The season finale of The Winchesters was called “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye,” a nod to the fact that it’s some kind of ending even if we don’t know what kind yet or how final that ending might be. If it doesn’t get picked up by the CW, which seems unlikely as it’s not picking up many scripted shows, Chaos Machine has said they will shop it to other networks and streamers, so who knows what will happen. Showrunner Robbie Thompson, in his finale week interviews, made it clear that it was their goal and priority to deliver a solid season ending that could work if the show went forward and also work if it did not – which is no easy task, I’m guessing!
The Supernatural fandom has a lot of big feelings about endings.
I know I do, and most of my fellow fans and fandom friends do too. I loved the series finale of Supernatural and feel protective of it when misinformation about it gets passed around. So I’m sure that plenty of people will feel protective of the ending of this show as well. I’m sure too that, like OG Supernatural, emotions around this finale will be mixed.
Some of my closest friends didn’t love the Supernatural series finale because they had a very hard time with Dean dying, and for some of those people somehow this episode of The Winchesters felt healing. I confess I don’t entirely understand why, since Dean was just as “alive” at the end of Supernatural as he was at the end of this episode, which is to say not alive at all but very much existing, as Jensen said to me long ago, on another plane of existence. This episode didn’t change that; Dean was happy and at peace at the end of Supernatural, and he was more or less the same at the end of The Winchesters. In fact, one could argue he had more peace at the end of Supernatural than at the end of The Winchesters, after finding out about Chuck’s fail-safe plan instead of believing that he and Sam had defeated Chuck, peace when you are done, end of story. But if some people felt they needed healing and they got it from this show, I am all for it! Most of us are very motivated to get back to some kind of equilibrium when it involves something we care deeply about, and if you can figure out a way to do it, go for it.
For fans who ultimately found Supernatural as Kripke created it too dark, The Winchesters may have felt healing in that sense too. It was a 2023 show, with a more diverse cast of characters and hunters who aren’t averse to therapy or meditation to try to cope with their anger issues and trauma instead of enacting them and periodically taking them out on other people unintentionally. In a sense, Robbie Thompson wrote a sort of fix-it fic for those aspects of Supernatural, with an ending that parallels 15.19 instead of 15.20, with John and Mary driving off into a hopeful new life, as Sam and Dean did at the end of 15.19. I didn’t need a fix-it fic; for me, ‘Carry On’ was the ending that made sense and felt right for a show that was a 42 minute horror show, dark and disturbing and sometimes hard to watch but ultimately incredibly inspiring. Its heroes were flawed and nuanced and not black and white, ever, and they lived through tragedy and always kept fighting. I felt – feel – incredibly grateful that we got the bridge scene after the barn, a far more happy ending than I ever thought we’d get on Supernatural. But I can see why people who didn’t feel that way about the finale could have found The Winchesters healing, like the best fix-it fics are undeniably healing. Again, if it feels that way to you, please revel in it and feel better. Fandom itself will certainly be the better for any healing that brings.
For me, I felt a mix of things as I was watching, and still do now after taking a week to let it all digest. I was entertained for sure – I’ve said in my last few reviews that the show seemed to be finding its feet in terms of its look and timing – and I felt relieved that my tentative theories about what was going on were mostly correct. (I’m protective of Supernatural canon, so while I trusted Robbie and the EPs to be protective also as promised, I still felt a sense of relief that this was indeed an Alternate Universe John and Mary who we were getting to know this whole time, which made the inconsistencies nothing to do with canon and everything to do with this not being OUR John and Mary.) The cast were all able to bring their characters to life in a way that made them unique and provided enough backstory so that we felt like we were getting to know them – and they are all delightful in real life.
I’m still a bit confused about the progression from the pilot to the finale, since it started out sounding like Dean was trying to figure out his own parents’ past (not another world’s John and Mary) and that their epic love would save the world – it turns out that Baby sort of saved the world (again) with some help from all the characters plus one Dean Winchester. Most of us pretty much knew that Dean Winchester would make an actual appearance in this episode. Anyone who has ever met me knows that I love Dean Winchester like I love breathing. I can’t wait to have him and more Supernatural back on my some-kind-of screen again and more of the adventures of Sam and Dean. We didn’t get alot of Dean in The Winchesters, though intended or not, Dean’s appearance was a big part of why many people tuned in – but we got more in the season finale than in any other episode. I think because I was satisfied with how Supernatural turned out, I didn’t have a burning need to see Dean in this show, and thus his appearance in the pilot didn’t feel like relief, it just felt like having an old friend back for a bit. Without Sam, it also didn’t feel like Supernatural, so the pilot gave me a confusing Dean, the story left intentionally murky about what he was up to and why.
The rest of the season gave us Dean Winchester bits of narration as he (we now know) added to the hunting journal that I don’t think we ever saw him keep on Supernatural but he apparently did – it seems a bit more like a Sam thing to do, but hopefully this AU John and Mary benefited from it. (ETA: Apparently we did see Dean have a journal back in Season 1 episode 18, which I totally did not remember!) I still have questions, but by the end of this episode it did feel like Dean Winchester himself was on my TV screen, albeit not in an episode of Supernatural. That was the intention for this show, to stand on its own two feet and introduce a new cast of characters that would hopefully intrigue fans enough to keep going – and Robbie has said that if that happens, it won’t be the Dean show, but the newly minted hunters in this AU world who will ‘carry on’. The show’s future is still up in the air, but I think the show succeeded in creating some memorable characters in this world’s Mary and John and Carlos and Lata (and Millie and Ada too). It doesn’t hurt that the cast is absolutely lovely – it was a pleasure meeting many of them at New York Comic Con for interviews and at a recent convention.
So what actually happened in this episode? A LOT. Phew. We start off earlier in 1972, as John buries his friends after serving in the war, traumatized and unsure where he belongs or what he wants to do.
He sits down in a bus station, looking lost, and a mysterious man approaches and gives him an envelope – who John calls “Sir” because he’s clearly older than John himself.
Me: Jensen Ackles?!
I still can’t rewatch the episode and see that as Dean Winchester, it looks too much like Jensen. (I’m not quibbling, because the reason he needed the long hair and beard is, I’m guessing, to return to playing a character that I’m really freaking excited about! And yes it’s Heaven, he’s dead, he probably can look however he wants, so there’s no canon issue, but I still can’t see that person as Dean Winchester of Supernatural no matter how hard I try). But I’m okay with it, and the merchant marine lighthouse keeper Ernest Hemingway Robert Redford look, unsurprisingly, totally works for him.
(It worked for Redford too…)
He gives John the letter from his father and disappears; we see him looking down on a confused John from the balcony.
The plan worked, as John buys a ticket back to Lawrence, Kansas. And then the show pulls off a well-kept secret as we pan out and see none other than Bobby Singer standing next to Dean-who-does-not-look-like-Dean.
Bobby: We’re not supposed to meddle with things, ya idjit!