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I can't believe it's over already. Wasn't it just yesterday that we were welcoming Sam back from Hell with semi-open, extremely cautious arms? And look where we are now. This season has felt like a blur, yet so much has happened. In order to give this finale its due justice, I want to take a look at both finale episodes separately since they were intended to be that way.
'Let it Bleed' opens in 1937 Rhode Island. H.P. Lovecraft, who we later discover to be a horror writer who dabbles in the occult, is furiously typing out a novel entitled 'Haunter of the Dark'. As he types 'The End' there is a squeak outside his door. And in true Supernatural fashion, that squeak leads to a blood squirting death. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was taken aback by this scene. What are we doing wasting our time talking about some fiction writer that died in 1937 when we've got C2 to worry about? We soon find out that Lovecraft and his friends successfully opened the door to purgatory and something got out.
Unfortunately, we're not the only ones who have that piece of information. It's bad enough that Castiel and the boys are on the outs but to steal from Bobby's house under the guise of an apology? I have to think that Castiel really meant what he said about patching things up, but from where I'm standing it seems like he had a back up plan when he let himself into Bobby's house. He had to know that stealing the journal would only push the boys further away but he's in too deep to care. So it's no wonder that when Lisa and Ben are kidnapped by Crowley Dean wants to assume that Castiel is in on it.
The phone call between Dean and Ben was emotional on many levels. Dean loves Ben like his own son and this is exactly the moment that he was dreading; the moment that kept him awake at night.  He removed himself from their Lisa and Ben's to save them from this kind of danger and to watch him realize that it wasn't enough was heartbreaking. And what was Crowley thinking? In what world would kidnapping a Winchester's loved one be cause for them to back off? Of course I realize that it takes Sam and Dean off the Purgatory hunt for the time being, but either way, they're coming after him, guns blazing. That's usually not a place you want to be. 
Since they couldn't trust Castiel, the boys summon Balthazar for help. While he's not the most trustworthy of angels, (although at this point, who is?) they really don't have many other options. I'm not sure whether I was surprised that Balthazar was as much in the dark about Crowley as the boys were. I mean, Castiel was able to hide it from Sam and Dean for so long. But Balthazar is an angel. It's hard to believe he wasn't suspicious. But then again, Castiel hadn't really given him reason to be until now. It's clear that Balthazar was taken aback by the news of Castiel's betrayal. It had to be embarrassing for him thinking that they were friends when all this time Castiel was lying to him. 

With no leads on Lisa and Ben Dean resorts to "questioning" any demons he can find. It was obvious that he was losing his cool. The time was ticking and he wasn't any closer to finding Lisa and Ben. So I have to admit I agreed with Sam. They really were "grasping at straws" and even though Castiel had proven himself to be a liar it seems impossible that he would knowingly seek to hurt Dean in that way. I was glad when Sam took matters into his own hands calling for Castiel's help. Sure, he didn't show himself but he was there and I think Sam knew he would be listening.  

When Balthazar summoned Castiel to confront him, we learned a little something about a flaw in Castiel's plan. Well, a flaw we didn't already know about. Apparently, Castiel if Castiel sucks up more juice than he can handle he'll explode and take out any and everyone around him. The pitfalls of this plan just keep on coming. I have to keep reminding myself of Castiel's side of the story. Remember? That heartbreaking tale of how he sacrificed everything to ensure that what he, Bobby and the boys had fought for would not be in vain? It's moments like this that I struggle to remind myself of how this all began as a good intention. 

Finding out that Dr. Visyak was actually a centuries-old monster was definitely an unexpected twist. I had hoped to find out a bit more about she and Bobby's past, so I guess I go what I was hoping for. I do wish we had found out what kind of monster she is though. Not that it really matters to the story at hand, but I'm still curious. Bobby was surprisingly protective of Ellie. From the sounds of their conversation, they were in a long term relationship. I wonder what caused them to break up? Maybe we'll never know.
Castiel comes to the rescue once again when Dean's devil's trap fails and the conversation they have re-opens last week's wounds. Castiel seems very sincere about seeing Dean as family but Dean can't see past the lies and secrecy. I can't say I blame him, especially now with Lisa and Ben getting dragged into the mix. Still Castiel brings up some good points too. He has been there for Dean, answering his every beck and call and saving his life time and time again and all he asks of Dean is to trust in his plan. This is when I had to remind myself that his plan kind of sucks. It's dangerous and the chances of it going over smoothly are slim to none. Still I found myself wishing that there was a way that they could somehow be on the same side again.
Why, oh why do Sam and Dean always split up? I don't know about you, but if I'm in a big abandoned building with my brother and God knows how many demons I'm sticking pretty close to my brother. I know, I know, you cover more ground that way. That is why I would be a terrible hunter. I did love the scene where Dean takes out all the demons on patrol one by one. They just keep going out like lamb to the slaughter. It was actually kind of comedic. And maybe I should have expected Lisa to be possessed but I didn't. And I certainly didn't expect her to stab herself. I felt so bad for Dean and Ben in that moment. Ben lost any shred of innocence he had left after that moment and Dean watched his nightmare come to life. The car ride to the hospital was miserable to watch, there was such a tone of desperation and for the first time I really thought Lisa wasn't going to make it. And she wouldn't have if Castiel hadn't stepped in to save her. 

