Now, let's do this!
THEN: Carry on, my wayward son! BMoL, nephilim, etc. Family hug! Not shown: Single-layer Sam in a torn bloody shirt, or anything involving hammers, so to Hell with the THEN.
NOW: We open on a beer commercial, with inspirational music and a man looking over a crystal clear lake. Oh, no, wait, it's Cas. He turns toward a small house. Inside the house, Kelly Kline looks to the heavens and asks God for help. Oh, no, wait, she's on speakerphone with the IKEA helpline, trying to put a crib together. That was actually a pretty cute little fake-out. Sven from IKEA joins the long list of people who are completely unable to help her. Cas chastises her and says he was going to put the crib together because he's very good at following instructions (ha ha ha ha NO) and she should be resting, but she insists on doing this. Since she won't be able to raise her son, she wants to do this one thing she can do for him. Aw, Kelly. I'm starting to resent you less. That's usually a bad sign. Cas assures her that he will "give my life for your son, and I will raise him," and you know what, Cas? Those things are kind of mutually exclusive. Unless you plan on raising the little spawn and then giving your life for him. But there's no reason to worry about that right now, is there?
Meanwhile, at the bunker, Sam explains how Lucifer is loose and Crowley is dead. Or, allegedly dead. As Dean points out, Crowley's a "freakin' cockroach," and he'll believe he's dead when he sees his body.
Pop that booty, Dean.
Right on cue, we cut to a crane shot of a patch of dirt, and a familiar rat, and a flashback of Crowley smoking out of his vessel and into the rat right before Lucifer stabs him without noticing the cloud of red smoke or the lack of flashy lights.
Okay. If you've read Misery, (or seen the movie? I think it's in the movie too) there's a part where crazy Annie complains about the serial movies she watched in her childhood, where a character would be placed in peril at the end of one movie, and would be shown surviving at the beginning of the next one because of something that clearly didn't happen earlier. Like, their car would plunge down a cliff into a river, and in the next movie you'd see them fly out the open door, even though that didn't happen in the previous movie. She hated that, and I do too. I mean, I'm not going to tie anybody to the bed and take a sledgehammer to their legs over it, but it is pretty annoying that they'd play it this way, when they could have easily shown Crowley and the rat and then panned away to show no one looking at them, instead of what we actually saw, which was that Crowley was being watched during the time he allegedly smoked out of his vessel.
However, having said that, I've got to say Crowley thrusting his hand out of his grave is a nice parallel to Dean clawing his way out of his own grave in "Lazarus Rising."
(Essay question: Compare and contrast the following: parallel, homage, and blatant rip-off. Give an example of each.)
Sam says they don't need Crowley, they need Rowena, because she's the one who can re-cage Lucifer. But when he calls her, we cut to her phone (I'm disappointed Sam doesn't have his own ringtone) on a blood-spattered table in a blood-spattered room that contains a charred corpse. Aw. Fuck. Also in the room, holding a long red curl: Lucifer. "Oh, hey, Sammy," he answers.
Sam is understandably horrified, and puts the phone on speaker. Lucifer gleefully informs Sam of Rowena's death, but you can't blame him, because he can't raise his son from a jail cell. He also pulls a blonde voodoo doll out of Rowena's belongings. I don't know if this is supposed to be a Lucifer doll or what. He asks if they know where Cas is, and Sam tells him to go to Hell. "Witty," says Lucifer, "I'll use that in the future." He tells Sam he doesn't matter, since he doesn't need the Sam suit any more, but come on. Mark P. is pretty great, but that Sam suit... that's a once-in-a-lifetime, absolutely gorgeous bespoke suit. You're gonna want that. Lucifer tells the guys that they can't kill him, and with Rowena gone they can't cage him, so they don't matter. Bye bye!
