Supernatural Just Hit The Reset Button

***SPOILER WARNING FOR 12.22 AND 12.23***

The epic journey of Sam and Dean Winchester has given us 12 years of love, hate, deaths, laughs and broments. Season 12 finished by condensing all of that into 2 hours of nail-biting, heart-wrenching action and I honestly couldn’t be happier.

Part one of the finale, Who We Are, was penned by a favorite writer of mine, Robert Berens. Picking up where the previous episode left off, Sam and Dean trapped in their home with evil Lady Bevell, their air disappearing, their options limited, we were treated to the brothers working together to get the hell out of dodge and rescuing their brainwashed mother.

One thing I’ve loved about Season 12 is that the brothers have been on the same page for the most part. Even when Sam made the poorly informed decision to briefly team up with the British Men Of Letters, he only kept that information from Dean for a short time before admitting his actions. And Dean, rather than pent up his anger or disappointment, told Sam he was willing to try it his way but let him know in no uncertain terms that he was pissed. Communication has been lacking between the Winchesters since the very beginning of the show, and to see them now, in their 30s and realizing that maybe talking things through is actually efficient and beneficial, well to me that’s a good reflection of my own life and maturation process. {Side note: in a meet and greet I had the opportunity to ask Jared Padalecki if it was more difficult to play the brothers communicating and in a good place given their tumultuous history and he told me that he and Jensen Ackles have such a good chemistry working together that they slip easily into the roles that the Winchesters need them to play.}

One of the scenes that hit home with me was Sam and Dean’s discussion about how they saw the end coming. In multiple conventions both Padalecki and Ackles have expressed a desire to have the show finish with both the boys going down in a blaze of glory. The Butch and Sundance conversation reflected that and it makes me wonder if there’s some foreshadowing with them mentioning it. I’m okay with it ending that way, although it would limit their choices if they were to ever decide to make post-show movies.

Once escaped (after Dean got to FINALLY use the grenade launcher!) the boys teamed up with their surrogate mom, Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) , who had managed to capture their biological mom, Mary. Jody has been a wonderful addition to the show, someone who can hold her own against the onslaught of evil, kick some ass like nobody else, but also give the boys a safe haven and a home cooked meal when they need it. In a particularly tender moment, Jody approached an injured Dean, placed her hand on his heart and held his hand as she walked away, all in plain sight of Mary, almost as if to say “This is what a mother should be.”

I’ve seen some consternation over the fact that Walt and Roy, the two hunters who killed Sam and Dean in Season 5’s Dark Side of the Moon, were invited back to be a part of bringing the fight to the BMOL. I had no problem with that. It was suitably awkward, Walt and Roy were embarrassed and appeared to be contrite, and it fit well with Sam’s wonderful speech about fighting the bigger fight. (Besides, Roy is now dead at the hands of the BMOL and Walt is left alone to grieve him…suitable punishment in my book.)

Sam’s speech. Let’s talk about that for a moment. Padalecki nailed every single aspect of it. Sam freely admitted earlier in the episode he found it easier to follow than lead, and his entire life he’s followed his idol, his big brother. In Season 5 he asked to be considered an equal but we all remember how that ended (Stull’s Cemetery, hole, lost soul…you know the rest). But here his idol tells him he’s ready, Dean knows he can do what he was always destined to do, lead. The pride on Dean’s face throughout the speech broke me a little, to be honest. This is the Winchester relationship I’ve been craving, one that reflects the real-life relationship between Ackles and Padalecki. And then, of course, we had it. We had….THE HUG! I try not to put expectations on writers. As fans we do have a tendency towards entitlement and the writing team do a damn fine job for the most part. But I’m a hug-whore and I’ve been missing that particular broment. To be fair, hugs usually come at times of peril or reuniting, so with the boys fighting on the same side for a while now we haven’t really had an excuse. But this hug, Dean’s “come here”, Sam’s eyes welling up….well that felt a little like coming home. So thanks for that, Mr Berens.

The part of the episode I can’t stop thinking about is Dean’s journey into Mary’s mind. I can be a little stoic when it comes to watching TV with other people around, stiff upper lip and all that, but everyone in my living room was reaching for the Kleenex at those scenes. Jensen Ackles is genius. That’s a given. But he took it to a whole new level (is there a level above genius?) with his heartbreaking admission to Mary that he hated her. The first time he uttered those words I literally gasped. Amara told him at the end of Season 11 that she was giving him what he needed most, so how could he then turn around and say that everything Mary had done had broken him? He ain’t wrong, but to hear it out loud, well that was pretty heart-wrenching. It was pointed out to me that maybe admitting that to his mother was what Amara knew he needed, it was a way for him to let go of the resentment he’d been holding onto for so long. Samantha Smith also played the scene to perfection, subtle reactions to Dean’s accusations all the more painful. I truly believe it’s one of the best scenes in the show, if for no other reason than it asked and answered questions that go back to the first episode of the first season.

