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#35 "Just My Imagination" (11.08)

In this episode, Sully, Sam’s former imaginary friend, asks Sam and Dean to investigate the mysterious deaths of several zannas, aka imaginary friends.

Alice hit the nail on the head with her comment: “Oh yes, it is as good as it sounds.”

Nate Winchester called it “a very classic style for Supernatural.” Journalbookbinder added, “This is a great Sam back-story with the perfect, typical SPN combo of funny and sad. Plus, I appreciated Richard Speight Jr.’s sensitive directing choices.”

Memorable Scene #1: Sam and Dean, posing as trauma counselors from Child Services, investigate the site of the first zanna death. Sully gives the boys the ability to see the zanna, and hence, the bloody crime scene. However, Maddie’s mother cannot see any of it, so as she picks up the (blood-soaked) teddy bear, she then proceeds to smear Sparkle’s blood all over her face.

Sully: Um, it’s on her face. Sam, it’s on her face!
Ms. Berman: Just tell me...
Sully: She’s got Sparkle on her face!
Ms. Berman: ... how do we get our girl back?
Sully: Somebody’s gotta say something. Somone’s gotta say something.
Sam: You know what, is there a spare bedroom? Great. Maybe Maddie can sleep there, that should help.
Sully: Not her face.
Dean: And a hot shower. That does wonders.
Sam: Real deep scrub. Purify.
Ms. Berman: For Maddie?
Dean: The whole family. Yeah, just get the whole gang in there... You know, the family that showers together... Kay.
Sully: Pull up. Pull up!

Lynn said, “Jared, Jensen, and Nate Torrance knocked it out of the park in this scene, but Kudos to Carrie Genzel as she smears the sparkly blood all over her face! The whole scene is PRICELESS - I can't watch it without laughing.”

Sully: Even when he's dead, Sparkle can't stop shining.

Memorable Scene #2: Sam remembers a time with Sully when they were sitting on beds in a hotel room, asking each other “do you ever think…” Eventually, Sully asks young Sam if he ever thinks about about running away:

Sully: Hm. Ever think, that maybe you wanna go to school? Make some friends?
Young Sam: But I have you.
Sully: Yeah, you do. But one day you won’t. Sam, I want you to listen to me. You can be whatever you wanna be. You’re not Dean, you’re not your dad. You’re Sam. And Sam is so awesome.

Memorable Scene #3: Sully, dropping truth bombs all over Sam:

Sully: You know I'm not gonna lie to you. When you went off to hunt, I considered that one of my biggest failures. Just seemed so clear to me that you wanted something else. But, I was wrong. It all worked out, didn't it?
Sam: I don't know about that.
Sully: Come on, you're a hero. Sam, you saved the world. I keep track of my kids, and you did really good, Sam.

Nightsky said this episode is on her short list of motivational stories: "JMI can inspire and comfort me, no matter what I'm facing in my life. Sam's trust when revealing his deepest fear to his secret source of comfort (Sully), then hearing exactly what he needed to hear (Sully's confidence in Sam), then Sam summoning the courage to face his greatest fear. It's the innocence of our vulnerability, and the reassurance that we always have inside us what it takes to push through life's scariest moments. It gets through to me every time."

Lynn loved this episode and she had a lot to say about it! “I loved this episode for so many reasons, but one main reason was that this episode was a poignant glimpse inside Sam Winchester's childhood and of his evolution into the man he is now, and I felt so grateful to get that backstory. I sometimes feel like we get more understanding of Dean than of Sam, and this episode was the exception. Jared and Nate, in their scenes together, knocked it out of the park - from Jared in his heartbreaking talk with Sully, apologizing for being a “jerk kid” and confiding in him about the cage and the Darkness; to Nate, with 9 year old Sam, letting him go because that’s what Sam wants.  And Kudos to Jensen as well, with every subtly played break-my-heart-open look that says he wanted desperately to be there for his little brother when they were young and couldn’t. That he desperately wanted to be enough for Sam, and he fears he never was and never will be. Oh and bonus points for Dean in the dead guy robe and slippers and his childlike glee in coining the term ‘manicorn’.”

