I just hope that the first episode of Season 13 will have 1) Sam facing the Nephilim - and therefore his own powers and his own destiny and making peace with it and 2) Dean facing Cas' death - and therefore his feelings and making peace with it (or not.. try true love's kiss please, it'll work). It just seemed very deliberate to set them up like that apart from each other, each facing their own challenge.
Yeah. Because that’s yet another way that Sam and Dean broke the pattern…
Every season finale since s2 has alternated whether the brothers were together or apart.:
- s2 together standing over the Impala’s trunk
- s3 dean in hell so apart
- s4 clinging to each other watching Lucifer rise
- s5 sam in hell so apart (even though we see Sam looking through the window at the end, they are effectively narratively ‘apart’ for the next year)
- s6 together kneeling before godstiel
- s7 dean in purgatory so apart
- s8 clinging to each other as the angels fall so together
- s9 demon dean on the run so apart
- s10 together in the impala as the darkness rolls across the land
- s11 dean went off to blow up amara with the soul bomb so apart
- s12 Sam left Dean by Cas’s body and ran alone to face the nephilim… breaking the pattern… because they are apart…
So much of this episode (as well as 12.22) was about BREAKING PATTERNS.
Dean FINALLY confronted Mary with the truth in 12.22, about how her deal with Azazel had affected his life. About how he’d been forced to become both mother and father to Sam, because John was too broken to be either of those things to both boys. This is the culmination of Dean’s not wanting to “overwhelm” her early on, of his discomfort at telling her the story about her life with John in 12.01, knowing all along that it was a pretty lie– but it was what Mary believed at the time. This was the final part of Dean angrily telling Mary that he’d never been a child in 12.14. That time his words had been intended to wound her, but this time he spelled the whole thing out in detail– not to wound, but to heal.
Like in 12.12, the lance that inflicted the wound was the only thing that could heal it.
So much of 12.22 was also Dean surrendering that obligation he’s always felt as Sam’s “parent” with Sam directly– trusting him to lead that mission to the BMoL headquarters. He let Sam take the entire lead over the group of hunters they recruited for the raid, and he expressed his trust in Sam in actual words.
(fyi I have 9.23 playing in the background as I type this up, and trust me when I say it’s like night and day, the dynamic between Sam and Dean…)
And that mutual trust continued and grew stronger in 12.23, and opened to include Mary as an equal partner in understanding.
When all three Winchesters showed up at the house, Cas didn’t even make a pretense of greeting the rest of the family. Just Dean.
And Dean’s first words to Cas are about how they’ll work things out between them as soon as they get Cas and Kelly to safety, reassuring him that things between them aren’t broken.
and then we had a visual confirmation of Cas’s motivations, his seemingly unconvinced “belief” in the future the nephilim had shown him. When Kelly asked him to tell her again, to reassure her that her sacrifice was worth it, Cas hesitated, and flashed back to the scene in 12.19 where the nephilim sent its power into him. It was like he had to shake something off and focus in order to remember that vision.
We even had Mary and Kelly talking about how they would die to protect their children. Right after Mary came to accept the fact that she DID die to protect her children.
The entire last ten minutes of the episode was like a dark reversal of the rescue mission to save Sam in 12.02, and the fight scene in that basement, but in an entirely jumbled up fashion.
But in an even LARGER scale, these “cosmic consequences” spiral back through every level of the story– from Mary herself and her understanding of the interconnected fate/choice of her deal with Azazel; through Amara’s influence of the story in s9 as the Winchester/Campbell family’s fate as descendants of Cain and Abel in taking on the original Mark of Cain, through her influence over s10 as the force that both kept Dean alive and was slowly killing him all the the same time, through s11 as she got to experience humanity first-hand and demand recognition from Chuck and her growth from wanting to destroy the universe just because and acceptance of the beauty it actually contained (and that Chuck’s love of the universe didn’t diminish his love for her), and then in s12 the Cosmic Consequences of her freeing Lucifer and resurrecting Mary (because her touch is chaos itself, and bringing back Mary and Lucifer HAD to be influenced by her essential chaos…). That kind of instability introduced into an orderly system that has always adhered to certain cosmic “rules” HAD to bring about this sort of fundamental chaos, you know? And hooboy do we ever have it.
The moment we learned that the entire Winchester Family History had been essentially engineered by Heaven to someday act as the key that opened the lock on the Darkness and force that confrontation and resolution of the Original Rift that created the universe, and the moment Dean orchestrated that resolution, it brought that cosmic-scale rift back down to Winchester Family levels. I know I’m not explaining it well, but it’s something Gabriel said way back in 5.08 when he was pushing Sam and Dean to accept their roles in the apocalypse– As above, so below. But now, post-resolution, that mirror’s been flipped.
Dean completed his task of balancing the universe again, but Amara’s “gifts” in the form of Lucifer removed from Castiel and the resurrection of Mary have both turned very bad. The wishes go very bad.
And they’re ALL interconnected– Castiel, Lucifer, Mary, and Amara.
And now the nephilim, as well.
The things Cas was saying about the nephilim’s vision of the future sounded appallingly similar to the things Amara had wanted in her perfect vision of the future, you know? The whole notion of remaking the world in their own vision, where there was never any conflict or hatred or pain or suffering. Amara’s ideal sounded very much the same, with her bliss pitted against the nephilim’s paradise.
It took Dean a long damn time to see that offer for what it was, to see how it wasn’t real, what Amara was offering. That it was the annihilation of self and the surrender of his identity that Amara was really offering.
Which is fundamentally identical to what the nephilim seems to be offering Cas…
Dean had to die and be reborn as a demon, then struggle through the trials of bearing the mark and eventually come to an understanding of the truth of all of it. I think that’s exactly the point in the narrative we are with Cas.
I know I am not explaining it well, because it’s taken me three hours to even put this much of it in this disorderly state, and I still don’t feel like I’m getting to the true heart of the matter here…
But once again, just like in 12.22, Sam’s struggle will be an external one, facing the nephilim as a sort of incarnation of his own life-long feelings and beliefs about HIMSELF, that he wasn’t pure, that he was a freak because of the demon blood and his powers, that he wasn’t truly human somehow because of that. And Dean’s struggle will be internal, like it was reclaiming Mary from the walls she’d been forced to construct inside her own mind in the name of self-preservation.
Sam’s walls have finally manifested into something physical for him to confront.
We’ve finally scraped the thousand layers of paint off the walls that Dean’s been putting up for the world his entire life, and he’s not trying to camouflage what’s underneath. He’s finally let something OTHER than Sam literally bring him to his knees. He’s finally shown Sam the thing that actually had the power to do that to him, too. And Sam had his little moment of acknowledgement before running off to face the nephilim alone.
And that’s the tip of the iceberg on how damn meta that finale was.