This is Part 2 of Lynn’s final review of “Supernatural” 1520 Carry On Series Finale. There are spoilers below.
The fight scene is epic, and apparently took several days to film, with stunt and fight coordinator Rob Hayter having one last chance to work his magic too. Sam is eventually knocked out and his machete goes flying, while Dean is subdued and in walks – Jenny the vampire from Season 1? That was a weird moment, because of all people to bring back, Jenny the random vampire was not on my bingo card. I’m assuming she’s a local Vancouver actress, and I guess it does show the way their lives as hunters will always put them in danger, that they’re always haunted by their past as hunters. A bit of a full-circle moment, with a flashback to baby Sam and Dean in Season 1.
Dean keeps her busy with snark while Sam’s hand slowly creeps toward the machete.
Just as Jenny is about to bite Dean, Sam lobs her head off from behind.
The fight continues with me screaming NONONONONONO the entire time, knowing what’s coming and trying desperately to forestall it, and then as Sam kills the second to last clownpire, the other tackles Dean and drives him backwards – right onto the giant piece of rebar we saw prominently protruding from a post. We see Dean’s gasp and shock, the clownpire leans in to finish him – and Sam lobs its head off because he’s a total badass.
Sam steps back, says ‘let’s go’, doesn’t know, and it’s heartbreaking. I’m shaking so hard by this time I can barely see what’s going on, as Dean says softly, “Sam, I don’t think I’m goin’ anywhere.”
Sam instinctively tries to pull him away from the spike, but Dean knows, he knows already.
Dean: Don’t move me…
Sam, increasingly panicked, says he’ll call for help, get the first aid kit, something… but Dean calls him back. The look on his face is shocked, wide open, desperate.
Dean: Sam, stay…stay with me…stay with me, please.
And Sam, then, he knows too. He doesn’t want to accept it yet, but that ‘please’, that did it. He knows.
Sam: Okay, yeah.
Dean steels himself, a hunter to the last.
Dean: Okay. Okay. You… listen to me, you get those boys safe.
Sam is shaken at that, steps closer.
Sam: Dean, WE will get those boys safe.
But Dean shakes his head. His expression is soft as he tries to lay it out for his brother while he still can.
Dean: No. You knew it was always gonna end this way for me.
A little smile crosses his face, despite what he knows.
Dean: Look at us, saving people, hunting things. It’s what we do.
The call back made me start to sob so hard I couldn’t be quiet anymore. Onscreen, Sam tries denial one last time, the truth dawning on him. He’s pleading with Dean, like he can bargain and plead his way out of it being true.
Dean manages a little smile for his little brother.
Dean: It’s okay… its good. We had one helluva ride, man.
It’s Dean talking to Sam, and it’s Jensen talking to Jared, and it’s both of them talking to all of us too, because we have had one helluva ride, right along with them.
Sam: No, Dean, we’ll find a way, we’ll find another way.
Another callback, another gut punch, and I was starting to feel sick I was crying so hard.
Dean says no, no deals, no trying to bring him back, they know how that ends, as Sam’s tears begin to streak his cheeks.
Sam: Dean, please…
Dean: I’m fadin’ pretty quick, and there’s a few things I need you to hear. C’mere. Let me look at you.
Sam immediately shuffles forward, and I realize suddenly, this is not a mirror of Swan Song so much as it’s a mirror of All Hell Breaks Loose. Those are the words Dean said to Sam as a mortally wounded Sam fell into his arms, and the call back destroys me.
Dean is shaking now, blood loss and shock making it difficult to move, perhaps to see. He reaches out to touch Sam, looking up at his little brother as Sam comes closer.
Dean (his voice labored but full of so much affection): There he is. I’m so proud of you, Sam. You know that? I’ve always looked up to you… So damn smart… you never took Dad’s crap. You’re stronger than me, you always have been.
Dean’s voice grows more halting, and he struggles to get the words out. Sam reaches out, afraid to touch his brother too much or hasten the inevitable, but instinctively supports his arm that Dean has reached out to him with.
Dean: Did I tell you that night, that I came for you at school… you know where Dad hadn’t come back from his hunting trip…
He falters, it’s getting hard to talk, hard to think, hard to stay, and Sam steps in.
Sam: Yeah, uh, the woman in white.
Dean is fading, was starting to lose the thread, and Sam supports him in that too.
