These are the things Sam and Dean fight against the most—and with the most vigor. The “inevitable” comes in many forms. They’ve escaped death—multiple times. Sam and Dean have averted crises considered inescapable—such as the Mark of Cain destroying Dean. Most notably, they’ve managed to subvert destiny in the form of the Apocalypse, giving them the ability to tear up any script and rewrite it as their own. In the mid-season finale, we see Sam and Dean thrust yet again into the clutches of Destiny. They must face down a new fate, avert a new crisis, and rise yet again. It looks dark for both brothers right now—that destiny has the upper hand—and yet historically this is the Winchesters at their strongest. Backed into a corner, forced into a destiny they do not accept, Sam and Dean will find a way to buck it and emerge victorious once more—all with the weapon they’ve relied upon in the past: free will.
Let’s look first at Amara and Dean and how Destiny shapes their story.
Amara, God’s sister, has gone in search of her absent brother. She has searched in His churches, near His followers, and has attempted to understand His construct all in an effort to get His attention. She claims to be the new game in town, unimpressed by the works her brother has wrought. She finds his followers to be gullible and blind, willing to believe in His propaganda. Those that she encounters at the very start are preaching about the end of times. The preacher tells them only a chosen few will be selected for Heaven. Only through repentance will any of them find their way to His saving grace. She is told that God’s wrath comes in many forms, and so she scoffs. The man tells her that only God can create, and it is His creation’s duty to bow before Him. She points at the fountain behind him, making it run blood, and says, “You mean, something like this?”
If she is going to settle this score between herself and God, then she must Him face to face. She strikes them all down with lightning, showing off her powers and her strength. If she can strike enough of God’s “chosen” then perhaps he will respond to her. She ends up in a Catholic church, confronted by a priest. When she tells him, “I need an actual meeting, in a room,” she is told that this is God’s house and that all search for God. He tells her to pray, and when it doesn’t get the response she seeks, she calls the priest back, demanding to know how he knows God heard her. Perhaps he has met God—and he tells her that no one alive has seen God. Stunned, she responds, “Only dead people get to see him? And this makes sense to billions of you.” The Bible is thrust in her hands—and the priest tells her that this is God’s plan for His people and how it lays out the mercy and love for humanity—that it is all there for anyone to find.
The priest angers her when he tells her, “God is the Light and it is the Light that vanquishes the Darkness.”
In this fashion, Amara seems to be the antithesis of Destiny. She wants nothing more than to tear up what God has built and replace it with her own system. She wants God to face her so they can fight it out and she can pay Him back for locking her away for all these years. She’s furious that his creation has been taught to fear her and see her as the enemy—even if she has some serious intentions of undoing much of God’s work. To Amara, the plan that God laid down makes little to no sense. It is flawed. Its Destiny is riddled with suffering and pain. It is rigid in construct, forcing God’s creation to endure its structures and rules—all without the bliss she feels would be most preferable.
His creation only believes what He, God, wants them to believe—or so Amara can deduce so far. This is pure propaganda. Amara sees God’s Destiny, then, as folly. She would rather start over or at the very least alter what is already in place to her image. This is how Amara becomes the instrument of Destiny. It may not be the Destiny so often portrayed or the one God set forth, but it is hers and she will follow much of the same train of thought as those who came before her. She will carve out her Destiny and force others into its construct to make it reality. When she stated that God wasn’t the only game in town, she meant it.
And yet it shows her lack of understanding of God’s truest plan: free will.
To replace her brother’s system, she needs to tie her Destiny to one of God’s creation. She has chosen Dean Winchester for that very purpose, knowing that he is one of God’s chosen. Dean, as the former Righteous Man, would make an excellent conduit for her purposes. So, she overwhelms Dean with her power and influence and takes him to a secluded area. It’s not enough to make him become her instrument of Destiny instead of her brother’s, however. Instead, she must make Dean understand just why it is she wants him to do this and how there is no escaping its inevitability. In the end, as far as Amara is concerned, he will succumb and become her instrument.
