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One shocking twist left fans infuriated that this was how the story ended.
Endings are tricky things, and the longer and more beloved a series, the harder it is to stick the landing. “Supernatural” gave it a valiant effort Thursday night after 15 seasons, but fans first reactions are not great.
We will applaud the show for acknowledging its long-time fans with an accessible episode that felt more along the lines of the earliest seasons of the show before it delved into what became an extremely complex mythology.
The ending for those hardcore fans came in last week’s penultimate installment. Many of them might have liked for things to just end there. Maybe, like with many other controversial finales, they can just pretend it did.
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Casual fans who’d checked in and out on the Winchester brothers over the year felt perfectly at home with the stripped down story told in this final hour, but they may have not have been any happier.
Free of any of the constraints of demons and angels or even any of its supporting cast members beyond Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, this was once again just the story of two brothers traveling the country looking for “evil sons of bitches” to kill.
This week’s evil wasn’t even all that evil or dangerous, even as it brought back a familiar face (for a second) in Jenny. But even she was dispatched easily, with a simple head lopping by Sam.
It turns out, clown-masked killers are only dangerous when they’re built like the Mountain from “Game of Thrones.” And then they’re very dangerous indeed.
Okay, from here on out, there are major spoilers so if you don’t want to know yet what happened, you need to carry on my wayward son and come back when you are done — and ready to face what went down.
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After 327 total episodes across more than 15 years, we’ve seen Sam and Dean take on apocalyptic-level threats and monsters so dangerous they were capable of splitting the world and wiping out all of humanity.
They’ve even died to these threats a time or two, as will happen, only to be resurrected one way or another. In other words, these brothers are total badasses. So to find out what it really takes to kill one the vaunted Winchester brothers was a bit of a shock, to say the least.
Oh yes, we glossed over that fact there, didn’t we? In the series finale, the writers and producers decided that what needed to happen was that one of the Winchester brothers needed to die, and long-time fans know which one it had to be.
Of course they would feel that Dean needed to die so that Sam could finally move on and have that normal life he’d always dreamed of, and Dean always wanted for him. So that’s what happened.
And you know what, we’d be okay with that concept in general, if it hadn’t happened in such a horrifically lame way. In a tussle with an overgrown clown-masked monster, Dean was impaled on a spike of some kind sticking out of a wall.
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Of all the injuries he’s survived, and monsters, this guy is the one to take him out? And by impaling him?
Honestly, we were convinced through more than half of this scene that Dean was only putting Sam on to maybe get him to cry and get all mushy so he could rib him. This can’t be real, we thought. This can’t be how Dean goes out.
On top of that, it looked absolutely ridiculous. Was it so they could stand face to face in their final moment that they chose to have him go out standing, impaled on a wall? Was it so Jensen’s beautiful face wouldn’t be bloodied for this final scene that they kept the blood basically invisible altogether?
Don’t get us wrong, it wasn’t all terrible. It was just mostly terrible. We did like that Dean needed Sam to tell him it was going to be okay before he finally passed. That was a powerful moment that spoke to their bond. Dean needed to know that Sam would be okay without him.
And we even get that Sam would have never been able to move on and have that normal life with Dean still alive because this is all that Dean knows and what Dean was going to do until the end, live the life of a hunter. And Sam was never going to leave his side.
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Heaven Can Wait
The use of “Carry On Wayward Son” in the final scenes of the series was beautiful and the only way to go out. That we got a parallel story of Sam’s life and what happens next with Dean was also beautiful.
Plus, it was nice to see Bobby (Jim Beaver) one last time, as the only familiar face from the past (other than Jenny), there to greet Dean in Heaven. And it was nice to see how Jack and Castiel had revamped the afterlife to be more the ideal we’d all like to imagine it is.
He also told a grief-stricken Dean that time works differently here and Sam would be along soon enough. So Dean went off out for a drive. Because if everything he loves is here in Heaven, of course Baby was there.
While Dean drove through the beautiful scenery of Vancouver one last time, we got to see Sam’s life. We never did learn how he walked away from the life of being a hunter — we even saw him take a job shortly after Dean died — but we did get to see him have a family.
Or maybe he never did walk away, but instead found a way to marry the two lives, as evidenced by his son’s familiar tattoo. Either way, we learned two things. Sam lived a long life and he, too, was told it was okay in the end to die.
We also learned that the “Supernatural” team does not have the budget of NBC’s “This Is Us” (or the talent) to do age-advancing makeup and hair. Wow did Sam look terrible in every incarnation of his life, from middle-aged mad scientist with a bad wig to shiny old-age prosthetics on his death bed.
We were ready for him to die just to put us out of the misery of having to see the indignity. And, of course, when he and Dean reunited on a bridge in Heaven, he was thankfully his younger self again.
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We also appreciated how Jensen and Jared broke the fourth wall in that final scene to thank the fans directly before panning out to show the whole cast and crew (and Baby) on that bridge for one final, “Cut.”
Only a show that has embraced its meta as much as “Supernatural” could get away with something so ham-fisted and have it still feel perfectly in character and even, perhaps, in continuity with everything that had come before.
But the final scene didn’t end the narrative completely, as fans kept carrying on deep into the night with their thoughts about everything that went down, getting “Supernatural” trending high on Twitter.
Like us, they were stunned that the great Dean Winchester went down like that, and like us, they were stunned at how awful middle-aged Sam looked. It was like high school theater production bad.
And they’re furious that the ending almost negated everything that had happened in the 15 years prior. After all, had none of this ever happened, the end result for Sam and Dean would have probably been exactly the same. So what did it all mean? It was just a detour and not a life-changing experience?
Oh, and Castiel (Misha Collins) fans were absolutely beside themselves that he didn’t even make an appearance — and hardly got acknowledged — after becoming the third lead on this show years ago and sacrificing everything for the boys and sharing his love for Dean.
You’re never going to please all of the fans all of the time, and some might come to appreciate this ending in the years to come — as some “Lost” fans have turned around on that controversial finale — but for now, let’s just say they’re processing their grief and outrage in equal measure.
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