It seems like just a short time ago that we were left with mysterious glowing eyes, Castiel’s prone body and burnt wings, and Mary and Sam and Dean having lost everyone and everything in the war against Lucifer. Nevermind that rift and the apocalypse world. And here we are again, already a whole season later and it’s hard to know where to begin talking about this finale; so much happened yet so much unresolved at the same time. Chaos, action and emotion packed into an intensely short 42-minutes. With that said, let’s just dive into it.
Hunting, Home and Safety
“Good Times” opened with the classic music montage that never fails to incite the thrill due the Supernatural finales. Once the excitement quiets, we have Sam giving the refugees a humorous if minimal overview of the world on this side of the rift, complete with illustrations. My only comment on this “lesson” is that, if Bobby was aware of a show like the “Apprentice” then I wonder when things split off in Apocalypse World exactly – when Mary didn’t make the deal for John? And why weren’t the ice caps melting in that world if they had such a similar timeline that TV shows developed that parallel into the 2000s? This line from Bobby was a throw away for humour, obviously, but it did make me wonder.
Past this we see Jack, Dean, Sam and Cas on a hunting exercise with werewolves while Mary and Bobby enjoy a walk in the rain. Both of these excursions are interesting in their own right. Watching the four boys on the hunting trip is one of the rare occasions this season we’ve witnessed them on a successful outing as a group without a grand mission or deadline per se. And it was worthwhile to see Jack’s powers used alongside the team, to show him again how useful he is on the side of good with his family. All else aside regarding Jack’s storyline this season, the writers and Alexander Calvert have done an excellent job building Jack as a character and meshing him with the boys so smoothly. This episode was the ultimate cap – more on this later.
Bobby and Mary were grossly underused in this finale, tragically so. There, I said it and now I can move on. Given the aforementioned sin, a relationship hinted between Mary and Bobby is intriguing and there is certainly a set up for them going into next season so we cannot complain about that! This brief conversation between our two favourite resurrected hunters did give us enlightenment into some of the other (also underused but still around to be revisited) characters – Charlie and Rowena on a road trip? Pictures please! And Ketch is doing “Ketch things” – great line, though he seemed a bit wasted in the end.
Thematically, this episode was driven by the idea of family. This has been a running them of the show of course and predominant in particular this season when it comes to Jack. This episode culminated in Jack’s realization that though he shared blood with Lucifer, he was not the son of the Morningstar in any real way, that the Winchesters and Castiel were his true family. This story was very well told in the short time of the episode, and not overly saturated with heavy-handed messages or redone themes. It was refreshing that Jack didn’t actually go with Lucifer for a length of time before coming to this conclusion, nor did the writers focus on the idea that Sam “lied” to Jack about Lucifer being dead. Instead Jack learns very much on his own the true nature of Lucifer, and his bonds with his family are fortified as a result.
Early in the episode Jack’s nightmares lead to him and Dean having a heart to heart conversation about saving people and failures and growing from these. It is a beautiful, heartfelt exchange especially because while Jack has had a number of touching talks with Sam and Castiel (and Mary too) his interactions of this nature with Dean have been far fewer (not to say there have been none):
“Jack it's not about being strong. I mean - Look, I don't know what you saw over there and I don't know what you went through. I know it was bad. But I also know that you came out the other side because you are strong. But even when we're strong, man, things are gonna happen. We're gonna make mistakes. Nobody's perfect. Right? But we can get better. Every day, we can get better. So whatever you're dealing with, you know, whatever, whatever comes at us, we'll figure out a way to deal with it, together. You're family, kid, and we look after our own.”
Later, when Lucifer’s true nature is finally exposed to Jack and in the end again, Jack acts because he loves his family and he has this strength.
