Lucifer takes Sam;
Dean and the car bring him back.
Promises break hearts.
Chuck, writing in his bathrobe, narrated the origin of the Impala, built in Janesville, Wisconsin on April 24, 1967, three days after the much-hyped one millionth GM car had rolled off the line. He wrote that while no one paid any attention to her, they should have, because she was the most important object in the universe. Her first owner was Sal Moriarty, an everyman who distributed Bibles to the poor on weekends to “get folks right for Judgment Day,” something Chuck thought would make Sam and Dean smile if they knew about it. After Sal died, she wound up on the used car lot at Rainbow Motors, where John Winchester bought her after getting advice from time-traveling Dean. Chuck wrote that was where the story began, and said here was where it ends.
At Bobby’s scrapyard, Dean joined Sam, who was sitting on the car drinking a beer. Snagging a bottle for himself, Dean told Sam he was in with the plan for Sam to take on Lucifer. Admitting it went against every fiber of his being, he acknowledged that Sam was a grown – overgrown – man who had to make his own choices, and it wasn’t on him to let Sam do anything. Observing that watching out for Sam wasn’t just his job, but pretty much defined who he was, Dean said Sam wasn’t a kid any more and Dean needed to stop treating him as one, hazarding that maybe he needed to grow up too. He said he didn’t know if they had a snowball’s chance, but asserted that if anyone could do it, he knew it would be Sam. Sam thanked him for the confidence, and he said he would back Sam’s play if this was what he wanted. Sam quietly said he’d let Lucifer out, so he needed to put him back in his cage.
Bobby located two demons for them, and Sam, Dean, and Castiel captured them and bled them dry, filling four gallon jugs with demon blood while Bobby searched for omens that might pinpoint Lucifer. A temperature drop in a five block radius of downtown Detroit caught Dean’s attention, given what Lucifer had said in The End and Abandon All Hope about Sam saying yes in Detroit. They hit the road with Castiel – more human now than angel – sleeping in the back seat of the Impala and Bobby following in his van. Dean said he had a bad feeling about the plan since the devil always said he’d jump Sam’s bones in Detroit, and worried the devil might be rolling out the red carpet for them, knowing things they didn’t. Sam said he was sure Lucifer knew a lot more, but added they just had to hope he didn’t know about the rings. He cautiously asked if Dean realized that, if he took the dive into the box with Lucifer, he wasn’t coming back, and Dean curtly said he was aware. With that in mind, Sam asked him for a promise, and when Dean agreed to promise him anything, Sam told Dean to promise not to try bringing him back, arguing it was too dangerous to poke at Lucifer’s prison cage. Dean objected that Sam’s sojourn in Hell would make his look like Graceland and he couldn’t leave Sam there, but Sam insisted he had to, that there was no other choice. When Dean plaintively asked what he was supposed to do, Sam told him to go find Lisa and Ben and live a normal, apple-pie life with barbecues and football games. He insisted that Dean promise him.
In Detroit, Bobby reconnoitered the location and returned to report at least two dozen demons in and around the cold spot. Dean repeated his certainty that Lucifer was there. Sam said his farewells to Bobby and Castiel, getting a hug and gruff advice to keep swinging and not give an inch from the older man and sad honesty from Castiel about not being able to look after Bobby and Dean for Sam. When Castiel realized the traditional and expected thing was to lie about how everything would be all right, he made a lame effort, sparking a little smile and Sam telling him to stop talking. At the open trunk of the Impala, Sam asked uncomfortably if Dean wouldn’t mind not watching him drink the demon blood, and Dean stood aside while Sam powered up. Revved on blood, Sam led the way straight to Lucifer’s building, calling to the demons to come and get them, and when two appeared, Dean asked if their father was home. Manhandled by the demons up to a room, they found Lucifer waiting.
Chuck’s narrative on the Impala continued by noting what was truly important about it: the green plastic army man little Sammy had crammed into the back seat ashtray, which remained stuck there; the Lego toys Dean had dropped as a child into the front vents that still rattled whenever the fan came on; the place under the carpeting where the brothers had scratched their initials. He wrote that even when Dean rebuilt her, he’d kept all those things the way they were, because it was the blemishes that made her beautiful. He noted Lucifer didn’t know or care what kind of car the boys drove.
