Supernatural: Carry On
November 19, 2020 6:57 PM - Season 15, Episode 20 - Subscribe

It's the final ride for saving people and hunting things - SERIES FINALE
posted by oh yeah! (39 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I’m surprised after last week, because I had no idea where they’d go, but this silly, stupid little show that I love stuck the landing. Carry on.
posted by terilou at 7:03 PM on November 19, 2020 [4 favorites]

...Wayward Sons.
posted by Pryde at 8:13 PM on November 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wow. That was a lot.

Last week's episode felt so much like a series finale that it left a lot us wondering where the show could possibly go in the actual series finale. Well, after a slow, slow build (we literally watched the bros making their beds) they were off to what seemed like just another hunting trip... until Dean fucking died. (Maybe they needed Chuck's protection after all?) I sure as hell wasn't expecting that, and this show has killed the brothers so many times that I thought this had to be just another fake-out. But Dean's death was just wrenching, and this time it actually took.

Last week I said that if that episode was the series finale, it didn't shake things up quite as much as I expected. Well, this week they blew up the whole damn show. There's no coming back from this. There will be no TV movies or miniseries and these guys will never hand over Baby's keys in a reboot. This show could not be more done.

I have to admit, I kind of wish the penultimate episode had been the finale. The real ending we got, with Sam living out a seemingly normal, quiet life without his brother, felt more depressing than it was probably supposed to be. Like, was being normal even the life that Sam really wanted anymore? Watching him get old and die in the suburbs was affecting, but it also felt weird. It was such a break from the show's whole deal that I kept expecting some reversal, that this would all turn out to be a vision or something. The whole thing seemed kind of dreamy and sketched in, with the mother of Sam's son a brunette blur who was... maybe Eileen? It didn't help that Padalecki's aging makeup seemed to mostly consist of a gray wig. (I wonder if covid-19 had something to do with that. A lot of effects makeup artists are probably hurting for work right now, since actors understandably don't want anybody touching their face for three hours. I suspect that was why the vampires wore the skull masks too. They probably had masks under those masks. Man, getting these final episodes made had to be a bitch.)

To put this show's run in perspective: It began not long after Buffy and The X-Files ended, an eternity in TV time. I remember, in the early days, telling people that the show was like a weird mix of those two beloved genre series, how it had a bit of the sass and personal drama of Buffy and the wintry Vancouver MOTW feel of The X-Files. Those shows are way, way in the past now, but Supernatural just kept going. I was a young(ish) adult when it started so I didn't grow up with it, but it's been a welcome constant through a lot of drama and upheaval in my life. I can hardly imagine what it's like for those loyal fans who started watching when they were teens and are in their thirties now. Seeing Dean Winchester's Viking funeral must be like saying farewell to their TV uncle or something.

So, Cas made it out of the Empty? Bobby's line about Cas "helping" Jack suggested that the kid decided to spring his favorite dad from the big black nothing, so that's nice. But Chuck damn it, we watched the Winchesters die. Maybe that will feel more proper once I've had time to sit with it, but for now I'm just left in a kind of rattled disbelief. We all spun theories about how this would end, but I kind of doubt anybody saw this coming. The whole show was about these brothers saving people and hunting things, and it ended with a few bittersweet decades of not that.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:20 AM on November 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

I fully expected to be underwhelmed by the series finale, so, in a way I found the awfulness of this episode to be exactly what I expected. I mean, I feel like there have been many seasons of the show that had a great build-up up towards end of the season and then a totally wtf-let-down/reset finale, and that there was no way they could successfully stick the landing for 15 years of build-up, and lo and behold here we are. Ha! Bring on the tumblr memes.

Dean's whole death scene left me cold, partly for entirely personal reasons (I have a dear friend who has been in a terrible headspace for months because of the intersection of covid-shutdown and other parts of their life imploding, who I have been having many late-night talking-off-the-ledge conversations with, so I'm not I'm the mood for fictional "it's okay to go gentle into that good night, buddy" scenes). And there's something extremely Christian about a depiction of life on Earth being ultimately just a blip of time you suffer through until eternal bliss in Heaven, which is off-putting for heathen/Jew(ish) me.

On the scale of bad finales, I'm not sure if this is a show-killer for me. Though I have watched every episode for the past 15 seasons, it's never been a period-re-watch show for me. I may one day feel nostalgic and go back to the beginning, and since the second-to-last episode worked so well as a finale, I can pretty easily just drop it down the memory hole and go off to AU-ending-land in my head-canon.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:58 AM on November 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

(oops, typo - it's not periodic-rewatch show for me, I meant, not a show I rewatch on my period)
posted by oh yeah! at 6:52 AM on November 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

I absolutely cannot gauge the degree to which the tumblr memes I’m seeing are accurate. Did one of these guys really die from being pushed onto a rusty nail by a vampire clown?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:01 AM on November 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

I mean, pretty much, yeah. Probably the least convincingly fatal Winchester death injury in the whole series.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

I wish COVID hadn't robbed us of the cameos we deserved.

And I wish it was made clear how much in universe time had passed from our last week to now. I hope Dean didn't joyfully wake up on his first day of free will and get taken out by a rusty spike that night.
posted by Ruki at 9:33 AM on November 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Dean's whole death scene left me cold, partly for entirely personal reasons ... there's something extremely Christian about a depiction of life on Earth being ultimately just a blip of time you suffer through until eternal bliss in Heaven, which is off-putting for heathen/Jew(ish) me.

Ugh, yes this. SPN always had this deeply humanist moral core, that the world we live in is all we have and it's worth fighting for, that the choices we make matter, that people matter, that if God existed the right thing to do would be to kill him or at least prosecute him in a court of law.