If ever there was a reason for Dean to trust Castiel again, this was it. Not to say that this rights Castiel's wrongs but it certainly makes up for some of the pain. Of course, Dean is much less of a sucker than I am, and while he genuinely thanked Castiel, he admited that this doesn't change anything. But he does make one final request. In a last-pitch effort to keep them safe, he asks Cas to erase him from Ben and Lisa's memory. It's no doubt a painful request to make and I sincerely hope that it keeps them out of harm's way, but isn't it better to know what's out there so you can be prepared? Maybe it was mostly about their safety but also because seeing them reminds him too much of what he's lost? Sam tries to question his decision, but Dean makes it clear that Ben and Lisa are no longer acceptable topics of conversation. 

"You ever mention Lisa and Ben to me again, and I will break your nose."

It sounds like a threat, but there is a desperate plea behind that statement. Dean has lost so much and the only way he knows how to deal with loss is to ignore it altogether. Not the healthiest coping method, but it seems to be working for him alright so far.  I expect that this really is the last we'll see of Lisa and Ben, and I'm sorry to see them go. They brought out the best in Dean and gave him a shred of hop that maybe one day he could have a normal life. I'm sorry to see that hope disappear. 

Well on that cheery note...there were a few funny lines that I want to mention to get me out of this funk. 

*Bobby: "Glad to meet you. Bobby Singer, paranoid bastard."

*Dean: "So who's this Phillips guy?"
Bobby: "Phillips aint his last name, it's Lovecraft"
Sam: "H.P. Lovecraft, let me see that."
Dean: "Am I supposed to know who that is?"
Bobby: "Horror writer. At the Mountains of Madness? The Call of Cthulhu?"
Dean: "Yeah...No. I was too busy having sex with women."

*Crowley "Your chocolate's been in my peanut butter for far too long"

*I love that Crowley referred to Sam as "Jolly Green"

*Bobby: "Wow, you must be catnip to the ladies."
"I'm in a long-term, online relationship, so... "

*"You know, trench coat, looks like Columbo, talks like Rain Man."


# rmoats8621 2011-05-22 12:31
Great article. I loved the episode. I had my tissue box close at hand and used it frequently, especially at the end. I hope that Dean, Sam and Bobby will be able to find love again. They need and deserve it as we all do.
# sofia 2011-05-22 15:25
I agree! I think it'll be a very long time before any of them are able to find love again but I'm confident that it can still happen.
# bhartibedi 2011-05-22 13:23
Loved the way you started the review. (semi-opened, cautious arms).
# Jasminka 2011-05-22 13:26
Hi Sofia, I enjoyed reading your review. For me, this was one of the best and the most heartwrenching episodes of this season.

The undercurrent for me is despair. A study of despair in all its facets, and of loss.
Though our guys are familiar with loss, I'd say this time the toll that took was unbearable. They are strong, yes, but I fear every soul is able to crack at some point. gosh, I see that every day.

This is me, hoping that our Winchesters will gather some strength over the hiatus - and grab some therapy. My couch is open... ;-)

Take care, Jas
# sofia 2011-05-22 15:28
Thanks for reading and commenting!

I agree that they are far too familiar with loss. I really wonder how they can take anymore than they already have. I'll be interested to see how the loss of Castiel, Lisa and Ben set in over the hiatus.
# ChristopherH 2011-05-22 17:00
I'd say this time the toll that took was unbearable. They are strong, yes, but I fear every soul is able to crack at some point. gosh, I see that every day.
Hey Jas, I agree with you about the pain being unbearable. Watching Dean say good-bye to Lisa and Ben was rough--but even with the finality of that seem, I'm not entirely convinced that the relationships have really run their course. After all, the demon possessing Lisa did taunt Ben with the idea that Dean was his father. We've already seen great memory walls crack and tumble once. I'm not sure we've seen the last of Lisa and Ben.

As to souls cracking ... I thought that was the idea of the dreamscape? Sam's soul had cracked and he was reassembling it. To me it seemed clear that the dreamscape was a hero's quest for Sam, one which he passed. The dialogue was deliberate. Hell-memory-Sam said to authentic-Sam that he didn't have the strength to absorb the memories. Authentic-Sam responded as I recall by facing the challenge and overcoming it. He did overcome it right? He got off the bed and showed up to try to save the day at the end. I don't think that means there won't be additional repercussions down the road. Both Sam and Dean at this point are pretty beat up. But I think they both came through well enough.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-05-22 13:33
Excellent review here. I agree that these two episodes deserve their own separate analysis.

