So where do I start? There's not a single scene here that I don't relish. If I list them all, this post would go on forever, and I do want to make this review shortish because, dammit! I want to go back and watch it again instead of writing about it. Thus I'll only focus on what impressed me the most, which turns out unsurprisingly, Dean.
Last week's conclusion left me wondering how long, and in what way it was gonna take Dean to find out about Sam being Lucifer's true vessel. Sam calling Dean at 4:00 in the morning with the news was hardly what I imagined, yet it made the perfect sense. The last time we saw Sam, he chose to speak to Bobby when trouble was brewing. This time Sam being so upfront and open with Dean marked a welcoming change in the younger Winchester. I guess a late night psychic visit from the Devil himself was a rude wake-up call.
I also wondered how Dean was going to react once he found out about the connection between Sam and Lucifer. I imagined he'd be pissed, raging with anger. There might even be fist flying. But this quiet resignation we saw was better fitting actually. Initially, my reaction was exactly like Sam's: "That's all you have to say?" Then it hit me: he wasn't all that surprised. But of course! Him still reeling from being Michael's vessel himself notwithstanding, it's not like Dean wasn't forewarned he might have to kill his brother before. Sam's answer to his destiny is to come out fighting. Kudos to him. He's not going to take it lying down. But Dean was weary. He sounded subdued. In fact the whole time since he checked in that cheap motel, Dean seemed tired. He even said so himself. It looks as if Dean was afraid fate would catch up with the two of them after all. Dean told Sam they might as well pick a different Hemisphere to live, not because he was still mad at his brother or his feeling remained hurt, it was because he couldn't face the prospect of killing Sam. The look on Dean's face as he hung up the call was a giveaway to the pain he felt for telling Sam to stay away.
Fast forward 5 years. The post Apocalyptic setting looks...devastating. One thing that always ticked me with Battlestar Galactica was its nuked planet Caprica looked too pristine. But one can only do so much with a meager TV budget. Luck would have it that Supernatural's production team was able to utilize Watchman's old movie set. Don't know if Jeffrey Dean Morgan had anything to do with it, but one couldn't help noticing the connection.
The dirty and beat-up Impala Dean saw at the entrance of Camp Chitiqua is a foreshadow to how tarnished and broken Dean was in the future. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Lemme first have a moment of indulgence to appreciate the pure aesthetic value of a double dose Dean. Yes layne67 I see your point that there was little physical change to Dean in 5 years. But Dean more or less sported that look since he was in high school! Yeah, yeah, it's the Apocalypse. They have no toilet paper, but they apparently have plenty of hair gels, beers, and gasoline. One never could claim Supernatural faithfully depicts realism, if all those artfully arranged "cheap" motel rooms were any indication. So I'll just do the hand-waving here and chalk them all up to artistic freedom. After all, 2014!Dean is nothing short of gorgeous to stare at. I quite agree with ala_tariel that future Dean looked even hotter if possible. Maybe it was the mannerism, the more decisive way he carried himself, or it was the slightly deeper tan he had, but the 2014!Dean looked edgier.
While the difference between the two Deans was subtle in appearance, it was quite obvious viscerally. The 2014!Dean was understandably hardened by all these years fighting a loosing battle. He could shoot to kill a comrade he just shared a beer with without batting an eye; he took up torture without a trace of remorse; he unhesitatingly used his friends as cannon fodder; this future!Dean was hardcore to say the least. "Something is broken in you." Dean told his future self. That was the best summation of what happened to him. But before one can judge this 2014!Dean too harshly (his old self called him a dick, a great moment if I may say so), let's not forget the circumstance he was in. What is so terrifying about Apocalypse after all? I think it's a little more than the raze of the infrastructure, and the loss of the loved ones. It's the disintegration of civilized conducts, of humanistic values. To borrow the terminology from my favorite character Lee Adama from Battlestar Galactica, what we have here post Apocalypse are groups of gangs replacing the civilization, and the future!Dean is the "fearless leader" of one of them. So yes, maybe we didn't get to see more terrifying zombies, or adrenaline pumping action sequences, but this post Apocalyptic future wasn't any less bleak by the glimpse of what happened to the main protagonists.
A review of this episode would not be complete if it doesn't mention Castiel. When he was shown with his female groupies, I was sure I'm not the only one who saw Battlestar Galactica before recalled Baltar and his little harem. The Buddha idol in the background was easy to spot, if not ironic considering who, or rather what Castiel is. The years have not been kind to the Angel. The Cas we saw here completely lost his religion, and therefore his bearing. Comedic value aside, there's such sadness clinging to the 2014!Cas.
But I sidetrack. Speaking of sad, none other is more desolate than Dean himself here. When he realized the last conversation he and Sam had were their early morning phone call 5 years ago, the horror that was evident on Dean's face, mirrored by the regret let out by his future self were heartbreaking. Then there was the way Dean sees himself: the 2009!Dean was disturbed by his future self's nonchalant way of taking up torture, even if the victim was a demon. Among many facets of Dean, he is a principled man. Thus it was his biggest shame when he broke and started torturing souls in Hell. Realizing he would break again in the future must have been a nightmare come true for Dean. Consequently, the 2014!Dean called his younger self arrogant for refusing to become the Michael Sword. Knowing the propensity Dean has for blaming himself for everything, I could only imagine the anguish the future!Dean must have felt for letting the Apocalypse to continue. Sure enough, the desperate plea he made to his old self to accept Michael was gut wrenching. Yet, tarnished and broken, Dean was still the same man deep down. Therefore he knew his old self would not do it. The empty look in the future Dean's eyes when he said that showed how despondent he really was.
