After my epic review of last week’s episode, I’ll try to make this one more concise – which I realize isn’t saying much with the bar that low. Exodus, the penultimate episode of Season 13, began with a lengthy recap, which caused me to start encouraging my television to “come on, get to it, we know what happened last week!”
I suppose it’s possible that someone forgot that Sam Winchester died in the last episode and that Lucifer brought him back and that he has just now walked into the rebel camp – where Sam sees Mary alive, and Dean sees Sam alive. But I don’t know that person.
I do love that they pick up right where they left off, which doesn’t happen often enough and which gives the episode an extra sense of urgency and immediacy. Sam hugs Mary, who he’s been trying desperately to get to all season, and Dean stares at Sam over Mary’s shoulder like he almost can’t believe it, with a soft “Sam?”
As soon as Sam and Dean have a moment alone, they both need to reconnect after the intense emotions each has experienced – Dean’s devastation at losing Sam and Sam’s shame and guilt at being brought back by Lucifer and bringing him to the camp.
Sam: I’m sorry about all this.
I held my breath, waiting to see what Dean would say and my heart breaking for Sam – who has absolutely nothing to be sorry about but is always ALWAYS worried about disappointing his big brother.
Dean: Are you good?
Sam: I’m alive, yeah.
Dean: Well then you’ve got nothin’ to apologize for.
Me: OMG YES!
Dean pulls Sam into a hug, wraps him up so very tight, and you can see the moment when Sam lets go of that guilt and self-blame and just leans into it, letting his brother hold him.
Dean: I thought I lost you, man.
You can hear the emotion in Dean’s voice, all that he felt when he thought Sam was gone evident in the way his voice breaks. Sam hears it, understands it, and closes his eyes in response, his own mouth twitching in empathy as he hears the pain in his brother’s voice. It’s such a powerful moment, even more so because Ackles and Padalecki played it understated. It’s a quiet moment, but all the more emotional for that quiet. After a minute, Dean pulls away, but you can see the effort it takes him to do it, the way he fights to pull himself back in control. He has to turn away immediately, can’t look Sam in the eye or I think he knows his emotions would spill over. Sam is similarly awkward, avoiding eye contact, as both men try to get themselves back in control.
Those little nonverbal, not scripted but just the way that Jared and Jensen let themselves BE Sam and Dean, make all the difference. You know how much emotion they’re feeling by how hard they fight not to show it to each other. I had tears in my eyes, but this time they were tears of joy.
Fans wait all season for hugs between the brothers because they are so important to us – that emotion between the characters is what sets this show apart. Not the monsters they fight or the adventures they have, but the relationships.
Jensen had said that they didn’t play the hug as originally written, which I think really meant more when than how – they have said that the writers don’t really include stage directions for hugs between the brothers anyway, because they know Jared and Jensen will figure that part out. But originally I think maybe the hug was supposed to happen right after the Sam and Mary hug. If that’s the case, I think it worked so much better here. Not in front of dozens of people, and not before Dean got over the shock of Sam being brought back by Lucifer or maybe even a bit of “are you really okay because, well, Lucifer”. This way they were alone, and they had time to have a conversation, not just a hug. Dean gave Sam what he desperately needed to feel better about this, and that was such a gift – to Sam, and to us as viewers too. As angry as Dean was throughout much of this episode, with Sam he is gentle, every bit the big brother. My heart.
Dean also gives Sam exactly what he needs in the next brief conversation.
Dean asks about Lucifer, and Sam answers with resolve.
Sam: I’ll handle him. I will, Dean. Let me handle him.
You can tell how important this is to Sam. His torturer, his abuser. The one he’s been afraid of for so long. Sam needs to be the one to “handle” Lucifer, to gain back a sense of control that Lucifer stole from him a long time ago.
Dean seems to sense that. He’s quiet for a minute, considering. And then he simply says, “okay.”
Again, it’s soft. Quiet. But it’s Dean understanding how much Sam needs this, and putting his own needs (for Sam to be safe) out of the way and putting Sam’s needs first.
