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Holy mother of Chuck!!  Now that’s how you end a season.  Leave the fans screaming their fool heads off for about four and a half months.  Mr. Carver, you’re pure evil.  sweetondean in her review actually stole my line, so I’ll just say that I hope Jeremy Carver loves fruit.  Cause he’s about to get a litany of fruit baskets.  

“Sacrifice” was given the task that every season finale must accept, carry the story forward until next season while reconciling it with the events of this season.  This is never an easy mission, which is why the season finale is always reserved for the showrunner.  The question is, how did Jeremy Carver do?  After pouring through the episode a few times, a phenomenal job I must say.     

Of course there’s unanswered questions lingering.  Every season leaves them.  However, this script cleanly brought together the main themes for the season and gave us a most satisfying push forward.  It also had all the emotional beats and story twists that keep fans buzzing for years.  Considering I went into this episode with a ton of questions and skepticisms, I can say all is forgiven.  I’m officially stoked.  

Us reviewers love to use the phrase “flawless” a lot, but we never really give context or definition.  For me, it’s being able to be engrossed in a story for an entire hour.  I never stop at any point to question why this bit doesn’t fit right with the mythology, why this action seems out of character, or just ask in general what the hell is happening.  I have to be laughing, crying, biting my nails, loving the dialogue and being left a wreck by the end of it.  That’s my flawless.  Jeremy Carver hit that mark with “Sacrifice.”  It’s so damn good to see yet another classic “Supernatural” episode tied to his name.  

When looking at the finer details of this script, it’s very complex in story and execution. “Sacrifice” is an ambitious piece of work, but unlike prior complex episodes earlier this season (you know which ones I’m talking about), it all blended seamlessly and moved from scene to scene at a engrossing pace.  There were also plenty of overlapping character interactions and story parallels that boosted the urgency of the events ten fold.  I’ll attempt in a review that’s not the size of a novel to capture these nuances (that’s a very tough task), but when looking at them closely, I can’t help but be in awe of all that we were given in just a mere 42 minutes.  

Sam and Dean

No doubt about it, Jeremy Carver gets these brothers.  They were at the one yard line with heavy hearts (yes Kevin, I love the sports metaphors myself), but ready to win this.  I yelped when I saw them in Bobby’s salvage yard with long faces over seeing the trashed Chevelle with the smashed window amidst the overgrown weeds.  I adore the tie in of the relevant past in these guys’ lives to the present.  Too often these stories try to forget the history.  Oh Bobby, we all miss you terribly.    

These trials have been exposing Sam to the core, forcing not only us but Dean to see all that pain and hurt he’s been internalizing ever since Dean’s return from Purgatory, and his whole life.  We saw his agony of living with the curse of demon blood  in “The Great Escapist.”  In this episode, other worlds of hurt surfaced, ones that we never imagined were digging into him so much.  

We finally got into Sam’s head about the whole not looking for Dean issue, among other things.  Inside the deep, painful remorse that’s been building, Sam piled that one error in judgement onto all his other past failures when it comes to Dean.  With his growing fragile state, everything that he’s buried all those years became a crushing weight, leaving him to question his worthiness.  It tore him up so bad, he was ready to die for it.  When Dean burst in the church to stop Sam, telling him that finishing the trials would kill him, Sam’s reaction stabbed us all in the heart.  “So?”  I’m still crying over that.  

Sam has always been good at swallowing pain.  Dean constantly sent reminders, both angrily and passively about the ways Sam has failed him, especially not looking for him that year they were apart.  Obviously that regret lingered with Sam, because he shared what happened with others, like Meg and Bobby, two people that have had quite an impact on Sam’s life (for different reasons).  Taking on the trials was Sam’s penance for all of those sins against Dean, and it all started with Sam doing what he often does, saving Dean’s life.  This time, he could make it right.  

Yet by the end, Sam was too overwhelmed by it all, and it was obvious he couldn’t do this alone. Come on, what part of you didn’t die over Sam’s line, “What happens when you've decided I can't be trusted again? I mean, who are you gonna turn to next time instead of me? Another angel, another vampire?”  Sam had been reduced to tears by then (and me as well), unable to handle the strain and pressure.  He just needed it all to be over.  In his extreme exhaustion and sickness, physical and emotional pain couldn’t be repressed or rationalized.  It hurt.  Everything hurt.  Of course Dean was the only one that could save him from all this.  As Dean said in the bar, “What show are you watching?”  

As for Dean, I’ve read some criticisms that he underplayed his unfair treatment of Sam.  For one, I don’t think any of Dean’s actions this season were unfair.  Dean’s devotion to Sam was never in question.  What Sam perceived to be disappointment, it was really just Dean projecting.  He has a history of doing that.  I remember when Sam accused Dean of only trusting himself in that episode I shall not name, Dean didn’t deny that either.  But was that right?  I think Dean knows their history.  Things go wrong.  It goes back to when Bobby asked Dean if he believed Sam was good in “Meet The New Boss.”  “Yeah. (he hesitates).  No. You wanna know why? because we never catch a break. So why would we this time? I just.. just this one thing. You know? but I'm not dumb. I'm not going to get my hopes up just to get kicked in the daddy-pills again.”

When Dean decided he would be the one to take on the trials, he knew that whenever they took on this kind of thing, one of them ended up dead.  He didn’t want to be right this time, but he was all too aware of their bad luck.  Of course he took care of Sam when he got sick.  Too many didn’t like that motherly side of Dean, but did you expect anything else from him?  He’s been taking care of Sam his whole life.  Sure, some of that comes from guilt, like the guilt he’s been carrying over the stunt he pulled in “Citizen Fang” with the text message about Amelia.  Part of me thinks that his speech to Sam in that church is his apology for that. It’s his blanket apology for everything, like the one he promised at the end of “And Then There Were None.”   “Don't you dare think that there is anything, past or present, that I would put in front of you! It has never been like that, ever! I need you to see that. I'm begging you.”

