels choose Jif.

Ash! Remember, he's an enlightened redneck. MIT probably soured him on bluebloods. :D

For a Ramones fan to pick a completely non-intimate megastadium, now that's creepy. What, no CBGB's?

Thesaurus: buy or borrow a copy of the Oxford American Writers Thesaurus. Use that sucker all the time myself. 8-)

Now that I'm reading this recap, I have to amend my Kurt Fuller grade from A+ to A+++ What a supreme fucking asshole. I should be using bullet points in this comment. Heaven would be watching the Browns finally win a goddamn Super Bowl. From the 50-yard line. With Casey. I mean, with my wife.

Yes, Milton! (great poem and all, but still not as cool as Ash). Lucifer is beautiful and a prick and god's just a prick.

Yes, it's now up to Sam. Stop, Redemption Time! No parachute pants though, please. If I can answer Dany, why even intervene in the first place? Because god's a prick. Duh. ;-) As Kripke himself has stated, this show is humanocentric. Who are the heroes, whether they save the day or not? Us humans. And hell, given his current mindset and friendship with the brothers, Cas, too.

Oh, Alice, to hit 10000 words next time, add mini-comments under each screen cap. You're welcome.
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-04-07 15:05
Alice, this was wonderful. I loved the fireworks scene. Dean and Colin made it all look so happy. That I've relayed many times. Wish I could get a video of it. Too bad that was at the beginning not the end. Would have loved to end on a happy note.

The scene caps were gorgeous. Thanks to you, I now have so many pretty pics of the boys; it’s hard to choose a good screen saver.

Soul mates concept, at least the one I'm familiar with, is a very sweet thought. I hope that's the one they mean.

Thanks Alice. You put a ton of work into this!
elle
# elle 2010-04-07 17:11
Excellent recap as usual, Alice. The screencaps you chose were ideal and I really relived the emotional bits in reading this piece.

I don't know where I stand on the whole Zach-manipulati ng the memories, but I'm leaning towards the idea that he didn't. I truly believe that the insight Sam gained from witnessing Dean's memories will be an asset, and Zach wouldn't facilitate that. I think the Mary-Dean scene was a greatest hit because it's a sweet memory with his mom, of which he has so few. Yes, he witnessed his parents fighting but he also got to be his mom's "hero", for lack of a better word. Dean always seems happiest when he's taking care of those around him, so for me this makes perfect sense as a happy Dean memory. Also, if Zach could manipulate their memories in that manner it wouldn't have been necessary for the big chase scene, search light, etc. IMHO, anyways.

On the issue of Castiel, Anene, I have to disagree with you. I don't find it pitiful at all, but sad. Yes, he's lost his faith but its taken an awful lot for him to do so - you can only take so much before you're too exhausted to go on. I believe this goes hand in hand with the humanization that Cas has undergone throughout the season. While I agree that God probably hasn't checked out entirely on the end of the world and that yes, perhaps it is an exercise in free will and consequence, I wouldn't say Dean and Cas are failing at all. Cas gave up everything, even to the extent where using his angel mojo is killing him, and Dean has just kept moving forward through everything that has been thrown at him. So they're tired and lost right now - that doesn't equal failing. Dean just can't be the leader right now, someone else has to pick up the burden and help him along.

Let's be honest, Dean hasn't had a break from hunting - EVER. This episode illustrated well that he's been carrying the emotional burdens of his family since he was a small child (and parental fighting - especially to the extent where one moves out, even for a few days, takes its toll on children and leaves a mark) even before hunting was a factor. Add to that the horrific death of his mother, the soldier raising mentality and violent hunting lifestyle, playing peacekeeper between Sam and John, having his brother whom he practically raised leave him for school (not that I'm saying Sam was wrong for doing that - but it had to sting something fierce for Dean), losing John followed by knowledge that John traded his own life for Dean's, Sam's death, 40 years in Hell as both torturee and torturer, the rift between him and Sam (and all of the other manipulations courtesy of Ruby) AND the apocolypse (which thus far has led to his father-figure in a wheelchair and the death of two close friends) of which God wants no part - ya, I'd be done too. None of this is to say that Sam hasn't had his share of heartache and struggles - because he definately has - but he also had break in there during Standford - he got to live some of his own life, and he wasn't as in denial about his feelings as Dean has been. Dean's breakdown has been a long time coming, I guess is what I'm saying here.

