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Reveling in the fickle nature of fangirlishness

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Point of No Return: "Because, you're still my big brother."
Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such. -Henry Miller

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. -Helen Keller

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light. -Helen Keller

Whoa! This episode just decimated me! Yet it also made me the happiest DeanGirl on the face of this planet!! That about sums up the back and forth of emotions I was experiencing as I watched it unfold. Dean was as deeply despaired as Sam was flawlessly faithful. The comparisons between them stark. I LOVED every beautiful moment of it.

Some might say it didn't seem to have all of the sparkle and bright lights worthy of a 100th episode, but I couldn't disagree more. If anything, it was perfectly pitched for the kind of episode only Supernatural can pull off. Everything was there, nothing cheaply produced, no wasted effort expended in creating the turmoil that everyone was feeling only to have it let us down with a cheesy and contrived happy ending. No way. Every step to healing was brutal agony and open wounds. Nothing was spared in getting there and it worked.

When we first see Dean, he's packing up his possessions, as if stripping himself of all of his wordly possesions, with the intent of sending them to Bobby (love that Dean addresses it Robert Singer --we've never thought of Bobby so formal before -- also a nice nod to the real life namesake). The prized symbols of Dean, the leather jacket formerly belonging to John, the keys to the Impala, his gun and a letter. Sam clearly has the amulet (I refuse to believe that he didn't pull it out of the trash -- maybe waiting for the right moment to give it back to his brother. I hope that moment is coming). Before we learned that Dean was sending everything to Bobby, I had assumed that they were going to Sam as maybe a last good bye, but given Dean's loss of faith in him, I'm not surprised that they are going to Bobby. We don't see who the letter is addressed to and WAY better eyes than mine might have magnified enough of the words on the paper to figure it out, but that, too, wasn't a given, that he had written to Sam. Still, the actions are as good as a last will and testament as only a Winchester can leave. Even when Sam appears (and yay that he does--all that hunter's tracking skill didn't get wasted after all. Dean's shock at being found, PRICELESS and said it all), he asks if it's all a glorifed candygram, a suicide legacy.

Sam was the EVER PRESENT and UNFAILING faith and glue for EVERYONE in the episode and I JUST LOVED that he was. Jared was BEYOND STELLAR here! He pulled off everything with such belief in the cause and for everyone around him, struggling to single-handedly keep everyone on the same page with him. I cheered! He played Sam with such strength and conviction. It was just thudworthy! Every SamGirl was probably proud as punch at seeing him! As well they should because it was Sam's rock solid belief in Dean that totally made the episode uplifting amongst all the despair. Without that belief, it would have been angst for angst-sake, not that there's anything wrong with that, angst lover right here *points to self, but to not have any return on all that agonizing investment would have been just too much to bear for this DeanGirl who was going down the drain with Dean and would have felt cheated if there wasn't something to keep me hoping so I LOVED that Sam was that embodiment of hope. I was also glad that it got resolved in the one episode. Some might argue it was too easily resolved especially after the long build up to Dean's hitting rock bottom (which I thought he had reached several times -- talk about making sure that he was as low as he could be beaten down short of going to Hell again), but I didn't think that. I think that deep down, Dean was hoping, himself, for something to grab onto, no longer expecting it or looking for it (feeling it was just too much to hope for after all the beating down he'd been getting) so when Sam gave him his trust to not let him down, it was all Dean needed to rise up to the occasion. That act showed Dean that Sam wasn't the Sam he felt had betrayed him anymore. For Winchesters, it's all in the actions you take and Sam proved to Dean that he believed his big brother would do the right thing when push came to shove.

I love how Sam owns up to his own share of running when he faces Dean:

"All you've ever done is run away."

"And I was wrong, every single time I did."

Sam does a wonderful job of pushing his lessons learned onto Dean by pointing out how running away had been disastrous for him so he knows what he's talking about and can authoritatively tell Dean how wrong he is to do it himself.

This was also a PIVOTAL admission because on some points, Dean had a right to be angry, had a right to want to run, had a right to lose faith in his little brother upon learning how much of Sam's Heaven revolved around having run away from his family, from Dean specifically. For Sam to finally say that running away was wrong, that he was wrong for doing it, gives Dean credit for that accusation. It's emphasied again with a touch of humor when Adam shows up:

"We've got our hands full, Dean; a house full of flight risks."

