Throughout Seasons 1 through 4, we've seen destiny go forward as planned by the angels and demons since the beginning of time. Sam and Dean are born into a marriage arranged by the angels themselves and tainted by a demon deal. Dean grows up as the good son - always doing what his father tells him to do. Sam grows up rebellious of dad and always searching for something else. He always feels like the freak - not only among normal people, but even within his own family. He feels as though he is angry all the time, and that there is something evil inside of him. Season 1. Dean goes to find Sam in order to rebuild his family again. To be together again. Season 2. Sam and Dean continue their mission of revenge on the yellow eyed demon, which succeeds but leads to the opening of the devil's gate and destiny taking it's course in Season 3 - first with Lilith being released from hell and killing Dean, unleashing Sam's desire for revenge (again) and also breaking Dean in hell so that he opens the first seal in Lucifer's cage. Season 4 concludes with revenge on Lilith, which breaks the last of the seals. All this is the destiny planned both by demons and angels and even though Dean tries, he cannot stop it.
All through the Seasons is Dean's underlying job - to take care of Sammy. Until the end of Season 1 (Dead Man's Blood), he is also the obedient first son, trusting dad to make the correct decisions. In reaction to dad's warning before his death, however, Dean vows that he will save Sam or die trying - and ends up selling his soul for Sam at the end of Season 2. Another way that he protects Sam is by taking on dad's role as "parent" to Sam. Telling Sam what and what not to do. We see this especially in Season 3 and 4 as Sam starts working with a demon Ruby to first save Dean's life and then in Season 4, to get revenge and stop Lilith from breaking the seals. Sam is obedient to Dean in Season 3 and defers to him, but Ruby gains a foothold on Sam while Dean is in Hell and Sam becomes addicted to the demon blood and it's power, finding justification for it and hiding the truth from Dean on his return. Dean tries to stop Sam when he does find out, but Sam rebels against Dean and makes the fatal mistake of opening the cage.
In Season 5, we find that Dean is at an all time low. Unable to stop Sam from opening the cage and unable to trust Sam to not go down the deep end and say yes to Lucifer. He begins to think that it would be better for him to say yes to Michael just to be ready in case Sam says yes to Lucifer. He begins to really believe his dad's words way back in Season 2. If you can't stop him, you may have to kill him. THIS is what John was talking about (OMG...I am so dense. Why didn't I realize that before?).
On the other hand, Sam has some major anger issues. He has a very hard time with the idea that demons have been manipulating his life all along. We also find that Lucifer is encouraging of this anger and this is going to be one of the ways that Lucifer would be able to control Sam.
If the brothers had gone their separate ways, these issues would have made them say yes and be controlled by Michael and Lucifer. This is the beauty of the parallel between Point of No Return and Swan Song. What Sam does for Dean, Dean does for Sam and this is how they are able to change destiny. It is not just Sam, it's not just Dean. It's them believing in and standing by each other until the end. This could not have happened unless there had been some serious growth on both sides. Sam, NOT being rebellious and going off on his own to try to do it his way after Bobby and Dean refuse to consider the idea. Dean realizing that it is not his place any more to LET Sam do anything. That he is an "over grown man" and can make his own decisions. The best thing he can do is back his play.
I especially empathized with Dean this rewatch due to recent happenings and also because I will one day have to grow up and let my kids go as well. I cried as Dean told Sam it was time for Dean himself to grow up and let Sam do what he thought he should do, and I cried as he went to be with him to the end. And, I tear up now just thinking about it.
OK, now that that is over, let's start at the beginning.
"Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas (plays during "The Road So Far" recap of events)
"Rock of Ages" by Def Leppard (plays when Dean enters Stull Cemetery; also played in 1.05 Bloody Mary and 1.08 Bugs)
In the recap, we end with Bobby's little lecture to Dean and Dean's thoughtful face.
We start the episode with Chuck's little monologue of how the story starts with John buying the Impala on Dean's advice (which comes first the chicken or the egg???)
And then we are with Sam sitting on the hood of the Impala in Bobby's yard, drinking a beer. Dean comes up and opens one of his own, and of course Sam realizes that Dean has something to say.
SAM: Dean? What's going on?
DEAN: I'm in.
SAM: In with...?
DEAN: The whole "up with Satan" thing. I'm on board.
SAM: You're gonna let me say yes?
DEAN: No. That's the thing. It's not on me to let you do anything. You're a grown -- well, overgrown -- man. If this is what you want, I'll back your play.
SAM: That's the last thing I thought you'd ever say.
