Three more episodes of Supernatural to go before the show comes to an end, so my highly emotional investment in every episode continues. Everyone is different in their way of coping with the show ending – some are pulling away, trying to protect themselves from the impending loss. Some are more invested than ever, determined to savor every last moment with their favorite characters. Some are just trying to hang on until the end. I’m clearly doing a terrible job of protecting myself or pulling away, since near the end of this episode I ended up bursting into tears and simultaneously screaming at fictional characters on my television as though they were standing in my living room. With gun drawn.
I’ve never loved a show that I knew so well that I had different expectations for an episode depending on who its writers were – until Supernatural. I like Meredith Glynn’s writing a lot, so I was already emotional knowing this was her swan song episode for Supernatural (though I’m excited she’s joining the SPNFamily who are over at The Boys next season!) Of course it’s not the writer who decides where the story arc goes, though, especially at this point in the series. I guess all that is to say I went into this episode with both anticipation and trepidation – and came out with a lot of feelings (and also profoundly emotionally exhausted). Mostly the episode worked for me, even if I had to do a fair amount of thinking about it to be okay with all of it. But I used up a lot of tissues in the process.
The episode title (“Unity”) tells us what will happen in it, which was inevitable considering there are only three episodes left. On each side, those who were ostensibly on the same team but at odds needed to come together so we could go into those final episodes with the battle lines clearly drawn. Sometimes that means plot comes before character in order to get from Point A to Point B, and that never makes me the happiest, especially with a show that I watch for the characters more than for the plot. Ideally the two goals aren’t antithetical. So with the title, we already knew where we were headed – it was just a matter of how to get there and would I enjoy the ride?
The first scene was very pretty. Amara in a pool in Iceland (which according to Emily Swallow was filmed in frigid weather, so argh poor Emily). Shooting stars fill the sky, reflected in her eyes as she looks up, and she says softly, “Welcome home, brother.”
Supernatural really is a sibling story, and Amara’s feelings for Chuck are as deep and complicated as Sam and Dean’s for each other. She’s a sympathetic character in this episode, which made me feel very bad for her throughout.
Much of the episode unfolds simultaneously, so they used chapter title cards of ‘Dean’ ‘Sam’ and ‘Amara’ to let us know that – which hasn’t been done before, so it pulled me out of the story momentarily. I don’t think we needed them, but I guess I see what they were going for.
At the bunker, Sam calls Cas, both of them frustrated at running into dead ends as they desperately try to ‘find another way’. Sam gives Dean the cold shoulder, things between the brothers strained and chilly after their car argument last episode.
Dean: So this is how it’s gonna be, you giving me the silent treatment?
They fall right into another argument, Dean insisting that “this is the only way” and Sam snapping back, “Don’t you ever get tired of saying stuff like that? Our last chance, our one shot…”
He’s so angry he’s ridiculing Dean, making fun of him for his sincerity and insistence.
Although both have a point here, really, since other times when they’ve let themselves be talked out of making a sacrifice, there have certainly been consequences, whether AU hunters being slaughtered by Michael or releasing the Darkness or Billie becoming Death or whatever. There are no simple answers on Supernatural.
Dean insists that they don’t have to like it – and he clearly doesn’t like it – but “you and me, we gotta get it done.”
The “you and me” theme runs through the episode, for both pairs of siblings, as they struggle to get back on the same page. I really like Meredith’s examination of the bond between siblings and how deep it runs, and how complex it can be – something the show has always had as an underlying theme.
Amara interrupts their argument to let them know Chuck is back, and to ask how they’re planning to cage him (which of course, they aren’t.)
Amara: When God caged me, he had four archangels. Do you have four archangels?
Dean: No. We’ve got one Jack.
It was possibly the only humorous beat in the episode that made me snicker – much of the episode was more about reaching for the tissues than laughing. Emily Swallow can pull off both the snarky and the sad, and she does both in this episode.
Amara says she’s sorry she didn’t get a chance to know Jack and hopes when this is all over, she’ll be able to. Everyone – including me – feels incredibly awkward at that, and so bad for Amara. Dean’s lies have fooled her completely, and it’s hard to watch. Kudos, Emily Swallow, for making me feel for her.
Dean obviously feels bad too, but not bad enough to tell her the truth (a recurring theme of this episode).
Instead, he thanks her for helping to save the world.
Amara reiterates her certainty that she and Dean will never hurt each other, not realizing there are a lot of loopholes in that promise. Dean sighs and feels bad after their conversation, but steels himself and soldiers on. He’s singleminded, focused on the plan that he believes is the only way to break Chuck’s hold on them.
There’s a brief but touching conversation between Sam and Jack (we don’t get to see enough of them together, so I’m grateful), Jack asking Sam if he’s disappointed in him, or angry?
Sam says no, that sacrificing his life for a cause takes a lot of courage.
Sam: I still think it’s wrong, though.
