DETAILS

Writers: Andrew Dabb & Daniel Loflin
Director: Jeff Woolnough
First aired: Thursday April 1, 2010.

SAM AND DEAN ARE KILLED AND GO TO HEAVEN — Ambushed by angry hunters, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are shot and killed and sent to Heaven. Castiel (Misha Collins) warns Dean that Zachariah (guest star Kurt Fuller) is looking for them in Heaven so they need to lay low while searching for an angel named Joshua (guest star Roger Aaron Brown) who can help them since he talks directly to God. While searching for Joshua, the brothers run into some old friends and family members.

Jeff Woolnough directed the episode written by Andrew Dabb & Daniel Loflin.

 

RECAP

Synopsis

When Sam and Dean are killed by hunters, they end up in Heaven. They discover they must find Joshua, an angel who speaks directly with God, before Zachariah can find them.

Full Recap

Dean wakes up and discovers that masked men have broken into their motel room, subdued Sam, and taken their guns. Dean recognizes them as Roy and Walt, fellow Hunters. They know how Sam started the Apocalypse and shoot him down before he can explain. Roy hesitates to shoot Dean, but Walt insists that he can make them. His brother reluctantly agrees, and Dean warns that when he comes back, he’ll be pissed. He dares Roy to shoot, and Walt finally gets it over with.

Dean recovers consciousness and finds himself sitting in the Impala on a country road. A young boy comes by with fireworks, and Dean realizes that it’s Sam and figures it’s a dream. Young Sam urges him to come with him to a nearby field and light them up. Dean remembers the entire scene from their Fourth of July, 1996. Young Sam thanks him for letting him do it and hugs him, and then sets off the rest of the fireworks. Suddenly the fireworks disappear, Young Sam disappears, and Dean remembers being shot and killed. He returns to the Impala and hear Castiel on the radio. The angel tells Dean that it isn’t a dream and he already knows where he is… Heaven, after he died. Castiel warns that his connection is difficult to maintain, and asks Dean what he sees. Dean describes the road he’s on and Castiel tells him to follow it before he’s cut off.

Dean starts driving and finally comes to a two-story country house in the town of McKinley. Inside, Sam is having Thanksgiving dinner with an average American family. As their daughter Stephanie flirts with Sam, Dean arrives and pulls him away to explain what’s going on. Sam explains that the house is from his memories of a Thanksgiving dinner when he was 11, and figures Heaven consists of their best memories. The house starts to shake and the brothers take cover, although the family doesn’t notice. Dean turns on the family’s radio and tries to contact Castiel. Castiel appears on the TV and explains that Zachariah is looking for them, and plans to put them back in their bodies so they can accept their roles as hosts. Castiel explains that he can’t return to Heaven, but the brothers need to find Joshua, an angel who talks to God. He tells the brothers to follow the road, the Axis Mundi that passes through Heaven and leads to the Garden where they can find Joshua and God. Dean is eager to go, and Sam notes that he’s surprised Dean wants to deal with God. Dean admits that they have nothing else.

The brothers leave the house but discover that the road has disappeared. Dean starts looking through the closets and finds a childhood race track. He starts it up and they find themselves in a memory of their home. Mary Winchester comes in and asks if they’re hungry. As she fixes lunch, Sam says they need to find the road but Dean asks for a few more minutes in his memory of Mary. The phone rings and Mary tells her husband that they’re not going to have this conversation. Dean remembers that their parents were fighting and John moved out for a while. Once Mary hangs up, Dean goes to hug her and assure her that he and John both love her. Sam realizes that Dean has been cleaning up John’s messes for a long time, and Dean returns to searching. They go through the house and Sam finds a postcard for Route 66.

The brothers find themselves in Sam’s old apartment in Flagstaff, where Sam had an apartment, a dog, and a wall of postcards. Dean points out that Sam ran away and they thought he was dead, and John blamed Dean. Dean goes out and Sam reluctantly follows him, and they find themselves on a road in front of an old house at night. Neither one of them recognizes it at first, but Dean finally realizes it’s the night that Sam abandoned them to go to college. Sam admits that it was a happy memory from him because he got away from John. Dean is angry that Sam abandoned them. A light suddenly shines down, pinpointing them, and they run into the nearby woods. Zachariah follows them, snaps his fingers, and makes it daylight. He calls out to warn them that they’ll be begging to agree by the time he’s done with them. The brothers run away but Zachariah is ahead of them at every turn. They duck away and find themselves face-to-face with a lucha libre wrestler. He takes them to an old building, draws a symbol on the door, and takes them inside. Inside the building is the roadhouse. The man removes his mask and reveals their dead friend, Ash.

Ash pours them a drink and explains that he was saved and the roadhouse is his personal Heaven. Heaven is a multitude of personal Heavens all crammed together. The Garden is at the center of things, but most people can’t leave their own personal Heavens. Ash is one of the few who can travel between the different Heavens, and he rigged up a police scanner to tap into the angels’ communications. He went looking for them, and explains that it isn’t the first time. However, they don’t remember because the angels wiped their memories. Sam asks about Ellen and Jo, and Ash isn’t aware that they were dead. Ash hasn’t been able to find John and Mary, but tells them he has found someone who wants to talk to them. Pamela comes in.

As Sam and Ash monitor angel communications, Dean apologizes to Pamela for getting her killed. He thinks that everyone trapped in their Heavens sounds lonely, but she points out that it’s better than Hell, and she’s happy. Dean isn’t convinced, and Pamela suggests that Dean allow Michael to use his body so that more people will end up in Heaven.

Sam and Dean find an access system to the Garden. Ash draws more symbols but warns that Zachariah will be watching every road to the Garden. Pamela tells Sam to watch himself and then kisses Dean long and hard. The brothers leave through Ash’s portal and find themselves back in their childhood home at night. Mary comes in and Dean tells her that she’s not real. She then tells him about the night she burned, and starts bleeding. When Dean starts to leave, Mary tells him not to walk away from him, and that she never loved him. Mary blames him for her death and suddenly all of the doors and windows are bricked over so they have to stay.