This scene reminds me of why I love Mark Pellegrino, and why I tend to love characters when they're pitted against the Winchesters. Lucifer mocking Crowley? Meh. Lucifer mocking Sam and Dean? Glorious. Especially Sam's little freaked-the-fuck-out face.
Back at the lake house, Cas and Kelly have gone shopping. They pull up with the crappy old truck full of diapers. Kelly is struck by a pain and rests her hand on the truck. A yellow glow appears under her hand, and as Kelly and Cas walk away, the glow floats off in a yellow cloud. Hmm!
Bunker. Dean's still limping. Sam suggests they find Cas and Kelly and keep them moving, so Lucifer can't find them. Because the way Lucifer finds you is by physically walking around. Sam hopes they can still siphon off the Lucifetus's grace, and if not, they'll "figure something else out." And Mary's always wanted to punch the Devil in the face. Hmm! They figure that since Kelly is due soon, weird things will be happening around her. Storms, plagues of locusts, etc.
Lake house. Kelly is painting the nursery. In a few minutes we'll see she's painting a mural with a rainbow and apple tree. An apple tree in Lucifer's son's nursery, for fuck's sake.
Why not paint a serpent at the bottom while you're at it?
While she does this, Cas notices the glow outside. It now looks like a strip of fire, floating in midair. He pokes it, as one does, and finds himself transported into different world. A gray world, full of weird spires and storm clouds and red lightning. He's quickly attacked by a snarling, horned man, and before he tries to defend himself, the horned man is shot by a hooded figure carrying a machine gun. "You," Cas says. (Who? We'll have to wait.)
Kelly plugs a USB drive into her laptop and starts recording a message for her son, who she's named Jack. She tells him she loves him, and that he's being watched over by an angel so she knows he'll be okay. And we know that's true; it worked so well for the Winchesters.
Bunker. The Winchesters are on the hunt for weirdness. Nothing they've found is weird enough. Sam says "Whatever this thing is, it's gonna be big and bad -"
"You rang?" interrupts Crowley. "Hello boys."
Dean immediately punches him in the face, which is all kinds of awesome, and is also a nice reminder of the time he met Samuel Campbell after having promised to kill him the next time he saw him. Welcome to next time, indeed. Dean draws the demon blade out of his pocket before Crowley even hits the floor, puts it to Crowley's throat and asks "did you do it?" and I like this. A lot. Crowley appeals to Moose for help, because he knows who's the rational one here, but he's probably disappointed when Sam points out they should see if he knows how to work the cage spell. And if not, then they can kill him. See? Rational.
And ironically, wearing that shirt that makes me completely irrational.
Crowley's surprised to hear that Rowena is dead. Surprised and maybe doesn't believe it? He explains why he kept Lucifer, thinking that having the Devil on a leash would stop usurpers from challenging him. But his tenure inside a rat gave him time to think about how much he actually hates his job. Sam asks why he's there, and he says "Whenever there's a world-ending crisis at hand, I know where to place my bets. It's on you. You big, beautiful, lumbering piles of flannel." And Sam does this cute little thing looking down and it's probably not supposed to be that he's embarrassed to get a compliment from the King of Hell but I've decided I'm going to take it that way, because I love "aw shucks" Sammy. He loves you, Sam! He wants you without the flannel! Your brother is still Not Moose on his phone!
Yes, they are big beautiful piles of flannel.
If they'll forgive him, and let him help cage Lucifer again, he'll seal the gates of Hell, locking up every demon except for himself. Because they've stabbed him in the back, so "I'll happily stab them in the front, the sides, and right up their little black-eyed asses." (But what about the crossroads demons, with their red eyes?)
Lake house. Kelly can't find Cas, and she's in a lot of pain. He comes up behind her in an alarming way and as Kelly has another labor pain, the lights flicker and the portal of fire flashes outside. "Everything's going to be fine," he says.