Lucifer drew a pitchfork sigil in the frost he’d breathed onto a window, and asked them why they had come, since stamping through his front door was suicidal. Sam told him they didn’t want to fight, and he wanted to say yes. When Lucifer questioned that in some surprise, Sam simply concentrated and killed the two thug demons with his mind. He started to offer Lucifer the deal of the century – a free ride in his body in exchange for letting him and Dean live, and bringing back their parents – but Lucifer cut him off, saying he knew about the rings. Sam feigned ignorance, but Lucifer recounted the whole plan, saying he liked the idea of a tussle in Sam’s head, and ending with a classic line from “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” about betting a gold fiddle against Sam’s soul that he was better than Sam. Dean told Sam no, but Sam said the devil knowing didn’t make a difference, because they had no other option. He said yes: and the room filled with blinding light coming from both Nick and Sam as Lucifer jumped hosts. When the light faded, Dean, seeing both of them apparently unconscious on the floor, tossed the conjoined rings to stick against the wall and intoned a spell in Enochian. The wall was sucked into a vortex of darkness, and as the wind blew furiously into the void and Sam woke, saying he could feel Lucifer, Dean scrambled to get him onto his feet, telling him he had to jump now. Sam staggered up, headed for the void, and hesitated: and then Lucifer turned around, telling Dean he’d just been messing with him and Sammy was long gone. He spoke another incantation and the void vanished, leaving the rings stuck to an undamaged wall. He collected the rings and turned to Dean, gently saying he’d told him this would always happen in Detroit. Then he simply disappeared, leaving Dean teary-eyed and desperately alone.
Elsewhere, in a derelict theater, Lucifer told Sam he could feel him scratching away inside. Seeing his reflection in a cracked mirror, he offered to remove the gag, and held a conversation with Sam, whose reflection replaced Lucifer’s in the glass. Lucifer maintained he wanted Sam to be happy, pointing out he hadn’t killed Dean. Telling Sam he was inside Sam’s head and Sam couldn’t lie to him, he said he knew Sam felt the exhilaration of being joined with him, of having power, and argued he was Sam’s family. He told Sam he knew how out of place he’d always felt and it was natural, because the Winchesters had been foster care at best. He maintained that every time Sam had run away, he wasn’t running from his family, but running toward Lucifer, because they were two halves of a whole. When Sam angrily said he wanted nothing from Lucifer, the devil slyly asked if he didn’t want payback, showing him people from his past including teachers, one-time friends, and even his prom date, who were now revealed as having been demons all along, all part of Azazel’s crew watching and manipulating him all his life. He invited Sam to join him in blowing off some steam by getting his own back against how he’d been used.
In the window of an electronics store, Dean, Bobby, and Castiel saw television news reports of earthquakes and disasters happening around the globe, and Castiel, resigned to the end of the world, proposed drinking booze and waiting for the inevitable blast wave to overtake them. Dean asked how they would stop it, and Castiel said they wouldn’t. He maintained Lucifer and Michael would meet on the chosen field and the battle of Armageddon would begin, and said he didn’t know where it would happen. Dean lost his temper, saying there had to be something they could do, but Cass apologized and said it was over. Refusing to give up, Dean appealed to Bobby for action, but Bobby was crushed by the magnitude of disaster, saying there had never been much hope to begin with and he didn’t know what else to do.
In the derelict theater amid the dead bodies of the demons from Sam’s past, Lucifer looked into a mirror again, smiling at Sam’s frightened, unsettled reflection, and asked if they were having fun yet.
Continuing his history of the brothers and the Impala, Chuck wrote about the times between jobs, sometimes a day or a week if they were lucky, when the brothers passed the time lining their pockets. He said Sam used to insist on honest work, but now hustled pool like his brother. Able to go anywhere and do anything, they drove a thousand miles for an Ozzy concert and two days for a Jayhawks game, and when the weather was clear they would park the car in the middle of nowhere, sit on the hood, and watch the stars for hours without saying a word. He said it never occurred to them that while they never had a roof and four walls, they were never homeless.
The phone rang, interrupting his writing, and he answered it expecting “Mistress Magda,” evidently a phone sex line, only to hear Dean instead, who asked him what had happened to Becky. Chuck stammered that it hadn’t worked out because he respected her too much, and then observed Dean hadn’t called to talk about his relationships. Dean told him about Sam having said yes, and when Chuck confirmed he’d seen it, Dean asked if he’d seen where the battle was supposed to be. Chuck said the angels were keeping it top secret, but he’d seen it anyway: high noon the next day at a place called Stull Cemetery, which Dean remembered as a fixture of his hometown of Lawrence, Kansas. Chuck apologized for not being able to tell him any way to short-circuit the fight without the rings or what would happen next, and Dean thanked him and hung up. Grimly resolute, he readied the Impala for another drive. When Bobby challenged him, saying he knew Dean was going to do something stupid because he had that look, Dean said he was going to talk to Sam. Castiel said if he couldn’t reach Sam in Detroit, he certainly wouldn’t be able to do it on the battlefield. Dean guessed if they’d already lost, he didn’t have anything to lose. Cass told him the only thing he would see was Michael killing his brother, and Dean said he wasn’t going to let him die alone. He got into the Impala and started her up as Bobby and Castiel traded looks.