Anyway my favorite tumblr takes are about "the car got into heaven and Cas didn't" and "actually, cars go to heaven and gays go to hell is a genuinely felt American ideology"

And "you could watch the series pilot and fast forward 15 years and watch the finale and understand everything that was happening".
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 12:01 PM on November 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

Except... Cas apparently DID make it into heaven. And I don't think the show was trying to say that life on Earth is just a blip on the way to our eternal reward. If it was, all of Sam and Dean's struggling on Earth wouldn't mean anything. I think heaven was supposed to be a reward they'd earned for the lives they'd led. (And... vampire clowns? Those were skull masks. The clown thing and people "missing" the line about Cas makes me think some Tumblr folks may be deliberately misrepresenting the show so they can snark harder.)

I got the feeling that this was the very next day after they'd defeated Chuck, yeah. If the loss of Chuck's divine protection was what made the difference, it's kind of impressive that the bros got THAT far against a big hive of vampires.

We haven't seen the behind-the-scenes special yet. Is it worth watching? I'd be interested in something that was more of a documentary, but if it's mostly an hour of old clips from the show and Padalecki and Ackles saying nothing much of substance, I think we'd give it a pass.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:02 PM on November 20, 2020

I found Dean's overly-long death scene to be a lot less emotionally affecting than watching Sam just sitting quietly in Dean's room trying to cope with the grief. There's a good lesson for TV writers in that.

Also, namedropping Donna in this episode just made me sad all over again that Wayward Sisters didn't happen.

As to them winding up in ties everything up except for how it doesn't, quite. Bobby tells Dean that Heaven's got "everything you could ever want or need" but what do the Winchesters need, Dean in particular? Well, the fact that they killed God and then immediately went back to monster-hunting tells us the show is not trying to rewrite that: what Dean needs is monsters to hunt and people to save. So does Heaven have that? Or is the fact that he'll get bored stiff after about 2 days in Heaven supposed to be okay, because time passes so slowly in Heaven that he'll never actually feel like 2 days passed?

I suppose it's probably a bit much to expect Supernatural of all things to resolve the "Heaven is actually boring and dull" problem when neither Milton nor Dante could solve it, but it would've been nice to at least see some recognition from the writers that it is, in fact, a problem.

Honestly, if Cass and Jack know the Winchesters as well as they do, when they renovated Heaven, they probably should've just put in a Winchesters-use-only portal to Hell somewhere in Heaven, just so Dean can pop down there and get in some fights with demons and monsters when he's feeling frisky. Maybe I'll headcanon that in, just like I'm gonna headcanon in that the out-of-focus woman in Sam's post-hunting life was definitely Eileen.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:33 PM on November 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

As to them winding up in ties everything up except for how it doesn't, quite. Bobby tells Dean that Heaven's got "everything you could ever want or need" but what do the Winchesters need, Dean in particular? Well, the fact that they killed God and then immediately went back to monster-hunting tells us the show is not trying to rewrite that: what Dean needs is monsters to hunt and people to save. So does Heaven have that?

Maybe Dean's heaven is something like James Dickey's Heaven of Animals:

For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect

(I haven't watched Supernatural since the second season, but I used to have a student who would give me updates on Handsome Brother and the other one.)
posted by betweenthebars at 4:16 PM on November 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Other authors have tackled the "heaven is boring" thing, honestly, my favorite is Lois McMaster Bujold, because her characters go through, you know, character development, and change over time, and their goals change such that they're eventually done with adventure and able to settle down to a peaceful life that they find truly fulfilling.

SPN is just allergic to character development.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 5:20 PM on November 20, 2020

I was pretty satisfied with this one. At first I was annoyed when it seemed like nothing interesting was going to happen and they were just going to go back to fighting run-of-the-mill monsters. (I was delighted to see the dog run in to get a hug from Dean, though.) It was disappointing to see Dean barely seem to care that Cas was gone and Jack was God (and also gone.) And then when they killed Dean, I was really pissed off that they would end things on such a depressing note.

But then Dean got to Heaven and we learned that Jack had fixed it and also gotten Cas out of the Empty. And then we got to see Sam fast forward through what seemed like a good life with a kid who loved him and reunite with Dean. Nice. After all they've been through, they get to be happy together forever.

It was a little disturbing that Sam's wife was absent from most of the scenes of him with little Dean and wasn't there when he died. Did they split up? Did she die young? And I was disappointed that we didn't get to see Cas again. We don't even know for sure that he was still in Heaven when Dean got there, just that he helped Jack create it. But I guess I'm pretty much okay with them leaving things open so everyone can imagine what they want. People who thought Eileen was perfect for Sam can imagine she was the one he married and people who would rather have seen him with someone else can imagine he found someone else. People who want Dean and Cas to be lovers and partners can imagine that's what happens. (No doubt a thousand fics describing in loving detail exactly how it happens are being written at this moment.) And people who think that's ridiculous can be satisfied that there is no evidence for it at all. Maybe the most unsatisfying thing is that we have no idea what happened to Hell. Hell seems like the kind of thing Jack might just want to do away with. Couldn't they at least have tossed in a sentence that implied Jack implemented some Hell-related reforms too?
posted by Redstart at 6:04 PM on November 20, 2020

....Yeah, I was disappointed when I heard people were calling this finale "bonkers" and man, it was not. I agree that I'd be happy to forget this one and think that the previous episode was the ending.

What I hated:
* After all of the shit they went through, Dean's death was a total chump death. I hate seeing badasses permanently taken out by pretty minor shit, and frankly, anything would be minor for them after how the show has gone.
* Sam growing old and having a son and a family....I know, most people want that, but him spending 40 more years without Dean depressed me as shit. I said before I figured they either got a HEA or died, which I guess this ending was shooting for both, but I hated that they were separated for so long.
* A normal life is boring. This is why we watch television.
* All Covid-related limitations meaning that I can't see people one last time, not that they can help that.

