How does one put into words SPNFamily’s reaction to Supernatural’s milestone 300th episode, “Lebanon”?
It was perfect. Maybe we start there.
Nearly 24 hours later, I am still overwhelmed with pride and love for this show and its cast. “Lebanon” was an emotional tribute to the core theme of the show – family. Family has been the unwavering source of Sam and Dean’s courage to endure every impossible day of their lives. Celebrating this underlying emotional bond as the 300th hour of their story was inspired. It gave the four Winchesters the miraculous reunion they deserved after 12 years of separation (36 years for John and Mary), and it pulled in the Supernatural family viewers for a cathartic reconciliation so many desired, not only for Sam and Dean, but for themselves. Tears flowed freely from the cast and their extended family. The acting was superb, but the true power of the episode was that the emotions they (and we) felt were very, very real.
John Winchester’s pride in his sons came from Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s pride in Jared and Jensen as the boys who grew into men and became the backbone of one of the most loved and successful television shows of all time. Both in the story and on the set he was the experienced dad and mentor, guiding two headstrong, young kids into the path that would become their lives. Their all too brief time together changed the trajectory of Jeffrey’s life as well, as Jensen later introduced Jeff to the actress who would become his wife, Hilarie Burton. Jeff’s tears of pride and gratitude were very real.
Every nuance of his portrayal of John Winchester made the time since we saw him last melt away. The crack in John’s tough facade when he first heard his wife’s voice was an incredibly powerful moment. His subtle break betrayed the flood of emotion he felt at hearing the soul mate he lost and dedicated his life to avenging.
The other unexpected, emotional sucker punch, and the most memorable line from John for me, was him accepting his death to save his wife.
I mean, me versus your mom? That's not even a choice.
A man who would die without hesitation or regret for his family? A man who smiles because it is his honor to die to save the love of his life?
We saw Sam and Dean’s inspiration in that moment, the best of the dad and husband they all loved, and the best any man can be, regardless of his failings. I was mesmerized by JDM’s every look, word, breath and move...
until his final goodbye.
Such a talent, and such a gift to this show.
Jensen’s quiet tears brimmed with the emotions of an eldest son whose greatest desire wasn’t to be freed of a horrific burden, nor to have a quick fix to the world-ending responsibility he is shouldering, but instead to just have “one dinner” with his whole family, together, happy and safe.
Dean truly looked like the head of the family, even after John’s arrival. Dean had come to accept himself, his little brother and his troubled mom for who they all were.
And I'm good with who I am. I'm good with who you are. 'Cause our lives - they're ours.
I was so proud of Dean. He wasn’t afraid to let his father go. He wasn’t afraid to be the man of the family. He wasn’t afraid to show his tears, even if they were just as reserved and few as his fathers.
Jared and Samantha were the emotional conduits who really opened up the tear fest.
Jared was near sobbing twice, both when Sam and John finally had the chance to talk about their bitter last fight, then when Sam had to let his dad go once again. The way Jared had to look away when Sam was talking with his dad was exactly the way I act when confronted with emotions too powerful to let loose. I felt all that history of choked up emotions hit Sam. The scene was as real to me as if it was happening right in front of me between two of my own family members.
When Sam sloppily wiped away his tears during their goodbye hug, I saw Jared channeling real gratitude and a cascade of feelings that Sam had for his father, perhaps fueled by what Supernatural and the Supernatural family has meant to Jared.
I've thought about whether there was one line from Sam that particularly stood out to me. As of yet, there isn't. I think that's because Sam was the narrator of this story. He found the pearl lore in the ledger, then the pearl itself among the artifacts. He figured out then explained the temporal paradox. He knew how to fix the problem, then John asked his Sammy to pull the plug on their dream day. Sam forgave John after a long and meaningful reconciliation. I hung on every word Sam said, so nothing specifically seemed more important than anything else. I'll still listen for a standout quote, but as first (and second and third) impressions go, everything Sam said stuck with me.
Mary, and thus Samantha, was Sam/Jared's counterpart in the emotional composition of this family.
Mary listened to Sam explain that her time with her husband was over. While learning the harsh reality, Samantha held in the tension that was building inside, only momentarily cracking when the oven timer surprised her resolve. When she finally had to say goodbye, Samantha’s hitched breathing revealed the torrent of feelings that would have broken Mary, uttering to John her most powerful line in nothing more than a whisper,
“I hate this.”
I felt the edge of her precipice in myself, reliving the last time I had to say goodbye to a beloved family member. I could only let three words escape my lips then too, so the magnitude of her silence spoke volumes to me.
In losing John, she lost not only a spouse but that perfect life she once imagined; the life she recreated for herself in Heaven. Samantha had not been a large part of the show until the past 2 years, and had to play a Mary that was conflicted, aloof, ashamed and confused before just recently starting to reconcile with her boys. Yet in her tears I saw a wife who loved her husband completely and totally, and a woman who, for a moment, understood her place in the world.
Far less emotional, but Misha’s reprise of Castiel as a cold hearted, obedient soldier truly took us back to our angel’s former life. It was as if time really did fold in upon itself, showing us a Castiel who was a fierce fighter but also a blind follower, doing things that he would now judge to be wrong.
My name is Castiel. I'm an angel of the Lord.
