This time last year, I was weeping in devastation over the demise of beloved Dean and worrying over his horrific time to come in Hell (yes, I care about these characters too damn much). This year, while I'm still very frightened for our boys (and their now fugitive angelic companion as well), and let a "Damn You Kripke!" slip at the cliffhanger ending, I find myself pumping fists more than breaking out the Kleenexes. That's a way to cap a spectacular season!
Again, we must bow at the feet of the master. This year's finale is especially bittersweet, for even though it's the final exclamation point on an already spectacular season, it comes without the patriarch that usually closes the seasons, Kim Manners. Eric Kripke does an incredible job taking on all the stressful roles of writer, producer, and director for this truly brilliant piece of work. Even though he's only directed one episode before, season two's "What Is and What Should Never Be," he proves that he has what it takes to use the camera to keep us on the edge of our seats and leave us begging for more. Awesome man!
We get answers! Sure, more questions too, but hey, we need something to take us into next season. The most satisfying resolution clearly comes from Ruby's story playing out. After two seasons and plenty of ambiguity, the outcome isn't too surprising. She's evil, and was brought in to manipulate Sam to carry out the master plan of freeing Lucifer. Still, I feel a HUGE payoff from how it plays out, and looking back find her overall plan brilliant. It all comes full circle, right down to both brothers giving her a well deserved gutting like a fish.
Castiel goes rogue! He grows a pair! Man did he buy himself a mess of trouble, and all because he listens to Dean. It's incredible how their relationship has progressed through the season and the impact they've had on each other. I've already got my season five wishlist going, and Cas tops it. He rescues Anna and together they go off to save the world, having some hot angel sex doing it. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?
Then we FINALLY learn Azazel's part in all this, and what the "endgame" was all along. Lilith breaks the seals, and Azazel delivers the "special child," the only one who can break the final seal. The plan is 37 years in the making, which is like 3700 in Hell years (give or take a few thousand). I have a feeling we have only seen the beginning of the "end game," and there's plenty more to be learned.
The most jaw dropping part is the plan has been known by the top angels for a while, who have no problem letting it happen. Seems they're into some cleansing of humanity for their own reasons. Zachariah is the angelic version of Azazel, and every bit as evil. His "God has left the building" remark actually makes Lilith, Azazel, and Ruby seem like the ones with the true faith, since they actually still believe in their Lord. This show does love to twist things. Kripke, you magnificent bastard.
Get To The Brothers Already
Despite the plenty of side distractions, the main crux of the story is the fractured brotherly relationship. The wounds are still stinging from last week's all out brawl, with Sam out of hope and ready for death while Dean is being stubborn over his wounded pride. Sam and Ruby are holed up in the same squalid house from "I Know What You Did Last Summer," while Dean gets a tongue lashing at Bobby's for being too much like his dad. Just as Dean is pondering to go after Sam, the angels step in to stop that plan.
I have to admire Kripke's twisted sense of humor, for the angelic "green room" is a near exact replica of "Jupiter and The Infinite Beyond" from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's just another perfect way of showing Dean is stuck in another realm. He can have cheeseburgers from Delaware (which are great, I can attest), his favorite beer from "What Is and What Should Never Be," and Ginger in full color and Mary Ann, but all he wants is Sam. Aww, how sweet. Too bad that's the one thing they won't let him have.
Dean's role in all this is still in question, which is one of those mental notes for season five. His destiny isn't to stop the apocalypse after all, it's to kill Lucifer, after a whole truckload of eggs (aka humanity) are broken. His reward is eternal peace. Dean doesn't really care much for that reward, since he's never been comfortable with it anyway. Did Zachariah forget the Winchester motto? "Saving people, hunting things, the family business?" I'm still trying to figure out how Dean is going to be powerful enough to kill Lucifer. If Castiel can't kill someone like Alastairâ€¦oh screw it, we'll find out next season.
Dean's greatest triumph is getting through to Castiel, showing the conflicted angel once and for all that something's rotten in Heaven. My "Hell Yeah!" over Castiel forming the sigil with his own blood on the wall and sending Zachariah away scared both the cat and the dog. Not hubby though, since we shared a high five. Then we stopped when Castiel reveals the ultimate dinger, Lilith is the final seal. You knew that and didn't tell anyone Cas? What did those big bad angels do to you?
Dean and Castiel risk the wrath of an archangel to get Chuck The Prophet to tell them where Sam is, and Chuck proves to be the wisest character in the entire episode. He knows the end is coming, so he's going out by planning an all-nighter with twenty hookers. That leads to the line of the episode from Castiel. "You guys aren't supposed to be here. You're not in this story." "Yeah, well, we're making it up as we go." See, Dean is wearing off on Castiel!
