Not too many shows can claim they have aired an epic 300 episodes, but Supernatural can now officially say exactly that! “Lebanon” marks the show’s milestone 300th episode, and it included a few returning characters, some tricky time travel, and plenty of emotions. The episode is not exactly the Supernatural we have grown to love these past 14 seasons (and counting), but rather it’s a look into what would have been if certain things had been just a little bit different.
While many episodes start off at the start of a hunt or a quick peek at the monster of the week, “Lebanon” starts off with Sam and Dean already on a case. We see them entering a pawn shop “looking for the good stuff.” When Dean pulls out a large wad of cash, the shop’s owner takes them to a back room. The good stuff is (of course) one-of-a-kind supernatural items like dragon’s breath. But that is not what the Winchesters are after. They are after a skull of a woman that was executed during the Salem Witch Trials. We get a humorous moment while the owner opens a safe, as Sam picks up a teddy bear and goes to pull the string on its back. The owner warns him not to, but it was still such a childlike and precious moment from Sam!
The skull was just a ruse for the Winchesters. Dean cuts off the owner’s selling spiel to tell him exactly how the owner got that skull. It turns out he took the skull after killing a hunter… a hunter who just happened to be friends of the Winchesters. As is often the case for someone who is caught after committing a crime, the shop owner’s defenses kick in. The owner grabs a perfume that just happens to blow flames when the atomizer is squeezed. Sam and Dean are knocked to the floor, giving the owner time to grab a sword called a “Chrysaor.” He stands over Sam talking about how it will cut through anything with just one swing, and just as he goes to swing, Dean shoots him. As Dean says, “they always talk too much.” Never one to leave a stone unturned, Sam checks the owner’s records and finds he is in possession of many occult items that they plan on taking back home with them.
As the Impala drives off, the scene cuts to a group of three teenagers hanging out in front of a movie theater. It is clear they are talking about Sam and Dean and possibly someone, or something, in the trunk of their car. Cue the Winchesters pulling up and going into the bar across the street from the movie theater to grab their usual. We get a little glimpse of how Sam and Dean are perceived within Lebanon here. To the teenagers, they are a bit of an urban legend. But in the restaurant, the regulars are the “Campbell brothers.” We have seen Sam and Dean drive all over the United States over many years, but it is very neat to see this “local” Sam and Dean, outside the bunker.
Sam lists off the occult items with a bit of optimism, hoping there will be something to help them with their Michael problem. As they get ready to have a nice break from work, we tune back into the teenagers. One of them wonders where they actually came from, along with their “weird sidekick with the trenchcoat.” He is also curious about Jack the Nephilim and describes him as that “kid with the dumb Bambi look on his face.” The others tease him a bit before promising to meet up later. Another member of the group, Max, is clearly attracted to group member #3. And as #3 checks out the awesome Impala parked in front of them and makes a comment about its beauty, Max gets a mischievous look on her face.
The scene cuts back to Sam and Dean, with Sam talking about a pearl that grants wishes. This is the item Sam thinks would be the perfect thing to get Michael out of Dean’s head. But just as Dean goes to point out that all their answers are right there in Baby, said Impala speeds off with Max in the driver’s seat. Sam and Dean run out and approach the one kid left in front of the theater, the one who commented on Jack’s Bambi look. In their true natures, Sam is worried because there are dangerous items in the car, but Dean is just worried about the car itself. The kid however is just worried Sam and Dean might kill him. The kid gives up Max’s name, but he admits that he does not know anything else about her. This means a little research is needed.
Sam heads to the post office, with quite a horrible plan to find Max. He concocts a story and tells the postal worker that he needs the address of the (underage) girl named Max “something,” so he can tip her for washing his car. The woman at the counter is understandably horrified at his request, but Dean enters with all his charm and smoothes things over with Marta by asking about her grandson. She continues to assert that she can not give them Max’s address, but when Dean cranks his charm up to 11, even Marta cannot resist. She tells them where they can find Max’s mother.
At Max’s mother’s workplace, Sam and Dean learn that today is the annual “skip day” at school, which explains why Max was out and about. They also learn that “skip day” often includes a huge house party in town. Sam and Dean rush to the house.
Inside the house, we see the occult items from Baby’s backseat strewn about on the couch while everyone rifles through them. When everyone leaves the room to eat pizza, a cigar box on the side table opens by itself — the cigar box that belonged to serial killer John Wayne Gacy. His ghost is clearly still attached to the object, and a shape starts to form from out of the box.
