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Raelle Tucker knocked this one outta the park! This is one of those episodes that is so chock full of good things that I could write a book about it. I’ll try to just keep it to the highlights.
I always LOVE the Dean-centric episodes. Not only is Dean a compelling character, but watching Jensen in action never leaves me disappointed. He gives us EVERYTHING In this episode. His reaction when he sees Mary for the first time is so…pure and real. His heartbreak when he’s at John’s gravesite is visceral. He deserves an Emmy for that scene alone, by the way. His yearning to spend time with Mary is also very touching. I don’t like Mary, but I respect what having her in his life meant for Dean, and it makes me regret her death because of the effect it had on his life. Not for nothin’, but Samantha Smith was amazing in this episode. The scenes with her and Jensen are among my favorites.
Interesting that in Dean’s dream life, Mary and Jessica are both alive, but John isn’t. I wonder if JDM was too busy for this one, so they had to write him out of the story. I can’t imagine Dean not wanting his father alive.
I like Carmen a lot! I love that, if Dean had what he wanted (according to his djinn dream, anyway), he’d have a stable life with a woman who loves and understands him, a job fixing cars, and a guitar on the stand in the living room of HIS HOME. Dean was deprived of all those things, and it makes his 15-season story arc that much more tragic. Even though Dean was very broken when he was with Lisa, I think he was the closest we’ve ever seen him to happiness and stability when he was with Lisa and Ben. I think Dean never stopped wanting that life, even though he’d convinced himself that he didn’t deserve it. In “Paint it Black”, he mentioned wanting to “experience life differently”. I think having a stable life and a family of his own is one of the things he was probably thinking about. It makes me that much more furious that he died in the finale without ever having a chance at that life, or some version of a happy life. I know the finale is controversial (for a lot of reasons), but the fact that Sam got to live a life and Dean didn’t will never sit right with me. Never.
I love the shout outs to earlier episodes, like “Phantom Traveler”, “Playthings”, and “Something Wicked”. Dean needed to see that he, Sam, and John SAVED people and changed the world for the better. It was hard watching that scene at John’s gravesite, when the tremendous burden of Dean’s real life came crashing down on him again. It was also hard watching Dean – once again – sacrifice his happiness and Sam’s for the mission, but it also affirmed how heroic and self-sacrificing Dean is.
I also liked the shout out to the scene from the “Pilot”, when Dean broke into Sam’s apartment.
I like how Dean figured out this case – the connection to the mystery girl, that killing himself might free him, etc. It says a lot about his intelligence and tenacity. I also love Sam’s acknowledgement that most people wouldn’t have had the strength to get out of the djinn’s illusion. Dean needed to hear that.