DEAN: Might be. I'm not gonna lie to you, though. It goes against every fiber I got. I mean, truth is... You know, watching out for you... it's kinda been my job, you know? But more than that, it's... it's kinda who I am. You're not a kid anymore, Sam, and I can't keep treating you like one. Maybe I got to grow up a little, too. I don't know if we got a snowball's chance. But... But I do know that if anybody can do it... it's you.
SAM: Thank you.
I've pretty much said everything there is to be said about this little conversation but it is awfully significant considering all that has happened. The key is Dean recognizing that Sam is able to make his own decisions, and also that Dean needs to let go and believe that whatever lessons Dean wanted to teach Sam had been learned already. It is also a touching moment for Sam because this is what he had wanted from Dean all a long.
After that decision is made, everything goes pretty quickly. They get a few demons (courtesy of Bobby's info) and obtain their blood for Sam.
BOBBY: You okay?
DEAN: Not really. What do you got?
Of course Dean is not OK. He's told Sam he would back his play but as he said in the talk above, it goes against every fiber of his body.
BOBBY: Not much. These look like omens to you? [He hands DEAN a newspaper.] Cyclone in Florida, temperature drop in Detroit, wildfires in L.A.
DEAN: Wait. What about Detroit?
BOBBY: Temp's dropped about 20 degrees, but only in a five-block radius of downtown Motown.
DEAN: That's the one. Devil's in Detroit.
BOBBY: Really? As far as foreboding goes, it's a little light in the loafers. You sure?
DEAN: Yeah, I'm sure.
And Dean knows because he remembers that little speech by Lucifer in The End. "We will always end up, here." You can almost see it go through his head in the brief pause before he says he is sure. I've seen people suggest that the meeting between Lucifer and Dean has not happened yet, possibly because the dates are different. But Lucifer doesn't say anything about when. Only about where. In Detroit. Again, you all know how I feel about The End, time travel and that kind of thing. This little connection to the alternate future is just awesome.
We then have the scene between Sam and Dean in the car. (I'm just thinking how none of the scenes in this episode are "a scene." They are all "the scene" because every single scene is so important.)
Dean looks back and sees Cas sleeping -
DEAN: Aw. Ain't he a little angel?
SAM: Angels don't sleep.
DEAN: Sam, I got a bad feeling about this.
SAM: Well, you'd be nuts to have a good feeling about it.
DEAN: You know what I mean. Detroit. He always said he'd jump your bones in Detroit.
I imagine Dean thinking about that Cas back in The End. The one that was completely human, and the fact that Lucifer is in Detroit... and suddenly having a very bad feeling about it because how how much is coming true as he saw it there. Dean also notes that this might just be a trap - that Lucifer is ready for Sam. Sam says they can only hope that he doesn't know about the rings.
Then Sam goes on to remind Dean that if he falls into the cage with Lucifer, he's not coming back - which Dean of course realizes. But Sam goes on to say that Dean cannot try to get him back and Dean's like WHAT? NO WAY. I didn't sign up for that! Which is just so DEAN. Sure, he will back Sam's play but, he has every intention of figuring out a way to get Sam back because what kind of brother would just let his brother rot in the cage with Lucifer, an experience a thousand times worse than the hell that Dean experienced?
DEAN: You can't ask me to do this.
SAM: I'm sorry, Dean. You have to.
DEAN: So then what am I supposed to do?
SAM: You go find Lisa. You pray to god she's dumb enough to take you in, and you -- you have barbecues and go to football games. You go live some normal, apple-pie life, Dean. Promise me.
We know, of course, that Dean does try to get Sam back anyway, but he also keeps this promise to Sam to go find Lisa. And this little promise is so touching because Sam realizes from all those times - from as far back as Dream a Little Dream of Me and just recently their tour of heaven, that talk after Swap Meat and even the fact that Dean had visited Lisa on his farewell tour before he intended to say yes to Michael that Dean did have that fantasy of living a normal life with Lisa. And it breaks my heart. It's almost as good as them singing Dead or Alive at the end of Season 3.
Then the farewell scene as they arrive in Detroit and Sam and Dean get ready to confront Lucifer. First Bobby says his goodbyes.
BOBBY: I'll see ya around, kid.
SAM: See ya around.
SAM and BOBBY hug.
BOBBY: He gets in... You fight him tooth and nail, you understand? Keep swingin'. Don't give an inch.
SAM: Yes, sir.
Then that awkward moment with Cas...
SAM: Take care of these guys, okay?
CASTIEL: That's not possible.
SAM: Then humor me.