Dean believes in his brother.  Sam after all is the one that sees a way out from all this, the one who’s been carrying the hope for a better life that has eluded these two so far.  He already lost Sam once to great sacrifice in “Swan Song,” and he wasn’t about to go through that again.  He couldn’t bear the loss of Sam anymore than Sam could bear the thought of disappointing Dean again.  

For the record, that was not just a brotherly hug.  Sam collapsed into Dean’s arms and gripped him tight, hanging on for dear life.  What a beautiful symbol of their devotion to one another, and yes I’m thinking of that hokey tune, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” because it’s so damned true.  Sam was finally able to share all that burden and weight with someone else, the one person that matters.  Someone he knew would be strong enough for both of them when the final blow hit.  And it did, hard.  When that happened, Dean did the only thing he knew what to do.  He got Sam the hell out of there.  

On a side note, If you watch the ending scene very carefully, Sam was gasping for air and unable to breathe.  Among all that confusion of what was happening in the sky, he lost consciousness.  It wasn’t until the first angel hit the ground that Sam suddenly awoke, alarmed by what was happening.  You think that the angels falling to earth did something to heal Sam?  You think similar things will be happening to people all across the country where angels fell?  I think the timing of Sam’s collapse and the angels falling meant something, but we have several months to speculate that.    

Dean, Sam and Castiel

There were definite parallels between Sam and Castiel in this episode, with Dean in the middle trying to get them both through it.  For anyone that says that Dean didn’t have a role this season, being the guy in charge of maintaining the delicate balance between those fighting against Hell and those fighting against Heaven is pretty damned crucial.  

Both Sam and Castiel were on parallel missions, personally chasing a chance at redemption as well as destiny.  Castiel was far more vocal in his desperation though.  “I can’t fail Dean.  Not on this one.  I need your help.”  He’s so unsure and afraid of making the wrong choices again, and Dean is the one person he trusts the most to guide him.  Dean did have to step in a few times, reminding Castiel to talk to the cupid first before taking the bow, and hearing Naomi out when she revealed the info she learned from Metatron.  

Sam needed Dean too, but it’s always been part of Sam’s personality to put other’s needs in front of his own, much like when he left Amelia so she could be with Don.  Castiel was in need and he would be okay.  All he had to do was tell Dean that he needed him, and Dean would have stayed.  But after hearing Dean tell Castiel,  “If any needs a chaperone during the heavily lifting, it’s Sam,” he took that as Dean waiting for him to screw up.  His hurt after Dean left, even if it was his idea, was devastating to watch.  It’s Sam at a low, never feeling more alone.  

Just as Castiel didn’t want to fail this angel trial, Sam couldn’t fail his demon trial.  Both were under enormous pressure, and failure, no matter what the circumstances, was not an option.  With Castiel though, the stakes were much different.  He already knew that carrying out the angel trials would result in him being locked in Heaven forever, and he would likely die for his past acts.  “ET goes home,” was a great way to put it.  

What I love about Castiel’s act is sacrifice is a human trait.  He’s learned well from these Winchesters through the years, and it will very likely serve him well now that he’s been cast out of Heaven and fallen to Earth.  While most angels consider that punishment, I wonder if in Cass’ case that’s where true redemption lies.  As for Dean, his willingness to let Castiel carry out his sacrifice and not Sam proves right there that he couldn’t even put Castiel in front of Sam.  Maybe he found one sacrifice more worthy than another.  
Sam and Crowley

I haven’t raved about the acting on this show in a while.  It’s always so damn good, and the bar was set so high so long ago it can become quite routine to always watch them clear it.  But this material gave Jared Padalecki and Mark Sheppard stuff that sent that bar to the stratosphere.  Sam and Crowley were both on the emotional and physical brink, and both looked like they would break at any second.  They were so fragile, so vulnerable, and it exposed of part of them both we’ve never seen, especially Crowley.  When great material meets exceptional actors, mind blowing things happen.  I’ve watched their scenes over and over again, and I completely melt into a quivering puddle every time. 

Crowley naturally was cavalier at first, calling Sam “Moose” all the time.  Hours and several injections later, after Abaddon’s altercation, suddenly he was appealing for his need to be loved to Sam by referencing HBO programs.  I loved Sam’s stunned reaction, and I was howling.  The cure was working.  Then when Crowley reached his most vulnerable point, suddenly “Moose” became “Sam.”  The slow gradual transition of Crowley from smug demon to emotional, remorseful human was a stunner.  It’s something you never deemed possible, and oh did Mark Sheppard sell it.  

How fitting is it that Crowley reached out to Sam for advice on where to start seeking forgiveness.  Crowley’s always taken a fascination with Sam, far more than Dean.  Maybe because Sam has had similar internal struggles and carries the same blood.  In that church, they both asked the same questions. Where does one go to the path of righteousness?  How does one become clean after all the evil they’ve done?  When that single man tear streamed down Crowley’s face, suddenly I believed that anyone could be saved, even the King of Hell.  I wonder if at that point, Sam believed it too.  He seemed moved by Crowley’s words, offering up his own blood as the next step to be saved.  He was so weak and feverish he could barely administer the injection but Crowley didn’t even fight, exposing his neck so that a woozy Sam could stab him with the needle.  It’s stunning how gorgeous that scene is, and so unlikely given the acrimonious history between these two.    

Part of me really wishes that they carried on with curing Crowley, because then he would be human again, walking the earth among all those fallen angels.  Think about the possibilities that would create.  He’d be on an even playing field with Castiel.  Part of me wonders if Sam doesn’t go back in there and finish the job in the season nine premiere after seeing the angels fall.  Maybe he’ll die and go to Heaven.  Okay, I’m over-speculating now.   