Upstairs, a school-skipping partygoer in the bathroom realizes that the air around him has suddenly gotten so cold that he can see his breath and the mirror has frosted over. When he wipes away the frost from the mirror, Gacy’s ghost is there to greet him, and he jumps out to grab the partygoer.
Just in time, Sam and Dean pull up to the house in a classic black truck. While Dean is triple-checking every inch of his car, Sam realizes that the boxes of occult items from the back seat are missing. Ethan, the kid who encountered the ghost upstairs, runs out of the house in fear. Ethan’s friend tells Sam and Dean that Ethan thinks he saw a ghost in the bathroom, so they put on their FBI personas and order everyone out of the house.
Then it is down to business for the Winchesters. They quickly find the cigar box open and figure out that has to be the source of all the mayhem. In classic big brother fashion, Dean teases Sam about how this situation is the “best worst thing” to ever happen to Samy, because he loves serial killers, but he also hates clowns. Sam makes it very clear that he is aware of this irony while frantically working to burn the box.
The trio of teenagers from the movie theater enters the house just in time to see the ghost of the killer clown burn along with the box. They sit down and are given the “monsters are real” speech, but are told to keep it a secret. They agree to keep quiet, but something tells me that the urban legend of Sam and Dean may just live on in Lebanon, Kansas, thanks to these three.
Back at the bunker, Sam finds the pearl he was talking about earlier. They waste no time, and Dean holds the pearl and concentrates on what his heart desires. The pearl works as the lights flicker before everything goes dark, and the red warning lights come on. Usually that is a sign of something nefarious, and sure enough, Sam and Dean begin to get their butts kicked by a stranger we can not yet see. But the unseen stranger is far from nefarious: the lights turn back on, revealing the face of John Winchester.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s return as John Winchester brings forgiveness, redemption, and closure for the Winchester family. But first, John is brought up to speed.
For John, it is 2003 and Sam is still in Palo Alto. Sam and Dean bring their father up to speed on their lives, telling him of their heroic stories, how God and Lucifer are real, and even about the bunker itself. John reacts well to finding out that they live in the bunker with an “an angel and Lucifer’s kid.” Dean even tells John about his own dad, Henry. The emotions seep in as John tells his boys that he wishes he could have seen it all, but he is at peace because he was taken out by Azazel. It was all for Mary. And as Sam starts to tell his father about Mary, the three men hear her call out from the the other room. John is instantly brought to tears as he hears his wife’s voice. Mary walks into the kitchen as John smiles at her. Mary nearly stumbles when she sees John, but in a few seconds’ time, they embrace each other and kiss.
Sam and Dean leave to give them some privacy. Dean is ecstatic having his dad back, but Sam is skeptical. He knows time travel has its consequences. But all Dean wants is just one family dinner. He does not want to hear about the consequences or to worry about them. He just wants to enjoy this time with his family back together. After all, it is what his heart desires.
While Mary gets Dean a shopping list for her Winchester Surprise, Sam walks into the library to find John checking out the place. (Warning: this is the scene where tissues are needed.) John admits he screwed up with Sam. It is a huge moment for John to admit that, but Sam just says it is okay. John tells him that it is not okay. He wants Sam to talk about this, but Sam does not want to. For Sam, years have passed. He’s come to terms with it. He know John messed up. He admits that he thinks about John a lot, but not about how many times John screwed up. He thinks of John dying and not being able to say goodbye to him. It leads to John saying the words Sam, and all of us, have been waiting to hear for a long time: “I’m sorry.” Bravo to Jared Padalecki and Jeffrey Dean Morgan for delivering an emotional and profound scene!
Sam finally tells Dean that he is right about having their dad back and goes with him to grab the ingredients on Mary’s list. However, he spoke a little too soon, because Sam and Dean are about to find out exactly what consequences of having their father back lie ahead. They split up, with Dean grabbing the alcohol and Sam grabbing the ingredients. Dean is the first to find out what is wrong when the bar owner from earlier, Jackson, does not recognize “Dean Campbell.” Then Sam is not recognized by either teenager Max or postal worker Marta. And then Sam sees it: Dean’s Blue Steel wanted poster.