#34 "Heaven and Hell" (4.10)

In the first scene, Cas and Uriel are demanding that Sam and Dean hand Anna over to them, saying that she’s not “as innocent as she appears.” The boys are prepared to fight with Cas and Uriel, but then a bright light appears and the angels disappear. Well, well, well… as it turns out, Anna somehow knew that she could use her own blood to draw a sigil on a mirror that would banish the angels. Wait, what?

Sam does a little investigating, and he learns that when Anna was a child, she claimed she had another father, who was mad at her. Anna doesn’t remember any of that, so the boys ask Pamela Barnes, a psychic, to help her unlock her memories. Anna is able to remember, and she tells them she is an angel who chose to fall to Earth and become human, relinquishing her grace.

Yep, that’s right. Anna is, in fact, an angel. A fallen angel to be specific.

Sam, Dean, Anna, and Ruby travel to Kentucky to find Anna’s grace. While they are there, Anna overhears the angels talking; they are saying that if she is not handed over to the angels, then Dean will be sent back to Hell. Later, Anna tells Dean she knows what he did in Hell… and she tells him he should forgive himself.

One thing leads to another, and then, hey wait, is this when the word ‘squee’ became a word? Asking for a friend.

As Lynn so eloquently said, “Sex scenes are so rare in Supernatural, and damn, Jensen Ackles looks fine fine fine from the back.” Journalbookbinder added: “Dean has beautiful sex with Anna in the back of the Impala.” Beautiful indeed.

Sam, Dean and Ruby develop a plan to keep Anna safe. Part of that plan requires Ruby to make a deal with Alastair – she’ll turn over Anna if Alastair lets her and the boys go free. Unfortunately, Alastair tortures her until she agrees to take him to Anna.

Meanwhile, Uriel appears to Dean in a dream. He demands Anna, saying he knows Dean's weak spot, and offers him a choice. Uriel also reveals that he holds Anna's grace inside a necklace.

The confrontation begins. Sam and Dean versus Cas and Uriel. But then Dean’s choice is revealed – either Anna dies, or Sam. Just as the angels are about to take Anna, Ruby appears, with Alastair. The demons and angels fight, and during that melee, Anna steals her grace from Uriel, which allows her to become an angel again. And get this – this was Sam’s plan all along, to bring the demons and angels together, knowing they would fight, hoping it would allow Anna the chance to get her grace back.

Then there’s that final Broment. Lynn praised both Jared and Jensen for their work in this scene. “Jensen sobs for real, and the reality of his tears create an empathetic reaction as I watch that brings tears for me too. He has talked many times about how he lets Dean's emotions become real instead of having to think about something else, and that lends an extra realism to these scenes that is raw and powerful. And painful. Jared is just as good, showing us all of Sam's pain in realizing what his brother endured - to save his life - and clearly struggling with the horrible sense of helplessness that must come with that realization, and likely some guilt of his own. I think this is one of those scenes that Jensen had to ‘walk off’ after, and Jared went after him, because when your body is in the midst of so much emotion, you can't just tell it ‘oh never mind’, I was just acting."

Nightsky said, “That last scene of Dean confessing to what happened in Hell is one of the most powerful Brother scenes in the entirety of the series. 40 years in Hell. Shame. Regret. Pain. It’s all just so Powerful.”

Elle agreed, adding, “The moment that earns this episode it's ranking is that unbelievable confession on the Impala. I still tear up watching that - it's heart-wrenching.”