Dean: Yeah, the woman in white, right. I must’ve stood outside your door for hours because I didn’t know what you’d say. Thought you’d tell me to get lost … or get dead. And I didn’t know what I would’ve done … if I didn’t have you. ‘Cause I was so scared…
Sam is sobbing now, his chin trembling as he tries to hold it together, let his brother say what’s so important for him to say.
Dean: I was scared… ’cause when it all came down to it, it was always you and me. It’s always been you … and me.
That may have been the moment my tears went into overdrive, because it was clear that wasn’t just Dean talking to Sam – that was Jensen talking to Jared. It’s what they’ve said to each other so many times, what they said at that first audition when they discovered they were the only ones there. This has been the journey of a lifetime for them, and they’ve taken it together.
Sam: D-don’t leave me… I can’t do it alone.
Dean shakes his head, answers gently: Yes you can.
And damn, I know what’s coming, because the lines are so iconic for anyone who watches this show, and when Jared says what’s in my head I sobbed so loudly I couldn’t even see anymore.
Sam: Well, I don’t want to.
Dean’s fond little smile after, knowing that Sam also remembers, and that’s all he needed at that moment, broke my heart in pieces.
Dean gathers the last of his remaining strength to tell his brother what he needs him to know.
Dean: Hey, I’m not leaving you. I’m gonna be with you, right here, every day.
He places his trembling hand on Sam’s chest, over his heart.
Dean: Every day you’re out there, and you’re livin’. Because you… you always keep fighting. You always keep fighting, you hear me?
Sam nods, sobbing openly.
It’s Dean’s message to Sam, and it’s Jensen Ackles message to Jared Padalecki, and it’s their message to all of us too. It’s been the mantra of the show, and for them to include it here, at the end of things, is so perfect and so meaningful. It’s “Supernatural”, and its characters, and its real life actors, saying we’ll be with you, always, every day, in your hearts. So you can always keep fighting. (It’s so hard to type right now, I can’t see a damn thing…)
Dean: I’ll be there, every step.
He looks at Sam, nothing held back.
Dean: I love you so much. My baby brother.
Sam nods, hearing him, acknowledging his big brother’s love through his tears.
Dean: I didn’t think this would be the day… but it is, and that’s okay.
Because we often don’t, and that’s one of the hardest things in life. It’s so real, it stabs me through the heart as I watch and listen and wait.
Dean is unsteady now, just trying to talk clearly becoming difficult. Ackles is brilliant in the little physical details – Dean’s head sways back and forth just slightly, as he starts to lose muscle control, holding it together through sheer force of will now.
Dean: I need you… to promise me… I need you to tell me… that it’s okay…
Sam shakes his head, doesn’t want to go there, can’t face it, but Dean presses on. He needs Sam’s permission to let go of what has been his reason for living for his whole life, to take care of Sammy. He needs to hear it – and he needs to, finally, believe it.
Dean: Look at me, I need you.. I need… I need you…
The Winchester family theme by the brilliant composer Jay Gruska starts to play, and I think ohgod this is the last time, for this music that means so much to me, for this show and these brothers that mean so much to me.
Dean: You tell me…
Sam reaches down, places his hand over his brother’s, calls up his own unbelievable courage.
Sam: Dean, it’s okay. You can go now.
He nods, giving his brother the permission he needs to let go.
If you’ve ever lost someone, you know that this is often how it goes. If you’ve ever had to say those words to someone you love more than life, to put your own selfish wants aside and do what’s right for them, you know how achingly, painfully real this moment was.
Dean lays his hand over his brother’s, and Sam leans in. The brothers’ foreheads touch, and it’s such a beautiful moment, so tragic yet so right.
Dean: Goodbye, Sam.
His hand falls to his side, and Dean sighs, one last breath as a single tear slides down his cheek, and he lays his head on his brother’s chest.
Jared, at that moment, shows us every agonizing second of Sam’s grief, his body shaking uncontrollably, his hands and chin trembling as he turns his face up in a broken sob, so intense that it comes out soundless.
The final shot of the brothers seems to encapsulate what the show is all about, as I saw someone say online – surrounded by gore, blood and death are two brothers who cling to each other, in life and in death.
It evoked all my memories of Sam’s death in All Hell Breaks Loose, the way one brother tried to hold the other up as they slipped away; the anguish when they lost him. The parallels – the dialogue, the hand pressed to the back, coming away bloody, the dawning realization and attempt at comfort, the final keening grief – made it so much more impactful. Dean’s last words in life, “Goodbye, Sam” the full circle moment of toddler Dean’s first words in the pilot, “Goodnight, Sam.” In the pilot, he leans down to kiss his brother’s forehead; in the end, Sam leans in to rest his forehead against his brother’s.
