The Official Supernatural: “Lebanon” (14.13 – 300th Episode) Live Recap Thread


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Rather quick recap of Dean’s “hunting trip” speech from the Pilot (good Lord, does Ackles look young and shaggy in that), John, Mary, and the situation with Michael stuck inside Dean’s head, up to this point.

Cut to Now.  Dean is walking up to a pawn shop called “Precious Pawn” and looking pretty cold. Sam joins him and they go inside.

The proprietor greets them with a 20% off offer. Sam says they’re there for “the good stuff.”

“The really good stuff,” Dean says, flashing a huge wad of cash. By this, since the protagonists of this show are a couple of exceedingly experienced and deadly necromancers, he obviously means magical objects, probably of the black magic variety.

Fortunately, there’s no demurring or beating around the bush. The guy just chuckles and leads them into a back room.  There, he leads them through the “basics” (including, among other things, a Hand of Glory), then gets into more esoteric (and expensive, of course) stuff like “Dragon’s Breath.”

The Brothers cut him off by saying they are looking for something “more specific.” They want the skull of Sarah Good, a poor woman who was executed for witchcraft at Salem in 1692.

The proprietor turns to a large safe and starts working on the combination lock. While his back is turned, Sam, for some strange reason, picks up a teddy bear on a shelf and starts to pull on the string. The man cautions him not to do that (yeah, Sam, why are you doing that?) and Sam puts the bear back as Dean gives him a disgusted look.

When the owner turns back with the skull, he starts in with some rather obvious bull about having bought the skull in an auction in Pawtucket.

“No, ya didn’t,” Dean says with a predatory smile, as the masks all come off. Game on, y’all.

Dean infodumps that the skull belonged to a Hunter named Bart Kemp, a friend of the Brothers, who worked out of Boston. Only, Bart’s dead. He was cut in half by someone and the skull was stolen, along with everything else he owned.

Well, the owner realizes the jig is up (since he’s the prime suspect). He grabs up the Dragon’s Breath and tries to flamethrow the Brothers. Sam ducks/falls to one side, while Dean is blasted to the other side of the room (though he does duck in time to avoid being flambeed). The owner then picks up a scimitar called a Chrysaor (who was actually the brother of Pegasus and a warrior with a golden sword, not the sword, and it wouldn’t have been a scimitar) that he says reputedly “can cut through anything.” Oh, and it’s the murder weapon.

But he’s stupid. As he’s monologuing and getting ready to swing at Sam, he turns his back on Dean. Dean shoots him from behind. As the owner falls, Dean says in exasperation, “They always talk too much!”

Afterward, Sam finds the owner’s account book and realizes he has a ton of cursed and magical artifacts. They’re not safe to leave there, so the Brothers will have to bring them back “home” (i.e., the Bunker). Dean, who is playing with the Dragon’s Breath, sighs in annoyance at the extra work and aggravation.

Remember when I’ve commented in the past that after a Hunter dies, other Hunters descend on his or her place and clean it right out? Yeah. Like that.

Cue title cards.

Cut to a brief shot of the Brothers passing a sign for Lebanon, KS, proclaiming it the geographical center of the United States.

Cut then to a group of the dumbest, most stereotypical teens possible. I mean, these kids are bone-stupid. And, unfortunately, they are talking about the Brothers, which means that annoying shenanigans are about to ensue. I’d really hopes this trope would have left with Adam Glass and Robbie Thompson, but I guess not.

Anyhoo, one of the boys is scaring the other kids with a story of having once seen the Impala and heard something thump inside the trunk and breathing (kiddo, you have no idea).

The kids are alarmed and intrigued when the Brothers choose that moment to pull up in front of their bench. As they get out, Dean is grumping about Sam’s discovery that every single thing in the teaser ledger (now all in their trunk) is lethal.

The Brothers go inside a bar, where they are greeted by a bartender who knows them and gets them their regular (“a double” of that, Dean corrects him). Sam then suggests that cataloguing and going over this new collection might provide Dean with some distraction. After some hedging from Sam, Dean gets out of him that he means Michael locked inside the cage inside Dean’s head.

Across the street, the boy is still revving up his friends, speculating about whence the Brothers come (well … originally, they’re from Lebanon, actually [sorry, Lawrence, but they are from Kansas]) and their weird friend in the trenchcoat and the innocent boy who is always hanging around with them.

Two of the kids leave, with one girl, Max, and the boy talker staying behind. One of the departing girls comments on how nice the car is, while touching it, and Max gets this look in her eyes. Because, you know, kids are always stealing cars, right out in the open, of people who scare them. Consider how likely it is, for example, for some kids from high school who haven’t gotten into any trouble to decide to just up and steal a car owned by a known drug dealer when he’s right across the street. Yeah, that only happens in Hollywood because kids like that end up dead and even at 15, you know that.

