Wow. What an incredible end to an amazing season. Ever since I knew for sure we were going to see Chuck in the season finale, I knew something crazy was going to go down. However, the writers took my expectations and turned them on me so fast, I had a little whiplash. Every character showed themselves in a way that made me realize that all of them, no matter how important or not, has developed and learned.
Let’s start with Sam. First, Jared Padalecki is a monster (and by monster, I mean an amazing actor). He played Sam on a million different levels and in 43 minutes, he showed me several sides of Sam in all of their emotional, painful, and sometimes hilarious glory. Before we get to deep stuff, let’s talk about Celine Dion - the thing none of us saw coming, but which added so much levity to an episode that sorely needed it. I just am so happy that Dabb thought to include that nugget, knowing the pain he was going to put us through later.
Speaking of pain, Sam’s arc throughout this episode is incredibly affecting for me. I found it really interesting that they put Sam in this predicament of being between Dean and Cas on the issue of Jack. While both Dean and Cas have improved in their ability to see shades of grey, I still believe that both of them see the world mostly in black and white. Sam, on the other hand, has this incredible ability to see the totality of the situation, while still being able to acknowledge his emotions and feelings. His line to Dean about still being pissed at Jack, helps to illuminate his ability to feel what he feels, but realize that he needs to have a 30,000-foot view before he makes his choice.
The other thing that I find so affecting about Sam is his evolution of faith. In the very beginning of Supernatural, Sam was the one with faith. We’ve seen him come and go on that, but since meeting Chuck at the end of Season 11, I feel that Sam has been pretty strong in his faith. It might not have been in Chuck himself, but he believes in Jack and, as we saw in "Prophet and Loss", he still believes heavily in Dean. In all of Sam’s interactions with Chuck, until their conversation in the bunker, before the graveyard, we see Sam still having some reverence for Chuck. I’m not going to call it respect, but I think Sam realizes the power this being holds and knows not to really push the buttons. Then, after his conversation with Dean, Sam has a conversation with Chuck, in which Chuck says some really interesting things, which makes Sam realize that this phenomenal cosmic being doesn’t really care. The final nail in the coffin is the cemetery, when Chuck actually wants Dean to kill Jack, all for some idea of poetic justice and storytelling. We see Sam break in terms of his ability to have faith in a cosmic being like Chuck. Sure, he has faith in his brother more than anyone else, but Sam’s faith in a being watching over them has been shattered to dust. I’m intrigued to see where we’ll see Sam go with that revelation in Season 15.
Dean Winchester fascinates me. As with Sam, his arc over this 43-minute episode is shocking and awe-inducing. When we see Chuck first appear in that office, you can see Dean’s fight with himself on how to react. Sure, he’s surprised that Chuck is there, but there is a part of him that just wants to lay into Chuck. That’s the part that wins and we see Dean asking Chuck where the hell he’s been. Chuck pulls out a guitar and before he can even strum a note, Dean has ripped the instrument from his hand, smashes it, and demands he answer the damn question. Dean is unique in the fact that while his faith has evolved over the seasons, he’s never had faith in a “G-d” type. Sure, he has faith in Cas, Sam, and others, but only after they’ve proven to be worthy of that faith. His line last season to Sam after they got the blood of a saint, “I have faith,” was a marker in that he was willing to put his belief into something that he couldn’t see. No, he didn’t have faith in Chuck, but he had faith in something.
In this episode, we see Dean coming to the realization, again, that maybe there isn’t anything out there in which to have faith. Maybe it’s inevitable that everything will crumble for him. He clearly doesn’t want to kill Jack, but he doesn’t see any other way. He can’t stand the idea of something going wrong because of something that could have been prevented by him. He doesn’t want to have any should’s, would’s, or could’s about the whole situation. But in the heat of the moment, when he has the hammer cocked on the gun, knowing that this is his final moment, with Jack kneeling in front of him, knowing he’s done wrong, Dean pauses, and doesn’t shoot. He pulls the gun away. Then, we get another amazing character moment when Chuck offers to bring Mary back and Dean not only refuses the offer, but says that she wouldn’t have wanted that. I’m fascinated because if it were Sam on the other end of that offer, he would have made the deal in a heartbeat (in my opinion). He refuses and then he stands up to Chuck without a thought as to how this might affect his world. I am constantly impressed with Dean’s bravery.
Rob Benedict is an incredible actor. For the majority of the episode, I felt like he was being Chuck. Just quirky, goofy, happens to be G-d, Chuck. But then, slowly, over the course of his conversation with Sam in the bunker and the graveyard, we see a flip in Chuck. He becomes not just the weird author who happened to be G-d, but a capricious, punishing figure. His actions make it known that in Sam and Dean’s world, G-d could give two craps about Sam and Dean as actual people. All Chuck cares about is the idea that Sam and Dean are doing what is right for the story. When Dean breaks from the script, that is the first time we see Chuck really lose it. We see his anger at other points in his appearances, but this is the first time it’s a desperate sort of anger. An anger that is fueled by things not going exactly according to plan. Which is to say that everything up to this point has been close enough to plan that there wasn’t a need to intervene. Dean not killing Jack is the thing that sets Chuck off when it comes to his story not being fulfilled.
It kind of feels like one big ret-con of the whole story, because it takes away a lot of the seemingly “free will” choices that Sam, Dean, and Castiel made. It takes away the idea that they ripped up the script on the apocalypse, because that might have been what Chuck wanted. It brings every choice under review, causing the Winchesters to doubt themselves with an intensity heretofore unseen. Sure, the Winchesters have had doubts before, but with the admission that Chuck watches them for entertainment and he doesn’t really care about them at all, it makes all of the Winchesters wonder if any choices they made were theirs or someone else’s.
I’m FASCINATED by Jack. His arc over this season has been fascinating to watch and I think this episode provided a nice wrap up to this arc, with a tease at what is coming in the next year. I found the scene where he made everyone stop lying interesting, because it made me realize how innocent and naive Jack still is about the world. The situations in which he sees lying occur are all bad situations. A break up, a divorce, and other situations where lying can be seen as bad. So, Jack thinks, no lying, better world. But again, we see that things aren’t that simple. It’s not that simple to just have everyone not lie.
While lying in most situations is bad, every now and then there might be a situation where lying is good. For example, in the case of a divorce. I’m not going to say that you should lie to your children about what a divorce means, but make sure that they understand what’s going on and that whatever the situation is, they’re loved. If that means making something up to reassure them, I don’t see how that’s a problem. Jack, like Dean and Cas, sees the world in only black and white, missing the shades of grey in the middle. He see’s lying as bad, so he tells everyone to stop lying.
I also loved the scene between he and Cas in the graveyard. I was reminded slightly of Soulless Sam, in the idea that Jack has knowledge of the things he should be feeling, but just doesn’t feel them. He knows things, but without his soul, he can’t act on that knowledge when it comes to his emotions. His appearance in The Empty with the being and Billie made me really excited to see where we’re going to see Jack next season. Like I mentioned in the beginning, I had an expectation that Jack was going to die in this episode, but what I did not see coming was the reveal of The Empty and Billie.
Such begins the beginning of the end. I’m intrigued to see where the show will take us in its final season after a finale like that. Once more unto the breach, dear friends! Welcome to Hellatus.
What did you think of each of the character's actions - growth or retcon? Comment below!