That was his moment, complete with unfurled wings and exploding lights, reminding us of Castiel’s introduction to Dean and Sam’s lives 10 long years ago.
It was fun to see Kurt Fuller as Zachariah again, but it was equally gratifying when Sam killed him again (sorry Kurt!)!
The story and acting in “Lebanon” combined to make it a true milestone of the series, regardless of its placement in the show’s history, but the episode was more than an emotional tug at the Winchesters’ and our heartstrings. The scenes in Lebanon and adjoining town (wherever that pawn shop was) were classic Supernatural.
At first, I couldn’t really appreciate their inclusion in the story. Having seen so many spoilers that teased John’s time with Sam, Dean and Mary, I was frustrated with wasting time on teenagers and killer clowns. In that regard, the spoilers truly changed my first experience with the episode. I was so anxious to see the Winchesters talk about their past, have a meal together, hug and be a family that I resented any scene that wasn’t about them.
To some extent, that can be said of any week’s episode. I watch the show for scenes with Sam and Dean, or when Castiel, Mary or Jack are interacting with Sam and Dean. Anything without them is only necessary context that I understand gives Jared and Jensen the time they need to have real lives. In this case, though, fans had been told for weeks that the scenes with the boys were going to be epic, so expectations were overflowing, and patience was strained.
To everyone’s credit, the “context” scenes were also an homage to the 299 episodes before them. They were filled with Easter Eggs, from the props, to the guest actors, to the boys’ history. Dean was still a ladies’ man, Sam had no luck at all with the ladies (whether it be alternate time line Jessica or real time line postal workers), Dean was on another wanted poster, and Sam became a successful lawyer who loved salad more than family. Our beloved bar monkey was abandoned and up for adoption in a pawn shop, Family Business Beer was proudly sold in the liquor store (see my “Nihilism” Easter Egg Hunt if you didn’t catch these fan favorites), the All Saints Day movie was coming to the local theater, and the boys had taken their name from their mother’s side of the family, known in town as the Campbell brothers. Sam got to hunt a ghost that was both serial killer and clown, Dean nearly lost it when he lost his Baby, John took a roadside nap in the original version of the Impala, and classic Castiel didn’t understand pop culture references, some of which happened to be from one of the series’ inspirations, Star Wars. I’m sure there were many other callbacks that I didn’t yet catch but all that detail added to the episode’s bond with the show’s long-time fans.
Of course the pawn shop and the teenagers created a slew of loose ends. The dealer’s ledger with all kinds of new artifacts might be useful in stories for years to come. I for one really want to know what happens when you pull the string on that creepy teddy bear! I’m not sure what they did with the body of a dead human, though. I’d imagine pawn shops have security cameras of their patrons, and did “a ton of occult objects” fit into just a few boxes that they loaded into the back of their car in broad daylight? Pretty sure the local teens aren’t going to keep “our secret” either. Are all these things going to come up later? The episode just didn’t have enough time to neatly close out a case and be an emotional touchstone of the series. I guess that was part of my impatience. Enough with the normal! Let’s get to the good stuff! Who knows, maybe someday the “loose ends” will be just as important as the family reunion! The teens did give us a great line:
...their weird sidekick with the trench coat. And what about that kid with the dumb Bambi look on his face all the time?
That and Sam getting to torch a clown might have been worth putting up with 17 minutes of set up!
The episode was also filled with Threads that my readers and I track each week – foreshadowing and subliminal clues of the season’s myth arc woven into the script. Time was an obvious theme, but there were also several pleas to “stop”, make choices, and contrasts between old and young. That analysis will have to wait for another day. Today is for basking in the feelings clearly intended to be felt from watching “Lebanon”.
So I'm not sure that "Lebanon" really was perfect, but it certainly felt perfect. I’ve watched the show three times already, each successive time resulting in more tears than the times before as I witness this family’s love.
Just as the cast was overwhelmed with emotions while filming their reunion and their 300th episode, I was overwhelmed with the union I feel with this show and these people - both real and imagined. They are a part of our lives, whether it be the very genuine individuals I’ve talked to and laughed with the past few years, or the fictional characters I watch each week.
Thank you Meredith and Andrew for writing “Lebanon”. Thank you Bob Singer for the skillful direction you have given this show since its beginning. Thank you crew for the talent you dedicate to your craft, and for creating a safe space for the actors to transform our lives with their laughter and tears. Thank you Jeffrey for returning to play John flawlessly. Thank you Samantha for the courage to jump back into such a revered and charged role as the boys' mother. Thank you Misha for enriching the show for the past 10 years as the boys' and our best friend. But mostly, thank you Jared and Jensen. I know I speak for many when I say that words can’t express how we feel about Sam, Dean or both of you. We have let you into our hearts, and you have honored that gift by being the very best in your profession, and the best people you can possibly be. Our hearts are full of emotion today. Know that we will cry both happy and sad tears by your sides for as long as you keep being Sam and Dean. Congratulations on 300. Here’s to many, many more.
- Nightsky and your SPNFamily
SPNFamily, what was your reaction to "Lebanon"?
Did you have a favorite quote or favorite lines in the ep?
What Easter Eggs have you found that I missed?
What did you think of the "hunt" piece of the story?
Please add your thoughts below!
You can read my Threads reviews for season 14, and all my other reviews, letters and articles since season 8, by going to my Writer Page!