He proves that when he refuses to come with Dean and Jack as they follow Billie’s instructions for the final step of Jack’s transformation, questioning why they’re going just on Billie’s word, which – good question, Sam!
Dean tries to talk Sam into it, again insisting it’s supposed to be “you and me”.
Dean: We have to do this, it’s in the book!
Sam: Blindly following orders? Does any of this feel right to you?
Dean: It doesn’t matter how we feel!
I also love that Meredith wove a subtle theme of the importance of emotions into this episode too. Especially when Dean’s feelings (anger at least) have been so pathologized this season, I liked the reminder that it in fact DOES matter how we feel. Emotions are as important to our decision making as logic, giving us valuable information to guide our choices. Sam will eventually get through to Dean not with facts, but with feelings.
Sam at this point in the story plays a card that usually works on Dean, saying that they don’t give up on family, but this time it doesn’t work.
Dean: Jack’s not family!
There was definitely a collective gasp from the fandom at that moment. Dean says he does care for Jack and he knows how Sam feels, but…
Dean: He’s not like you. He’s not like Cas.
Some melancholy and very effective musical score starts playing, and we see that Jack overheard what Dean said, but still insists “I’m ready.”
Dean clearly feels bad, but once again, he soldiers on. They hit the road, Dean glancing at Jack sideways from time to time, Jack stoic. It’s pretty heartbreaking.
Cas returns to the bunker after they’ve left, and we also get some Cas and Sam bonding, which we also don’t get enough of. Their friendship and family bond isn’t explored too often in canon, but it’s regarded fondly in most of fandom, so it was nice to see.
Cas: You stayed behind to find another way, huh? I would’ve done the same.
The melancholy music plays as they settle in to research, understanding each other and on the same page the way Dean is clearly not at the moment. Cas and Sam are both listening to their emotions (all of them) as well as looking for facts, and that’s put them in a different place than Dean.
Meanwhile, Chuck comes to talk to his sister in a beautiful garden that set dec worked wonders with, expressing his discontent with everything he created and his wish to do a “hard reset” to start over again.
Amara, however, has come to care about the world and about humanity, and doesn’t want to go along – and he needs her to do the reboot, so that’s a problem for him.
Amara takes Chuck to Heaven, hoping that his adoring angel “fans” will make him feel the love and change his mind. Nope.
Amara: I wanted you to feel the love.
Some of these scenes were Rob Benedict level cute, but Chuck remains unconvinced. He also tells Amara that she and Dean and whatever their thing was, he didn’t write that.
Chuck: Eww, gross.
Amara pleads her case, trying once again to convince Chuck.
Amara: I want balance, brother and sister again united, but on behalf of this world.
Chuck remains resolute.
Chuck: I always get what I want.
Amara: I guess that makes you the villain.
Chuck: Villains get all the best lines.
Not in this show, I think to myself, but go on, Chuck. Amara seems to have the upper hand for a hot second, as she zaps them right into the bunker. Chuck snaps his fingers to get out, but nothing happens. He appears angry, demanding, “is this a trap?” Of course, now we all know that he wasn’t either surprised or angry – since he set the whole thing up. Amara and everyone else are just unwittingly going along with his plan.
You know, I do see why Dean is so pissed off and desperate to end all this. It’s like a parallel process here – I am also pretty effing done with nothing that happens on this show being “real” and instead written by Chuck! I almost don’t know how to watch it anymore, questioning everything that happens. It sucks the enjoyment out of things – like Dean says later in this episode, it sucks the life out of things. How good can anything feel if it’s not really my favorite characters doing it or saying it? Which is why I do get where Dean is at – but more on that later.
Back to Dean and Jack in the car, and the heartbreaking.
Jack: I don’t need you to be sorry. I’m not like Sam, or Cas. I understand.
The thing is, that is true. I have a fondness for Jack, in part because Alex Calvert plays him flawlessly and it would be hard NOT to have a fondness for him. But I don’t think he’s family in the same way that Sam is, he hasn’t been around that long and he hasn’t had Dean’s back consistently for decades like Sam has. He isn’t family in the same way that Cas is, after a decade of ups and downs and working their way to the same side to fight together. They don’t have the history that Dean has with Sam, or with Cas. And as much as they have all had ups and downs and betrayals, neither Sam nor Castiel have actually killed Dean’s mother. If I try to imagine how I’d feel about someone who killed my mother (or my daughter) even accidentally, I’m not sure I could ever get to a place where that truly wouldn’t matter or I would entirely forget, even if I was able to forgive.
My heart still breaks for Jack because he doesn’t have a family, and that’s not his fault – and he longs for acceptance from the Winchesters and Cas. So I simultaneously want that for him and also understand why Dean struggles with complicated feelings for Jack. Ouch all around.
They arrive at the place Billie sent them to, Jim’s Gems, and meet up with – not Jim, but Adam. As in “the first dude off the assembly line”. And his companion, a beautiful woman.
Dean: So, that makes you Eve?
Actually no, it’s Serafina, an angel. This whole segment was weird. For some reason, Adam and Serafina do a lot of making out. And are very high.