Since I’m bringing up season nine, Abaddon got away.  Considering her complete dislike and disloyalty toward Crowley, and that fact that none of the other demons came to help him, something tells me the other demons will welcome a new leader with open arms.  A Knight of Hell is a hard pedigree to turn down.  What’s to become of Crowley?  Will he go back to being himself, or will Sam’s near curing change him?  He was actually feeling regret.  That’s hard to forget once it surfaces.  Will he have a new found appreciation and respect for “Moose,” his fox hole partner?  Will he band together with the Winchesters to take control of Hell again because as we learned before, it’s better to deal with the devil you know?  Given Crowley’s recent actions, I sincerely doubt the Sam and Dean will go there again.     

Kevin Tran

There was a big tie back from the season premiere to now with Kevin.  It all goes back to Sam’s talk: 

Kevin:  Ever since I realized I was a prophet... It's just hard to believe this is actually my life.
Sam:  Yeah. It sucks right now. I know that. Um, it might suck for a lot longer, but... trust me on this – it gets better.
Kevin:  You know I'm not gay, right?
Sam:  If we can do this, get the tablet, get you everything you need to close the gates of Hell, there's a world out there where nobody – not Crowley, no demon – is chasing you anymore.
Kevin:  I guess I just don't see how I get from here to there.
Sam:  I used to not be able to see it, either. But there is a way.

Dean’s been echoing these words as well for Kevin for most of the season.  The problem is, none of them wanted to realistically look at what would happen if the gates of Hell weren’t closed.  Dean promising Kevin could go back to be a “mathlete” was never realistic.  It’s possible Kevin always knew this, but held onto the hope that Sam and Dean were giving him to get through it all.  That way, when it all fell apart, he would have someone to blame.  

I’ve been waiting for someone all season to be brutally honest with this kid, and it’s oh so fitting that it was Castiel.  “Dean’s right, there is no out, only duty.  You are a prophet of the lord.  Always and forever.”  Of course Cass backpedals a bit after that, clarifying until he ceases to exist and another prophet takes his place, but I imagine that was Jeremy Carver thinking about all the fan complaints.  I’ll never tire of the dorkiness of the writers coming out through Cass.    

So, Kevin has gone through this entire ordeal only to find he’s never getting out.  It’s sad, but everyone had to know that’s what would happen.  Now that Sam and Dean have chosen not to close the gates of Hell, I can’t imagine he’ll take that very well, even if it saved Sam.  He’s in for good.  Will he join the Men of Letters team and accept his duty, or will he take the bitter drunk route?  I’ll accept either.  

There was an angel story too, right? 

When I start writing my season eight retrospective articles, I’m taking a good look at the way Naomi’s character was handled.  She seemed a bit all over the map, no?  This week, she was “Taxi Driver” Naomi, helpful and honest.  I find it fascinating that she never really had a diabolical plan.  She was just doing what she’s always done, and doing her best to keep order in Heaven when chaos ruled.  Her encounter with Metatron seemed to shake her to the core, triggering regret over forgetting that the main purpose of the angels was to protect God’s creation.  That includes humans.  What made her realize that?  Was it that she’s really cared all along, but lack of direction since God left ruined her purpose?  What was the sudden motivation to make things right?  Or was it another manipulation for Castiel?  She died at least in redemption, willing to help Castiel and Dean.  

I really felt for the cupid (who I found hilarious to be a woman bringing together two men).  She’s afraid to go home too.  She isn’t getting orders the way she used to, and everything was breaking down.  She was willing to give up her bow if it meant that Castiel could fix all that.  I’m not sure if Cass told her exactly what was happening, but I love that he gave her a glimmer of hope.  “Do you think you can fix that?” she asks.  “With time, yes,” answers Castiel.  Aww, I’ve always got a sweet spot for the optimist angel.   

As for Metatron, that whole plot was so well done!  I never saw it coming, and what’s great is no one did.  He blindsided the whole universe!  What’s the saying, the meek shall inherit the earth?  Well that applies to the universe.  So he was using Castiel for work a spell, not trials.  That’s quite a spell, casting out all the angels from Heaven and banishing them to earth.  Why do I think after all this time getting to know the angels that this is a just punishment?  Now that there are thousands of angels roaming the earth, will they end up protecting humans as was their mission or acting out against, like the archangels?  Oh man, October is so far away.  

Stray Thoughts

This was the best put together “Carry On Wayward Son” montage I’ve seen in years.  Perhaps since season one (my favorite).  Well done.  Season eight really had a lot to offer, no?  

I’m going on the record, Jody Mills better not be dead.  I swear, as much as you own me Mr. Carver, I will curse you with a thousand suns and moons if that ends up being the case.  Granted, I think she’s alive.  Otherwise, Sam and Dean would have been totally outraged over her death when they met up with Crowley in Bobby’s salvage yard.  But still, no more killing the good female characters show.  

I am in utter awe of the abandoned church that the crew built just for this episode, and the location. The surrounding river is just stunning.  This is a visual masterpiece!  Kudos to the location crew and the camera crew that made this possible.  

“It took me six months and a dead mom to translate a piece of the demon tablet.”  No!! Not Mrs. Tran!!!  Remember what I said about killing the strong women?  Sad, sad.  I refuse to believe she’s dead.  

I’m giving this final episode of season eight an A+.  Easily the best finale since “Swan Song,” and one of the best overall.  Everything put into this episode from every cast and crew member, not to mention the writer went beyond what anyone could hope for.  That’s two A+ grades in season eight (“The Great Escapist” getting the other), which are two more than season seven got.  

That’s a season!  We’ll have all summer to discuss our season nine wish list, but thanks to Mr. Carver, the sky is now the limit.  


# winmomwannabe 2013-05-19 02:26
You've pretty much said it all. A++. Incredible stuff.
# KG_SPN 2013-05-19 04:38
Great review Alice.

I totally agree with you about the church. Incredible!
I am in utter awe of the abandoned church that the crew built just for this episode, and the location. The surrounding river is just stunning. This is a visual masterpiece! Kudos to the location crew and the camera crew that made this possible.
That shot of the church from above is so beautiful, as was the shot of Sam & Dean leaning against the impala, looking up at the falling angels. Awesome!