I was on a zoom call with a bunch of my fandom friends, and we all came back to the zoom during the commercial sobbing so hard nobody could talk, everyone’s faces streaked with tears, eyes red and puffy and just about able to open at all. We didn’t need words to share the grief.
And somehow, the episode is only half over.
We watch Sam at Dean’s funeral pyre, a hunter’s funeral, Miracle at his side, while a hauntingly beautiful oh so sad song plays, Dire Strait’s ‘Brothers in Arms’. He lights Dean’s lighter and tosses it on the pyre and the fictional character who I fell in love with fifteen years ago, who inspired me and changed me in so many ways, is no more and I am devastated.
What we see next is again, so real, it brings back all the losses in my own life in brutal clarity. Sam carries on, grieving and in pain, cooking breakfast wearing Dean’s gray hoodie and I think about how I wore my mom’s sweater for so many days, just trying to be close to her again. He startles as the toast pops, spins around and I know he’s thinking for a split second that he’ll see Dean there complaining about how hot it is, because our brains play tricks on us for a while, letting us forget the person we loved is gone.
He looks at the initials carved into the table and thinks about that day and about their legacy, walks the halls,and feels the emptiness. He sits on Dean’s bed, his room just as he left it, beer bottles on the table, and takes solace in petting Miracle, saying softly “Me too” when Miracle whines his own sadness about missing Dean. It’s so well done, and it hits so hard.
The moment is broken by the sound of a cell phone – Dean’s Other Other Phone. Someone in Austin (a shout out to Jared and Jensen’s home and where they’ll head after) and someone asks for Agent Bon Jovi for a werewolf hunt that Donna Hanscum recommended them for, and Sam squares his shoulders and says, “I’m on my way.”
He carries Dean’s duffel and Miracle is at his heels as Sam climbs the stairs of the bunker for the last time. He pauses and looks down at the map table, at the library, the telescope, all the familiar places that have been home. And then he turns out the lights and closes the door.
My tears flowed freely then once again because the Men of Letters bunker is yet another loss. It was their home, so it was special to us too. I had the great privilege of being there to watch filming for one whole day, and it was such an incredible set that felt entirely real when you were in it. I know they loved it; I remember Jensen’s tearful post as he watched them tear it down. I felt like that scene was a little meta moment, including us in the goodbye.
At this point, the episode takes a more hopeful turn, as if it knows I’m about to throw up if I can’t stop crying. Dean arrives in Heaven, greeted by Bobby Singer. Not AU Bobby, who I never cared about at all, but OG Bobby. The Bobby who’s like a dad to Dean. The one who coined the famous line “family don’t end with blood”. He tells Dean “that kid of yours” (Jack) made some changes and set some things right in Heaven, tore down the walls so it’s what it always should have been, everyone happy and together. Rufus and Aretha have a cabin somewhere, and John and Mary down the road.
He offers Dean a beer.
Dean: Jack did all that?
Bobby: Well, Cas helped.
Dean smiles softly, knowing that Castiel also made it to his own Heaven, and is responsible for making it over for all of them along with his son. It’s an overt acknowledgment that Cas also found the ending he was working for and that he deserved – together with his son, remaking Heaven, his first home, into what it should be. Part of a family, with Jack and undoubtedly with Sam and Dean, now that they’ve been welcomed into the paradise Cas and Jack have built for them. Knowing that, while it cost both him and Cas their lives, they DID IT.
Dean: It’s almost perfect…
Bobby smiles knowingly.
Bobby: He’ll be along.
Bobby: Time here is different. So what’re you gonna do now, Dean?
Dean looks up and sees the Impala, gleaming and shiny in the sun, waiting for him, her original license place restored.
Dean: I think I’ll go for a drive.
He gets in, a smile on his face.
Dean: Hey, Baby.
He starts her up and the radio comes on, and the first notes of Carry On Wayward Son come on, and my tears are back, but this time I’m smiling through them.
Dean: Ah, love this song.
It’s another meta moment.
The song isn’t just for the opening montage, it’s incorporated into the show itself now, a part of canon forever. Dean drives, heading Baby toward sunset, the open road waiting.
There’s a montage of Sam as he lives on, that parallels Dean’s life with Lisa after Swan Song, but is also a vivid reminder of the growth and evolution of the Winchesters. Both of them.
