Point of No Return, by Elle2
There is something so huge about a show's 100th episode that if not careful, it can go over the top. Supernatural successfully avoided that trap, so successfully that with all the hype, if the viewer is not in turn careful, it can be a letdown. If you were looking for a mind-blowing episode along the lines of Mystery Spot, On The Head of a Pin or Changing Channels, you might have been left saying - really? However, if you're looking for the true core of Supernatural to shine against the backdrop of angels, demons and the apocalypse, then you were left very, very satisfied.
I was very, very satisfied.
Eric Kripke has said all along, echoed by Sera Gamble and others, that this is a show about family, two brothers, their relationship, and all the rest is backdrop, window dressing as it were. Point of No Return brought all that into full focus, in an extremely satisfying way.
Humor was laying low this week, rightly so -- well except for Zachariah. Zachariah
owned the humor in this episode and Kurt Fuller was once again delicious in the role. Castiel proved once again he is a warrior, as he first stated back in Are You There, God; it's me, Dean Winchester. Bobby was the rock he's always been, from All Hell Breaks Loose to No Rest for the Wicked to Lucifer Rising; despite his agonies from Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Bobby is a rock.
Sam took command; something he's tried to do since we met him, Dead Man's Blood, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Hunted, Time is on My Side, On The Head of a Pin, Lucifer Rising, only this time he broke through. Dean, Dean went as dark as he's ever been, and he's been pretty dark, Cross Road Blues, All Hell Breaks Loose II, Fresh Blood, On the Head of a Pin, My Bloody Valentineâ€¦here he hit the bottom.
But for the love, anger, patience and determination of his friends who are also his family he'd still be down there.
I had several concerns that I'd hoped would be answered without violating things we already knew, or damaging the impact, regarding the reappearance of Adam and the possibility of him being a vessel. Supernatural delivered on all my concerns, and I'll admit I didn't see it coming until some during the episode. The set up was beautifully done and the awareness of the writers that they could be making a mistake was clearly stated by Sam "After everything now the angels have a plan B?" I love it when the writers state the obvious.
Plus, with a set up like that we get a delicious scene between Zach and Adam that I love for the subtly, snark and superb timing of both Kurt Fuller and Jake Abelâ€¦especially Abel's non-verbal response to Zachariah's comment of "How do you think I feel; I'm the one that's got to put up with the dumb slack-jawed look on your face."
Fuller gets the best lines in this episode; fitting as it's his last! I've got an article in the works just for you Kurt/Zach. With such a wonderful actor in such a juicy role, an article just for you alone is your reward [I'm sure Mr. Fuller is preparing his thank you speech.]
That article won't come until the - gulp - summer hellatus, we need something to keep us going.
Back to the episode.
I like that Adam wasn't all wide-eyed and eager to fit in. I like that Sam and Dean both saw that he didn't have the idyllic childhood they'd thought back in Jump The Shark. Both brothers in that episode acted out their jealousy towards Adam and what they'd assumed was him getting their father's love; Sam through diving in to train Adam and disabuse him of any notion of normalcy in his life, Dean through withdrawal and near hostility.
Both sides got a chance to see things through the lens of the other side and both learned something. Adam particularly had an excellent journey from mistrust and anger with Dean and Sam to suspicion of Zach upon reencountering him in his dream. Clearly Adam is/was a thinker and one to form his own judgments as he was not with the Winchesters very long yet soaked up enough to know that Zach didn't deserve his unwavering devotion.
Adam's reaction to Dean's arrival in the Green Room was emotionally fulfilling. "You came for me." The incredulity at that moment that his half brother would come for him, sacrifice for him was deeply emotional and real; it added a layer to this character making him real. I like that Supernatural invests so much into guest characters who may or may not return.
There are possibilities of Adam returning and I don't mind that possibility. I'm not in need of a third brother but the thought of him up in Supernatural's interpretation of heaven, hanging out with Ash, searching for John and his mom isn't such a bad mind game - remember, Hellatus, the true, lengthy, painful Hellatus is a mere four weeks away.[ducks]
I read a review a few days ago regarding Castiel and the somewhat lament that this character had degenerated into nothing more than comedic relief. While Castiel was the comedy in 99 Problems that had its purpose for the character; the straight-laced, uber-serious, can't-figure-out-his-cell-phone angel of God, devoted to what he sees as right, goes on a bender. He's so devastated from what he learned about his Father in Dark Side of the Moon that he finds a liquor store and drinks it. [Hah!]