Dean: It wasn't four months, you know.
Sam: What?
Dean: It was four months up here, but down there... I don't know. Time's different. It was more like 40 years.
Sam: My God.
Dean: They, uh... They sliced and carved and tore at me in ways that you... Until there was nothing left. And then, suddenly... I would be whole again... like magic... just so they could start in all over. And Alastair... at the end of every day... every one... he would come over. And he would make me an offer. To take me off the rack... if I put souls on... if I started the torturing. And every day, I told him to stick it where the sun shines. For 30 years, I told him. But then I couldn't do it anymore, Sammy. I couldn't. And I got off that rack. God help me, I got right off it, and I started ripping them apart. I lost count of how many souls. The -- the things that I did to them.
Sam: Dean... Dean, look, you held out for 30 years. That's longer than anyone would have.
Dean: How I feel... This... inside me... I wish I couldn't feel anything, Sammy. I wish I couldn't
feel a damn thing.

Gail said, “Dean’s confession about Hell was harrowing. Really showed off Jensen’s acting skills.”

Kate38 added, "Can any of us ever forget how hard we wept when Dean confessed what happened to him in hell? I'll never forget." 

Listen, you know where to find me – I’ll just be in my little corner, sobbing, clutching that roll of toilet paper because I ran out of tissues a while ago.

#33 "Brother’s Keeper" (10.23)

Oh Death.

To briefly recap, in this episode, Dean has gone off on his own. He’s investigating a murder/vampire case, and he’s trying to deal with the Mark of Cain (MoC). It’s not going well. Meanwhile, Sam and Cas are trying to find a cure for the MoC, hoping Rowena can find a spell in the Book of the Damned, and they need Crowley’s help in gathering the ingredients. Yeah, that’s not going to end well either.

Gail said, “Wow. Talk about suspense. One of the best season finales. Kept me wondering all the way through: How on earth are they going to get out of this one? I was really afraid Dean was going to kill Sam. I mean, we know Sam wasn’t going to be off the show, but still... masterful suspense, good writing. Superlatives all around.”

Kate38 said, "This one shocked me at the time. I mean, you can't KILL Death, can you? And Dean's not REALLY going to kill Sam, is he? I appreciated so many things about this episode. By the time we got to the end, I think I was exhausted. I loved the moment when Sam showed Dean the photos of Mary and their family, a reminder of his capacity to love and a guide to help him find his way back from wherever."  

Memorable Scene #1: Dean may not always have the greatest bedside manner when dealing with people, but as he investigates the murder/vampire case, he is cold and outright mean when he talks to the victim’s parents. The situation is even worse when he finds the vampire, with both the victim and a fellow hunter named Rudy – Dean taunts the vamp until he ultimately kills Rudy. When Dean returns to his motel room, he sees Cas’ bloody face and Rudy’s face in the bathroom room, and he punches the mirror, smashing it to pieces. Enraged, Dean then smashes up the rest of the motel room.

Lynn said, “Dean was so far from the Dean Winchester that I adore – brutal, cruel, without compassion or empathy. Going through the motions of being a hunter and doing “good” but far from the hero we know him to be. And yet, we know there’s some of Dean still there, in the guilt he can’t seem to shake. All season, Dean has been determined to fight the Mark as long as he can, to go down swinging. The rage he expels when he finally erupts just shows that he has finally realized he can’t do it anymore.”

Memorable Scene #2: Rowena tells Sam and Cas the three ingredients she needs for the spell: the forbidden fruit, the golden calf, and a sacrifice of something that the spellcaster loves. Rowena says there’s nothing she loves, not even Crowley. Castiel doesn’t believe her, saying, “Everyone loves something.” Touching her forehead, he sees that Rowena befriended a boy named Oskar some 300 years ago.

Memorable Scene #3: Sam finds Dean’s motel room, but Dean is gone. The keys to the Impala are there, along with a note:

She’s all yours.

Lynn said, “I started sobbing for the second time, because we all know that Dean would never give up his baby if HE hadn’t given up. And that knowledge is heartbreaking. Brilliant to show it that way; it had an impact on all of us like nothing else would have. The Impala means so much to US too, and we know that Sam’s heart is breaking along with ours.”