What I did like:
* The dog
* The pie-eating
* The fact that heaven DID get more or less fixed so that you can see your friends there, at least.
* I will also headcanon that Sam ended up with Eileen (so painful that for whatever reason they couldn't or didn't get her back even before pandemic).

I do concur that the whole "heaven is boring because you get what you want all the time" thing is legitimate, and only The Good Place has ever dealt with that concept in their show anyway.

I guess optimally speaking, heaven would have its little paradise areas, and then they have like, Real Life Theme Park portals where you can go in and solve problems and thrash monsters just for the heck of it. So when you're feeling tired of paranormal shit, you can go relax in heaven for awhile, and then when you get bored of that you can go solve problems again.

posted by jenfullmoon at 7:16 PM on November 20, 2020

I think people like Sam and Dean need more than just pretend monster fighting. They need to be doing something that makes a real difference. I think there ought to be a portal between Heaven and Purgatory so people from Heaven can go into Purgatory and try to help the people there. After all, they're not all evil. We've seen good monsters, like Benny and Garth. Maybe a team of Heaven-dwellers and good monsters could try to set up safe zones in Purgatory where people can live peacefully and happily. Maybe Sam and Dean can figure out how to get monsters who deserve something better out of Purgatory and into Heaven. They'd probably enjoy the danger and the challenge of going into Purgatory. Maybe they could go to Hell, too, and try to stop demons from doing evil stuff, or get people to repent so they could get into Heaven. (I feel like Jack would actually have shut down Hell, though. Sending people to Hell doesn't seem like his style.)
posted by Redstart at 9:05 PM on November 20, 2020 [1 favorite]


I have so many thoughts. I'm so sorry for people who were let down by this, I was really worried I would hate it and I would've been devastated after so long, so I really honestly feel for you. (And I've been avoiding any spoilers but the very very little reaction I've seen I was also expecting something SO MUCH weirder and more out there than this, which ended its story but in a really pretty safe way.)

It definitely had flaws, some of which I'm sure were covid related and some of which were how you just knew they'd whiff the ending the minute they announced it last spring.

Dean's death worked for me, though if I wasn't One Thousand percent an easy mark for that kind of thing I'd have wandered off a long time ago. I did think JA effectively sold going from "fuck that hurts" to "this is maybe bad" to "oh shit, this is scary and I am in trouble" and I liked how much Dean would've appreciated getting killed by a random vampire, almost by accident and for no particular good reason. That's not how angelic vessels die, or how prophesied warriors die, or the star of God's favorite TV show, or people who are Important; it's stupid and pointless and some random day it just happens and that's how hunters die.

I agree that this was for sure a renovation of Heaven based on a very particular set of ideas Jack absorbed about what the afterlife should be, and besides that, Sam and Dean are going to get pretty bored of driving around and drinking beer on the porch or they could've been doing that the whole time anyway (and in fairness they do a lot of both, between killing monsters.) (What some folks are describing as an actual happy eternity for them is basically "purgatory but nicer" and you know, you are not wrong.)

Sam's missing/ambiguous wife was weird and it was sad to think about him spending decades missing Dean. But Sam having a good peaceful life is something he wanted and that Dean wanted for him for a long time, and it's sad that he couldn't have Dean too but not in a way that ruins it for me; I think it's fair that part of where this show leaves you is that death sucks but you have to go on. (The hair. the hair ruins it for me.)

And Ursula Hitler, same--this show started when I was in college and it was almost halfway through its run before I watched two seasons in a row in the same state, let alone at the same address, but no matter where I was I knew I'd be watching Supernatural, for a LONG time, and when everything else was chaos I really valued that.

But overall...I wasn't sure what I wanted so I don't know how it could've been everything I wanted, but it ended with Sam and Dean together which was my only real bar to clear. I got into a show about two brothers hunting monsters and that's what they left me with, I guess I want to think about it more when it's not 4am, but I'm pretty happy. (And emotional enough that that James Hickey poem got me a little choked up, which the episode didn't even do.)

Either way, I'll miss talking about this silly little show with you all, thank you, you made it more fun to watch the past few years <3
posted by jameaterblues at 1:19 AM on November 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

OH AND. I was one of the people who could not even guess where they were going to go after last week, because it felt so much like The End. But having seen it, I do actually kind of think it was a good call to mainly wrap up the big plot arc in the second to last episode, and spend the finale playing the hits. (Though I do wonder what the plan was for this before covid.)
posted by jameaterblues at 1:23 AM on November 21, 2020

I wasn't thinking about it this way when I was watching, but I realized today that the Heaven Dean arrived at was brand-new to everyone in it. What Bobby was describing to Dean was a place he himself was just getting to know. I'm not sure how much time had passed since Jack became God, but I don't think it could have been more than a few weeks. I do imagine it was more than a day. The day when we saw Sam and Dean eating breakfast and making their beds didn't feel to me like the day after Chuck was defeated. It felt like a few days or weeks later, when they had settled into a new routine. And I didn't imagine the day they fought the mask-wearing vampires was that same day. It was probably a few days or weeks later. But still, I doubt time in Heaven seems to last longer than normal time, so people there wouldn't even have had time to figure out everything about the new place and what they were going to do there by the time Dean showed up. If someone's dream was to open a bar, they might not even have gotten around to doing it yet. Mary and John would still have been arguing about where to put the furniture and trying to figure out how much time they wanted together vs. alone. When Bobby said Heaven had everything Dean could want or need, that was pretty much just a guess based on what Jack had told him. If there was a portal to Hell or to another world or a monster theme park, Bobby might not even know about it yet.
posted by Redstart at 7:13 AM on November 21, 2020

I wasn't thinking about it this way when I was watching, but I realized today that the Heaven Dean arrived at was brand-new to everyone in it.

