When we find the Winchesters, they’ve got guns pointed at ’em. Eeep! This leads to a tense standoff wherein we see first Sam shot dead, followed by Dean. This leads to a romp around the big place upstairs, and wow, is it a great ride. We see old friends return and make some new ones along the way, as well as the return of an old enemy. A lot happens in this episode, so let’s get right to it.
First off, I was surprised by this episode, honestly. When I saw it was written by the same team who wrote "Sam, Interrupted" — which I pretty much loathed — I lowered my expectations accordingly, despite how powerful the opening scene was. I am happy to say, however, that Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin have written a great episode, which was pleasantly surprising.
First, I’ll talk about what I liked, which was nearly everything. The two different Heaven’s for Sam and Dean were played perfectly. Sam’s sans-family Heaven was a perfect contrast to Dean’s family-centric Heaven, and I was really happy when Dean called Sam on it. Sure, Sam has no control over his Heaven, and Dean had a right to be hurt, but I think Dean didn’t fully understand that Sam has changed a lot from when we first saw him in season one. It makes a lot of sense that many of Sam’s cherished memories were when he was able to have a more "normal" existence, but that isn’t the Sam of today, and I liked how the episode handled this, and how well it was acted by both main actors, especially Jared.
I also really liked seeing some old faces, specifically Ash and Pamela. Ash was perfectly in form, using his genius to decipher Heaven, the Angel’s language (Inokian) and how to move around from one Heaven to the other. Pamela, thankfully, seems content with her lot, and seems to be enjoying her place in Heaven. It was really good to see these characters make a comeback, if just for a little while.
Castiel was also fantastic in this episode. I really enjoyed the bit where he was on the TV, explaining to the boys how they had to find Joshua — because he talks to God, of course — and his annoyance at when they questioned him on it. Also his flat-out despair and anger at the end, after the boys told them Joshua’s message, was palatable, but more on that in a moment.
Sadly, the one figure who is always tragic to see, even though I love the character, is Mary Winchester. When we see Dean as a little boy in one of his Heaven’s, we see the loving mother Mary is. Sadly, we also get a glimpse into the married life of John and Mary, which apparently isn’t as perfect and rosy as we — and the boys — were lead to believe. I always love seeing insights into the lives of the Winchester family such as these, as sad as this particular instance was. Seeing Dean interact with his mom was both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and it was acted perfectly by Jensen.
Zachariah made a return in this episode, played brilliantly by the talented Kurt Fuller. I don’t think we’ve ever seen ol’ Zach this pissed off — or this creepy, the way he kissed Mary’s neck…eww… — but as soon as he was about to give a whooping to the boys, we finally meet Joshua. Joshua, played by Roger Aaron Brown, was fantastic. His message from God — "back off", which was surprising — was damned amazing, especially how he explained that God put them on the plane and brought back Castiel in the first episode of the season, which was a nice touch. Joshua’s sadness at having to tell the boys this awful news was evident, and it was a fine piece of both writing and acting.
Once the boys get their message from God, they’re returned back to Earth, apparently a few moments after they died, because the hunters who killed them — Walt and Roy, who I hope get what’s coming to them — we see the aftermath. While both Castiel and Dean seem to have lost hope, Sam still seems to have some (He also has a shirt which looks like it has a cross on it. Weird, huh?). We end the episode with Dean throwing out the beloved amulet Sam gave him for Christmas many years ago. How much you wanna bet Sam kept it after that? 😉
There honestly wasn’t much I didn’t like about the episode. It was intense, funny, personal, and charming. If anything, it that it gave us such as sad ending. On the other hand, I LIKED that it gave us a sad ending. I think we’re being set up for the final, heartbreaking battle that’ll end the apocalypse, and if this episode is any indication, it’s gonna be a rough ride.
Overall, this was a fantastic episode, which surprises me as much as anyone. After a rocky start, this season has finally found solid ground, and has been giving us one excellent episode after another. I can’t wait to see what happens next week, because at this point — with Dean, Castiel and Bobby all seemingly losing hope — all bets are off.