I’m in an entirely new headspace for watching the last episodes of Supernatural, which is making writing a recap and review an entirely new challenge. There’s a big part of me that just wants to watch and drink it up, absorb every last morsel of experience with my favorite fictional characters and savor it, no matter what. I am acutely aware, every single second that I’m watching, that my last minutes with the Winchesters and company are ticking down. The other part of me is aware of the same thing but reacts instead with “omg please don’t waste a single moment of these last minutes!” That part is more likely to get frustrated when it seems like those precious moments are indeed wasted.
That’s complex enough, but I am also acutely aware that there are competing motivations here. As a fan, I want the last eight episodes to be satisfying – to continue the story that has meant so much to me and to wrap it up in a way that makes sense and honors the characters I love. For the people who actually make the show – the cast, the crew, and the writers – the motivation is different; more personal, more idiosyncratic. I value the fictional story and characters; they value their workplace and their colleagues and perhaps their legacy with this show. I’m most concerned about wrapping the story; they may be most concerned about saying goodbye to friends and coworkers, or about wrapping their own part of the story instead of the holistic one. Nobody is right or wrong, but it means we’re going to want different things and respond to things differently as we head toward the end.
And as if all that wasn’t complex enough, COVID19 has changed the entire landscape of the world and made Supernatural ending even more emotional than it already was – and much more complicated. Some days, it seems like the world is crumbling around us, and I realize that I need Supernatural more than ever. Yes, I know it’s “just a television show”, but it has been a lifeline for many fans for a decade and a half. I don’t know when we’ve ever needed that lifeline more than right now, in the grip of a global pandemic that is attacking people’s health, safety and livelihoods. When this beloved show is gone, the world will seem that much colder and scarier. I think we’ll make sure the lifeline is still there in terms of the fan community and continuing to engage with the cast in whatever they’re doing, but we won’t have the ongoing story itself to immerse ourselves in. That just means my emotions are running higher than ever about Supernatural ending!
And finally, the ending itself is all up in the air right now. Filming was suspended at the end of last week, as it had just begun on the penultimate (I know, nobody says penultimate…) episode, 15.19. The last one to finish filming was 15.18, which likely left us in a cliffhanger situation without an end. Yesterday producer Jim Michaels reassured a worried fandom that once it was safe to resume, they would “finish what we started” but the uncertainty just adds to the anxiety of impending loss. Will the crew who has been a part of this family since the start be able to be there to resume too? I’m trying to take heart from what Michaels said and not worry, but it seems like worry is a lot of what I’m doing right now!
That said, I was glad to have Supernatural return on Monday night with episode 15.12, Galaxy Brain, written by Robert Berens and Meredith Glynn, and directed by Richard Speight, Jr. It wasn’t a keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your seat episode by any means, but its last scene did set up the foundation for how the rest of the series will go. I didn’t jump up and down and scream about how much I love this show as I was watching, but it had its moments that were satisfying – as well as a few head scratchers. Mostly, it made me aware that we all participate in this show for different reasons and have different motivations, so for some, this episode satisfied, and for others, it frustrated.
I had a few emotional moments, so I always count that as a win.
Rob Benedict returns as Chuck on ‘Earth 2’ as the episode begins, in a Radio Shed with a hapless and very relatable employee trying to sell him a universal remote. I had to laugh at how right they got it, memories of once-beloved Radio Shack stores making me all kinds of nostalgic.
I enjoyed the nod to Rob’s actual band, Louden Swain, as one of their songs plays in the store – with a lyric that includes “I had a dream that I ate your heart” that is just too perfect considering Jack’s charge from Billie this season. In fact, the fake store was so well done by Jerry Wanek and his amazing crew that director Richard Speight, Jr. tweeted that a few people came in off the street to try to buy a phone!
Chuck then goes full on meta – a little too on the nose for me at this point, even though I usually enjoy the meta. I enjoy it less now that we have so little time – I just want episodes that focus on saving people, hunting things, the family business. And I find myself wanting to stay ‘in the story’ more, knowing I have so little of it left.
Chuck: It’s monologue time.
Me: Okay, Show. We get it.
Employee: Sir, this is a Radio Shed.
That was one of the best lines in the episode and it made me laugh out loud. Kudos to Nicco DelRio for that delivery and Speight’s directing.
The rest of the monologue was a little too self aware for my taste, with Chuck’s declaration that he’s going to get rid of all the worlds that don’t “spark joy” like the real Sam and Dean do. (I mean, I do agree with him, but…) He needs to clear the slate (now that there are only eight episodes left…something that’s been complained about by fans)
Chuck: The subplots, the failed spinoffs, it’s time to start cancelling shows…
Me: I said I get it, Show.