Oh, that's a good call, and I agree on it feeling a little settled in the beginning--they don't get much time after Jack leaves, but I don't think the fight with Chuck to the fight with the vampires was meant to be literally two consecutive days.

(Another timing thing I wondered about was when Dean actually woke up in Heaven--theoretically some reaper would've been there at the moment he died in the barn, but it's shot like it happens when his body burns, which they do so the person's unquiet spirit doesn't get trapped on Earth. Which makes me wonder if Dean actually did turn down his reaper and stick around for a few days, knowing Sam would do it right, just to see he got home okay.)

But you're right, the vast majority of people in Heaven have been alone reliving their happy memories for a long LONG time. Some people probably would honestly be happier that way, as creepy as it could seem to me, and the rest could still be kicking the tires. I do feel like the logistics of a heaven like this fall apart pretty quick, though the logistics of heaven is not a thing I strongly feel needs to be airtight, especially if it's on screen for like ten minutes. (I don't think this made LESS sense, on balance, than the tottering plot heap that was Heaven 1.0.) (I will throw down on John Winchester being officially MIA between escaping Hell in season 2 and this episode, but I will grudgingly let the Jack-and-Castiel magic wand renovation put that to rest.)

But I love that idea. Sam and Dean kicking back for like a week, and then taking an extended-family hunting trip to the Dinosaur Planet or whatever sounds...pretty, pretty great.

Also, I didn't notice this myself, but somebody elsewhere pointed out that Dean died finishing one of John's open cases, which is both a nice touch and a real twist of the ol rusty-spike-to-the-back.
posted by jameaterblues at 8:07 AM on November 21, 2020

I feel like I'm in the minority on this, but I loved the finale. I don't disagree that there were some things left out, or that they didn't address all the issues and a few dangling plot/character lines, but over all I thought they did a great job and it was pretty much what I expected. (the only real surprise for me was that Dean died first. I seriously expected it to be Sam, and that it would be the final truth that Dean could live without his brother and find some purpose beyond hunting and taking care of his little brother.) That said, the flip on that was a totally pleasant surprise for me and made me cry all the harder.

I disagree that it closes the doors for any movies or specials or reunions...There's a lot of territory left in Supernatural that has gone unexplored, and it could start in heaven and move outward, or it could run backward, or I don't know - my fanfiction writer mind sees a ton of worthy stories left to tell, maybe even because they actually find peace at the end, as opposed to in-spite of it.

I also don't disagree that the heaven-canon is a little Christian centered, but so was much of the theology distortion rendered in the series as a whole. But from my own, admittedly Christian-centric background, despite the Kingdom of Heaven metaphors, this really reads more old testament than new. I also subscribe to the theory that "heaven" is a pretty subjective state of being. That what Dean first encounters and sees is based very much on his own psyche and the transition can take some time. And the huge fan complaint abut the lack of Cas when he arrived, has as much to do with the idea that it has to settle in Dean where he actually is, and in his recently alive state, Cas was going to be unavailable to him forever, and it takes some time (but not very many minutes) for him to realize that's not true -- Bobby's aside about Cas is mere confirmation of the fact as Dean realizes he really is in Heaven, and whatever his earthly desire/hopes might have been, may not actually apply in the afterlife.

I think that's why we get the long drive. That's Dean's most familiar way of putting things in order, and it sinks in as he drives, that the disappointments and losses he felt when alive may need no longer apply. So much so, that he stops not long after (his entire drive, in my head, lasts as long as the song) because Bobby's advice, that time is different, makes him realize he isn't going to be waiting for earth-time decades for Sam, he's going to be there right when Dean realizes it.

My take away impression was that some time had passed since then end of Chuck and Jack's goodbye. Not a lot of time, but some -- they were settling, they were checking for jobs and not finding a lot, but there were dog bowls in Dean's room, which I doubt they picked up immediately. Laundry to do, places to go, etc., maybe a couple of weeks but it could have been longer. They seemed to have settled for lack of a better word and that would take some time.

As for his actual death, I had less problem than most, I think (although the good-bye scene about killed me.) It harkened back to "Faith", and Dean nearly dying of heart issues after a near electrocution. That was also a stupid and unforeseen consequence of what they do, and yes, without Chuck's self-serving but still pretty effective extra "boost" of luck in all things that should have (and often did) kill them, that it could be a bit of barn detritus, actually made a lot of sense to me. The other option was for it to be something that actually "got" them instead of the other way around. Dean went down fighting, he and his brother saving two children which is what they've always done.

I just found the whole thing satisfying if bittersweet. I've never cried over an episode of Supernatural before, but I did for this one. Part of it was -- a huge crux of the dynamics for Sam and Dean has always been their somewhat toxic co-dependency. The only thing that made it bearable was the very obvious love they had for each other, but it wasn't always (understatement) healthy physically or emotionally for either of them. The Finale finally (no pun intended) shifted that a bit - they'd been through so much, suffered so much for so long, that the series being able to shift that facet of their personalities into something less toxic, just felt right for the ending. They could go on without each other -- they didn't have to like it, but they could do it.

And I loved that.