At desolate, windy Stull Cemetery, Lucifer waited until Michael appeared in Adam’s body. Both agreed it was good to see the other and it had been too long, and neither seemed ready to believe the time had actually come. While both agreed they wished it didn’t have to come to this, Michael maintained he had no choice after what Lucifer had done. Lucifer argued it wasn’t his fault, pointing out God had made everything, including making Lucifer who and what he was, so God wanted the devil. He asked why, and why God made them fight, saying he couldn’t figure out the point; that they were going to kill each other and it was just one of Dad’s tests, and they didn’t even know the answer. He appealed to Michael as his brother that they both just walk off the chessboard. After a moment’s hesitation, Michael apologized, saying he couldn’t do that because he was a good son and had his orders. Michael castigated Lucifer for not having changed a bit, always blaming anybody but himself. He said they’d been happy but Lucifer had betrayed them all and made their Father leave. Lucifer angrily said no one made God do anything; that He was doing this to them. Michael called him a monster and said he had to kill him, and Lucifer challenged him, saying he’d like to see him try.
As they circled each other, sizing each other up, they heard the unmistakable sound of the Impala’s engine revving. Dean jammed a tape into the cassette deck and drove into the cemetery blasting Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages.” Stepping between the angels, he told Sam they needed to talk, and when Lucifer told him this was a whole new mountain of stupid, Dean said he wasn’t talking to Lucifer, but to Sam. Michael, angry, tried to dismiss him, saying he was no longer the vessel and had no right to be there. Looking at Michael, Dean spoke to Adam, saying if Adam was in there, he was so very sorry, but Michael said Adam wasn’t home just then. Dean told him he’d have to wait because he needed five minutes with Sam. Michael advanced on him angrily, calling him a maggot and saying he was no longer part of the story. To everyone’s surprise, Castiel, showing up with Bobby at his side, suddenly distracted Michael, calling him an ass-butt and heaving a Molotov cocktail of holy fire to envelop him. Michael screamed and vanished, and Cass told Dean he would be back and angry, but Dean had his five minutes. Lucifer, furious, told Castiel no one could dick with Michael but him, and then the devil snapped his fingers and Castiel simply exploded into nothing, splattering Bobby with blood.
Afraid but resolute, Dean asked Sammy if he could hear him. Lucifer advanced on Dean, saying he’d tried to be nice for Sammy’s sake but Dean was a pain in his ass, and he grasped the lapels of Dean’s leather jacket and heaved, throwing him onto the hood of the car with such force that his head and back smashed the windshield. As Lucifer headed toward Dean, Bobby shot him in the back with his revolver, and when Lucifer turned incredulously to face him, shot him in the heart, all with no effect. Bobby met Dean’s eyes and shrugged, having had to try something. Lucifer raised his hand and twisted his wrist, and Bobby’s head snapped around on his neck, breaking his neck and killing him. Dean screamed in denial as Bobby fell, and Lucifer hauled him off the car and smashed a blow across his face. Not fighting back, Dean asked Sammy if he could hear him, and Lucifer said Sam could hear him all right, and would hear the sound of his bones snapping, every one, because they were going to take their time. As he spoke, he beat Dean viciously, propping him up against the back door of the car when he fell, slamming his face repeatedly with both fists. Half-blind and bloody, Dean continued to talk to Sammy, telling him it was okay, he was here, and he wasn’t going to leave him. As Lucifer pummeled him, Dean repeated he wasn’t going to leave Sam. Enraged, Lucifer drew back his fist for a killing blow – but a blinding reflection of sunlight off the Impala’s chrome flashed in his eyes and he saw Sam’s reflection in the bloodied car window, and beyond it, the little figure of the green army man Sammy had once crammed into the far ashtray. Lucifer hesitated as a cascade of memory-images flooded past their mind’s eye – the brothers, always together, in laughter and teasing and song and resolution and fear and love, ending in the memory of Dean hugging him tightly – and the raised fist slowly unclenched, and suddenly Sam staggered back from the car, gasping for air, and Dean, unsupported, slid down the car’s flank to slump against her in the dirt.