Thank you, Mr. Speight, however, for that close up of Rob Benedict’s pretty blue eyes.
The ‘time to start cancelling shows’ hit particularly hard, since I don’t have much of a sense of humor about Supernatural ending right now. It wasn’t cancelled, but it is ending, so – no laugh from me at the meta messages this time!
But again, I’m aware that while this didn’t work for me, I’m not the only one trying to come to terms with the ending and make it right. Berens, one of the writers of this episode, was also the creator of the world of Wayward Sisters (the actual “failed spinoff”). That show’s failure to launch was painful for him and for Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster and the rest of the WS cast, and for the fans who were enthusiastically rooting for it – and it feels like this episode was largely about some closure for all of them. Thus the explicit framing, I’m guessing. Kim said just this past weekend that it still smarts, so I’m hoping this episode helped.
In Sioux Falls, Kim Rhodes’ character Jody Mills is investigating cattle mutilations and talking on the phone to one of her Wayward Daughters, Alex. They mention Patience, and later they’ll mention Claire, and of course we’ll see Kaia again – so that means all the WS gang was “included” in some way in this episode – other than Briana Buckmaster (Sheriff Donna Hanscum), whose presence I greatly missed. I think that was important to both the writer and the cast and the WS fandom, that they get some sort of actual ending for WS. (Alex was voiced by Katherine Ramdeen reprising her role, and Berens even gave her a vegan shout out, which made me smile).
Jody is still brave and empathic at the same time – she’s a character I’ve loved from the start – but this time all that gets her is beat up and captured and calling the Winchesters for help. The Winchesters and Cas are at the bunker disagreeing about whether they should trust Billie and her heart-eating instructions to Jack.
Cas: The hearts were disturbing…
Sam seems to be the one thinking the most clearly, pointing out that a) Jack still doesn’t have a soul and they have no idea where his head is at, and b) What about the cosmic balance that’s always been a part of canon? Have we dumped that now? Can Billie really be trusted?
Jack, meanwhile, runs his hand sadly over Mary’s initials carved into the table (which makes me cranky every time I see it) and silently calls to Billie.
He gets sassy reaper Merle instead. I like Merle. Sandra Ferens does a great job making her memorable. She chastises Jack, saying she’s there to keep him in line. Sam comes in to check on Jack and we get a little Dad Sam moment as he tells Jack that he could have come to them first, they would have tried to help him. It’s tense between them, but Sam seems to want to reassure Jack despite his own doubts. It’s a very Sam thing to do, and I love him for it.
While Jack and Sam are chatting, Dean and Cas share a drink and Cas insists that he knew all along that Jack would be good for the world – it has clearly weighed on him and he’s relieved that it seems like maybe that will be true. The scene seems intended to show us that Dean has gotten over his anger and upset about Jack killing Mary and also any anger he had at Cas for his perceived part in that, and that they’re all on the same page now. The two clink their glasses and celebrate Cas “being right”, which seems like a tempting fate idea to me and never a good idea on this show.
Sure enough, Jody calls and says she’s in trouble.
Sam and Dean and Baby to the rescue, and a few minutes of old school Supernatural with the Winchesters, guns drawn. They’re ambushed by Dark Kaia, Dean in a headlock but still snarky and defiant – and yes, that’s the Dean I love.
Jody helps out by smashing a chair on DK’s back and they hold her at gunpoint. Only then does she ask for their help, saying her world is dying and our Kaia with it – and wait, actual Kaia is actually alive. What?? Pretty sure that was NOT the case, but apparently it is now.
Jody: Oh god… we left her there for dead…
Kim Rhodes is so good, that one line just broke my heart. The guilt of that realization came through loud and clear.
DK has said the magic words where the Winchesters are concerned: I need your help.
The Winchesters cannot say no to that kind of plea.
So back to the bunker she goes, where Cas and Jack are playing Connect Four and I’m pretty sure that Cas is letting Jack win and it’s adorable.
Cas to Jody: Nice to finally meet you in person.
Jody looks pretty happy about it too.
Dark Kaia interrupts the nice moment to remind them that they’re running out of time (or Kaia and the other world are) and that she needs Jack to open a portal like now.
Dean to DK: Hey, notKaia? Not helping.
Jensen Ackles can make one line so funny even in the midst of a serious scene, seriously.
They all spend some time futilely trying to figure out another way to get DK back to her world and our Kaia back to this one, to no avail. I wonder why they don’t try contacting Michael, since what they really need is Archangel grace. Or why didn’t they ask if he would leave some?