(afternote: In my head canon it was Eileen Sam married, so much so that I took a look at pictures of Shoshanna and the actor who played Sam's adult son, and I'm like, okay, that's a pretty good match. And in that breaking the 4th wall space, I tend to think that the vagueness of Sam's wife had more to do with the Covid19 restrictions and the idea of her having to quarantine for 14 days to do what was a pull shot seems kind of ridiculous. I attribute that to a lot of the people who probably would have been in finale but weren't. That's a big risk for folks for what might end up being a three second shot for a 42 minute american tv series, no matter how much you love it. I mean seriously, Dean and Bobby didn't even hug, and even Sam and Dean, except for the goodbye, and the reunion, stay pretty far apart for all the scenes - I'm pretty sure that 4 foot long box of pie was as much a health solution as a sight gag.)
posted by allandsome at 8:16 AM on November 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

allandsome, thanks for that, I definitely read nodding along.
posted by jameaterblues at 8:50 AM on November 21, 2020

I think the beer tasting bad (but being just what Dean wanted) was a clue to how this version of Heaven works. This isn't like that episode of The Twilight Zone with Mr. Pip, where you get so bored of everything going your way that you go crazy. This Heaven anticipates your needs, and gives you exactly the afterlife you will be happy with. Heaven provides the beer YOU need, when you need it, even if that beer tastes cruddy. If the brothers need to hunt, they can hunt. They will never be bored, because life (or the afterlife) will always be just right for what they need.

My girlfriend made the interesting observation that Sam and Dean actually got to die just how they wanted. Dean always planned to die hunting. He went out with a win, having just saved those kids, and he died at peace. Sam got to live the normal life he'd wanted. Really, these were the best case scenarios for them. But for the fans (myself included) I think there were two problems. First, Sam and Dean's ideal deaths couldn't overlap. For them to get what they wanted, they had to die decades apart. Second, we didn't get the clearest picture of Sam's normal life and the thing that resonated the most was his lingering grief over Dean. We got fleeting glimpses of him being happy but then there was that longer scene of him sitting with Baby and looking heartbroken in his pretty terrible old man makeup. The way they played his life made it seem like a bittersweet blur, on his way to his reunion with his brother, and it was all vague enough that (as I said) I kept wondering if it was just a vision or something. For this to really work we needed to see his wife, see what he did for a living, see him settling in. We needed to feel like he'd really lived.

But again, I'm sure covid complicated the hell out of everything. We really don't now what the writers' plans were vs. what they could actually get done in the midst of a global pandemic.

It may be that Jack did away with the reaper system, so people who die just go straight to the afterlife. We left things with no designated Death, and since Jack was ready to make such big changes in Heaven he may well have done the same with the reapers, the angels, Hell, etc. While God-Jack + Amara did seem more mature than the innocent Jack we'd always known, it's probably for the best that Jack had God-Cas around to advise him. Even if God-Jack knows everything, Castiel has direct experience of how the celestial sausage gets made. He's earned his wisdom, rather than getting it all in a God-download the way Jack did.

I've got to figure that post-hunter Sam was still pestered by Chuck, and various monsters looking for revenge against the remaining Winchester. (I wonder if Sam told his family about all of his adventures.) When Dean told Sam to keep fighting I'd actually assumed he meant to go on hunting, and the Bon Jovi case seemed to suggest that's what Sam was doing... so I was surprised that it was apparently Sam's last hunt. I suppose Dean may have meant "keep fighting" more in the sense to just never give up on life and for Sam to keep being the butt-kicker he'd always been.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:40 PM on November 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

One detail I noticed as Sam was on his deathbed (hooked up to what surely must be antiquated monitors decades from now) was that his son Dean had a tattoo on his wrist. The kind protecting the bearer from demonic possession., I believe. That could simply be a precaution, or he could be a hunter himself, carrying on the family business.
posted by Pryde at 3:18 PM on November 21, 2020

Pryde,, I noticed that too. (Although noticed is the wrong word, it was a pretty deliberate reveal shot.) I think young Dean was/is a hunter, and became Sam's wingman (hopefully without the authoritativeness of John's revenge driven hunting;) which makes even more sense if it was ultimately that Sam and Eileen made a life together. It's still head canon, I know, but as I rewatch, there's more reason to think so -- there are pictures of young Dean and probably some supportive family pictures aside from that -- but even in what was likely Sam's study -- that's a whole lot of "Another family" to have up and around if you aren't married to someone who gets it, and who specifically got Sam and what his life had cost him. (And not just in terms of Dean's death.)

I also, didn't get the impression that Sam leaving the bunker as shown was meant to indicate he never returned. It's entirely possible he could have picked up all of the last few years of stuff and packed it (or even just left it.) But my impression was more that the bunker would never be "home" again the way it had been when Dean was alive. I got maybe the idea that he would eventually move out, but would keep the key because part of his promise to Dean was to keep fighting, and you don't leave the kind of resources the bunker offered behind and forget about them. And yes, head canon again that his son now has that key -- should have anyway if Eileen is his mother, since she was a legacy MoL too.

Obviously this is all just random extrapolation and out loud thinking - but I do like the room the episode as filmed gives fans to make connections that work for them, because long term fans are looking for those connections. At least I am. I've spend 15 years with this show too, and at least part of the fun has always been reading between the lines. Supernatural isn't a crime procedural -- things that would ridiculous plot holes in any other show can actually work (not all of them, but most) with not much effort.

Anyway, the more I think about it and the more scene re-watching I do (and honestly, not as much as it may sound like - but all my SM feeds are full of clips and discussion at the moment,) the more satisfied I am with the ending. I don't actually want it to be over, but it is, and what they left me with, much like Sam, I can live with.
posted by allandsome at 6:06 PM on November 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

We really don't know whether Sam kept hunting or not. We didn't see any evidence that he kept hunting after he had a family, but we didn't see evidence that he gave it up either. It wouldn't have been hard to include a scene that made it clear which way he went, so I assume it was a deliberate choice to give us another thing we can imagine any way we want. I imagine he cut back but never gave it up entirely.
posted by Redstart at 7:14 PM on November 21, 2020

I was super duper into 'Supernatural' for the first 3 or 4 seasons, then completely dropped it around 2010 (S05? - Sam was the devil, krakatoa? croatoan graffiti). Caught the Felicia Day episode and decided the show went fully young adult. Caught this season's premier on strength of fanfare. So I have no idea about anything.