Bunker. All three Winchesters are tapping away at computers. "Is this what you do when I'm not here?" Crowley asks. "Type?" Sam finds a report of a massive power outage in the Pacific Northwest. "They tracked the outage to a house in North Cove, Washington, to a house currently being rented by one James Novak." Oh, dear god. Seriously? They couldn't think of any more realistic way to explain how the Winchesters find Cas? (Also, if a massive power outage had been tied to one particular house, wouldn't we see lots of power trucks there?) I'm disappointed. They really could have done this better. Sam could see Cas or Kelly in the background of a crowd photo in that news story. Dean could remember Cas's password and read his email, revealing the delivery address for the IKEA crib. Oh well. Carry on. Now that they know where they're going, Crowley's eager to hit the road, and he and I are both surprised when Dean pins his hand to the table with the demon knife and tells him he's not going. Surprised because Dean tried this trick before, last season, and it didn't work. But I guess hope springs eternal.
Lake house. It's nighttime. Kelly's in bed, breathing through her contractions (or pressure waves, as Cas learned in his online doula class) and Cas is not being particularly helpful. But he's trying, and he's sweet. He peeks out the window to check the fiery portal, and it's still there.
Later, Kelly's in more distress, and she asks Cas to tell her again what he saw, what the Lucifetus showed him. "I saw the future. I saw a world without pain, or hunger, or want. I saw the world that this child - that your child - will create. And it is a world without fear, and without suffering, and without hate. I saw paradise." The lights flicker, which is probably the Lucifetus laughing at how well he tricked Cas, because really, Cas? It didn't occur to you that Lucifer's baby could lie to you in order to stop you from killing it?
They're interrupted by the rumble of a familiar car. Cas goes downstairs and is surprised to see all three Winchesters, who ask if the house is warded well enough to stop Lucifer. "We'll work through our crap; we always do," Dean says, "but right now we're here to get you, get Kelly, and get gone." Unfortunately, Kelly's too far into labor to be moved. If they really did plan to extract Lucifer's grace from the Lucifetus before it was born, now would be the time to do it. But no one brings it up, so I guess that's not the plan after all. I wonder how they thought they were going to save her life, then?
Dean asks if Cas would be able to torch Lucifer the way he torched Dagon, and Cas doesn't know, since he was channeling the power of the Lucifetus at the time. But he does have enough juice to heal Dean. Dean seems kind of surprised by that, even though Cas was clearly able to heal Sam's "s'mores foot" earlier. But maybe the healing itself is different, since it has a yellow light instead of blue, and it makes a high-pitched ringing noise.
The guys go outside to check the warding and are all, hey, why is the eye of Sauron in your backyard? Cas explains that it's a "tear in space and time," which is wonderfully explanatory, isn't it? It's a doorway to another world, an alternate reality. The brothers accept this immediately, since they've been thrust into an alternate reality before, where Sam was a Polish actor. Apparently the power of the Lucifetus is "puncturing the fabric of our universe."
And what is on the other side?
You don't want to know.
Probably. But we need to.
I love that Dean is so resigned. Not freaked out, not scared, just yeah, here's some MORE weird shit I'm gonna have to deal with, awesome.
Cas touches the portal and they all find themselves in AU!World. It's daytime now, but nicely unsaturated, much like Purgatory. And everyone looks hotter in Purgatory. The ground seems to be covered with ashes, and we can see corpses scattered about. Cas tells the Winchesters they're on an Earth locked in an eternal battle between Heaven and Hell. On a scale of 1-10 in terms of badness, Sam declares this an 11, and Dean agrees.
Oddly enough, Dean isn't a mechanic in this AU, and Sam isn't an asthmatic working in a bookstore.
Cas says there's nothing to worry about, because he has faith that the Lucifetus will close the portal he opened. Dean says he's a dumbass. It's possible they're both right. But the conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Cas's "friend" from earlier, his head covered by a scarf. The Winchesters draw their guns and the veiled figure draws closer and closer and only his nose is visible and I'm sure it's Dean. I know this guy is going to pull his scarf off and it's going to be AU!Dean. He pulls the cover aside and oh! It's Bobby! Bobby's here, y'all. We didn't have a Bobbyless season after all. Thank you baby Jesus! (The Husband clutched my hand at this point. He knew how important this was to me.)
