caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

Initial reaction 15.18: "Despair"

First, let me thank those of you who posted such thoughtful, intelligent comments last week. I hate that I couldn’t jump in there with you. I love that you did it without me.

THEN: The key to Billie's library. Billie wants to become God. Cas made a deal with The Empty. Chuck absorbed Amara. Jack absorbed Adam's rib. Dean pointed a gun at Sam (DEAN POINTED A GUN AT SAM.) Chuck is pissed. Jack is going to explode.

Friends, as you know, I try not to even see the episode titles before they air, so I didn't know until last night that this one was called "Despair." But it shouldn't be a surprise that I was thrilled. I had a bad day yesterday, with things that had nothing to do with the election, and I was ready to sit down with a beer and some Winchester despair. SO READY.

NOW: We begin right where we left off last week, with Jack about to explode with God-killing power. Sam half-carries him into the map table room, Cas tells him to take deep breaths and focus, and Dean gets all panicky and is no help at all. Jack wants the guys to just leave him outside in order to minimize the damage when he goes kaboom. {Sidebar... how far away would he have to be, considering that his explosive power could kill God? Discuss.} Dean yells at Sam to find one of Rowena's spells (and oh, Sam as Rowena's apprentice; there's a plot that was sadly wasted, wasn't it?) but he's interrupted by Billie and her scythe, which she's carrying in a very obvious way. She's furious, and tells them the plan to destroy Chuck was doomed "because of you." Billie can't stop Jack's earth-shattering kaboom, "but there is something I can do." She sends him to the Empty. Empty!Meg cheerfully points out that he doesn't look so hot, but then he looks explosively hot. Ah, there's our earth-shattering kaboom!

Bunker. Billie explains that The Empty was the only option to absorb the impact of Jack the Bomb. And that he's not necessarily dead, because taking out Chuck and Amara was the part that was fatal, not actually being the bomb. Hmm. So Jack's point of no return wasn't actually a point of no return after all. It's kinda retconny, but not really? I've decided it's logical and I approve.

However, if the Empty survives, "it's gonna be pissed." Particularly at Billie. And it's very strong. Billie and Sam remind us that the Empty can only come to Earth if it's summoned. They do not get into the details of what constitutes a summoning, but I'm sure that isn't important. And Billie might be willing to bring Jack back, assuming he survived, but not until Sam returns what he took from her. Chuck's death book.

Sam immediately goes on the attack. He points out that she was planning to betray them from the start, leading to the deaths of all the AU refugees and everyone who was brought back from death, including him and Dean. "Even if I give you the book," he says, "what's to stop you from stabbing us in the back? Killing us all?"

"Nothing," Billie says. She gets up in Sam's face and tells him Jack won't last long. Either give her the book now, or lose him forever.

Can I just point out that Sam is still a little bloody from Dean punching him in the face? After he pointed a gun at him?

Meanwhile, in the Empty, we discover that Jack is still alive (yay) and that this episode was directed by Richard Speight (yay). He is surrounded by particles that gradually form back into Empty!Meg. And, as predicted, she's pissed.

In the bunker, Sam brings the book to Billie, but ignores her outstretched hand and slams it onto the table instead. It's a pointless little burst of defiance and I love it.

Billie flips to the end to read the new ending of God's book, "since you ruined the last one." She seems to like what she reads. Sam says "Wait, the ends of your books change? So me killing Rowena was presented as unavoidable fate but it really wasn't necessary at all?" No, he actually doesn't. But I do, on his behalf. It's a pointless little burst of defiance. Over in the Empty, Empty!Meg grabs Jack's head and says "you made it loud!" and this is a conversation I've had with my dogs in the wee dark hours of the morning more times than I can count because we just want to SLEEP, GUYS but before she can actually crush his head, Billie zaps him back to the bunker.