I guess we'll all just have to wait and see what happens now.
Thanks Alice!
Phoebe
# Phoebe 2010-04-07 17:35
I cant understand Dean and Castiel get broken and exhausted . Dean kept plowing through everything for the last few seasons? and now he cant and both these characters get sympathy?. Sam just keeps going forever like a clock work toy regardless of everything he goes through because he can apparently despite all he has gone through? and not a so much has a weeny breakdown or even a tearful moment and when he got destroyed by Dean deal and losing Dean he ends up being the bad guy because of the way the show portrayed it now he gets to see how selfish he was because the show loves telling us this because he went to Stanford and Dean got hurt .So what exactly is Sam supposedly having redemption for? last season or his entire life? and has Sam actually got any thoughts on this or a pov or anything?

I love episodes like this where Sam was stupid enough not to realize he hurt his brother and now he does and he can make up for it and he keep going through everything like that clock work toy while all fall around him . Well certainly a roundabout redemption arc but interesting .

Oh I did like this one and loved seeing Ash again and thank you Alice for your review .
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-04-08 15:39
Alice, forgive me, I can't say really much right now (which is not my usual way of commenting to your recaps), as I'm choking up again after going through your recount of the episode which moved me and reminded me of the holy crap the brothers have been through - as it a reminder of that was necessary.

This is one of my favourite episodes, again, the range of faves expanding once more, and I agree wholeheartedly with you. This episode had probably the best intro ever - and the most devastating ending. I hate this show sometimes, as it puts my heart through a meatgrinder every once in a while.

Thank you. I need your reviews sometimes like I need hot chocolate. Cheers, Jas
AmberAnn
# AmberAnn 2010-04-08 15:53
Love this episode; love this recap. Just want to point out (because I've been seeing this all over the internet), I don't think Pamela said she "got shot", I think she said "guts shot"... like, gut torn apart by the knife that killed her. So, she knew how she died. I don't think that line was supposed to be some sort of hint that Pam wasn't herself.
Ardeospina
# Ardeospina 2010-04-08 20:12
Alice, wonderful recap, as usual. This was such an excellent episode for me, and you really captured the essence of it in your recap.

I keep going back and forth about whether I think Zachariah was manipulating the memories the boys saw, though. On the one hand, it's a total dick-move to do something like that, and he's fully capable of something like that. On the other, if he knew enough to be able to control which memories each saw, why did he need the spotlight search to smoke them out? Wouldn't he know exactly where they were since he was controlling their heaven? Round and round I shall go, I think.

And as many others have pointed out, the fireworks scene was just amazing. Brilliantly executed. I really love that they stopped flashing the credits for that scene, too, and let it play out uninterrupted. Good choice, Show. Maybe they can talk to the people who had the V counter on last week's LOST!

I also agree with AmberAnn because what I heard Pamela say was "gut shot," which I immediately took to mean her stab wound to the gut, not a literal gunshot.

Really excellent point about Dean's love of pie being an emotional trigger for him. I didn't even think of that when his mom offered some. I just thought he'd always loved pie, but it just adds a whole new meaning for it now as a comfort food.

Lastly, just a minor thing, but I thought it was such a great detail that when we see Dean in his 4-year-old outfit for the first time, he has little skateboard shoes on with the laces undone! Of course he was a child with perpetually untied laces! I just loved that.

Thanks again for the great recap, Alice.
ElenaM
# ElenaM 2010-04-21 21:38
I'm so behind the eight-ball here, still catching up! Great recap, and once again, really interesting character discussion from everyone in the comments. Fireworks scene = instant classic. These guys nailed it to the wall! I quite like this new director. Kudos to the DP, too, the look and lighting were just beautiful. Thought that head on shot of the Impala, with the light effect from the headlights was really beautiful too... Best use of title card transition EVER: My thoughts exactly!!!

OK, srsly, there are people who think Axl wrote Knockin On Heaven's Door? Now, I like my GnR from time to time but that, that's sacrilege.

Speaking of, though I totally understand where Cas is coming from at the end and it's heartbreaking, i still think it's pretty ballsy to call the Creator an SOB... I look up nervously everytime I watch that scene, fully expecting to be struck by lightning at any moment :-?