And yet she also knows that Dean will not simply bow low and give in. She knows he’s a warrior. She tries to twist her new Destiny into a form that he may accept. She tells him, “What if there were no rules? No pain. No prayer. Just bliss. That feeling you have when you’re with me—forever.”
Unfortunately for Amara, this doesn’t impact the elder Winchester the way she hopes it will—he will not simply give in here and he moves to stab her with a blade stowed in his suit jacket. It’s an ordinary blade—and while Dean knows that it most likely will fail, he knows he must try. He can’t do much against her at this stage, her raw power has increased since the last time they met—but he will make the effort.
In return, Amara tells Dean, “It was destiny. You bore the Mark, I am the original Mark. You and I will be together.” Amara is committed, then, to asserting her Destiny over Dean. She grasps his face, obviously intending at first to draw out his soul as she has done so many others—but instead chooses to kiss him.
Her actions befuddle Dean. He wants nothing to do with her or her Destiny. His entire life has been built resisting entities such as her. He has always refused the notion that anything is inevitable. For Dean, her words and actions are abhorrent. If anything, it makes Dean want to resist her all the more. She represents the latest and newest version of the same story he’s seen and railed against before. For all her talk about being a new game in town and to follow the same philosophy as Dean, Amara is really no different than any force Dean’s fought in the past. Her Destiny is still a Destiny and in doing so he will fight back no matter what it takes.
Certainly, at this moment, it would seem Amara has the upper hand. After all, his attempts to stab her failed miserably—she even states to him that this was a pointless action. She has the ability to drown out everything around Dean, drawing his attention—as she does away from Sam’s phone call. She can whisk him away with but a thought and hold him there as long as she pleases. Dean doesn’t have the methods yet to counter these things. He can’t truly fight back against her—and yet he will not simply be idle, either.
His struggle against her is written on his face. He is rigid in his posture. Dean can see her for what she truly is and what she wants to do. He may not know all her plans for the world or for himself, but he knows enough to know that they are not good. He tells her, as he’s told so many before about destiny, “It’s never gonna happen.”
The angels that have been tracking Amara have come, and they plan on smiting her. She has told Dean that she carries the souls that she’s consumed—but they are not gone. His protests to them to not attack her has nothing to do with his need to protect Amara or the bond she propagates they share. It has everything to do with trying to save the souls trapped within her—and he will not let them be hurt without speaking on their behalf. It is his attempt to “save people” no matter what it takes.
It is at this point that the tables have begun their slow revolution towards Dean’s favor. Amara may have the means to put her Destiny in action through her raw power and she may be able to overwhelm Dean for now, but the more she asserts that it is inevitable, the more Dean will resist. He will use that resistance to his advantage—for to Dean Winchester to accept any inevitable Destiny as truth is inconceivable. He will not sit idly by and let it happen.
Amara, like those before her, will also underestimate Dean in this. She thinks she can pull on this “bond” they share. She believes that as it was his Destiny to free her, it is her Destiny to claim him as her own for her own purposes. Amara believes she can overpower him, can use it against him, and find a way to use him. If anything may get God’s attention, it may be her corruption of the former Righteous Man—the one she sees as the perfect example of God’s triumph and folly.
Her folly is easy to see. For all of Amara’s power and strength, for all she’s learned in her brief time free, she hasn’t grasped the true nature of her brother’s universal order. She sees His religions as a testament to His ego, a method to control the masses. She sees the structure. She sees the Dante order he’s created—and seemingly abandoned. What Amara does not see, however, is the nature of His creation. She does not grasp that they—and in particular the Winchesters and Dean himself—will be her downfall. She does not understand that their greatest strength is the gift that God granted to humanity: free will.