I loved that entire scene – every word, every unspoken message, every expression. Both Jared and Jensen say so much even when they’re not saying a word, or just a few.
With Sam and Dean back together and on the same page, much of the episode is devoted to the will-they-or-won’t-they story of Jack and Lucifer, as in will they develop a father/son relationship or won’t they? I can’t say enough about how fabulous Alex Calvert is in showing us Jack’s complicated emotions at finally meeting his biological father. The whole scenario is difficult and complex (as real life parent-child relationships often are), as Dean, Sam and Cas essentially get into a custody fight with Lucifer over Jack. They are the ones who have been here for him, who have raised him and taught him right from wrong. So they, understandably, feel that Jack should listen to them – and not to Lucifer. (That and the fact that Lucifer has pretty much been a not very nice guy who is perfectly willing to twist the truth in order to manipulate someone). I thoroughly enjoyed Castiel’s exasperation with Lucifer’s twisting of the truth and Cas not knowing quite what to do with it. He genuinely cares about Jack and considers himself to be a father figure and it’s really all kinds of endearing. But Cas, as well as the Winchesters, are all about trying to control Jack – and that isn’t sitting well.
Jack reacts in a way that seemed very realistic to me – he doesn’t want to be told what to do when it comes to making decisions about his father. Despite his reservations (“It’s Jack,” he says the first time Lucifer calls him “son”), Jack is understandably curious about who he is, where he comes from. He never got to meet his mother, and this is the first opportunity he has had to meet his father. Of course he doesn’t want to listen to Dean, who is angry and loud and blustery telling everyone what to do (including yelling for Gabriel to “kill him!”) This is Dean in protective mode, and I get that, but it backfired when it came to Jack and his father.
I liked the glimpse into Jack’s head as he withdraws from all four of his “dads” fighting over him and remembers the words of his mother, that he can be who he chooses to be. He also thinks about his bond with Sam, another source of strength for him – but the memory of his failures haunt him, and he’s clearly driven to try to figure out how he can be stronger, do better. Lucifer seems to know that, and that’s the vulnerability that he exploits. The Devil is smart like that.
While I really liked the exploration of Jack’s character in this episode, I was a bit confused by the treatment of Lucifer. I mostly hate Lucifer for what he did to Sam and I’ve said before that I really am not up for a redemption arc. His torture of Sam, and the aftermath that Jared portrayed so vividly, was just too much for me to forgive and forget. But the show seems to be bound and determined to make Lucifer a more sympathetic character, and Mark Pellegrino is skilled enough to show us some shades of gray in the character instead of just black and white or pure evil. Lucifer seems to genuinely want Jack’s admiration (maybe even affection) and it doesn’t seem to be solely so they can combine their powers and rule the world or something. I have little doubt that he would eventually show his true colors to Jack and open a rift between them, but he does seem to want that relationship. In this episode, we even see Lucifer shed a tear – and it’s not for show because there’s nobody else there to see it. I don’t think I want that for Lucifer – I don’t want to be conflicted about whether or not I hate him, or whether there is a being capable of empathy or sympathy buried in there. I don’t want to know he can be hurt, that he can cry. I don’t want that, Show! That complicates things way too much. Usually I’m all for shades of gray in my villains, but in this case? I wish you’d paint with black and white.
That complexity colors all the interactions Lucifer has in this episode. I loved when Mary hauled off and just punched him in the face, but his reaction was played for laughs and seemed to pull for us feeling some (grudging perhaps) affection for him. He seems to be trying SO HARD and no one will give him a break, and that pulls on my humanity way too much. Stop it, Show!
The other complicated parenting relationship going on in this episode is Mary and her sons. This entire season, for Sam and Dean, has been about trying to rescue their mother. In a way, the entire season has been a reflection of their entire lives – longing for an absent mother, wishing she would be home with them. No wonder this is such an emotional issue for them, more than it would be even for most adult children. Mary has never seemed to understand that, though it’s not her fault they had to live without her most of their lives (the deal, yes, but she was in a no win situation).