Dean: What’s happening?
Me: Exactly what I was asking!
Other than some possible meta inspiration, I have no clue what the point of all that was. But Serafina is another angel whose loyalty is to humans instead of to God, so that may be a commentary that comes into play next episode when we get Castiel’s ‘chapter’ of the story. Adam hates God and apparently it’s his and Serafina’s plan to kill him, helped along by Billie. I have no clue why this doesn’t make anyone more suspicious. Adam asks Jack to identify which gem was touched by God; Jack says they all have the divine in them. Their existence makes them divine because God is in everything.
This seems like it might have some consequences for everyone’s big plans, btw. Hmm.
Jack passes the weird test, while the very weird Serafina goes on about how amazing it is that their plan has come together, to Dean.
Serafina: Think of everything that had to happen for you to get Jack to this moment. It was meant to be.
Again, you might think that would ring a bell for Dean and make him suspicious. Is it fate or free will? How much of this is orchestrated and who’s pulling the strings? Are there really any coincidences in life? These are the exact things Dean is struggling with, and this seems to fit right into the narrative.
Serafina pulls out a knife and stabs Adam, much to Dean and Jack’s shock.
Adam: “Dudes, chill.”
She carves out one of his ribs and pulls it free.
Me: Ohhhh. Adam’s rib. I get it.
Dean, alas, did not.
Dean: What the hell is this?
Come on, Dean, you’re smarter than that!
Adam’s rib is powerful enough to create life – or destroy God. When Jack fuses with it, he’ll become “like a metaphysical supernova, collapsing into a living black hole from which nothing can escape, not God, not Amara.”
Me: Umm, but won’t that suck everything else into it too?
Adam: Once it starts, you can’t stop it. You dig?
Jack: (deadpan) I dig.
They drive away, but Dean stops to pull the car over and part of me thinks he’s going to say no, don’t do it, Jack. Instead he sort of apologizes to Jack for what he said about Jack not being family, saying that Jack didn’t need to hear that, especially not with the weight he’s carrying for “us, and for the world.” He thanks Jack, like he thanked Amara, but while he’s clearly conflicted about the plan, once again he doesn’t take it back. He does, however, try to explain – to Jack and to us.
Dean: When I found out about Chuck, it’s like I wasn’t alive, not really. Like my whole life I’ve never been free, really free. But now, me and Sam, we’ve got a shot at living a life without all this crap on our backs. And that’s because of you. I want – I need to say thank you, Jack.
Jack: (solemn) You’re welcome.
The phone rings, and Dean looks at Jack.
Jack: It’s time, isn’t it?
Dean: It’s time.
Jack takes out the rib and it absorbs into him, his eyes glowing. Dean looks upset and conflicted, but he doesn’t yell “No!” at the last minute.
They drive on, Jack now a ticking time bomb and my heart in my throat.
The suspense of the episode ramped up really well by this point, so I was on the edge of my seat and full of way too much adrenaline. Well done both Meredith and director Catriona McKenzie and composer Christopher Lennertz, who did a kickass job on this episode (as always).
Back at the bunker, a frustrated Sam throws the book he’s been reading on the floor just as Castiel walks in.
He picks it up, and Sam apologizes.
Cas: I understand, I feel it too — hopelessness.
Once again Cas and Sam bond, both of them feeling defeated but convinced that something is just not right about Billie’s plan. Sam wishes out loud that he could just talk to her. Cas misunderstands, pointing out that there are no safe ways to summon her.
Cas: I will not let you end your own life!
Awww, Cas. Luckily that wasn’t Sam’s plan but I liked Castiel’s reaction, a reminder of how much the three of them really do care about each other.
Sam then remembers something Sergei said (even though I think Sam was unconscious at the time, but…) about the key to Death’s library being in the bunker, so Cas and Sam start scouring the bunker for it. Cas finds the box, Sam reads the Latin inscription (which is always kinda hot, ngl) and a door and a keyhole magically appear on the wall.
Cas wants to go with, but Sam asks him to stay behind in case Dean beats Sam back, so Cas can buy him some time, and in he goes.
Castiel sends him off with a vote of confidence, saying that he doesn’t think Sam is crazy – in fact, he thinks Sam’s moral compass is functioning perfectly.
Thanks again for those nice Sam and Cas moments, Meredith.
In Death’s library, Sam finds dead reapers – and a being killing them who happens to be Rachel Miner! I was slightly spoiled for her return, but I still was excited to see her and so glad she got to come back again before the show wrapped.
The Empty: Sorry, she’s still dead.
The Empty is pissed, trying to reach Death because they had a deal that would allow the Empty to be all theirs again and the entity itself to go back to sleep, but Castiel’s visit left the Empty with trust issues. Oh, and also? Billie’s agenda is that she wants to be the new God. Put everyone back where they belong, angels off Earth, demons back to hell, what’s dead stays dead, etc.
Big reveal. Not shocking considering how Billie acted last episode, but still not something I knew.
