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Thanks so much elle for submitting another great review.  She's one up on me, since I've been going through family induced writer's block for three days.  Enjoy!

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Thoughts on the "The End"
The Recap
How nice was it to see John? I had to smile just at hearing his voice - glad to have him present in an episode, whatever the form. So far, we've had two episodes of four that have reached all the way back to season one for THEN - and as we've now had Meg, Jess and the Colt, it will be interesting to see how much more of the shows foundation bleeds through into this season and if other old friends (and foes) make a return appearance. 

The Phone Call
More than a few things about the telephone exchange between the boys were salient. First and foremost, that Sam, in a complete 180 from last season, spilled to Dean everything that Lucifer had told him pretty much right away. And he didn't need to. Despite this, the dynamic between them is clearly off, they are out of sync. Dean needed a beer to get through this conversation, never mind that it's 4 a.m. and he's just woken up. Last week, Dean drank during the tete-a-tete with Raphael, much like what we saw in season four as he tried to suppress the Hell ordeal that plagued him.  The drinking is always an indicator that Dean's not in a good place. "I guess I'm a little numb to the earth shattering revelations at this point." Numb is probably an apt descriptor for what Dean is right now, without Sammy and a vocation as "˜an angel condom' that will leave him vegetabled. 
 
What struck me most was that Dean's speech to Sam and the evidence he offered for "picking a hemisphere" wasn't entirely irrational. This isn't to say that the boys should stay apart, or that they're better that way, but rather it demonstrated that Dean has thought this through before now. He's identified in the past that the brothers are each other's weak spots and now, add in the Heaven/Hell component, the idea that they stay apart makes sense. Dean is time and again driven by his emotional yearning to unite the family or keep the unit together. But not in this instance. It was a moment of character growth and some demonstrable maturity that was in line with his decision not to go after Sam in "Good God, Ya'll" "“ Dean has changed.
 
Both boys were noticeably distressed by the conversation. Dean was upset by what he felt he had to do, stay away from Sam possibly forever, and my heart went out as the call ended and the anguish settled onto his face. Sam, more than usual, has me wanting to give him a giant hug and some Hagen Daaz all the time now, but especially when he and Dean 'broke up' again. With regard to Sam's quest for redemption "“ Sam's fire has been reignited since last week when we saw his fraught attempt to escape the life. Now, he is ready to face it down and fight like hell to come out on top.  

The Tragedy
                "Baby, no...Oh no. Baby, what'd they do to you?" Yup, that about sums it up doesn't it?

The Doppelgangers 

                Jensen outdid himself in this one. In every scene featuring dual Deans, it was two completely different men on the screen. Future Dean was a complete transformation, from the deeper, gravelly voice, to the way he moved - the portrayal of a war hardened Dean was marvellously done. Gone was the humour and caustic wit and in its place was pure survival and mission fulfillment. Evidenced by the disregard of the Impala (which was very difficult to watch!) and the cold shooting of one of his men, Dean!2014 is a damaged man. Dean 09 was absolutely disgusted with what he had become someone willing to sacrifice his friends (and Cas!), people who had put their trust into him. "Broken" was the word he used and I fully believe that "inhuman" was on the tip of his tongue.

The Disease
Okay, I have to admit that I was one of the people who didn't really notice the Croaton storyline had been left hanging. Nothing came of it back in season two, yes, but I didn't dwell on it either. That said, I was expecting more of a payoff given the fact that we were revisiting this plot point all these years later. That's not to say it detracted from the episode, personally, because the "˜Croat' storyline was completely dwarfed by the emotionally charged rest of the episode, and since the episode was so remarkable, that's okay.

The Hippy
2014!Cas is so much more ostentatious than 2009!Cas and as fun as he was, I like our humanity-naive, puritan, breast-fearing Cas best. The orgy had me laughing, half because of the expression on Dean's face and half in light of the events of the Brothel Incident. It was a nice touch that Cas recognized instantly Dean to be an out of time Dean "“ I took this to mean he still had a modicum of "mojo" left from his angelic days. The five years has seen a role reversal in terms of camaraderie and ribbing. Cas was amused when future Dean was annoyed, though he was very loyal and largely unquestioning in following Dean, even though 2014!Dean was willing to use him as cannon fodder. The 'fearless leader' and "˜I like past you' was also quite amusing. Misha was very convincing has hippy-drugged out Castiel - probably happy to get a change of wardrobe and make-up, and to change is usual angel-eyes expression for one of hazed, easy amusement. Castiel is thoroughly enjoyed when I see him on my screen and I'm satisfied to see TPTB have discovered fresh ways to use him without compromising the integrity of the character or exhausting him.