I was a bit spoiled for the part where Mary says she’s not going back with them, so it didn’t punch me in the gut, but it was really hard to watch. Fandom is divided on whether this was evidence of being a bad parent or a heroic hunter.
Mary: I know what you went through to come find me.
That didn’t sit well with me initially. Sam literally DIED to come find her – her sons have been risking their lives repeatedly, fighting to save their mother. That’s a big thing.
Mary: But these people, they need me here.
Dean: (angry) No, we need you, Mom!
There is such a huge and painful disconnect between how Mary sees her sons and how her sons see their mother. Mary sees Dean and Sam for the adult men they are, the strapping over-six-foot strong, smart capable hunters they are NOW. She never saw them as five-year-olds or ten-year-olds or insecure adolescents or any of those other stages of parenthood that let you eventually see your kids as still your kids but also capable and independent. This Sam and Dean have always looked like capable and independent adults to Mary, and in her eyes, they do not NEED her. She felt painfully not needed in her short time spent with them, and that goes against everything Mary is. She needs to be needed – she needs to save the world.
Sam and Dean, on the other hand, see Mary as their mom. They too were cheated — out of having a mother for all those years as they grew up, and they have never outgrown that need. When you’re deprived of that nurturing that every child needs, it leaves a gaping hole that you desperately want to fill – for Sam and Dean, here’s their mother magically back, and that brings with it a hope and a powerful fantasy that the hole can finally be filled. They can’t let that go any more than Mary can let go of her need to be needed and her inability to believe that her sons DO need her. It’s just not a physical need, it’s an emotional one.
It hurts so much that they’re not on the same page. I don’t want to judge any of them, I just feel for them. My emotional route into the show is through Sam and Dean, so it’s their pain that I feel more acutely. That means I end up angry at Mary for not giving her sons what they long for, what they were deprived of through no fault of their own – the love and nurturing they deserved. But none of them can go back in time, and Mary can’t give them that nurturing in the way they need it. I don’t think she can even understand that they need it that way, looking at their six foot plus selves. She doesn’t see the hurt and abandoned little boys that Sam and Dean still are inside when it comes to their mother.
Dean tries so hard to convince her, telling her all they’ve risked and all they’ve lost.
Dean: We have been mopping up the world for years! We’ve been knocked down. We’ve been possessed. We’ve lost friends, we’ve lost family. We’ve lost each other!
I started to tear up, but Mary doesn’t waver, although she clearly is hurting for her sons. Dean looks to Sam for collaboration, but Sam hasn’t been talking, he’s been listening. And thinking.
Sam: I think Mom has made up her mind.
Dean: Wait, what?
Sam: Mom doesn’t want to leave these people.
So Sam, brilliant grown man and longing-for-his-mother little boy that he is, comes up with a plan so that Mary doesn’t have to choose. She doesn’t want to leave, they’ll take those people with them!
Mary beams at Sam, and I can imagine that it warms Sam through and through – her admiration for him, her pride in him, maybe all he’s ever wanted.
Mary: You’d do that?
Oh, my heart. There were a lot of emotions in this episode.
That moment turned from a very sad one to a happier one, thanks to the brilliance of Sam Winchester, but Mary and Dean are rarely on the same page in this episode. Dean continues to worry about Jack being influenced by Lucifer, and to try to prevent that from happening. He sends Sam to check on them, and Mary takes that opportunity to give Dean some parenting advice.
Mary: Go easy on Jack. He’s been fighting a war. He’s lost people…
It’s one of those recurring things that keep bothering me this season – people telling Sam and Dean that they (or someone else) has had tragedy and loss. As though the Winchesters haven’t had more tragedy and lost more people than just about anyone! They are the walking poster children for loss – in the last book I co-edited, Supernatural Psychology, there is chapter after chapter of psychologists weighing in on how the hell Sam and Dean are still walking and talking and upright after all the trauma and loss they’ve been through.
