By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
The show has always been about Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers brought up to fight the darkness, the tantalising waft of a normal life always out of reach. They have always been each other’s worlds.
Right up front guys is I hate goodbyes!! I’d be quite happy having my friends and gret craic all around me for the rest of my life but all good things must come to an end as they say. I bloody hate that phrase too. Or things continue but in a new and different form. Friends move on and hopefully the friendship is strong enough to survive distance and the stuff life throws in your way. Loved ones die or emigrate and the kaleidoscope of our lives bumps and impacts us in ripples we aren’t even aware of. Another true saying is that time flies and at a certain point you stop to look around and ask yourself where the hell did that go?
That’s exactly what happened when they announced the end of Supernatural. I stopped and thought, fifteen years? Where the hell did that go? More than that though you suddenly realise how much these characters have been part of your life and now they were going to live on in repeats. After a certain point I would never again see Sam and Dean in new adventures and follow their journeys alongside Bobby, Castiel or Jack. Covid drew it out slightly longer than originally planned but that was alright to me because it meant the end was not coming just yet. I really am terrible at coping with change and goodbyes and this one was going to be tough. But was it the right choice of an ending to the show? Did Supernatural end as it should have or was it a missed opportunity?
Rumour had it that the main story of Winchesters versus God would be resolved in the penultimate episode leaving many to speculate what the final episode would be about. Would it a trip down memory lane or a flashback celebratory story that would set the brothers on a new path free from the writings of God? Could it be the brothers would finally get the chance at a normal life just as they tasted over the years only to have it cruelly ripped away from them? Surely after all they had been through and lost, life would be kind and reward them for all their sacrifice. The actors were doing promo talking about a revival five years or so down the line which was to presumably throw fans off. Personally I had a suspicion that one or both of them were going to die and I was sadly right. I thought the answer lay in the lyrics of the Kansas song, Wayward Son.
“There’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more.”
I also remembered Death’s words to Dean that he was always destined to be the one to take God down, the slayer of God himself. If that was his destiny then what happens when God is defeated?
So God was defeated in the penultimate episode. Sam and Dean tricked him and his sons into walking into their trap. Jack was now a power void pulling in every bit of God energy displaced when Lucifer and Michael fight and from God beating the brothers to a pulp. This allows Jack to absorb God’s powers leaving the former Almighty mortal to age and die alone. Jack is now God, brings all the people back to the world God erased and restores harmony to heaven and the world. Amara, God’s sister, lives in peace within the newly promoted Jack. Sam and Dean have done it. They have stopped God in his tracks and fulfilled their destiny. What happens to someone once destiny is sated?
Dean and Sam have died so many times before but always eluded it and come back through one form or another. Their slamdown for God was always the reason why.
All bets were off as we see Sam and Dean visit a town where Dean gorges on a selection of pies. This is the brothers at their core; Sam mocking Dean at his love of pie and slapping him in the face with one. They have survived together. The world is still the same. There are still monsters to fight but this time no God pulling the strings. This time we have a nest of vampires killing ritualistically. It’s business as usual for the brothers as they take down yet another evil.
In a fluke, Dean is impaled by a vampire on a spike while saving two children. It is just the two brothers alone in a barn in the middle of nowhere. We have seen huge finales in every season with spectacular effects like heaven falling or the battle of the cage. Destiny has been satisfied; Dean has done what he was meant to do so there is only one thing left for him; to die. He had taught Sam well. They had come a long way together but now it was time to end. The show has always been about Sam and Dean Winchester; two brothers brought up to fight the darkness, the tantalising waft of a normal life always out of reach. They have always been each other’s worlds.
The world now is shattered and Dean knows this is the end. Sam’s first instinct is to find a way to bring him back but Dean refuses. Dean makes Sam promise that it’s okay for Dean to die and tears streaming down his face, Sam tells his dying brother that it is okay fo him to go. That is Supernatural in a nutshell; Sam and Dean together against the world with only each other to rely on. This time however the journey must end and Sam is the one who has to end it so Dean can rest in peace. It is gut wrenching and heart breaking and exactly the right thing to do. Death was always going to come when they least expect it because no hunter gets to live a long happy life. They’ve both always known it and seen it for themselves over the years but now it has come for one of them, the indestructible Winchester brothers. No matter what life has thrown at them they have always been there for each other. It’s only fitting that Dean should be the one to go first. He has fulfilled his destiny and made Sam into the hunter with brains and brawn that will continue the fight because he is the one with the best instincts. With that Dean Winchester dies. No one in real life is ever ready for death even when it is expected but somehow when Dean dies it rips the hearts out of the audience. The boys have always found a way out even when the world was burning but not this time.
Sam must burn the body and carry on the legacy. He lives a full life with a son whom the last Winchester names after his late brother. Dean is left to drive through heaven to the song Wayward Son waiting on his brother to show up. In a beautiful symmetry Sam’s son tells him it is also okay for him to go. The camera pans back to show an array of photos above Sam’s bed of those he loved over the years including a family portrait with Dean, his father and mother. This was from the episode where John Winchester was brought to the present but his arrival disrupts the timeline so has to go back to the past. Not before they have one last meal as a family. On a bridge the brothers reunite to the tune of Neoni’s beautiful cover version of Wayward Son.
Yep I admit I was in pieces at this point as were millions of other fans. As I said before I am useless at goodbyes, I’m even tearing up writing this piece. But it’s not a goodbye, not really. It’s a fifteen year tale of family love, the bond between us that elevates friends and those we meet to part of our family circle. Originally the final scene was to feature all the characters the boys have met and been close to over the course of the show but covid put paid to that completely. That’s fine because it’s about the two brothers. The journey isn’t really over; it just takes a new direction. Ironically it is a throwaway reference to the fallen Castiel that gives us hope that the adventures of the Winchesters are not over yet. Castiel has sacrificed himself to the Empty to save Dean. He made a deal wherein he would be the Empty’s prisoner for all eternity once he found happiness. Their surrogate father, Bobby, reveals that Jack restored heaven along with a little help from Castiel suggesting that somehow he escaped the Empty’s clutches to come back to the world. This opens the future door for the Winchesters to still go on more adventures as anything is possible on Supernatural.
Things end but some things are forged forever never to end. Who would have thought two characters we have stuck with over fifteen years would be so ingrained in our psyche that the news they were going away struck as deep as losing a friend or family member? While we may not have any new adventures with the Winchesters any more, we can take some comfort in the fact the brothers are still on the road in the Impala watching over the world.
Bloody good job!