Supernatural S12E22 & 23: “Who We Are” & “All Along the Watchtower”

reviews, TV

I…where do I start?

I wish I could just review “Who We Are,” Robert Berens’ gorgeous masterpiece of an episode, and the first of Supernatural’s two-part season finale. I wish I could say that was the finale, but unfortunately “All Along the Watchtower” came along, and I had to immediately switch over to The Simpsons once it was done so I could spend the rest of the night with something more lighthearted and cohesive.

But nope. So, let’s get this going.

“Who We Are” begins with a hunter named Lester slashed open, his body draped over a truck. Mary is the one responsible for his death, and when she sends the BMOL a text saying that Lester is taken care of, she gets three more names for her hit list, one of which is Jody.

While Mary heads off to take care of the next names on her list, we check in on Sam, Dean, and Toni, who are still trapped in the bunker. After trying and failing to use magic to reverse the lock on the bunker, Dean comes up with the idea for them to “straight Shawshank this bitch,” which basically involves them chipping away at concrete walls in the bunker to try and get to the override switch outside. This also fails, and in a moment of defeat, Sam confides in Dean about how upset he is for trusting the BMOL, and reveals that he really wanted to follow them because it was easier than leading. Aww, Sammy, hugs.

The brothers contemplate their fate, lamenting the fact that they won’t go out in a blaze of glory like they’d expected, when Dean suddenly gets an idea: he finally gets to use that grenade launcher. He blasts a hole in the concrete and just as Sam is about to pass out from lack of oxygen, switches on the override and returns with a pretty badly injured leg, but otherwise intact.

Once they’ve left the bunker, the first thing they do is start calling other hunters, warning them that the BMOL are after them. This is when they realize that Jody is most likely one of the targets, and make a beeline for her place. Luckily, Jody and Alex have avoided Mary’s attacks and tied her up in the living room, trying to figure out what to do. Dean is visibly shaken by this, and the scene where Jody reaches for his arm and he grabs her hand is just so emotional; it’s only a split second of the episode, but I’m still not over it.

Toni tells them that Mary’s programming is permanent, and feeling like there’s no other choice, Sam calls a bunch of hunters who are on the BMOL’s shitlist and explains the situation to them: they want American hunters dead because they’re the one thing they can’t control (and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have “Wait for It” from Hamilton stuck in my head after that scene). He helps them to rally around the idea of attacking and killing them first, and Dean is so visibly proud of his little brother, it’s wonderful. Despite his pride, though, Dean tells Sam he won’t be going with them; instead, he’s going to stay and save Mary. The brothers exchange a lovable “Bitch,” “Jerk” trade off, and just like that, they’re off to kick some ass.

When Sam and Co. are gone, Toni injects Mary and Dean with a hypnotic sedative so that he can enter her mind. Dean ends up in their childhood home, with his young self and an infant Sam; when he tries to get Mary’s attention and can’t, he eventually realizes that she’s choosing not to acknowledge him.

Her decision triggers one of the more emotional scenes in recent memory (at least since “Regarding Dean,” and both of these episodes fit squarely in the “Give Jensen Ackles a Goddamn Emmy Already” category). Dean’s character development soars here as he finally tells Mary everything that’s been on his mind since childhood. When she tells the younger version of himself that she’ll never hurt him and will keep him safe, he tells her that he hates her. He hates her for lying to him, he hates her, but he also loves her and forgives her, because she’s his mom. He pleads with her to look at him so they can start over and get it right this time, and just when she does, we’re jerked back into the bunker as Ketch breaks the connection, pulling Dean back into reality.

Ketch has killed Toni and proceeds to beat the shit out of Dean, who defends himself, but still has a bum leg that’s doing him no favors when it comes to effective fighting. Ketch gets him at gunpoint and just when he’s about to shoot, Mary breaks through the realignment from the BMOL and eventually kills him. Mary confides in Dean that she’s afraid Sam won’t be able to forgive her, but soon after that Sam returns from kicking some BMOL ass with Jody and tells her that she doesn’t have to be scared of him. The three of them hug and it’s wonderful and all’s right with the world (Well, other than Lucifer and nephilim and a potentially brainwashed Cas, of course).

Now, wouldn’t that have been a perfect finale? An emotional tear jerker with just a hint of optimism? But nope, on to episode 23.

“All Along the Watchtower” begins with Cas standing in front of a beautiful lake, but we all know how much luck Cas has had in the past with lakes, so it’s a little foreboding. He and Kelly are hiding out in a lake house until the nephilim is born; Cas is adorable and buys truckloads of diapers and reveals he took a doula class online to try and support Kelly.

Soon enough, Kelly starts having contractions, and when she leans on Cas’ truck for support through the pain, this weird gold dust floats off of her and manifests itself into something that looks like a tear in the space-time continuum (throwback to my Doctor Who days, apparently).

