Did you hear?

Last night at 8pm the longest running US television series aired it’s final episode. The series Supernatural came to its inevitable conclusion, which was poignant and ultimately bittersweet. It was definitely a long time coming since the series ran for 15 seasons, starting all the way in October 2005.

Additionally, the airing of the final episodes had to be put on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. This meant fans had to wait an extra 6 months between March and October 2020 to see how the story would end for Sam and Dean Winchester. And now in November of 2020 that end was fitting for both characters, as the creators of the show were able to capture the same lightning in a bottle that the show captured in its pilot episode.

This is my second review I’ve ever written for Supernatural

You may not know this but I’ve written one other review for Supernatural and it was the pilot episode. It was for a writing assignment in my Grade 11 Media Arts class. Each student in the class had to pick a new television series airing at the beginning of the season and write a review for the pilot episode.

One thing I remember after all the students handed in their papers was speculations as to which shows would be picked up for full season orders or get cancelled.

I remember writing in my review for the show that its premise was perfect for building an episodic story. Two brothers driving in a black 1967 Chevy Impala through the backroads of America saving people, hunting things; the family business.

We get introduced to the characters when older brother Dean sneaks into Sam’s college dorm to recruit his help. Their father went on a “hunting trip” and hasn’t been home in a few days. This simple plot catalyzed the 15-year journey I’ve been able to ride along with the show. Watching the adventures of Sam and Dean as they went up against all manner of ghosts, ghouls, demons, angels and even God himself.

I recall writing in my review all those 15 years ago that I believed the show would be a success and go on for many seasons. I don’t think anyone could have expected 15 seasons, I certainly didn’t. But I like to think I know what’s cool and based off the first episode, where Sam and Dean face off against the Woman in White, I knew I was watching something cool.

My Supernatural Series Finale Review

Last night’s episode was exactly how the series needed to end. With all the major cosmic threats introduced throughout the series, all their stories came to a close in the penultimate episode. As a fan who has watched every single episode of Supernatural since the day it began, I can tell you I was intrigued to see what the creators would do with one final episode.

What was done in the final episode was fitting and gave the entire series a sense of finality. Supernatural is a television series that found a storytelling formula so perfect it could have kept going. Within all logic and reason, there was only one last story to tell to truly bring our characters to a close.

In true Supernatural thematic fashion both our beloved characters Sam and Dean needed to die.

The trouble in storytelling becomes what is the most appropriate death for each character. Sam and Dean’s deaths could have been handled in many different ways. In fact, I had serval theories going into the final episode.

I thought:

  • Sam and Dean could both go out fighting till the end. This would follow an ending to their story that God had shown them in an episode earlier in the final season.
  • We would get a happy ending where Sam and Dean continue saving people and hunting things, keeping the world safe from all the mysterious supernatural dangers that lurk in the shadows, growing old together but always remaining heroic.
  • We would be left with some kind of wicked cliffhanger, like an easter egg message to the fans that Supernatural may go away for awhile but could return in the future.

The creators decided to give us, the fans, a true final story with no fake-outs or gotcha moments. What was delivered was an emotional final episode that respects who Sam and Dean were as characters from the very first episode.

Dean Winchester was always “daddy’s little soldier”, the older brother who followed his hard-ass father’s every demand. Dean accepted his life as a Hunter.

Sam Winchester was rebellious and wanted a ‘normal’ life for himself, escaping to college in order to get out of the Hunter lifestyle.

Sam, despite being younger, was the more independent and mature brother. Dean, because of his devotion to always protecting his younger brother, was dependant on needing Sam in order to live.

It was an Ending the Characters & the Fans Deserved

The episode began with a sequence of shots showing the mundane life of Sam and Dean as they live in the Men of Letters bunker. Opening with such a scene let’s the audience know that leaving Sam and Dean to continually battle evil would not be a fulfilling conclusion.

Next we have a scene where Sam and Dean visit a Pie Fest in small town America. It’s one final light-hearted brotherly moment for fans to enjoy, where Sam pies Dean in the face. Classic boys!