Mary describes the graphic details of how she died, and then points out that everyone eventually leaves Dean and it’s him. Zachariah comes in with other angels and restrains them, and explains that they had no chance of sneaking in. He boasts of how he’s been spending time with Mary’s memory, and then has his minions start beating them. Zachariah complains that he’s lost all respect in Heaven, and he’s going to take it out on them no matter whether they agree or not.

An old African-American man comes in suddenly and says that he has to talk to Dean and Sam, and that it’s God’s orders. Zachariah thinks that the angel, Joshua, is lying. However, Joshua warns that God will be back, and he won’t be happy if Zachariah disobeys him. Zachariah reluctantly departs with his minions and Joshua takes them to appear in the Garden. The brothers see it as the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. The angel explains that God talks to him, and he is currently on Earth. However, Joshua doesn’t know exactly where he is. He believes that God is lonely, and sympathizes with Joshua. Joshua then passes on God’s message to them: “Back off.” God doesn’t think it’s his problem, and he’s intervened enough by putting them on the plane and bringing back Castiel. Now God has no intention of interfering further. When Dean says he’ll muddle through, Joshua warns that he can’t defeat the Devil and he’s losing faith. God was his last hope, and Joshua has nothing else to tell him. He explains that he’s rooting for them to win, but he’s just a gardener. Joshua prepares to send them back, but tells them that this time, God will let them remember what happened.

The brothers come back to life in their hotel room. They call in Castiel, who wonders if Joshua was lying. Sam doesn’t believe it, and Castiel starts to curse God. He then gives Dean the amulet back and admits he doesn’t need it anymore because it’s worthless. After he teleports away, Sam insists that they can find another way. Dean wonders how and Sam admits that he doesn’t know, but they’ll find it together. Dean starts to go… and throws the amulet in the wastepaper basket.

 

Review by Gaelic

5.16 – Dark Side Of The Moon – Gaelicspirit review

Stream of Consciousness, episode review 5.16

This season hurts. I love it, but it hurts. Remember all that talk about thinking this should be the last season? I was full of it. I’m not ready for them to be gone. Not until they’re whole again.

I was fully smitten in Season 1. I fell in love in Season 2. By Season 3, they owned me. Season 4 I watched them break against each other, like tumbling rocks caught in an avalanche: basically together, but struggling until they shattered and ended up in the same rubble pile. Now, they’re being stacked, both dependant not only upon each other, but upon outside elements to keep upright. And they’re tipping.

I want them whole again. I want to walk away from an episode grinning because they rocked it so hard. Tonight, though, I can’t quit rubbing my heart.

In Season 4, the wearing and tearing between the brothers was somehow easier for me to accept because it was Sam falling away, losing unity, losing faith. Dean stayed strong—he faltered now and then, but all it took was a swift kick from Bobby, or his own sense of guilt and he was back. But this time around, it’s Dean that is crumbling under the crushing weight and the fact that he’s losing faith in everything—not just God or himself but also his brother…his family—is so very painful to watch.

I have to say this before I get into the ramble: I think Dean’s going to say yes, but I think it’s going to be too late. This isn’t to be read as a spoiler, because I haven’t read ahead or seen anything beyond tonight’s previews; it’s just me voicing my concern because it’s like acid in my heart when it comes to this show. I think his 2014 self was right. He’s going to find that he can’t see a way out, he doesn’t believe Sam when he says they’ll find a way, and whether or not Sam ends up in Detroit won’t matter because Dean will be soul-weary from being chased and from fighting and not knowing why he’s resisting anymore. He doesn’t even really have God on his side, or so he believes.

So he’s going to say yes because his ground is and always has been to protect others—Sam especially. And if he says yes, he’ll think he can save Sam. Make this one final sacrifice. And Michael can defeat Lucifer while he’s in an ‘inferior’ meatsuit. And the angel’s are not going to want him. And I don’t know what will happen next. And I don’t know what to do with that because he’s my hero. What do you do when your hero gives up? They better write him out of this. They better save him—or show him the way to save himself. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do if they don’t, but…well, they just better.

I know we have six episodes left after this one, but crimeny. What an emotional journey it’s been, ya’ll. Following Dean through loss, Hell, forgiveness, desperation… Following Sam through addition, devotion, humility, resolution… what they both need now is a shot of hope. Straight up. No chaser.

When they showed us the THEN and the number of times the guys have died, I wasn’t worried about what we were going to see tonight. I wrote a one-shot/zine story awhile back that was a missing tag to Mystery Spot called “No Dominion” from the Dylan Thomas poem:

They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

I think that the guys need death to have dominion. They need an end of the line. They need to be truly human again. They need to know that it can and will be taken away—for good, from both of them—without hope of return so that each moment can matter to them. Because they’re not living right now. They might be alive, but they’re not living. They’re simply soldiers fighting a war with no front for a general that went AWOL and it’s become impossible to tell the enemy from the friendlies.

Showing us the amulet—and flashing back to the moment Sam gave it to Dean—set the stage for what was the most heartbreaking scene of the whole episode. For me at least.

*takes deep breath*

Okay, so if you haven’t run off, I’ll get into the actual episode. Sorry for waxing emotional there. I’m just spun a bit. And before those of you who are more grounded than I am on a regular basis remind me that it’s simply a TV show…I know. I know it is. But it doesn’t matter. It still spins me right round, baby, right round.

Somehow, two hunters—who by their own admission aren’t the caliber of hunter that Dean is—gain access to the boys’ motel room while they’re sleeping. Dean wakes to see that Hunter #1 has managed to get his gun from beneath his pillow. Aside—gun, huh? I still pictured him with the Bowie. I still write him with the Bowie. Good thing I usually stick to writing fic in Seasons 1, 2, or 3. Anyway, Hunter #1 has Dean’s gun, Sam is awake and sitting up.