Memorable Scene #4: Dean summons Death, asking Death to kill him because he can’t fight the Mark. Death tells Dean that he can’t kill him. Death then explains ‘the Darkness’ to Dean, telling him the only way Dean can be killed is if he gives the Mark to someone else, in order to keep the Darkness locked away. Death offers to relocate Dean with the Mark far away from Earth where he will no longer be a danger. Dean calls Sam and tells him he’s done, and to come to him so he can say his goodbyes.

Memorable Scene #5: Sam arrives at the restaurant, and thus begins one of the most gut-wrenching confrontations between the brothers.

Dean: Truth is, when I left, I thought the only way out was my death. Well, I was wrong Sam, it's yours.

Sam: You'll never, ever hear me say that you, the real you, is anything but good. But you're right, before you hurt anyone else, you have to be stopped at any cost. I understand. Do it.

Death hands his scythe to Dean. Sam shows Dean a couple of pictures that he brought – of Mary Winchester, Sam and Dean as children – as a guide to remind Dean what it was to be good and what it was like to love.

Death: It's for family that you must proceed, Dean. To be what you are, to become what you've become, is a stain on their memory. Do it, or I will.
Dean: Forgive me...

Then Dean swings the scythe over his head and stabs Death, who crumbles into dust as Dean looks on in shock.

Memorable Scene #6: Crowley brings all the spell’s ingredients to Cas and Rowena. He also brings Oskar.

Crowley: Ah yes. All my long life, I wondered what I'd done to deserve a mother that showed no love. I pained over it, I built my bloody kingdom on top of it. Then one day epiphany struck, my mother was incapable of loving anything, for the first time in hundreds of years I felt free. Then you showed up in my dungeon, we communed and I began to realize you weren't incapable of love, you're incapable of loving me.

Rowena appears conflicted, devastated, but then she stabs Oskar and collects his blood in order to complete the spell. Back in the restaurant, lightning strikes Dean’s arm and the Mark is gone. Now that the spell is complete, Rowena grabs both the Book of the Damned and the codex, and she puts an attack-dog spell on Cas – Cas then attacks Crowley.

Lynn said, “Mark (Sheppard) and Ruth (Connell) blew me away in this episode, and broke my heart. There's hate between them now - the kind that only comes from once having been loved and from the pain of rejection. When Rowena has to kill Oscar, it kills her, but it kills Crowley too - he can no longer tell himself the fiction that his mother was incapable of love.”

In the final scene, as Sam and Dean leave the restaurant, lightning begins to strike the ground throughout the nearby field. Black smoke erupts from those holes and forms a cloud that consumes the sky. Sam and Dean rush to get into the Impala, but they are engulfed by the smoke.

Oh yeah, this definitely did not end well.

#32 "LARP and the Real Girl" (8.11)

In this episode, Sam and Dean meet up with Charlie again after members of a LARPing group start to die. I really want to end that sentence with an exclamation point because Charlie is back, but maybe that would seem insensitive to the dead LARPers? Seriously, I mean no disrespect. But – Charlie is back!

Alice said, “Silly fun that shows Sam and Dean at their best with their ‘little sister’. We needed to see more LARPing in this series!” Journalbookbinder was thrilled to see Charlie “in a leadership role.”

Lynn said this is one of her favorite episodes, adding, “Felicia Day is in her element as the geek girl queen and I've never loved Charlie more. I love how Robbie Thompson lovingly crafted such a multi faceted character and how Felicia brought her to life. I love that the fact that Charlie's sexuality just IS, and that she and Dean are so comfortable sharing an unabashed attraction to beautiful women. It makes their relationship something rare and special in media, and Charlie herself a character that's important to many fans.”