Meanwhile, the Winchesters call Rowena for help with overpowering Lucifer, but Lucifer’s gotten to her first and killed her in a really repulsive off-screen death that once again, was so unnecessary and undeserved. He tells them that without Rowena and Crowley, they’re essentially useless, which Crowley takes as a sign to show up in the bunker (surprising no one, he had possessed the rat in the previous episode, and is still alive and kicking).

Dean greets him with a punch to the face, and even though he wants nothing more than to kill Crowley, Sam stops him. Crowley takes this opportunity to explain that he hates his job– he’s sick of it all, and that he’ll help them take care of Lucifer. Once they do, he’ll lock the gates to Hell, and the Winchesters will never have to deal with any demons again. That idea is too good to resist, so the Winchesters agree, and begin to lookout for any biblical plagues to signal that the nephilim is about to be born. Eventually, they stumble upon news of a massive power outage in Washington, trace it to a house owned by one James Novak, and just like that, they’re off.

Back at the lake house, Cas explores the weird golden crack and, upon touching it, realizes that it’s a doorway to an apocalypse world that looks like a weird mixture of a desolate wasteland from Mass Effect and Isengard from Lord of the Rings. Cas gets attacked by a horned demon, but is quickly saved by someone he only refers to as, “You.”

He makes it out back into the real world soon enough, and is greeted by Sam, Dean, and Mary, who have just arrived at the lake house. Kelly is in labor, and Mary goes upstairs to be with her while Sam checks on the house’s warding, which leads him to find the doorway. Cas explains that the tear in space and time is due to the nephilim puncturing the fabric of the universe, and although he tries to discourage Sam and Dean into entering, they do anyway, and meet the mysterious “You” who saved Cas earlier.

Drumroll, please…it’s Bobby! Or, well, Bobby with a twist: they’re in a version of the world where Sam and Dean were never born, so Bobby doesn’t know who they are. It also shows just how much of a shitshow the world would be without the Winchesters, an idea I was pretty intrigued by, I can’t lie. They’ve mentioned the idea in past seasons, but seeing it showed that there was a lot of potential there for Sam and Dean to start realizing their self-worth a little bit more, but I’m not sure if it’ll get used in future seasons– if how quickly the writers threw away the idea of Purgatory is anything to go by.

Bobby tells them that one of his hobbies in this alternate reality is killing angels, a passion he creates angel-killing bullets for. This sparks an idea in Dean, and it’s used later on in the episode, once Team Free Will is out of the alternate reality and face-to-face with Lucifer, who’s tracked them to the lake house. He attacks Cas, and instead of fighting him, Sam and Dean lead him to the portal and they’re all transported inside.

Dean tries to use the angel-killing bullets against Lucifer while Sam and Crowley work to put together a spell that will lock Lucifer in the alternate reality forever. Both options aren’t working particularly well, especially because in order for the spell to work, one more ingredient is needed: a life.

And it’s the Supernatural finale, so you can be sure they’re going to get one.

Honestly, I had been expecting Cas to be the life they needed, but Crowley ends up killing himself for it instead. Seconds after he does so, though, Cas comes charging through the portal and  prepares to attack Lucifer. Dean panics and tries to get to him (oh god my heart), but Sam stops him and drags him back out into the real world. Cas follows them out a few moments later, only to be stabbed in the back by Lucifer.

And Cas is dead dead. His wings are visible as he’s lying on the ground, and Dean is in a state of disbelief. Instead of being able to mourn Cas properly, though, Mary shows up, tells her sons that she loves them, then starts punching Lucifer hard and fast with the BMOL brass knuckles from earlier in the season. Eventually, though, they get too close to the portal and both are transported inside, just in time for the portal to close permanently.

Dean drops to his knees in shock, losing all ability to function after everything that happened. He looks up desperately at the sky, and it’s Sam who remembers the rest of what’s at stake. He runs inside to find that Kelly has died after giving birth the nephilim, and the baby, who she named Jack, is creeping in the corner with glowing demon eyes.

This finale was exhausting and a little too over-the-top for me. As much as I think Mark Sheppard is a cool dude, I’m not too broken up about Crowley’s death, but Rowena deserved far better, and despite the showing of his wings, Cas’ death (during Misha’s 100th episode, no less) was almost definitely not permanent, sloppily executed, and very obviously a ratings grab. Cas is one of my favorite characters, and I just sort of stared at my TV when I saw what happened, figuring they’d bring him back and still wondering who decided to okay the move to kill him in the first place. The fact that Misha has already clarified that Cas will be on the show for season 13 just shows that his death was used for shock value and to toy with emotions, nothing more.

I don’t know. I think I need a few days to totally consider all the possibilities of what they’ll do with season 13, but I leave this off with the fact that some season 12 episodes were amazing, and contrary to a lot of the Internet (or at least most of the people I follow on Twitter), I’m actually pretty excited to see how this Supernatural and Scooby-Doo crossover turns out.

As long as BuckLeming don’t write it.

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