Still, in 99 Problems he comes when the Winchesters call so all is not lost for Cas, although it can be argued that where else does he have to go but with the Winchesters; he's not only a man without a country, he's an angel without a heaven. He provides the necessary information in 99 Problems to solve the problem of the demons and when last seen he's suffering through the aftereffects of his bender and the Enochian chant laid on him.
In Point of No Return from the moment we see Cas it's clear he's on a new mission. There's no jokes, no despair over his loss, he's an angel on a mission and it's the mission as set forth by Sam. Cas still has his compass, Dean must not give in to Michael anymore than Sam must give in to Lucifer.
Castiel is snarky, angry, determined and yet still gullible enough in the ways of men that he walks right into a trap laid by Dean; pays a painful price for doing so.
Castiel is clearly learning the power of words and inflection. Remember not so long ago in My Bloody Valentine Cas innocently stated "They're not incontinent", to Dean's comment about cupids and diapers. Here he shows that he's learned a thing or two about inflection and how to cause pain with words: "Maybe they wrongly assumed Dean would be brave enough to withstand them." Ouch, Cas, don't sugarcoat it or nothing.
To all who bemoan the friendship of Cas and Dean as disintegrating there are a few points to consider:
Cas has a right to be angry - and yet in the face of that anger, fear, loss and betrayal he finds something else - compassion. Cas is still new to dealing with emotions, like a child he has little control over them and so while Sam works to avoid hurting Dean Cas' anger emanates from him in waves, and fists.
Cas has thrown in his lot with the Winchesters completely and faith, betrayal, hope is as much a part of his journey as it is Sam's and Dean's. All have been betrayed, all have lost hope, all have lost faith and all are struggling to hold it together.
Yet, when faced with Dean's utter brokenness as he begged Cas to beat him to death Cas softens, he stops, he remembers his compassion. And once again, he sacrifices for Team Free Will.
He may not have the same faith in Dean that Sam has he clearly has unlimited faith in Sam. Remember the awkward meeting between Sam and Castiel in It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester? This is not the same relationship between the two, this shows that Castiel's declaration of friendship with Sam in Abandon All Hope was not grandstanding in the face of Lucifer; Sam is Castiel's friend and Cas is loyal.
The Core of the Show:
Family, brothers, love, loyalty all were on display this week.
Bobby is family. Bobby has been the one the boys have relied on since we first met him. Bobby's cleaned up messes, [Meg, "You think you boys invented lying?"]. He provided them a refuge to regroup after the events of In My Time Of Dying. He's the one they call when the case they're on has them so confused they don't know up from down, [Tall Tales]. Bobby comes through in all circumstances, whether it's Japanese spells or solutions to killing a siren; Bobby is the rock they have sought refuge in time and time again. He may have been down but he was not out after the events of Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. He could have let his zombie/wife kill him knowing the boys would kill her but he chose the right course of action and through doing so affirmed that he would see this fight through.
Here it is Bobby's love, laced in anger that reaches out to Dean to shake him from the depths of his defeat. It's not the first time we've seen Bobby angry at Dean, All Breaks Loose II, No Rest for the Wicked, Lucifer Rising, but it's the most profound as he reminds Dean that Dean begged him not to ever think himself so worthless as to give up as he and Sam needed him. Tables are turned here as Dean learns that that need is a two-way street; Bobby needs Dean and Sam as much as Dean and Sam need Bobby.
I understand Dean's actions, sad to say I understand them from experience. I've never faced the end of my life but I do know what it's like to know that there is a massive decision or a painful event looming that the only way to prepare yourself to handle it is to shove away everything and everyone that is important to you. Dean does just that. He runs away from Sam. He disowns Bobby. He disavows Sam. He taunts Castiel unrelentingly and then begs him to finish him. This is a way to ease the passage.
I've read a few comments out in the fandom this past week from people wondering how Dean is all of a sudden willing to say yes to Michael, that there has been no buildup to this and no reason for him to suddenly say yes. I have to wonder what they missed in Sam, Interrupted, The Song Remains the Same, My Bloody Valentine, Dark Side of the Moon and 99 Problems. Dean being worn down has been going on since Devil's Trap when Azazel first taunted him but his rapid-fire fall into the basement of despair, certainly coupled with PTSD from 40 years in hell, has been very visible all season, notably in the second half.
Also we must not forget that Dean has had this focus on himself and his own self-sacrifice since we've met him; no surprise that he's willing to sacrifice himself now.
Dean and Sam's relationship made a huge leap forward this week - one that I'm sure will have bumps along the way but what a necessary step.
Dean has always believed it was his job to take care of Sam and that it was a one-way street.
Dean: "I had to look out for you that's my job."
Sam: "And what do you think my job is?"
