After what has felt like a lifetime, we’re in the final stretch of Supernatural. Last week, Dean and Jack went off on a mission to obtain the final piece to ascend the Nephilim to full power. Meanwhile, Sam and Cas frantically searched for another way to defeat Chuck and Amara, which in turn led to the discovery that Billie has big, terrible plans in the works. In the final moments of the episode, Chuck escaped his confines in the bunker — having absorbed Amara — and the overwhelming black hole of power flowing within Jack seemed ready to explode.
This week marks the final episode for writer Robert Berens and director Richard Speight, Jr., both of which have had an enormous impact on the series over the years. Keep reading to find out what happened in episode 18, “Despair,” and don’t forget your tissues.
Warning: Spoilers beyond this point!
We open in the bunker right where the previous episode left off, with Jack imminently on the verge of combusting. As Dean, Sam, and Cas panic and attempt to hurriedly try to think of any possible solution to save him, Billie shows up and proceeds to admonish them for failing to execute the plan to take out Chuck and Amara. Then, without warning, she banishes Jack to the Empty — it was the only other option capable of absorbing the impact of the explosion. When Jack arrives in the vast land of nothingness, the Empty apprehensively states, “You’re not lookin’ so hot…” but a moment before Jack finally explodes.
Sam confronts Billie, letting her know that they’ve uncovered the truth behind what Death’s real endgame is in all of this — restoring order and killing anyone and everyone that’s ever received a free pass (including the Winchesters). Billie, intent on getting God’s death book back, is quick to turn the tables as she makes it very clear that she’s their only ticket to saving Jack from the Empty. If they both survived the explosion, the Empty will not be pleased with the Nephilim. Sam begrudgingly returns the book to her, and she flips to the end, noting that Chuck’s newest ending is “interesting.”
When Jack and the Empty both recover, the entity is positively furious. Billie snaps Jack back to the bunker before it’s too late, though. To the dismay of the Winchesters and Castiel, Billie intends to take Jack with her as she makes her exit. However, Dean slices her with her scythe, and she drops the book and disappears. Later, Dean apologizes to Sam for pulling a gun on him (okay Dean, baby steps, good job!). They lament that Chuck is probably more powerful than ever now, Billie wants them dead, Jack is powerless, and Michael isn’t returning their prayers. What’s left? What can they do now?
After Death angrily returns to her library and states that the “plan” has changed, we shift to a scene with a very missed character — Charlie! She and her hunter girlfriend, Stevie, discuss hunting plans over an apparently delectable breakfast of scrambled eggs (going to need that recipe, thanks). However, without a sound or any other explanation, Stevie disappears, her plate of food clattering to the floor. Unsure of what else to do, Charlie calls Sam and Dean for help.
Castiel and Jack wait outside of Charlie’s apartment, leaning against Baby. Cas asks Jack how he’s feeling, concerned, and Jack explains that he feels strange — he was ready to die and he wanted to, for Sam, for Dean, for the world. He wanted to make things right. Cas goes into full dad mode as he reassures Jack that he never needed absolution from any of them; they care about him because they just do, not because he’s useful or part of some grand design. The conversation feels ironic, as Cas is telling the Nephilim words that he himself has honestly needed to hear on multiple occasions.
Sam and Dean sit in Charlie’s living room as they explain their current predicament with Death, in which she’s likely going to start sending everyone back to their (now nonexistent) worlds. Charlie’s pain over losing Stevie is heartbreaking — she didn’t want to go through this again, taking down her walls and letting herself care about somebody only to lose them. Meanwhile, Bobby calls Sam to let him know that an apocalypse world refugee that he was on a hunt with disappeared … nobody is safe. Charlie ushers the brothers out when Sam realizes that they need to get to Eileen.
The Winchesters, Cas, and Jack take off in the Impala, and Sam texts Eileen to let her know that they’re coming to get her. He’s vague on the details, telling her that he’ll explain once they get there. The bubbles that indicate Eileen’s typing a response disappear, and when she fails to answer Sam’s frantic string of texts that follows, he knows that she’s already gone. When they arrive, they find her things laying outside on the sidewalk, an unfinished text message to Sam waiting on her cellphone. Barely holding it together, Sam states that they need to round up everyone else that might possibly be on Billie’s list and get them somewhere safe. Dean, on the other hand, has other plans — Billie needs to die. Castiel volunteers to join Dean, leaving Jack with Sam.
Donna makes a welcome appearance, as Sam and Jack meet up with her at an abandoned silo that she found for them to bunker down in. When they arrive, she lets Sam know that the other hunters are on high alert and ready if they’re needed — Garth and Jody and the girls, specifically. Sam heads into the silo to find that they’ve already done a number on the walls inside, having warded it to the teeth as best as they can. Bobby also reassures Sam that, although he’s concerned about the bathroom situation, he brought a bucket. Witch!Sam is back at it again, as he tells Bobby that he found a spell of Rowena’s that will help boost the warding (and it’s the best they’re going to be able to do, given the circumstances). Jack bends down, taking a break from painting the protective symbols, and he notices a plant growing on the floor. He reaches down to touch it and it immediately dies (we’re going to let future us worry about this problem, since we’ve already got a lot to unpack right now).