Kudos to those guys, plus the VFX crew, plus the make-up crew... hell, everyone :lol:

I loved the performances by all the actors, but particularly Jared and Mark. I think the scenes between Sam & Crowley were the best of the season. I was spell-bound. Oh, and I loved Abaddon ... shame it'll probably be a different actress next year due to her fiery demise :sad:

It wasn’t until the first angel hit the ground that Sam suddenly awoke, alarmed by what was happening.
I actually just thought the angel landed in the river nearby and the noise of the impact woke Sam. But your theory that something might be happening to Sam is more exciting, so I hope you're right.

Thanks again for a great review. I've really enjoyed reading all the reviews on TWFB this season and I'm so glad I found you all :D
# mer 2013-05-19 05:54
Hi Alice
I just wanted to take a moment to express appreciation to these review you give us and say for this particular one, I agree with your A+. I find nothing shortcoming whatsoever in this episode while, in fact, everything was superior.

Hey wow! "He Aint Heavy, He's My Brother" is on my ipod! When I listen to it, I just imagine the Supernatural show and I picture this as Dean's song.

Both Sam and Dean, I love those guys and always will. Thanks to everyone who made/makes this show a reality...
# Gwen 2013-05-19 06:25
Great review, Alice. Thank you.

That brotherly scene is probably my favourite brotherly scene ever. It was gut wrenchingly painful and also utterly beautiful at the same time.

Ssm's "so" got me choked up, and by the time Sam was desperately clinging to his brother's jacket I was a messy puddle.

My heart hurts for poor Sammy. The boy is so broken and has been for so very long now; feeling unclean since he was tiny, feeling that he was a disappointment to his dad and feeling like he's always disappointing his beloved big brother down. :cry: Hopefully now Dean's words - God, I LOVED Dean's words - will help him to start healing all that brokenness. I really hope the wonderful communication between these boys in this episode continues into S9. These boys have to keep on talking now.

It makes me wonder if this might possibly lead to the return of the amulet somehow. Sam was clearly devastated when the amulet was thrown in the rubbish bin and now, with what we now know about Sam's self image, that definitely would have furthered his belief of being a disappointment to his brother.

I too wondered about when Sam flinched as the angel hit the water. I'm not sure whether there's more to it (I hope there is) or if it was just the noise of the impact waking Sam.

Everybody was great in this episode. Although I think the episode belongs to Jared. Well, Jared and MS. Both were brilliantly good. The Crowley scenes were fabulous. Loved the visual of the angels falling at the end and the boys huddled together in the rain, loved all the lights going off in the MOL bunker, loved that atmospheric church - great location.

I am one who had huge issues with the first half of this season and Sam's storyline. For me, the season still only properly starts with the grandfather episode. But this finale and the relationship we now have between the brothers has made me feel a whole lot better about the season. SPN is all about the brothers for me and this episode pretty much shouted their love from the rooftops. Loved it.
# njspnfan 2013-05-19 09:04

Thanks for the wonderful review... wasn't sure how JC was going to tie everything together for this season but he knocked it out of park. The scenes between MS and JP, and JA and JP were amazing. Jared in particular did some of his best work ever over the latter part of the season.

Thanks for bringing up the fact that it wasn't so much a hug as Sam collapsing in to Dean; reminded me of their conversation earlier this season where Dean told Sam he couldn't carry the weight of the trials, but could carry him.

I read that they built that church just for this episode; hats off to the camera, lighting, and VFX folks for their great work.

And, for the record... count me in on the fruit basket.
# st50 2013-05-19 09:16
Perfect review, Alice. Thanks.

I have to give Carver all the props for this one. Eat my hat, send him a case of wine, a fruit basket, grovel on my knees for my lack of faith, anything. ;-)

It didn't address all my concerns, but I had about given up hope.... Prepared myself to walk away from my show... and suddenly, with that one little word, "So?", it was all back.....

A few more agonizing lines, and a bunch more tears, I found my self crying "Yes, Carver DOES know who these guys are!" I collapsed into that hug just as much as Sam did. Thank goodness Dean was there to catch us! :oops:

I have hope once again.... Keep talking boys! Don't let this moment slip away...

The master, Mark Sheppard, set up all the emotion, (hasn't he been wonderful in the last few episodes, too!!) But without that amazing chemistry between the Js, that scene would never have worked. Would've sunk down into bad soap opera land.... So all the awards go to the three of them. And for Carver trusting them to pull it off.

The possibilities for season 9, 10 and beyond!
# Valgal 2013-05-19 11:29
Hello Alice-
I am glad I was not alone when I thought of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," when I saw Sam fall into Dean's arms. It has been a long long journey for the characters and us viewers. I have watched "Sacrifice" several times and cannot get through it without getting teary. Jeremy Carver said this season was all about perception and boy did he follow through. Our perceptions of what was going on, Sam and Dean's perceptions about the situations they encountered and their perceptions of one another as well as Cas, Crowley, Naomi, Metatron and Kevin. Wow. As a writer, I am always intrigued when writers can pull themselves out of the dilemmas they have written themselves into. Carver did not disappoint me.

I was happy that Sam and Dean are together and for me this is the most powerful ending since Season 2. "We got work to do." Heck yes in Season 9. We don't know how Sam and Dean will accomplish all that is set before them, but we do know that they are going to do it together. That gives me cause to believe as Charlie told them, "There's pretty much nothing you Winchesters can't accomplish when you work together." Damn doesn't that fill me with a sense of optimism for next season.

Thanks for a great review. October can't come soon enough.
# LEAH 2013-05-19 12:06
Alice thanks, this one was a doozy alright. The visuals alone were breathtaking. The effects, the camera work, the drab and washed out colors of some scenes set the somber tone. That all contrasted so well with the blinding white of Naomi's office, nice. The rain of falling angels, beautiful.