Initially Jack is offered a romanticized view of Lucifer as a father that even left the viewers wondering at some points if he did want to really be a father – we were peaking through Jack’s lens at Lucifer in many points of the story without being aware. Lucifer is just that good. The idea of going to the stars to build a new world as father and son didn’t even sound terrible, in theory, since Lucifer wasn’t going to decimate or overtake the Earth in this narrative. In many ways this was akin Amara and Chuck going away for family time. Credit to the writers – and Mark Pellegrino – for this simple but brilliantly played narrative. Mark’s Lucifer was so resistant to resurrecting Maggie (whom he had murdered) and wanted so quickly to rush away after Jack answered Sam’s prayer in the bunker. But the best moment, aside from the final battle, comes when Jack takes hold of Lucifer’s mind to force the truth from him:
“She saw me when I was scouting out the bunker. She saw me and she screamed, and then so I crushed her skull with my bare hands. And it was warm and wet, and I liked it.”
And then when he gives up the charade and is the serpent we know fully and truly:
“Because I told you what you wanted to hear, man. So what?! I killed the girl! Big deal! She's a -- she's a human! She doesn't matter! ...Yeah? And that's your problem. You're too much like your mother.”
Though many have incarnated as Lucifer on this show, nobody is Mark Pellegrino in charisma and so enjoyable as such a dislikable character. This final reveal of Lucifer’s true nature to Jack is like releasing a breath after holding it so long – you knew it was coming, it was just a matter of when and what the mess would look like when it finally happened.
To Be Human
Turning to the “who am I” portion of the show – this was the weak point that Lucifer preyed on with Jack and again, it was done so expertly.
Maggie’s death seemed so sloppy and not part of Lucifer’s plan once he confessed to it, which seems wonky from a writing perspective. However, that’s minutia in the grand storyline and it did give us some phenomenal moments of acting from Alexander as Jack. All season, Jack has teetered between being overconfident and completely lacking in self-esteem, overwhelmed by all his mistakes -much like any true adolescent experiencing life. Overcome by anger at Maggie’s death and feeling responsible for all the lives of the refugees, Jack takes the first lead and decides that he is the killer: too bad for Nate.
A lot happens very quickly here, as Jack overwhelms Nate and nearly kills him before the boys arrive, Dean shooting at Jack to get his attention. I admit, this part makes me laugh since Dean is so matter of fact about it and Jack can’t believe Dean did it. The next moments are haunting and painful: Jack hurts himself questioning why he keeps hurting people and flashing back to civilians that have been caught up in his powers over the course of the season. Again the writing and acting need a shout-out here for the brief though brilliant look at the mental affect: the anxiety, the overwhelming emotion, the magnified scale that compounds everything into grief and pain and self-loathing beyond any reason. Jack’s pain comes through in this moment and it’s heartbreaking. Naturally, this is when Lucifer steps in with his speech about humanity and their fragility:
“I'm here for you, Jack. Because, you know, even though the Three Amigos -- Sam, Dean, and the other one -- won't admit it, you need me. You do, 'cause we're blood. And we're not human, no matter how much we pretend to be. See, humans are…limited and fragile. And I'll admit, they bring out the worst in me, I gotta say. It seems like, you know, no matter how much you try to do right around them, something always goes wrong. Follow?... Right? And that's not their fault, or ours. It's just, us and humans, we're like oil and water. You know, sardines and strawberries. It's just a bad combination.”
Jack’s later declaration that he is human is the breakthrough of the season. Jack knows where he belongs. He might be half-angel, but like Castiel, Jack is driven by human or more accurately Winchester values (since human doesn’t innately mean “good guy”). And he’s part of the family – and as we know, that doesn’t end with blood. And of course, like any true member of the Winchester clan, he’s willing to die for his brothers, again following the family themes running strong through the episode.
The Michael Sword
This episode was all about Jack’s story. Discovering who he truly was and accepting who he is meant to be – what family really means. Of course part of that story included his father making a deal with AW Michael to come to the real world and then Lucifer doing what Lucifer does best – making a big bad mess, stealing Nephilim grace to supercharge and leaving everyone in a lurch.
There is a lot to say about this storyline. First I’ll echo what others have said along the way of season thirteen and say that this grace thing has been a shaky plot point until now and I can’t help but think it was designed to get us to this moment where Lucifer steals Jack’s grace.