In missing this important lesson, Amara will be utterly defeated. She cannot simply enforce a new structure on humanity—or the Winchesters—and expect it to simply work. They will reject it time and time again and with greater force. It is free will that will be their weapon and it is free will that will grant them the power to triumph over her.
It will be darker before it will become lighter for Dean, certainly. Amara may try other methods to convince him yet—and some may be darker and difficult to face. And yet, Dean will find a way to resist. He will find a way to use his abhorrence of Destiny to his advantage. It will allow him to throw off her control in the end, and it will allow him to prove her wrong as those who have come before her. There is no script save the ones the Winchesters will write for themselves.
Amara and Dean aren’t the only ones having the conversation about fates and Destiny, though. Sam has a similar and just as heartbreaking encounter with a former enemy: Lucifer.
Ironically, Lucifer stands in for the voice of Destiny here. The fallen angel, the one cast into the very Cage of Hell for disobeying God’s plan, emerges as the one speaking for the inevitable. The visions that Sam had been seeing were not coming from God—but from Lucifer himself. He used the damage done by the Darkness’s release to his advantage to reach out to his former vessel. If he could convince Sam enough, perhaps he’d get Sam back where he wanted him.
Prior to the reveal, Lucifer plays shocked that God would send Sam to him. He knows that he was the one that helped God put her away in the first place. He tips his hand first when he asks Sam about God’s part in all of this. Sam tells him, “All current indications of His presence, are that there are no current indications of His presence. ” Lucifer retorts, “What? Caught the fun bus out of town. Figures.”
His reaction isn’t necessarily genuine. Lucifer has known for some time that God has left. But he strings Sam along, knowing that he can perhaps twist the knife some and convince Sam to finally say Yes once more. After all, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” As bad as he was for the world, what Amara wants to do is far worse. She, after all, threatens everyone’s existence. She threatens the very fabric of God’s Natural Order—and that does include Lucifer. He knows this, too—yet he also knows he can use it to his advantage.
He’s not necessarily lying to Sam. He’s just simply stringing Sam along, using his own hopes against him. He knows that Sam believes in Destiny on some level—finds comfort in the knowledge that a higher power than himself may be standing with him. Lucifer knows that Sam will rely on that belief, will turn to it as he seeks redemption, and thus twists Sam’s mind on itself to set up his own Destiny for Sam. It’s pretty obvious as to what that Destiny will be—Lucifer wants freedom topside in his chosen vessel.
Sam scoffs at him, not terribly surprised by Lucifer’s suggestion. Lucifer will help them “put the cat back in the bag” if he’ll simply grant him that one wish. It seems simple. Use the lesser of two evils to take out the worst one and then deal with the fall out. He tells Lucifer, “Did you really expect me to agree to this? So what, I just disappear while you take my body and get set loose on the world again?”
Faced with the prospect of being possessed again, Sam knows that it is a losing battle before it even begins. He will not manage to trick Lucifer back into the Cage twice—and even if he does manage to help them stop Amara, there’s no way they’ll be able to get him to relinquish once it’s done. Lucifer needs his consent, and Sam knows it.
Outside the Cage, Sam has the power. Lucifer can’t really force him into anything. If he says No, he can simply walk away and leave Lucifer to fester. They’ll have to find another way. He’ll have to hope that God will share some other method to stop the Darkness. But the spell Rowena has cast begins to fail—either due to a time limit or a built in failure by the witch—and Lucifer sees his chance.
Sam is no longer outside the Cage but inside with him. It gives Lucifer all the power—making Sam his captive once more. Here is where Lucifer becomes the agent of Destiny—its mouthpiece. Sam is too calm for Lucifer’s tastes, and Sam tells him, “It’s pretty much exactly how God told me it was going to be. Guess I just have to go with it and play my hand.”
Knowing that he can finally break Sam again, Lucifer tells him, “That would make so much sense, if it was God that was doing the talking. You see Sam, when the Darkness descended, the impact on Hell was massive. The Cage was damaged. Through the fissures I was able to reach out. It wasn’t God inside your head, Sam. It was me. So you see, He’s not with you. He’s never been with you. It was always just me, so I guess I am your only hope.”