Shortly after the plot gets into the monster-of-the-week story. It turns out there’s a nest of vampires who are killing people and taking their children. It’s revealed that the killings sound similar to a page of notes from their father’s monster hunting journal. These Vamps are part of a gang who all wear face masks with a similar frightening design.

So Sam and Dean head out to find the vampire nest and save the children. After ensuring the children’s safety, a battle breaks out. During this encounter with a vampire nest, unlike all previous encounters we’ve seen throughout the series, Dean, much to his own surprise, becomes fatally wounded.

Impaled through the back to a spike on the wall, Dean delivers his final words and says goodbye to Sam. It’s a long goodbye, but it had 15 years in the making. What was spoken was honest to the characters and how they felt about each other. This happens only halfway into the episode’s runtime, leaving fans with the understanding that the series’ end is nigh.

Sam gives Dean a Hunter’s burial by cremating him. We then see Sam trying to live in the bunker, suffering from the loneliness of losing his brother. Eventually one of Dean’s old cell phones rings and it’s somebody calling for help. Sam decides to take the call, but before he leaves he takes all his personal belongs and then shuts the lights of the Men of Letters bunker down for the very last time.

Next we see Dean and he’s now in heaven. He runs into Bobby who explains to him that heaven is like another reality where people get to be happy and everyone gets to be with their loved ones. Bobby tells Dean it’s the heaven he deserves. However, Dean admits, “it’s almost perfect”.

supernatural-dean-in-heaven

“He’ll be along”, Bobby replies while explaining to Dean that the passage of time is different in heaven. With everything he could ever want, need or dream, Dean decides to take Baby, his car, for a drive while “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas plays.

We are then treated to a montage scene where there are shots of Dean driving in heaven while Sam lives out the rest of his life. We get to see that Sam has his own son and gets to raise him. Sam gets to live a full life and eventually grow old while Dean continues to drive his car. Finally, Sam is very old and in a hospital bed in his own house. Sam’s son is with him and tells him that he can finally let go and pass over.

Dean pulls off to the side of the road on a bridge in a clearing. He steps out of the car and walks to the bridge’s hand railing and looks out into the distance. As Dean stares he feels a presence behind him. “Hey Sammy” he says knowingly.

Dean turns around and Sam is there. Both characters are wearing outfits that pays homage to the clothes worn in the very first episode. Reunited together in heaven, the spirts of Sam and Dean Winchester can finally go on in eternal peace.

supernatural-series-finale-review

My Final Thoughts About the Finale and the Series

Now that I’ve had a day to think about it, Supernatural achieved accomplishments that no other television series has been able to do. It ran for 15 seasons–327 episodes–remaining true to its characters and finding creative ways to grow its mythology so as to keep itself fresh season after season.

For a series that ran so long, it’s inevitable that not every episode or seasonal story arch would be great. But Supernatural was entertaining and memorable far more times than it wasn’t. Some of the storytelling lost steam around seasons 6 and 7. The first five seasons were great and I’d recommend anyone interested in the show to watch them. But the story found a grand focus in the later seasons. The show dug deep into its mythology and had the confidence to make God the big-bad of the final season. Not many characters in fiction have gone toe-to-toe with the Almighty and successfully told a compelling story about love, family and sacrifice the way Supernatural has.

It’s been said that endings are hard. Anyone with a keyboard can slap together a beginning, but endings are near impossible. The creators have to try to tie up every loose end, but they never can. There’s always going to be fans who are unsatisfied. There’s always going to be plot holes. And since it’s the end, it’s all suppose to add up to something.

Supernatural was reliable and I felt I could depend on it starting back up year after year. I’ve been watching Supernatural since I was 15 years old. I’m now 31. I’ve essentially spent half my life watching Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester. Realizing this show has come to an end, and along with it some semblance of my youth, I feel a sense of loss. In having to let go of Sam and Dean I feel like I’m shedding a part of myself. I don’t think I’ll ever have another favourite show like I did with Supernatural. I’m forever grateful it existed.

No doubt – endings are hard. But then again… nothing ever really ends, does it?