CASTIEL: Oh. I was supposed to lie. Uh... Sure. They'll be fine.
SAM: Just -- just stop... talking.
And then Sam telling Dean not to watch as he chugs the blood.
Sam not only seems determined but also powered up as he tells Dean he's ready to go. And Dean is looking after him with worry - maybe wondering how this blood will influence Sam when it comes time to fight for control over his body. I am pretty sure that the demon blood influenced Sam's temperament and made it harder for him to resist.
Then they go an announce themselves.
But while they do, we have another narration concerning the impala.
CHUCK: The Impala, of course, has all the things other cars have... and a few things they don't. But none of that stuff's important. This is the stuff that's important. The army man that Sam crammed in the ashtray - it's still stuck there. The Legos that Dean shoved into the vents -- to this day, heat comes on and they can hear 'em rattle. These are the things that make the car theirs -- really theirs. Even when Dean rebuilt her from the ground up, he made sure all these little things stayed, 'cause it's the blemishes that make her beautiful. The Devil doesn't know or care what kind of car the boys drive.
I want to think a little bit about why the impala helps Sam gain control later. I've heard people say that they didn't like how the impala was in the spotlight instead of Sam and Dean and I would have to argue that I don't think this is the case. The important stuff, as Chuck says, are the little things in the impala that make it theirs. The toy soldier and the lego and the carving of their names, which Dean left in the car when he rebuilt it. It is not the car itself, but the memory of their time together, a lot of which was spent in the impala. The important thing is that Lucifer does not realize the significance of these so he can't use it against Sam. The impala to him is nothing. Just something humans use for transport because they can't zap everywhere like him. It is free of influence and can be used to bring Sam back to the front.
When they are brought to Lucifer, Lucifer is being an artist and Dean is being snarky as usual.
LUCIFER: Sorry if it's a bit chilly. Most people think I burn hot. It's actually quite the opposite.
DEAN: Well, I'll alert the media.
Then they find out to their horror that Lucifer was aware of the rings and Dean's bad feeling has become a reality
LUCIFER: The Horsemen's rings? The magic keys to my Cage? Ring a bell? Come on, Sam. I've never lied to you. You could at least pay me the same respect. It's okay. I'm not mad. A wrestling match inside your noggin... I like the idea. Just you and me, one round, no tricks. You win, you jump in the hole. I win... Well, then I win. What do you say, Sam? A fiddle of gold against your soul says I'm better than you.
SAM: So he knows. Doesn't change anything.
And we can see Dean thinking "abort!" "abort!" but Sam steels himself and agrees to Lucifer's terms because he can't think of any other choice and as Lucifer enters Sam, there's this big flash of light and when Dean is able to see again, Sam is on the floor. Dean quickly throws the rings at the wall and says the spell to open the cage, then wakes Sam and urges him to jump. But it's not really Sam.
LUCIFER/SAM: I told you... this would always happen in Detroit.
And Lucifer disappears, leaving Dean alone in the room.
Now THIS is VERY interesting. Did he actually tell Dean that it would happen in Detroit outside of the alternate future of The End? I can't remember that he did. The only time he's talked with Dean other than that episode is Abandon All Hope right? So does that mean that Lucifer actually experienced that future along with Dean in The End? At least he saw it, didn't he?
They should have expected Sam to be taken over though, at the start. There has never been any history where the person is able to gain control from the gecko. Bobby and John both took over their body briefly while they were possessed but never from the start. But Dean as he turns around in the empty room here shows regret and despair of having made a terrible mistake - losing his brother and causing the end of the world. I can just hear him shouting "What should I do!" in his head.
We then jump to Sam, still struggling to gain control in his head and Lucifer having his little talk with him.
LUCIFER/SAM: I'm inside your grapefruit, Sam. You can't lie to me. I see it all -- how odd you always felt, how... out of place in that... family of yours. And why shouldn't you have? They were foster care -- at best. I'm your real family.
SAM: No, that's not true.
LUCIFER/SAM: It is. And I know you know it. All those times you ran away, you weren't running from them. You were running towards me. This doesn't have to be a bad thing, you know. I let Dean live, didn't I? I want him to live. I'll bring your folks back, too. I want you to be happy, Sam.
This would remind us of those heaven moments for Sam in Dark Side of the Moon and the talk with Lucifer in Free to Be You and Me, and possibly back to Sam's hallucinations in When the Levee Breaks. Lucifer is appealing to his sense of being the freak, convincing him that this is where he really belongs, with Lucifer. And then he appeals to Sam's sense of vengeance by showing him all the demons that had influenced him as he grew up and giving him the satisfaction of killing them all.