Honestly, most of that doesn’t sound so bad to me – except for the part where Billie is doing all this because she wants to be the new dictator. That sounds like bad news. And the ramifications for the Winchesters themselves.
The Empty knows that Sam is in Chuck’s Death book and that Billie has said he should be dead, except that she needs him, so decides to hurt Sam to get Billie to come back. Sam, however, outsmarts the entity – and damn, do I love me some smart Sam! Even in the midst of being tortured, he manages to gasp out “Wait, stop! Billie sent me!” I might have yelled happily at my tv screen at that.
I think I tweeted “Sam Effing Winchester would have been a great lawyer!”
Sam weaves an impromptu story about Billie sending him to get the book and not saying why, saying that she asked him to assure The Empty that she’ll keep her promise. (Also that Billie is on Earth, because he knows the Empty can’t go there. Yay smart Sam!)
The Empty: And if you’re lying?
Sam: (standing up confidently) I guess you have two choices, but if you kill me, you lose – and you’ll never go back to sleep….
It’s a wonderful show down, and Jared and Rachel played off each other beautifully. Rachel brings both snarkiness and a sense of menace to the Empty that created a whole lot of tension in this scene.
It works. Sam returns with the book and tells Cas ‘We have to stop it!’
Dean and Jack, however, are already back – and time is running out.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the bunker, Amara tries one last time to convince her brother to go along with her balance plan, telling him it’s not too late.
Chuck: Shut up, Amara!
And then we learn that Chuck isn’t trapped at all. This has all been part of his plan.
Chuck (with an evil smirk): Listen! Dean, brought to the edge of doubt. His sense of duty, his rage, winning out…. This… this is my real ending….
It’s clearly the ending that he showed Becky, that so horrified her.
Chuck: They can’t kill me. What part of omniscient do you not understand?
Amara protests that they’re not going to kill him, but cage him, and Chuck gives her a sad and chilling smile.
Chuck: There’s no cage. They’re going to kill me, and they’re going to kill you too.
Amara is stricken, and Emily Swallow portrayed that sense of betrayal so well, my heart really ached for Amara.
Amara: But Dean can’t hurt me…
Chuck: (cruelly) No, but he can lie to you.
He uses her moment of betrayal and heartbreak to manipulate his sister once more. I sort of thought she might mistrust him more, since he’s a habitual liar, but I think she just wants so desperately to be on the same page with someone and feels so betrayed in that moment, that she believes Chuck.
Chuck: The only ones who ever really got us is us, you and me.
That, unfortunately, is true. Amara has been wandering the earth and appreciating humans, but she is not one of them. She and Chuck are the only ones who really understand each other. That is so compelling to her that when he tells her what she wants to hear, so believes that too.
He says he wants balance, what she wanted, and that they can create something new together. He smiles, a facsimile of the tenderness that she’s longing for. How do you make Chuck so chilling, when you’re so warm, Rob Benedict?
He holds out his hand, and a grief-stricken and isolated Amara takes it; she becomes black smoke and is absorbed into her brother. You kinda killed me here, Emily Swallow. Kudos.
It’s a chilling moment, with Rob nailing Chuck’s villainous look after, one eye blowing blue and one eye jet black.
In the hallway on the way to Chuck and Amara, Sam pleads with Dean to listen to him, but Dean is like a man possessed, desperate to get Jack to Chuck before he implodes.
Sam: This was all Billie’s power grab, she’d become God!
Dean: As long as Chuck dies, I’m good.
Sam tries to block his brother, tries to get him to listen, and Dean confronts Sam, steely with resolve, a decompensating Jack limping along beside him.
Dean: Get out of the way, Sam! We don’t have time, Jack lit the fuse!
In a move that sent me leaping out of my chair and screaming at the tv screen, Dean pulls out his gun and points it squarely at Sam’s chest.
Dean: Move. Move, Sam.
Sam: Dean, don’t do this!
Dean looks unhinged, absolutely desperate.
Dean: I don’t wanna do this, but this is everything!
When Sam doesn’t move, Dean cocks the effing gun and I’m still screaming.
Dean: Get outta my way.
Sam tries to tackle him, Dean starts throwing punches. Sam tries again and Dean throws him off, but Sam will not give up. He tells Dean that if Billie takes over, everyone will go back to where they belong – the hunters from the AU will go back to nothing, everyone they saved, Bobby, Charlie, Eileen… and that’s just the beginning.
I am not really sure what Sam meant by ‘and that’s just the beginning’ but he might have wanted to mention that the Winchesters would be in that group too, since they’ve both died and come back multiple times – and since Billie would clearly relish their deaths finally taking. Why didn’t you include that, Sam? Dean’s whole reason for wanting Chuck dead, so he and Sam could have freedom and meaning in their lives – all that won’t happen because they’ll be gone too, right?
Dean is way too far gone to think that clearly though.
Dean: We don’t have a choice!
Sam: We always have a choice!