When Sam rushes back to tell Dean what he has discovered, Dean has a surprise for Sam (and quite the treat for us viewers). Dean has discovered online that Sam runs a law firm, and then he proceeds to show him a video of Sam speaking about health in what Dean calls his “wannabe TEDx Talk.” While Dean stills hunts in this altered timeline, clearly Sam is a very different Sam. It is enough info, though, for Sam to figure out that their current timeline is correcting itself and that, eventually, they will turn into those bizarre versions of themselves.
More changes lie ahead when the scene cuts to Zachariah (Kurt Fuller). Castiel walks up and stands beside him. Clearly, this is not the Castiel we have grown to love, but rather a version of him that never saved Dean from Hell. And Misha Collins gives an absolutely electrifying (wink, wink) performance of the angel from his earlier days. I would also like to give a shout out to the writers for having Zachariah calling Cas “Constantine.” That was truly brilliant!
Zachariah and Cas are there for a reason. They know time has been tampered with, so they enter the local restaurant and Zachariah handles the questioning of the restaurant’s patrons with Castiel the Soldier by his side. Sam and Dean quickly see the glow coming from Cas showing his wings and rush to enter the restaurant and tell everyone to get out. Zachariah is surprised to see the Winchesters. There were big plans for them, but John had disappeared. That was all the reasoning he needed to figure exactly who meddled with time. Sam and Dean are equally shocked when Cas does not know them at all. This is very bad, because Zachariah orders Cas to kill them.
Cas and Dean fight while Zachariah chokes Sam. But Sam grabs his angel blade and stabs Zachariah, killing the angel once again in the show. Cas continues to fight both Sam and Dean and is proving to be quite unbeatable. It is not looking good for them, but when Sam is tossed aside he uses that opportunity to make an angel banishing symbol to send Cas away.
Back at the bunker, the boys break the bad news to their parents — that John must leave. Dean explains to John that if he does not go back, one of those changes will be Mary. With John back, Mary would eventually just disappear, because she would have never been brought back by Amara. John agrees without hesitation because he would do anything for her. Meanwhile, Sam tells Mary how they have to do it. It will involve destroying the pearl Dean made his wish on. After that, everything will go back to how it is. But, John would not remember a thing.
Before they sit down for dinner, John has a talk with Dean. He admits he never meant for Sam and Dean to keep hunting. It was supposed to end after Azazel, but John tells Dean how proud he is of him. He tells Dean he always hoped Dean would have a normal life with a family, but like Dean tells John, he already has one.
Their family dinner starts off very awkward and solemn with John’s impending departure hanging heavy in the air. John is not having it though. He convinces them to be grateful and just live in the moment. And with that, we get a lovely montage of the Winchesters laughing, eating, drinking, and just enjoying their time as a family. It is such a rare, precious moment. Who knew we would ever go from Mary dying in episode 1 to John, Mary, Sam, and Dean sitting down to dinner in episode 300?
The domesticity continues as Sam and Dean do dishes. It is also a complete turnaround from when John first appeared. Sam think his father having to leave is not fair, and that he wishes things were different. He wishes that their dad would remember and be this changed man they currently have. Dean reveals that he sees things differently, though. He tells Sam that he has blamed John and he has blamed Mary for the things that have gone wrong in their lives. And sure, they could send their dad back knowing what he knows now, or they could even send him further back. But as he asks Sam, who would they be? It is unknown what Sam and Dean would be like. Dean tells Sam that he likes who he is, and he likes who Sam is. He would not change it.
The end of the episode begins with a devastating goodbye. There is not a dry eye in sight as John tell Mary he misses her and holds on to her one last time. The tears continue to pour as John tells Sam and Dean to take care of each other. John tells them how proud he is of them. He pulls his sons in for a hug and tells them that he loves them so much. Dean responds with, “I love you, too.” With that, John is ready. Sam crushes the pearl and John fades away. The restaurant returns to its pristine condition, Dean’s wanted poster turns into one promoting a marathon, and the teens geek out that Sam and Dean hunt monsters. And the last change to return is Cas walking through the door to the bunker asking them “What happened?” Dean tells him, “That’s a story.”
One would think that is the end of the episode, but we got one last scene. Rain pours down on top of the Impala, complete with the original license plate. John’s phone rings, and he tells Dean on the other end that he had one hell of a dream. This makes you wonder if John might remember what happened, but just in the form of a dream.
The 300th episode of Supernatural was an absolute delight and gave both viewers and characters a lot of closure. Comment below your thoughts on the episode, and be sure to tune in when Supernatural returns March 7!