Cue the music. Reflect on it all. Cry your first round of tears.
Now let us begin season eight’s ending.
Last week Crowley started a new chapter in his reign of pain; killing off every person the Winchesters ever saved. This week he’s sitting down to an eHarmony date with our favorite sheriff, Jodi Mills. He’s charming her from tip to toes and connecting with her on an emotional level, so much so that she has to take to the loo from a regroup.
And that’s his moment. He cobbles her hex bag together, but as Jodi chokes on her own blood in the lonely ladies’ room, Crowley is interrupted by the Winchesters dialing 1-900-MIXALOT. Sam and Dean take the deal and surrender to Crowley. With caveats: Crowley gets the demon tablet, in its entirety, but they get the angel tablet.
We assume Jodi lives. Fingers crossed.
The boys meet up with Kevin under a weathered billboard for Dave and Paul’s hellfire chili. Why? Because that’s where a hopped up, stressed out teen prophet chose to bury his half of the demon tablet. The second the two halves touch they fuse together and Kevin hands the complete tablet over to Sam. Dean trades him that for the key to the MOL bunker, with strict instructions that he’s not to thrown any beer bust ragers.
No worries. Kevin is the friendless wonder and he knows it.
Houston, Texas. Castiel and Metatron sit and watch, as angels do. Castiel asks Metatron what God was like. Metatron says he was just like the rumors would have you believe: imposing, crabby, slightly chauvinistic but overall just and righteous.
God is John Winchester.
Castiel opts to drop the daddy issues subject and focus on the next trial. Dwight Charles sweeps the front steps of his hole-in-the-wall bar, unaware that Metatron has been listening to the Angel K-LOVE top 20 countdown and according DJ Cupid, he’s next on their amorous meddling list. And once he’s caught an arrow to the heart, Castiel has to beg, steal or borrow Cupid’s bow. A kill-free trial, Castiel is relieved.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A nostalgically familiar salvage yard. Crowley and the boys are here to deal with a set of stones. No you pervs, the tablets. Crowley has a scroll of legalese rolled out and waiting for an autograph, but Dean is worried about the fine print. Alls fair in love and war, but swapping slabs has rules. Crowley gives them the highlights and Dean is ready to sign, accept that’s not going to cut it considering Dean isn’t Sam’s power of attorney. That’s right, Sam’s the one coughing up a lung, he’s the one that’s gotta sign. Fine. Dean’s gonna read all eight feet of party of the first party, consideration of the properties, heretofore known as the angel tablet and the demon tablet, blah-blah-polysyllabic-blah. Crowley impatiently waits for Dean to sound out all the big words, unperturbed by the fact that the closer Dean gets to the end, the closer he gets to Crowley himself and just like Dean has handcuffed Crowley to himself. Crowley finds such prosaic forms of attempted containment amusing, until he realizes he can’t snap and pop his way out. Handcuffs etched with devil’s traps. Our boys are picking up good habits at home.
Back in Houston, Castiel fumbles his way through an inappropriate gauging of turn on and offs of Dwight Charles. Dwight Charles is not up for BDSM and kinky role-play conversations before noon. Metatron diffuses the situation by ordering them up each a draft. Angels imbibing alcohol. Metatron is about to scold Castiel for his lack of discretion when Naomi and her goons flutter in to take Metatron back to heaven. She orders them to kill Castiel, but Dwight isn’t having this type of roughhousing in his establishment and if you think a bar owner in Texas doesn’t have a rifle that he’s reading and willing to use, you’re wrong. Valiant effort, bad idea. He’s thrown into headfirst into his mid-shelf booze and is out cold. Metatron begs Castiel to stand down and flaps off with Naomi and her crew.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean, with Crowley in tow, roll up to an old, but ornately crossed, church in the middle of nowhere. That car ride must have been a piss and vinegar spiked snark-fest. Not cutting any corners, they keep Crowley shackled, physically and mystically in the middle of the main room.
