“Nothing ever really ends, does it?” – Chuck Shurley
Thursday night was it, the culmination of 15 years. 15 years of stories. 15 years of characters we’ve watched grow onscreen, and the actors we’ve watched grow off screen. Let’s dive into what happened in the end for our Winchester brothers. As another small note, as this was the finale of a show we’ve all come to love, there will be more personal opinions about the ending than our usual recaps.
WARNING: There will be spoilers below!
Fans went into the finale almost blind, after promo videos were vague on what would happen – which only made fans more on edge. At the start of the episode, we see what life is like for The Winchesters, after the loss of Cas, defeating Chuck, and Jack taking over as the new God.
We start off the episode by seeing Sam and Dean doing mundane things: washing clothes, Sam going for a run, cooking, making their beds, and the return of one of our favorite characters from the last episode… Miracle the dog! It was interesting and fun to see what Sam and Dean would do with a bit of a mundane life, but it wasn’t long before they were moving on, as Dean says, “I got something.”
While we all think they’re probably off to their next hunt, the Impala pulls up to… a Pie Festival in Akron, Ohio, as Dean says, “It’s my destiny.” As the boys get pie and start to devour it, Sam says he wishes Cas and Jack were there with them. Dean agrees, but that, “that pain is not going to go away. If we don’t keep living, then all of that sacrifice will be for nothing.” In a move that seems more Jared than Sam, Sam smushes a pie in Dean’s face, saying he’s wanted to do that for a long time, before the two laugh and enjoy their pie.
Next, we check in on a family that we briefly saw at the Pie Festival, as the Dad answers the door before being stabbed by some masked intruders. The mother tells their two children to run, as we see the kids run up the stairs and hide under a bed as the mom screams. Finally, the two boys are dragged out from underneath the bed.
Dean and Sam show up to the scene the next morning as Agents Singer and Kripke, a throwback to creator Eric Kripke and the director of the episode and long-time producer Robert Singer. Dean tells Sam that he recognizes the masked face, referencing John’s journal, and calls them “Evil Mimes. Vamp Mimes.” The two travel to Canton, Ohio to try and find the nest, as Sam and Dean take down a few of the masked vampires at a house. Leaving one alive, they interrogate him and ask where the children are. The vampire tells them the kids aren’t dead, they’re with the nest and they raise them up, because “they don’t do fast food.”
Sam and Dean arrive at a barn next, where they find the nest. The boys get out and go to the trunk of the car (where there’s a trenchcoat?!) to get their weapons. As they enter the barn, they’re confronted by more masked vampires and they open a door to find the kids that were abducted, as they tell them to run. Sam and Dean start fighting the vampires, but after killing two, Sam is knocked out and Dean is overpowered. In walks a familiar face to Dean – Jenny from Season 1. Dean distracts her before Sam gets back up and decapitates her. Fights ensue with the two remaining vampires, before Sam decapitates another vampire, and the last remaining one throws Dean against a pole where a piece of rebar is sticking out, effectively impaling Dean.
“Sam, I don’t think I’m going anywhere.”
Sam feels Dean’s back and he pulls his hand away with blood, and at first, we as an audience are just thinking this is another one of the things that Sam and Dean walk away from – that they’ll be fine. However, as the scene progresses, we realize we’re very, very wrong. Dean asks Sam to stay with him, as Dean starts speaking like he’s not going to make it out.
“You knew it was always going to end like this for me… saving people, hunting things, it’s what we do. It’s okay.”
Dean and Sam’s eyes fill with tears, as Dean tells Sam how proud of him he is, talking about their dad, and telling Sam that it’s always been him and Dean. Sam begs Dean, “Don’t leave me. I can’t do this alone.” In this seven-minute scene, it rips your heart out as Dean tells Sam that he loves him, “his baby brother.” Dean begs Sam to tell him it’s okay to go, and choking back tears, Sam tells him it’s okay, as we see Dean succumb to his injuries as Sam clings to his brother. If one thing’s for sure, Jensen and Jared absolutely kill it in this scene. I’m sure the emotions and the weight of it being the last episode added to their performances, but it’s one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the entire 15-years of the series.
Like a true hunter, we see Sam giving Dean a hunter’s funeral, and he’s joined by Miracle. (We’d like to assume that there’d be more people there if it weren’t for COVID limiting guest stars). What follows the funeral is a sad montage of Sam going through the immediate aftermath without Dean, starting with waking up in the bunker, making breakfast alone and sitting at the table with Miracle. Sam peeks into Dean’s room before going to sit down by his bed, crying again. It’s heartbreaking seeing Sam go through the motions without Dean. As he’s in Dean’s room, a phone buzzes from inside Dean’s desk, and Sam answers. A voice asks him if he’s Agent Bon Jovi, and that Sheriff Donna said he’d be the person to call because a few bodies turned up without hearts. Sam tearfully says he’s on his way, as he and Miracle take a look around the bunker before Sam turns off all the lights; our last full look at the place Sam, Dean, Castiel, and Jack have called home for years. Seeing all of the lights go out on the bunker brought about a finality to a place fans have come to so desperately love.