Meanwhile, at a convent in Maryland, one that happens to have a doorway for Lucifer should he break free, Sam's predestined role continues to play out. Getting there isn't easy though, for Sam lets his doubts creep through. He's actually starting to believe Dean was right. Of course that's because he doesn't want to drink all the blood of an innocent nurse with an evil demon inside of her, showing a glimmer of hope that old Sam is still inside there by thinking that's wrong. Poor Sam though, for whether the sabotaged apology voice mail of Dean's comes from Zachariah or Ruby (I think Zach, since he said steps were being taken), it's enough for him to act like the monster Dean accuses him of being and sacrifice the nurse.
Yes, Sam is played like a violin right to the end, when he stretches his arm out and does his demon killing mind trick on Lilith (complete with total black demon eyes). He doesn't even notice that Dean has arrived (a la the hand slap of transportation from Castiel), even though Ruby does when she closes the door on him. Sam stops though when he hears Dean's voice, but Lilith, being an evil demon and all, knows how to push Sam's buttons. She taunts him over letting himself become a monster and then not following through. His temper gets the better of him and he finishes the job, finally getting that long sought after revenge as a dead Lilith falls to the floor.
If there's any episode that'll truly break a Sam fan's heart, it's this one. Sam's pinpoint focus on his thirst for revenge leads to the most catastrophic result possible. Blood pours from Lilith and forms a circle while a celebrating Ruby finally shows her true colors. Sam has broken the final seal and opened the door. Once Sam realizes what he's done, he's beyond consolation. His horror and devastation is perfectly played (well done Jared!), even using Dean's "you lying bitch" line. He's also too weak from taking out Lilith to kill Ruby, who is still too overjoyed over Lucifer being free at last. This is where we get Sam's big reveal that will be sticking with us to next season. He didn't need the demon blood after all to become as powerful as he did. It was inside him all along. The line, "You didn't need the feather to fly, you had it in you all along Dumbo," is pitch perfect.
Then comes the BEST moment of the night; the BEST moment of this season in a season loaded with plenty of goodies. Dean breaks through the doors, charges at Ruby who boasts that it's too late. "I don't care." Dean pulls out the knife, and a despondent Sam gets enough wits about him to stand up and hold Ruby for his brother. Dean stabs, she sputters, and ding dong the witch is dead! (Happy dance, happy dance). The brothers are together, and suddenly all is right with the world again. Oh, except for Sam's heart crushing "I'm sorry" to Dean and Lucifer rising in a flash of white light as the screen fades, but that becomes next season's worry. Sam and Dean are in it together (even clutching onto each other), and I'm happy.
That leaves us with so much to ponder, so many directions for the characters to go, so much to reconcile in the ever growing mythology, but that's what summer hiatuses are for. For right now I'm going to sit back, relax, and feel really grateful that there's a show like this on the air. This and the Chuck finale are the two I'll be watching over and over again with a big smile. And a "HELL YEAH!"
It should be noted that it's my dream to own a classic Mustang someday and I completely drool every time I see one on the road, but Ruby's never impressed me. I think it's because it's hers. I hope Sam gets the car now that she's dead. He'd look cooler driving it. He also needs to paint it black. The Impala needs a sister!
Speaking of cooler, no Impala in this episode? She must have wanted too much money.
The pop culture references are insane, but my favorite is "The Suite Life with Zack and Cas." My kids watch the Zack and Cody Disney channel version ad nauseum in my household, so I really found that joke hysterical. I'll take Zack and Cas over Zack and Cody any day! Second place goes to the mention of the holodeck. That was the only good part of Star Trek: The Next Generation much of the time.
Bobby didn't die!!! (Happy dance, happy dance.) Of course Jim Beaver told us in Cherry Hill he'd be back in season five, so I'm glad it'll be with his character alive and not some ghost.
The constantly changing paintings in the angelic suite are pretty wild, and I love the themes changing from heavenly to hellish. It sets the perfect tone for Zachariah's troubling confession. Again the archangel Michael is brought up. I'm sure that's important for later.
My grade, an A+. I'm not sure how this ranks in the all time list, but again, we get a classic for the ages. My grade for the season is an A. One of the best I've seen in network television, up there with The Simpsons season four and The West Wing season two. Thank you, thank you Mr. Kripke for your grand vision and perfect execution this season, and good luck planning the next one.
Is it September yet?