Billie tells the guys that Jack is hers because he's still useful. Dean responds by grabbing her scythe and swinging at her. She flings him away, but she's wounded and bleeding light. Oh, and she dropped the book. Sam and Cas ignore Dean crumpled over against the wall - Cas runs to comfort Jack, and Sam runs to pick up the book. Unfortunately, he can't open it. Dean says "hey, thanks for not helping me, guys" and Sam says "oh, I'm sorry, I guess I'm still a little rattled from you punching me in the face after you pointed a gun at me." No, he doesn't. But I do, on his behalf.

Several people have pointed out how skinny Jared looks in these last few episodes, but this is the first time I've noticed it. It will be interesting to see how he looks in the two that were filmed after their Covid shutdown.

Time jump. Dean is sitting in the library, drinking whiskey. And I've said it a million times but I'll say it again - I could watch an entire episode that was just Dean drinking. And then it gets even better when Sam walks in wearing only a v-neck t-shirt. Single layer Sam alert, guys! How long has it been? Dean slides the bottle over to him and we get a little bonus hand pron and then this happens:

Sam, I'm sorry about... everything.

Dean, you don't have to -

I pulled a gun on you. It's like I just couldn't stop. You know, we were so close to beating him. Like, I could smell Chuck's blood in the water, and I - nothing else mattered. It was everything. And I just couldn't snap out of it.

Well, you did. You've snapped me out of worse.

Hmmm. Am I missing a time when Dean snapped Sam out of something? I mean, I know in Stull, Sam was able to overcome Lucifer because of Dean. But that was Sam snapping himself out of it. And Dean convinced Sam to give up the trials, but that wasn't Sam under anything that he needed to be "snapped out of." I think if you're going to give Dean credit for snapping himself out of it when confronted by his teary eyed, bloodied little brother, you have to give Sam credit for snapping himself out of his own situations.

It doesn't matter. All that matters is these two sitting quietly in the dark, drinking whiskey together.

Dean's feeling some despair (nice) because Billie wants them dead, Jack is powerless (oh, wait, when did that happen?), and Michael isn't answering his prayers. No one is on their side. "Well, we regroup, somehow," says Sam. They drink a sad little toast to "somehow," and I die a thousand deaths.

Billie's library. Billie stalks angrily through the stacks. A reaper informs her he put up warding to keep the Empty out, and asks if the plan has changed. Yes, it has.

Elsewhere, a woman we don't know is cooking some seriously dry scrambled eggs. She thinks she knows what she's doing, because she's explaining to someone else in the room how to cook eggs so they're "not too runny, not too dry" but seriously. Gordon Ramsay would be appalled. {Sidebar: Gordon's eggs actually look a bit too runny for my taste, and my family would refuse to eat them, but this lady's dry crumbly eggs are still an abomination.} She turns around and we see AU Charlie sitting at the kitchen table. Oh, Charlie has a girlfriend! Sweet. And she must be in love, because she tells this girlfriend that they're the best eggs she's ever had. And also, she's still hunting. Guess she didn't retire to a mountaintop after all. Probably because she couldn't get wifi. Anyway. Her girlfriend's plate crashes to the floor because her girlfriend abruptly disappeared. (Aw, her name was Stevie. Stevie and Charlie. How cute is that?)

Time jump. Charlie's apartment building is called Kim Manor.


As Sam runs the EMF meter (and there's a nice wordless conversation where Sam lets Dean know he didn't find anything), Charlie talks about how they met (thanks to AU Bobby) and how she experienced nothing when Stevie disappeared. No sulphur smell, no cold, nothing. Dean and Sam have another wordless conversation about what they think happened.

Dean and Sam explain that Billie wants to send all the AU people back to their now non-existent worlds. So Stevie was from AU World too? I guess that explains how AU Bobby knew her. Coincidentally, Sam's phone rings, and it's AU Bobby. They have an extremely short conversation in which Sam learns that another AU hunter simply vanished. And there's no explanation on Sam's end, just "yeah, I understand." So have they already talked to AU Bobby about the Billie situation? Or was Sam and Bobby's conversation literally "hey, a hunter vanished into thin air, how weird is that" and "yeah, I understand" with no further discussion? Anyway. Dean says it's open season on anyone from another world (aw, sorry, Winchesters in Brazil), anyone who came back from the dead, and Sam gets a horrified look on his face and says "Eileen."