I know that Mary knows this, I know she’s endured tremendous loss too. I know she’s been in the AU for months with Jack so the battles they’ve fought and the losses they’ve experienced together are immediate and fresh. I don’t even think she’s wrong advising Dean to let Jack come to his own conclusions, because you really can never tell someone else what to think or how to feel – certainly not an adolescent like Jack. But the way she chose to tell him just seemed so blind to Dean’s own loss – his brother was just killed earlier that day for godsakes!
Again, it’s interesting to me that Mary is more protective of Jack than she is of her own sons. I keep having to remind myself that she had more of a chance to “parent” Jack. She’s seen him vulnerable, afraid, trying to figure out who he is – all those things that parents get to help their kids with as they get older. Mary never had that with Sam and Dean – they just wish she had.
One thing I do wish that someone had suggested in terms of the Jack and Lucifer story line – maybe not tell him what to do or how to feel, but share some of your own experiences with Lucifer? Nobody really does that. Gabriel alludes to Lucifer doing something bad to him but when Lucifer claims not to remember, Gabriel drops it. Sam doesn’t tell Jack about his torture in the Cage at the hands of Lucifer. Those are facts – and they’re pretty damn relevant. Mary could have told him some stories herself. Still scratching my head about that.
So, Sam has a plan. Dean goes along with the plan, a bit more reluctantly. They encounter a group of angels along the way, and as everyone gets ready to take them on, Lucifer snaps his fingers and zaps them out of existence, much to everyone’s shock.
Lucifer: See? Team player.
(Also he was lying about the cuffs that Cas put on him being able to hold him – didn’t want to make them all feel bad…)
They meet up with Bobby Singer, and propose their plan to Bobby.
Bobby was another source of lots of feelings for me in this episode. Just having Jim Beaver back is beyond awesome, but AU Bobby is sounding more and more like “our” Bobby all the time, and that warms my heart. Hearing Bobby call Sam and Dean “you boys” and just seeing the Singer Auto Salvage sign (even if it’s not in Sioux Falls) felt good. Bobby is his same matter of fact self.
Dean: You let Charlie go with Ketch?
Bobby: She let Ketch go with her! It’s her mission.
Charlie is such a badass in the AU.
I loved having Felicia Day back for this episode too, along with David Haydn-Jones. I realize it can easily be put down to “fan service” but sometimes that just plain works on me. So when Charlie says things that “our” Charlie has said (like ‘see you on the other side, bitches’) it makes me smile.
I wasn’t on board for a Ketch redemption arc either for this season, but his character has grown on me and while the bad things he’s done in the past are far from insignificant, he does seem to regret them and to have changed. I often wonder if they were originally going to keep Ketch around and redeem him or if David Haydn-Jones and his popularity was the deciding factor. At any rate, I do have a fondness for Jones and Ketch is, therefore, growing on me a little.
Charlie and Ketch get ambushed on their mission and taken back to the angel base for some torture. Ketch remains defiant, giving directions from a Monopoly board instead of for real. Charlie too has refused to give in – so the angels bring in the big guns. Which turns out to be AU Castiel! I don’t know what to make of AU Cas, to be honest. Misha said that the director gave him free rein, which means that AU Cas sort of sounds like a cross between Nazi German and Misha’s patented India-Russian accent. I was so distracted by the accent that I couldn’t take him as seriously as I should have – though I was totally stressed out as he started to torture and mind wipe Charlie.
