DSotM was an exercise in devastated hearts and lost hope. It was also full of welcome friends, more-maniacal-by-the-minute foes and threads of what’s to come. Sad and crushing events twisted up the Winchester brothers and left them broken, battered and raw.
Death Comes (Again)
Had I not seen the preview clips (if only I had willpower) this opening scene would have been startling. Even with the knowledge of what was coming, it was difficult to watch. Sam looked incredible sorry to have been caught and Dean was just plain pissed off. I do have to wonder how the hunters not only snuck into the room without drawing attention but also how they managed to slide the knife from beneath Dean’s pillow without waking him. Dean’s reaction to Sam’s death, and really, the whole situation, was telling. His threat of when he “comes back” could be taken to mean as a spirit, but I think he knew the angels and Lucifer wouldn’t let their vessels just end that way – certainly both sides have expressed suicide won’t keep them from becoming host to an angel, in some form or another. Dean seemed almost resolved to the whole thing – taunting to be shot. Maybe hoping he wouldn’t come back? Hard to say.
It’s fitting that Dean’s first (that he remembers) experience in Heaven features both the Impala and young Sammy. The fireworks was a beautiful moment and for the first time in ages the smile on Dean’s face seemed lighter and genuine. True to form, Dean is happiest with the simple things – the company an innocent, unburdened Sammy who appreciates Dean purely as a big brother, nothing more, nothing less.
Dean’s second memory invited flashbacks of season two’s What Is and What Should Never Be, with Mary making a sandwich for Dean and him enjoying a mother’s touch. This moment between Dean and Mary almost felt too private to be watching, especially with Sam witnessing the exchange. It is incredibly sad and at the same time heart warming to think that even at the age of four, Dean was attuned enough to know his mother needed a hug and reassurance. The split-second expression on Dean’s face when Sam commented that Dean had been cleaning up after John for a long time was absolutely haunting.
Sam’s memory of Thanksgiving was both amusing (thigh squeeze by the eleven year old girl) and sad. The sadness was mostly for Dean, as it begins to dawn on him that Sam’s Heaven doesn’t involve Dean. What’s more, is that (and this is conjecture) while Dean tried to give Sam a family experience through Thanksgiving, it clearly didn’t satisfy young Sam’s craving for normal family experiences. The other Heavenly moments of Sam’s continued this theme. Dean was crushed by the realization that Sam’s Heaven, that his “greatest hits” were on his own and seemingly without regard for the effect his actions had on others. On one hand, I can see how a young Sam running away would think it was great to live alone without thought for the consequences Dean faced for losing Sam. On the other hand, given the whole Shtriga incident, I can also imagine the punishment Dean must have endured, both from and John and his own guilty conscious.
Ash and Pamela
Ash was just awesome. I love that his Heaven is the roadhouse and that he spends his time not only keeping angels out of his heaven, but tracking them and visiting everyone else’s Heaven. It was fantastic to see him again, hair and all. Now Pamela, well, I just don’t know what to make of her. Part of me wondered if she, or her likeness anyways, wasn’t being manipulated in some way, with the whole life’s-so-good-let-the-angels-have-your-bodies spiel. As a whole, this scene in the Roadhouse worked for me. Although we didn’t see Ellen and Jo, they were still present in the ambience of the bar. Another throw back to season two.
This scene also had a nugget of information I thought was interesting and teasing – John and Mary Winchester are MIA. Again, not sure what to make of this, but knowing Kripke, it will reveal its relevance to us in due time. Perhaps in relation to that soul mates-share-heaven tidbit. Hmm.
Zachariah and the Nightmare
It’s nice to see that this Apocalypse thing isn’t just taking its toll on the boys – Zachariah is clearing fraying fast. It was chilling to see Zach and Mary with the sexual undertones. I also liked the way, in Dean’s memory of Mary the make-up is very minimal and wholesome, whereas when Zach is using her form, it’s darker – much the way it was in Sam’s detox-induced delusion last year. This scene was effective – Zach has certainly honed his scary mobster look, with the henchmen to hold Dean in place while he punched him and everything. This part was upsetting – largely because it felt like Dean had heard the things “Mary” said to him, in one form or another, probably in his own psyche. The poor guy was absolutely destroyed.
Joshua and the Garden
Quiet and unassuming but with the unmistakeable air of power, Roger Aaron Brown’s Joshua’s was deliciously executed. God’s message seemed to come down to what good and evil always comes down to (biblically speaking) – human choice and consequence. Free will (consider: “Team Freewill”) means that human beings do what they do and have to live with the consequences – there isn’t a reset button but rather humankind just has to muddle through. That said, that the Winchester’s remember “this time” makes me think there is something in the experience that will be the key they need. Wait and see I suppose. (By the way – Cleveland Botanical Gardens – perfect Winchester Eden imaging if you ask me.)
Final Thoughts – Desolation
Castiel – the poor guy. He looked absolutely shattered at the notion that his father would abandon them. He almost couldn’t believe it and now he’s just lost. The things Misha Collins can convey in a simple gaze – in this case directed skyward – what an emotional punch. It seemed that Dean could really empathize with what Cas was feeling here (see the long gazes but note the lack of comforting words or witticisms), but also that watching Cas lose his faith was the last straw for Dean. I took Dean’s silence through Cas’ speech in two ways – one, as I already stated, being able to understand the idea of being disappointed by your father and two, almost disbelief at the angels loss and newfound faithlessness. These are two despondent men (even if one is technically an angel), no question.
This episode really felt as though it was being told from Dean’s perspective. That is, the memories of his giving to make Sam happy, to comfort his mom, realizing in Sam’s Heaven that his efforts weren’t even appreciated or thought about again (not that I’m saying this is true, necessarily, merely that this must be how it looks from Dean’s side) through to learning that God wasn’t going to get involved, especially after his tearful plea – this episode put Dean through the ringer. In the past we’ve witness Dean down and out, greatly saddened, bereaved and grief-stricken with his own torment but I don’t think we’ve ever seen him as truly desolate as in the moment he releases the amulet. Rock bottom, meet Dean Winchester.
At the same time, Sam was also afforded some much needed insight into his brother. I think by the end, Sam understood a little bit better what their life was like from Dean’s side of the coin – constantly trying to take care of his family only to watch them all walk away or leave him in one form or another. I think this understanding, especially after watching Dean toss the amulet, may be an asset in some weird way (I hope so, otherwise the torture of the Winchester brother’s served no purpose other than our twisted amusement). Sam now seems to be the only one of the three holding it together anymore. Bobby’s been toyed with, Dean’s emotionally spent and Cas is just lost. It was interesting that Sam was the one comforting Castiel and Dean, assuring both of them that there is ‘another way” and together they could beat this thing. We’ll just have to wait and see if Sam can rally everyone together (and I’m confident he will) for the big showdown that this season is building to. Let’s go, Team Free Will!