Seeing Jody kill Lady Hess, taking pleasure in Mary killing Ketch (sorry, David Haydn-Jones, I love you, nothing personal) I was excited that once again, Berens acknowledged the women in the Winchesters’ lives. Both moms stood up and took the hit, made the hard kill so their boys didn’t have to. And given the number of female characters Supernatural loses, to have the remaining ones “kick it in the ass”, as Alex stated they would, gave me the warm fuzzies.

And then it happened. Hug number 2. Sam, Dean and Mary. I don’t think I could have asked for a better way to end the first part of what was shaping up to be a favorite season finale.

Part two, All Along The Watchtower, was an action-packed, edge-of-the-seat nail biter, written by showrunner Andrew Dabb. The sudden and “unexpected” return of Crowley (come on, we all knew he was in the rat, right?) at the bunker was a welcome bit of light relief as he offered his services to close the gates of hell in return for the Winchesters ridding the world of Lucifer. Mark Sheppard commands any scene and this episode was no different, his insults veiled in fanboy-esque appreciation of the boys always amusing.

Here we also saw the re-appearance of Castiel, protecting Lucifer’s baby-momma Kelly. There were some beautifully sweet moments between these unlikely friends, Castiel comforting Kelly on her impending doom and assuring her he would be there to raise her child. Misha Collins and Courtney Ford had lovely chemistry and played the potentially tense scenes with a tenderness that brought a tear to my eye.

A huge part of the episode for me, though, was Sam and Dean’s transportation to the alternate universe. Aside from the eruption of cheers when Alt!Bobby appeared (and called his gun Rufus, for goodness sakes!), they were being shown what their efforts have done in their own world. Without them, the apocalypse was never stopped and humankind was virtually extinct, a victim of the war between heaven and hell. Sam and particularly Dean have always struggled with self-worth. There have been times when they have been quick to sacrifice because they see themselves as no more special than anyone else. Between this reveal and the conversation Dean had with Mary about his childhood and the way he and Sam ended up, I like to think this whole experience was some kind of catharsis for them both. Maybe moving forward they’ll be less inclined to jump in front of a bullet for anyone apart from each other. Maybe. They’re still the Winchesters, after all.

One thing I definitely did not expect was Crowley’s willingness to sacrifice himself. His entire raison d’etre for the 7 seasons he’s appeared in has been self-preservation. Offering up his own life in order to complete the spell that closed the door to the alternate universe was so out of character and yet….oddly comforting. For me it validated my love for the character. I hope there’s a way we can have Mark Sheppard back on the show but if that was his swan song, I’m okay with it. I’m not okay with the off-screen death of Crowley’s mother, Rowena. I feel she deserved more, so I’m holding judgement on that until we see if she manages to weasel herself out of that this time.

Where do I start about the death of Castiel? I thought we were free and clear, I thought all our losses had finished with Lucifer taking Mary through the crack in the universe. And then Lucifer reached back through and ripped out our hearts. Dean’s reaction was devastating. He was numb, in shock. All these years of watching Castiel evolve, become bad, good, human, nothing seemed permanent. But an angel blade through the heart, the blue light pouring out of his vessel, that seems to be something he can’t come back from. Of course, no death on Supernatural is permanent so we can’t know for sure. But if it is, seeing Dean (and Sam, to a lesser extent) move on from losing a man they considered another brother, that’s going to be an interesting theme for season 13. (Of course there’s now a great opportunity for a spin-off with Alt!Bobby and Mary battling Lucifer, and I’m sure there’s an Alt!Castiel that they could team up with!)

Overall, I felt like episode 22 overshadowed the true finale. It has easily been categorized in my top 5 episodes of all time. But that doesn’t mean 23 wasn’t fantastic, it really was and here’s why I loved it so much: we have literally gone back to the beginning, even with the symbology of a shadowed yellow-eyed figure appearing in a nursery. Sam and Dean are on their own. Their parents are gone, they have no connection to the angel world, Lucifer is not free to roam the earth, American hunters are a rare commodity, and they’re in a really good place with each other. With the exception of the bunker (and can I just say that I’m ecstatic that their home survived), they’re right back to where they were on that fateful day that Dean showed up and told Sam that “Dad’s on a hunting trip, and he hasn’t been home in a few days.”

Season 13 is going to be an interesting ride but given the way Season 12 ended I have tremendous faith in Dabb and his crew to maintain the Supernatural we all know and love. I mean, come on. There’s going to be a Scooby Doo crossover! Zoinks!