Meanwhile, out by the Impala, in broad daylight, Jack tells Cas that he feels strange because the plan failed and his destiny was averted. "I was ready to die, and I wanted to - for Sam, for Dean, for the world - I wanted to make things right. And now I don't know why I'm even here." OF COURSE HE LISTED SAM FIRST. Cas tells him he didn't need absolution from anyone, and that they care about him not because of his usefulness, but just because he's him. Somewhere Dean says "um, wait." Jack is scared because he's powerless and can't protect anyone. Cas is too. So, did Jack lose his powers after the earth shattering kaboom? Or earlier, and I just wasn't paying attention?

Nighttime. Dean speeds down the road as Sam texts Eileen. I don't know where Eileen is, but she must be pretty far away from Kim Manor. Sam told her to get out of her house, go somewhere public, and wait by her car. Now, I cover the guest star credits, so I don't know if Shoshanna is in this episode. But even unspoiled, I'm pretty sure she's not going to be there when they arrive. She starts to type a response, as evidenced by the bubbles, but then stops responding. Yep, just as I thought, no one is standing by her car. Sam finds her phone on the ground, cracked as if it were dropped (like, say, by someone who disappeared while holding it) and LOOK AT HER LOCKSCREEN. LOOK AT IT.

Some will say this is just the photo that pops up when Sam texts her but they are WRONG. This is her FREAKING LOCK SCREEN, PEOPLE.

Anyway. He sees the unfinished message she was writing, which says she's by her car. Aw, Sam. Dean tries to talk to him and he says "I can't - if I let myself go there, I'll lose my mind, I can't right now."

Aw, SAM!

Sam compartmentalizes his grief and jumps into take-care-of-everyone mode. He says they need to gather everyone together, and they need to find a location central to everyone. Well, I mean, there is one place I know of that is literally the central most point in the United States, maybe you could go there? It's supposed to be secure from all things supernatural, too. Dean says that while Sam is going that, he is going to go end what he started. OH, GOOD. I WAS HOPING THEY WOULD SPLIT UP. "We couldn't make Chuck pay, but Billie? She left her blade. Her I can kill." Hey, wouldn't be the first time. Sam agrees, Cas says he'll go with Dean, and we get a brother hug. Once again, Dean does the two things I love when he hugs Sam: 1. he puts his arms on top, as if he were still the taller brother, and b. he looks away and packs up his emotions before he lets Sam see his face after the hug. "Let's go, Cas," he says. "Let's go reap a reaper." Cas turns and follows without saying anything at all to Sam or Jack, but I'm sure that won't be an issue.

There is also a hand to the back of the neck, which is delightful, and Sam's tearful little nod.

Time jump - it's daytime. Sam's on the phone with Donna, who is standing outside her truck (but didn't she used to have a big black SUV?) at that bridge we've seen so many times. She's sending him to "the old Harmon property," which should be just what he's looking for because it has an abandoned silo. I mean, I wouldn't jump immediately to abandoned silo, but maybe there weren't any abandoned warehouses around. She says it's in Hastings, just south of her, and if you think I didn't confirm that the town of Hastings is in fact about 30 minutes south of Stillwater, Minnesota then you just don't know me at all.

Sam is at a gas station and oh, he's driving Eileen's car! That's not heartbreaking at all. I guess she didn't have her keys in her pocket when she disappeared. (Hah, like Sam Winchester needs keys.) Donna and AU Bobby are rounding up everyone they can think of. She asks what the plan is, and Sam bends down creepily to look at Jack in the passenger seat and says "I'm still working on that." I mean, I know they keep telling us Jack lost his powers, but the way Sam looks at him right here certainly suggests Jack is part of the plan, and maybe not in a good way.

Spoiler alert: seriously, why do I even bother.