Anyhoo, while the Brothers are inside talking about a pearl, the Baozhu, that grants wishes (from one of the sneak peeks), Dean notices Max stealing his car.

The Brothers come roaring across the street, full throttle, which gives Talker Dude a lot more gossip to share later than he ever wanted (pretty sure he pees his pants). The Brothers are a little bit … larger than life. Anyhoo, doing Bad Cop/Psycho Cop, they get Max’s name out of him, but he claims she’s new in town and he doesn’t know where she lives.

But never fear, there’s the post office. Sam is striking out in there with the postal lady (who thinks he’s a pedophile for wanting a young girl’s address), but then Dean walks in. Turns out Post Office Lady knows Dean very well and has a wee crush on him (she has good taste). Dean asks her about her son, then shmoozes the address of Max’s mother out of her.

Turns out Mom works at a diner and she is pissed to hear what Max did, especially since Max was also blowing off school. The cook informs everyone that it’s Skip Day (February 7), where kids skip school to go have a party at an old house outside town on Route 36. He says that kids need to “blow off a little steam.”

Okay, yeah, kids in a small town get bored. But when we cut to said old house, none of the kids at the party seems the least bit bothered that Max just stole a very visible classic car, cleaned out the trunk, and brought the stuff into the party. There’s a big old difference between smoking some  pot and getting drunk in some woods, or going cruising in the ‘rents’ car and catching a porn film at the drive-in alongside a bunch of middle-aged Quebecois in steamy-windowed cars (um … too specific? I had a somewhat misspent youth. In the 80s), and stealing some local gangster’s super-expensive restored car. The former is minor stuff. The latter is a felony.

So, when Max’s friend (the one who commented the car looked cool and on whom Max is apparently crushing) thinks all this is hunky-dory, I’m a little shocked. And also disappointed that Dabb apparently still doesn’t know how to write teenagers.

So, yeah, at the party, the teens have actually cleaned out the backseat and have left all the dangerous occult stuff in the living while they go drink or huff glue or eat Tide pods, or something appropriate for kids of their low level of intelligence and street smarts. In the meantime, John Wayne Gacy’s old cigar box (which Sam specifically mentioned earlier) opens up and guess who/what comes out?

So, Mr. Serial Killer Groupie comes running over to the party (after insisting to the Brother that he had no idea where Max had gone) and tries to warn her. Max’s bud blows it off, saying “Max can handle herself.”

Yeah, not so much. One kid goes into the bathroom (this is an awfully nice place for some abandoned old building) and is washing his hands when his breath fogs up. He thinks this is cool, but then the mirror fogs up, too. When he wipes it off, he sees a creepy, rotting clown in the mirror, who then reaches out to attack him.

Fortunately, the Brothers roll up at that moment in a vintage old pickup (probably from the Bunker’s garage). Dean is most worried about the Impala not being damaged (well, Max is pretty stupid, so you can’t call her a driver with the greatest judgment on not damaging a vehicle), but Sam points out that the stuff they left in the backseat is gone.

At that moment, the boy from the bathroom comes running out of the house, very much alive but freaked right out. A girl runs after him, calling him Ethan and trying to get him to stop.

The Brothers don’t catch Ethan, but they do tag the girl. She says Ethan saw a ghost in the bathroom. A creepy clown.

The Brothers bust in with their FBI badges, clearing everyone out, including their groupie, who tries to linger. Dean starts looking around, asking Sam where they might find a killer clown. With a Shaking Finger of Melodramatic Fear, Sam points at the cigar box of John Wayne Gacy, which is wide open.

Sam starts to respond, but then his breath fogs. Dean says calmly, “We should burn that right now.”

Sam can’t get across the room fast enough to grab the box, toss it into a convenient nearby fireplace, and set it alight. Or, he would , if his lighter worked.

Dean, meanwhile, is amused at the cognitive dissonance Sam must be feeling because “you love serial killers, but you hate clowns.” But he starts exhorting Sam to hurry up when the ghost appears across the room from him.

At this moment, their groupie outside decides to go in for Stupid Plot Reasons. He arrives just as Dean is being tossed onto a couch on top if the cursed teddy bear Sam was playing with earlier and Sam manages to light up the ex-John Wayne Gacy. Max and her erstwhile crush also rush in and all three of them get to see Gacy Ghost go up in flames.

Afterward, instead of slapping them silly, the Brothers give them The Talk. And Dean tells them they have to keep it to themselves. Max’s squeeze is the first to agree.

Back at the Bunker, Sam realizes he’s found the pearl. He suggests calling Mary or Castiel, but Dean doesn’t want “to get their hopes up” and suggest trying it now. After some discussion, he holds the pearl, closes his eyes, and concentrates on his “heart’s desire” (“Michael out of my head”). The lights flicker and go out, and the red emergency lights come on.