Maybe I misjudged you, Lucifetus. Maybe you ARE going to give us a better world. A lovely, desaturated world with Bobby Singer in it.
AU!Bobby doesn't recognize Sam and Dean, and it's cute that Sam is so surprised. Kind of like he was surprised to meet an angel who hadn't heard of the freakin' Winchesters (waves to dead Metatron). Dean takes it right up, assuming this Bobby in a world they didn't even know existed will recognize them as soon as he hears their last name. The only Winchester AU!Bobby has ever heard of was a man named John who died 40 years ago, leaving behind Mary Campbell, who told stories about her lost love until she was killed by Azazel ten years ago. Come on, guys. You know this is an AU. You know how they work. Same names, different plots. They're not all coffee shops.
(Sidebar: I want a crack fic where the guys step through the portal into a post-apocalyptic AU world where mankind's last stand is a coffee shop. The Starbucks at the End of the Universe.)
Cas explains what happened. "This is a world where you were never born. It's a world you never saved." And yes, the camera is on Sam when he says this, since you asked. You did save the world, Sammy.
(Essay question: Did Lucifer and Michael find other vessels, or were they forced to fight without vessels, since theirs hadn't been born? Discuss.)
Lake house. Kelly's labor is going strong. Mary asks how she's doing, and Kelly says "I'm dying. But that's okay. Because wouldn't you die for your sons?" Yes, Mary would. She's already tried once. I mean, she also basically sold one to the Devil, too, but she didn't know that's what she was doing at the time, so we're not going to hold her accountable for that.
AU!World. AU!Bobby says that when the portal opened, it set off alarms at his place (I desperately want to see AU!Bobby's place). He calls Cas's attacker a Tempter Demon, but I didn't find anything tempting about that demon. Angels seem to be equally unsavory here in AU!World. Apparently they wear necklaces made of baby ears. Ew. Who's having babies in this hellhole? AU!Bobby adorably goes on about killing angels - his hobby and his passion. He shows TFW his gun (Rufus!!! It's named RUFUS!!!) and Dean geeks out over his angel-killing bullets, which is kind of like when he proudly showed off his witch-killing bullets to Max, the witch. At least he gives Cas a guilty look.
The gang emerges from the portal back into this world to be greeted by Crowley, who once again escaped from Dean's pin-the-demon-through-the-hand trick. Who would have guessed he could do that again? But they're lucky he did, because he's the answer to all their problems, or so he says. Cas goes up to talk to Kelly alone, while Sam and Dean arm themselves. We don't get to see his conversation, just the end, where he tells her not to worry, everything will be fine. Meanwhile, Dean says: "You know, Cas has faith in this kid, and I hope he's right. But me, I have faith in us. You, me, Mom, Cas... and Crowley, sometimes. This is gonna work. It has to."
I don't know what Crowley told them, or what Cas told Kelly, but it must have been something along the lines of "Lucifer is right behind me," because no one is surprised to see him when they go back outside. Dean looks angry, Cas looks scared, and Sam looks freaked-out-but-holding-it-together. Sam tells Lucifer that, whatever he's planning on doing, God will stop him. I don't know how Sam could actually believe this, and I think maybe he's just stalling, or bluffing. Lucifer finds it amusing and isn't the least bit concerned. "See you on the other side, boys," says Dean, and Cas lunges forward with an angel blade. Lucifer laughs and easily swats him aside. The Winchesters exchange a frightened look and then take off. Lucifer follows them behind the house and finds them standing next to the portal, which they immediately vanish into. He follows.
