‘Partners and Third Wheels’ is an odd title for an episode, but it was an accurate one. Just about everyone ended up a third wheel at one time or another and no one’s relationships are going swimmingly, so it wasn’t a very upbeat episode. In fact, I felt bad for many of the characters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I want to feel something for the characters – that’s how I know I’m caring about a show and it’s doing its job – but it’s tough to see so many of them struggling.
The episode starts out with Cordell maybe feeling the same way, trying to cheer his coworkers up with breakfast tacos, an Austin staple. Micki doesn’t take him up on it, and James says he doesn’t think Micki is ready when Cordell suggests she should return to the field, though he does admit that Cordell is “better partnered up”. Something he has in common with Sam Winchester!
James has a date with a new woman and suggests a double date with Geri and Cordell. However, Cordell apparently hasn’t cleared the air with Geri or explained about Denise and the sting operation yet for some odd reason. Cordell and Geri are hard to figure out – they have a lot of chemistry, they clearly enjoy each other’s company, but neither of them seems willing to even acknowledge their feelings for each other let alone act on them. It’s cute but it’s also frustrating – and I don’t even ship them, so I imagine it’s even more frustrating for fans who do.
The other relationship not going well is Micki and Trey’s, which has been one of my favorite things in the show – a rare realistic imperfect but still basically healthy relationship. Trey wakes up (shirtless because this show does know its fandom) upset that Micki is already gone, but finds a note saying she’ll be home for lunch and gets a lot happier. I got stuck wondering how the hell someone does not wake up when their partner gets out of bed and gets dressed and leaves for work though – what I wouldn’t give to be that heavy a sleeper!
Liam and Cordell’s relationship isn’t going all that well either. Liam is supervising the case of the week, a murdered attorney named Mac whose body was recently found years after his disappearance. James tells Micki she’s “running point” on the case and Cordell celebrates with a fist bump – “Partners, back at it!”
The third Supernatural convention of 2021 kicked off on the one year anniversary of the series finale, which means emotions were running even higher than usual as I was flying to New Orleans. Both Jared and Jensen posted a heartfelt remembrance, Jared including his last call sheet and tape mark from that day that is now in his office along with a panel from the bunker. Jensen sang along to Carry On Wayward Son on the radio as he and the family road tripped down to Nola, as emotional as we all were.
It did help to know that they were as emotional as we all were, as we all converged on New Orleans.
This was a challenging con for me physically because I injured my knee two weeks before, on my way home from Charlotte. How did I do that, you ask? Skiing? Jogging? New exercise routine? Alas, no. I got into a car. Just…. Sat down. That’s it. It’s doubly annoying that I wasn’t even doing anything worthy of an injury, but here we are. That made getting back and forth from hotel to convention center a lot harder than usual, though I was very very thankful that I was at the hotel that was closest to the ballroom!
When I got in on Friday morning, after submitting my Covid test and getting my wristbands, I caught some of David Haydn Jones and Adam Fergus’ panel – they have so much chemistry together and always have a lot fun onstage, which makes their panels a pleasure to watch. They both wrote chapters in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, giving a behind the scenes look at their experience on Supernatural and with the fandom.
A fan asked when Ketch decided not to be with the BMol.
David: When he got shot in the head?
That’ll do it.
Both agreed that they wished they’d had more scenes with each other. And on a less serious note, there was enough innuendo to amuse just about anyone, with the two planning a spa retreat, some wrestling in the snow, wearing chaps on the first date, eggplants (ahem) and a pillow fight, among other things. Similar to Jared and Jensen, Adam and David clearly enjoy each other’s company and make each other laugh, which inevitably gets me laughing too.
David told the story of the chupacabra gag reel bit again, which I adore. Just him saying that word makes me giggle at this point.
David: You know it’s a good day on set when the camera is shaking!
The best segment, though, was David overhearing an amorous couple last night in the hotel room next door.
The title of this episode is relevant right away in a misleading beginning as someone sneaks around in the Walker house while Bonham and Abeline are sleeping, which is super creepy. Bonham wakes up and gets out his gun and nearly shoots his son surprising his parents with their morning coffees – which seems like a reason for not having guns around (though Bonham does keep it in a locked gun box).