Dean’s expression and tone goes from cocky to concerned in a heartbeat when Hunter #2 (I know Dean identified them, but it was so quick that the names went right out of my head…but for some reason I keep thinking Disney…*shrug*) cocks the slide action shotgun. Right at Sam. Sam’s flinch made me flinch. His pleading, young-looking eyes had me biting my lip. Sam was scared. Dean? Looked pissed.

Hunter #2 asks Sam if he thinks he could pull the trigger on the apocalypse and get away with it. Sam looks surprised and kinda hurt wants to know who told them that. Uh…didn’t Sam tell them basically? I mean, when he told those three other hunters back in that bar/restaurant he was working during Free To Be You And Me…he kinda told the whole hunting community, didn’t he?

Sam is the first to be shot. And even though I knew it was coming, I jumped a mile. It didn’t hold the punch that AHBL 1 did—the ohmygodthiscan’tbehappening punch. It wasn’t even the punch of Sam’s surprise demise in SRTS. It was like jumping when a balloon is popped even though you’d been watching the needle approach the latex for the last minute.

Sam is blasted back against the bed, his chest a bloody mess, dead. Dean jerks in instinctive reaction and stares at his dead brother. He doesn’t move. He barely breathes. And his face…Good Lord, his expression shifts like ripples on a pond from shock to horror to disbelief to pain to anger to out-right fury. It was amazing. I think I forgot to breathe for a moment.

Hunter #1 is hesitant to shoot Dean—he could justify Sam since he started the apocalypse and all, but Dean… Hunter #2 astutely points out that Dean’s seen them, they just killed his brother and he does not want to live the rest of his life knowing that Dean Winchester was on his ass.

Okay, it’s probably totally inappropriate, but my gut was yelling a big, “You know that’s right!” It’s ‘cause our guy is a Big Damn Hero, ya’ll. And his rep is earned.

Dean tears his eyes away from his dead brother and looks right at Hunter #1, challenging him with this look of cold fury. “Do it…but when I come back, I’m gonna be pissed.”

NICE! That? Was a kick-ass line. ‘Cause Dean knows they won’t stay dead—the angels and demons vying for their will and their bodies won’t allow it. And no way does he want to stay fighting in a world where Sam is dead. So, yeah. Bring it on.

And they do—KA-BLAM!

And as the next scene began, I laughed out loud. Somewhere—either reading this now or watching a download—my friend lovinjackson is whooping. *grins at Tara* Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” is playing on the radio in the Impala and Dean appears to be asleep behind the wheel. He wakes, gets out, and sees young Sam getting a box of bottle rockets out of the back of the Impala. At first Dean thinks it’s a very weird dream, and then he just goes with it.

It’s a memory, he soon realizes, of July 4, 1996, when he and Sam went to some field and set off fireworks in secret because John wouldn’t let them. He has his old Zippo lighter that he hadn’t seen in years—I think it’s the one they tossed in after old Mordecai Murdock in Hell House, Season 1. In ’96, Sam would have been 12/13, Dean 16/17. And for a few moments, Dean looked 16 as he watched Sam dance in the light of the fireworks, Bob Dylan playing in the background. The lines on his face smoothed and he looked…lighter. Free. Happy, even. Hanging out with his little brother.

But in the flash of the fireworks, he remembers their murder and young Sam is gone. Next thing you know, he can hear Cas’ voice on the radio and he realizes that this isn’t a dream. He’s actually dead.

Cas: Condolences.

*cackles*

He gets back into the car—talking to Cas through the radio—and in a voice so full of disbelief and wonder it breaks your heart, he says, “How’d I get to Heaven?” OH, Dean. If you weren’t one of the good guys, you wouldn’t be in this mess. And an Archangel wouldn’t be after you. Everything you’ve done has been for the greater good. And the only way you’re going to make it out of this is if you start to believe that even the tiniest little bit. His next question, though, is why I fell for him in the first place.

“If I’m in Heaven…where’s Sam?”

‘Cause Heaven without his family—without his brother—ain’t Heaven, folks.

I have some thoughts on Heaven, but I’m going to save them until a bit later. But I just want to say that I think they did a fantastic job with it. Deciding to “go there” with the storyline was a risky move—but I think they pretty much tossed their storyline safeguards out the window when they brought angels into the mix. Demons, devils, creatures of the night, the majority of humanity is fine with that. We like seeing regular Joe’s kick demon ass and stand up for all that is good, noble and pure in the world.

But when you add the other side into the mix—and not only that, but make them not exactly pure of heart and noble of spirit—you get people’s Irish up, so to speak. Plus…we’ve already seen a glimpse of Dean’s Hell. It’s only fair that we see Heaven, right? And I LOVE how they played it off. The cosmos-sky effect while Dean was driving down the road was wicked cool. It was all the best parts of a Planetarium. *grin*

Anyway, Cas asked Dean what he saw—a tunnel, a river…for Dean, it’s a road. Of course. He follows the road in search of Sam and comes to a house. In the house, Sam sits at a dinner table with a family eating Thanksgiving dinner. At first, he thinks Dean’s in his dream, but when Dean pulls him away from the family—who, oddly, go on talking to his empty chair as if he’s still sitting there—and tells him they’re in Heaven, Sam’s reaction surprises me.

Sam: “How are we in Heaven?”

Dean: “Lot of clean living, I guess.”

Sam: “You, I get. But me?”

Oh, Sammy. *rubs heart* I didn’t see that coming and I should have. I really should have because as wrapped up as I am in Dean, Sam has been through so much of his own Hell and heartache and disappointment and uncertainty. And as much as Dean doesn’t feel he’s worth it because he just…doesn’t…Sam has gone all this time carrying the guilt of his actions and fighting to do the right thing not for the reward, but for the penance.