In AU!World, Dean has AU!Bobby's angel-killing machine gun. "Say hello to my little friend," he says, and opens fire on Lucifer. He claims they had a bet on whether this gun would kill an archangel, which seems like a sucker bet, since normal angel blades won't kill an archangel so there's no reason to think bullets made from normal angel blades would work any better. But as Sam meets Crowley behind a rock, we see it's just a way to hold Lucifer back while they perform a spell to seal the portal and lock Lucifer in AU!World. Thanks to Crowley for stopping to explain that to Sam, even though Sam was obviously part of the planning, because otherwise we wouldn't know what was going on. Seems like a mean trick to play on the residents of AU!World, though. Dean runs out of ammo, and as he gets the stuffing beat out of him - it's a good thing Lucifer always like playing with his prey before he goes for the kill - Crowley tells Sam they need one more ingredient for the spell: a life. Hmm! He then interrupts the beat-down, and Sam runs in and drags Dean away, which is awesome.
So much better than a coffee shop.
As the Winchesters watch from the portal, Crowley tells Lucifer how much he hates him, and how much he's going to enjoy wiping the smug, self-satisfied look off his face. He then draws an angel blade, which doesn't scare Lucifer, turns to the Winchesters to say "bye, boys," and plunges it into his own gut. And this one does look like an actual death. Well! I guess that completes the spell. The flame in the spell pot flares up and the portal narrows and I really think the guys need to be running through it. I really do.
Suddenly Cas steps out of the portal, with his own blade, and stomps toward Lucifer. Dean tries to stop him, but Sam yanks his brother back into the portal. Was this part of the plan? It doesn't seem to be part of the plan. As the Winchesters tumble onto the ground, Kelly screams through a push, gets veins of yellow light in her face, and suddenly becomes peaceful. She says "I love you" and her hoohah explodes with light and knocks Mary onto the floor.
AU!World. Cas sinks his blade into Lucifer's gut. Lucifer's eyes glow red and he doubles over in pain. Is this it? Is the power of the Lucifetus going to supercharge Cas to the point that he can kill Lucifer?
Back at the lake house side of the portal. Cas bursts through, but just as Sam greets him joyfully, a blade protrudes from his chest because someone is right behind him, stabbing him in the back. Why yes, this is exactly how you killed Billie, isn't it, Cas? Light streams from his eyes and mouth, and from the wound, and he collapses to the ground, revealing Lucifer behind him. "That was fun," Lucifer says.
But before he can smite the brothers, Mary shows up. Lucifer is pleased to see her and thanks her for all the help. Mary's hands are behind her back, and we get a shot of the Enochian-engraved brass knuckles. I'm glad she got to keep those. She tells the boys she loves them, and then punches Lucifer in the face, marking that one thing off her bucket list. She keeps punching, pushing him closer to the portal, and Lucifer falls through it, grabbing and dragging her with him, just as it closes. Just like Swan Song! The last we see of them is in AU!World, with Lucifer yelling "no!" and getting glowy red eyes and Mary realizing that things are well and truly fucked. But I'm not worried about her. AU!Bobby is out there to save her.
Back at the lake house, the brothers are horrified and grief-stricken. Sam notices a bright light upstairs in the house and runs off to investigate, while Dean kneels in the mud next to Cas's body, and we get an overhead shot just like All Hell Breaks Loose. The first time I watched this, I thought, "That's stupid. We know he's not dead. There aren't any wings." And then I got on Tumblr the next day and saw wings. Huh. In my defense, I really had to adjust the exposure on this cap to get them to show.
And why are they coming out of his head?
Upstairs, Sam enters Kelly's room, which is no longer filled with light. Kelly's lying on the bed, arms crossed peacefully over her chest, not sweaty or bloody. Either Mary straightened her up, or the Lucifetus did it, just like he freshened her up after she tried to kill herself. Her eyes are wide open, though, so Sam closes them. He hears footsteps and walks out into the hallway, where he sees a set of footprints burned into the floor. Terrified, he follows the trail into the nursery (complete with apple tree, for fuck's sake) and sees someone crouched in the corner. Someone adult-sized, with a creepy smile and glowing yellow eyes. I guess that truck full of diapers is going to waste.
