I still remember how shaken I was by this episode. It was Season 2, the show was on the verge of being cancelled constantly. We didn’t know for sure what its future was, and that made the ending of this episode unbearable as Sam died in his brother’s arms. I remember just sitting on the floor and sobbing, and then being unable to stop thinking about it all week as we waited for Part 2, the season finale. It wasn’t the first time the Show ripped my heart out, but it was the first time I couldn’t shake it off with a reminder that this was a television show and not real life, that Jared Padalecki was out there living his best life in spite of just having watched Sam Winchester die, and everything would be fine. It didn’t feel that way.
And that is damn good story telling.
This is a Sera Gamble penned and Kim Manners directed episode, which should tell you alot about how incredible it is. The THEN reminds us of the Winchesters’ tragic history, Mary burning on the ceiling setting her boys off on this dangerous road they’re still traveling. The Yellow Eyed demon and the special children that were chosen for something still unknown – Andy, Ava. The warning that there’s something big brewing, enough to frighten a scary man like Gordon. Bobby’s warning that a storm is comin’ and Sam and Dean are smack in the middle of it.
Sam’s scared, wondering if maybe this is the YED’s plan, that they’re all…
Dean: What? Killers? Give me a break!
Refusing to believe that about his little brother. They find sulfur at Ava’s house, know that the demon has been there.
Sam: You can’t run from this — and you can’t protect me.
That, right there, is Dean’s worst nightmare.
Dean: Damn it Sam, this whole thing is spinning out of control!
The impala pulls up to a café in the middle of nowhere, an example of the brilliant location scouting of Russ Hamilton and set dec of Jerry Wanek and the amazing collaboration that Supernatural was. Most of this episode’s outdoor scenes (which is most of it) are filmed on dark rainy nights, puddles and mud on the ground and raindrops glistening on Baby’s sleek black metal. It sticks in the boys’ hair, on Bobby’s battered cap. It’s beautiful, but it adds to the sense of tragedy that’s coming, and Kim Manners takes advantage of every moment of it.
Sam goes inside the diner and Dean reminds him not to forget the extra onions. It’s a few glorious moments of the brothers being brothers, Sam arguing that he’s the one who will have to ride in the car with Dean’s extra onions and Dean grinning smugly.
Dean: Hey, see if they’ve got any pie – bring me some pie!
He settles back in the seat, murmuring what will become a Supernatural-ism – “I love me some pie”
Sam scoffs as he goes inside. A few of the simple pleasures that the brothers enjoy on those long drives, a random cafe in the middle of nowhere that might have some home-baked pie. An opportunity to annoy your brother by eating lots of onions on your burger, or an opportunity to bitch at him if he does.
Supernatural excels at setting you up with a feel-good scene, all warm and cozy, and then suddenly turning everything ominous and dark in a heartbeat. There’s static on the radio suddenly, the rainy night now seeming dangerous – and when Dean looks up at the diner, he can’t see anyone inside now.
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!
The season finale of Season 3 of The Boys has been one of the most anticipated ever. It’s honestly been so much fun watching the excitement ramp up each week for each episode – it was a brilliant decision on Eric Kripke and Prime Video’s part to release the episodes over five weeks instead of all at once, especially with the insane promotion we were treated to each week. I watched the whole season before it streamed in the press screeners, but I still felt entirely swept up in the anticipation and excitement (and, let’s face it, dread!) each week.
The cast traveled to Brazil for four wild days of promotion, which only served to amp up the anticipation even more. We were treated to interviews and red carpets and the cast all having a bloody good time. And Jensen Ackles looking like this.
Now that everyone has had a chance to watch it, this is the spoilery recap and review of the season finale, so SPOILERS ahead. LOTS OF THEM!
I’ve been watching this show since its beginning and have loved it since then, but Season 3 has been a whole different ballgame. As a passionate Supernatural fan, the addition of Jensen Ackles as Soldier Boy meant that I was even more excited about this season, but even I wasn’t prepared for just how much I’d be drawn in by the character or just how complicated my feelings about Soldier Boy would be. He’s an asshole and a bigot and a bully, but Ackles also portrays him with vulnerability and humor and at times he’s almost charming. I feel like I should not have been hoping for any kind of redemption arc for Soldier Boy, and yet I found myself nervous as hell going into the finale, hoping that a) he wouldn’t be killed off and b) he might find at least a little bit of redemption. Help save the day, maybe?