Sam and Dean arrive at the first crime scene. Dean wanders through, using his EMF, while Sam talks to the sheriff. The sheriff explains to Sam that the victim received some strange, even threatening, texts… and once again, we have one of the most memorable lines from the show:

Sheriff Jake Miller: Like, uh... "You shall bleed for your crimes against us," followed by the emoticon of a skull. And, uh, this beauty – "I am a mage. I will destroy you." These kids today, with their texting and murder.

Sam and Dean then question Lance, the person who sent the texts to the victim. He tells the boys about Moondoor. The boys do some research, and they soon learn that the Queen of Moondoor is none other than Charlie!

The boys catch up with Charlie at the Mooondoor site and they begin to talk about what is happening. Charlie gives them more details about other suspicious incidents, breaking out a map to help with her explanation. Dean is fully engrossed, helping her strategize. Then Sam gets a call, telling him how Lance died:

Sam: But the medical examiner said his body showed clear signs that he was killed by belladonna.
Charlie and Dean: The porn star?
Sam: The poison.
Charlie and Dean: Oh.

Charlie is then kidnapped! Sam and Dean eventually find her, walking into the tent just as she is about to kiss a beautiful Fairy, Gilda. She tells Charlie that Boltar summoned her, put her under a spell, and is forcing her to hurt the others. Boltar says he did all of it so that he could win the Battle of Moondoor and convince the Queen (Charlie) to make him her King. Boltar prepares to fight with Sam and Dean, and in that process, Charlie is able to destroy Boltar’s book of magic which frees Gilda and leaves Boltar powerless.

Then there’s that epic final scene where Sam and Dean decide to have a little fun: before they join Charlie in the battle, Dean gives a pep talk to the troops. Sam tells us that Dean’s speech is actually a speech taken from the movie Braveheart.

Gail called the episode funny and entertaining, adding, “Charlie is so likeable, and relatable as an every (wo)man who just wants to be free to live her life without worrying about the supernatural. Love Sam and Dean, mainly Dean in the end, realizing they need a little fun in their lives.  The ‘Braveheart’ speech and the costumes – Terrific!”

Lynn said, “Special props to the costuming department for dressing up Sam and Dean and Charlie in the battle scene! And props to Jared and Jensen for getting into it enough to paint their faces and rock some great hair, aka Jared finally donning a ponytail and Jensen in that blonde wig!”

#31 "Dark Side of the Moon" (5.16)

This episode begins with Sam and Dean awakening to the sight of two hunters pointing guns at them. They are there to kill Sam, blaming him for starting the Apocalypse. And bam! Walt shoots and kills Sam! Then bam! Walt shoots and kills Dean too!

Roy: Killin’ Sam was right, but Dean...
Walt: He made us and we just snuffed his brother, you idiot. You want to spend the rest of your life knowing Dean Winchester’s on your ass, ‘cause I don’t. Shoot 'im.

Dean: Go ahead, Roy, do it. But I’m going to warn you, when I come back I’m gonna be pissed.

Alice said, “Sam and Dean brutally murdered by hunters as a teaser! An attention grabber from the beginning! In between it all, a chance for the brothers to work on some long time family scars.”

Journalbookbinder added, “Great insight into Sam and Dean’s past and what they each value most from it.”

Gail said, “Interesting view of the brothers’ respective Heavens. Dean’s hurt is evident, but again, you can see both sides from each brother’s points of view, especially when Sam’s memories all seem to be about being apart from the hunting life. Poor Cas is devastated by Joshua’s news that God doesn’t want to intervene in the Apocalypse.  Talk about the ultimate negligent parent. Harbinger of things to come!”

Kate38 said, "I'll always wonder if they meant for this episode to be as sad as it was. Not only does Dean learn that the happiest moments of Sam's life were when he was away from his family, but Sam gets a first-time glimpse of what Dean's early childhood was like with Mary - something he never had a chance to experience for himself. And at the end when Castiel and Dean both discard the amulet because they realize God isn't going to help them, their despair is just... wow."  