Suddenly, a shadowy, armed figure appears. Sam takes a swing at it and gets knocked down. Dean, too, is knocked down. The figure aims a shotgun at them and threatens to shoot them.

Then the lights come on and the shadowy figure resolves into a very confused-looking John Winchester, their father.

John recognizes Dean first and then Sam. Then he asks why Sam isn’t in Palo Alto. Dean quickly figures out that John has gone through time and asks him what year he thinks it is. John just came from 2003. Sam explains that he thinks they accidentally “summoned” him.

The Brothers bring John up to speed in a dizzying recap of the past 12 and a half seasons. But he’s okay with being dead in the (nearish) future because he was able to take out YED for killing Mary.

Sam rather awkwardly tries to explain that one, but Mary shows up right then, saving him the trouble. As their surprised and delighted parents start making out right in front of them, Sam drags a dazed Dean out of the room.

Sam wants to analyze what’s going on and find the catch. Dean’s just so happy to get something he always wanted (his family back together) that he doesn’t care. He understands that there is some catch, somewhere, but he just wants to indulge this long enough for “one family dinner.” He stalks off, leaving Sam stuttering.

Sam comes out into the Library to find John looking through the books. John is amazed at the scope of the Bunker and Sam admits that he and Dean were initially “blown away,” too.

John says Mary is giving Dean the recipe for her Winchester Surprise (doesn’t Dean already have it from a few weeks ago?), and we do get a quick cut afterward of Dean taking a list of ingredients from her. Sam’s mention of Dean’s story to Mary about once trying to make it in a motel room gives John some negative nostalgia.

John tries to apologize and Sam admits that John “did some messed-up things.” But when John also rather sneakily brings up their last fight to guilt Sam, Sam admits that said conversation was “a lifetime ago” and he no longer really remembers what he said. What he does remember, vividly, and thinks about a lot, is seeing John dead on a hospital floor and never getting the chance to say goodbye. That  causes John to apologize again.

As Dean is heading out to get supper ingredients, Sam catches up with him and agrees that he was right to want one family dinner. Sam then asks if he can come along. Dean smiles wolfishly.

In town, however, they find that their lives as the Brothers “Campbell” have been upended by the spell. The liquor store guy no longer remembers Dean. Max calls Sam a “weirdo” when he says hi to her on the street. And the post office lady just glares and pulls the shade down when Sam waves to her.

More concerning, Sam sees a wanted poster for Dean, with his mugshots from season two’s “The Usual Suspects.”

Sam hurries over to Dean, who’s by the car, checking his phone. Dean has found a TED talk online by nuSam, now a lawyer, in which he goes on and on about kale and how one should achieve excellence by giving up all semblance of a personal life, including family.

Old!Sam is more concerned about the wanted poster, but Dean’s already hip to that, too: “I googled me, as well – lotta beheadings.” Sam speculates that John’s time travel “changed things.” Dean agrees, but he’s still hunting. It’s Sam who’s changed a lot.

Sam thinks they’re in “a temporal paradox” and that the old timeline is changing to the new one created by John’s arrival. The really concerning thing is what else might have changed.

At that moment, two angels are flying down to earth. Yep. Angels still have their wings in this timeline. Also, they’re familiar. One is Zachariah and flying in next to him is a factory reset Castiel whom Zachariah calls “Constantine.”

As the Brothers are trying to figure out how to tell John and Mary, Zachariah and Castiel are entering the diner where Max’s mom works and where Max and her friends are hanging out. Zachariah demands to know who is “messing with time,” saying that the angels have never been entirely able to read Lebanon, so they can’t quite figure out what’s going on. He then has Castiel show his wings (which explodes the lights in the diner) and threatens to have Castiel smite them.

Outside, the Brothers see the light from Castiel’s grace and realize bad things are going down. They rush inside and quickly evacuate the bewildered civilians before there are any casualties. Zachariah is confused at first, mentioning that John had disappeared a while back, which somehow fizzled the Apocalypse. Then he realized the Brothers were responsible and tells Castiel to kill them.

Dean tries to get through Castiel (but mostly gets beaten up), while Zachariah chokes Sam and demands to know what Sam did. Sam can barely speak, anyway, but as Zachariah leans closer, Sam is able to pull out an angel blade and stab him. Exit Zachariah. Again.

Both Brothers try to take on Castiel (who, for some strange reason, just beats them up rather than smiting them), but only Dean gets a lick or two in and it doesn’t do much. Castiel smashes Sam’s head into a table a few times and Sam is able to use the blood from it (while Castiel is distracted by choking Dean) to do an angel banishing sigil on Castiel.

Back at the Bunker, in front of a set table for dinner, Dean explains to John about Sam’s “temporal paradox” theory. He says that since John disappeared in 2003, Sam never got back into hunting and the Brothers never did all the things that they did, specifically, with releasing the Darkness and getting Mary back. Dean says that Sam thinks Mary “will just fade away.”

