A little sibling bonding prevents the end of the world, and Dean gets a surprise reunion

By Sara Netzley
May 26, 2016 at 04:56 AM EDT
Katie Yu/The CW
S11 E23
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Well, that was a different feel for a Supernatural finale, no? After a hugely enjoyable 11th season that saw some fantastic episodes (Baby! The Vessel! Don’t Call Me Shurley!), the season-long battle of darkness versus light ended with hand holding, family therapy, and a pillar of yin and yang smoke. Still, we’re left with two mysteries to ponder until the fall.

So. We start where we left off last week. God’s dying, which leaves Amara free to end all of creation because the cosmic balance between light and dark has been destroyed. And when the light outside starts to dim, it becomes clear that Amara’s going to end the world by slowly killing the sun.

In light of this (snerk!), our band of heroes, anti-heroes, and deities decide to drink away the rest of their hours on Earth.

Dean’s the first to throw in the towel. “Look, man, if you’ve got something for me to punch, shoot, or kill, let me know, and I’ll do it. I’ll do it until I die. But how are we supposed to fix the freaking sun?”

He has a point, so Rowena brews some tea, and she and Chuck trade stories about their children. Hers involves a pantsless Crowley’s “wee banger just flapping in the breeze” when he was a kid, and Chuck tells her Adam and Eve were the same way.

“Kids,” they say together, while Crowley mutters, “I’m so glad the world is ending.”

Meanwhile, Dean and Castiel (who was de-Lucifered thanks to Amara last week) go for a little cruise in Baby, and they hard-core discuss their feelings. Dean wants Cas to know that letting Lucifer possess him was the right choice, and he tells Cas how important he is to him and Sam: “You’re the best friend we’ve ever had. You’re our brother, Cas. I want you to know that.” Castiel’s clearly moved.  

Sam’s the only one who’s not treating the end of the world like it’s last call, and he urges the group to do something, anything. They finally decide that if the balance of the universe is off with the Light dying, the only hope is to kill the Darkness, too. If the balance is restored, maybe the universe will survive. Chuck’s reluctant, but everyone else is on board.

Turns out, the way to kill God’s sister is to build a bomb of light. Chuck’s too weak to magic up the 10,000 suns set to supernova that it’ll take, so Castiel does some quick math. One soul equals 100 suns, and if they can collect enough, they might have a chance. Cas heads to Heaven and Crowley heads to Hell for souls, while Sam and Dean take off for the mega-haunted Waverly Hills Sanitarium to catch as many vengeful spirits as they can.

Unfortunately, the angel and the demon strike out; Heaven declined to help, and Hell’s souls were raided while Crowley was out of commission this season. And the Winchesters weren’t able to bust enough Caspers to build the weapon.

And then it’s Billie to the rescue! The reaper who hates the Winchesters doesn’t want to be out of a job, so she provides them with a soul smorgasbord. The 100,000 she offers are enough to make the Darkness-killing weapon. “Dead folks, kind of my thing,” she brags.

Ah, but there’s a catch. Now that they’ve got the bomb, someone will need to get close enough to Amara to set it off. And it can’t be carried; the bomb goes inside the carrier. Naturally, Dean steps up. Sam’s not pleased that yet again, his brother’s a voluntary sacrifice, but Rowena magics the bomb into Dean’s chest.

Before he heads out for certain death, he says his goodbye in the cemetery where his mother is buried. He asks Cas to keep Sam from doing anything stupid once he’s gone, and all Cas can do is hug him and offer to go with him. Dean just gives him a manly shoulder clasp.

Poor Sam can’t even look at him when it’s his turn for a farewell. They hug, both knowing it’s the last time they’ll see each other. And Dean’s final speech to the group is perfectly Dean: “Okay, look, I want a big funeral, all right? I’m talking epic. Open bar, choir, Sabbath cover band, and Gary Busey reading the eulogy.”

Then he looks around at the tombstones. “And for my ashes, I like it here. You know, as far as eternal resting places go …”

This whole time, Amara’s been wandering around a garden, waiting for the end and feeling worse and worse about the whole “killing everyone and everything” scheme. She bumps into an old woman who’s come to the garden to feed the pigeons. The woman’s husband has died, and her son’s talking about putting her in a home. “But you know family. Even when you hate them, you still love them,” she says. The divine hamster in Amara’s brain starts to turn in its wheel.

NEXT: Who ordered the summertime cliffhangers?