Bonham is not amused.
Bonham: I woke up to a 6’ 4” grinning busybody…
Abeline: His heart’s in the right place…
Have I mentioned I love the Walkers?
Of course they have no idea why Cordell is acting so nervous or waking them up with coffee and insisting they come to the SideStep for breakfast because their fridge is mysteriously broken – but we know. Dan is watching, which is creepy as hell because he’s watching Bonham and Abeline’s bedroom for godsakes and why is no one commenting on just how creepy that is?? Just like it was super creepy that they were watching Stella in her bedroom in her robe last week.
Dan has overheard Cordell’s tearful insistence that the fateful fire was his fault but not much else, and he’s already suspicious of the other bad guy Earl – who has figured out that Dan and Denise are going to marriage counseling.
Cordell isn’t the only one who’s jumpy – Micki is still dealing with PTSD symptoms from Garrison’s fall, rubbing the marks still on her arms from where he tried and failed to hang on. Trey’s gentle touch makes her startle and she’s subtly pulling away from him too, kissing him on the cheek after deflecting from his kiss, again a pretty realistic portrayal of her psychological issues (something I’ve been appreciating about this show from the start).
He knows something’s wrong and that there’s something she’s not telling him, glancing at the painting of the church as she leaves, but he’s also trying to give her space and time to open up to him on her own.
Breakfast at the Side Step looks delicious and makes me hungry, even Liam chowing down on bacon though he brought his green juice with him, and is he taking a page from the Sam Winchester little brother healthy eating book??
Bonham: Bacon isn’t a cheat, it’s a lifestyle.
Bonham has clearly taken a page from the Dean and Mary Winchester book when it comes to bacon, and I’m in full agreement with him.
Liam: So what’s the news, big brother?
Cordell: There’s a camera hidden in our home.
Stella: You let us sleep at home after you found a spy camera? The day I take my SATs?
Poor Cordell, he really cannot get a break. That struck me as an extremely realistic thing for a developmentally appropriately self centered adolescent to say though!
Liam immediately suspects the Davidsons, but Cordell pulls him aside (not nearly far enough aside that the family can’t hear him btw, which happens all the time on TV and always drives me nuts) and asks him not to add fuel to the fire. Cordell thinks it’s Serano.
Liam: You always do this, you always give Denise the benefit of the doubt, never me!
It’s November 19 – a date that will always make my heart ache a little. For most people, it’s just another day, but for me it carries a significance that might seem silly to some, but has real emotional weight for me. It’s the day Supernatural ended. After 15 seasons, the show that changed my life aired its final episode, Carry On, on this date one year ago.
I sobbed my way through the second half of that episode, so violently I came close to making myself ill, and then smiled through my tears as Sam and Dean were finally reunited in Heaven and allowed to live happily ever after. As much as I was on the same page as Jensen Ackles with having a hard time just getting my head around the idea of Dean Winchester dying at all, once I did I was on board, as he was, with how the finale showed us his last moments and gave us an even deeper understanding of him than we’d had in the fifteen years before. I’ve had several conversations with Jensen about Dean’s ending and the finale episode (and one with Eric Kripke) over the past year or so, and my appreciation for Carry On has only grown as a result. None of us wanted to say goodbye to Dean Winchester – I sometimes think they are the only two people who love him more than I do, though I know some of you might quibble with that – but that ending felt true to the show that I love and to Kripke’s vision, and ultimately to Jensen’s understanding of Dean and Jared’s understanding of Sam.
I know some people don’t feel that way. Some of my closest friends don’t feel that way. I know it’s been a tough year for people who didn’t like the finale, or even hated it, and that anger and disappointment has fueled a year of infighting in the fandom that – improbably – sometimes seems worse than the infighting that went on when the show was actually on the air! I am tremendously grateful that it worked for me. I feel fortunate, because I care so much about this show, and if it didn’t it would hurt. A lot. So I have empathy for the people for whom it didn’t work, and I hope that one of these days that sense of loss and disappointment will ease and new passions can help people heal.