This makes the choice easy for John. He’s not going to stay in the future at the cost of Mary’s second life. He asks if Mary knows and we cut to Sam in the kitchen, explaining the situation to her. She asks how they’d reverse the spell. Sam thinks that destroying the pearl should do it, sending John back. Mary is upset that John probably won’t remember any of it. Mary starts to cry and Sam looks upset as the oven alarm goes off.

In the library, hearing the alarm, John “suggests” Dean go help Mary (’cause we all know who the real cook is around here). But as Dean is leaving, John stops him and does the same thing he did with Sam. He says he “never meant for any of this to happen.”

Dean thinks John means the spell, but John means pulling them into his revenge quest and having to continue it after his death. He tells Dean he’s “proud” of him and the man he’s become.

But, well, it’s John and he can’t quite let that go without adding in a backhanded compliment. He says that he just wishes that Dean had been able to manage a “normal life, a peaceful life, a family.”

Dean half-chuckles as if to say, Well, there went that other shoe.

But then he looks his father in the eye and says with fierce pride, “I have a family.”

John seems to realize he’s stepped over a line Dean didn’t draw before and asks what they do “next.” Dean says it’s time for dinner. Dinner is sad, at first, but then John suggests they be thankful for the time they’ve got. So, they do a toast and have a dinner montage to Bob Seger’s “Till It Shines.”

Afterward, as they’re washing dishes, Sam broods and expresses second thoughts to Dean about sending John back. Wouldn’t it be nice if John could at least remember it? What might he have changed? Instead, he’s just going to “go back to being Dad.”

Dean says, but why stop there? Why not send John even further back and nip the whole thing in the bud? He admits that he was very “angry” for a long time, and blamed both John and Mary. It would be nice to let “some other poor sons of bitches save the world.” But then he wouldn’t recognize “who that Dean Winchester is.”

Dean says, “I’m good with who I am. I good with who you are. Cause our lives, they’re ours. And maybe I’m just too damned old to want to change that.”

At the end, they all gather in the library and exchange goodbyes, including a big threeway hug between John and his sons, where he tells them he’s proud of them and loves them. Dean whispers, “Love you, too.”

John and Mary hold hands while Sam takes out the pearl. Everyone’s pretty much bawling by the end of it, especially Dean, who blinks and flinches when Sam breaks the pearl, but never looks away. John looks at Mary and then slowly fades. Mary and Dean look at each other. Sam has looked away and turns back. All three are crying.

In town, everything returns to normal, large and small. And the three teens are walking the streets, thrilled about the idea of monsters being in the world. Like a Scooby Gang. No, show. Just no. Bad show. [whaps writers with a newspaper]

The first sign in the Bunker that the timeline has returned is when Castiel comes in, looking confused at why everyone is crying. He’s back to normal, too.

In 2003, John wakes up in the Impala, off a causeway in the pouring rain. A phone call from Dean woke him. He tells Dean about how he just had “one hell of a dream … a good one.” So, he does remember. Sort of.

Credits


Ratings for the much-ballyhooed 300th episode and John’s return went up to a 0.5/2 and 1.64 million. JDM said in one of his EW interviews that he’d like to come back for a longer arc. With those ratings, which put the show comfortably in second place for the week behind The Flash, I’ve little doubt the show will now make that happen.

There’s a preview up for the next episode (on March 7) in which Jack appears to go psycho and try to kill Rowena.


Review

I had misgivings about this one, having just reviewed the 200th episode and been less than impressed. Also, I’ve never been a huge fan of John (shut up, back there in the peanut gallery; I’m busy speaking for Captain Obvious). I mean, just an episode or two ago, Dean was talking about John used to get fed up with him and send him away. Father of the Year? Not exactly.

And there were some very large plotholes, as well as an underbaked B plot that sucked life out of the A plot, some paper-thin characters, characters acting stupid to further the plot (like the Brothers not locking the Impala up on a busy street, with dangerous occult objects in plain sight on the back seat), and some low stakes for the first 15 minutes or so.

Biggest of the plotholes? This was supposed to be a way for Dean to excise Michael, safely, from his head. Yet, not once after Dean made the spell, or even after they unmade it, did Sam or anyone else ask Dean if Michael was still there. Yes, that’s right – the whole point of doing the spell was to get rid of Michael and we never found out if it did! Even with angels involved in the third act … nope. Nary a mention.

Speaking of angels, Kurt Fuller was snarky as always and Zachariah was suitably hoot-worthy. But not only did he get barely more than a cameo, but the show just had to have Sam “get” Dean’s kill of Zachariah from the 100th episode.  Dean’s kill of Zachariah was momentous, against all odds, and totally badass. Sam killing Zachariah this time? Just another kill.

