Thoughts on Supernatural 15.19 “Inherit the Earth”
The penultimate episode, “Inherit the Earth” promised a lot, especially on the heels of last week's sweeping devastation. Over the months, this episode has been marketed as a “season finale” style vs episode twenty’s “series finale” air. So, did it deliver?
I have to say, yes.
Let’s break it down.
Vacancy on Earth
We open the episode with Sam and Jack meeting up with Dean, after a pan around the globe to show…nothingness. Everyone is just gone. Inside a bar, the tap is left running, a news program is on without the anchor, and a football game is broadcasting an empty field. There was something doubly eerie about the absence of people given the times we’re in, at least speaking for this reviewer, and the lack of people out day to day. The show is a little prescient or a little realistic in that sense. Since the vaporizing people came before everything went haywire, lets go with the former.
Hearing about Castiel’s death is the breaking point for Sam – he desperately calls their friends to no avail while Jack is reeling from the news and Dean struggles to offer condolences. This scene, though brief, was so poignant and well acted by all three men. You could feel Sam fray beyond what he could stand, a heartbreaking thing given he’s been trying to be optimistic and salvage some solution throughout this fight. For his part, Dean is clearly still reeling from the loss of Cas and can’t find a foothold, not even anger. Jack is just in shock. His was almost the most tragic reaction, because it was quiet and grief struck and he noticed immediately the angel’s absence.
Sam and Dean, without any other options, offer to surrender to Chuck – in whatever form that may take – in exchange for returning the earth to it’s former state. Including Castiel.
Chuck decides to keep Sam and Dean around for more amusement – a mistake many, many villains have made in the past. Don’t play with your food. Of course, Chuck thinks their suffering is more amusing, turning the knife on the point that if they had given in initially, none of this would have happened. That’s probably not true, given how capricious he is, but I digress.
This was another well done one by all involved.
Rob Benedict clearly has a blast being the evil, power-mad dictator. And for Sam and Dean, his words had different impacts. To this point, Dean had seemed frozen. Once Chuck began pontificating on how it was their fault, Dean sparked again. In anger of course, but with something. Sam, naturally took in the guilt as he earlier expressed it was his fault for not letting Chuck be ended.
From here, we see the boys wallow in their desolation in the bunker, including Jack for several days.
And then there is a presence.
For me, this is where the episode took a turn from, “not bad” to “pretty great” and here is why.
In the promo for the episode, we knew Dean would find a dog and be excited. I was excited – even my five-month old puppy was watching the TV when Dean was talking to that fluffy guy. Then he puffs out. The show gave us and Dean a moment of hope and light and ripped it away so fast and unexpectedly.
Add Chuck standing in the field waving and you’ve got some serious darkness happening there. It was unadulterated viciousness.
That look Dean gives Chuck? It really says it all. Like; ice, ice, baby.
Then of course, is the presence Jack sensed. Now, it’s not 100% clear if ALL angels were wiped out and Michael was lucky, the exact circumstances there. Either way, he has come out of hiding and is ready to help. Apparently, eyes wide open about his father.
These moments in the church add some extra gravitas to an episode already steeped in somber emotion. First and foremost, this scene was visually beautiful. The church lit with candles and stained glass casting various hues of shadows and light across the angel statues and divine tomes.
When it comes to our archangel, Michael seemed well and truly resigned to the truth of who Chuck is during his conversation in the church and willing to do what needs to be done to stop him. It was the air of, 'yes this is my parent and I love them BUT I know they are wrong and can’t let them continue doing this anymore.' In this, and other actions in the episode, there was some deep humanization of Michael.
To that end is Jake Abel. I have to give him credit for a top tier performance as Michael. This Michael was just enough archangel, but also, as they said, “daddy’s boy” looking for approval. It was subtle but he delivered those moments of longing in Michael’s words and looks, that we knew he was at least wavering until the last moments when he finally betrayed the Winchesters.
I also have to acknowledge the moment between Michael and Dean, of what seemed like mutuality, when Dean says sardonically, “Daddy’s boy” to wit, Michael smiles and nods.
There are parallels between Michael and Dean, which have been rehashed within the show. But where they diverge is always the key. Dean can stand up on his own. Michael, evidently, will always choose his father’s approval over the right thing.
Allies and Adversaries
Lucifer was a twist I definitely did not see coming, and hey, in times of tension and stress he may not be the best ally but gosh, do I appreciate his snark to lighten the mood.
Evidently resurrected with a mission by the Empty, Lucifer first imitates Cas – a cruel blow and gains entry to the Bunker. He facilitates reading the Death Book by bringing a reaper, killing her and promoting Betty to the new Death status.
This all happened so fast, and the little exchange with the boys, Betty and Lucifer was a nice bit of reprieve from the heavy moments.
More important, though, were the tensions between Lucifer and Michael once the Morningstar betrayed them all (in a not so stunning twist), revealing he was the “new favourite” of Chuck. Michael’s line was the perfect tip off that the Winchester’s couldn’t rely on him:
“He didn’t even reach out to me.”
This was delivered so wistfully, that even though it was buried among the chaos of Lucifer stealing the book, the show down with the boys and Michael killing him (apparently a show of allyship), the red flag parade marched through the bunker.
The Winchesters were never stupid.
There is one more thing about the Lucifer's surprise that is worth talking about.
Michael v Lucifer in this second to last episode closes a loop that was opened over ten years ago and in a sense, Chuck did get his Cain and Abel ending – just the one that was planned way back when. Michael and Lucifer were meant to kill each other years ago, in the vessels of Dean and Sam. Here we have Michael killing Lucifer, and of course he isn’t rewarded, the apocalypse isn’t triggered – the showdown between the two angels ironically facilitates ending the apocalypse by power boosting Jack.