For me, the show ended reiterating the themes that came to characterize it over its entire run. The Winchesters finally had free will, thanks to their own determination and intellect (and help from Cas and Jack). We got to see them living what passes for a normal life as a Winchester, long enough that there were well established routines and rituals and time for pie fests and snuggles with Miracle, while also doing what gave their lives purpose and meaning: hunting.
The fact that the inherent danger of their profession caught up to them just made their heroism more powerful, to me. Every time they went out there, saving people and hunting things, they knew they could die. They knew there could be a bullet that found them or a monster that ripped them apart or an exposed rebar that a vampire could use to impale them. Every single time. And they did it anyway. That’s what makes them big fucking heroes. The fact that it stuck this time (forgive that choice of words) makes it glaringly obvious that the stakes were back to where they were when we started this journey. No deals with demons to bring them back, no pleading with Death, no playing with time. They were mortal, as vulnerable as all of us are.
And they went out there and did their jobs anyway.
I could have watched 300 hours of Winchester domestic life – that episode that Robbie Thompson always wanted to write and never got to – but I’m grateful for what we got. And as much as it was agonizing to watch Dean die and to watch Sam lose his brother, the raw genuineness those last minutes allowed felt like a gift. Dean got to say what he wanted to say, right out, defensiveness stripped away. All those times he covered up his feelings or struggled with vulnerability, we got to see how far he’d come, how open he could be. I love everything that Jensen and Jared added on that day, from the ‘yeah, there he is’ to the ‘always keep fighting’ to the callbacks to the pilot when they started this journey together so many years ago, both the characters and the actors. I know how much it meant to them and how proud they are of it.
I was teaching a graduate course in Grief and Loss most of last year, and I used the finale episode so many times, with its realistic depiction of grief and its hopeful message of being able to carry on. I’m also grateful that the show didn’t leave me there in the barn.
It’s a beautiful scene, one of the most emotional I’ve ever experienced, but it still makes me tear up every time I watch. Supernatural could have left us there, or ended with Sam having permission from his son that it’s okay for him to go now too. Instead we got to experience Sam and Dean’s reunion, Sam and Dean and Baby on that bridge, smiling. The scene didn’t need many words and it didn’t give us many. “Hey Sammy.” “Dean.” A call back, along with their close-to-the-pilot wardrobe. Saying each other’s names has always meant a lot more anyway.
I kept crying long after Bob Singer called that final “cut” and Jared and Jensen said goodbye to us, the fans, forever incorporating us into the story. Simply because the ending was an ending, and I don’t think I was ever going to be truly ready to say goodbye to this show. I was so worried, a year ago today, that the fandom would disappear. That everyone would find a new show to love and forget about this one, while I knew damn right well that I’d be sitting here one year later still madly in love with these characters and this show and missing them. I don’t do moving on very well when I’m this passionate about something. I worried that I’d be all alone here, marking the anniversary with a glass of wine and a rewatch and a box of tissues and wondering if I was the only one who remembered the significance of November 19.
Instead it has been a week of shared emotions and memories and beautiful tributes to Supernatural and its ending, social media timelines filled with art and meta and gifs and heartfelt posts about what the show has meant and still means to so many people. I’ve smiled over a million photos of Dean hugging Miracle and Sam kicking the washing machine. I’ve sobbed over every line of dialogue in the barn scene flowing over a screencap that has no right to be as gorgeous as it is. I’ve smiled reading fans’ imaginings of what Heaven is like for the Winchesters and what Sam and Dean are up to now. I’ve tripped down memory lane and all the best times with Sam and Dean and Cas (and Jared and Jensen and Misha) over the years. My timeline has been every bit as vibrant and alive this past week as when the show was on the air and on the covers of EW and TVGuide and everything in between.
I don’t know why I was so worried.
