I'm so glad the show saved some of its meager music budget for the finale, and that they were able to bring back Carry On Wayward Son for the previouslies. That song and Renegade will forever be Supernatural to me, and the emotion hearing it brought forth had me crying before even a minute of the show had passed. I pretty much watched the entire episode through tears. Over the past weeks, the inevitability of Dean's fate, the grim hopelessness with which he faced it, and Sam's growing desperation as the deadline drew near all had been leading up to this night, this moment, and I knew in my heart it couldn't end well. And yet even as I despaired, I couldn't look away.
Everyone on the show made this finale amazing. Killer script by Eric Kripke. Stellar direction by Kim Manners. Fantastic sets, from the creepy, decrepit house in which the boys were squatting, to the cookie cutter perfection of the suburb Lilith was terrorizing. Haunting, evocative music. Visual and special effects that I wish had been a little less good. And the acting. The beautiful, unbelievable acting, from everyone involved. This episode was a masterpiece.
Dean was a little rough around the edges in this episode, as might be expected. He was scared. He was also determined to fight until the end, but only on his own terms, and only so far as it didn't risk anyone else. Jensen Ackles' performance was perfect. He was the Dean we love so much, strong, stubborn, and snarky still, but with layer upon layer of nuance. The stark look in his eyes and the hoarse catch in his voice told us volumes beyond the words in the script about the state of Dean's mind and heart. Dean had learned well the lessons of the Winchester past, and he made sure that the last time he saved Sammy, he saved him from himself. We knew how afraid Dean was of what awaited him on the other side of midnight, and yet he faced it with courage, steadfast, his last thought of Sammy's future, and Sammy's survival. His speech to Sam in those last seconds before the clock started to chime broke my heart:
"Keep fighting. Take care of my wheels. Sam, remember what Dad taught you, okay? And remember what I taught you."
Dean's final moments just about killed me. I've watched the episode four or five times now, and that scene, where the hellhounds literally ripped Dean to shreds, still makes me recoil, and physically throw my hands up to ward off the assault on my senses. I shudder, I cry out, I weep. And Kripke spared us nothing. Not Dean's screams, his writhing agony, his skin being cut into ribbons, or the geyser of blood spurting from his chest. To finish us off, we were treated to the sight of Dean in hell itself, in some black hole of unimaginable torture, suspended by hooks through his very flesh, screaming for Sam. That is the image I carry with me, burned onto the inside of my eyelids, guaranteed to invade my thoughts and dreams for months to come. *cries*
Sam wanted so badly to save Dean, to return in his own way the sacrifice his brother so recklessly made for him a year ago. Repulsed by the knowledge that he has had some connection to the demon world since he was an infant, Sam has never dared to fully explore what that connection may be, or how it makes him the unique and special individual who so fascinates the big bad. He was ready to take that final step in this episode, but Dean wouldn't let him. And so he did the only thing he could do, stand by Dean's side and fight.
Over the past three years, Sam has changed, from a smart law student with a hidden past, to a smart and ruthless hunter with secrets that remain hidden even to himself. Through it all he has kept a compassionate heart, which he no longer wears on his sleeve, but rather conceals deep inside, and an immeasurable love for his brother, who means more to him now than ever before. Over those same three years, Jared Padalecki has become an increasingly accomplished actor, and if he had any less talent, he could never have given us the Sam we saw this week.
Sam was a whirlwind of different emotions in this episode. First he was the embodiment of faith, seeking to bolster Dean with gentle assurances that everything was going to be okay. Next he was frustrated and desperate, when Dean refused to summon Ruby. Then stubbornly independent as he summoned her himself. Angry that Ruby had held information back from him, and wouldn't go along with him now. Both hopeful and afraid that Ruby was right about his dormant powers. Resigned as he agreed to follow Dean's lead. Deadly as he dispatched Lilith's demonic guards. His tender side even emerged as he hesitated to kill the little girl who was Lilith's human host. And finally we saw his unbearable, unwatchable pain as time ran out for Dean. Sam's tears destroyed me, as did his screams of anguish as he watched his brother be torn asunder right before his eyes, and his complete disintegration as he held a lifeless Dean in his arms. Oh, Sammy, what are you gonna do?
I'm left with so many questions, and so many fears. Can Dean even be brought back, with his body dead and well beyond repair? Will he come back human, or as something else? How long will the boys be apart? Is Sam doomed to become the emotionless killing machine with extreme OCD tendencies we saw in Mystery Spot? Was the power within Sam that defeated Lilith good or evil, and can he control it? To what lengths will Sam go to find and rescue Dean? And finally, will I survive this summer until Supernatural returns?
A few other moments between the brothers bear special mention. The callback to Crossroad Blues, when Dean hallucinated that Sam was some kind of an aberration, alive only because of Dean's deal, seriously creeped me out. It was made tremendously more effective by the way the vision ended with Jared's own distorted face, without any CGI enhancement. *shudders* Dean's conversation with Sam about how they are each other's weak spot, and how they have to fight the good fight the way John taught them, made me love these two boys even more than I did before, which I didn't think was possible. Dean Winchester, you are my hero. And of course the awesome, momentarily carefree moment when Sam and Dean drove in the Impala, singing their hearts out to Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive, made me smile in spite of my sadness and dread. That was an inspired scene, Kripke, and I adore you for giving it to us.
The rest of the cast rose to the occasion right along with the boys. Jim Beaver's Bobby was the epitome of loyalty and love, proving his declaration: "Family don't end with blood, boy!" Katie Cassidy gave us her best performance yet as Ruby and Lilith. Can she come back? Her host body is dead, right? She was shot by Bobby in Sin City, if she wasn't already dead by then. I would think that means the demon can come back, like Meg, but not the actress, but I don't know. And the latest in Kripke's long line of creepy little girls, Sierra McCormick, was the best one yet, careening crazily as she did between sweet moppet and evil personified. Yikes.
Although Dean spent most of this episode bloody and bruised, if not worse, Jensen still managed to look incredibly pretty. The eyes! The eyelashes! The lips! Guh. The scruff! The frackles! *flails*
But it was Jared who completely stunned me with his ethereal beauty. And I'm a Dean girl! But just look at him. Even his hair looks perfect, and don't even get me started on his skin. I could well believe that Sam would be Dean's savior, because he looked like an angel! And that jaw? Those cheekbones? *melts*
Screen caps courtesy of oxoniensis, with my thanks.
Random thoughts: Ruby called Dean a dick! hee! And yes, I'm 12. :) I loved how the Impala had one taillight out. It brought me right back to the one headlight in the Pilot. Grandpa literally fell in pie when he died! That has to be a shout-out, right? Why did Sam wipe Ruby's bloody knife on his own clothes? Yuck. Why the hell did Lilith kiss Sam? And even in hell, Dean still has his necklace, which for some bizarre reason gives me hope. *is grasping at straws*
So, there you have it. I finally took all that heartache and anguish and worry, and put it into words. Perhaps now it will stop haunting me. One part of me is embarrassed that a mere television show can have this kind of emotional impact on me, this much sway over my life, and the other part of me is just eternally grateful that such a show exists. Thank you to everyone who makes Supernatural possible for another wonderful season. And a very special thank you to Jared and Jensen for all their hard work, and for reaching so far within themselves to bring us the depth of emotion and the unguarded vulnerability we see so perfectly portrayed on our television screens. And to all my fellow fangirls, I echo the question that is being asked all across fandom: Is it September yet?