Jody and Cas bond over their affection for Claire and their worry of what it would do to her if they can’t save Kaia. We get the confirmation from Jody that Claire loved Kaia, and that she’s spent the past few years looking for revenge for her death, thus including Claire in the narrative and giving some explicit validation to that ship and its representation.
Jack overhears their concern.
Sure enough, Jack goes to talk to DK. Who manages to pretty easily guilt trip him into helping her.
DK to Jack: Anything else you wanna say, Off Limits Boy?
I got a kick out of that line too. Yadira Guevara-Prip did a nice job of making Dark Kaia different than regular Kaia, and both of them interesting. I get the feeling that Dark Kaia is pretty much a master of emotional manipulation – who knows how she got that way, since she didn’t seem to get a lot of practice interacting with others on her world. Jack gives in and dreamwalks to her world, seeing Kaia there (with her lizard in a cage).
Jack announces to the Winchesters and Castiel that he’s saving Kaia, that he owes it to her. Suddenly, the reaper Merle appears and shakes her head in dismay.
Merle: Risking it all for one person? That’s not just dumb, that’s Winchester dumb.
Dean: Wha – heyyy!
Entire fandom: I really need that on a tee shirt.
She’s right, too. That is Winchester dumb – and it’s one of the reasons I adore them. Risking it all for one person is what they’re all about.
Jack has learned some negotiating skills and how to use a well-placed threat though, and he convinces Merle to help them.
Merle: This is Winchester stupid…
Dean: (sensing her capitulation) But…?
But indeed. Merle helps them “juice up” the wards all over the bunker that Amara peeled away (when did she do that? I’ve lost track…)
Merle: I’m gonna need to borrow your angel to juice it up.
Much of fandom: Hmmm, angel juice?
Sam gets to do some Latin incantation and then it was very cool to see the wards and sigils appear all over the bunker, along with some very cool Jay Gruska music. I got unexpectedly emotional about the bunker as the camera traced its beams and doorways and stairwells. It is so beautiful, and so unique, and so much the Winchesters’ home, and I realized suddenly that I’m going to miss it terribly. I’ve only had the honor of being inside it once, but I still remember how in awe I was to be there, and how truly impressive it is. I’m really glad it got some appreciation in this episode, thanks to director Speight and some well done VFX.
We get a rare iconic and everyday sort of Sam and Dean moment as they get ready to go through the portal to save Kaia.
Dean to Sam: How you feeling about this?
Sam: Honestly? Feels like we’re taking a big probably stupid risk…. Feels good.
Dean nods in agreement.
Sam: Destroying cosmic entities, doing the dumb right thing…
Sam tightens up Dean’s backpack, both of them doing what they know so well, preparing for a hunt together like they have their whole lives, so smoothly. I relish those little moments.
Sam: Feels like we’re back.
And it does. For that moment at least, it felt like the Winchesters were doing what we’ve loved seeing them do for fifteen seasons. Saving people, hunting things. We don’t get to see it a lot and we won’t see it for much longer, and that realization made me tear up all over again.
Cas asks Jody to stay behind with him, and she at first balks.
Jody: What is this, some BS male chivalry thing?
Cas explains that he was never able to make things right with Claire, that he knows what he took from her. That he’ll never be able to, but at least Claire has Jody now.
Cas: She needs you. If she lost both Kaia and you…
Jody: That would kill her.
It’s a moment of shared understanding between them, and another part of the WS story put onscreen before the end. It was also a bit of insight into Castiel – he doesn’t forget, or gloss over it, but he does care and he does feel bad. It’s a moment of humanity for him that Jody shares.
So Jody stays behind, the wards are juiced, Jack opens a portal, and Dark Kaia goes through.
Sam hesitates, looks back at Dean.
Dean nods, and in they go.
Big damn heroes.
The red eyed things surround them instantly.
Dean: Oh crap.
There’s not a lot of tension to their rescue mission, though, because the monsters are more scared of Chuck’s world ending stuff and they know right where to quickly find Kaia, who comes out when they call her name.
Dean: Hey, kid.
Kaia throws herself into Dean’s arms, which threw me out of the story because – really? In the THEN segment we were vividly reminded that Dean once ordered her at gun point to “get in the damn car!”, which shocked and appalled me at the time, especially because she was so recently traumatized. One would think that would preclude the real Kaia from wanting to fall into his arms. Both his affectionate “hey, kid” and her reaction seemed off to me – they don’t know each other well at all, and more than half of their interactions were pretty negative.
Once again, though, these last episodes are for different things for different people. Berens tweeted his own personal motivation.