Sam comes around to Jack's window and tells him he needs him to drive, because Sam needs to work on archives and spells and stuff. And is that true, or is this just "I don't expect you to live through this part so I want to let you have some time behind the wheel of Eileen's 1970 Plymouth Valiant?" (At least that's what The Husband thinks it is.)

Bunker. Enter Dean and Cas. Dean declares that if Billie isn't in her library, they'll just trash the place to "smoke her out." It's an interesting choice of words.

Foreshadowing Dean as the new Death? (Remember, I'm completely unspoiled. I know nothing.)

Silo. Let's stick to this location for now. Sam and Jack pull up and are greeted by Donna. Jack goes inside to set up the warding, and Donna gives Sam a nice hug.

I want to be there.

She tells him she's sorry about Eileen and gets one of his sad little nods that I love so much. Bobby is already here, and she name-drops Garth and Jody and the girls, saying they're on "high alert." Sam tells her they're not on Billie's list, so they should be safe. And so should Donna. Well, that's good to know. Sam's surprised to see Charlie pull up. She tells him "I just don't want this to happen to anyone else." I don't know what you think you're going to be able to do, Charlie, but okay.

Turns out the silo is actually a Tardis, so I guess maybe it was a good choice. It's huge on the inside, and is also more finished than any silo I've ever been in (which is, okay, one silo, but still.) The interior is already heavily warded. Several people are milling about. {Sidebar: How many hunters were away from the bunker when Michael attacked, and why have none of them returned?} Bobby tells Sam that as soon as the hunters heard he wanted them there, they came running. "Whether you like it or not, you're the big man here." Hey, I wonder if the guy who called him Chief is here. Bobby, being a man after my own heart, is mostly concerned about the bathroom situation. Sam hopes they won't be there long enough for it to be an issue. He has a spell from Rowena (!) that should boost the strength of the wards, but that's all he has. Bobby doesn't look very reassured, and glances in a foreshadowy way at a family with kids. Sam looks around at all of these people he feels responsible for and takes a deep breath and oh, my heart.

Donna and Jack are painting more wards. Jack bends down to look at a plant, and Donna comes up to him and says "I'm no expert on this hoodoo stuff, but best we patch that up, yeah?" and I don't know what the hell she's talking about. What is this plant disturbing? Jack reaches out to touch the plant and it withers away as his hand gets close. Friends, I'm pretty sure this is a bad sign. Jack is too. He stares at his hand, and if he'd been watching a few seasons ago, he would have noticed that plants did the same thing when Amara touched them. Coincidence???

Later we see everyone watch as Sam recites the spell. (Yes, it's hot. Do you even have to ask?) The sigils glow red briefly and then fade, and the music turns ominous and I think this means his boost failed. But I guess not, because Sam says now they wait. But they don't have to wait long, because suddenly one of the children dissolves into smoke. One by one, all of the AU people dissolve like they've been snapped by Thanos. Charlie runs up to Sam and says "Sam, what do we do" just like Maggie did, and just like Maggie she's taken out immediately. Sam watches in horror as AU Bobby smokes out. He turns to Donna, who says "Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good," and then Donna is gone! Crap! Jack and Sam are left staring at the empty-except-for-them silo.

One more serving of despair, coming right up.

On to the other side.

Dean enters Billie's library, brandishing the scythe. Cas follows, bearing only a hangdog expression. Dean motions for him to go one direction and Dean goes the other, soon finding Billie. He thinks he's sneaking up behind her, but she says "So, I guess this is the part where I say hello boys. Hello, boys." Oh, I was wrong; Cas has his angel blade. Billie snarks about Dean's bad aim, and he says he wasn't trying to kill her then (which seems like a lie), but he is now, because of what she's doing to his people. Billie slams him against the wall again. She chokes Cas Darth Vader-style from a distance, and then the old fashioned way. "Remember when you stabbed me in the back?" she says. "Because I do." Oh, that's funny, because earlier Sam said she was going to stab them in the back. She should have said "like you stabbed me?" Dean comes to the rescue by poking her with the blunt end of the scythe rather than the pointy end, so maybe she was right about his bad aim. Then he gets the blade against her throat (but still not the sharp end, just the back) and demands that she stop killing his friends. She says she didn't - it was Chuck. And Dean's wasting time.

