The Winchesters take on Lucifer, and not everyone makes it out alive

By Samantha Highfill
May 18, 2017 at 11:29 PM EDT
All Along the Watchtower
Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW
S12 E22

Guys. GUYS. This is one of those moments where I can’t seem to find the words, which is really unfortunate, because here I am, writing a recap. But I will say this: I really liked this season-ender. I think I slightly preferred the penultimate episode to the finale, but both were solid and worked extremely well as a package deal. Am I emotionally shattered from those deaths? Of course I am. Do I think they’ll stick? I’m not positive, but the fact that I’m doubting it means this show is doing something right.

Okay, let’s start with the penultimate hour.

We kick things off by checking in with a brainwashed Mary Winchester, who’s currently picking off hunters like it’s her job. And based on the text Ketch just sent her, Jody Mills is on her list.

Meanwhile, Sam and Dean are trapped in the bunker with Toni, who convinces them not to kill her under the promise that she’ll fix Mary when all of this is said and done. Furthermore, Toni’s the one who tells them about the manual override switch outside of the bunker. Yes, you read that right. It’s outside of the bunker. Hence the problem.

In day one of being trapped, Sam decides that magic is their way out. Surely there has to be a spell that can help them break free. Well, that’s probably true, and they even get close, but the thing is: Ketch put a mystical dampener of some sort on the bunker, so magic is out.

Next idea? The boys spend day two going “straight Shawshank” and trying to break through a concrete wall because behind it sits a pipe that leads to the surface. But all the muscle in the world couldn’t break through that wall in the short amount of time that they have. Defeated, Sam and Dean take a break, and Sam can’t seem to forgive himself for ever trusting the British Men of Letters. He admits that he followed them simply because following was easier than leading.

When Sam asks Dean if this is how he pictured the end, Dean admits he always thought they’d go out like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid — in a blaze of glory. Just like that, Dean gets an idea. It’s time for the grenade launcher!

Having his Die Hard moment, Dean shoots the grenade launcher at the wall, and it works! Just as Sam collapses from the thinning air, the power comes back on, and Dean opens the front door. He made it out, and all he’s got to show for it is a bloody leg.

Once they’re free, Sam and Dean start calling hunters to warn them about the BMOL. Dean gets in touch with Garth, but it’s Jody they’re worried about. By the time they get to Jody’s, Mary is already tied up. It seems Jody took her down, and now, it’s Toni’s turn to fix her. Only, she can’t. Spoiler: She lied in order to save herself. (Shocker!) Toni claims Mary can’t be saved, and when Ketch won’t stop calling Mary’s phone, Sam goes into full leader mode.

Sam gathers all the hunters Jody can find and gives the sort of speech you’d expect to end with a “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” As Dean looks on proudly, Sam tells them that it’s time to take the fight to the British Men of Letters. “We will win. We will take down the bad guys, because that’s what we do,” Sam tells them. “They’re scared of us, yeah. Good. They should be.”
NEXT: A heartbreaking moment for Dean and Mary

With that, the hunters get ready to go, but Dean is staying behind. With his injured leg, he won’t be any good in a battle — at least not a physical one. He knows Sam is ready for this, so while he’s gone, Dean is going to embark on an emotional battle to save mom. After a brother hug, Sam promises to come back, and then we get our beloved “bitch,” “jerk,” which translates to “I love you” in Winchester.

While Sam and the other hunters ambush the BMOL headquarters, Toni hooks both Dean and Mary up to some electrodes. Those, along with a hypnotic agent/sedative, are Dean’s best shot to get through to his mom. Toni knocks them both out, and when Dean wakes up, he’s back in his childhood home. Sam’s still a baby. Mary’s still a mother. And Dean still loves pie.

They’re the perfect family, but Mary can’t seem to hear him. Or rather, she doesn’t want to. Dean quickly realizes that Mary is ignoring his adult self. She’s choosing this. And when she tells young Dean the she’ll never let anything bad happen to him, adult Dean says something he never thought he’d say to his mother: “I hate you.”