Berens: Kaia hugging Dean at first sight was important to me. As much as the gun incident weighed on Dean (and as much as Dark Kaia played that guilt card to get in his head) – Dean’s a hero, and saved her.
I get the feeling that Berens needed to make that right, so even if it didn’t ring quite true for me, I get it. He also said that while the episode was about Sam, Dean, Cas and Jack reintegrating as a family in time to face the fight ahead (Connect four, anyone?), for him and others who care about WS, it was about saving Kaia and finishing off in some way the arc of what would have been Wayward Sisters, which is what I’d guessed.
Also, Sam’s windblown hair in the other world is magnificent. Just saying.
Kaia is reunited with a relieved Jody, and we see that she’s okay with Jack too. That was pretty much the theme of this episode – everyone is okay with everyone else. Much of this last season has been devoted to ‘making things okay’ and giving side characters a resolution of some kind. I don’t think that always has to be the case actually, and it’s not what I would have voted to have the last season be about, but I can see its appeal too. Especially for a cast who genuinely cares about each other.
Jody: You can come back to Sioux Falls to my home.
Kaia: Will Claire be there?
Jody: She will be, soon.
Kaia thanks them and they leave.
Jody turns around and looks over her shoulder at Sam and Dean and Cas and Jack, and Kim Rhodes has such a fond and wistful expression on her face, and I suddenly teared up. That was Jody saying goodbye – that was Jody managing to survive to the bitter end, after all the times we feared she might not. And that was Kim Rhodes, saying thank you for this wild ride that being on this show has brought to her and so many others. It made the reality of the show ending so imminent and so palpable, and it cut deep.
Kim Rhodes live tweeted the west coast airing and echoed my thoughts – trying to let it sink in that she did, in fact, survive.
In fact, this season has ensured that almost everyone survived in some way, shape or form. I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but I was rooting for Jody Mills this whole time.
The episode did the best it could to wrap up the Wayward Sisters story line, mentioning Claire (since there’s no way they could have gotten Kathryn Newton back) and Patience, hearing Alex on the phone, and bringing back Kaia. I felt the absence of Donna acutely, though. I don’t think they ever understood that the show many of us wanted initially was Wayward Daughters, focused on Jody and Donna.
They have about ten seconds to contemplate their victory before Death appears and cuts down the reaper Merle just like that, with some nice directing by Speight. (Damn it, I liked Merle!)
Sam and Dean and Cas and Jack stand there open mouthed for a very long time as Billie borrows Crowley’s famous line, “Hello, boys.”
Lisa Berry brings a terrifying gravitas to Death, and was suitably menacing in this scene as she informs them that all the other worlds are dying.
Sam stands right up to her, which made me want to cheer him. That’s the Sam Winchester I know and love!
Sam: What’s your end game, Billie? Jack’s gonna kill God? How?
Billie informs them that everyone has a book, even God. That everything dies.
We get a flashback of original Death (hello Julian Richings!) saying that yes, one day he will reap God.
Also? Baby Dean was so cute!
It turns out that Jack is in God’s book. And he’s not the only one.
Billie: I told you, Dean. You and your brother have work to do. You are the messengers of God’s destruction.
I must admit I loved that line and I loved what that sets up, even it’s still not exactly clear to me why that cosmic balance no longer applies. I need the Winchesters to be relevant again to the end plot of this show – not bit players or supporting players, but integral to what the show is about. Special in some way, not incidental. Please let that line be setting up just that!
We end with Chuck still at the Radio Shed, hapless employee exhausted on the floor. Chuck watches the worlds be destroyed, then gets up to walk out.
Hapless employee: You’ll spare this world, though. Right?
Chuck cups his face in a parody of tenderness and promises he’ll be fine.
Damn, Rob Benedict, for someone so sweet in real life, you can be super scary!
As he walks out, an asteroid crashes into the store and presumably obliterates it – and that world.
The episode tied up some loose ends that were important to people both on the show and in the fandom. It puts Sam, Dean, Castiel and Jack on the same page, and sets us up for the last episodes, which I’m really hoping I can absolutely jump up and down love while I still have the chance. And it contained some emotional beats that did ring true for me.
The previews for next week delighted me (at least for now!), and maybe an episode with some humor will be just what we need (although with so few episodes left, I also don’t want filler!). At least I know there’s one scene I’m going to appreciate – but damn it, Sam, leave the man bun alone!
Caps by kayb625
Gifs by jaredandjensen
Until next week…
You can preorder the new book written by
the actors and fans of Supernatural, all about
its legacy and what makes it so damn special,
at peacewhenyouaredone.com We all hope
it can help us all get through the ending
and keep inspiring us too AKF!