Next step, purifying Sam blood through contrition and a few Hail Mary full of graces. But where to begin? Dean’s got a few “helpful” jumping off points for Sam: trusting Ruby, choosing Ruby over Dean, killing Lilith and thus freeing The Morning Star himself, misplacing his soul (was that one really his fault? Maybe indirectly, but it’s not like Sam meant to lose it), oh and the newest track on Sammy’s greatest hits double EP: not looking for Dean.
Okay, okay, Sam gets it. He’s not the best decision maker.
While Sam confesses, Dean organizes the Impala’s truck, unfortunately Castiel appears with other plans. He wants, nay! he needs Dean’s help. For what, Dean wonders. Nothing big, just to shut the gates of Heaven. Oh lovely, another person in Dean’s life doing trials half-cocked. And of course Castiel lets Dean in on the plan halfway down the fairway. Dean’s more than a little skeptical about Metatron’s motivations, considering he was sitting in a room flipping through novels with his fingers in his ears yesterday and is crusading today. Castiel assures Dean that Metatron wants to help, but that he’s the only one that can actually, physically do it. Ah, hubris, Castiel’s most beloved deadly sin. The rode to sealing up Heaven is paved with pyrite.
Dean doesn’t want to leave Sam to handle this alone. He’s sick, he’s weak, and he’s going to have to deal with Crowley’s smart mouth. No. Just no. Except Sam overhears Dean’s protests and tells him to go, that he can handle this. Dean’s hesitant, but willing to go as long as Sam promises to finish it no matter what.
Sam agrees and heads inside the church to begin the blood injections while Dean, the angel tablet and Castiel all flap off to the bunker so Kevin can get to translating. Crowley isn’t pleased with this turn of events, he doesn’t’ want to be the last trial and he doesn’t want to be cured. In a moment of rebellion he bites Sam’s wrist when Sam is close enough after an injection. Sam doesn’t appreciate Crowley acting like a bratty child at the playground and goes off to bandage himself up. Which is of course exactly what Crowley wanted, a moment alone to make a blood puddle phone call for help.
At the bunker, Kevin more or less laughs in their Dean and Castiel’s faces. It took him how freaking long to translate just a part of the demon table and now they want a new tablet Rosetta Stoned in under six hours. Surely they jest. Castiel does not appreciate Kevin’s flippant insolence. And don’t call him Shirley. Kevin has a destiny, a calling and he will do as he’s told until it sucks him dry, he dies and a new prophet rises. Now that’s a pep talk.
Castiel jets himself back to Houston with Dean attached to his hip. Dean sits at the bar enjoying the free drinks Dwight is doling out on account of him thinking Castiel saved his life the last time he was there. Castiel isn’t so sure that Dean should be drinking on the job, Dean scoffs. Has Castiel even been paying attention to his BFF for like, years back?
The bar is quiet, there’s only one other patron there and he’s over at the other end of the bar by the door. Dean and Castiel sip their beers and talk about what it’ll mean for Castiel to lock Heaven’s gates and toss away the key. He’s not exactly a favorite angel up there, not after the carnage he created. Castiel is aware and he’s willing to take whatever is doled out as his penance. The moment is broken but a woman coming in to make a delivery. She has to be it, right. Well… close. She’s not the woman of Dwight’s dreams; she’s the cherubic matchmaker that helps him realize his love is sitting on a barstool by the door.
Dean and Castiel cut her off outside, though she’s not all that shocked to see them. Castiel tries to mug her for her bow, but Dean stops him and tries a nicer, yet often underused method. He provides information and asks her politely. Turns out she’s down with the idea of closing up heavenly shop. Home isn’t a safe place any more as far as she’s concerned and she lets them cut off her bow to spite Heaven’s face.
Remember Crowley’s call for help? The cavalry has arrived. Sort of.
Abaddon busts her way into the church and cracks open the Devil’s Trap, but it’s not to free Crowley, it’s so she can step into the ring and KO him. Crowley pleads with her, tells her about Sam’s plan to shut down Hell. Abaddon is seriously not interested in hearing him out, what she is will to discuss is a changing of the guard. Unfortunately, before she and Crowley can hammer anything out, Sam drenches her with Holy Oil and lights her up. Her demon smoke-soul flies out of the burning, writhing body and back home to Hell.