The teens were pretty awful and belonged in another episode. I don’t know if it would have been a good episode (the Gacy ghost was pretty creepy but also easily ganked), but there simply wasn’t enough room to introduce any such characters properly here, let alone without choking off most of John’s family reunion plot. They were cannon fodder who never got killed off.

The story started off reasonably well with the teaser involving the creepy guy who was killing Hunters and stealing their stuff. A little more detail on his scam would have been nice, but the actor did a good job playing smart and dangerous (except when it came to turning his back on Dean, but a lot of people make that mistake).

Too bad the show has now decided that killing rival human magic workers is no longer a Big Deal as it was in seasons past. That was a missed opportunity for some subtextual unease about Dean, who, after all, has a murderous, genocidal archangel in his head.

But then the episode took a weird side trip with the teens stealing the car. I’ve talked above about how unrealistic this seemed, as written. Also, I don’t think making the larcenous teen a budding lesbian was such a hot idea. The CW likes to pride itself on being open about sexual orientation, but on its shows, it has an unfortunate tendency to write fake Diesel Dykes who look an awful lot like Lipstick Lesbians. It’s also really into having its (mostly male) writers give us the sexual awakening stories of Baby Dykes. Stereotypes, not people.

When it works and you get a dynamic character, you get Alex Danvers on Supergirl. When it doesn’t, you get cardboard cut-outs who are basically all about their sexual orientation and strident pseudo-feminism and whatever Unfortunate Implications sneak in afterward.

I’m also not wild about the idea of these kids being used for a new spin-off. Look, folks, Wayward Sisters had its issues, but all of the characters in it had been pretty thoroughly introduced with conflicts and connections to the Brothers and the supernatural world. We barely know Alex and the gang, but we already know they’re ordinary and dull. How long can a spin-off run on “Gee whiz! Sam and Dean are great!” stuff?

Also, why name her Alex? We already have an Alex. She lives with Jody Mills.

John’s intro this episode had me rolling my eyes a bit. Really? He’d be able to kick both his sons’ asses in their prime? I was never a big fan, especially, of the variation of SuperHunter!John and that’s what we get in his first few seconds in the episode.

Fortunately, that gets dialed way back afterward. I actually liked how John interacted with his family. I know some people were disappointed by his conversation with Dean, and as I said before, the writing could have been better overall. But I thought the actors more than made up for it by bringing in subtext and subtlety to an encounter that otherwise would have been a whole lot of linear writing and montages.

For example, John’s interactions with Mary clearly show a lot of chemistry between them and show us how much he missed her. But we also get, on her side, how much she missed him. It was a foregone conclusion that John would never sacrifice Mary to save himself, but I liked how Mary balked at letting him just slip away. This drove home, I think, that Mary really is a living and active main character again in the show, after having been dead for 11 seasons.

With lesser acting, John’s interactions with his sons wouldn’t have worked, as the writing is a bit flat, there. But the subtext is pretty amazing. Morgan, Padalecki and Ackles managed to nail the undertone of regret from an abusive parent about being unable to have broken the cycle with his kids before they were grown – and discovering that some mistakes can’t be fixed, no matter how badly you feel about them or how willing your children are to forgive you.

John in this episode is still John as he’s been written and talked about for 14 seasons. He’s just John as played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is really good at evoking sympathy for the Devil in the most evil of characters. John isn’t evil, but he is very flawed. We see this as JDM plays him on his best behavior, but then he slips here and there.

So, for example, when he’s apologizing to Sam, he can’t help bringing up their last fight before Sam left for college. And in his apology to Dean, he manages to flat-out insult his eldest, evoking the Daddy’s Blunt Little Instrument/mindless attack dog image brought up in season three’s “Dream of Little Dream of Me.”

But the Brothers (separate from each other) respond very well. Sam tells John that their fight was a lifetime ago and he doesn’t even remember exactly who said what. That what he does remember is that he never got a chance to say goodbye to John when he died and that he’s not going to blow this second opportunity to do so. Sam doesn’t deny that John was abusive. He just makes clear that he’s over it.

Dean goes even further. When John started harping on an echo of his “I want Dean to have a home” theme as if Dean were a guard dog he wanted to rehome and not his son, I just thought, Oh, no, you didn’t! But Dean simply shuts him down by telling him that he has a home and a family, that he has a life. John’s dreams for Dean are no longer Dean’s dreams for Dean. Dean has his own dreams now.

This echoes the melancholy conversation Dean had a couple of episodes with Mary, in which he admitted that no matter how much he wished otherwise, the damage his parents did to him in his childhood, inadvertent and otherwise, can’t be undone. They can’t go back. To have a real parent-child relationship, they can only go forward. Later, Dean tells Sam that he doesn’t want to go back and undo everything. He’s okay with who he is.

