Before we get into the specifics of this HIGHLY EMOTIONAL hour, I just want to take a moment to appreciate the fact that we’re lucky enough to be talking about the 300th episode of this show. The story of Sam and Dean Winchester and their incredibly unpredictable lives has provided us with 300 hours of humor, horror, drama, and so, so much more. There almost aren’t words for how special this show is, but I’m so very grateful that we’ve gotten so much of it (and will get even more in the future).
Moving on to the episode, I’m happy to report that I started crying when the season recap began with “Dad’s on a hunting trip and he hasn’t been home in a few days,” so that should give you an idea of my emotional state heading into this hour!
Once the episode gets underway, we find Sam and Dean at some kind of super special pawn shop that sells old artifacts and occult objects. Or rather, it steals them. Sam and Dean are looking for a specific item that was stolen from their friend Bart, who was killed last week. So yeah, they actually came here to deal with the murdering pawn shop owner who nearly cuts Sam in half with a sword before Dean shoots him. Now, the question is: What do they do with all these objects?
Naturally, Sam decides they should bring them home because getting boxes filled with cool objects is basically his Christmas. As Sam and Dean head back home to Lebanon, they stop at the local liquor store, where the owner knows them well as the “Campbell brothers.” And this is where we get a sense of what the Lebanon locals think of our beloved heroes. Outside, a group of teens are telling tales of the Winchesters and how one time, they heard something in their trunk. “Where do they even come from,” one kid asks, “them or their weird sidekick with the trench coat? And what about the kid with the dumb Bambi look on his face all the time?” All these kids know is that the guys have an awesome car, and that’s why Max, trying to impress her crush, decides to steal it.
Inside the store, Sam discovers that they now have a pearl in their possession that is one of eight ancient Chinese artifacts, and it supposedly grants you what your heart desires. Dean instantly sees it as a way to get Michael out of his head. Only, that teen just drove off with Baby and the pearl.
Sam and Dean run outside to ask the (very scared) left behind teen for information, but he’s not sure where Max went. So they head to the Post Office, where Dean works his flirty magic and finds out that Max’s mother works at the local pizza shop. There, they discover that Feb. 7th is “skip day,” which means that kids will be at this local house blowing off steam. It’s there that Dean finds an uninjured — THANK CHUCK — Baby and a terrified kid claiming he saw a clown. Well, seeing as how John Wayne Gacy’s cigar box was one of the items the brother’s brought back, they now have to head inside and eliminate a serial killer clown, and Dean’s loving the irony. “This is like the best worst thing that’s ever happened to you,” Dean tells Sam, seeing as how his little brother loves serial killers but hates clowns.
Long story short, Sam torches the cigar box, and Sam and Dean are left to give the teens “the talk” about what they do for a living and they agree to keep their secret.
Back at the bunker, Sam hands Dean the pearl, and Dean closes his eyes. Seconds later, the lights go out and suddenly Sam and Dean are getting their butts kicked in the dark, much in the way Sam and Dean fought in the dark in the pilot. And when the lights come back on, they realize, it’s JOHN WINCHESTER!!! (I knew this was coming and my heart was still pounding as I watched it!)
John’s clearly confused, and when he makes a comment about how Sammy should be in Palo Alto, Dean asks him what year he thinks it is. His response? 2003. When John wants answers, the boys take him to the kitchen and pour him a drink to catch him up on everything. “So you saved the world,” John asks. “More than once,” Dean tells him. And now, they live in a secret bunker with an angel and Lucifer’s kid. Simple enough, right? Dean tells John about how it was John’s father who helped them find the Men of Letters bunker. John, taking it all in, tells his boys, “I just wish that I had been there to see it.” But Dean makes sure that John knows that “none of this would’ve happened without you.”
But John reassures him that he’s fine. “I went out taking out Yellow Eyes. That was the point, right? Get the thing that killed Mom.” Just then, Sam is about to tell John about Mary when she enters the bunker and calls out for Sam and Dean. The second he hears her voice, John’s face crumbles. He then turns to see the woman he spent his life trying to avenge and the two of them run into each other’s arms and share a kiss. (And if you were wondering, I’m on tissue No. 3.)
Sam and Dean give their parents a moment alone while they try to figure out what’s going on. Dean’s in heaven, but of course, Sam is worried. Sam knows how messing with time can change things, but all Dean wants is for them to have one family dinner, all four of them together. That’s it. (Next: John apologizes to Sam)