The brothers' core personalities have basically changed as much as their appearances. Which is... charming in a way.

Their preferred outfits - they've not been stagnant over the years, but archetypal and updated subtly. Interesting. Props. Strong show-bible?

Both actors aged well and the magic of makeup and TV keep getting better. Lots and lots of makeup. One or both of them must be wearing wigs/ extensions/ fillers? Beard conditioners, certainly. Skillful hair dye jobs and styling.


Liked that it picked up a lot of the original beats, the boys taking it as seriously as ever.

The way Dean goes - there is purity there. Exactly how I expected one of them to ultimately go.

Jim Beaver cameo included.
posted by porpoise at 9:42 PM on November 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sam - my mind, he desultorily keeps fighting on/ off, but ends up being a fixer/ mentor and has a much better work/ life balance.

His kid ends up with a tattoo on his wrist after all.
posted by porpoise at 9:47 PM on November 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

It just hit me that the (Earthly) adventures of the Winchester brothers ended with them saving not just two children, but two brothers. Since the kids were orphaned by monsters, it's not impossible they'll grow up to be hunters too.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:20 PM on November 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Lots happening over in Supernatural fandom -- SPNGate theories abounding that Destiel was supposed to go canon in episode 18 and that CW hacked apart episodes 19 & 20 to remove Castiel. I honestly never expected the show to go full Destiel, but, from what's being pieced together by the fans it really does seem like the original scripts were altered by more than just Covid restrictions. Relevant tumblr posts: Sad Clown's SPNGate powerpoint, Some Things We Know by rosewhipped22, Why Do I Have to Feel Like a Fucking Conspiracy Theorist – OR – How I Find a Semblance of Peace on Sunday Night by aoitrinity

In case of link rot in future - people are saying that episode 18 titled "Despair" here in the US was titled "La Verdad" (The Truth) when it aired in Latin American countries on 11/24, and in the Spanish subtitles, when Castiel said "Te amo" (I love you) to Dean, Dean's subtitles replied "Y yo a ti" (and I you) instead of the "Don't do this, Cas". From various other clues (things said on twitter by Misha and the cast before broadcast, their relative silence afterwards, Mark Pellegrino having mentioned filming a scene with Jack and Castiel in the Empty, etc, it really does seem plausible that there were some major edits done to the finale which had nothing to do with pandemic logistics.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:13 AM on November 26, 2020

My wife and I are still trying to process this. I blame some of the faults in the finale to COVID (lack of cameos, Sam's wife missing, Castiel not with Dean). The previous episode left Chuck with an appropriate fate and this one has the preferred endings for Dean and Sam. Sam's son is a hunter, maybe with the two brothers that were rescued. All three fight over the right to drive Baby. Jody calls them idgits. Mrs Butters found the forest was a parking lot and has returned to maintaining the bunker, which is now filled with young women and men. Carry on.
posted by Ber at 8:08 AM on November 27, 2020

It just hit me that the (Earthly) adventures of the Winchester brothers ended with them saving not just two children, but two brothers. Since the kids were orphaned by monsters, it's not impossible they'll grow up to be hunters too.

I thought the casting of those two kids - one notably taller with longer hair than the other one - was pretty clearly implying that, but was relieved that they didn't feel the need to bludgeon us over the head with it.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:23 AM on November 28, 2020

The show has always been like a chain store pizza; cheesy, greasy, hot mess of trash and just what you want on a hard cold night when it's just you and life is full of monsters and you are not sure if there's anything else. When my soul-dog died, I just lay in bed and watched Supernatural, start to finish and over again, every waking hour. It's not a great show, but it is what it is and the endings (I loved the second to last ending, was meh on the actual one) fit that perfectly.
posted by The otter lady at 10:06 AM on December 1, 2020

Sarah Z did an hour-and-45-minutes video on the ending, and I posted about it on the blue.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:42 AM on December 1, 2020

I didn't have the kind of long-term relationship with this show that many of the people posting in this thread had. I only watched Supernatural for the first time in late September 2020, and I got through the entire run of the show in about six months. I must say I enjoyed it a lot. I wasn't sure I was going to watch the whole thing when I began it, but I never once found myself with any desire to stop or take a break from it. As silly as the plotting could be, it was, like The X-Files: a generally fun ride with a lot of impressively creative and artistic moments, two extremely appealing leads, and a very compelling relationship at its heart. And unlike The X-Files, Supernatural was refreshingly unpretentious, and mercifully free of pseudo profound monologues, junk science, or overstrained political intrigue.