It was just 2 weeks ago, I was tuning the radio and among the hissings and hums, I heard a ripper of a guitar solo followed up by a ginormous shrill wail! I instantly thought to myself, “what is this??!” followed by the sudden realization that I needed to hear more. Skip ahead a little and I’m going out to see the Dirty Nil in Toronto at the Phoenix Concert Theatre during Canadian Music Week and it was the most fun I’ve had in months.

And that’s coming off an already noteworthy week.

You see, I’m a pretty unassuming guy. I blend in well, which allows me to notice things. Cool things, like spotting notable Canadians going about their day in the city, like actress Laura Vandervoot while she’s checking out her groceries at the local Metro in Liberty Village.

Then, get this, I see the drummer from Sloan, Andrew Scott, just a day later pushing a buggy and picking produce.

Who knew Metro would be the place to stake out celebs in the city?

Anyways, back to my story about the Dirty Nil in Toronto at The Phoenix Concert Theatre…

With the minute hand of my watch hitting 30 after 5, I saved all my work, packed up my project notes and called it a day. My friends were going to meet me and with 4 tickets in hand I was ready to kick off the weekend.

Straight after work I met up with Kevin and after a customary bro-hug upon greeting, we walked down the street to Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery for beers and some grub. My friend Matt arrived and we got the opportunity to catch up with each other’s lives. Caitlyn who was suppose to join us that night, dropped the let down that she would no longer be attending. That’s when Matt’s friend Greg showed up. We invited him to our table and after a round and a few chuckles I offered him the extra ticket.

Matt and Greg had to split but would meet back up with us later at the show. I paid the bill and made a quick stop to the washroom. Meanwhile, Kevin grabbed a few cans from the brew store and hailed an Uber. We crushed those suckers and arrived at The Phoenix around 8:30. We befriended the Bouncer, who would let us skip the massive line for the sold out show if we returned at 9.

That was a sweet deal for us because it gave us a chance to sneak off to the side of the venue to burn a spliff.

Another Chance Encounter

While Kevin and I were leaned up against a fence reminiscing about old Stereokid shows, Luke Bentham of The Dirty Nil, wearing a red hoodie, strutted past us and hopped into their tour van. Moments later we could hear him practising his vocals inside. If I had to guess he was probably changing into that signature studded shirt he always preforms in. It felt like another surreal chance encounter.

We made one last pit stop at a gas station up the road to tinkle and buy some water. Because we’re responsible like that. Headed back to the venue, walked past the line to the same Bouncer out front who let us right in. While checking through security, none other than the Arkells‘ frontman Max Kerman was behind us. I remember he was eager to introduce his girlfriend to everyone. (It’s like these celeb sightings never stop.)

On With The Show

Once inside, we got another round of drinks and proceeded to the concert theatre where we walked in on The Dirty Nil performing the first song of their set.

Bathed in Light opened the night.
I captured one of my favourite songs, Auf Wiedersehen.
They did a cover of Unchained by Van Halen.

Fans were crowd surfing and moshing the entire set. At times, I could have sworn I felt the floor of the Phoenix Concert Theatre buckling from everyone jumping up and down.

During the show, Matt and Greg showed back up. They had met up and brought Adam and a few others. We were in full force! We reconvened at the bar for one last round to set us into the night.

With all of us there together toasting one another, it reminded me of why I do what I do; why I work so hard. It’s to enjoy moments like this with my friends. There’s a spontaneity to living in the city, where you can hear brand new music on the radio and instantly get hooked on a new band. You can run a search online for tour dates and see they’re playing a sold out show the immediate Friday. But still find people selling tickets on Facebook, enough for myself and 3 friends.

It’s that endearment for spontaneity that caused Kevin and I to surprise-lift Adam up above the crowd where he was carried away. As he crowd surfed past the horizon of all the crowd’s heads, so too did any of my anxieties from the work week get whisked away.

Footage of The Dirty Nil in Toronto at the Phoenix Concert Theatre

I found these clips from a YouTube Channel. It looks like someone got access to all the shows during Canadian Music Week and filmed clips from a bunch of different artists. These are just a few I selected.

This is the bit that I heard on the radio that got me into The Dirty Nil, which I mentioned at the beginning.

Oh yeah, did I mention Tokyo Police Club also played that night.