Well… I should know Eric Kripke better than that by now!
I’ve been writing a lot about this season of The Boys being all about choice, and the season finale sees every main character have to make some difficult ones.
Passing It On From Father To Son – Or Not
This season is also about the intergenerational transmission of trauma, and the toxic masculinity messages that are passed down from fathers to sons. One of those messages is about strength and power. All the men whose fathers were abusive, with either physical or verbal violence or both, have a hard time not repeating the cycle.
Butcher’s father was both, and those toxic messages are ever-present in his head, bleeding out of him in eruptions of physical violence and caustic, cruel barbs thrown at enemies and friends alike.
In this episode, he vacillates wildly between giving into those violent impulses, laser focused (heh heh) on taking down Homelander and willing to use anyone as a weapon to do that, and trying to hang onto the caring part of him that wanted to protect Lenny and now wants to protect Hughie. He never does tell Hughie about the Temp V being fatal, but he unceremoniously knocks him out with a punch and shoves him in a convenience store bathroom to keep him from taking it again. So, a few points at least in his favor?
On the other hand, he’s been fine with using Frenchie and Kimiko and now Soldier Boy to get the revenge he wants, and he’s as manipulative as ever in this episode, as he repeatedly tells Soldier Boy that Homelander is not really his son. We see Soldier Boy’s ambivalence several times, hesitating to kill his own son and emotional about having a child – but Butcher knows to play to the rage he feels at being tossed aside and replaced, focusing that rage on Homelander by telling Soldier Boy that he is his replacement and the reason he was tortured. Well played, Butcher, but chillingly cruel.
Homelander was not just abused but neglected, deprived of not just a father but a mother too. A sensitive boy like Butcher seems to have been, he too had that knocked out of him with cruelty, absorbing the same message that to be “a man” you must not only be strong and powerful but unfeeling too. Showing vulnerability is weakness, unmanly. Both men struggle to have any kind of healthy relationships – even Butcher’s with his wife was doomed once Ryan existed – and both have been increasingly isolated and alone as this season progressed.
Only one more episode of Season 3 of The Boys to go, and I don’t think anyone is ready for this wild ride to be over! This week’s episode, ominously titled “Here Comes A Candle To Light You To Bed” brought one of the biggest revelations of the series, and delivered it in a way that ensured it left a powerful impact. I know some people guessed what was coming, but I wasn’t one of those people, so it left me gobsmacked and repeating WTF more than once. Luckily I love it when this show can surprise me, so this is far from a complaint.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD, SO BE SURE YOU’VE WATCHED THE EPISODE FIRST!
It’s been amusing, as a long time Supernatural fan, to watch the rest of the world discover Jensen Ackles’ acting brilliance as they watch this season of The Boys. He gave a tour de force in this episode, once again making me feel a ridiculous range of emotions that shouldn’t be possible for one character – especially one like Soldier Boy. And yet…
Look, even the official accounts can’t help but get a little heart eyed over this character (and the guy who so vividly portrays him).
More than anything, this episode was about agency and choice, as many of the characters confront their own fears and make decisions about their trajectories in life that acknowledge those fears but refuse to be constrained by them. Homelander and Vought (as now personified by Ashley) continue to hold power by wielding that fear, Ashley utilizing their voicepiece Cameron Coleman to cast doubt on Annie’s accusations. Surely no one can take her seriously when she’s clearly just a woman scorned, and oh by the way, doesn’t she have ties to known terrorists and human traffickers? No wonder she started a home for runaway girls! Imagine a world where the real bad guys take the moral high ground to silence a voice for change and people just believe it…oh wait.
Maeve is one of the characters who has faced the worst case scenario and decided she’s willing to lose it all to go up against Vought and Homelander. He visits her to see if he can find out where Butcher and Soldier Boy are, trying to scare her by saying that Soldier Boy has already killed seven supes and fried the power out of others – reminding her that could happen to any of them. His fear mongering doesn’t work on her anymore though.
Maeve: That’s the difference between you and me. You need to be a supe; I can’t wait til it’s over.