[All Hell Breaks Loose II]
Dean similarly has always been the one to fight for the family, his perception of family.
Dean: You and me and Dad "I mean, I want us - I want us to be together again. I want us to be a family."
Sam: "Dean, we are a family."
Dean has fought so long to protect a vision of family that died back in 1983 that he's lost sight of what is right in front of him; Sam by his side, Bobby backing their moves, always ready willing and able, despite recent events, to be there for them.
Back in Sam, Interrupted Dean asked at the end if Sam was with him and Sam said he was despite his fears. Sam faced those fears head on in My Bloody Valentine and came through victorious but Dean was so lost in his own pain and confusion he didn't see the victory right in front of him. Sam knew he was in trouble and reached out for help. Even when he was forced to take a course of action he didn't want he only went far enough to save himself and then save Dean and Castiel. I have no doubts that Sam willingly accompanied them to the panic room for demon detox, no subterfuge necessary this go around.
Dean missed that victorious moment for Sam and because of that his disillusionment and failing faith continued leading to more and more confusion between the brothers as Sam was not able to enjoy his victory and claim the strength that such an event should give him, fortitude for a greater battle coming; saying no to Lucifer. Sam has been steadfast in his refusal to say yes to Lucifer despite his fears and now in the face of near defeat he's victorious and he has no one with which to celebrate because they are quickly (especially if these were aired in order) sent on an out-of-body experience, if you will, to heaven where Dean's destruction is complete.
In heaven Dean is allowed to see his role of big brother and young boy protector and to remember that his whole life, even in the cocoon of safety of a mother's hug, was to clean up messes, bring others joy. We learned that there was never a time that Dean simply was Dean; and these were Dean's supposed happy memories. Along with that Dean witnesses Sam's happy memories, family, freedom, future and yet to Dean, instead of seeing the ache that was inside Sam's memories all he sees is that he, Dean, is no where represented.
Dean's misery finally breaks loose and he gives up on everything, God won't help, Sam doesn't want him, there is no hope. The final straw was watching the townsfolk facing down the end of the world with stubborn determination and Dean likely realizes that there's nothing else to do but face the battle head on, time to say yes; after all, he was only saying no to be there for Sam and now that he sees that Sam has no place in his memories for him and thus by Dean's reckoning his future, he might as well be done with it all. Bring on Michael
I love self-assured Sam. I love that Sam knew exactly what to do each step of the way. He found Dean, an act that Dean was positively astounded that Sam could pull off. See, Dean, Sam does know you and not just your taste in movies [Porky's II] either. Nice reminder that it's not just Dean who can track.
Sam was not in the least thrown by the angels and their Plan B. Sam is the one who worked with Adam to convince Adam to try to wait and let them work out a strategy. Sam only faltered briefly when Dean confessed to a lack of faith in him but he regained his footing once Dean had fled the panic room and took command by all but ordering Bobby to keep Adam safe. Sam has a quiet command about him in that last conversation in the panic room with Dean. He's made up his mind and he has no doubts. I like this Sam who knows what he's going to do and not going to be deterred.
Sam's interactions with Adam were excellent. He tried pleading, he tried familial bonding, even John bashing. I found it interesting that Sam alternately defended and bashed John in a single scene. Sam was the one defending John's treatment of Adam, a role Dean held exclusively in Season 1, and then in the next moment he reverted back to his role of escape from Dad, as recently seen through his happy memories in Dark Side of the Moon.
Sam showed Dean and us [well, we already knew] that together the Winchesters are forceful. Ash is right, they're soul mates. Zachariah may call them co-dependent [and some other delightful adjectives] but he too is correct, Sam and Dean alone are vulnerable, together I'm banking on unstoppable.
Because you're still my big brother:
Perhaps the single best summation of all that occurred in this episode is in that simple statement.
Dean received the greatest gift possible in Point of No Return, faith. Not faith in himself or faith in God or faith in other people but through Sam's faith in him. I don't think Dean has ever realized how much Sam trusts him, how much his father trusted him. Think about it, John entrusted Dean with a massive charge from childhood - take care of your brother. That's huge and John trusted Dean to do it. So much so that John couldn't fathom his ten-year-old son ever disobeying an order and putting little Sammy in trouble [Something Wicked] which is likely why John was so harsh after. Further, we know how much John trusted Dean because he told Dean that he'd either have to save Sam or kill him. That's a terrible thing to say to your child but no doubt John knew that Dean would do what was necessary should push come to shove.