Dean: I’d trade ‘em all for Chuck, in a heartbeat.
Sam pauses, and Jared’s handsome face crumples as he goes on, his voice halting now, cracking with emotion, appealing to his brother. Padalecki was amazing here, the depth of Sam’s feelings written all over his face, heard in every quavering word he spoke.
Sam: What about me? Would you trade me?
Dean’s face crumples now too, and I’ve replaced screaming at the tv with sobbing uncontrollably in my living room. Not sniffling, but full on sobs, like all my love of this show and these characters suddenly overwhelmed me as Sam told their story, the one that has meant so much to me for so long.
Dean looks devastated already, wanting so badly for his brother to understand his pain and rage. Ackles puts so much emotion into the scene that you can almost see Dean shaking, barely contained desperation coiling his entire body up tight.
Dean: Chuck has to die, he has to… otherwise he’ll keep us tap dancing forever and I can’t live like that, man, I won’t!
Dean is so desperate here, he so needs Sam to see how much pain he is in, how intolerable this all is to him.
Sam does understand though, that’s the thing. And as much as the Winchesters struggle to communicate a lot of the time, when they’re broken open and honest with each other, it does get through.
Sam: I know you feel like that now, but you’ve gotta trust me!
Music that evokes the brothers’ theme begins to play, as tears stream down my face.
Dean looks away, overcome with emotion.
Cas and Jack huddle on the floor, looking up at the Winchesters in shock.
Sam Winchester never gives up though. He always keeps fighting.
Sam: My entire life you’ve protected me. From Dad, from Lucifer, from everything, I didn’t always like it, but, you know, it’s the one thing I could always count on.
Sam starts to cry as he says it, thinking back over all those times, reliving all those emotions, and Jared channels every one.
Dean is broken open as he listens, tears shining in his eyes, his chin quivering as Jensen so obviously feels it all with him.
Sam: It’s the only thing I’ve ever known that was true.
Sam is equally broken, tears running down his cheeks, Jared making what Sam is saying so unbelievably genuine, and maybe a touch of real life true also. Sam and Dean are not the only brothers here.
Sam: So please, put the gun away.
Dean looks down then, looking at the gun like he can’t believe he had it out.
Sam: We’ll find another way, we’ll figure it out. You and me, like we always do.
You and me, the theme of this episode.
Dean uncocks his gun.
I can barely see the screen through my own tears, watching the tears run down Jared and Jensen’s faces for real as Sam finally gets through to Dean.
And at that moment Chuck bursts through the wall. Furious. Despite the fact that Rob Benedict is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met – Chuck is terrifying.
Chuck: Are you kidding me?? You did it again!
Once again, this Dean didn’t kill this Sam.
Castiel protests and Chuck turns on him, calling him the ‘self hating Angel of Thursday’ in a call back to how Eric Kripke came up with the name for the character in the first place (for a show airing on Thursday) and makes a Swan Song reference too, calling Cas ‘the one off the line with a crack in his chassis’. I appreciate those little things and they set things up for next week’s Castiel-centric episode.
Chuck: You know what every other version of you did after gripping him tight and raising him from perdition? They did what they were told. But not you. Not any of you. You’re all too broken. And you know what you do with broken toys?
You can still see the real emotion on Dean’s face, tear tracks on his lip, his chin, his eyes still red rimmed and glistening. Jared and Jensen killed it in this scene, absolutely killed it.
Dean: Screw you, Chuck.
Chuck: No, screw you. Have fun watching Jack die.
And that’s where we leave off, Jack collapsed, all three of his father figures gathered around him calling his name.
It took me at least an entire day to calm down enough to rewatch the episode and try to figure out why I had such a strong emotional reaction and whether or not the characters made sense or, in the case of Dean at least, were written out of character at some points. Meredith usually writes Dean like I see him, so I don’t usually have that reaction. But Dean pulling a gun on Sam? That one was hard to swallow.
Dean Winchester is my favorite fictional character in the history of – well, me – and so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure him out. I’ve understood his anger this season when others seemed to think it was either irrational or pure pathology. His rage has made sense to me since he found out about Chuck’s manipulation, and what he said to Jack in this episode made that even clearer. The Winchesters have lived a hard effing life. They’ve endured tragedy after tragedy after tragedy, physical and emotional and psychological torture, literally been to HELL. The only thing that gets them through that, that allowed them to be mentally stable and to feel okay about who they are and what their life is about, has been the difference they have made in the world. The relationships they’ve forged, the change they’ve made, the good they’ve done. If all of that – both the incredible pain and the good they’ve done – have merely been Chuck’s manipulations, then life loses all meaning. Like Dean says, are you really even alive at all?
I have obviously never been in Sam and Dean’s epic level life situation, but I’ve worked with enough trauma survivors to know what it’s like to work or live in a toxic environment in which someone else has ALL the power and you are merely something to be manipulated and toyed with and sometimes tortured for that person in power’s amusement. If you’ve had even a little taste of it, as most of us have, you know how soul crushing it can be. Add to that what Dean has been through in losing his parents, regaining his mother, then having her killed again, and if you don’t understand his anger, I don’t know what to tell you. That part of it, I get.