Supernatural has never been ordinary – it has always been extraordinary. It stayed on the air when the network didn’t support it, when viewership was tiny, when the WB went out of existence. It pulled people in from the tiny CW network, and then from Netflix, and TNT, and Hulu, and… It kept pulling people in year after year after year, word of mouth spreading the word organically and the talents of its cast and crew keeping people hooked. For most of the past year, it has remained in the top 10 streaming content despite being off the air. And more than all of that, what’s extraordinary about Supernatural is that the show has made a difference to countless people. When I decided to put together two books about how Supernatural had changed lives with Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, I wasn’t prepared for the powerful stories I’d receive – not only from fans but from the actors themselves. The show has changed us, and it has changed them. And that is extraordinary.
I don’t know what will happen a year from now. I don’t know if this will be the last big hurrah of a fandom that has survived a lot of ups and downs and a level of infighting that would have tanked a less determined group of people for sure. But here we are. Still loving this show and these characters. Still wanting to celebrate what it’s meant to all of us.
In their chapters of There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Jared and Jensen both wrote about what they hope Supernatural’s – and the Winchesters’ – legacy will be. I reread both their chapters and a few others to remind me today that there is a legacy, and how proud these actors are of that and the characters they brought to life.
From Jensen’s chapter:
I think that the people who have found Supernatural and become part of the fandom and found each other through the show—the SPNFamily—are probably the legacy that we’re going to be proudest of… The show carries the message to always keep fighting for each other, and that has inspired the fandom to keep fighting too, whatever fight they are facing… We started out thinking we were making a horror show about monsters, but it became clear pretty quickly that’s not what made the show important. So many fans have told me that what is special is that it’s a show about two brothers who will do anything to fight for each other and to fight to save the world. Not in a way that people tell them to or according to what’s written in a book, but by making their own choices about what’s right and wrong and always trying to do what’s right. That’s the legacy of the show and that’s what has made a difference.
From Jared’s chapter:
I’m very proud of what we’ve done and of the story that we got to tell. Sam Winchester has inspired me, just like he’s inspired many fans… I think most of us, like Sam, probably do struggle to forgive ourselves sometimes. But I feel like Sam’s actions have been kind and sacrificial and loyal, and I have always wanted him to keep fighting—for his brother, for his family, to save people. I value that about him. The way the Winchesters have faced insurmountable odds inspires me and hopefully others to keep on working as hard as we can.
Jensen’s chapter had an important ending that will be a comfort to me every November 19th and all the days in between:
And let’s be clear. Supernatural will never end. The show might, but what it has built? This will never end. Besides, nothing ever stays dead on Supernatural.
Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Ackles.
Happy one year anniversary of wrapping up, Supernatural.
Last week’s Walker, the third episode of Season 2, dug deeper into the themes of grief and loss that the series has tackled since the pilot, tying those themes to those of hate and resentment that have become clearer in season 2. The episode opens with Cordell sleeping on the couch in the midst of a nightmare, tossing and turning as he sees flashes of that fateful night in the Davidson’s barn with Denise long ago. The two teenagers are sitting there together with a lantern when they suddenly have to run out, leaving the burning lantern behind. Cordell wakes up, distressed.
What’s even more distressing is we immediately jump to the perspective of the creepy Walker family’s spy, watching intimate family moments – Augie and Stella on the couch, Bonham and Abeline working on a puzzle, Stella in a bathrobe (creepier still). Geri sleeping on a couch too, Colton and Stella bandaging the wandering horse’s leg, Denise’s husband lurking around. Liam on the phone talking to someone about “tying it back to Serano”. The whole scene is shot with creepy music that makes it seem like something bad is about to happen – very well done, in other words.
It’s actually two guys listening in, and when they hear what Liam says about them being onto Serano, they immediately realize “the boss is toast”. One wants to cut and run, one wants to find another buyer for their surveillance setup since the Walker family, he notes, collects lots of enemies. (Ouch)
That ominous background runs beneath everything else going on, although the episode overtly is about a chili cookoff, Abeline using their Gran’s original recipe and a $10,000 prize up for grabs. There’s a sentimental reason Abeline wants to win, which I totally understand. (I love Abeline so much – she’s not perfect by any means, but I can often so relate to where she’s coming from). (Did you catch Jared/Cordell snacking on a pepper?)
Cordell’s on edge after the nightmares, overreacting when August leaves a towel too close to the pot of chili on the stove and it catches fire and yelling at his son.