Dean has been so used to being the one in the protective role and setting himself up for impossible hopes and thus crushing defeats that his focus was totally unfocused. Joshua was smack on the nose in his assessment that Dean was losing faith in himself, in Sam and in God; in fact, he'd lost faith. So for Sam to show Dean such unwavering faith in him as to take him into the Green Room to rescue Adam it was absolutely the bolster Dean needed to shake him out of his self-imposed torture. Dean had said yes, but once again the bond between the brothers is intense and seeing Sam horrified that Dean had let him down, something Sam didn't believe was possible, did what no smackdown from Castiel or revelation from Bobby could do, it gave him his fighting spirit back. That slight glance and then the roguish wink said more than words could. Dean was back.
Dean's apology to Sam was more confession and unburdening of the weight he'd been forcing himself to carry than it was apology. I predict a newer, lighter Dean in the future as he comes to recognize he has a partner in the fight which even better is his brother; now they're equals. They were always equals physically but until mentally and emotionally it's recognized it's tough to act it out in the physical
I love the little touches along the way by each actor. Kurt Fuller's near solo performance in the beginning opened the episode hilariously. It's the little nuances that provide so much characterization, I especially like how he picked up the broken glass, held the chunk in his hand so daintily and downed the remaining contents.
Sam's multi-layered comment to Adam in Bobby's kitchen "I can't change the past. I wish I could." Oh, yes, Sam, we know just how many things you'd like to change; Jessica's death, Ruby, likely Mary's deal, John's deal, Dean's deal - shall I continue? Nah, we know it all. It's a weighty comment.
The brothers now have angel killing swords. I usually try to stay away from comments if I'm going to write an article reviewing an episode. I managed to avoid that until my article was 90% written but I did find a couple of comments questioning Dean's ability to kill an angel. True it was Uriel who stated that only an angel can kill another angel but then he pulled out a shiny sword and attempted to kill Castiel. So perhaps the message was that only angels can kill angels because only angels have these angel killing weapons - until now. It's ambiguous enough that I'm okay that Dean and Sam have the potential to kill angels, after all, they now have the weapons.
And just what about Dean's eyes and his ability to watch Zachariah's death. Hmm, good question. Was the focus on Dean's eyes to tell us something about Dean? I'm going to say no. I'm going to say that it was the effects department giving us a really cool shot rather than an attempt to say that Dean is immune to angel killing light. I have some evidence to support my theory. Remember The Rapture, Castiel is leaving Jimmy's daughter's body and hopping back into Jimmy's; neither Jimmy or the daughter were injured by the bright light. Of course that can equally be refuted by Anna's orders to "shield your eyes" back in Heaven and Hell but then she exploded out of the earthly realm taking Alastair with her so it was definitely more violent than Zach's death. Similarly the brothers were not affected in Sympathy for the Devil when Castiel rescued them in John's storage facility by killing two angels.
So there is plenty of room for support to either point of view. I'm just choosing to say that we know Dean does not hear angels in their angelic embodiment and that he did not fully give consent to Michael because Michael did not make him his muppet. Also, Supernatural tends to be a bit more subtle unless it's out and out making fun of itself and then it's on the nose so I'm going to stick to my theory that it was a cool effect shot and nothing more. I'll get back to you in four weeks if I need to eat my words - how do I do that since I've never actually put these on paper?
Another set of words I may or may not eat are as follows: I believe the amulet is gone, forever. At first while watching the episode I was certain Sam would pull it out during that end scene and hand it over to Dean. Then I absorbed the fact that he didn't and wondered, at first with sorrow and then I realized that it no longer matters. Sure it has been a physical symbol around Dean's neck for four years, and a little extra, but the brothers' relationship has now headed to a place where a physical reminder is no longer needed. They now emotionally and mentally know that they are there for each other and both affirmed their faith in the other during that last scene. The amulet is no longer necessary.
Of course, should the amulet reappear, I'll be quite ecstatic but I won't pine for it, the bond is there with or without it.
Despite Jeremy Carver joining the dubious society of writers who have penned an episode without the Impala - no, BuddyTV, the vehicle the boys were in at the end of the episode was not the Impala, no engine rumble, and just look at the back window, that's the window of a pickup truck - he has penned an A+ episode. Jeremy Carver remains a consistent writer of the depth of the brothers' relationship and he only added to his credentials here. With the likes of A Very Supernatural Christmas, Mystery Spot and now Point of No Return Jeremy excels in bringing the brotherly dynamic to soaring heights.
I believe Alice hinted that perhaps we won't see much, if any, of Mr. Carver in the sixth season as he has a new gig. I hope that's not the case.
I could write more of this wonderful episode but I'm more interested at this point in reading what others have to say, either in the comments or in the other reviews that are to come.
Thanks for reading.