When Dean shows up, Amara’s ready to talk — and to listen.

“You’re family,” Dean tells her. “(Chuck) doesn’t want you dead. He doesn’t want any of this.” Dean compares it to the many fights he and Sam have had that always ended in forgiveness. “I need him. He needs me. And when everything goes to crap, that’s all you’ve got: family.”

This is particularly true because Amara’s actually not the one who’s killing the sun; it’s weakening because when Chuck dies, the whole universe will cease to exist, including Amara herself.

Dean tells her that she’s human where it counts, and if she puts aside her rage and hate, what she needs is her brother. So Chuck appears, and they make long-overdue apologies. She was furious that Chuck made the universe because it meant that he needed something other than her. But “what you’ve made, it’s beautiful. It took me a long time to see that.” She knows they can’t go back, but she wishes they could be family again.

They clasp hands, and the sun bursts back to life. Amara heals Chuck, who in turn removes the bomb from Dean’s chest. The duo then decide to disappear and have a sibling chill for a few millennia, leaving the Earth in the capable hands of Sam and Dean. But before they turn into twin columns of white and black smoke and vape away, Amara thanks Dean for giving her what she needed most by giving him what he needed most. Mysterious!

Okay, this denouement after a season of Amara being powerful and vengeful and blah blah blah felt a little muted, like eavesdropping on a family counseling session. I’m sure we’re all glad that the universe wasn’t destroyed, but all the apologies and speechifying and pigeon-feeding were a bit of a momentum killer. While this finale was quiet and powerful in its own way, it certainly wasn’t in line with the bloody, explosive, violent finales of seasons past.

Anyway, while Dean was overseeing sharing and caring time with the divinity twins, the B Team was holed up in a deserted pub to wait for the end of the world in glum silence. When the Darkness and Light reconcile and the sun bursts forth in its full power, they all stumble outside in shock. Seriously, people spend so much time staring directly into the sun in this episode that I’m worried about their retinal health.

Crowley and Rowena are floored that Dean actually pulled it off, but Cas and Sam are horrified at what they think this means: Dean detonated the soul bomb and took himself out with Amara. (Come on, tell me you didn’t get a little choked up at Sam’s face the instant he saw the sun getting brighter and again when his breathing got hitched and panicky with grief.)

So Sam and Cas return to the bunker to mourn, where they’re greeting by a well-to-do British woman whom we saw review her wall of crazy dedicated to the Winchesters, kiss her child goodbye, accept a packed bag of weapons and other arcane items, and hop a private jet to Kansas.

She banishes Cas with an anti-angel sigil and introducers herself to Sam: She’s Toni Bevell (Elizabeth Blackmore, who apparently wandered over from the Vampire Diaries set), and she’s not a member of the Watcher’s Council, as I was hoping. No, she’s part of the heretofore unknown London Branch of the Men of Letters, and she’s there to apprehend Sam for all the supernatural (heh!) damage he’s caused over the years. “Let’s face it, Sam, you’re just a jumped-up hunter playing with things you don’t understand and doing more harm than good.”

Sam, who thinks his brother is dead and is feeling reckless if not downright suicidal, calls her bluff when she pulls out a gun. He advances on her and taunts that she’s never going to shoot him. The last thing we see is the gun going off at what seems to be point-black range into his chest. *insert moose-hunting joke here*

And in the final 60 seconds of the season, Dean’s getting his bearings in the woods after saving the world when he hears a woman calling for help. Surprise! It’s Mary Winchester, and she’s in the nightgown she was wearing the night she died in 1983. The last word of the episode is Dean asking, “Mom?”

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Apparently, the thing that Dean most needs is his mother, and her appearance raises tons of questions: Is she back for good? Is she human? Does she know who she is? Does she knew her sons? Is this a monkey’s paw situation?

So season 11 left us with one big unresolved tease: Billie’s promise from the beginning of the season that the next time a Winchester dies, he’s staying dead. This show has been known to stretch plots beyond one measly season, so let’s assume we haven’t seen the last of Billie, and that Sam’s gunshot may come into play here.

Beyond that, it’ll be interesting to see were the show goes from here. The power creep of the bad guys each season makes it tough to keep upping the challenges facing the Winchesters. And what stakes will be higher than God fighting his sister for the continued existence of the entire universe? What can season 12 possibly throw at us?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to find out.  

Episode Recaps

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki star as the Winchester brothers, hellbent on battling the paranormal forces of evil.
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