I'm considering it time well spent, because it looks so nice.

Billie tells Dean the injury he gave her earlier is something she can't recover from - she's going to die. She pulls away her coat to show him a nasty festering wound, and I wonder why something so physical would kill her, but. Eh. She tells him she doesn't care about his friends or family. "But seeing you here has reminded me of something. There is one thing I'd like. One wish before I go. I'd like to see you dead." She grabs her scythe back, flings the boys around, and slowly stalks toward them. Dean and Cas rush through the door back into the bunker.

Dean is panicky again, trying to figure out what to do next. He's suddenly struck down by chest pain, and I expect to see someone sticking a knife (or a scythe) in his back, but it's actually Billie doing it Darth Vader-style again. Cas drags him away as Billie monologues. "It's you, Dean; it's always been you. Death-defying. Rule-breaking. You are everything I lived to set right. To put down. To tame. You are human disorder incarnate." Yeah, we know, Dean's awesome. We get this speech every season. Cas and Dean fleeing through the halls of the bunker, as Billie calmly follows with a weapon, is (once again) reminding me of better, older episodes. She drags the blade against the wall, which is pretty cool. "Don't you think it's finally time?" she calls. "Time for the sweet release of death?" Too bad she's not chasing Sam, because 1. Sam being chased through the halls of the bunker YES ALWAYS PLEASE AND THANK YOU and b. Sam would probably at least stop to consider the sweet release of death.

Cas and Dean end up in the dungeon storeroom. Cas gets Dean's knife out of his pocket and cuts his own hand to paint a sigil on the door. It looks like an angel banishing sigil, but apparently it block's Billie's power. Not permanently, though, because it fades as she pounds on the door. Cas says that since the wound is killing her, they just have to wait her out.

Yeah, and if we can't?

Then we fight.

We'll lose. I just led us into another trap. All because I couldn't hurt Chuck. Because I was angry, and because I just needed something to kill, and because that's all I know how to do.


It was Chuck all along. We never should have left Sam and Jack. We should be there with them now.

Yes you should, Dean, you really really should. Dean is practically drowning in despair, which, you know. Is a good thing. 10/10 would recommend. "She's gonna get through that door," he tells Cas. "And she's gonna kill you, and then she's gonna kill me. I'm sorry."

"Wait, there is one thing she's afraid of," Cas says. "There's one thing strong enough to stop her." He tells Dean about the deal he made to save Jack in the Empty.

Friends, I'm going to do you a favor. If you haven't seen the episode, and aren't planning to watch the episode (yeah, I'm looking at you, cuddyclothes), I want you to read this paragraph and then skip down until you see the pretty pictures of Dean. And start reading after those pictures. Trust me. So, Cas summons the Empty just as Billie breaks down the door. The Empty kills Billie, but she also takes Cas. Dean is saved but Cas is gone.

{Sigh. Can I skip this part? No, I owe it to you.}

Cas explains that the Empty was going to come snatch him away as soon as he experienced a moment of true happiness. But happiness isn't having, happiness is knowing. And Dean is wonderful and "Everything you have ever done, the good and the bad, you have done for love." You just threatened to shoot your little brother for love, for example. Cas is teary eyed and Dean looks confused as hell and I pause the TV and turn to The Husband and we have this conversation:

I don't think I can watch this.

Why, because it's so sappy?

No, because I think they're going to kiss.

What? Why would they kiss? Is there something I'm missing?

Because part of the fandom WANTS them to kiss, and there's this group of fans that are super obnoxious about it, and they harass the actors and the writers and I think now the show thinks EVERYBODY wants them to kiss. Even though the guy who plays Dean* says it would never happen. Because I know he wasn't happy about the way the show ended, and I'm afraid this is why he wasn't happy.


I don't think they're gonna kiss.

If they do, I'm done.

*The Husband is not on a first name basis with Jensen.