Oooh, maybe there's a serpent under that tree after all!
Well then! In my pre-finale poll, only xparrotresponded that the finale might have something to do with Game of Thrones, and yet here we are with our own version of the Red Wedding. (Sidebar: 14 of you correctly predicted the grenade launcher would be involved, but only jj1564 and bubblecloudy voted for "a plucky group of hunters, possibly led by Claire and Jody." Hmm. Come to think of it, I feel fairly prescient for even coming up with that option.)
That is, if you actually believe they're really most sincerely dead. My completely unspoiled opinion is that Rowena is probably dead, and yet I won't be surprised at all if they bring her back somehow. Lucifer was still holding onto a lock of her hair, and he's not the sentimental type, so there must be a reason. That uncharred hair is going to have some regenerative properties, perhaps, and she'll grow back from the roots. If this is the end, she deserved better. She deserved an onscreen death.
Crowley? I'm 50/50. I do think he's meant to be dead for good, because he got to be a hero, he got to say goodbye, and he got to tell us he didn't like being the King of Hell anyway. But again, even a demon who lit up when she died (looking at you, Ruby 1.0) was able to come back, so I'm confident they could bring Crowley back if they chose to.
Cas? Ha ha ha ha ha no. Even unspoiled, I have no doubt we'll see the little tree topper again.
I've read a couple of theories on Tumblr. These aren't really spoilers, but I'm putting them behind a second cut just in case you don't want to read them. Except this cut doesn't seem to work in Dreamwidth? Sorry!
One theory is that at some point, Dean went to an AU!version of the lake house instead of the real lake house, so the Cas who died there is not his Cas. I don't really buy into this one. Dean was always with Sam, and this theory uses some subtle points of Sam's behavior to show that he's an AU!Sam instead of real Sam, so I don't see the logistics of it.
The other theory is that the Cas who died is actually an AU!Cas from AU!World. This makes more sense, but it doesn't explain how our Cas and AU!Cas switched places. But maybe angels in the other world have wings growing out of their heads. That would explain at least one oddity.
I'm sure this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I'd be okay if Cas died. The Cas I love is from seasons 4 and 5, when he wasn't the Winchesters' lapdog. When he wasn't always on their side. When he was a BAMF who had his own agenda that didn't always mesh with theirs. When he couldn't be counted on to solve their problems. I'd truly love a Cas who served a Bobby-like role; there as a mentor and occasional resource but not a Cas ex machina. But even later-season Cas is fine as long as he's involved in the Winchester plot. I find his heavenly B-plots boring as fuck.
And Crowley. Well, I love the Limey bastard, but only when he's with the Winchesters. As foe or friend, I find him delightful. As King of Hell with his own storylines, I find him tedious. Same with Rowena. I love, love, love her when she's fighting for or against the Winchesters. But I'm not interested in her otherwise.
Anyway. I have questions, of course. Why did Cas to back to AU!World to attack Lucifer? Surely that wasn't part of the plan? What was the bright light that drew Sam upstairs? It wasn't the birth of the Lucifetus, because Mary was already outside. Was it Jack growing to full size? Because there's no way Kelly was carrying that being we saw in the corner.
In general, I was pleased with this episode. It feels odd saying that, since some of my flisties disliked it so much that they've literally sworn off watching the show. But I'm satisfied with much of it. Mary is off the board, and yet saving her may end up being an interesting storyline. I'm sure Cas is coming back. Crowley got a nice send off. Sam and Dean were both instrumental in the end. Really, there was a lot to like.
So, as Dean said, see you on the other side. And please help keep this a spoiler-free zone - speculation is welcome, but casting news and anything known about season 13 is a spoiler!