Looking at the bloody ruin of his brother’s face, Sam promised Dean it was okay, that he had Lucifer, and he pulled the conjoined Horsemen’s rings out of his pocket. Tossing the rings to the ground, he intoned the Enochian spell and the ground shuddered, a circular vortex opening in the dead grass to swallow a tombstone and create a wind sucking in everything loose. As Dean could only watch, Sam looked from the growing hole to him and back again, then met his eyes and nodded reassurance and regret and resolve. He took a step toward the hole, steeling himself to jump. At that moment, Michael returned, telling Sam to step back, that he had to fight his brother there and then, but Sam refused. Locking eyes with Dean, both full of too much feeling for words, he nodded again, and then closed his eyes with a look of serene resolve and let himself start to fall back into the hole. Michael grabbed him, trying to drag him away, but he opened his eyes, grabbed Michael back, and yanked Michael into the hole with him. Both of them fell, and when they were gone, the ground sealed shut behind them with a blinding flash of light, the rings glowing hot in the undisturbed grass. Broken, Dean closed his eyes and looked away.
Dean knelt on the ground where the pit had swallowed Sam, overcome with grief. A sound and sense of movement finally made him look up to see Castiel gazing at him with sorrow and compassion. Dimly surprised, Dean asked if he was alive. Saying he was better than that, Cass touched Dean’s forehead, and Dean was suddenly healed. He asked Castiel if Cass was God. Cass smiled and thanked him for the compliment, but said he wasn’t God, although he believed God had brought him back, new and improved. The angel walked over to Bobby’s body and touched him too, and with a grinding snap reversing the breaking of his neck, Bobby came back to life and health, looking incredulously at Castiel as the angel nodded at him. Dean took it all in, but then just looked down at the conjoined Horsemen’s rings in his hand, all that was left when the vortex closed on Sam.
Looking unusually neat and clean in a white shirt with his beard groomed, Chuck typed the closing paragraphs of his manuscript, saying endings were hard because even though you tried to tie everything up, there were always loose ends and the fans would always bitch, and endings were supposed to add up to something.
In the car driving back to Bobby’s place, Dean asked Castiel what he would do next, and Castiel said he would go back to Heaven because with Michael locked in the cage with Lucifer, everything in Heaven would be anarchy and confusion. When Dean asked if he was going to be the new sheriff in town, Castiel, amused, agreed he liked that image. Bitter, Dean castigated him for his willingness to run back and be God’s bitch again just because he got a shiny new set of wings, but Castiel said he didn’t know what God wanted or whether He would return, but that he would go back to Heaven because it felt like the right thing to do. Dean told him to tell God Dean was coming after Him next, and when Castiel wondered why he was angry, saying God had helped them perhaps more than they realized, Dean bitterly asked about Sam and about what his own reward was, noting Castiel got his life and powers back but all Dean had was his brother in a hole. Castiel observed he’d gotten exactly what he’d asked for: no paradise, no Hell, just more of the same, and asked Dean which he would rather have – peace, or freedom. He disappeared before Dean could answer.
Chuck narrated Dean sharing a farewell hug with Bobby at the scrapyard and then driving off in the Impala, saying it would be a very long time before they saw each other again. Chuck added that this time next week, Bobby would be hunting a rugaru outside Dayton, but not Dean. Saying Dean didn’t want Cass to save him, that with every fiber Dean wanted only to die or find a way to bring Sam back, he reported Dean would do neither, because he’d made a promise. Instead, Dean knocked on Lisa Braeden’s door at night, and when she answered, relieved to see him alive after the way he’d left in 99 Problems, he asked brokenly if he could take her up on her offer of a beer. When she said yes and embraced him, he clung to her like a life preserver and fought back tears. She held him close, murmuring reassurance and promising that everything would be all right.
Asking what it all added up to, Chuck said it was hard to say, but he thought it was a test for Sam and Dean and they had done all right, being up against good, evil, angels, devils, destiny, and God Himself. He said they made their own choice and chose family, rhetorically asking if that wasn’t the whole point. Typing the words “THE END” and finishing his glass of whiskey, emptying the bottle, he leaned back satisfied in his chair, observing with a smile that while endings were indeed hard, nothing ever really ended, did it? Then he disappeared.
At Lisa’s house on another evening, Dean sat pensively at the dinner table nursing a glass of whiskey. He roused himself with an obvious effort when Lisa brought dinner and asked if he was all right. He said he was good, then set aside the glass and made himself pay attention, plucking a dinner roll out of the bowl and tossing it lightly across the table to Ben before starting to dish food onto his own plate.
Outside the house, the closest streetlight flared and then went out. Standing beneath the dead light, Sam watched them through the dining room window, an unreadable expression on his face.
Sorry: this one is so long, I broke LJ and had to split it into two parts!
Link to Part Two: Commentary and Meta Analysis, and Production Notes