Abaddon, you well coiffed, perfectly manicured badass, you. You will be sorely missed.
Back in Heaven, Naomi wants to know why Metatron did what he did and is doing what he’s doing. Metatron isn’t going to give away his secrets so easily, but Naomi is not above literally picking his brain to get what she wants. What Naomi finds aren’t just answers to use, no, what she finds terrifies here and changes her entire outlook on her existence. She disappears to find Castiel. Which leaves Metatron alone, in her office, with her dentist drill.
Sam fixes up his playroom and gets back to work on Crowley’s injections. Crowley is far more subdued; less sass, more introspection. Crowley feels that after all they’ve been through a bond has been forged. This church is their foxhole, Abaddon was their Laotian Civil War. Sam isn’t buying into what the salesman is peddling. Then Crowley commits his last, and arguably most wretched, act of evilness.
He references HBO’s “Girls”.
Sam is still unmoved, until the King of Hell, weeping, asks Sam confessed to cleanse himself, because he has to know, even if it’s just a starting point, where someone like him could even begin. Sam’s answer is for Crowley to accept the final trial. Crowley, subservient for the first time since we’ve met him, bares his neck for Sam’s syringe.
Naomi finds Dean and Castiel just as Dean is learning from Kevin that the angel tablet has no mention of Nephilim slaughter or Cupid’s bow scavenging. Naomi pleads with them to trust her and not Metatron, because Metatron’s endgame isn’t to mend, it’s to destroy. The final act of his temper tantrum is to expel all the angels in Heaven to Earth. No accepting vessels, just wings melting like wax in the sun. She tells Dean that though she wants the gates of Hell closed, she now knows from Metatron’s mind that doing so will end in Sam’s death. The ultimate selfless sacrifice is what seals it shut. As for Castiel, if he stops following Metatron’s path and truly wants to go back home, she up for putting the option on the table.
Dean growls at Kevin, who is still on the other side of the phone, to find out if what Naomi said is true and then snarls at Castiel to take him back to Sam.
Back at the rain soaked church, Sam is chanting the opening lines of the cleansing exorcism. He gets to the end, knife dragging through the meat of his palm, just as Dean and Castiel arrive at the door. Castiel isn’t going in though, he knows he’s right and he has to tend to his own home before he can worry about Dean and Sam. Dean watches him disappear and runs in to stop Sam. He’s barely made it. He tells Sam what Naomi told him, that Sam will die if he goes through with curing Crowley.
This is not something Sam hadn’t considered. In fact, he was expecting as much.
Castiel’s return to Heaven starts with a trip to Naomi’s office. She’s there at her desk, dead. Drilled right through the back of her head, which is almost karmic, except that Metatron is the one that killed her and now has Castiel bound at his mercy. He admits that his missions weren’t trials, they were simply ingredient gathering for a spell and the last component is Castiel’s grace, which he cuts out of his throat and saves in a tiny vial. Now human, Castiel is cast back down to Earth by Metatron, who’s crazy ass wants Castiel to go live a life, a full life of his choosing and when he dies, Metatron wants Castiel to come back, sit at his feet and tell him the story of his life.
Dean is still trying to convince Sam to stop mid-trial. Dean begs Sam not to sacrifice himself, because Dean needs him. Sam’s not so sure. He messes up everything he touches and Dean doesn’t trust him farther than he can through him, which given their size differential is very telling. Sam doesn’t want to sit around waiting for Dean to trust an angel or a vampire more than him. Again.
But Sam’s wrong. Friends come and go, but Sam is his brother. The brother he killed his friend for, the brother he sold his soul for, the brother he’s willing to let demons roam the Earth for.
And then it gets really bad. He collapses and Dean can’t revive him. Dean drags him out of the church and screams to the Heavens for Castiel. He doesn’t come. He can’t. And Dean watches as thousands of angels rain down from the sky.
Off in the woods, Castiel, newly human, lost and alone, looks up and watches his family fall.