In a scene that has been a long time coming — and is beautifully acted by Jensen Ackles and Samantha Smith — Dean tells Mary the truth. She lied to him. She promised to keep him safe, but in reality, she made the deal with Azazel that would ruin everything, that would destroy their perfect life. “I had to be more than just a brother,” Dean tells her. “I had to be a father, and I had to be a mother to keep him safe, and that wasn’t fair. And I couldn’t do it.” Dean then begins catching Mary up on everything she missed, all the ways he couldn’t protect his little brother over the years: Azazel killing Sam’s girlfriend; Lucifer possessing Sam; Sam being tortured in hell; and, of course, Sam losing his soul. “I hate you,” he tells her again. “I hate you and I love you. Because I can’t help it. You’re my mom.”

And then, just moments after Dean finally let himself admit he can hate and love his mom, he takes it one step further: He forgives her. He knows what it is to make deals to save those you love. So he forgives her and promises they can move forward, but only if she looks at him. She has to see him. And she does. (I’m crying just writing about this scene. This is one of the things this show does best — pulling on all of the many crazy, out-of-this-world experiences to further a very grounded and relatable personal relationship between two people. For these two characters, this might be their most powerful scene yet. And for the show in general, it’s definitely up there.)

Just as Dean gets through to Mary, Ketch shows up and rips him out of his unconscious state. Toni’s dead, and now Ketch is after Dean. But just as Ketch is about to shoot Dean, Mary shoots Ketch. Ketch is right about one thing: Dean and Mary are both killers. And that’s why she kills Ketch.

As for the rest of the BMOL, Dr. Hess is the last one standing, and she tries to convince Sam that they need each other. She informs him of Lucifer’s escape, but Sam has learned his lesson. This time, he passes on working with the BMOL, and when Hess goes for her gun, Jody puts a bullet in her head. Well, I guess that’s the end of that story!

Sam then returns to the bunker just in time to hear Mary admit that she stayed away from her boys because it was too hard to see what she’d done to them. Dean tells her that everything that’s happened since she made a deal with Azazel is exactly what has made them who they are, and as Dean puts it: “We kick ass.” Still, Mary is scared Sam won’t be able to forgive her.

In that moment, Sam tells her she has nothing to be scared of. Then we get a family hug to end the first hour.

Now, to the finale!
NEXT: One more showdown with Lucifer

Castiel is hiding Kelly in a small house in Washington, where Kelly’s currently facing a truly terrible foe: IKEA. (Needless to say, IKEA wins and we’ve all been there.) But after Castiel promises to raise her son into someone she’ll be proud of, she’s willing to let that one loss go. Plus, it’s evident Castiel is very serious about this baby thing. Not only does he buy roughly 1,000 diapers, but he’s apparently read 74 books on child rearing — hence the diapers. So, instead of fighting her fate, Kelly records a video message to let “Jack” know that she loves him and that he quite literally has an angel watching over him.

Back at the bunker, the boys realize they need Rowena’s help if they’re going to put Lucifer back in the cage, but when they call her, Lucifer picks up… and he’s standing over Rowena’s burnt body.

So, with Rowena out, Sam and Dean come up with a new plan: Get Cas and Kelly, and keep moving. As for how they’ll find them, they start looking for “signs.” Apparently, when a Nephilim is born, crazy things start happening. So, much like every other day, the Winchesters are trying to find something weird.

Want weird? How about some sort of portal that shows up at the house, and when Castiel enters, he finds himself being attacked by a demon before being saved by … someone we know? More on that later.

The Winchesters don’t find the portal just yet, but they do find Crowley, who was in fact hiding out in the body of a rat for the past few days. And Dean is not happy to see him. Dean punches Crowley and wants to know if it’s true: Did Crowley let Lucifer out?

Before Dean kills him, Sam brings up the point that Crowley might be able to help with the witch spell now that Rowena’s dead — Crowley’s fine with that fact, by the way. Crowley then admits that he let Lucy go because he “wanted to win.” He was sick of people coming for his crown, and if he had the devil on a leash, he figured no one would dare challenge him. But, thanks to his time as a rat, he’s realized he doesn’t even want to be King of Hell anymore — too many moaning souls, too much paperwork. Now, he’s prepared to help, because when it comes to the end of the world, he knows to bet on the “big beautiful lumbering piles of flannel” known as the Winchesters. And in exchange, Crowley promises to help put Lucifer back in the cage and then seal the gates of hell once and for all.