I just want someone to take hold of them both and say, “You did good here.” And I want them to believe it.

Sam comes up with the whole “life flashes before your eyes” theory—because they both ended up in memories when they got there. Good memories. Sam’s first “real” (as he saw it) Thanksgiving with this normal family and Dean with his little brother. You saw where this was going, too, right? Made me want to cry.

There’s a sudden…rumbling and shaking and the boys finish each other’s sentences by ducking and covering as a bright white light speeds past. This had me thinking…angels…true form…true voice… Ideally, they should be able to hear and see an angel’s true form in Heaven, right? I mean, why would an angel need a vessel in Heaven? But then…how is a TV show with a limited budget going to depict an angel’s true form. And what about us mortals? How are we going to understand them? Subtitles? *smirk* So, it worked for me.

Dean tries to get Cas through the radio in the house—which makes Sam think he’s lost his mind—but Cas shows up on the TV set. Looking like our Cas, because he can’t come back to Heaven, after all. He tells the boys to not go into the light.

Dean: “Thanks, Carol Anne.”

*BWAH!!* Okay, that was just funny.

Apparently, the light is Zachariah who knows they can’t say yes to Michael and Lucifer if they’re dead. To which Sam immediately replies, “Great! Problem solved!” *sad*

Not so much because Zach’s not going to let this slide. He’s going to find them. So Cas tells them they have to follow the Axis Something (didn’t catch it) which leads to the Garden and in the Garden, they’ll find Joshua who talks to God.

Cas: “You think we should find out what the hell God’s been saying?”

Dean: “Touchy!”

Gaelic: Castiel just cussed!! *laugh*

Sam’s surprised that Dean wants to ‘follow the yellow brick road’…which, if you think about it, is not really a surprise. Dean’s pleas to a higher power for help—at the pop machine and then in the junkyard—were done in secret. Sam never saw or heard and all he has seen or heard is Dean saying that he’s not sure God really even exists. So when Dean says that they’re “royally boned” and the prayer is the “last hope of a desperate man,” we know where he’s coming from, but the surprise on Sam’s face is understandable.

They go outside to see that they’re now surrounded by forest, so they go back inside and Dean starts opening closet doors, looking for a road. “We’re in Heaven…finding a road in a closet would be the most normal thing to happen to us today.”

Sure enough, inside one closet is a Hot Wheels race track with a blue #43 car that Dean used to have when he was a kid. He puts the car around the track and suddenly they’re in a different room, in different clothes…and apparently, Dean ‘wuvs hugs’ according to his teddy bear shirt.

Dean: “Shut up.”

*snicker*

I figured out where they were like two blinks before Dean said it and I think I gasped a bit. When Mary walks in and asks Dean if he’s hungry, the heartache on the boys faces had me sagging into my couch. They were home.

Sam stands off to the side watching while Dean eats a PB&J with the crusts cut off. Mary can’t hear Sam because it’s Dean’s memory—another one with family. Understandably hurt by this and therefore anxious to get going, Sam says they need to find the road, but Dean asks for just one more minute. He needs another minute with his mom. The phone rings and Dean says he remembers this: John and Mary were fighting and John moved out for a few days. Sam is surprised; John always said they had the perfect marriage.

Dean: “It wasn’t perfect until after she died.”

Plus, while not every fight ends in one of the spouses moving out for a few days, no marriage is perfect. Anyone who says differently is lying to you or themselves. People are hard to live with day in and day out. Constant companionship in a world of change is a daily choice. And no matter how desperately you love someone and how much they can light you up at just the right times, you still need time away from them to breathe inside your own space, be comfortable with your own thoughts.

And I can imagine that Angel brain wipe or no Angel brain wipe, these two had plenty of baggage. Mary was an orphan—and who knows how much of her past the angels actually erased—and John was a Marine who’d been to war. Not only that? A four year old and a newborn? Enough said.

When Mary hangs up with John and Sam asks what happens next, Dean gets up and proceeds to smush what’s left of my heart.

Dean (arms wrapped around his mom): “It’s okay, Mom. Dad still loves you. I love you, too. I’ll never leave you.”

It’s the perfect four-year-old words. It’s how my Mo Chuisle talks to me sometimes. It’s the intuitive child instinctively seeking to comfort. *cries*

Mary touches his face and calls him her little angel, then brightly asks if he wants some pie. So she’s to blame! LOL!

Sam is looking at Dean with this expression of old pain and latent understanding. “I never realized how long you’ve been cleaning up Dad’s messes.”

OH, Sammy. *mentally hugs him tightly for that* Dean just darts his eyes to the side, having no words in reply. Ooofffda.

One time, about two years ago, I got a random phone call from one of my sisters. It wasn’t the one I raised—it was the one closest in age to me. I wasn’t home and she left me a message, and I’m convinced that if I’d picked up she wouldn’t have told me this. She said she’d been watching TV with her little boy and saw a mother reading to her child and had a flash of me doing that with them—me, not our mom. I must have played her message a thousand times. She said, “I never really thought about you not being a kid. You were always just you—just there to pick up after us. And I never really thought about what that meant you weren’t doing. I want you to know that I think about it now. And I wanted to say thank you.”

I didn’t know how to react to that. Still don’t, really. It’s one thing to point out to your parents what they made you do throughout your childhood. It’s something else entirely for your siblings to recognize it. If I could have seen my face, it probably looked a lot like Dean’s in that moment.

To cover up, Dean says they should keep moving. They search until Sam finds a Route 66 postcard and says he’s seen it before and suddenly they’re in what looks like a trailer with post cards on the wall and a golden retriever bouncing happily toward them.

Delighted, a total little-boy grin on his face, Sam calls out happily, “Bones!”

Okay, aside? Jared + dogs = love. He was freakin’ adorable with that mutt. *grin* But Dean…he’s looking around and realizing that they’re in Flagstaff. He is amazed that this is a happy memory for Sam.

