Supernatural Series Finale Review: Carry On

Carry on, wayward sons. The Supernatural series finale has arrived.

Sam and Dean in the Supernatural Series Finale
Photo: The CW

This Supernatural series finale review contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 15, Episode 20.

Supernatural Season 15, Episode 20

We’ve made it to the end. 15 seasons. Saving people, hunting things — the family business.

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For fifteen years, two brothers with a historically cursed name have traveled the country in a cherry 1967 Chevy Impala, taking down baddies and saving the innocent, all on a quest to find out where their father went on a hunting trip, or to stop the demon Azazel, or stop the Apocalypse, avoid destiny, confront the Darkness, and deny God himself. The thing is, a show that started out as a monster-of-the week quickly revved up into an all encompassing story that entertained, terrified, and had heavy themes on family and self identity as it was about eviscerating creatures from the beyond. 

The previous episode saw the true ending of the season — Chuck had been defeated, Jack was promoted to deity status to put things right and the world in a sense began turning as usual again. What we have here in the true series finale is a wrap up on the fifteen years preceding that. This episode should be looked as as an epilogue, with enough references to keep longtime fans laughing at all the inside jokes.

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The beginning is sweet. The boys have saved the world, again, and its time to enjoy life. Dean gets his dog Miracle back — possibly a gift from Jack. The boys find themselves at a pie festival, and Sam jokingly smashes pie in Dean’s face.

Sam and Dean end up in a classic hunt, tracking down a vampire nest they’re able to research in Dad’s journal of all things, something we haven’t seen in a while. Sam and Dean call themselves Agents Singer and Kripke for the shows Executive Producer and Creator. Sam and Dean are aware of the fact that Supernatural is a show in another universe, so that’s an intentional meta-commentary.

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Except for the skull masks these vamps wear, everything is pretty standard hunting fare. They even have time to unveil the Impala’s trunk of weapons and poke fun at one of the sillier contributions — some throwing stars. Where’d that curved hand-scythe from the Season 2 DVD cover art go?

The fight progresses with all the old Supernatural fight favorites — a weapon knocked out of hand, Sam choked to unconsciousness, Dean macho-fighting something bigger than him. It’s all going to plan. 

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But what should have been a typical battle against vampires with one fun cameo thrown in turned dire as a hunk of rebar ended the fight. The metal bar sticking out of a post in the barn was teased in an earlier shot, the perfect classic setup for a last ditch weapon to turn to monster-jabbing. Instead, a wrong move led to Dean being impaled. 

“You always knew it was going to end like this for me,” Dean said to his brother in a tearful goodbye. “We had one hell of a ride.”

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Dean gets enough time to share some thoughts close to his heart with Sam. He reveals that right before the “Woman in White” mission– the pilot episode — Dean stood outside Sam’s door for hours, afraid of how Sam would react. The family had been split at the time, and Dean couldn’t be sure of his brother’s response. And seeing these two men shaky crying and saying their goodbyes — it’s amazing how far they got to go in growing closer as family. Family is, of course, the core of this show about hunting monsters. 

“You always keep fighting, you hear me?” It’s their mission statement. It’s saving people, hunting things. But the horrifying realization is that Sam will have to do this alone. Having what I call the “sad Supernatural theme” play in piano over this moment just echoed with nostalgia and heartbreak. It’s a song used a lot in the early years of the season when something major happened. It had so much more weight at this moment. 

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Granted, plenty of fans will be annoyed that Dean died. But knowing the aftermath? It makes it a little lighter, doesn’t it? But just because you know Heaven exists doesn’t make losing a friend any easier. It still hurts. It always will. And I think that’s another idea Supernatural has shown the fans over the years. 

The happy times in the beginning are in stark contrast to the mid episode, when Sam and Miracle the dog are left behind, with reminders of who he lost all over. A gut punch of emotion is lobbed when he sees the initials scratched into the Men of Letters Table — Mary, Dean, Castiel, Jack… all people he’s lost one way or another in recent history.

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Deans “other other phone” finally gets an on-screen appearance and is answered for once. Part of the running joke of the “other other phone” was the fact that once Sam hears that particular voicemail, he’s run out of contact options and Dean must be in trouble. Sam being the one to answer this phone seems all the more pivotal in selling the fact that Dean… is gone. 

Sam is thrown back into the fray with this phone call, back to work. Austin, TX, a city that’s near and dear to our boys in real life as they’re both Texans. 

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Sam living his life and growing old. He gets to live the picture perfect life with a child and wife. We don’t see him hunting beyond that Austin case, so maybe he hung up his salt shotgun in order to have the life he always wanted. Notably, the wife is never shown clearly. This reviewer can only surmise that Eileen didn’t make the cut when it came to resurrection time. That’s tragic. Almost as tragic as Sam’s old-age wig. Old Sam’s wig is… not the most convincing. But one can set that aside to relish in the fact that he got to be happy, and it’s his son who echoes his own words: “It’s okay, you can go now.” Bad wig and Eileen-snub aside, that was a tear jerker. 

Meanwhile… Dean made it to Heaven, and the first person he meets is Bobby Singer. Dean, expecting Heaven to play by the old rules, wonders which memory this could be. Bobby explains how Heaven is no longer a solitary experience where each person relives his greatest hits. Jack made things right — now Heaven is as it should be, with families able to be together again. This was something I’m glad the Supernatural writers fixed. I always thought the “heaven as good memories” thing was a bit of a letdown. And it was sad to see people like Ash and Ellen and Jo being separated in the afterlife. Now? Everyone can be truly, not falsely, happy. 

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Dean sits in his Heaven-version of Impala, an earlier version that still has the old Kansas plate. Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son,” the series’ unofficial-but-still-kinda-official theme song plays. 

Sweeping drone shots of the Impala lovingly detail Dean’s joyride in the Impala. These shots are juxtaposed against Sam going on living. It’s bittersweet, that’s for sure, but seeing Dean genuinely happy and Sam finally living a normal life? It’s still kind of beautiful, you know. 

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It’s just a matter of time, and Sam finally joins his brother. Finally,  a happy ending for two brothers who’ve experienced enough tragedy for several lifetimes. They can rest easy, and carry on.

You can’t discuss any ending without mulling over the missed opportunities. We don’t see Castiel and Jack, even though they’re mentioned. Destiel fans are likely still not recovered and that probably didn’t help. Mary and John Winchester and Donna Hanscum are mentioned and not seen. In fact, a lot of characters are doing things off screen, and yet we got a cameo from a random vampire. 

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And part of me has always wanted a trunk shot in which Sam declares “We have work to do” to carry through on that fighting spirit. 

The Twitter-sphere saw a number of emotional responses to the finale, some of them annoyed at certain choices made in this ending. The truth is, although the writers have come to a conclusion here, all fans in the Supernatural family will have their own personal head canon dictating how their real ending looks. 

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All in all, this series found a way to wrap up a major season baddie pre-episode, only to wrap up a series long tease — the true end of the road for the Winchester brothers being death. Death, however is not the end here, nor is the finale of this series the end of its impact. The Supernatural Family will always keep fighting, have work to do in the way of charitable causes, and carry on because of a horror fantasy series that gave them equal parts hope and entertainment. Not all shows can attest to that. 

Rating:

4.5 out of 5