Full circle, in a special Supernatural way.
I admit, when we got to the showdown with Chuck, I was really at a loss about where we would go.
A few things were clear: the God summoning spell was a decoy and boys knew Michael wasn’t to be trusted. What wasn’t clear was how Jack fit into this.
Until this point, Jack had been present but hadn’t done anything. It was a particularly good teaser during the Lucifer showdown, when it seemed like we might finally see what Jack could do, only to have Michael be there with the blade.
Of course, in the end, this was choreographed too.
Jack was kept near the action, without being obvious about it, until the end. But more on Jack in a minute.
Like I said, I did not have a clue the final direction of the confrontation with Chuck, except the Michael decoy.
Poor Michael – just wanted his father’s love and in the end, he died for it.
Chuck, finally bored with watching Sam and Dean suffer on the empty earth, decided to end them with his own hands. Personally, I wasn’t overly in love with the way this fight was edited together– I wonder if it was for the sake of distancing measures, it was choppier than I’d prefer to watch. That said, Chuck’s continued refrain of “just stay down” as Sam and Dean keep standing up over and over again was the best part of this fight. Of course, they didn’t stand a chance – but they were the diversion.
A few things to unpack in this.
First – Chuck didn’t really want to kill them, it felt like. He was pleading with them to stay down. But if he wanted to kill them – why? He just couldn’t end them while they had a fighting spirit left? He needed them to have absolutely no will left? Because that’s what appealed about them to him in the first place, their spirits and their drive. It was curious to watch him struggle with this.
Second – there was something fascinating that in the end, the Winchesters aren’t the main event, but the diversion for the hero who will save the day. Chuck was so blind by their “story” he couldn’t see that it wasn’t the main plot. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way downplaying Sam and Dean here – simply the irony that usually they sweep in and save the day ultimately where here, it’s the next generation – Jack – who did that and it was facilitated because Chuck was so consumed with them as the centrepiece in the story.
“This... This... This is why you're my favorites. You know, for the first time I have no idea what happens next. Is this where you kill me? I mean I could never think of an ending where I lose. But this, after everything that I've done to you... to die at the hands of Sam Winchester... of Dean Winchester, the ultimate killer... It's kind of glorious.”
In the end, Chuck is left with the ultimate of ironic twists: he is made human and sentenced to live out his days as a simple man, growing old and dying. Like many before him, he flew too close to the sun and has fallen back to earth. And the worst part of this ending, at least for Chuck:
“… no one cares. And no one remembers you. You're just forgotten.”
In my opinion, the curse of humility on the big bosses is one of my favourites.
This was not the end I saw for Chuck – not that I could fathom one really – but it’s sort of perfect. His angels thought he chose humans over them. He was ready to destroy humans when he was bored with them. So now, he can suffer as one of us.
Plus, all the Heaven/Hell stuff that comes afterwards. Good luck, Chuck!
All Praise Jack
Jack, Jack, Jack. Our quiet little superstar.
Not life-taking powers, rather power-absorbing as a result of Billie’s trials. I am curious how the boys concluded, from seeing the plants in Jack’s wake, that this was power absorption versus anything else, but that’s a nitpick I can let go. It was a full episode after all.
It seems that once Jack absorbs the power, it’s his for good, which is why Chuck is… well just Chuck now. I’m curious to know if the original vision for this episode would have actually seen Amara merging with or being Jack physically and that was modified for circumstances as other filming choices were. In any respect, I was glad they acknowledged her.
I wondered for a while if Jack might become the new Chuck, given his rarified status as a Nephilim in this universe and his desire to find a place for himself. This seems like a perfect fit for his character, still in both worlds – celestial and humankind - while existing outside both worlds.
Once more, Alexander Calvert was magnificent as Jack in the final performance in this episode. And I’m not ashamed to admit I started to tear up right around this part of the episode, during Jack’s speech to the brothers.
“People don't need to pray to me or to sacrifice to me. They just need to know that I'm already a part of them and to trust in that. I won't be hands on. Chuck put himself in the story. That was his mistake. But I learned from you and my mother and Castiel that... when people have to be their best... they can be. And that's what to believe in. Well... I'm really as close as this. Goodbye.”
For most of his run, Jack has been youthful, sweet, unsure, at times mournful and often searching. Finally, we have a Jack who is at peace. Calm, balanced, assured of who he is and where he is meant to be, Jack was finally everything his mother and Castiel foresaw. It was a beautiful send off for Jack. It was also endearing to have him reassure the Winchesters that he’d be with them in spirit if not form, before offering his signature goodbye wave.
Back at the bunker, Sam and Dean offer a toast to all the comrades that have fallen along the way. It was simple, sweet and a perfect sum tribute for hunters and friends. From here, they head off to the sunset and leave us on a shot of the bunker table, now adorned not just with their initials and Mary’s, but Castiel and Jack.
Indelible and forever, family was here.
So, Sam and Dean are back where they started this journey: just two brothers. No celestials, no God, no resurrected parents. And now they can point the Impala and go. I don’t have a whole lot to say other than this was a beautiful montage. Jensen said originally they’d intended to film the actors and because of the pandemic, ended up subbing in a montage of flashbacks – I assume this is what he referenced. Again, I wonder if the original plan was to show the hunters – resurrected by Jack – back to work in the world.
This was a great tribute too.
Big bad is dealt with. Jack is running the show. Castiel is still gone. No archangels to speak of. Everyone (I assume) is resurrected. The boys are riding free. What more is there to say?
I can’t imagine what the finale will hold.
Oh wait, yes I can.
Tears. Lots of tears.