Sam’s like, why not? I had my own space, my dog…I was living off pizza and Funions…it was great!

Dean drops the bomb: Sam had run away on Dean’s watch. For two weeks. Dean looked everywhere for him, thought he was dead. And when Dad came home…

*is gutted*

Sam has the grace to look chagrined and says he didn’t think about it that way. And why would he? He was a kid and had been purposely kept a kid as much as Dean could manage it. I don’t mean to say that just because he was the younger he had no pain growing up. I know he did. But…until you’ve had the responsibility of another person—the literal responsibility of them including safety, care, feeding—you don’t know what kind of a weight that is. And how you’re never without it. You’re never really free of it. You’re really only happy if you know they’re okay, if they’re happy.

There’s no way Sam could have thought about it that way because he’d never been made to. And I think it’s wrong to just assume that he should have out of care for his brother. Why? It’s not instinctive. It’s learned.

Gruffly, stinging from a growing realization of their different happy memories, Dean grumbles, “Forget it. Let’s roll.”

And they’re on another road. In front of a run-down house. Sam immediately covers that he doesn’t know what memory it is and wants to keep going, but Dean connects the dots. It’s the night Sam “ditched them for Stanford.” Again, Dean is incredulous that this is a happy memory for Sam. Sam says he can’t control the memories…but I wonder if someone can.

I wonder exactly how much power the angels have in Heaven. I wonder how much of this just happened and how much was designed. Maybe even including their murders. If it was by design, then it would make a little more sense to me how a seasoned hunter like Dean could get jumped in a motel room—his under-the-pillow-gun taken away from him—and that the memories Sam jumped through were seemingly designed to break Dean down, hollow him out, leave him hopeless.

Sam: “I finally got away from Dad…”

Dean: “He wasn’t the only one you got away from… I know, you didn’t think of it like that.”

I could actually almost see both sides. Dean’s hurt because Sam’s idea of ‘family’ means someone else’s life. Sam points out that he never got the crusts cut off his bread. Yeah, they both approach it from different angles and Sam’s angle is hurtful to Dean and Dean’s angle doesn’t make sense to Sam. But…they’re family.

Dean: “I’m your family, Sam! It’s supposed to be you and me against the world, right?”

Sam: “It is!”

Dean: “Is it?”

Gaelic: Oh…nononononono…

Don’t do this boys. Don’t fall apart on us now. When you struggled so much last season, survived so much and one moment—hands reaching out to grip each other’s coats as Hell opened up beneath you—brought us all back together. Don’t let go.

…I think they’re going to let go before the Season’s over. I just hope they reach out again before they leave us for the summer. *sniff*

*ahem* Sorry. Where was I? Oh, right. There’s a bright light—almost looks like a search light from a helicopter—and they’re running and hiding and running…from Zach who taunts them and teases them and says they’re on his turf now and makes me just want to poke him in the eye with a sharp, flaming stick. More running through woods, some in-unison neck craning and ducking down behind a log (cute, that) and hiding and then…from out of nowhere…

Nacho Libre’s little brother shows up.

He motions them to follow, which they do, and then he marks some angel symbols on a door and takes them inside…the Roadhouse. It’s Ash! And I laughed out loud. I was so happy to see this guy it was incredible. I miss them having allies like this! Fun, quirky, random characters that are just people. Not prophets or psychics or angels. Just people.

Ash: “Bud, blood, and beer nuts. Best smell in the world.”

Also? There’s apparently no hangover in Heaven. SCORE! Okay, so Ash is our late-to-the-party Heaven tour guide. And this is where I have to give the writers props. Because I could get on board with this. I mean, who’s going to say they’re wrong? Seriously. I grew up being taught that Hell is essentially separation from God forever and Heaven is His home. There are descriptions in the Bible of power and light and flaming robes…but it’s also supposed to be our reward and our peace and the place our souls can rest.

I’ve tried to picture Heaven a million times. I’ve doubted its existence—not God’s, but that there’s a place or a location we go to. I won’t be in this body, so would I really care about the things this body enjoys? Is it more just a sensation or a feeling? I don’t know. But what I do know, is that this explanation? That there are 100 billion Heavens? Winchesterland and Ashland and Everybodyelseland where it’s what you truly enjoy forever with the Garden at the center? It made sense to me.

I liked how Ash casually threw out there that soul mates share a Heaven and the brothers exchanged a glance. I thought that telling since they found each other. But I also wondered about that, too, because Sam’s happy memories were so different from Dean’s…

Ash cracked me up talking about finding and meeting Johnny Cash and Andre the Giant (okay, random!) and then telling Sam (adorable!) that Einstein made a mean White Russian. His description of Mallan?ga V?tsy?yana’s Heaven being sweaty and confusing was just. So. Ash. I missed him! Oh! And true to form, he’s rigged up a scanner that tracks Enochian language (which, of course, he’s fluent in). That’s how he found out they were here. Again.

Which surprised the boys (and me, admittedly).

Ash: “You boys die more than anyone else I know.” But apparently the angels (or God?) don’t let them remember. Sam asks if he’s found anyone else—like Ellen and Jo. Ash didn’t know they were dead and it hits him hard. Which I found so interesting. He’s here, in his “blue Heaven,” happy as a clam, and yet he feels sadness and loss at finding out that Jo and Ellen were dead. That’s just…fascinating to me.

Ash has looked all over for John and Mary and can’t find them. Which brings me back to this whole orchestrated thought. Not that Ash was fake or lying, but that the reach of the angel’s control over manipulating the lives of these two guys might go so far as to hide their parents from them in Heaven. Heavy.

Ash says that there is someone they’ll want to see, though, and brings out Pamela. I had mixed emotions about seeing her. At first I didn’t really care one way or another. I didn’t think her character added much to the mix except to bring us a snappy, tough female, reveal Cas and expose Sam to his own truth and she didn’t really feel like some…old friend or something, like Ash. But, here she was.