In one of the many parallels in this episode, Homelander recalls almost fondly that at one time he wanted to have kids with Maeve, just as Soldier Boy recalled the same about Crimson Countess previously. In an eerily prescient theme for what’s going on in the real world right now, Homelander assures her that he’d never force himself on her – but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t harvest her eggs against her will to make himself some kids. It’s a shocking attempt to control her body and her reproductive decisions and how the hell are Kripke and this show always so good at predicting the dystopian future?
Maeve refuses to give him the upper hand though, saying that the day is still a top three for her, because she saw him scared. Touche.
Later, Homelander speaks at a rally and attacks Starlight once again when he’s supposed to be rallying in support of candidate Robert Singer (Supernatural’s own Jim Beaver). Homelander is losing it a bit though, hallucinating Soldier Boy in the crowd, his eyes glowing for a second before he gets himself under control. Walking it off, he ends up in a nearby barn where a cow is plaintively mooing. As ‘Crimson and Clover’ starts to play, the scene goes surreal, Homelander milking the cow and looking positively orgasmic while doing it and then drinking the milk right out of the bucket.
Only on The Boys, seriously.
Neuman catches him at it and tells him to pull himself together, offering him some information and a working alliance. That should go well.
A Train wakes up in the hospital with a new heart and an Ashley-written fake news story about how he got it that involves Soldier Boy killing Blue Hawk just as he and A Train were getting along again. Nice cover story, tying up all the loose ends. A Train is ambivalent about going along with all this, but you get the feeling he’s going to cave, drawn back in by the fame and fortune – and Ashley knows it.
Black Noir, on the run and hiding from Soldier Boy, also faces his fears – with the help of Buster Beaver and his cast of cartoon characters. Nathan Mitchell somehow manages to convey all kinds of emotions without saying a word, and it’s a brilliant use of cartoons to depict Noir’s backstory (as this show has done before). Much like Homelander’s heart to heart with his own mirror image, Black Noir’s dream sequence in his head gives voice to his own self doubt and trauma without him having to utter a thing.
The penultimate episode of ‘The Boys’ Season 3, ominously titled ‘Here Comes A Candle To Light You To Bed,’ releases this Friday on Prime Video, and the little teasers already have everyone bouncing in anticipation (per usual). This is my non-spoilery teaser review of my own reaction to episode 3.7 – and as a Supernatural fan, this one is especially for everyone who was already a Jensen Ackles admirer or has joined the party recently and jumped on board in appreciation of Soldier Boy.
The last few episodes of Season 3 are going to be a rollercoaster for Ackles fans the likes of which we have never ridden. My advice is you’d better hold on tight, because this one is like that rollercoaster in the dark at Disney World where it’s extra scary because you never know when there’s gonna be a sudden twist or how violent the turn is gonna be. That also makes it extra exhilarating – for a long time that was my favorite ride there. But when I say my heart was pounding out of my chest and I had to jump up and sort of run around my kitchen a few times to calm down, to the accompaniment of colorful exclamations, I am not exaggerating.
Ackles himself weighed in on Instagram about his character’s wee bit of anger issues….
From the perspective of someone who has been a Supernatural fan for 17 years, there are all kinds of things that fandom has imagined a character Ackles plays doing – things that a show on the CW could not include, even if it might have made more sense for hardened traumatized hunter Dean Winchester than his PG vocabulary ever did. Most of those things have played out in fanfiction over the years, for sure, but somehow seeing and hearing a character onscreen who is not limited to the CW standards and practices was more shocking than I expected. No, I am very much not complaining.
Seeing Jensen be able to sink his teeth into a role like this, into a character who is raw and fucked up and in many ways the worst of a swatch of humanity in real life – it was awesome. For someone who’s a long-time fan, it was also a mind fuck, in that I could not help but love the character just a little even when I hated him.
There’s a reason the fandom calls him Danger Grampa or Sweet Baby Murder Kitten, after all.
We learn about some of the horrible things he’s done in this episode, right alongside more of the things that have been done to him – and right alongside the moments when he lets his guard down a little and says something real and shows some genuine emotion. That is one of the things this show has excelled at from the beginning and why I’ve loved it since Season 1 – it’s always shades of gray, even the worst characters having moments of humanity when I feel for them. But having one of my favorite actors embody that kind of complexity made it so much more difficult for me to negotiate. I kept wanting to sympathize with him – especially when the traumas of his past are laid out – but each time there’s a punch to the gut that reminds me that I can’t get too pulled in. Talk about a mindfuck!