None of this convinces Sam, as we see his tormented face in the mirror. But still Sam is not strong enough to take over and stop Lucifer, and is also left with the evil feeling of having given in to his anger and killed those demons, whether it was Lucifer that did it or not.
Getting back to Dean and companions...
Bobby and Cas have completely given up. There is no way they can do anything now. They did their best. It's over. But Dean cannot. Sam is still there and he has to do something. He can't give up on him. Come to think of it, this is the lesson he learned from Bobby in Lucifer Rising. And just as he did then, he goes to Chuck to find a way to get to Sam.
Before that though, we have another narrative about how the Impala had been their home and shared in all of their adventures. Because, in order to show how the Impala could help bring Sam back to the front, it has to be proved to be packed full of memories of home and family.
CHUCK : In between jobs, Sam and Dean would sometimes get a day -- sometimes a week, if they were lucky. They'd pass the time lining their pockets. Sam used to insist on honest work, but now he hustles pool, like his brother. They could go anywhere and do anything. They drove 1,000 miles for an Ozzy show, two days for a Jayhawks game. And when it was clear, they'd park her in the middle of nowhere, sit on the hood, and watch the stars... for hours... without saying a word. It never occurred to them that, sure, maybe they never really had a roof and four walls...
CHUCK: ...but they were never, in fact, homeless. That's a good line.
It is also awesome because we get so much from these little glimpses into their lives that we had not seen before. Of course the hustling scenes are from one of the episodes in Season 4, and the scene of them sleeping is surely from Dream a Little Dream of Me but the scene of them watching the stars, and the narration of them going to see a show or a game brings a totally new light on this life that they had. It wasn't all hunting. It was sharing looks and laughs as they drove, playing tricks on each othe,r enjoying quiet moments and their life together.
The telephone rings and Chuck picks up the phone thinking it is one "Mistress Magda" but it is Dean. Chuck is as helpful as he can be. He can't tell Dean how it's going to end, but he can tell him that Michael and Lucifer will be at STULL Cemetery in Laurence Kansas. Maybe because it has to end where it started. And Dean gets ready to leave as Bobby and Cas come up to see what he's up to.
BOBBY: You just don't give up.
DEAN: It's Sam!
CASTIEL: If you couldn't reach him here, you're certainly not gonna be able to on the battlefield.
DEAN: Well, if we've already lost, I guess I got nothing to lose, right?
CASTIEL: I just want you to understand -- the only thing that you're gonna see out there is Michael killing your brother.
DEAN: Well, then I ain't gonna let him die alone.
And that last line makes the whole episode for me *weeps*
I don't know what goes through Cas and Bobby's minds and what they say to each other after this as Dean drives off, but maybe something like, well, if we are all going to die bloody anyway, we might as well do it together. They follow - armed with a holy water bomb and the colt - neither of which will kill, just give Dean more time - because that is all they can do.
The whole STULL Cemetary scene is just brilliant. I love the scene shots of the cemetary - the gate with the crooked sign, the crows and Lucifer standing there in the middle, waiting for Michael. And when Michael comes, we see Lucifer suggesting that they not kill each other. That God had made him like he was. It wasn't his fault that he rebelled.[Season 10 Spoiler (click to open)](And those of us who have seen Season 10 are reminded that the Mark is what really did this to Lucifer.)But that logic doesn't matter to Michael. He is the good son and he will do what his father expects of him, even though his father is gone. Just as they are circling each other, Dean drives up, Rock of Ages blasting in his tape player. He sure knows how to make an entrance! But the words to the song and possibly the title as well are also significant and perfect for the occasion. The name of this song is actually also the name of a hymn - Rock of Ages referring to God's unchanging nature and basis for Salvation (see the lyrics here) - and I know that Def Leppard would have known and named his song this on purpose, using the play on words to refer to Rock and Roll. So the question that begs to be answered is, what is the Rock of Ages for Dean (and Sam)? Of course he loves Rock and Roll, but that's not why he put this song in the player (obviously). Dean has brought that one thing that they can cling to in times of trouble, when everything seems lost. Not God, and not Rock and Roll. Family and home - of which the Impala is a symbol. And if it's going to go out, then it's going to go out with a bang, doing as much damage as it can.
Just the fact that one little human is standing up against two apocalyptic angels and in that snarky way of his... and Lucifer and Michael with their mouths open, can't believe what they are seeing here. This is the most wonderful sight. Dean goes on to say that he wants to talk to Sam. When he is interrupted by Michael, he tries to get to Adam too.