Now, this is quite relevant to the elephant in the room (Michael) whose status during the pearl spell we never hear about. Nick’s post-Lucifer storyline may not have been stellar (an understatement, I know), but it did drive home the way angels manipulate the fears and resentments of their vessels to get them to say yes and keep saying yes, to isolate them from their human family and friends.

By saying that he’s okay with things as they are now, and that he is no longer angry at his parents, Dean disconnects a major button Michael could push to make him compliant (remember that if Michael takes over again, this will not mean Dean’s death – just everyone else’s).

The other remarkable thing is that Dean says all of this while firmly believing that his destiny in the near future is to end up in a coffin at the bottom of the ocean with an angry archangel, presumably until the heat death of the universe. Yet, Dean is not willing to give up even one of the steps that led him to that family dinner.

That’s badass.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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22 thoughts on “The Official Supernatural: “Lebanon” (14.13 – 300th Episode) Live Recap Thread”

  1. I thought about it some MORE and I ‘still’ think that when Dean killed Zachariah in Point of No Return it was portrayed as EPIC. It was the first time a human killed at angel (didn’t you say Zach was a seraph not an angel because of that business with the four faces one of them a lion in the Heaven episode?) and it was just bright and shiny and LOUD (of course that was probably Michael).

    When Sam did it, well, we’ve been seeing angel-kills for years now, it did not seem EPIC to me, just ‘done’ to get Zach off our screens.

    1. It *was* epic. When Dean killed Zachariah, the force of Zachariah’s death blast tossed him into a corner (though otherwise unhurt). Also, Michael had been portrayed destroying ordinary humans in his unshielded form in the teaser and then even Sam and Adam wincing in his presence later on, though Dean never did.

      In “Lebanon,” Sam basically just stood there, while Zachariah blasted out a little bit of light and then fell down. Not even sure we saw any ash wings. It was very cheap.

  2. Thanks for the recap and review, Paula.

    While I didn’t hate the episode, I’m disappointed because it could have been so much stronger and more cohesive. Even the title was puzzling- why the episode called “Lebanon”, when that wasn’t even the main story? There were just too many cooks in the kitchen and too many irons in the fire. The end result felt like two different episodes squeezed into one, with neither one being fully developed. Even if JDM wasn’t available for the whole filming week, there could have been more done to build up the emotional foundation for John’s return.

    Another issue I had was that, while the brothers shared equal focus early on, Dean ended up taking a bit of a backseat during the main story. From how the episode was advertised, it’s clear that Dabb deliberately chose to give Sam the pivotal scene with John. It felt like an odd storytelling decision, given how Dean’s complicated relationship with his father has been a major theme through the show’s run and it was Dean’s wish that set everything in motion.

    I certainly don’t begrudge Sam his chance to say goodbye and find closure. But Dean’s talk with John felt generic, rushed (less than a minute was actually spent addressing their relationship) and almost shoehorned in. Since none of it was addressed, I’m not sure why the past 2 episodes had Dean bring up examples of John’s emotional abuse. Has Dean made peace with John’s crappy parenting or not? Lots of mixed signals here.

    Maybe Sam having the bigger John focus wouldn’t rankle quite as much if Dabb had managed to rein in his Sam Boy bias elsewhere. But no, it was throughout the episode. Sam took care of Gacy’s ghost. Sam figured out how to use the pearl. His altered timeline self was a big shot lawyer. Sam saved the day with the angels, killing Zachariah (seriously, Dabb? Seriously?) and using the blood sigil to banish Cas. There were numerous nods to Sam’s smarts but nothing about Dean’s hunting prowess or other abilities. Sam even got the climactic moment of smashing the pearl, even though it would have made more sense for Dean to unwind his original wish. I guess I should be glad it wasn’t worse, that at least Dean did get a few nice scenes, and Jensen’s acting always manages to tug at the heartstrings (his flinch when the pearl is destroyed, wow.)

    1. You’re welcome!

      Yeah, Sam smashing the pearl made zero sense. The show has always made clear that a powerful wish spell with an object can only be undone by the wishmaker (“Wishful Thinking” being the ur-text episode for the canon here). If anyone could undo it, the Brothers wouldn’t run into nearly as much trouble when some civilian runs across one of these powerful objects and uses it.

      I think there’s going to be more to Dean’s John angst down the road, but I also think the show swung too far in the direction of giving Sam some story in this one to “make up for” Dean driving the mytharc these days.

      Truth is, writers of shows rarely seem to make compelling and unforgettable television with de rigeur milestone episodes like this one. Perhaps it’s too rigid for most of them to manage inside of the franchise and format.