As the rest of the episode proceeds, we are taken on a journey through Sam’s and Dean’s memories, as they make their way through Heaven. The first memory is Dean’s, a Fourth of July spent with a young Sam, setting off fireworks in a field.

Nightsky loved this scene, calling it a “precious moment between brothers. Both are happy and smiling, which is so rare.” Yes, it is good to see them like this, to know they did have happier times together.

Then Dean is alone again. Cas begins to talk to Dean through the radio of the Impala, confirming that Dean is in fact dead, but if he follows the road then he will find Sam. Dean finds Sam having a happy memory of a Thanksgiving dinner at the home of one of Sam’s crushes.

Dean: C’mon! Your Heaven is somebody else’s Thanksgiving. Okay. It’s bailing on your family. What do you want me to say?
Sam: Man, I never got the crusts cut off my PB&J. I just don’t look at family the way you do.
Dean: Yeah, but I’m your family.
Sam: I know...
Dean: I mean, we’re supposed to be a team. It’s supposed to be you and me against the world, right?

Suddenly, a floodlight is sweeping through the house, and the boys hide. Cas talks to them through the TV, telling them that Zachariah is looking for them so he can send them back to Earth; Cas also tells them this is their chance to find God, and tells them to look for someone name Joshua in Heaven’s garden.

As they make their way to the garden, Sam and Dean travel through several memories, including:

Dean: Kind of trippy, right?
Sam: Yeah. More trippy. Um. Apparently, you ‘wuv hugs.’
Dean: Shut up.

Ash appears, saving them from Zachariah’s pursuit. Ash explains Heaven to Sam and Dean:

Ash: Mm-hmm. Yeah. See you got Winchesterland. Ashland. A whole mess of everybody-else-lands. Put them all together: Heaven. Right? At the center of it all? Is the Magic Kingdom. The Garden.
Dean: So everybody gets a little slice of paradise.
Ash: Pretty much. A few people share—special cases. What not.
Dean: What do you mean ‘special’?
Ash: Aw, you know. Like, uh, soul-mates... Anyway. Most people can’t leave their own private Idaho’s.

Ash then shows them a shortcut to the garden.

The memories continue: this time, Mary is taunting Dean, telling him he’s a burden, that it’s his fault that everyone leaves. Zachariah is actually behind this, and he tells the boys he will torment them until they give up and return to Earth. Fortunately, Joshua appears and tells Zachariah that he needs to speak to the boys.

Joshua tells Sam and Dean that God knows what is happening. He also confirms that God saved them when Lucifer was resurrected, and God resurrected Cas, and now God has given them salvation. Joshua also tells them that God is on Earth, but the amulet will not help them find Him. God does not want to intervene (in the Apocalypse) anymore, and He doesn’t want the boys to intervene either.

And then there’s that sad, heart breaking final scene, when Sam and Dean are back on Earth, and they tell Cas what they learned from Joshua.

And Cas gives the amulet back to Dean, saying:

It’s worthless.

Dean is sad and angry and broken. He drops the amulet in the trashcan as he leaves the motel room.

I just can’t. I have used all of my tissues in writing this article this week. I Cannot. CAN-NOT. No one had better even mention that F-word (F**aL Season) to me for the next several days.

And that’s episodes 40-31 in the Top 100 Favorites list! Did any of these make it onto your list? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to join us as we continue the countdown with episodes 30-26!

-MamaPrior, Photographer

Twitter: @MamaPrior or @PriorStudios
IG: @priorstudios
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See the whole list of our Favorite 100 Episodes from the beginning!  You can find them all with the tag Top 100 Episodes!

Need a little help compiling your Top 100 Favorite Episodes? Karen and Nightsky are sharing their Top 10 episodes of each season, to coincide with the #SPNSummer2019 Hiatus Rewatch. You can find those lists, and all of WFB's Top 10 articles in WFB's Article Archives!