I was with you on Lisa being possessed. I didn't expect it, even though now in hindsight I should have so seen it coming, I suppose. And Cindy played possessed!Lisa perfectly.

It certainly was one of Dean's worst nightmares come to life (second to Sam dying again, I would think). It's too bad that his only solution was to erase him from their memories. I don't know that it was right, but I understood his desperation.

And Dean should have seen some of Cas's actions in this episode as what they were: apologies. They were to an extent, and yet I don't think it would have stopped Cas from following through on his plan in the end.
# sofia 2011-05-22 15:31
Cindy's performance was really great in this episode, something I failed to mention. I thought she did an excellent job of delivering her jabs at Ben and Dean. Even though Dean knew it was the demon talking you could still see the pain he was feeling.
# nancyL 2011-05-22 14:37
Sorry Sofia, but I am happy that the Lisa and Ben story has finally come to an end. :D

Love your review.
Crowley keeps coming up with new 'terms of endearment' for Sam.
So now it is official, all the angels are dicks. :D

I got a warm feeling when Dean walked into the room with a mug of coffee for himself and Sam. We have seen him do this in past episodes with beer. I can see Dean doing this all their lives, be it cookies, donuts or even just a piece of candy. Can't explain why, but it seems like a show of caring or providing for Sam. (does that make sense?)

Waiting for your preview of 'Man who Knew too Much'. :-)
# sofia 2011-05-22 15:35
I know you're not the only one who's happy to see Lisa and Ben out of the picture. I understand the reasoning behind it but I still enjoyed the storyline regardless!

I know exactly what you're talking about with Dean providing for Sam. Growing up he was Sam's mother, father and brother all in one and every now and then we get to see a glimpse of his parental instincts. I love it too.

Thanks for reading!
# percysowner 2011-05-22 15:46
Still Castiel brings up some good points too. He has been there for Dean, answering his every beck and call and saving his life time and time again and all he asks of Dean is to trust in his plan
I've heard this a lot, but from my POV Cas really hasn't been there that much for Dean and Sam. Throughout season four, he was working on orders from the angels and until the final episode was actively working against Dean and Sam. He did give up his life, briefly and willingly, for Sam and Dean at the end.

Season five was the season where he was the closest to them, but even then he took Dean's amulet and went off on his God quest. This was the season where he did show up when called. He also stuck close as his powers began to wane and he became more human. Cas gave up the most for the boys during this season, but part of that was he had picked his side and was stuck with it. The other part was real affection.

I totally disagree with the idea that Cas showed up whenever they called and did what ever Dean asked of him during season six. We know he didn't show up when Soulless!Sam called. The first time he showed up when Dean called was because he needed them to help find the missing weapons of heaven (and boy did they become useless pretty quickly). Actually, Cas may well have shown up every time Dean called, but we now know that several times he showed up and stayed invisible. Cas told the boys he was involved in a battle that was more important than their needs and they pretty well respected that. As for doing everything Dean asked, Cas refused to even try to rescue Sam's soul (perhaps he was unable to do so) and he also did everything he could to discourage Dean from retrieving Sam.

I'm not saying that Castiel was not a friend and almost family. I do think he overestimated his contributions to Dean and that his behavior in season four made him less worthy of trust with his plan than he thought. It took Sam a year of good behavior to re-earn Dean's trust. Cas would have had to have done more to convince Dean that his plan wasn't nuts and just plain wrong, before Dean should have trusted him.
# sofia 2011-05-22 19:27
You bring up some excellent points.

Castiel didn't show up every single time Sam or Dean called. He's not one to follow orders blindly anymore and I can't blame him for that. But he has made significant sacrifices that go above and beyond what should be expected of him. Did he start out as an ally? No. Is he an ally now? Definitely not. But there was a point where he was considered family and he didn't get there without sacrificing a lot.

About Sam's soul, I really think Castiel was looking out for Sam's well being by attempting to keep Dean from retrieving his soul. Sure, he left a few major details out, like how he raised Sam and he brought him back without a soul. So I'm sure at least some of his resistance was just a way of covering his own ass too. I'm not saying the guy's perfect, because he's definitely not.

I agree that Castiel's bond with Dean is no where near the bond between Sam and Dean. If there is even an opportunity for Castiel to try and make things right, I'm sure it will take a lot more than a year for Dean to forgive him. He may never be able to. I don't think Castiel healing Lisa was a forgive and forget moment. Sure I would like to get things back to where they were but that's not how Supernatural works and I would have felt absolutely cheated if it had played out that way.

Thanks for your thoughts!