One of the things that gave this show an extra emotional frisson for me was that Dean Winchester always reminded me so much of my favourite brother. My brother was a mechanic and a trucker who loved cars and driving. He had basically just a bare high school education, though he did go to college to become a licensed mechanic. He had zero inclination towards books/academia (my dad has often said that the driver instruction manual was the only book my brother ever voluntarily cracked in his life), but he had a lot of practical knowledge and could turn his hand to lots of things, and he was pretty quick with pop culture references. He loved classic rock, and aspired to a big screen tv. He worked the same job at a family-owned business from the time he was fifteen, and the family that employed him became basically a second family to him -- at his wedding, his boss told my father that he looked upon my brother as a son. He dressed like Dean, in jeans and t-shirts and loose flannel shirts, and his only jewelry was worn purely for its sentimental value: he always wore his wedding ring on his left hand and the gold signet ring my dad gave him for his sixteenth birthday on his right hand. He drank like Dean. He ate like Dean, and somehow managed to not only never become a pound overweight but to remain astoundingly cut from head to foot -- he had more muscle than Jensen Ackles, or even Jared Padalecki. He had a similar sense of humour to Dean's -- for instance, he used to joke that when he was weeding the garden he and his wife had at their place, he considered any vegetables he didn't like to be weeds, and every Christmas he had a wordless contest with his next door neighbour as to which of them could get more Christmas lights on his house. He was good-natured and fun-loving most of the time, but he did have a temper. He had Dean's straightforward moral code of doing his job and always being there for family and friends. And, like Dean, though he had the insanely good luck of surviving a lot of reckless behaviour for a surprisingly long time, the life he led eventually killed him. My brother died instantly of a massive heart attack at the end of a routine work shift in 2011 at the age of 42.

I know Dean is a blue collar guy, that it's a very common type, and there are countless guys in North America who could be similarly compared to him, but some of the parallels could be amazingly specific, such as the way both Dean and my brother hated sweaters, or the way my brother got very into buying himself some cowboy apparel on a trip out west. And, fun fact, my brother's middle name was Dean (and his nickname was Charlie). I don't know if my brother ever saw Supernatural or if he would have liked it (I don't know if he liked horror at all -- two of his favourite movies were Smokey and the Bandit and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation), but I am quite sure he would have enjoyed Dean's character a lot and considered him very funny and someone to root for, and he probably would have envied him the Impala.

Regarding the finale, I was okay with it. I have read that the original concept for the finale was to put every single person Dean had ever known in one building and have them all whooping it up as the actual Kansas band played "Carry On Wayward Son", but they couldn't do it because of the pandemic -- everyone they asked said no. But I think I like the actual ending better, so I at least have no regrets on that score.

The episode starts out with the two Winchesters contentedly getting up to another day in their lives. After all they'd been through, for them to have their bunker and each other and a difficult but worthwhile job to do, and to not have the weight of the world hanging over their heads, with bonus pie, was enough for them. And then suddenly they no longer had that anymore. Dean's death scene brought tears to my eyes. That long shot of him slumped over like a broken doll with Sam holding him and crying and the headless vampires lying around them....

The heaven scenes were fine with me too. The one thing I would have liked to change was to make Sam's life on earth look fuller and more rewarding. Like others in this thread, I think we're meant to think he married Eileen and that their son became a hunter, which means Sam probably stayed in the hunting business himself, but I would have liked to have been given a sense of what his marriage was like and what work he did. As it is, the episode makes it look as though the only emotionally resonant thing in his life besides the heavy weight of grief over his brother was his relationship with Dean Winchester II, which is... not healthy. But I suppose we're free to make some reasonable assumptions about the rest of his life. I think he remained married to Eileen (he is wearing a wedding ring on his deathbed), and that he would have gone on hunting until he was physically past being able to do it, and then provided mentoring and support for the younger generation of hunters, as Bobby did. I would expect that he would have seen Castiel sometimes too, and maybe even Jack, and Castiel would have reassured him that Dean was in heaven with his parents, and happy.

To my own surprise, I feel like I need more time with the Winchester brothers, and might just do a rewatch in the very near future. With accompanying FanFare threads, because there are only FanFare threads for late season nine through the finale, and it would be nice to have the entire show in the database. But we'll see -- my doing that will depend upon their being enough interest in the threads that we can get decent conversations going.

a huge crux of the dynamics for Sam and Dean has always been their somewhat toxic co-dependency. The only thing that made it bearable was the very obvious love they had for each other, but it wasn't always (understatement) healthy physically or emotionally for either of them.

I don't think Sam and Dean's relationship was toxic, because they generally treated each other with care and respect, but I think that the brutal and tragic life that they lived was, and that it made them far more emotionally dependent on each other than siblings should be. So yes, I did like that, in the end, they were able to deal with being separated when fate dealt that hand, and then ultimately get reunited.

Since the kids were orphaned by monsters, it's not impossible they'll grow up to be hunters too.

Their mother was still alive, albeit with her tongue ripped out. But yes, nice parallel of a nascent fraternal pair of hunters with the Winchester brothers. From what we've seen, traumatic personal experience is what gets hunters in to the business.
posted by orange swan at 12:14 PM on May 3, 2021 [4 favorites]


Sam: This the place?
Dean: Dark, creepy, something out of Wes Craven's erotic fantasy? Yeah, it's 100% the place.

Dean: I love you so much, my baby brother.

Bobby Singer: That kid of yours, before he went... wherever, made some changes here. Busted my ass. And then, he... well, he set some things right. Tore down all the walls up here. Heaven ain't just reliving your golden oldies anymore. It's what it always should have been. Everyone happy. Everyone together. Rufus lives about 5 miles that way -- with Aretha. Thought she'd have better taste. And your mom and dad... they got a place over yonder. It ain't just Heaven, Dean. It's the Heaven you deserve. And we've been waiting for you.

Bobby: So, I guess the question is... what are you gonna do now, Dean?
Dean: I think I'll go for a drive.

Jensen Ackles: Thank you, the fans. Through blood, sweat, laughter, and tears, you've kept us on for 15 years.
Jared Padalecki: There's no way we would have ever been here without you and your support and your love, so thank you. We will remain forever grateful for the opportunity and the honor to play these characters for so long, and we felt you guys here with us all the time. So thank you.