      1. I hope you’re right and Dean’s issues with John aren’t over yet. Because this seemed an awfully abrupt ending to Dean’s longest, arguably most influential storyline. Not to mention, it was jarring for the story to use Dean’s wish just as a plot device and then switch focus to Sam. But hey, it’s Dabb. Maybe he got confused and thought he was still writing those dreadful “Sam is the center of the universe” pre-series comics.

        1. I think two things affected the writing in a way where we had somewhat less Dean than we might otherwise. First, I was annoyed by the way we got a little bit of a different Sam in the alternate reality, but no different Dean. But it occurred to me that Ackles may have requested this. I mean, the guy has been playing two very different characters all season. It looks exhausting. Maybe he just didn’t want to have to get into the headspace of doing yet another character, however briefly, in the middle of an episode where he was showing Dean have a major encounter with his dead father.

          As for John coming back, JDM said in one of the EW interviews that he was happy to do the 300th episode, but would like to come back for a longer arc, so I think we will see more John&Dean.

          With the exception of the museum issue (which, paradoxically, had the worst interior art), yeah, those pre-series comics sucked. But oddly enough, there wasn’t as much John-stanning as I expected.

  3. On the whole, I liked it.

    Some of the stuff at the beginning was kind of dumb. All the stuff with the temporal paradox presented all the sorts of problems that time travelling stories do. Where was YED?
    And Lucifer? What happened to the first apocalypse? Not to mention subsequent ones. Though judging by Sam’s TED talk, he could still be surrounded by demons.

    Though it did occur to me that this could actually answer both of Dean’s deepest wishes. He had his whole family together and if he really did resolve into the other Dean, Michael would be out of his head and back in his own world. Or maybe not. Michael might be too powerful.

    Bringing John back was a great way to show how far Dean and Sam have progressed. I don’t know that they’ve necessarily actively forgiven John, so much as truly moved on. They are no longer defined by John. They have outgrown him.

    At best, John remained an ass. It made sense in show, since this was 2003 John, who didn’t even have the introspection that he did when Dean was in a coma. But the idea that he did his best has always been laughable, a rationalization at best. That they allowed him to continue thinking this in this episode, I took to mean that it wasn’t worth causing a fight.

    I would have liked seeing Mary have words with him about that, but she is barely ready to confront the truth herself.

    1. I did wonder if nuSam was really free of demonic influence. As Dean said, he was a massive tool. On the other hand, the pearl seemed to be the real deal, in that it truly gave you your heart’s desire, but there might be a price for how things turned out. So, Dean’s heart’s desire probably included seeing John again and being out of the Apocalypse Game (more complicated than wanting Michael out of his head, but also deeper). If the Brothers never started the Apocalypse, then Lucifer never got out of the Cage, let alone fathered a child, and altMichael never came over from the altSPNverse.

      I agree that the Brothers have outgrown John. And yeah, he was still an abusive jerk with an inflated ego. Of course he would make excuses for what he did. The Brothers just didn’t buy them.

      I would have liked for Mary to have more to say/do, as well, but considering the show’s been having her work things out with the Brothers individually over the past two seasons, and she did object to just crushing the pearl, I was willing to let it go that she was temporarily reduced to a Damsel in Distress.

  4. I did not ‘mind’ Sam and Dean killing the pawn shop owner. He was a murderer. How could they turn him over to the LAW-law. Where the supernatural is concerned, THEY are the law.

    I disagreed with you in the #ThinMan episode: by ‘pretending’ to be supernatural the two yahoo serial killers had entered the jurisdiction of the Hunter!Cops.

    I hope Sam gets to audit all the evil pawnshop guy’s ill-gotten gains. I bet Dragon Breath gets used again before the end of the season, just like the grenade launcher that was there and there and THERE AND THERE and then Dean got to use it.

    I was surprised the real pathos all four Winchesters brought to the ending — Jensen AND Jared cried real tears. These guys — I appreciate how the actors BRING IT, you know? For instance, nobody I have ever seen, tv or movie, ‘died’ as believably as Jensen Ackles did at the end of No Rest for the Wicked. THAT was acting for the AGES, again in my opinion. I wonder if they have classes in how to hold your breath and your whole body. I have ‘never’ figures out how Jensen’s pupils never dilated after he ‘died.’

    1. Yes, it’s impossible to get regular “justice” by turning such people in. That still doesn’t change the fact that killing human monsters versus monster monsters was a major line the Brothers tried mightily not to cross in earlier seasons. Call it the Benders Rule. Sam pretty much lost his shit over Dean killing the guy in the #ThinMan episode. Even with his new and “enlightened” attitude, it was out of character for him not to even bring it up this time.

      As far as pupil dilation, Manners may have done something with the lighting to facilitate that.

  5. The girl stealing the Impala was so weak. Are we to believe Dean left his keys in the ignition when she has her back seat chock full of objects that are deadly? No? Okay then, are you saying that twit had the intelligence and experience to hot wire Baby? Yeah no Dabb.