I don’t think Dean would have pushed Jack into this, but it is Jack who made the call – and Dean understands being determined to make that kind of sacrifice. After all, he wanted to do the same thing. He walked into the garden to take out Amara as a ‘bomb’ knowing he wouldn’t survive it. He fought hard to lock himself into the M’alak box for eternity to get rid of Michael. Dean Winchester is no stranger to sacrifice; neither are Sam or Castiel. So Dean may not like it, but he gets it, and I think he feels like it was Jack’s choice.
At the same time, I also get where Sam and Cas are coming from. Billie has been extra harsh and extra suspicious for a while, so why would Dean believe her so easily and go along with her plan so blindly? She wasn’t telling the whole truth about the M’alak box when she said that was the only way, so why is he so sure this time is different? Sam has good instincts, and he’s not as blinded by his anger as Dean is, hanging onto some hope and willing to fight to the last second to see if they can save the world but also save Jack too. Sam and Cas are tuned into all their emotions, and using them to try to determine what is and what isn’t real here.
The emotional scene between Sam and Dean will go down in show history as one of my favorite scenes. There were so many echoes of other times that one brother has been the only thing standing in the way of the other going down a dark dark road, the only thing reminding him of what’s real. Sam reminding Dean of who he is and what it is to love as he stands poised to kill Sam – and kills Death instead. Sam refusing to give up even when Dean was a demon, bringing him back once again to what was real. Dean’s refusal to leave Sam in ‘Swan Song,’ giving him the strength to take control from Lucifer. Dean’s insistence that he was real to Sam when nothing else was, so he could be “stone number one” to help Sam get back to reality. His reminder to Sam that Sam comes first at the end of ‘Sacrifice’. Sam alludes to all those times here, reminding Dean that he’s always been the one thing Sam could count on – Dean’s love and protection the one thing he always knew was real. He’s also letting Dean know that it goes both ways. That Dean can trust him, because Sam’s love is just as real. That because they are real and their relationship is real, that is something meaningful that Chuck cannot take away.
It’s the theme of “you and me” that runs through the entire episode. And the entire show.
Damn it, where are my tissues?
So, was it OOC for Dean to point a loaded gun at Sam’s chest? It was, definitely. I understand his desperation, but the very thing he’s so desperate for – a life for him and his brother – is precluded by him shooting said brother! At first I was pretty confused about that moment, but I’ve since come to some understanding of it. 1) I don’t believe for a second that Dean Winchester was going to actually shoot his brother at point blank range in the chest. I don’t think Sam believed that either – there was no point where he looked frightened. And 2) we’re supposed to believe that some of this, at least, was Chuck’s machinations. How much of Dean’s reaction is Dean and how much was amped up by Chuck? I don’t really like the whole Chuck as puppet master plot because it means we as audience never know either. I want my favorite characters to just BE my favorite characters and I don’t want to have to constantly second guess, was that them or was that Chuck? But in this case, that’s what we’re being told, so maybe Chuck was really the one who pulled that gun out and pointed it at Sam’s chest.
So I’ll go with it and appreciate that scene for how much it made me feel. I often say this show makes me tear up and that is true, but it’s not often that I break down into uncontrollable ugly crying. This episode – that scene – made me do that. And I appreciate a show that can make me feel that much, after all this time.
Jared and Jensen and Misha have all said that in these last few episodes, their own emotions were running high and inevitably creeping into their performances. I have a feeling we’ll see a lot of that in the next episode with Misha and Castiel. I think we saw some of that here between Jared and Jensen too. They have said many times that they’ve looked out for each other over the course of these fifteen years, and that nobody else but each other could really understand the experience they’ve shared. I think Sam’s words must have rung true for them as well, and that awareness made me (and them, I’m guessing) extra emotional.
Thanks for that, Meredith. And for all the times you’ve made me feel and brought these characters’ journeys to life.
I am continually blown away by the acting on this show, and this episode was no exception. Jared, Jensen, Misha, Alex, Rob, Emily, Rachel….everyone brought their A game and sold their every scene. In a sense, all that just makes this harder.
Every week, every episode, is another goodbye now, and I’m having a tough time with that. At the same time, I appreciate this journey and the people who’ve shared it with me more than ever.
Here’s a happier behind the scenes photo posted by camera operator Brad Creasser to cheer us all up before we end.
Next week I think we’d all better have entire cartons of tissues ready. The end really is near.
Caps by kayb625
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19 thoughts on “Supernatural ‘Unity’ Brings The Team Together – For The End!”