Ultimately, with Sam and Jack snatched by Lucifer, and Dean and Cas left with a broken-down AW Michael, Dean feels there is only one option left to him. Try as I might to avoid spoilers, I couldn’t escape this one and knew going in that Dean would end up possessed by Michael somewhere in this episode – I just couldn’t see how it could happen willingly. I wondered if it would be “our” Michael versus AW Michael, since Christian Keyes’ Michael is a psychopath zealot with quite the vision for Earth. Nevertheless, though I expected it to happen, though I couldn’t figure out why Dean would say yes – when it finally happened, it made sense but it didn’t at the same time. (I can’t help but wonder – if Sam and Dean were never born in AW, weren’t there other “true vessels” for Michael and Lucifer in that universe? Isn’t that who Michael is wearing? And if not – why?).
Dean was out of options, no question. But did he really think that Michael would stick to that deal? I suppose when you’re desperate, a bad deal is better than no deal.
Brass tacks: this was a big boss battle and it was awesome. Lucifer, Sam, Jack. These moments in the church where Lucifer offered them a kill-or-be-killed scenario was deliciously evil. Lucifer was drinking in every moment of the struggle Jack and Sam went through, but Jack’s ultimate decision to sacrifice himself for the love of his family – wow. I fell in love with this character even more. I was not prepared for him to die, so I was very grateful for the bad deal Dean made at that moment.
Dean with wings. Woah. We’ve had some epic entrances on the show, and this definitely makes the top five, in particular because it was capped with “hiya, Sammy” – yup, epic. So much about this worked: it was imposing, daunting, quick, brutal. Lucifer was full of snark and wit. Dean was strong but not as strong as he probably would have been with Michael in full control. I will say this: the wire work/flying- it was impressive enough, but I don’t know that it was necessary. I imagine they had a great time filming that, but at times I felt it detracted from the battle.
The final moments of this battle are when it all comes down to team effort. Okay, so Sam didn’t drive the final blade into Lucifer – but he delivered it to Dean who did the stabbing. And really, that’s how they work, together. Even better? Lucifer got to die by his own sword. You know, the one he oh so confidently tossed to the ground and told Sam and Jack to off one another with.
And let’s just say it: Lucifer is dead. Eight years and so much torture, pain and suffering inflicted on so many people – and he’s finally dead. What’s left to say but that was a hell of a death scene: fury and flames. Go Team Free Will 2.0.
As short-lived victories go, this was seconds long before Michael takes over Dean and disappears in stunning fashion. Much like the note we left on last season, “Good Times” leaves viewers with the seared angel wings, the unresolved conflict of the apocalypse world, the loss of a Winchester, the devastated family and, of course, the eerie glow of an angelic gaze. Sam’s expression says so much as Michael vanishes with Dean, something like “****! Too good to be true.” One imagines, anyway. Castiel, another brief role in the finale, protested Dean’s deal with Michael – though we saw very little of it in the end and Cas was left behind at the bunker – is shown devastated. Misha is another one who says so much through just a look.
Just like last season, no final words from our characters – all expression. Of course the primary expression is Michael, wearing Dean, strutting coolly down the street in a beautiful suit and cap, leaving viewers on an icy grin. Again though it was brief, Jensen transitioned so distinctly from Dean to Michael in everything from his carriage to walk to his eyes. This holds so much promise, what’s left to say but….bring on season fourteen.
For a finale episode, nearly nothing was resolved: The Apocalypse World remains a problem. Michael is now strutting around wearing Dean – which sounds delightfully fun to watch. Jack is drained, though presumably will recharge. The angels are down to a handful – though maybe Michael will make more. The big win? Ding Dong, Lucifer is dead. So what will it all add up to? Can Dean evict Michael by revoking consent like we saw Sam do back when – or are archangels a different playbook (probably)?
Season thirteen was a strong season full of unity in our boys and driven by family and a return to strong core plot, even if it wasn’t resolved as thoroughly as it could have been. Let’s hope season fourteen continues the trend. We may not have many answers – but we certainly have a lot of potential and it was a hell of a rollercoaster ride to watch!
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[Some photos courtesy of HomeofTheNutty.com]