I think the hardest points for me were when Dean disregarded the company of his fellow comrades. ESPECIALLY Bobby. It was the first time this DeanGirl glared at Dean as Sam did, supremely disappointed at his cruelty to a man who HAS been like a father to him, Dean so much as saying so in Dream a Little Dream, and who prevents himself from selfishly taking his own life because of a promise he made to Dean that he wouldn't give up. Bobby had the greatest right to lash out because Dean was being plain unfair. My friend Tiffany gave Dean a more noble excuse for his anger, that he might have been creating a distance between his loved ones on purpose so that when he does say yes, obstensibly letting them down, they could walk away saying that he was a loser anyway, preferring to leave them with that impression rather than have them sacrifice themselves to what he now sees is a no-win situation, adding to an already burgeoning casualty list that he rattles off to Sam. I was hoping against hope that maybe Tiffany was right, that Dean didn't mean what he was saying, but sadly I had to accept that he did mean every cruel word because he was feeling so burdened and lashing out. I wanted SO much to slap Dean at that point, to knock some sense in that noggin of his. Reasonable or not, it was not called for to hurt Bobby that way, yet the DeanGirl in me also wanted to hug him all that much more. Dean had to have been in serious, awful pain to have done what he did to people he considered as friends and family. Something so against his very nature. What capped it for me was catching Jensen's expression when Bobby yelled at him. He looked so much in pain, as if he hated hurting Bobby. Jensen is just FREAKIN' AMAZING at being subtle like that, allowing Dean to show that he isn't proud of how he's hurting Bobby, but feeling he has no choice. Once again, "how does Jensen do that?"

Still, Tiffany's point makes Dean's struggle less vindictive and so much more poignant. It is so UNBELIEVABLY sad that NONE of them sees how much pain Dean is feeling about making his albeit ill-advised decision because he doesn't see any other choice, that without firepower of some sort, they don't have a chance, that everyone will die on his watch. That's the truth and a very real burden that only Dean can bear. Is his anger partly from pain? Sure. Is there a touch of selfish resentment for his brother? Of course. Does Dean feel abandoned and that he's alone in his choice? You bet and again, it's all true. Until Adam is falsely presumed as a potential heir apparent, Dean and only Dean can make that awful choice and bear the consequences of whatever he decides, as Dean says, that's all on him. In some ways, it's easier for Sam. He can flatly refuse and walk away, robbing Lucifer of his "weapon" to do more destruction, but Dean is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Despite Bobby's assertion that becoming Michael's vessel won't save every life, he's forgetting that Dean refusing could mean casualties too, probably more because the Apocalypse and Lucifer would continue unchecked. Don't get me wrong,it doesn't absolve Dean's behavior, but it does make you see how torn he is. So instead of treating him like "what's wrong with you?" or "get over it already" in a derogatory way, they should see he's in terrible pain about making his choice, a choice he doesn't WANT to make, but feels he HAS to make (BIG difference between the two) to save as many people as he can because he thinks not making it will cost more lives. No one is there, not even God, to help Dean Winchester, human being with no special powers like Sam does (with the addition of demon blood cocktails which helps amp things up) fight. They should be providing comfort and support for his original decision not just tell him to not give up. It's hollow because in Dean's eyes, rightfully so, all the messages he's been getting is that HE, Dean Winchester has nothing else to offer, but his body as a weapon, a sword, and it rankles him to be just a tool, as it should, but in his current frame of mind, he feels it's all anyone wants from him so why not give in? This makes his later condition to Zach that much more meaningful. He wasn't going to give up his body without a fight or without taking Zach down as a last stand act. That's the Dean we know and love, but it took Sam's leap of faith in him to finally break through.

I LOVED Sam at every juncture in this. He was everyone's rock. He was the only one who could be that rock with everything going on and unraveling before his eyes. Still, Dean does test Sam's resolve by saying the one thing that could have easily broken Sam. That he had lost faith in Sam's ability to resist Lucifer. Just like he did with Bobby only even crueler, Dean tore at the very fabric of their relationship, their brotherhood, a condition Sam took for granted for years and that, if truth be told, Dean used as a crutch for his own existence, a crutch that was shattered in Dark Side of the Moon. To hear Dean throw his distrust right into Sam's face was heartbreaking. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was like nails on a blackboard, an alien sound that cuts to the nervous system and makes you cringe:

"I just don't believe."