    Did necromancer/stalker of Sam have a sister? What’s with her mysterious (boring, I so don’t care Andrew!) origin? The teenager part had his handprints all over it. Ugh.

  6. Haven’t read all the review… or comments so if I’m repeating anything any one has already said – my apologies. HATED THE TEENAGERS. GOOD CHUCK THEY CANNOT WRITE THEM PROPERLY. They are alway stereotypicaland annoying and now ooh, lesbians! How orignal. How woke Dabb. Even worse? From what I understand they will be back. And I’m calling it now. One of the idiots posted on social media (probably 5 seconds after it happened) and Sams stalker comes across it. Please prove me wrong Show. And please no more of these silly teenagers.

    1. I didn’t have a problem with the actors. They’re just doing the roles as they were written and they did okay. It’s just that the roles themselves were nothing to write home about and I’m tired of unexamined stereotypes being held up as progress. It’s not a terrible idea, per se, to recruit the local kids, but they need to be less generic with the teen stereotypes.

  7. This episode was way overstuffed and didn’t properly develop any of its multiple plotlines. The Winchester family scenes only really worked because of the acting. Jensen’s crying face just gets me every time.

    John beating up his sons within two seconds annoyed the hell out of me, too. If he’s just a regular human, he shouldn’t have it that easy after everything Sam and Dean have been through and done.

    I did like Dean’s rapport with the townsfolk, especially Marta. At least one of the two writers remembered that Dean naturally builds relationships and camaraderie with pretty much everyone, and without ulterior motive (unless it just happens to be useful later on).

    1. I thought Dean’s relationship with the bartender and the post office lady was a hoot. It was clear she had a crush on him, but he also knew all about her problems with her son and such. He’d been a shoulder to cry on.

      The episode definitely had too much going on. It felt as though Dabb had shoved in more subplots rather than work on realistic twists for the main story.

    2. My husband has a friend who is one of those Delta Force (I don’t even know if that is the group to which he belongs — just naming it) and HE said that it was his job to break into a room and kill everybody in it and they were always armed but HE always had the element of surprise (this was in a discussion of the Colorado shooting at the movie theater; we know somebody whose daughter was there and she became agoraphobic afterwards — so his point was that arming EVERY other person in the theater would NOT have resulted in the death of the guy who came with flash grenades and smoke bombs).

      My point is that John was there and HE was ready for bear and HE MOVED THAT FAST. After our Delta Force acquaintance said that (in this context) I got it: in that split second John ‘could’ have easily put down both of his sons, it was a less than 30s fight.

      I liked the kids, unformed as they were. They were normal IMO.

      I am glad Sam got to kill a clown; I also did not feel like it was such a ‘big deal’ that Sam killed Zachariah. In PONR it was a HUGE deal that Dean killed Zach; this was not so much. “I” thought it was a good idea that Dean fought Castiel, and it showed that NO MATTER WHAT Dean would not kill ‘any’ incarnation of Castiel.

      I know what you mean about closure, but sometimes a person has to forgive to move forward and I think Dean ‘got’ that here. He ‘let go’ of his pain. Realizing his Dad’s flaws (and his Mom’s flaws) has set him free. (I liked that in this episode.)

      1. But John *wasn’t* “ready for bear.” He’d just been yanked from 2003 into the present. It was just a tiny bit convenient that he was yanked in while apparently armed and in the middle of a hunt, rather than, say, naked in the shower, or sound asleep. That he wasn’t the least bit disoriented about his surroundings was flat-out dumb writing.

        I thought the kids were Teenage Asshole Stereotypes. They might grow out of that, if given some actual and decent writing, but I saw no particular dramatic hook that made their return a compelling idea.

        I didn’t have a problem with the clown, especially since Dean had killed the sleazy pawn shop guy/friend murderer. It was rushed, but the kill itself worked for Sam being the one doing it. But Sam shouldn’t have gotten the Zacharian kill. The show has an unpleasant history of trying to give Sam every single badass moment Dean ever had and fumbling it every damn time in a way that diminishes that badass moment while not making Sam look better in any way. They should have left that alone.

        Forgiveness is a complicated issue. What it doesn’t involve is making the abuser feel better (let alone the spectators to the story). It has *nothing* to do with the abuser. Dean could totally forgive John and still not have anything to do with him. And it certainly doesn’t wipe the slate clean.

  8. Well done recap. Will there be a review and will it be tomorrow?

    I have been checking for this. Glad you got it up tonight.

    I liked very much that Dean stood up for himself with John. Do you think Jack is a ‘son’ to Dean or another brother?

    I don’t want to see Jack hang out with the Lebanon 3.

    1. The review’s at the end of the recap.

      Ugh, I don’t even want to see the Lebanon 3 again, let alone Jack hanging out with them.

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