I wasn’t sure about this episode. Dean was OOC for me. He would never hurt Sam. The acting was fantastic. J2 killed it! Not ready for the end not like I’d ever be. This show could go on forever and I’d be ok with it. I’ll miss this show and these characters for the rest of my life. I hope they’ll come back some time in the future
I had to struggle with it too, perhaps more than I wanted to. But there were other forces at work, that was clear. Still, I just want my favorite characters to be my favorite characters! Fingers crossed this is not the last we see of them…
Thanks Lynn for such a balanced and beautiful review.
I’ve struggled a lot this season, as you probably gathered from my little rant last week. All season Dean has been somewhat regarded to a certain extent as bad or wrong for having feelings and having the temerity for expressing them when they don’t fit consensus views. But that’s Dean, he’s never been good at convention.
What seems to have been forgotten is Dean is just a man, he’s entitled to feel how he feels. And boy do I feel bad for him.
All his life he’s been of service to others and that’s a heavy duty when you lump in Chuck literally handing over the responsibility to the kingdom saying it’s his problem.
Every choice every turn made he feels responsibility and guilt and never quite seems to get it right, but he’s fought and fought as long and as hard as he could . No one said being the Righteous Man was easy.
As far back as season 1 Dean’s been fighting his own personal battle to overcome all the handicaps his life has given him, by season 1 he’s already struggling, he tells Sam “Sometimes I feel like I’m barely holding it together” but he gets by and takes joy where he can.
By Season 15 Dean’s suffered years of anguish that have affected his already fragile mental wellness, his life no longer fulfills him, he’s forced to relive the biggest crisis in his life, his mother’s death, a second time, he’s been obliged to live with the person responsible day after day and this episode Dean’s just hit the wall.
In full blown crisis, unable to see a way out Dean feels unbearably trapped he’s desperate to be heard and not entirely in his right mind when he draws the gun. Like you I absolutely have faith in Dean’s core instinct as a protector that he wouldn’t have used it. I believe he’d most likely use on on himself before Sam.
What Dean needed was for validation of his hurt and clarity in his confused state of distress. In that moment he speaks the truth, the real biggest truth he’s been hiding all season, probably much longer “I can’t live like this, I won’t” and he speaks from the heart he has nothing but fumes in the tank, his sanity is pretty much in the balance. Dean really CAN’T live this way any more
It’s easy to overlook Dean’s been trapped by this life or drawn back repeatedly since he was four, at what point is he entitled to lay the burden down? All his life he’s never asked for anything for himself when is it his time? Is that really all that selfish ?
Sam heard Dean in a wonderful brother moment and in a replay of ” this conversation does not require a weapons discharge” moment , reversing all the anger of earlier Sam gives Dean the lifeline he needs, reaffirming his promise in season 8 to take Dean to the light, validating Dean by cherishing what Dean has done protecting him, reminding Dean who he really is in his heart, a protector. The truth is though, Dean isn’t a well man, hasnt been for a long time, he needs to step back, he needs time to heal and he can’t do that while he’s still hunting. Dean should go buy that bar and semi retire, don’t go looking for the things that want to eat him.
A big, big A plus to Sam for stepping up this week and all season showing infinite kindness and tolerance of Dean’s shenanigans and returning all the care Dean has given him in the past, despite his own pain.
The writing in general has been problematic this season, inconsistent in regards the Dean /Jack interactions, sometimes they seem to be making progress, if course forgiveness isn’t straight forward, relapse happens, but the inconsistent interactions mean a lot of head scratching to make sense of things and made this episode very left field in regard of Dean, heavily biased against him and hard to tell if he’s doing this from choice or if it’s mind control. I wish they’d be more clear. Even if it’s choice and Dean can’t forgive Jack
( which I honestly think isn’t unreasonable, not everyone can) why did they write Dean hand making Birthday Cakes and defending him? Why hasn’t Dean been keeping his distance? I’m as confused as Dean looked when he put down the gun . Perhaps all will be clear next week, but I’m not too hopeful of being any less confused.
So good that we got another chance to see Rachel doing an awesome job as The Empty, it’s a pity they didn’t bring her back sooner, she’s phenomenal.
omg. this was such a well thought out response. thank you so much for sharing.
Thanks for taking the time to read and reply. As you can tell, I love this show passionately and think about it constantly.. it will leave a big hole in my heart as it sure it will for all of us here. It’s been nice hanging out with you all.🙂
Yes yes yes, so well said! That inconsistency I guess could be read as Dean trying really really hard, and sometimes it works and sometimes he just CANNOT do it, and I could buy that. But I think that’s probably me head canon-ing to make sense of inconsistent writing. I have so much empathy for Dean, for all the reasons that you listed. And so much gratitude for Sam’s response (and Jared and Jensen’s incredible acting)
I think these two lines from your article sum up my reaction to the episode:
“Sometimes that means plot comes before character in order to get from Point A to Point B” and
“nothing that happens on this show being “real” and instead written by Chuck! … How good can anything feel if it’s not really my favorite characters doing it or saying it?”
I thought both Sam and Dean were completely OOC this episode.