With that, Sam and Dean discover their something weird — a massive power outage in Washington — and hit the road, but Crowley stays behind… mostly because Dean stabs his hand with the demon blade and tells him not to move.

Back at the house, Castiel is telling Kelly about the future her son showed him. It was paradise — a world without fear, without suffering. And it’s what Castiel knows her son will bring. At least, that’s the hope.

As Kelly starts having contractions, the Winchesters arrive. Mary sits with Kelly while Castiel, after healing Dean, gets to explain the portal out back. As he puts it, it’s a tear in space and time, a doorway to another world. Dean’s response? “Like Narnia?” Not quite.

It’s a doorway to another earth, an alternate reality. No, Sam, not the bizarro world you got zapped to in “The French Mistake” — good times — but something else entirely. It seems the child’s power is puncturing the fabric of their universe, which bodes well for, you know, no one.
NEXT: A familiar face (and several deaths)

Sam and Dean then take a peak into what’s on the other side. Once there, Castiel explains that this is a world where Sam and Dean were never born. Or rather, Bobby explains it!! Well, alternate-Bobby.

This Bobby doesn’t know Sam and Dean. He knew Mary, which is how he’s heard John’s name, but John died more than 40 years ago, and according to Bobby, Azazel got to Mary 10 years ago. And if this is a world where Sam and Dean aren’t around, it was never saved, which is why it’s currently locked in an eternal war between heaven and hell. Armies of angels are fighting armies of demons, and humans are dying left and right. Even worse? These demons have horns!

The one good thing about this world is that Rufus and Bobby are still hunting together. Also, they’ve created angel-killing bullets, which are just practical. But that’s all Sam and Dean need to know before Castiel returns them to their world. It’s then that Crowley shows up with the answer to all their problems.

And so the plan begins. Sam, Dean, and Castiel head out front to face Lucifer, who’s back in all his glory. (I’ve said this many times and I will say it again — Mark Pellegrino is so, so good as Lucifer.) As far as Lucifer’s concerned, today is take two of the apocalypse, because, as he puts it, “when in doubt, go with the classics.” But when Sam and Dean run through the portal, Lucifer is too intrigued not to follow.

Once there, Dean uses the angel bullets on Lucifer, but they don’t work, which is why it’s a good thing Dean is only a distraction while Crowley and Sam put the finishing touches on a spell that will trap Lucifer on this earth before sealing it off. And here’s where things get emotional (again).

The final ingredient in the spell is a life, so Crowley takes out an angel blade, and after saying one final, “Bye, boys,” stabs himself in the chest.


Then Castiel charges into the alternate world to go after Lucifer. Why? Don’t ask me! Sam and Dean make it back to the real world and all seems fine when Castiel joins them… until Lucifer puts an angel blade through Castiel’s chest. How am I supposed to keep writing?!?!

At this point, Mary shows up with her warded brass knuckles and gets to do what she’s always wanted: punch Lucifer in the face. She tells her sons she loves them before giving Lucy a beatdown he’ll remember. She forces him back through the tear… but he pulls her with him. So, just as the world is sealed off, Mary is stuck with Lucifer in the post-apocalyptic reality.

As for Dean, he’s left kneeling next to Castiel in disbelief while Sam heads upstairs to find a dead Kelly and, in the next room, a young boy named Jack… with yellow eyes.

As I said before, I don’t know how many, if any, of these deaths will stick, but I have to say: The penultimate episode had a very “Abandon All Hope” vibe to it, which I really enjoyed, and that’s not even including the great Dean-Mary stuff. As far as the finale goes, my only complaint is that I want more Lucifer. I almost wish they’d stretched the battle with Lucy out for another hour, but I give the show props for not playing anything safe, even 12 seasons in. I cried. I was truly, truly shocked. And I can’t wait for next season.

Episode Recaps

Devil's Bargain


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

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