MICHAEL/ADAM: Adam isn't home right now.
DEAN: Well, then you're next on my list, buttercup. But right now, I need five minutes with him.
BUTTERCUP!!! LOL Love Dean so much here. But I really don't know what would have happened if Cas hadn't come in here. Michael may have snapped Dean's neck and that might have been the end of it. And we have our lovely line by Cas -
CASTIEL: Hey, ass-butt!
Lucifer, forever the bratty child, doesn't care that Cas is also a brother and has just as much right to torch Michael as Lucifer himself. Splat. Cas blows up like we suppose he did in Lucifer Rising. Then Bobby brings out his colt and takes a shot at Lucifer. Of course it just pinches. Lucifer doesn't even go down as he did before - maybe because Sam's body is so much better than the other? Lucifer snaps Bobby's neck as Dean watches and Dean shouts out "NO!" But then it's his turn. Lucifer has had enough. He's going to let Sam feel every bone of Dean's body break.
DEAN: Sam, it's okay. It's okay. I'm here. I'm here. I'm not gonna leave you. I'm not gonna leave you.
This may have been Dean's last chance to reach out to Sam and let him know that he wasn't going to die alone.
And then something catches Sam/Lucifer's eye from inside the Impala. It's that toy soldier stuck in the door - which means absolutely nothing to Lucifer but means everything to Sam.
The flashbacks of their time together start again and end with Dean hugging Sam in AHBL. Sam is able to come to the front and control Lucifer. Then we have Sam's equivalent of Dean's wink in Point of No Return -
SAM: It's okay, Dean. It's gonna be okay. I've got him.
He throws the rings that were still in his pocket and says the spell. Michael comes back to try to stop Sam, telling him it's his destiny to fight his brother, but Sam takes one look at Dean and closes his eyes for the fall. When Michael grabs him, he pulls Michael in after him so we see them both fall into the pit.
The hole disappears and the rings are there on the ground. As Dean takes the rings and sits there all bloody, alone and defeated, Cas touches his face and Dean is cured.
DEAN: Cas, are you God?
CASTIEL: That's a nice compliment. But no. Although, I do believe he brought me back. New and improved.
I'm not going to think too much about why Cas is full power now, while he wasn't before... maybe it is because of the power struggle in heaven. But this talk about being God reminds me of what is to come for Cas, and also the reason he thought he could bring Sam back.
Cas brings Bobby back too, and we have the farewell scene between Bobby and Dean, where we are told by our narrator that Bobby would be hunting a rugaru next week while Dean would not hunt for a long time.
Then Dean and Cas goodbyes, which consist of Dean being angry at God for taking Sam and Cas reminding him that this is what he had wanted, and God seemed to be very accommodating. Cas disappears and on a rewatch we are wondering if this is where Cas goes back to grab Sam from the pit.
Dean goes to Lisa. This scene of him breaking down in the doorway and Lisa comforting him is a very special scene for me. She shushes him, which actually shows that he is probably crying. We just can't hear it.
Then we see flashbacks again - this time of the boys hugging in Lazarus Rising and looking at the stars. And Chuck finishes his monologue -
CHUCK (VOICEOVER): So, what's it all add up to? It's hard to say. But me, I'd say this was a test... for Sam and Dean. And I think they did all right.
Up against good, evil, angels, devils, destiny, and God himself, they made their own choice. They chose family. And, well... isn't that kinda the whole point?
I didn't know until later that Chuck was supposed to be God, or that Kripke put himself in there as Chuck. Now that I know, I can also see this as Kripke's farewell speech.
God is now truely gone from the picture and it's up to the characters themselves to create their own future. We will see how the angels and the whole Supernatural universe handles that in future seasons.
The last scene is of Sam looking at Dean and family through the window as the street lamp flickers. On my first watch, I had the idea that Sam was a ghost here, because of the flickering lamp. Did anyone else think so? I really would not have minded the story ending here. The scene before it of Lisa hugging Dean was very final, but I felt like that scene of Sam outside added some mystery to the ending that would have been nice as a final episode of the series. Endings always need a bit of a mystery so that the story can go on in your head long after it has finished.
On a rewatch, I know from an episode in Season 6 that Cas is also standing outside watching and possibly wondering what is wrong with Sam. Soulless Sam is looking at Dean thinking, I'm better off on my own, and it would make sense to let Dean have that normal life he wanted. Sam's soul, of course, is still in the cage being tortured by Lucifer and Michael.
And we are done. Looking forward to seeing you all again in our make-your-own-destiny universe of Season 6!