Sam hunkers down with Ash and his toy while Dean and Pam have a drink. She whacks him on the head and said that was for getting her killed.

Dean: “If it makes you feel any better, we got Ash killed, too.”

Ash: “I’m cool with it!”

Dean: “He’s cool with it.”

Gaelic: *BWAH!* I missed Ash! Did I say that yet? I did? Well, it bears repeating. I missed that mullet-wearing, pool-table-sleeping, genius. I wish, though, they would have asked him what it was he’d wanted to tell Dean before he was killed. Even if it doesn’t matter anymore, I was curious what he knew.

ANYWAY, Pam starts doing the time-share sales pitch of Heaven to Dean. She’s really good here. Her Heaven is one long show at the Meadowlands. Dean finds that hinky. He thinks being in your own little world with the angels running the show is more like…The Matrix. Which is very interesting. And with his experience with angels, I can totally see his point. I wouldn’t want angels like Zachariah or Uriel running the show. I still like this idea of Heaven, but I can see why Dean, after all he’s been through, isn’t ready to trust it. Besides, acquiring this peace only results after a surrender and he’s not ready to do that yet. Which makes me happy.

Pam presses that the “attic is still better than the basement” which Dean can’t really argue with, however he points out that it isn’t real. Real is Earth. Pam, though, wants to know the worst thing that could happen if Dean said yes to Michael. A lot of people would die, Dean says. And Pam retorts, “And they’d come here. Is that so bad? Maybe you don’t have to fight it so hard.”

WARNING! WARNING! That statement had bells going off for me all over the place. I don’t know if I know who to trust—even among their friends. Anyway, while Pam is busy trying to bring Dean over to the dark side, Ash found a shortcut to the Garden.

Dean: “Good.”

Ash gives him a look.

Dean: “Not good?”

Ash just warns him that Zach is going to be on their asses, so watch ‘em. Pam gives Sam a hug and then full-on French-kisses a very surprised-looking Dean. She removes her tongue from his throat and smiles like a cat. “Just how I imagined.”

*raises an eyebrow* Okay, I have to give her props for that. Still don’t really trust her, though.

Ash: “I’m sure I’ll see you again soon.”

Dean: “Keep a sixer on ice for us.”

Annnnddd… their back…home? They’re confused and start looking for another door when Mary shows up…In. The. White. Nightgown. Of. Doom. I knew this was going to go bad as soon as I saw what she was wearing. What I want to know is, what happens to angels like Zach who torture God’s creations physically and mentally just to get what he wants? If God’s not going to step in and save mankind, then I’d really, really like him to punish his ‘soldiers’ who have been causing such a ruckus in his sandbox.

At first Mary’s sweet, asking Dean what he was doing up, and did he have a nightmare. Dean’s impatient, says he loves her, but she’s not real. And then, Samantha Smith shows us she knows how to fight dirty. Mary’s voice turns hard, cold, and flat-out mean as she suggests she tell Dean about her nightmare. And then blood spreads across her belly.

The boys turn as one to face her, both of their expressions twin images of shock, but Dean’s slowly melts to lip-bouncing denial laced with pain while Sam’s hardens to disbelief and anger.

Mary crushes Dean by turning yellow eyes on him saying, “I never loved you. You were my burden. I was shackled to you. Look where it got me.”

Dean knows that’s not real—that’s not his mother’s heart—but it’s just like hearing Azazel speak through his father’s voice, wearing his father’s face. It hurts. It has effect.

The windows brick up and Sam calls Dean’s name as Dean searches for an out. Mary continues that the smell was the worst, and talks about the pain of burning. She says, “Everybody leaves you, Dean. Mom, Dad, even Sam. Maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you…”

Sam looks pissed. Dean looks broken. And then Zach shows up and two thug-angels grab the boys. I didn’t even know there were thug-angels.

Sam bellows: “You did this!” and goes for Zach, calling him a son of a bitch. I loved that.

He was probably just referring to this warped memory of Mary pulled from Dean’s deep well of self-doubt and loathing, but I think it could apply to all of it: the murders, the stark differences in memories, the way it was all this strategic play to break Dean down… I am probably looking too far into it, but I can’t help but think that when Dean called Heavenward for help, it was a party line and some of the listeners decided to take advantage.

Dean growls that Zach can, “Gloat all you want, you dick. You’re still bald.”

Zach: “In Heaven I have six wings and four faces, one of which is a lion.”

Uh, wait…aren’t you in Heaven now? Yeah, so shut up, baldy.

He continues to totally skeeve everyone (including me) out by calling Mary a MILF, kissing her neck, caressing her arm…gack. Zach snaps his fingers and Mary vanishes. Dean quips about wearing a ballgag until they say yes and Zach gut-punches him, tells the thug-angel to pull him up and then punches him again. Sam struggles in the grip of his own thug-angel, pissed to be made to watch his brother get beaten up by this guy.

Zach throws a tantrum about how he used to have respect until he was assigned those two. Cry me a river. Dean is holding his belly in pain, but has his chin up and his eyes challenging Zach, who is busy rambling about how he’s going to be an angel on their shoulders for eternity when suddenly a somewhat timid black man shows up.

Zach: “I’m in a meeting.” Heh.

Man: “I need to speak to those two.”

Zach’s all, over my dead body, and the man just calmly states that it’s bosses orders. “Sooner or later he’s gonna come back home and you know how he is with that…wrath…thing.”

Well he better be! Starting with Zachariah! *hrrumph*

Next thing you know, Zach and the thug-angels are gone annnnnddd…the boys are in…a Botanical Garden?

Sam: “This is Heaven’s Garden?”

Dean: “This is…nice-ish.”

Joshua (formerly referred to as ‘Man’): You see what you want to. For some it’s God’s Throne Room, others it’s Eden. For you two it’s the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. You went here on a field trip.”