So, let me point out that The Husband, who watches this show the way a normal human being watches a show (i.e., doesn't interact with the fandom at all), had absolutely NO expectation that they would kiss. Anyway, with some trepidation, I push play again. And Cas is still going. Dean is the most caring, selfless, loving human being on earth (OH GOD MAKE IT STOP) and knowing him has changed Cas.

Why does this sound like a goodbye?

Because it is. I love you.

Don't do this, Cas.

We see a black blob materialize behind Dean, because even though the Empty can only come to Earth if it's summoned, there it is. And I could argue about whether Cas being happy actually summoned the damn thing but I've already lost the will to live, so instead I'm going to describe to you how I watched in horror, with my finger hovering over the pause button, as Cas reached out to Dean and put his hand on his shoulder. But he just pushed him out of the way. Thank you baby Jesus. Billie breaks the door down as the Empty slurps into the dungeon. It surrounds Cas and Billie and sucks them into its depths. Dean is left alone. Oh, and he has a bloody palm print on his jacket from Cas grabbing his shoulder. I guess someone did watch a little bit of older seasons after all. Hard to tell sometimes.

I mean, at least he looked good, right?

Back at the silo. I've decided it must be mostly underground and isn't a grain silo like I thought. So what kind of silo do Yankees have that's mostly underground? Anyway. Jack and Sam emerge, having failed catastrophically at their mission. Sam is trying to call Dean, who isn't answering. He looks mildly panicky. "Sam?" Jack says, a little shaky. "Was it just them?"

OH CRAP. I didn't even think of that possibility.

"I don't know," Sam says, also shaky. And as we see an empty gas station and playground, it really looks like it wasn't just them at all. Sam and Jack look at each other, alone and terrified. And back in the bunker's dungeon, Dean's phone rings. It's Sam. He doesn't answer.


So. You know how sometimes something really good will happen in an episode? And I'll say, no matter how bad this episode is, this 90 seconds makes it worth it? Well, sometimes the opposite happens. Sometimes you get a two or three minute scene - a horribly written, badly acted scene - and it's so awful that it ruins an episode. A season. A show. I'm angry that the showrunners pandered to a small, noisy minority of fans to throw something into the show that most fans didn't want and didn't help the story at all. I'm annoyed that, once again, Dean is put up on an embarrassingly overwrought pedestal. I'm kind of amused that they did this in the worst way possible. Cas's love was unrequited (unless they screw that up in the next episode), Misha's acting caused so much secondhand embarrassment that I had a hard time watching again, and from what I see on Tumblr, half of the Destihellers are furious because "Dean is a homophobe." Which is bullshit. Not returning someone's romantic affection isn't homophobia. It's consent. (I know... on this show? Ha ha.)

{Sidebar: If "Destiel" means the characters have mutual feelings for each other, doesn't this mean Destiel is not, in fact, canon? I mean, it was already so badly written that one could argue Cas wasn't proclaiming romantic love, but just a life-changing experience thanks to one human. Discuss.}

But I need to stop thinking about it. I can't - if I let myself go there, I'll lose my mind, I can't right now.

And this wasn't even the Buckleming episode, friends. There is probably a Buckleming episode left.

I got so distracted by this nonsense that I almost forgot to talk about the Jack situation. So here's how I feel about that. I love Jack as a character. I love him as someone the Winchesters could lose (Basically, someone to stuff in the fridge? Why not.) But I don't want him to be one of them. I don't want Jack's story to be treated as if it were as important as the Winchester's story. Just like I didn't want Cas to have his own plots. I want it always, always to come down to Sam and Dean.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll have more to say. But for right now, all I'm saying is this: I pledge to stick with this show, to stick with fanworks, no matter how badly they fuck up the landing. But guys, you don't have to try so hard to fuck it up.

Two to go. As always, please don't put spoilers in the comments, including casting info and episode titles.
Tags: 15.18 despair, initial reaction, pretty, season 15, supernatural

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Posts from This Journal “initial reaction” Tag

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