The Golden Toilet Paper
                This episode was light on humour, but what it did have was quite droll. First, the continuing adventures of Cas and his cell. How great was the seriousness in his tone as he panicked to Dean about "˜the voice' saying he was running out of time. Equally comical to me was the suspicious expression on his face when Cas pondered 'what things?' Dean, in his humanness, needed. In addition to Cas in this episode, we had the return of the prophet. Chuck is easily one of my preferred recurring characters (after Bobby, of course). He doesn't try to be funny, but as a victim of circumstance Chuck is an endless source of enjoyment.


The Devil
This scene is one the best moments of the series - it was evocative, beautiful and tragic all at the same time. From the talent of Jensen and Jared to the dialogue to the set and filming itself, this is the reason Supernatural is my must-see TV.
 
Right off the bat the acting was incredible in this episode. I think "The End" is one of those take-it-to-a-new-level instalments in the series. Jared's performance as Lucifer was exceptional "“ there is no word that adequately encompasses how incredible he was in this incarnation.

      Sam has puppy dog eyes and a shy smile, when he's upset his face crumbles and his eyes are sad, wide and glittering. He doesn't completely stand to full height and he has a thoughtful gait. Lucifer is none of these things. The eyes were nearly flat, holding some bemusement at Dean's obvious shock and pain. His speech pattern and intonation was in no way Sam Winchester, it was a solid even tone with the exception of describing his fall, in which his voice took on a controlled disgust and somewhat richer tenor. Faux curiosity and patronization was seen as he fought to keep down a grin (in no way shy, more sadistic) as Dean called him out for the snake he is. Sure and confident movements, down to his gaze. Even when Sam was on demon blood and powerful, he was zealous and passionate where Lucifer is none of these things, despite the size of his ego and range of power. Jared so clearly wasn't Sam in this sharp white suit and neutral, matter-of-fact air. The expressions on his face were transformative "“ wholly capturing the subtly that has been imbued in the character of Lucifer. Lucifer's matter of fact delivery regarding how this will end up the certainty with which he speaks is crisp even as it achieves a whole new level of arrogance. The moment where Lucifer touches the rose and pontificates on the earth's beauty (even though he's evil) was very moving "“ the aesthetics of this moment where visual poetry: the grizzly background of the asylum and the grainy, grey-green forest along with the deep, rich red rose and the white suit was quite beautiful cinematography.
 
The raw pain in Jensen's voice and the emotions that played across his face in this five minute encounter were crushing. Dean's devastation and desperate sadness were palpable and despite this, he still gathered his courage and choked down his anguish: "You're not fooling me you know that, with this sympathy for the devil crap. I know what you are"¦you're the same thing only bigger; the same brand of cockroach I've been squashing my whole life. An ugly, evil, belly-to-the-ground, supernatural piece of crap. The only difference between them and you is the size of your ego."  This was very powerful and there is no other word for it. My heart broke at the absolute desolation of Dean's face as Lucifer assured him this was the only end there ever could be: "Whatever choices you make, whatever details you alter, we will always end up, here. I win. So I win." Simple, effective and foreboding. 
 
Since I could go on about this scene for a very long time, allow me to bottom-line it: phenomenal, all around.

The Rescue

      Okay, I had a moment where I thought Dean was going to say "˜yes' to Zach this time and I was panicking, frantically (and spastically) yelling "˜NO, NO, NO' at the TV. Only after he said "˜nah' could I breathe again.

     Many pondered and I'm inclined to agree that Zachariah added some spin to this future universe. Dean himself suspected this was the case, but that doesn't mean he didn't learn a lesson from the experience in the future, though not the intended lesson. What I believe got through loud and clear was that Sam and Dean are the balance in one another's life and that consequences do have actions "“ without his brother to balance him, Dean becomes as obsessed with killing Lucifer as Sam was about Lilith and it costs him his humanity. The realization of what his future self is recalled events of "Jump The Shark" in that Dean finally understood how obsessed his father was and then Sam with revenge. Without Sam, future Dean returned to torturing and didn't blink at the idea of sacrificing his friends, as long as the mission was completed.
Big kudos to Cas for poofing Dean to safety. Always glad to see Zach get screwed - and to have Cas be the one to do it was even sweeter. I thought Dean was going to hug Cas when he told him never to change. Cas' half smile and "we had an appointment" was charming. Though the interaction here was short, it was a nice one. There was simple affection between the angel and his charge.

The Reunion
It was brief, it was awkward and it felt just right. Dean apologized and welcomed Sam back into the fold tentatively, but whole-heartedly.  His words were earnest and his speech was just what Sam needed. I think it was Dean's own way of forgiving Sam, too. Jared didn't say much, verbally, with this one but boy, did his face do the talking - the soul-eyed, tearful gaze had me sniffling. The future (touched up by Zach or not) scared Dean a lot. If nothing else, it gave him an extreme view of how things might play out and let him see exactly what he didn't want to happen. Future Dean without his brother was cold and broken and Sam surrendered himself to Lucifer's control because Dean wasn't there. The simple act of staying together, of being brothers, is most essential to winning, which Dean realized: "I just know we're all we've got. More than that, we keep each other human."