Dean blind, blustering, yelling toxic masculinity personified and ignoring anything suspicious about free will vs. Billie because…Chuck’s hamster wheel? Seriously? And Sam not even hugging Jack goodbye and getting beaten up by Dean like he wasn’t his equal. Seriously? And then Dean pulling a gun on Sam. Why? Because of Chuck? SERIOUSLY?
But, if I say I think they were totally OOC, the answer to that can be ‘oh that’s coz Chuck was manipulating them’. The ultimate Get Out of Jail Free for the writers. It has echoes of the school-era story ending when we have a word count approaching, ‘and then they woke up and realised it had all been a dream’.
• I do agree with Dean (and you, Lynn!) that Jack isn’t family.
• The Adam actor had a strong Taika Waititi look!
• Good point about Sam being unconscious during the key to Death’s library being in the bunker convo.
• I like the Billie’s agenda is that she wants to be the new God twist and completely agree ‘Jared and Rachel played off each other beautifully’.
• Jensen and Jared can still break my heart with their acting. “Sam: ‘What about me? Would you trade me? My entire life you’ve protected me. From Dad, from Lucifer, from everything, I didn’t always like it, but, you know, it’s the one thing I could always count on. It’s the only thing I’ve ever known that was true.’ “
• “Chuck: Are you kidding me?? You did it again!” Interesting Hail Mary (ha!) to free will.
I hope it wasn’t all a dream.
Ohgod, me too. And YES.
The speech Serafina gives Dean about all the things that had to happen for them to get to this moment completely echos Ruby’s speech to Sam in the chapel in “Lucifer Rising,” and it really sent the alarm bells ringing for me. Not to mention that Adam says Billie has kept him alive to be able to do this? He’s been waiting for this for 300,000 years? Um, Billie hasnt been Death that long, and I don’t see the old Death doing that, so…that whole scene had me questioning everything. Nice write up, as always, Lynn.
Good catch on the whole Adam/Billie scenario. Personally I felt that whole scene was a waste of time. Oddly written. Perhaps we will find out more later as to why.
It also replays Michaels conversation with Dean when trying to convince him to submit to being a vessel….is that important?
Yes, I’m interested to see how it goes.
Marion, you’re right about how it also echos what Michael in young John’s vessel tells Dean about how it’s not random. Maybe it’s that Chuck has lines and cliches/crutches that he likes to use. Many writers have hooks and phrasing that they get stuck on. I’m seriously wondering how the final episodes will play out.
That’s a very good point, perhaps that’s something the Winchesters can use to help get Chuck under control.
Good point about Adam waiting that long – I recognized that what Serafina said had been said before but that whole bit with Adam and her just didn’t make alot of sense to me. We’ll see…
I totally agree with your review. I had a feeling that Billie was being pretty sketchy since at least the episode when the Empty said it was on Deaths side.
“The only story” or the only way is a recurrent theme for the boys. I understood Deans anger with Chuck (puppet master) but not with his believing Billie. I don’t see him blindly following her and that felt off but maybe it’s another “Chuck” story?
Chuck told Donatello that free will was included in the package. Then got angry at the boys for using that. A bit of a contradiction to me.
Knowing what we know about Billie now, what do you think was really the reason for the Ma’lek box? Get rid of Dean in the nastiest way? Obviously not everything that has happened is what Chuck wanted.
I have a sinking feeling that the end has Sam go with Eileen. I’m hoping I’m wrong but she’s been mentioned a couple of times in the last few episodes and I’m wondering if there is a reason for that.
I’m dreading the last episodes-especially the direction things have gone. I hope I’m wrong.
Excellent review as always. Time to get tissues in a case lot. Wine too maybe.
I hope you’re not right about that ending hypothesis – as much as I adore Shoshannah, that ending wouldn’t be a very satisfying one in the context of the brothers’ journey. No matter what happens at the end, I’m sure to be in a puddle on the floor though, so yes, stocking up!
I sort of feel their approach is throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. The last scene between the brothers killed me. But even at the same time I thought: protected you from John? Huh? Dean was Dad’s acolyte. Sam tends to take the submissive positions in these conversations, always praising Dean or criticizing himself. I wish for once in the big brother showdown scenes Sam would actually accuse Dean of something, anything!
My basic problem with the whole Chuck scenario is that it basically invalidates everything we’ve seen before, which for me removes some of what I enjoyed so much in S3-5. God being an absent father was such a beautiful concept, I’m sorry they took it away.
I agree. I think they got funnelled down a questionable path with bringing Chuck as puppet master into play – and I do not want anyone messing with how I feel about the early seasons of the show! I do think Dean tried to protect Sam at times, but he was also a kid wanting his father’s approval, so I’m sure that many times he did not. Sam may have needed to see someone as his protector though, and that was probably Dean.
But I think that all of their choices have been “real” and that may be the message of the season. Like in S4, Ruby never “made” Sam do anything. She presented a choice and Sam chose his own actions. It just also happened to be what she wanted every time. And that’s why Chuck is so pissed. Chuck may have built the road but Sam and Dean are choosing which way to go.