I can only say again that the brother scene was IMO, one of the most powerful and pivotal scenes of the whole series. It should be a game changer for the relationship. The acting by Jared and Jensen was, I have no words, paticularily Jared.

Mark Sheppard, also a revelation. He has always played a similar version of Crowley in other shows. He can do sensitive, who knew?

I am so happy to see many of the people who were on the edge of throwing in the towel, willing to continue with us on this on this crazy ride, due to the brilliance of this episode and Mr. Carver. :-)
# love2boys 2013-05-19 15:30
Your review was great!

Quote by Alice:
As for Dean, I’ve read some criticisms that he underplayed his unfair treatment of Sam. For one, I don’t think any of Dean’s actions this season were unfair. Dean’s devotion to Sam was never in question. What Sam perceived to be disappointment, it was really just Dean projecting. He has a history of doing that. I remember when Sam accused Dean of only trusting himself in that episode I shall not name, Dean didn’t deny that either. But was that right? I think Dean knows their history. Things go wrong. It goes back to when Bobby asked Dean if he believed Sam was good in “Meet The New Boss.” “Yeah. (he hesitates). No. You wanna know why? because we never catch a break. So why would we this time? I just.. just this one thing. You know? but I'm not dumb. I'm not going to get my hopes up just to get kicked in the daddy-pills again.”
I agree that none of Dean’s actions this season were unfair, and Dean’s devotion to Sam was never in question. I’ve been thinking about Dean’s history of projecting or of saying hurtful things, even about the remote past.

Dean is written as human. Awesomely human. But neither brother was able to grow up with what most people call "normal" (what IS normal?) emotional development. No one in their lives modeled appropriate emotional behavior. When they were little, no one suggested that they talk to each other. No one talked to Dean about the inappropriatene ss of allowing hurtful comments to escape.

Dean's hurt, like Sam's, started at a very young age - four. His hurts have stacked up, like Sam's, and have never been resolved. When a person has been hurt very badly, even though they truly think they have forgiven the transgressor, the hurt is still stacked up in the person's being. And then it comes out inappropriately . I think it is accidental/subc oncious – then he hears it coming out of his mouth. It sounds cocky because that is the way he talks. But it comes from the deepest pain, because only those you love can hurt you that much.

Sam is written as human. Awesomely human. But everything lacking in Dean’s emotional development (modeling, counseling from parents, continuity in schools, lasting friendships) was also missing from Sam’s development. We now know how Sammy buried his hurt. Awww… :cry: Jared has been rockin’ these last episodes! As Sam grew up he swallowed every remark, turned it negative even if it wasn't, and filed it under “ways I’ve failed Dean.” And we’ve finally seen Sam’s POV. Keep talking Sam. You need to talk, and Dean and I need to hear you.

I NEVER thought they didn’t massively love each other. I’m so glad we got to see and hear it. This is how I came to think Dean wasn’t thinking up ways to be mean to Sam, and Sam wasn’t talking to everyone except Dean on purpose.
# Bevie 2013-05-19 15:45
Great review Alice for a great episode!

You and sweetondean have said everything for me.

I had faith in Jeremy Carver as soon as I found out he was going to be the show runner. He's written some of the best brotherly episodes. He wouldn't forget how. I'm always willing to see out the season til the end and put the pieces together then. When rewatching, if something seems not quite right it doesn't matter as I know it will all come together. One example is season 6 with soulless Sam. It hurt so very much to see non caring cold Sam, yet when we found out the reason, it brought a huge sigh of relief. Now I really enjoy the soulless Sam episodes, especially "Live Free and Twi Hard". Vampire Dean was so very badass and sexy with it! :-* :oops:

Anyway, love season eight from the first to the last and I contributed to the fruit basket with sweetondean, but the man does deserve all we can give him.

Here's to season 9 and I hope on and on from there!! :P :-)
# Ima 2013-05-19 20:22
I can't believe the impact of one word "so" could be this much heartbreaking. I can't believe that this one minute scene could erase the heartbreak that I have about the first half of the season 8 and disappointment that I have for the last 3 years. Finally I could love my show again. I put aside plot as long as I could love the brothers again.

I have some question though:
1. Why Sam's hand glowing at each injection, shouldn't it only glow after he read the trial incantation?
2. Why Sam's health deteriorate so fast in 8 hours? Again I thought it only after he finished trial?
3. Will we ever revisit the priest message to Sam to be careful to the key to MOL Bunker, that MOL Bunker should be destroyed? I'm disappointed that Dean so easily gave it to Kevin.
# debbab 2013-05-19 21:41
Sam's health has been deteriorating even when he is not performing a ritual. He spits blood just talking to the priest and the previous episode he spikes a fever. Cas says the trials are changing Sam at an atomic level and Sam says that he feels it inside so whatever he has is there in him. Each time he injects Crowley he is on step further to his own death so he glows and of course he is withdrawing his own purified and metabolic essence to give to Crowley so he glows.
Dean has been keeping Kevin away from the bunker, but he now feels it is time to protect Kevin or at least leave someone in charge of the bunker- thinking Kevin will be back season 9, maybe to help with the bunker as there is so much to catalogue. Hope Dean has a way of getting back in as he seems to have given the original key to Kevin. Are there more keys? bunkers?
The word "So?" and the manner in which Jared delivered it coupled with Jensen's reaction- need to breathe. There is a video on youtube, sorry I do not have the link, that pairs scenes from the finale with Adele's "Skyfall" song. Rips your heart out all over.
# novi 2013-05-20 03:23
I don't know if I need to thank you, Alice (and other reviewers) for your sweet beautiful texts - it's somewhat funny to thank people for being happy and expressing their joyful excitement. But your high spirits are filling me with happiness too, so I thank you with all my heart. Nothing better than happy fans!
Love2boys, I fully understand you - always hated to say sorry in fear to look what I really am - a weakling. Better to be defensive-aggre ssive (if there's such a word). Ha, it's okay if even such a hero as Dean sometimes acts this way, though, of course this belligerent and yet fearful expression on his face looks so disarming that it is easier to forgive him than... you know, just people. To me, the last episode was about forgiveness, about the ability "to let it go" and start from anew. Only let Sam get better and,God forbid, let him not get angry with his brother for stopping him in the middle of the trial. I'm afraid that now it is Dean's turn to be blamed, and not without reason. Oh no! So much for happiness. Damn it Show!
# nappi815 2013-05-20 08:26
when you sit and really think about it, carver really did do an amazing job.