The End

               
So, our boys are back together, even if it is coloured with uncertainty about the journey ahead. From the nature of the reunion, I think we're headed towards a cautious re-emergence of brotherly bond as it once was and I look forward to Sam and Dean learning to trust one another and work side-by-side as equals again. This episode has become one of my favourite Supernatural instalments, easily; everything about it was exceptional.
 

Comments  

Bevie
# Bevie 2009-10-04 17:00
Awesome review Elle! Agree with all of it.

Love your last paragraph and also looking forward to next episode as some relief from the doom and angst.

This show affects me way more than it should. Never before have I been so involved with fictional characters. Love the boys like they were my own close family. Maybe I need help LOL!
Maithreyi
# Maithreyi 2009-10-04 17:13
Lovely review.

Said it in one: exceptional. Indeed.

Also, "Then He created... you. The 'hairless apes'." might be one of the creepiest lines EVER. Something about the way it was delivered scared me like "Supernatural" hasn't in a very long time.
Narcissus
# Narcissus 2009-10-05 03:32
Great review, Elle :-) Bevie, I agree with you. I think we're all somewhat not right in the head, but Supernatural just has that effect. I put the blame squarely on Mr. Kripke. :mrgreen:

After rewatching the ep, two things struck me first. One, Future!Dean isn't wearing the necklace. Two, Future!Bobby is still wheelchair-boun d. I sincerely hope that these two things will change.

About the phone call, I can't believe Dean pulled a John on Sam. Remember how determined John was that it was safer for the boys to be as far away as possible from him? Indeed, round and round the Winchesters go.

On top of that, did anyone notice a parallel between Lucifer and season 1 Sam (besides the puppy eyes of doom, of course)? Despite how much Sam loves his father, Sam insists on thinking for himself and not obeying blindly. And it's kinda the same deal with Lucifer isn't it?

And what is the deal with that whole scene where Present!Dean was teasing Future!Dean about Reesa and Jane and whatever it is. Was it teasing? Was it taking him to task for lying to the girl? It was funny, but I didn't really get it.

Oh and yeah, I agree with all of you that there's a big chance Zach edited the future a bit. But doesn't the poor angel know yet, just how bloody stubborn these boys are? Hahaha ;-) Hippie!Cas...as much as I love him, I prefer Cas with a stick any day. The "almost out of minutes" line was precious..with the shot of him standing desolately out in the middle of nowhere like that..perfect. And Chuck..I love him too, but I just wish his future version was slightly more tough.

I'm not even going to say anything about the Dean-Samifer scene. It's was an all time best and it should sit nicely on a big shiny pedestal. It's was pure brilliance.

I LOVE THIS SHOW TOO MUCH. DAMN YOU, KRIPKE. ehem, sorry, I had to let that out.
Suze
# Suze 2009-10-05 04:48
Good one Elle, you summed it all up nicely ...

I think Zach has definitely been diddling with the shape of things to come ... The future's not set, it's fractal ... Any change now will change the outcome. Hardcore Future Dean hadn't spoken to Sam for 5 years, so that's a difference, right there. I simply couldn't see Dean falling for it but I was holding my breath and crossing my fingers when it came to the crunch!

Dean V's Samifer was fab and full of creepy goodness ... The only thing is ( and I know this is massively shallow ) everyone else is obviously getting bucketloads of sauve and sinister vibes from the persil-white ensemble whereas I'm getting cheesy 70's disco with a dash of Ealing comedy and a side order of wine-waiter. I suspect I'm the only one who has credibility problems regarding baddies in white slip-ons so I shall shut up about it from now on or Alice will ban me for repitition :lol:

I loved Stoner Future Caz and the Ever Hapless Chuck and the end was absolutely perfect ... Awkward, nervous, hesitant and fabulous. A lesser show would have had manly hugs and speechyfying and a fraction of the emotional impact. That said, like everyone else I'm a bit frazzled with all the full-on angst and I'm rather looking forward to a bit of goofy fun with Paris Hilton next week ( that's something I never thought I'd say! ) With luck she'll die horribly which would be jolly ... :D
trina
# trina 2009-10-05 09:40
Great review Elle. I love reading other people's thoughts. I agree with whoever said the hairless apes line was AMAZING. The pause before the word "you" pretty much gave away Lucifer's true feelings about humans. All the platitiudes and words of sympathy were completely shown to be false. Brillant.