When we see Dean again, he’s now in Heaven, where Bobby greets him. Bobby explains to Dean how Heaven’s changed; how Jack made changes and tore down all the walls so with Heaven, everyone’s happy and everyone’s together. Rufus lives about 5 miles down the road, and Mary and John have a place nearby.
“It ain’t just Heaven, Dean. It’s the Heaven you deserve.”
Bobby gives Dean a beer, as Bobby also tells Dean that “Cas helped,” which, in our eyes, means Cas is out of the Empty that he sacrificed himself to in episode 18, and crafted Heaven as it always should have been with Jack. After a pause, Bobby tells Dean, “he’ll be along,” referring to Sam, and that time in Heaven moves different. As Bobby asks Dean what he’s going to do now, Baby appears (with the original Kansas license plates!) as Dean says he’s going to go for a drive.
As Dean gets into Baby, we hear the start of that classic Kansas tune that became the anthem of the show, “Carry On Wayward Son,” as Dean acknowledges it saying, “I love this song.”
As the iconic song plays, next, we see Sam throughout his life; he has a child he named Dean, playing ball with his son as his wife looked on (although we don’t find out his wife.. is it Eileen, or is it someone new?), a look at his house with photos of him and Dean with his parents as Sam helps his son with homework, before we move to a much older Sam as he reveals Baby in his garage, getting in. Sam clutches the car’s steering wheel, closing his eyes and crying. In the last scene of this montage with Sam, we see Sam lying in a hospital bed in his house as we see his son come in with the anti-possession symbol tattooed on his forearm. In a parallel from earlier in the episode with Sam and Dean, his son tells Sam it’s okay and he can go now, as a cover of “Carry On Wayward Son” by Neoni plays and the camera pans down to show that Sam had been wearing Dean’s watch, before we see Sam die.
As the music swells, we see Dean in the Impala come to a halt on a bridge during his drive as he gets out. As Dean looks out into the mountains, he stops, smiles, and says, “Hey, Sammy.” He turns around, and sees Sam standing there in Heaven with him as the two hug, before the camera pans away from the brothers as they look out into the mountains together, in peace at last.
There’s a lot to unpack in this episode. We’re not blind to the fact that many people liked it, while many people also had other valid concerns about the finale – it’s hard with a show that’s the longest running genre show to make everyone happy. Overall, I personally liked the episode.
There were a few things I had questions about, such as why was the first half a sort of “Monster of the Week” episode? Perhaps the writers wanted to give fans a bit of the old Supernatural back and remind why fans fell in love with it in the first place. It also seems a little out of place to have Dean die so early and quickly, especially after all of the things they’ve been through. However, like I stated above, the scene in which is happened was incredibly beautiful and truly, I believe, the best performances we’ve seen out of Padalecki and Ackles the entire 15-year run. As Dean says, he always knew it would end up like this; I just think it was a little tragic that after 15 years, after getting their actual “free will” back in episode 19, this is how Dean died.
Regarding Sam’s life after Dean, I wish we got to see more; was it Eileen that Sam was married to? Was it someone new? I wish writers would have clarified, as Eileen and Sam were mentioned quite a bit towards the back half of the season. It was really touching to see that Sam named his child Dean. It was a sweet, sentimental touch, as well as seeing that he kept Baby all those years as well. I wish we also would have known what happened with Sam’s son – we see the tattoo, but did he join “the family business” in some way?
On Dean’s side, it was really great to see Bobby greet Dean in Heaven, as Bobby was such an influential character to Sam and Dean. As far as Castiel, it was nice to know that he got out of the empty, but we have a hard time believing that he wouldn’t have been in Heaven with Dean, and later, Sam. Although we know COVID made things really hard, I wish there was more of a mention of where Castiel was.
At the end of the day, though, I loved that they both seemed to have peace; Dean was at peace in Heaven knowing Cas was okay and helped rebuild Heaven with Jack, Bobby was okay, his parents were okay… and that Sam would be along soon. Same with Sam; he had a long life full of love and when he got to Heaven, he was reunited with his brother. There really was peace when they were done. I think it was a beautiful tribute to characters we’ve loved and watched grow for 15 years.
“Carry on my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are done..”