Every part of him, every fiber he’s got, wants to die, or find a way to bring him back. But he isn’t gonna do either. Because he made a promise.
That didn’t go so well at the end of Season 5 – but it does now, a decade later. The whole show has revolved around Sam and Dean’s struggle to find that elusive balance between dependence and independence in actual interdependence. To make a truly different choice when confronted with what they both fear most – losing each other. There were so many times they couldn’t do it, ending up on one end of the spectrum or the other, but this episode shows us how, in the end, they did just that. We see Sam with a toddler little boy, overalls embroidered with his name: DEAN. One of AD Kevin Parks’ beautiful dogs (maybe Kuma, who has been in multiple episodes) runs along with them.
The montage cuts back and forth between Sam as he grows older and Dean, still driving. Sam playing ball with his son, photos of Dean and Sam and John and Mary all over his house. Sam in glasses, helping his son with homework.
Older Sam (in a wig that became a meme way too fast because it looks a little Party Cityish) visits the Impala in his garage, pulling off the tarp and looking like he wants to get into the passenger side before walking around and sitting in the driver’s seat. He takes off his glasses, reverently lays his hands on the wheel as Carry On continues to play: “Lay your weary head to rest, don’t you cry know more…” He looks over at the empty seat beside him, tears in his eyes.
As Sam’s hands are on the wheel, so are Dean’s in Heaven as he speeds along.
But now, the Impala is headed toward us instead of away, Dean headed toward something – someone – toward home.
Sam very old, lying in a hospital bed in his living room, hooked up to a monitor. His son, now grown, a protection tattoo visible on his arm, comes to sit by him, reaching down to lay his hand over his father’s gently. Sam manages a smile for his son, just as his brother did for him, all those many years ago.
It’s love, and again, it’s not romantic love, but it’s such a beautiful depiction of familial love, this time the love of a son for his father. A son who has been raised with love and can love in return. The result of Sam and Dean’s lifelong struggle and its positive outcome, a new generation of Winchesters carrying the ultimate hope of that resolution.
Dean Jr: Dad, it’s okay. You can go now.
The same permission that Dean needed from his brother, all those many years ago.
The song switches from the familiar Kansas version of Carry On to a cover, slower and softer – fittingly, performed by two fans of the show who are also sisters.
Old Sam places his hand over his son’s, just as Dean did over Sam’s before he died. We see that old Sam is wearing Dean’s watch, has worn it all these years.
Sam sighs, takes his last breath, his head falling to the side and a single tear sliding down his cheek, just as Dean’s did so many years ago. The monitor flatlines.
The scene blends gradually into the familiar tall trees of Vancouver.
In Heaven, Dean stops driving in the middle of a bridge and gets out of the car, walking over to the rail and looking out over the incredible Vancouver vista as the lyrics from Carry On reach ‘my life’s no longer empty, surely Heaven waits for you’.
His brow furrows as he senses something, without even turning around, and then his handsome face slowly breaks into a grin that looks like the friggen’ sun coming out after a long long rainy day.
Dean: Heya, Sammy.
He turns around and there’s his little brother.
We’re at the last scene, the one we knew would happen on a bridge. The last scene Jared and Jensen ever filmed for “Supernatural”, and the final scene of the episode.
The family theme plays again as Sam and Dean hug, and Jared and Jensen hug, and I start crying all over again. There’s so much emotion there, between the characters and between the actors, both having been on this incredible long and sometimes difficult journey together.
Sam and Dean, Dean’s arm around his brother, look out over the beautiful scenery, Dean turning to look at Sam again, nodding like all is right with the world once more, as the camera pulls up and out and then the picture fades.
The end of the “hero’s journey” that Kripke started these brothers on fifteen years ago, the protagonist returning to where they started out, after having learned and changed in so many ways.
The credits begin and then we return to the bridge, Jared and Jensen instead of Sam and Dean there smiling. At us.
Jared and Jensen: Thank you to the fans for your support and your love, through blood, sweat and laughter and tears, you’ve kept us on the air for fifteen years. We wouldn’t be here without you and we’ll remain forever grateful for the opportunity and honor to play these characters for so long. We felt you guys with us all the time, so thank you.
They wave, flanked by director Bob Singer and the entire crew, as they all wave from the bridge and the camera pulls up and away again. I think I can spot Jim Beaver, Jerry Wanek, Kevin Parks, Jim Michaels, Eugenie, Maisie, Robin, Jose, Brad, Stef… so many familiar faces from all these years of lovingly making this show I love so much. The instrumental music that played at the end of Swan Song, Kripke’s original ending for the show, plays softly in the background as we hear Bob Singer’s voice one last time.