"In what?"

"In you. I mean I don't...I don't know whether it's going to be demon blood or some other demon chick or what but I do know they're going to find a way to turn you."

"So you're saying I'm not strong enough?"

"You're angry. You're self righteous. Lucifer's gonna wear to you to the prom man it's just a matter of time."

Dean's observations aren't all untrue and the truth always hurts no matter how much insight you're trying to provide, but it's not the truth that wounds, it's the loss of belief that does. Sam is hurt, but he returns even stronger, battling back at Dean, not with harsh words, but with the very action and words he knows Dean really needs to hear from him and only him. No one else can restore Dean's belief in Sam and himself than Sam:

"I don't get it, Sam. Why are you doing this?"

"Because, you're still my big brother."

BINGO! The totally right thing to say and to nail home his trust Sam says:

"When push shoves you'll make the right call."

This is knowledge Sam knows full well about his big brother and he banks on it and thankfully, though with a moment of uncertainty, Dean performs as hoped and predicted when they face Zach.

Sidenote: Okay, is it me or did others wonder who the HECK is Zach's boss? I mean God has so much as "left the building" and I refuse to believe that He would even give Zach the time of day let alone a second chance at getting Dean to say yes to Michael so it does give one pause about who was calling the shots to Zach. Michael? Whoever the puppetmaster was, Dean's taken Zach out of the equation so who's next in line to get in Dean's way? Or was Zach a test of Dean's resolve? That Dean had to stop Zach to take the next step. To what is anyone's guess.

I LOVED Kurt Fuller. He played a perfectly menacing angel and transformed the stereotype by turning it on it's head and then some. Though I'll miss Kurt, I was SO glad that Dean finally ganked Zach, that Dean's comeback came from a look and wink to Sam and an angel killing sword. Symbolically, it made sense that for Dean to make his turnaround, it had to come from not letting Sam down, an act that used to come instinctively for him, but that lately has been about just going through the motions or at best, doing it half-heartedly. It also makes sense that it would start with the death of Zach.

Okay, Adam. I am among the many who wasn't crazy about having a half-Winchester brother in the first place, but I now see why he was written into the mythology because he serves as a trick to get Dean to do what he can't seem to help himself from doing. Sacrifice himself, not allowing anyone to take a bullet meant for him. A point Sam makes with frustration:

"Do you think you can maybe take a half second and stop trying to sacrifice yourself for a change?"

We are led to believe that a "substitution" can be made by Cas, that a half-Winchester brother is better than none, but I knew it was all just a rouse and I knew that Dean's first reaction would be to prevent Adam from getting wrapped up into what he considers is his fight. For me, Adam's appearance was a throwaway and maybe the only weak spot of the episode for me. It was amusing to see Adam as having some of Dean's attitude, probably trying to make him fit in as a Winchester, father issues and all, but all in all he was just a sacrificial lamb to use against the real prize, Dean, to take advantage of Dean's propensity for self-sacrifice.

Second to Sam's need to turn Dean around and convince him that he hasn't given up on him, that he believes in him, is Cas's complete and utter disiilusionment of Dean's pending decision. Cas has, in his own way, been thrust into the supreme crisis of faith of his life. His downward spiral was brought on by Joshua's message that God is not going to help them, that his belief feels wasted, so much so he goes on a bender and in this episode hits his own rock bottom when he thinks, Dean, too, is going to waste everything He has sacrificed. Cas is angry, is also going through the motions, sniping at Dean every chance he gets until he's brought to a breaking point and he pummels Dean in the alley, venting all of his frustration on him, accusing Dean of convincing him to abandon everything he knew and believed in to help him only for Dean to give up. I loved that in this scene, Dean lets Cas beat him. You can see on Dean's face how sorry he feels for making Cas give up everything for a belief and conviction that he no longer believes in. In a way, I can't blame Cas because Dean uses a sigil to blow Cas away so he could escape. Another low blow on Dean's part that hurts to watch. Cas is as devastated as Dean and though he comes with Sam and Dean to Van Nys, of all places, to rescue Adam who's in the beautiful room, he voices his feelings bluntly and directly aimed at Dean just before he decides to take on what seems like a suicide mission with an exacto knife...yikes:

"Maybe it is, but then I won't have to watch you fail. Sorry, Dean I don't have the same faith in you that Sam does."