So, once more, they share a vision of Heaven. I’m leaning more and more toward the soul mate theory. Which is the one thing—well, maybe I should say one of the things—that is giving me hope that they’ll find their way back to even ground and united belief in each other and family.

Anyway, Josh doesn’t talk to God, God talks to Josh. Josh doesn’t know where He is or what He’s doing—except? That He’s on Earth. God is on Earth, people. Don’t tell me that’s not going to come into play—regardless what Josh said God said… Josh says that he thinks God talks to him because he can sympathize, one Gardener to another. Plus? He thinks God gets lonely.

Dean: “My heart is breaking for him.”

God has a message for the boys: Back off. Apparently, he knows about what’s going on with the angels and the apocalypse and all of that and says it’s not his problem. He’s saved the boys already—put them on that plane, brought Cas back, gave them sanctuary in Heaven. He’s finished. Magic amulet or not.

Dean is crushed. “He’s just going to let everyone burn?”

Josh: “Why does he allow evil in the first place?” You’d make yourself crazy trying to figure it out.

I admit, I had to sit with this a bit. Writing-wise, it’s good. No Deus Ex Machina. I like the added angst. But character wise, it makes me ache for Dean and Cas and fear for Sam. And part of me rebels against that—wants God to just step in and be The Almighty, The Creator. Wants him to stop it and fix it as Dean wants him to.

But then I thought about it…and Josh has a point. God’s already provided the tools and now it’s up to humanity and the angels to find a way to make this work. To work in the way He designed it to work. Dean saying ‘yes’ to Michael and Sam saying ‘yes’ to Lucifer is not the only way—it’s not like Joshua said “you got no other choice”… I don’t know. I’m struggling with how I feel about this a bit. Part of me likes that God isn’t stepping in and is instead allowing humanity to find its way. And part of me wants so badly for Dean to have the moment of faith confirmation he so desperately needs.

I wonder, though, if Josh had said that God would step in and fix it…would Dean have accepted that? Would he have trusted? Maybe there’s another reason that this all has to play out this way…

Dean: “Another dead-beat dad with a bunch of excuses…I’ll muddle through.”

Josh: “Except you don’t know if you can this time… you can’t kill the devil and you’re losing faith in yourself, your brother…”

That exchange gutted me a bit. That was the only reason I wanted God to step in. To help heal them. To give Dean some faith. But then…the very definition of faith is the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing. God—or someone—can’t just give it to him. He has to find it for himself. Joshua’s words were said with sympathy. He wants the boys to ‘win’, to succeed. But he can only tell them what he knows and nothing more. And speculating as to meaning would get them nowhere.

Joshua says he’s sending them home…but this time, God wants them to remember. Why, I wonder? Remember the differences in their memories? Remember that they have friends on the other side? Sam to remember what all his brother has been through, how full of doubt and pain he still is? Dean to remember that Sam didn’t think he was worthy of Heaven either? I mean, they already know that Zach is a manipulative bastard… Maybe they’re supposed to remember that God is somewhere on Earth?

Argh! Six episodes doesn’t feel like enough to figure it out.

With great gasps of air, they wake up and sit up, shirts bloody, same motel room. Hunter #1 and #2 are gone, of course, but if they run into them again, they’re gonna be freaking out.

Sam: “You all right?”

Dean: “Define all right.”

I love that the first thing Dean does is call Cas, but I so hated the betrayed, broken look on Cas’ face when he found out what Joshua said. Dean is watching him, sympathy in his eyes. Cas turns his back to the brothers and looks up growling, “You son of a bitch! I believed in…”

And he just stops. He pulls out the amulet and hands it back to Dean saying, “It’s worthless.” Then he’s gone. Sam’s got that anxious, nervous energy movement—the kind that says as long as we keep moving, we’re okay—and he says, “We’ll find another way.”

Dean, with a dead, hollow voice, asks, “How?” He’s fingering the amulet.

Sam: “I don’t know, but we’ll find it. You and me. We’ll find it.”

Dean walks past Sam without a word and pauses just before opening the door. I gasped right before he did it; Sam gasped right after. Dean drops the amulet in the trash can and walks out. Sam’s gasp says it all: that hurt. It might not have worked as a God-finder, but it wasn’t worthless. Dean wore it for years—years—signifying their brotherhood. Sam wore it while Dean was in Hell. It was the first thing he gave back to him.

Dean throwing it away show just how far down the rabbit hole he’s fallen. Just how empty, spent, done he really is. Seeing Sam’s ‘happy’ memories as times when he was away from Dean—one of them being a moment Dean thought his brother was dead and had to suffer John’s wrath, and the other being “the worst day of his life”—pulled out a pretty large supporting rock. Having the image/memory of his mom (even if she was being manipulated by Zach) say aloud that everyone leaves him, removed another.

And now, finding out that those times he prayed, those times he actually allowed himself to believe, didn’t result in the help he so desperately sought…he’s bottoming out. And not to discount or minimize Sam’s struggle in all of this, but…I think Sam’s got his work cut out for him. He’s gotta fight for his brother. Maybe fight his brother directly to get him to come around. Sam has been buffeted by this storm, but Dean’s drowning, and I think Sam might be the only thing to save him.

Side note: we fade to black on Sam’s hurt expression. Part of me wonders if he might not just fish that thing out of the trash before leaving the room…hold onto it for a little while until he can find a way to help Dean help himself…and help them all.

Next week looks very apocalyptic. And I’m already anxious.

Thanks for reading—hope it wasn’t too emotional. But this was one of those episodes that left me aching a bit. I really appreciate those of you who read and thank you for taking the time to comment if you feel compelled.

Take care, all.