Dean and Castiel, having returned to the bunker, and enter Billie’s library to kill her once and for all. After a struggle, Dean manages to get the upper hand, pinning her against the wall with the blade of her scythe. Billie drops a bomb as she casually informs them that she’s not the one that’s making people disappear; she believes it’s likely Chuck.
At the Silo, Sam recites the spell to boost the warding, but to no avail. One by one, everyone in the silo begins to disappear. In but a few painful moments, we simultaneously lose Charlie, Bobby, and even Donna — the latter of which was assumed to be safe.
Billie informs Dean that when he cut her after she pulled Jack back from the Empty, it was a fatal blow; it’s going to kill her. However, she has one last wish before she dies … she wants to see Dean Winchester dead. They run back into the bunker, but Billie is quick to follow, and she begins to crush Dean’s heart. Cas helps Dean as they stumble away, Billie scratching her scythe along the walls as she slowly waltzes behind them and promises Dean the sweet release of death. Momentarily safe inside the storage room, Cas takes Dean’s pocket knife and cuts his hand, painting a sigil in his blood on the door to block Billie’s grip on Dean. The angel suggests that they can wait her out — she’s going to die soon, anyway — and if not, they’ll fight. Dean, however, is defeated. Resigned to their fate, he laments that his anger led them into another trap, they should have just stayed with Sam and Jack. Death continues to bang ominously on the door.
They realize that everyone is going to die and there’s nothing they can do about it. Billie is going to get through the door, she’s going to kill Cas, and then she’s going to kill Dean. Dean apologizes to Cas, and they both look dejected … until Cas remembers something incredibly important — there’s one thing that Billie is afraid of, one thing that’s strong enough to stop her, and he has the metaphorically blue and green-colored key. It’s about damn time, but Castiel finally tells Dean about the deal that he made with the Empty in order to save Jack. When he finally experiences a moment of true happiness, the Empty will be summoned and it will take him … forever. Dean looks taken aback as Cas carries on, finally finding the strength and the courage to admit his true feelings and say the words that have long since existed in his heart.
Castiel: I always wondered, ever since I took that burden, that curse. I wondered what it could be. What my true happiness could even look like. And I never found an answer. Because the one thing I want, it’s something I know I can’t have. But I think I know, I think I know now … happiness isn’t in the having. It’s in just being. It’s in just saying it. I know how you see yourself, Dean. You see yourself the same way our enemies see you. You’re destructive, and you’re angry, and you’re broken, you’re daddy’s blunt instrument. And you think that hate and anger, that’s what drives you. That’s what you are. It’s not. And everyone who knows you sees it. Everything you have ever done, the good and the bad, you have done for love. You raise your little brother for love, you fought for this whole world for love. That is who you are. You’re the most caring man on Earth. You are the most selfless, loving human being I will ever know. You know, ever since we met, ever since I pulled you out of Hell, knowing you has changed me. Because you cared, I cared. I cared about you, I cared about Sam, I cared about Jack. But I cared about the whole world because of you. You changed me, Dean.
Dean: Why does this sound like a goodbye?
Castiel: Because it is. I love you.
Ever the punctual being, the Empty reaches out from the wall behind Dean, menacing black tentacles coming to lay their claim upon the most rebellious and free-willed angel that Heaven has ever seen. When Castiel first laid a hand on Dean in Hell all those years ago, he was lost. But the Castiel of this universe — not one to do as he’s told — wrote his own story and forged his own path, Chuck be damned. Castiel speaks his final words to Dean Winchester, a bittersweet yet fitting parting line to echo all of the hellos over the many years they’ve spent together, “Goodbye, Dean.”
Cas pushes Dean aside, out of the Empty’s path, leaving behind a bloody hand print on Dean’s left shoulder (to add insult to injury, thank you). Dean looks over, face full of shock and fear, as he watches the Empty take Billie and Cas into its clutches. Castiel breathes in and smiles, a content and peaceful look on his face. The angel has finally spoken his truth to Dean … and despite the fact that he’s now going to die, even that cannot come close to eclipsing the fact that he’s finally experiencing true happiness.
Dean looks stunned after Cas disappears, unable to process the gravity of what just happened. Meanwhile, Sam and Jack exit the silo, and we realize that the disappearing act goes far beyond the apocalypse world refugees. Panning through various scenes back at the gas station and at a playground … it seems that Chuck may have possibly erased everyone on Earth.
Back at the bunker, Dean hasn’t moved from the floor. Sam’s calling him, but he drops his phone to the ground and buries his head in his hands, crying.
Because Castiel is gone.
Tune in for the final two episodes of Supernatural on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on The CW.