my biggest beef had been sam's silence. i understood it the first few times, but it began to bother me when sam didn't defend himself every time dean took a shot at him. but really it does all make perfect sense now. i guess it always did make sense. sam was punishing himself. nobody does a better job at punishing sam than he does.

he thought his brother was dead. not a sin, not a crime...until you find out that he wasn't really dead after horrible he must have have been at an emotional breaking point to actually believe the worst and so alone that noone was there to convince him otherwise.

sam's silence was his punishment...ta king every hit dean gave him with the belief that he deserved it and more...dean never had to say a word, and sam still would've punished himself. nobody hates sam winchester more than sam winchester does. :sad:

sam doing the trials was the path to forgiveness...f or himself...sam forgiving sam...if sam wasnt so physically and emotionally beaten, he would've never been able to admit to dean how he's always seen himself and how he believed dean saw him as well.

i can't help but wonder if metatron knew. i mean he read stories didn't he? i can't help but think that metatron read chuck's books. that he knew sam and dean as well as they knew themselves...if not more since he's an objective reader, so he knew the inner workings of sam and dean where they didn't . i think metatron knew all along that dean wouldn't let sam complete the trials. i also think that metatron knew naomi would see in his head, so that tidbit of info would get to dean....i really get this gut feeling that metatron knew sam wouldn't die because he knew from the books the winchester's bond

believing this as i do, i think it was metatron who told benny about the portal and who saved sam by putting riot in his path. i also think metatron got sam back in the game by bringing don back. that part of sam's story was over. sam regained his strength, which i always thought is what he meant when he told dean...he found something. sam was so broken...he needed to gather his strength riot is put in his path and sam found a focus..then he found amelia who was just as broken as he was...he wanted to save her...he had to save her...he couldn't save dean, he had to atone somehow..and while with her, he survived...he found a way to go on...he regained his strength and when the time came, he knew what he had to more running...he had to go back to his he left her and went to the cabin...we never really got to see his next step...but i believe he was ready to look for kevin...or at least think about it...first he needed a bit of time, to mourn the normalcy he temporary had while with amelia, that was the real loss....but he never got the chance....mix that with knowing he'd made a mistake in thinking his brother had died, dean's anger and sam's belief that he yet again failed his brother and you get the first half of s8.

as it's been stated, without the first half being so emotionally aggravating, the second half and especially ben and jeremy's eppys wouldn't have had the emotional impact and utter satisfaction it did have for a lot of us...and the boys are finally at a place where they really are seeing ea. other for the first time....this was 8 years in the making and for me, the payoff was well worth the wait.
# njspnfan 2013-05-20 16:33
Nappi815 - agreed. JC did a great job of tying everything together and giving the show a lot of possibilities for next season and beyond.

I know there's plenty of time for speculating during hellatus but... was thinking there's a lot more to Metatron than meets the eye. Everyone thought he was an archangel - he said he's just a lowly angel from the secretarial pool but, then again, he was able to escape the chair in Naomi's office. I was thinking, who else would have been so pissed off after finding out what happened in heaven? It's not beyond the realm of possibility that Metatron is in fact God, and decided to kick all the kiddies to the curb. After all, God has taken an interest and intervened on behalf of the Winchesters and Castiel before.
# LEAH 2013-05-20 22:00
Interesting thought but I think I'd rather think of Chuck that way. Metatron is a bit of a wing nut. :-)
# nappi815 2013-05-21 16:41
you know for a slight second i thought the same thing... i figured God wasn't really out of the picture, he's hiding among the humans, but he seems to hide in the most unlikely in all honesty, i thought since garth has kind of gone missing...i figured he was God.....kind of paving the way..helping the boys and being an utter dork all the time doing so...seems like the perfect disguise this time around for God.. :lol:

i really am truly amazed how it all turned out and i think rewatching will be so much easier now...i'm really starting to see things so clearly now...

for instance, i thought dean and benny's relationship was a bit over dramatic...i felt sticky just watching them...they were at times so sugary with ea. other...but now it's so obvious to me....dean had to have a bond with benny that was strong, otherwise sam wouldn't have believed dean's speech in the end about sam coming before everyone....i mean if benny wasn't important to dean, then dean's speech would not have had such an emotional impact for sam....sam would be like sure i come before a vamp kind of mentality.....b ut it was the importance and value that dean put on benny's friendship that made dean's words to sam all the more touching.....wo rds that sam can believe and hold onto...because benny had value, but still nobody has more value than you know what i'm trying to say...i hope i'm making my point clearly....

bottom line is that now i know benny and dean's sugary relationship won't bother me anymore...i see now that it was actually necessary...tha t relationship had to be important to dean so sam can see how he is more important...mor e important than anyone. that dean had no hesitation killing his foxhole buddy in order to save his brother....sam does come first for dean...before everyone including i think his mom and dad.

can i just say ...i love these guys...

carver, i owe you a bit of an apology for any crankiness i had towards you....i will indeed be enjoying crow with a bottle of dr. pepper .....
# sofia 2013-05-20 08:39
Wonderful review! I loved reliving Sam and Dean's conversation in the church through your eyes. I have watched that scene about 100 times and it still makes me cry just thinking about it!

I didn't realize that abandoned church was put up for this episode! It was absolutely perfect.

Great episode. Great season!
# clair 2013-05-20 09:10
Great review! You say all the things I felt and didn't know how to say. Even "the episode which shall not be named..." Carver has worried me this season, but this is the first episode I've watched over & over & over again since 4.01.