Bob Singer: And…. Cut.
Fade to black.
And that was it. In a way, they beautifully incorporated the fandom into canon too, in that last scene, all of us directly addressed before the final ‘cut’.
I am so grateful.
The final shot filmed was the final scene of the series, confirmed by Kevin Parks, who was responsible for the shooting schedule. He tweeted that “it was the best way to finish the series” and I so agree. When Jared and Jensen broke character completely to become themselves, looking out at the beautiful Vancouver scenery, flanked by Bob Singer and the rest of their beloved crew, they drew us into the final moments of “Supernatural” also. We are who they were waving at and thanking as the final moments played out, the smiles on everyone’s faces in gratitude for the fans who were such an integral part of this fifteen-year journey. When Bob Singer called ‘Andddd…. Cut” for the final time, we were a part of that, included in the ending.
I’m crying again.
They did that for us. That’s how much they care.
Let me pause to say that so many of these little nuanced moments that made these scenes so poignant were added by Jared or by Jared and Jensen. Sam wearing Dean’s watch, Sam’s son repeating the words that he had said to Dean before he died, passing it along – the permission to let go. The deliberate call back to Sam and Dean’s iconic “I can’t do it alone, yes you can” repeated with the roles switched. The “heya Sammy” and “Dean.” Jared said in his Stage It panel today that Bob Singer gave them a whole day to shoot Dean’s death scene, knowing how much they would need to be ‘in it’.
Jared: At first when Dean says to Sam to keep going, it was written “I can’t do this without you” and it occurred to me that it would be nice to have a throwback to “I can’t do this alone” like Dean said to Sam in the pilot, to hearken back to the way we all started. Another thing that was important was the first thing we saw Sam and Dean say to each other on camera, Dean ‘heya Sammy’ and Sam’s ‘Dean?!’ in a fight in Sam’s apartment. I thought it would be neat if their first words were also the last words they ever said to each other. So, on that bridge, Dean says ‘heya Sammy’ and I’m dressed as best I could like the pilot and Sam says, ‘Dean.’ We talked to Andrew and Bob a lot about it, like hey are y’all okay if we kinda see what makes sense and what we’re feeling, repeating lines here and there and going with the flow? When we shot that scene, Jensen and I knew Sam and Dean in a way that no one else could. We’d lived with these guys for fifteen and a half years and felt strongly. We did the script as the script, but then we’d do little bits that were meaningful to us or helped convey a message we were trying to convey. Also it was really important to me that the last words Sam says to Dean (at this point in the panel, Jared got emotional – but so did all of us), says ‘it’s okay, you can go now’ I thought that Sam’s son Dean needed to say those same words to Sam and that was his cue to go.
The degree of caring that these actors have is frankly amazing after fifteen years. Not only are they not ‘phoning it in,’ they seem to care more than ever. About the show, about their characters, about us.
Jared, Jensen and Misha Collins have talked many times about a saying they’ve had on “Supernatural” since way back in the Eric Kripke and Kim Manners days. “Give ‘em what they want in a way they weren’t expecting.” I think they did that. We were hoping for, maybe even expecting, that there would be “peace when you are done”. And there was. It just didn’t come about in the way we were expecting. I had a conversation with Kripke a year ago, around the time Jensen also talked to him about the ending, and while he was careful not to spoil me, he said that as long as those boys are alive and together and there’s something to hunt, there’s no peace for them. It was only because Dean died first, giving Sam the explicit permission to get out and stop hunting (and only because they had managed to take out Chuck and every other ‘big bad’ and now had Jack and Cas in charge so there were no ‘big bads’ to worry about, only the everyday monsters), that Sam could find some peace in living to an old age. And it was when Sam joined Dean in heaven that they truly found those words were true: There’ll be peace when you are done.
Those words are for us, too, because we also need to find peace. I need some time to sit with these feelings of loss and to grieve this show that has been so important to me. I need to talk more to friends and write more and rewatch the finale a few more times and read Jared and Jensen and Misha’s words in Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done. I need to do more crying. And then maybe do a rewatch of The French Mistake and some gag reels to balance it out. It’s going to hurt for a long time, but I also have no intention of turning away from what I’ve learned from the Little Show That Could – always keep fighting. (And maybe anticipate that reboot….)