Lucifer believes that it was inevitable that he would capture Sam yet again—just as he believes that he will manage to get Sam to give him consent and say Yes to being his vessel once more. Lucifer feels that he can force Sam. The Darkness does pose a threat to everyone, and while he may not have the good intentions on stopping her, he doesn’t seem to be thrilled with her appearance, either. He says about her as “She’s got none of the experience. God is a master strategist. That’s why you’re here.” It’s just the words he hopes will sway Sam. For Lucifer, his Destiny is to take Sam as his vessel and assert his authority over the world. Amara is just plainly in his way, then.
This is Sam’s worst nightmare come to fruition, too. Dean had told him, “This is a horrible idea,” and while he agreed, Sam felt that he had no choice but to follow this destiny laid forth by God. In part, this is Sam’s desperate attempt at redemption after releasing Amara by getting the Mark removed from Dean at all costs. The visions he had received came when he prayed to God. It gave him the hope he needed when he needed it most. It helped him to reassert the family business of saving people.
Instead, it’s turned out to be a cruel and malicious trick by the worst foe Sam’s ever had to face down.
The tragedy of this lies in that hope—and yet that hope is the very strength he will draw upon to beat back Lucifer. Trapped in the Cage, Sam is facing down the darkest fear he will ever have. The thought of being back there with the Devil for eternity has chased Sam since he had his soul restored and the Wall had been crumbled. It is the nightmare that has never quite let him go—and it is why he must face it head on now if he is to rise above it and put it behind him.
Lucifer sees Sam’s fate as sealed. He sees it as a matter of time before he can wrestle Sam down and get him to say Yes. He thinks he can take advantage of the Cage being damaged enough to possibly not only capture Sam but to break free. It is this thinking that will be his fatal mistake in the end—even if he does manage to get what he wants for a time.
While Sam is shattered by what has happened—evidenced by the single tear he sheds upon realization that he’s been duped not by Lucifer—but by himself—he will have to gather himself and find the resolve to fight back. Sam has always seen Destiny as a two edged blade. He has seen it as a good comfort, something that he can turn to and know will be there—and he has seen it as a terrible thing that he cannot escape. He has seen it as his destiny to become a monster. He has seen it as his destiny to fall to the likes of a Lucifer.
And yet, in the end, Sam has always chosen to rip up the script. This evidenced by his statement, mirroring Dean’s to Amara’s. He states, “It’s never gonna happen.”
No matter what Destiny Lucifer has in mind for him, Sam has the means and methods to resist if he looks inside himself hard enough. He has bested the Devil once before. He knows what will come. He knows how dark it will be before it can get better. Lucifer is still an Archangel, and so he has the power to overwhelm Sam certainly. What Sam has that Lucifer does not is the inner strength to find that resolve. Lucifer also does not understand free will. He may have railed against God’s plan and his creation of humanity. He may have rebelled, and it may be seen as an act of free will, but in truth the concept does not make sense to him. Instead, he sees this as a resumption perhaps of where they left off in the Apocalypse. He has always seen his possession of Sam as inevitable.
Lucifer’s other fatal flow emerges, too, when one considers hope. He most certainly does not possess the hope that Sam clings to. That hope may have led Sam to this terrible moment, but is that hope that he must turn to now in order to make it out.
Amara and Lucifer see their schemes as Destiny. They see themselves as the inevitable victors—one over Dean and one over Sam. They believe that they are to do what God could not—make what they set in motion reality.
It is in underestimating the Winchesters that they will lose. While it may get worse before it gets better, it will be the Winchester’s light defeating their dark. They will use what seems to be their greatest weaknesses as their greatest strengths.
It is Sam and Dean’s adherence to God’s original plan for humanity—free will—that will defeat Amara and Lucifer’s plotted Destinies.