“Supernatural” ran for 15 years, devouring days of our lives and taking years off of it. For a decade and a half, Jared Paledecki and Jensen Ackles have played the iconic brother duo Sam and Dean Winchester. Both of us binged an unholy amount of the show in recent weeks, frantically trying to catch up before the finale. The plot was intriguing, each character greatly changed from early seasons, and the show seemed set to end on a beautiful, happy note. For 15 seasons, “Supernatural” made us feel that these characters would find peace when their trials were done. Instead, the writers threw character development out the window in favor of a finale that could have been written for the end of season one.
Warning: Many spoilers will follow. Proceed at your own risk.
This season, the Winchester brothers faced their worst villain yet: God—also known as Chuck (Rob Benedict). In a very heavy-handed way, Chuck, as a writer himself, represented the writers. Internally, Chuck was the one pulling the strings all along—or so he claimed. “Team Free Will 2.0,” as they dubbed themselves, successfully defeated the literal God of the “Supernatural” universe relying on help from all the friends and enemies they’ve made along the way.
The finale addressed none of that. That resolution came one episode prior, with Jack (Alexander Calvert) becoming the new Chuck. Instead of an hour of happiness, like a well-deserved epilogue at the end of a novel, the showrunners decided to completely revert back to the tropes of season one: two brothers, their car and the knowledge of an inevitable early death.
The finale ignores crucial characters and gives Dean Winchester a sloppy, unsatisfying demise. Only two episodes ago, Castiel (Misha Collins) got sent to the equivalent of super-mega-hell after sacrificing himself. He told Dean he loves him, sending the Internet into a “Destiel is canon” frenzy, only to willingly and happily die for Dean seconds later, sending Dean—and fans—on a grief trip like no other. For the finale, Dean dies on a hunt, scared and in pain. He survived years of monster attacks only to die impaled on a pole in a barn facing some low-level vampires. Dean literally helped kill God himself in the previous episode. Not just a god—though he’s killed plenty of those. THE God. Dean Winchester, impaled, 2020, a tombstone might read. It just doesn’t sit right.
In a closing sequence, “Carry On Wayward Son”—the show’s defacto theme song—played twice over a montage of Dean on a road trip in heaven and Sam growing old on earth. Sam is seemingly married with a child, but the one shot we get of his wife has her blurred out in the distance. Do women exist in “Supernatural?” Well after 15 years, we couldn’t tell you.
Sam’s house is covered in old photos of himself and Dean, with a couple of his parents thrown in. There doesn’t appear to be a single image of Cas, Jack or any of the other friends they made—and there doesn’t even seem to be a picture of his wife! This montage was likely meant to be a satisfying ending to Sam’s story. He finally got the good old-fashioned life he always wanted. The payoff never comes though, as this decision is poorly executed, wildly out of character and shown through a gray wig that clearly came from Party City. At the end of the montage, Sam finally dies, reuniting in heaven with Dean. At this point, I think I can safely say not a single fan cared about this reunion. The truly touching moments of the show lie in the found family between characters, not vaguely incestuous death scenes and a subsequent reunion in the afterlife. “Supernatural” writers, we promise that a forehead touch between brothers isn’t the touching moment you think it is.
The episode was, in a word, fake. From costuming to plot, the end to a 15-year run felt completely unreal. And in a way, nothing could summarize those years. How do you take a television show the age of a high-schooler and conclude it? How do you end something that’s represented such a large part of the viewer’s life, the actor’s life, the writer’s life?
In that way, “Supernatural” shockingly succeeded. The final clip, a thank you from Jensen and Jared to the fans for keeping them on air for such a long time, manages to pull it all together. “Supernatural” has had more than its fair share of meta moments. From “The French Mistake” to the musical episode, the series hasn’t shied away from poking fun at itself. But the fakeness of the finale wasn’t met with more meta, or some sort of joke at the show’s expense. Instead it was concluded with a sincere message of gratitude from the actors and showrunners, who are probably wondering what to do with their newfound free time.
Unrealisms, meta episodes and jokes aside, the conclusion to “Supernatural” was heartwarming, not because of the episode’s plot or acting, but because the audience got to connect with the actors and showrunners in a final, real moment. In a way, all of us got to mourn and celebrate the show’s completion. Everyone got to take a little piece of credit for the show’s successes and its flaws. Everyone was on the same team. With the ending of “Supernatural” in all its glory, all of us got to share just one perfect moment with each other. And in an alarming political climate and a global pandemic, those little moments of connection mean all the more.