“So much for simple,” says Sam Winchester in the pre-titles sequence, over a backing track of Kansas – as is traditional for a Supernatural season finale – and if there’s one thing we know after thirteen years of being on the road with these boys, it’s that nothing is ever simple!
But this didn’t stop the brothers from hoping. After catching up the Apocalypse-worlders with a brief history of this version of Earth (global warming, The Shape of Water winning an Oscar, and a ‘damn fool eejit’ becoming president), Sam and Dean went on a routine werewolf hunt with Cas and Jack in tow – and what a team they made. Their combined skills made short work of the lupine Kardashian fans, and soon Sam was pondering a world free of monsters, while Dean planned their seaside retirement – complete with cocktails and matching Hawaiian shirts. It was a beautiful dream, but it wasn’t to last because Mary and Bobby had found a body in the woods. Poor Maggie had survived vampire attacks and inter-dimensional travel only to be beaten to death, and the finger of suspicion pointed at a hapless boy from a local store on whom Maggie had a crush. Jack, wracked with guilt and nightmares over the people he’d failed back on the other world, freaked out at the kid and Dean had to empty a couple of rounds into the nephilim to call him off.
Maggie’s death and the subsequent investigation made this episode feel like a run-of-the-mill mid-season episode, but of course it was just a diversion from the real problem about to hit the Winchesters. Jack’s failure to control his anger and sorrow hinted once again at the possibility that he might go supernova, and when Lucifer and Michael showed up, having replicated the rift spell on the alternate world, things went from bad to worse.
Lucifer found Jack, alone and full of self-loathing, and revealed that Sam had left him behind on purpose. Lucifer leveraged Jack’s outsider status to have another crack at father-son bonding, suggesting the archangel and the nephilim would never be accepted on Earth so they should take a tour of the cosmos together instead. He even resurrected Maggie as a gesture of good will before whisking young Jack away for a spot of stargazing.
Meanwhile, Michael showed up at the bunker and finally showed us what he’s made of. After an entire season of hearing about how powerful he is, it was good to finally see him cause some real damage. Sam praying to Jack and the boy returning to save his adopted family was a really sweet moment, and it was awesome that Jack got to use his powers for something as heroic as defeating Michael. There was something quite thrilling about him forcing Lucifer to show his true colours, perhaps because there is always a suggestion with Jack that he’s holding back. He’s always depicted as being afraid of his own strength, and there’s an underlying sense that he could explode any second. It was simultaneously heartbreaking and disturbing to see him literally hurting himself after he almost killed Nate, and it wasn’t surprising that he chose to sacrifice himself to save Sam, thwarting Lucifer’s plan to have them fight to the death. I always knew he was a good boy really.
The denouement of the episode took the form of a lovely call-back to Season 5, with Dean finally accepting his fate as Michael’s true vessel. With Michael weakened, and Lucifer having stolen some of Jack’s grace, Dean had to give his body over to the rogue angel in order to beat the devil. This provided us with one of the most GIF-able moments in Supernatural history, as Dean Winchester got his long-awaited wings. The epic battle between Michael and Lucifer was suitably nail-biting, and the FX may have been a little cheesy, but the aerial fighting gave me some nostalgic Lost Boys vibes.
After so many years, it’s hard to believe Lucifer is really, permanently dead, but it was still super emotional to see the brothers snatch a moment of jubilant relief before Dean was cruelly double-crossed. Of course, we all knew Michael wasn’t going to relinquish his perfect conduit after Lucifer was defeated, but it was still a blow to see Sam and Jack left bereft as the angel stole Dean away. I hope that the possession story-line isn’t resolved too quickly next season though, as Demon!Dean was, if only because Michael!Dean is such a natty dresser! I’m also looking forward to seeing Jensen Ackles do something new, and the lengths Sam will go to get his brother back. See you down the road, boys!
Final Grade: B-
+ The parallels drawn between the brothers and Jack helped to cement them as a family. Jack was just as haunted by his failings as the Winchesters, and just as willing to sacrifice himself.
+ This was an ambitious episode in terms of VFX and fight choreography. Finally we got to see angels being scary and badass again.
+ There were lots of incredibly cute moments sprinkled throughout the drama – Dean comforting Jack after his nightmare, Sam and Dan planning their retirement, and was that a hint of romance between Mary and Bobby I detected?
– Castiel had literally nothing to do this episode. His expression in the final scenes said it all really! I just hope Jack doesn’t get the same treatment now he’s had his grace stolen.
– The Maggie murder was a decent feint, but it made the first half pretty slow.
– While it was satisfying to see Luci get his comeuppance, he was a great antagonist and will be missed.
Extra Thought: There are basically no angels left now – and only one archangel, so presumably Heaven’s days are numbered?
What did you think? Were the good times rolling, or did we stall? Sound off in the comments, or over on Twitter!