The last sliver of hope Dean had was to kill Lucifer with the Colt. Even that would be a double edged victory because the 2009!Dean learned the grievous news that the Devil he's after was really Sam. We weren't told why Sam said yes to Lucifer. It sure makes good material for fanfictions. Personally my shipper heart says he did it to save Dean. After all, Lucifer did warn Sam in Free to Be You and Me that refusing his destiny would only lead to the death of the one closest to him. It also makes good speculation whether or not the Colt can kill Lucifer. We know Dean's last ditch effort failed here. What we don't know is how. Was Lucifer too powerful for the Colt, or was it because Dean couldn't do the deed in the end despite everything. Either way, Lucifer ended up breaking 2014!Dean's neck, and the Colt was no where in sight.
The confrontation between the 2009!Dean and Lucifer was the slashiest moment I've seen on Supernatural. From the way Lucifer reaching out to touch Dean on the shoulder, to the symbolic red roses strategically placed between them, and the softly spoken promise "We'll meet again soon," the scene had a strong romantic undertone if you ask me. I'm quite amused by the white suit Lucifer wore in the scene. Whether or not it looked good depends on personal taste (I thought it looked smashing on Jared), what I realize is the curse of the white dresses doesn't limit to the female characters on the show. Now Sam too was possessed by the Devil while wearing the same colored clothes! Normally white represents purity and innocence. It's interesting here that there's a twist of sin and malignance added to what should have been immaculate.
I thought Jared's delivery of Lucifer's speech was outstanding. He made the Devil appear sincere and earnest, and dangerously charismatic too. The chilling menace and arrogance lurked palpably under his compelling exterior. Jensen's depiction of Dean's response to Lucifer's monologue was quite impressive as well. Dean was defiant and vulnerable at the same time. He called bullshit on the "Sympathy for the Devil" spiel. Dean saw Lucifer clearly for what he is: a supernatural creature with an over sized ego. But cheeky bravery aside, the glistening tear belied Dean was heartbroken here. Try as he may, he could not easily dismiss Lucifer's claim that this is where they would end up in five years. Dean knew the truth behind Lucifer's prediction that he would not say yes to Michael, and he would not kill Sam. The question left is would his ornery stance really condemn the people he tried to save all his life to Hell on Earth? It's a scary thought when Lucifer deemed it unnecessary to kill the 2009!Dean because he was certain no matter what Dean would have done, this outcome is what they would get.
So is this future for real? Is it a concoction of Zachariah? I'm inclined to believe the pesky Angel really did thrown Dean into the future, because I think like Lucifer, he couldn't tell a direct lie either. But is the future set in the stone? Dean, as a person who doesn't quite believe in fate, didn't think so. That's why he stayed true to himself and said no to Michael once again. I love it when Dean's cockiness shows up again. Here's a thought: had the request coming from Angels like Castiel or Anna, I think Dean might be more likely to agree being Michael's vessel. But Dean doesn't trust Zachariah as far as he could throw him. Where he's concerned, Michael is just like Uriel, Zachariah, Raphael, or worse, Lucifer. In other words, another supernatural creature he should dispel all together. The intriguing question is what would Michael turn out to be?
The lesson Zachariah wished to teach Dean didn't come to pass. But Dean took away from the ordeal precisely what he should have learned. He realized the love he and Sam shared is their weakness and strength. They are each other's reason to keep fighting the tough fight, to stay grounded. Bless his heart! Who says the boy is not bright enough should seriously re-evaluate.
I'm not ashamed to admit tears were running down my face when the boys had their reunion. It was every bit the bittersweetness I had been hoping for. I maybe the only one out here who's glad the writer refrained from making the boys hug. Not only do I not wish to unman them too much, I also don't think everything between them is resolved to its perfection here. Whatever trouble still lurks between the boys, one thing is for sure though: when Dean handed Sam Ruby's demon slaying knife, the boys reached an important milestone in rebuilding their relationship. I noticed Sam's uncomfortable flinch when Dean pulled out that knife. It was as if he was unpleasantly reminded his past association with Ruby. But when Dean passed the knife back to Sam, it was his way of saying all that was forgiven. Dean wanted to take their fate into their own hands. But can they really do that? The last shot on Dean's face captured a slight worrying look. And that's the beauty of the character -- he maybe unsure of the outcome, but he would never give up before the fight is over.
Alas, this post ran way longer than I intended. I seriously need to work on my wordiness. I originally wanted to include my screencaps here, but seeing the length of this thing, I'll make a separate post for that instead. Before I finish however, I want to quote some of the things Cynthia said in her review at SFUniverse. In particular, I was fascinated by what she said in regard to the technical aspect of the episode:
The special effects – I’m fascinated by how they did the double Deans. In the past, it would have been a split screen but this looked more like a greenscreen digital kind of thing. The small moment that killed me was when future dean put two glasses on the table one further from his hand, one closer. In an old split screen, he’d have to grab the closer one because that would be the only one actually there in his frame. But he reaches across and grabs the further glass with past Dean reaching across the midline to get the glass on furthest from him. As I understand split screens, you can’t cross the midline because you’d be reaching into a spot on the film that will be cut away when you film the reverse. Probably making a bigger deal out of it than it was but I just spent hours reviewing the Patty Duke Show which is all split screen so it caught my eye.Her entire review can be found here.
My score for the episode: A+