There’s an odd parallel storyline which I don’t know what I’m supposed to make of – that was a recurring problem with this episode. Sometimes it seemed to be dragging my emotions in a direction that didn’t really make sense, and one that I didn’t really want to go in. AU Cas tortures Charlie and it’s horrific, but our own Cas also tortures the rebel who sold out in almost the same way. Tied to a chair, the guy refuses to tell Dean who and where the angels are or admit that he set Charlie and Ketch up. Dean glances up at Cas and gives an almost imperceptible nod, and Castiel’s eyes glow blue as he takes the guy by the head. The guy screams just like Charlie, and there’s a part of me that has a tough time thinking that is any more okay than what the other Cas is doing. I’m not a big fan of torture, what can I say? I know this is Supernatural and it can be violent and these are desperate times and whatever, but I still find it tough to stomach. And it almost seems like the show wants me to feel that way. Why the parallel otherwise?
I guess the guy breaks because Team Free Will plus heads out to save the day.
Once they get to the angel camp, there’s a badass fight which Rob Hayter makes look as awesome as the others he’s choreographed this season. Our Cas gets to kill AU Cas, which was quite satisfying.
They also have an odd conversation, in which AU Cas reminds our Cas that he’s not better, that they are the same. Surprisingly, our Castiel agrees – and once again I realize that Cas has been different this season and we really don’t know why. Was it his time in the Empty? Was his comment that he’s gotten used to multiple versions of himself a reference to Empty Cas, after all this time?? Hmm.
I liked that little scene with Cas and Cas and thought Misha handled it well – unlike the torture scene, both versions of Castiel I took seriously. Our Cas reaffirms his preference for humans over angels, and who the hell could blame him?
Rescue successful; Sam hugs Charlie then apologizes as he realizes he’s a stranger to her; she gives him a playful punch. (Felicia Day tweeted that was an adlib – it worked perfectly). Dean cuts down Ketch, and they have a moment of closeness that seems like a blatant encouragement to ship those two characters before Ketch thanks Dean for saving him with an “it’s about time.”
Meanwhile, Gabriel and Lucifer stay behind, which gives them time for some conversation. Richard Speight Jr. and Mark Pellegrino really sold the scenes with Gabriel and Lucifer. First when Lucifer introduces Jack to his uncle, and Gabriel refuses to just go along with the not-quite-accurate narrative that Lucifer is spinning for Jack. Then when they talk alone and Gabriel calls Lucifer on his poor me routine, saying that God had good reason for locking him up. Gabriel hits Lucifer right where it hurts – his longing for his son’s admiration and his long-standing sense of abandonment about his own father.
Gabriel: Do you really see a version where he sticks by you? He’s not like you. He’ll see who – what – you really are. You can’t change, you’re incapable of empathy or love… It’s too late for you.
Gabriel is brutal, leaving Lucifer no room for hope – or change.
Again, I don’t know what the show wants me to feel, because Lucifer looks devastated. Gabriel walks away, and a single tear rolls down Lucifer’s cheek. And look, I’m only human, because that kind of thing pulls at my heartstrings. Knowing someone can be hurt, even when they’ve done horrible things, still stings. And I don’t want to feel that!
Once everyone is reunited, Bobby once again sounds so much like Bobby that I’m grinning at my television.
Bobby: I’m real proud of you boys.
He even uses the “I” word – idjit. Is it a nature instead of nurture thing? Who knows. I don’t care, I like it!
Apparently every one of the rebels has decided to go along with Sam’s plan and return to our world to gather weapons and strategy to come back and fight Michael in theirs.
There’s another father figure conflict between Sam and Lucifer as both try to convince Jack to come back with them instead of going after Michael. Lucifer prevails, and gloats about it, and you can see how much that hurts Sam. Then it’s time to get back to the rift. Dean fixes an ancient abandoned bus because he’s Dean Winchester and off they go. There’s some overly dramatic music as the bus lumbers through the Vancouver woods and Sam, Dean, Cas and Gabriel bounce along in a jeep which Ackles probably had a lot of fun driving. I once again had trouble taking the scene as seriously as it was intended, but once they get to the rift the stress returned and so did my seriousness.
The rift is close to closing, but as they all watch it opens back up – because back in the bunker the person who is really the hero of this episode is working her magic. An exhausted Rowena refuses to give up, casting spell after spell trying to keep the door open. I want Rowena (and Ruth Connell) on the show forever, so I am not even a little ambivalent about her having a redemption arc, as long as it doesn’t change the character too much because I love her just the way she is!