 

 

GUEST STARS


Misha Collins
as Castiel
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TRAILER/CLIPS

CW TrailerClip 01Clip 02

MUSIC

“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”Bob Dylan

QUOTES

(as the hunters prepare to kill Dean)
Walt: Shoot him.
Dean: Go ahead, Roy. Do it. But I’m gonna warn you–when I come back, I’m gonna be pissed.

Sam: Heaven?
Dean: Yeah.
Sam: Okay, how are we in Heaven?
Dean: All that clean living, I guess.
Sam: No, no… You, I get. But me, maybe you haven’t noticed but I’ve done a few things.
Dean: You thought you were doing the right thing.
Sam: Last I checked, it wasn’t the road to heaven that was paved with good intentions.

Sam: Dad said they always had the perfect marriage.
Dean: It wasn’t perfect until after (Mary) died.

Sam: I just never realized how long you’ve been cleaning up Dad’s messes.

Dean: Yeah, well if this is the Skymall, then it sucks. Where’s the triplets and the latex, you know? Come on, a guy has needs.

Zachariah: Wow. Running from angels… on foot… in Heaven. With out-of-the-box thinking like that, I’m surprised you boys haven’t stopped the Apocalypse already.

Ash: See, you got to stop thinking of Heaven as one place. It’s more like a buttload of places. All crammed together. Like Disneyland. Except without all the anti-Semitism.

Ash: You boys die more than anyone I have ever met.

Dean: So everyone gets their own slice of Heaven?
Ash: Pretty much. A few people share. Special cases. Whatnot.
Dean: What do you mean special?
Ash: Oh, you know, like soul mates.

Mary: The worst was the smell. The pain, well… what can you say about your skin bubbling off? But the smell was so… You know, for a second, I thought I left a pot roast burning in the oven. But.. it was my meat. And then, finally, I was dead.

Zachariah: In Heaven I have six wings and four faces, one of which is a lion.

Zachariah: Say yes, don’t say yes, I’m still going to take it out on your asses. It’s personal now, boys. And the last person in the history of creation you want as your enemy is me. And I’ll tell you why. Lucifer may be strong. But I’m petty.

Joshua: Excuse me, sir?
Zachariah: I’m in a meeting.
Joshua: I’m sorry, I need to speak to those two.
Zachariah: Excuse me?
Joshua: It’s a bad time, I know. But I’m afraid I have to insist.
Zachariah: You don’t get to insist jack squat.
Joshua: No, you’re right. But the boss does. His orders.
Zachariah: You’re lying.
Joshua: Wouldn’t lie about this. Look, fire me if you want. Sooner or later, He’s going to come back home, and you know how He is with that whole wrath thing.

 

TRIVIA

Roy and Walt are named after Roy and Walt Disney.

The episode was originally called “Your Whole Life Flashes Before Your Eyes” .

The Memories:

  • Dean remembers setting off fireworks with Sam on 4th of July 1996. He would’ve been 17 and Sam 13. Dean says “they burned the field down.”
  • Sam’s memory of Thanksgiving with a school friend’s, a girl called Stephanie, family occurs when he is 11.
  • Dean remembers comforting his mother after a fight she has with John, that led to John moving out for a few days. Sam has been born, and so Dean is four.
  • Sam ran away in Flagstaff and spent two weeks on his own, and befriended a dog he called Bones.
  • The final memory for Sam is of the night Sam left for Stanford. (2001)

In this episode, Ash confirms that previously when Sam and Dean were bought back from Heaven, their memory of the experience was removed. At the end of the episode Joshua says this time they will remember everything.

Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin who wrote this episode, are also the writers of the third Supernatural Comic series Beginning’s End, which documents the time in the Winchesters’ life up to Sam leaving for Stanford.

This is the first episode to be directed by Jeff Wollnough, who has worked on many series including Dark Angel, Battlestar Galactica, Bones and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Concerning Dark Angel, Jeff Wollnough directed some episodes of season 2. The episodes 2.01 “Designate This”, 2.09 ” Medium is the Message”  and the 2.17 “Hello, Goodbye” also featured  Jensen Ackles who played Alec.

 

ALLUSIONS

Dean: I think we hit the yellow bricks.
Referencing the Yellow Brick Road, from the novel and movie The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her friends follow the yellow brick road to reach the Wizard.

Ash: Welcome to my blue Heaven.
Referencing the 1989 song My Blue Heaven by the Pogues. The song refers to “My Blue Heaven, with angels who are out of reach.”

Ash: Like Disneyland without the anit-semitism
Walt Disney, and many working at the Disney studios during the 30s and 40s were purported to be anti-Semitic.

 

Dean: Okay… thanks, Carol Anne.
When spoken in response to Castiel’s advice to stay out of the light, referencing the 1982 film Poltergeist. Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) is the young girl who first makes contact with ghosts that invade her home and eventually torment her and her family. The spirits attempt to entice Carol Anne to come to the other side, hence her being told “Don’t go into the light.”

Ash: Most people can’t leave their own personal Idahos.
Referencing the 1991 movie My Own Private Idaho, which presents two friends, Mike and Scott, who go on a journey of self-discovery. Their trip takes them to Idaho, Mike’s home state.

Dean: That’s… the Matrix.
Referencing the virtual reality computer introduced in The Matrix (1999). The Matrix is a virtual reality created by sentient computers to keep mankind happy and satisfied… and unaware that they are hooked into giant energy batteries to power the machines.

Castiel: Don’t go into the light.
Dean: Okay, thanks Carol-Anne.

In the movie Poltergeist , Carol-Anne is pulled through a television into another realm by a poltergeist. When trying to get her out the psychi warns her “not to go into the light.”

Title:
Referencing the Pink Floyd concept album released in 1973. The two tracks, one per side, are each a single continual piece of music concerning the human condition.

Castiel refers to the road Dean and Sam must follow through Heaven as the axis mundi. The axis mundi is a concept appearing in all cultures that there is some place that is the center of creation and describes a point of connection between the earthly plane and the spiritual one.

 

 

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