Ouch! Dean's reaction said it all. That hurt Dean and you can't help, but wonder if maybe Cas was being reckless because he's just as lost as Dean and no longer cares what happens to him. He uses the knife to carve a sigil into his flesh (ouch squared) and throws his angel adversaries as well as himself to a place unknown.

This episode was a tour de force for Misha Collins and he was AWESOME, demonstrating Cas's complete fall from grace and faith effectively. You can also feel how betrayed he feels in every look he gives to Dean. He also gets to kick some serious ass, talk about venting! Misha makes the most of both the seriously painful moments as well as the kick ass ones. Glad he got to stretch a little and become more than just an angel meandering in his human vessel. In the last two episodes, Cas's faith has been crushed twice, first by God's indifference and then by someone he pulled from Perdition based on orders by God and had allowed to convince him to rebel against all he had known and believed. He had high hopes at the start of his mission but now all that's been left to him is ambivalence and he's been left bereft, confused and angry, human emotions that he doesn't understand how to manage.

In the final smackdown, when Zach has Adam and Sam in pain and spitting up blood, you see Dean's face filled with helplessness, he's not the Dean who stared down Zach and remained firm and unswayed in Sympathy for the Devil, telling Zach no to becoming Michael's vessel, least that's what you are led to think, but just as even Sam is about to lose all hope that he's made any difference at all, Dean looks into his eyes, his expression soft yet determined, then he smiles and winks. And this DeanGirl was never so happy to see that Dean spark back. He's got a plan. He then presents his condition, that before he becomes Michael's vessel, Michael has to gank Zach. Zach laughs and threatens, but it's then that you realize that Dean has the angel killing knife and he plunges it into Zach.

In the flash of Zach's dying light you see a glow in Dean's eyes. Though it would be easy to say that they were just reflections, my friends Tiffany and Tamara posited that maybe there was more to it. Why focus on that if it was just to accentuate Zach's dying light in Dean's eyes? I LOVE their idea. After all, we have yet to figure out why Dean is a servant of Heaven. I don't think it's the kind of thing you can be one minute and then not be the next arbitrarily. I think once bestowed, you remain a servant of Heaven so if that's the case, then Dean couldn't have become it from just thinking about saying yes to being Michael's vessel. I believe with my whole heart that it was bestowed on Dean and they are only just discovering it. Perhaps that plane trip did more than cleanse him from his sins and seemingly his memories too. If that trip was orchestrated by God, then I can believe Dean was made a servant of Heaven then. It's fun speculation, but ultimately, it's wonderful enough just to know that Dean is special and now that he's back from the depths of despair, the brothers can move forward again, united as they should be.

This brings us to the ending which Supernatural does so well. Our brothers in the beloved Impala as they always should be and Dean confessing his moment of epiphany:

"Honestly? The damnedest thing. I mean the world's ending; the walls are coming down on us; I look over at you and all I can think about is lplthis stupid son of a bitch brought me here. I just didn't want to let you down."

"You didn't. You almost did, but you didn't."

"I owe you an apology...just let me say this. I don't know if it's being a big brother or what, but to me you've always been this snot-nosed kid that I've had to keep on the straight and narrow...I think we both know that's not you anymore. I mean, hell, if you've grown up enough to find faith in me, least I can do is return the favor. So screw destiny right in the face. I say we take the fight to them and do it our way."

"Sounds good."

As always it was breathtaking in the best of ways, seeing Sam with a self-satisfied smile at having his brother back, of having proven to Dean and to himself that all they have is each other and watching Dean emerge from his darkness confident again, having the one person he needed most at his back again. I don't know about you, but I felt such a relief come over me feeling I could finally breathe again.

Some might argue it wasn't the kind of 100th episode they were expecting for better or for worse, but for me, I thought it was MIRACULOUS! My only hope and goal was achieved, the reuniting of our brothers after such a long and agonizing estrangement. I can now see them facing the battle ahead fully armed with the weapons for which they are most proficient, the strength they give to each other by having faith in each other. With that, they can defeat anything. The only uncertainty is the fate of Cas. The only thing we know for sure is that he will be back, just not when or in what frame of mind.

I LOVED this episode. It was just the triumph I needed to lift me from my own despair. It was a satisfying and fulfilling 100th and well-deserved for a show that continues to keep me engaged and committed to the fates of our Winchester brothers.

Thanks for reading as always. Next up Hammer of the Gods.

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