The rebels start through the rift, to Rowena’s raised eyebrows. When Cas finally comes through, she bursts out with “it’s about bloody time!”
Finally, everyone is through but Sam, Dean and the two archangels – when suddenly Michael appears, exploding the last of the rebels. Lucifer has a go at him and is thrown back, while Sam and Dean stand there staring, and I start yelling at them to get the hell through the rift for godsakes. Gabriel steps up saying he’ll buy them some time (which honestly they didn’t need if they just would have GONE)
Dean: Gabriel, no!
Gabriel: All I did on Earth was run. I’m not running anymore. Go!
Me: Yes go, boys, did you hear him? Go for godsakes!
They do not go. They waste the time he bought for them with his life just inexplicably standing there as Michael stabs him with the archangel blade and he falls to the ground. This time the outline of his burnt wings are clearly visible, much to the great sadness of most of the fandom.
Sam motions Dean to go and he finally (FINALLY!) does. Lucifer heads toward the rift too, but Sam turns around and pushes him back.
Lucifer: Sam I’m hurt, please.
Sam: (unmoved) How did you think this was gonna end?
And Sam disappears through the rift, which closes behind him.
I wanted to jump up and down and cheer at that moment, because I have so wanted Sam Winchester to be the one to take down Lucifer. After all those hundreds of years of torture, that’s what Lucifer deserved – and that’s what Sam deserved. I just don’t understand why Show couldn’t give me that moment of unbridled joy, but my joy was tempered a little by the way Lucifer was portrayed in this episode. I’d been pulled to sympathize with him a little in this episode, so seeing him lying on the ground and bleeding and begging made it difficult for me to just be like, yeah, take that! Logically I know that Lucifer is still the villain that he’s always been, the one who did those horrific and unforgiveable things. I still wanted Sam to have that moment, and I’m glad that he did – but it wasn’t the black and white YAY moment I was hoping for.
That feeling is exacerbated by Jack’s reaction. As everyone else celebrates, drinking and toasting, Jack sits alone, head down. Have they just made Lucifer a martyr, pushing Jack more toward seeing his side of things?
Meanwhile, everyone else is deservedly happy, and it feels really good – almost like Sam’s dream of a happy family in the bunker.
Sam: Well, you did it, Rowena. We owe you one.
Rowena: Don’t think I won’t collect.
(Also, whoever put Jared Padalecki in that gray single layer shirt and jeans? I love you.)
Dean gives Gabriel credit for getting them out (even though I still say they should have just moved faster… as should Michael…)
Dean: He sacrificed himself, that’s why Sam and I got out.
And when Dean is asked about Lucifer?
Dean: Sam handled it.
I loved that simple statement. I am truly glad that Sam was able to be the one to keep Lucifer there, because it was so important to him that he be able to do that. To “handle” it. And it was important to him that his brother believed in him, and believed that he could.
Bobby: A toast to our new brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester. Thanks boys, welcome to the family.
The family theme starts to play, which always makes me emotional – Bobby is there, Charlie is there, Rowena is there, and of course Cas and Mary and the boys. I don’t necessarily think that everyone has to be considered family in this show, which dilutes the power of it, but even though these are AU versions, these are also beloved characters who have been considered family before.
It was nice to see them all happy for a hot minute.
Meanwhile, back in the AU, Lucifer schemes for his life, saying he knows how to reopen the rift. Uh oh.
Lucifer: So I can get my son.
Michael: And I get everything else. Are we agreed?
Lucifer looks tormented and cut to black.
Season Finale next week, how is that even possible?? I will be watching with Youtuber and good friend Alana King at @_KingBooks_, so look for our reaction video together on her Youtube channel – and of course my review right here!
Check out the latest Supernatural trailer for Let the Good Times Roll just above.