My first thought after finishing the episode was: WOW. Berens and the team really didn't pull any punches with this one, did they? This episode was an emotional gut-punch right from the beginning. I knew going in that this was going to hurt, but man I didn't expect this AT ALL.
First of all, my heart hurts for Sam. Having to see some of the folks he helped save go poof must be traumatic in a way that we will never understand. I really think that Sam carries much more trauma than we have ever seen on screen. He holds those things so close to the vest that I think there might be a lot there that we haven't seen. I get the feeling that within the next two episodes we might see that trauma reach a point where he can't hold it in anymore and he might just explode at Chuck because that's the only remaining target he has. Seeing Eileen killed for a second time also really hurt, but I'm glad Berens didn't repeat the Bucklemming mistakes. While I think we all knew her death was coming, it still hurt, but it wasn't a slap in the face like the first one was.
While Sam may keep his trauma close to the vest, I think Sam has always been in touch with his emotions. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and he doesn't try and hide what he's feeling. Yes, he pushes things down like a Winchester, but he is aware of his emotions on a level that I don't think any of the other characters are. I also really appreciated how much Sam sees. First, he sees Dean's anger and pain at the beginning of the episode after Billie leaves. He knows his brother so well, that he knows what he needs to say in order to help Dean feel better. The same goes for Jack. He sees Jack's despondency when he's talking to Donna, so he gives Jack something to do. Something to focus on. An objective to move toward. He might cover it up with needing to research, but he knows that Jack needs a direction to go.
Jack also had some standout moments in this episode. The one thing I'm not sure of is whether Jack has powers or not. Berens seems to be saying that Jack may have unconscious powers, but I'm not quite sure. I can't tell whether that plant died because Jack wanted it to, or because Jack has some weird new ability to kill things he goes near. I don't know. Otherwise, I think Jack had some great moments in this episode. The one that stands out to me is the conversation he has with Cas outside of Charlie's apartment. When Jack admits his fear to Cas, I think this was quite a breakthrough for Jack. He needed to be able to admit that to someone because I don't know if he saw past Billie's mission. He was certain this was the end for him, and now that he's on the other side of it, he's not sure how to feel about that. In his shoes, I'd be terrified as well. Without a mission or something to focus on, we've seen Jack make some mistakes before, and I think this time Jack fears what he might do because of Chuck and Amara (Chuckmara?? Amuck?? What's the term??). Based on what the promo showed, which wasn't much, I think Jack may still have powers, but he's no longer a Nephilim.
Okay. Now onto Dean and Cas. Before we get into the meat of the thing, I need to put something out there. I've never had a strong opinion on Cas. I think his character is interesting, and he has been a nice addition to the show, but that's where my feelings about him end. Also, I've always been a Sam person. That's not to say that I don't love Dean as well, but Sam has always been the character that I connected with. I'm also not really a shipper. People can see whatever they want in the text, but I just don't see it. So, with all of that in mind, let's get into the Dean and Cas of it all.
First of all, thank you to Berens for leaving this a little ambiguous. The phrase, "I love you," can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So whatever you see with Dean and Cas, this can affirm your view. For me, Cas meant it as family love. He loves Dean and Sam as his family, and he loves them fiercely and without reservation. The thing that stunned me the most about Cas's monologue was how much it hit the nail on the head about Dean. Cas is, I think, the only character who can see Dean for who he truly is. Yes, Dean is angry, hateful, judgmental, sarcastic, and hardened. But Dean is also silly, funny, protective, steadfast, loyal, honest, loving, caring, and soft when he wants to be. Cas has the ability to see the totality of who Dean is, even when Dean himself can't see it. Dean sees himself only as the bad. His self-esteem is so low that he can't see himself honestly. The same goes for Sam for a whole other set of reasons. Sam has a lot of baggage around Dean from their growing up, and I think it's left him with some permanent opinions about Dean that are not quite accurate.
The other thing that stunned me about the interaction between Dean and Cas was Dean's seeming lack of reaction. Over the last fifteen years, we've seen Dean protect himself with thick walls. Walls so thick that seemingly, there was nothing behind them. But here, we see Cas somehow weasel his way behind Dean's protective walls, and get right to the heart of things. Nothing Cas says is false, and while Dean may not be reacting so much, he is reacting. Dean is saying plenty, but you have to know how to listen. The clench of his jaw, the tears in his eyes, the constant looking around the room to avoid Cas's eyes. These are all classic things that Dean does to avoid the emotions that he forces behind walls. You can tell how much this has hurt him because we see Dean sitting on the floor of the dungeon, hunched over, bawling over the loss of Cas. We've seen Dean do a lot of crying over the last fifteen years, but I have never seen Dean bawl as he did here. This wasn't a single man tear situation. This was an ugly cry. A painful, I just lost someone so close to me, someone that can't ever be replaced, cry. Everything about this moment signals that Dean feels something deeply for Cas. No matter what that is, it's there, and I'm interested to see what the fallout will be for the last two episodes.
It seems that take two has gone better than take one. I think that's all I wanted to say. Two more episodes to go and I know those are going to HURT for real. So let's see where we end up. Brace for impact, everyone. We've almost reached the end.
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