And the hug - you're right, that was not a brother hug. That was a parental hug. As a parent, I know that moment when you physically bandage up a broken child and then "all right, c'mon" you gather them in for the emotional healing.
# sweetondean 2013-05-20 09:13
Great review for a truly great episode, Alice. Don't have to tell you how much I loved it!

I've watched it a bunch of times and tonight watched it on Aussie TV. What you said about Sam and the angels I was literally just saying. I wonder if that physical attack in the church, before Dean carried him out, coincided with the angel spell and the first of the angels falling. It seemed to be timed with that and then yes, when the one crashed in the water, I thought it seemed to 'punch' Sam...I wondered if maybe it was because he was so close to the Word of God and resonating and all that? Well, who knows and we won't for way too long! GAH!

Definitely and A+! I adored every second of it. Thanks for a great wrap-up.
olivia forest
# olivia forest 2013-05-20 15:50 just wow. i could go on and on and on and on about this episode. never in my life have watched a single episode so repeatedly. sheer brilliance! thank you alice for your thoughtful-insi ghtful-fabulous review. (sweetondean, LOVED yours too!) i'm usually just a lurker, but i am so bowled over by carver and this finale i just had to weigh in. i'll try to be brief (ha!), as most of what i've felt has already been posted -- after a few thoughts i'll share a couple questions/specu lations. (hang on for a ramblingly ride!)

first, i must give tremendous praise to jared padalecki and his performance during the last half of the season. i've always thought he delivered the goods in an exceptional manner during the deeply emotional and heavy mythic arc episodes (metamorphosis, my bloody valentine, when the levee breaks, swan song, and unforgiven to name a few), and he was just tremendous in this finale. (jared, if you're lurking -- a huge congrats on a tremendous performance!)

also, as someone who's always adored sam and felt his character at its heart is a deeply sensitive, intelligent and wounded soul, i've really struggled with how he has been portrayed at times-- but mostly the lack of sam pov (starting, to a degree, way back in season 3) has been frustrating and troubling. so to hear sam voice -- his fears, struggles and pain, to actually get to see him in a powerful scene of his own (with mark sheppard) -- to hear from sam himself has been so very satisfying. thank you jc!

i LOVE that one of the episode's themes was about humanity and forgiveness. such beautiful themes portrayed so wonderfully by all of the actors (mark sheppard was beyond brilliant and touching in his portrayal of crowley's partial? transformation. )

on an archetypal level i think sam's struggles (and deans) mirror all of humanities'. original sin and all that. deep down we all struggle with feeling worthy. and we're all wounded -- there's no way to be human on this planet and not have experienced trauma. so whether one is conscious of it or not, feeling "i am bad/unworthy" tends to lurk in all of us -- sam's journey has just made it more explicit. we're ALL on a hero's journey to find the unconditional love that crowley was crying out for. we usually look outside of ourselves, because most of us can't fathom that kind of love and grace is carried within us ... is actually what we're made of ... anyway , i digress!

oy! i could go on ... i do want to give a shout out to the composers for SN -- the music really heightened the acting and the visuals (which were also stunning). and the set design church building?! holy cow -- FANTASTIC!

okay, a few questions/speculations:

i saw curing crowley and finishing the trials as two separate acts. wouldn't sam have had to utter the spell a final time for the trials to be complete and thus shut the gates of hell? and if that's true, couldn't he theoretically have finished curing crowley, not spoken the final spell and as a result, lived?

i also am curious to the possibility that when crowley bit sam he ingested some of sam's blood, meaning sam actually DID finish curing crowley and thus is close to death -- however i like the the theory that sam's physical state at the end of the finale was connected to the angels falling-- which seems much more likely to me.

i also wonder with the dramatic introduction of the angel's and their falling into next season's story, if there will be a strong arc for jensen/dean in that he has always had a strong connection to angels and michael in particular -- now the only angel who hasn't fallen. and an arc angel at that ... makes for interesting speculation and possibilities. (i'm a big sam fan in case that's not obvious, but i DO hear the dean fans who are hungry for a mythic arc that strongly involves his character.)

finally, i want to say that i think jeremy carver has done a stunning job with this season -- even though i struggled through the first half and almost lost my faith. the lack of sam's voice truly made for a dramatic impact when his voice broke through in the latter episodes. bravo! also, i think it must be an intense challenge to stay true to the show's original spirit while implementing one's own bold creative vision. i really think he has succeeded and join with all of you in sending him a fruit basket -- which must be the size of the empire state building by now ... hope he likes fruit! ;-)

thanks everyone for your passion, dedication and love for this deeply affecting show. it's been fun to keep your company.

and thanks again alice and to all you reviewers and administrators for your good works!

# LEAH 2013-05-20 17:30
Hi olivia. I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your post. I do hope you come and share your thoughts and speculations with us more often. Many of us struggled with the early season (some more than others) but have to give credit where credit is due. I hope there is enough fruit out there to fill that basket! :-)
olivia forest
# olivia forest 2013-05-20 22:44
thanks for your kind words and encouragement leah! i laughed out loud when i read your fruit comment. no kidding, right? might have to import it from hawaii at this point ... ! :lol:
Moose Girl
# Moose Girl 2013-05-20 18:59
Hi Olivia

I'm a huge Sam fan myself. Thank you for your words and for saying everything I'd like to. :-)
olivia forest
# olivia forest 2013-05-20 22:46
LOVE your moniker! & thanks also for kind words as well. :-)
olivia forest
# olivia forest 2013-05-20 22:49
wow! you distilled the episode so beautifully pragmatic dreamer. thanks for your post!
olivia forest
# olivia forest 2013-05-20 22:51
oops.... let's try that again. (i initially posted in the wrong place.)

wow! you distilled the episode so beautifully pragmatic dreamer. thanks for your post!
# buffsgirl 2013-05-20 16:37
Loved your review and this episode! I bow down to JC and his talent at writing such amazing stories. And, Jared and Mark NAILED it! Just..... WOW!