When going to the crime scene posing as FBI agents, Sam and Dean use the aliases "Singer and Kripke", which are the names of series' executive producer Robert Singer and creator Eric Kripke.

The man laughing in the background when Sam pies Dean is actually director and executive producer Robert Singer.

The title of the episode is a reference to the song "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas that is played normally at the beginning of each season finale. Season 1 is the only season where the song wasn't played in the finale episode, but rather in the second last episode of the season.

The song "Carry on Wayward Son" was released on November 19, 1976 and the airdate for "Carry On" was November 19, 2020.

On March 22, 2019 Supernatural leads Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins posted a video revealing that season 15, which was to air in the 2019-2020 television season, would be the show's last. On March 31, 2019 Ackles and Padalecki took the stage at a Supernatural convention in Las Vegas where they addressed the decision. "This was a community decision," Padalecki said.

Filming of episodes 19 and 20, the final 2 episodes of season 15, were delayed due to Vancouver's COVID-19 restrictions. Those restrictions were eased in June 2020 and filming resumed in August 2020. The final 7 episodes aired October 8, 2020 though November 19, 2020.

On IMDb, the finale episode is tied with "Bugs" (ep. 1.8) for the second lowest-rated episode of the series, with both of them rated at 6.8/10. "Bloodlines" (ep. 9.20) is the lowest-rated episode of the series at 5.8/10.

According to Jared Padalecki, this episode takes place 5 years after the events of the previous episode.

Sam and Dean repeat (unscripted) lines from the Pilot in this episode. This episode... Sam: "I can't do this alone." Dean: "Yes you can!" Sam: "Well I don't want to." In the Pilot episode, when Dean is trying to convince Sam to join him in finding their father... Dean: "I can't do this alone." Sam: "Yes you can." Dean: "Well I don't want to."

Sam and Dean once again use John Winchester's journal as a primary source on a case like they often did in the early seasons.

The bridge on which the final scene takes place is the same one used in "Bring 'em Back Alive" (ep. 13.18), when the angel guards march a group of people onto the bridge for execution. Charlie Bradbury is among them. The same bridge also appeared in "Good God, Y'all" (ep. 5.2).

When "Dean's other other phone" rings, the area code on the caller ID is 512, which is the area code for Austin, Texas, where both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki live.

Sam and Dean are wearing outfits in Heaven that are nearly identical to the ones they wore in the pilot episode.

The Heaven Impala has the original license plate: KAZ 2Y5.

Sam wearing Dean's watch after Dean's death wasn't scripted. It was Jared's idea.

The vampire Jenny's first appearance was in "Dead Man's Blood" (ep. 1.20).

When Sam gives Dean his hunter funeral, the song playing is "Brothers in Arms" by Dire Straits.

Dean dies permanently and he is reunited with Bobby Singer in Heaven where he reveals that Jack sprung him from Heaven's dungeon and reshaped Heaven for the better. Dean is sent to Heaven, even though he has been in Hell previously. Belphegor once stated that once a soul is cast into Hell, it cannot go to Heaven. So it's possible that Jack either changed the rules or at least made an exception for him.

Despite Billie's threats that the Winchesters will go to the Empty upon their deaths, they go to Heaven, presumably aided by the fact that Billie's dead and thus can't ensure their banishment to the Empty.

Dean's death in this episode is basically a mirror image of the episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Pt. 1" (ep. 2.21), when Sam is stabbed in the back by Jake. Dean even dies in Sam's arms the same way Sam died in his arms in that episode. This episode is also proof that Chuck is no longer running the show, as Dean is taken out by some random act of chance.
posted by orange swan at 6:09 PM on June 20, 2022

Well, that's the end of my rewatch. It has taken longer than I expected. After we got to the point of posting in existing threads for episodes rather than my posting new threads, I was basically doing it alone, and the rewatch lost a lot of its impetus. And then in mid-March some things blew up in my life, preoccupying me nearly totally, and the Winchesters and their tribulations seemed so completely irrelevant that I kept putting off watching any more episodes. But I remained determined to finish eventually, and I have.

I don't have much to add to my May 2021 comment about the actual episode.

I thought perhaps the "Aretha" whom Bobby says is living with Rufus was a series character I'd forgotten, but no, apparently the ideas is that Aretha is the one and only Aretha Franklin, who died in 2018.

Sam very suitably gets a Dean-replacement dog again, as he has twice before when he's been separated from Dean (once when he ran away as an adolescent and a second time when Dean was in Purgatory), with the difference that this time the dog is Dean's dog. Also, here's a fun deleted scene that was shot for this episode.

I will add one little thing to my comment about my Dean-like brother, and that is that as of this past February I have a new little grandnephew whose middle name is Dean, after my brother, whose middle name was also Dean. The posthumous namesake (grand)nephew makes one more parallel between my brother and Dean. I've also realized that my being 4 years younger than my brother makes me... Sam. Well, I suppose I have the university education and the hair for it.

What a ride this has been. Supernatural is a problematic show with a problematic cast, and my love for it has not been uncomplicated. But even though objectively speaking I should not have put so much time and energy into this rewatch (my life is on the rocks and I have chronic fatigue issues), I still can't feel all that regretful that I did, as it has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
posted by orange swan at 6:21 PM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

orange swan, thank you again for leading the charge on a rewatch to fill out this show on Fanfare, it was a really fun way to revisit the series and sorry it took me two years to (finally actually omg) finish.

I hadn't watched this episode since the night it aired, and wasn't sure how I'd feel about it the second time around with the rest of the series fresher in my brain. Without excusing the finale's problems or the show's many, many problems--I do like how the story ended, and for a story I followed for so long, that's a nice thing to be able to say.
posted by jameaterblues at 10:13 PM on March 21

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