One thing I have been thinking for several episodes now is that perhaps Sam is becoming an angel through these trials. Now with heaven shut off and all the angels expelled to earth perhaps Sam will have to complete the trials so he can be sent to heaven, as an angel, to take out Metatron. Not sure I LIKE that scenario but...... it seems to me to be a possible way the story is going.

Anyway..... I loved the season, I love this show, and I cannot WAIT tip October. AAGGHHHHH!!!
Moose Girl
# Moose Girl 2013-05-20 19:06
My feelings too. It seems that Sam's pain coincided with the angels falling, as if he sensed that. And then he seemed to wake up when they hit the ground. I don't think he's an angel himself, but he developed a connection as a result of the trials. Sounds interesting to me. :-)
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2013-05-20 21:56
Alice, what a wonderful review. I loved this episode too. And I feel like I’m still processing it, finding the nuance in it, and of course trying to decipher what it all means for the future.

I think Jeremy Carver came in with the idea of hitting a reset/restart button, and that the storyline needed to be changed and adjusted. It’s not an easy thing to do with well-establishe d characters and canon. And there are sacrifices to be made to get the plot back on track.

But he’s added so many new dimensions and possibilities for where the story can go now. And that is key for a show heading into its 9th season.

Does a human Cass mean he is now sort-of-Jimmy Novak again? (It’s almost like time folding in on itself, but that would be too complex. Are we looping back to Season 4). What role will Metatron play? What do all those flashing lights in the MoL bunker mean? (Was it really a SETI site and suddenly Fox Mulder will appear on the scene?) How do they get the angels back to Heaven, and is Crowley now a lap poodle or will he be back to being a Hell Hound soon?

As for Abbadon, she was wonderful and I think we could see the actor again. Anna called in favours to get her original meatsuit. I’m sure a Knight of Hell could do the same.

I’m hoping Sam heals quickly, somehow and that he doesn’t have some kind of lingering Supernatural afterglow. I was really liking the idea of Sam having a chance to be cleansed, and to be just Sam, all Sam, 100 % Sam Winchester with no additives or preservatives.

What I really loved about this episode though is the insight into the brothers’, especially into Sam’s head. And the fact they’re listening to each other. There is a new level of maturity and it is glorious. And they’re together!!!

I salute the way JC created a finale that settled most of the season’s glaring issues, offered a new look at the brothers’ relationship, offered an amazing launch pad of ideas for the future and provided one of the most visually stunning images ever on the show.

Well done.

Pragmatic Dreamer
Moose Girl
# Moose Girl 2013-05-21 09:53
I don't think Sam will ever be 100% normal. His "anormalities" have been the driving plot, in a way, from the start. The boy with demon blood, blood-addict Sam, Soulless Sam, the Wall, Lucifer visions and, finally, the trials. I definitely see some angelical mojo as a strong possibility.

I don't have a problem with his not being normal. If everything is normal, there's no drama. Not to mention that Jared is always so good playing "different" Sam. And last but not least, Sam not being normal means protective big brother Dean. I know that many Dean fans don't like this protective side of him, but to me Dean is never sexier than when he does it. Taking care of Sam is his essence, and it doesn't mean that he can't have his own story at the same time, if the wiriters are creative enough.

What I don't want to see is Sam portrayed as the "bad" brother again. His image is damaged enough with fandom. I want to see him struggle against whatever comes, with his brother by his side.
# hlnkid 2013-05-21 20:27
Love love love your review!

It confused me this year when people kept saying that Dean didnt have a story line. What I saw was that Dean was the glue that kept everything together. Somehow, one hit after another, he kept going. It was almost like his trip to Purgatory was the best thing that could have ever happend to made him stronger and made him know for absolute certain what he was and always would be. Then the crushing weight of Sam's confession at the that had to just smash Dean in the heart.

Jensen is maybe the only actor who could have portrayed true heartbreak in a simple change in facial expression at the moment...Dean felt it as we felt it. That pain and anguish coming from every pore of his littel brother. And Jared was just on fire these last few eps of the year...oh man. I was exhausted emotionally just watching him, I know it had to be hard to keep that up on screen for all those eps in a row.

Other than 3 not so steller eps this year, I loved Season 8 and I can't wait to go back and watch from the beginning now that we know how it all ends up.

The whole Sam not looking for Dean was clearly intentional, not to tick off fans, but to eat away at Sam all year until he finally breaks. It was almost meant to be the final nail in the coffin...esp with Dean bringing it up one last time before Sam leaves for the confession booth.

I dont think I've ever seen a more insecure character than Sam. We've always know it, but I dont think we knew it to these depths. I know Dean didn't see the depth of it until Sam bared it all out there for him. Pure raw emotion you dont see much on TV. Thank goodness for SPN.

Before the finale, I wasn't sure exactly what the sacrifice of the story title would be. In the end, it was two things I never expected. Sam giving up the world so he didn't let his brother down again, and Dean giving up the world so he could save his brother. For so long they've sacrificed themslves for the greater cause...this time, they held onto each other.

Damn, I love this show.
# Bamboo24 2013-05-23 14:28
Other than Charlie, are there ANY women with semi-important roles even potentially left alive on Supernatural right now???

In light of the of Abaddon, Mrs. Tran, and Naomi's deaths this is a legit question.

I'm particularly upset that Naomi and Abaddon were killed off. I think their characters still had great potential.
# Bamboo24 2013-05-23 14:31
I do think Jodi Mills is still alive. If she was meant to be killed off, I think we would have seen it. They left it open for a reason. I think we'll see her again.
# Ale 2013-05-23 14:54
Abaddon wasn't killed - her meatsuit was torched, but the demon is intact (the black smoke got away).

We don't know, though, if the demon Abaddon is a she or a he. The demon took advantage of the red haired girl to penetrate the MoL, but we still don't know if, when human, the demon was a girl.

Guess we will find out next season.