Supernatural 5.18: "Point of No Return"

By the end of the previous episode, Dean had lost faith. Not just in himself, but in Sam and the very thought of defying destiny. He began saying his goodbyes, all the while avoiding a direct showdown with Sam, Bobby, and Castiel over his choice to consent to Michael’s demands. That all comes to a head with this episode.

And as one would expect, it’s emotionally brutal. For those who have been watching the show since the very beginning, it’s hard to watch Dean fall apart in such a complete manner. While the plot with Adam was important in terms of reminding the brothers where their strength lies, in terms of family and brotherhood, it was also a clever way to give all the main characters some time to confront Dean on his choice.

Bobby’s reaction was particularly chilling. Bobby has been having one hell of a time this season, starting with the paralysis, the psychological anguish of knowing the Brothers Winchester touched off the apocalypse, and recently killing his wife for the second time. It’s been a long road of sacrifice, and it’s been as much about supporting surrogate sons as it has been about saving lives. While it’s not surprising that Bobby has been harboring thoughts of suicide, that scene drove it home.

Castiel’s reaction was just as hard to take. A lot of people have joked about the sexual tension between Castiel and Dean, and the writers give that a bit of a nod in this episode. But it’s clearly not about that, at a fundamental level. Dean’s journey in the fourth season, and the truth about the angels and their role in bringing down the apocalypse, led Castiel to rebel.

It doesn’t matter that Castiel is technically still serving the will of God, whether he wants to accept or acknowledge that or not. Loyalty to heaven was part of Castiel’s being, and he chose to leave all of that behind for the sake of following Dean’s lead. For a time, Castiel thought he could help by finding God, but once that quest was over, it all came down to Dean. And Castiel’s anger and despair is a wonder to behold. And it drives him to what appears to be a sacrificial act.

Both Bobby and Castiel are all but the opening act, however. The real depths of the wound come with the confrontation with Sam. Dean made it very clear at the beginning of the season that he was going to find it hard to trust Sam again, but the course of the season made it seem like the wounds were more or less healed. But Dean puts it all into perspective. Dean is the one who saw the future, in which Sam gave in to Lucifer and everything fell apart. He has reason to believe that Sam will give in, sooner or later.

And that, more than anything, is the part that hits like a knife to the gut. It’s written all over Sam’s face. Because Sam has already said that he needs Dean to be there for him, to sustain his resolve. Dean’s confession that he has no faith in Sam’s resistance is crushing. By that point, just about everything has fallen into ruin, and the situation with Adam is just icing on the cake.

Yet the final act of the episode feeds right into the notion that God is hanging back because his plan is unfolding just as intended. The angels had Dean right where they wanted him, and without Dean, Sam would have fallen into line. Instead, they decided to use Adam as bait, banking on the Winchester devotion to family. And in turn, they reminded the Brothers Winchester of their one remaining strength.

Because while Dean was ready to hand himself over when in Zachariah’s Dining Room of Pain, it took one look at Sam to convince him that resistance was still worth it. That going down fighting on their own terms, in control of their own free will, is a much better option than handing themselves over to destiny.

In short, the angels overplayed their hand. Up until now, and especially after the attempt to kill Lucifer, the brothers have been largely reactive. When dealing with the apocalypse, this is an understandable state of being. If the end of this episode is any indication, the Brothers Winchester plan to take action. No more waiting. And while it’s still not clear how that will change the situation, it feels right.

This is the “Supernatural” version of God helping those who help themselves. This is a choice that seems worthy of a set of books called the Winchester Gospels. This is the foundation for a finale that needs to make this choice something symbolic of the series as a whole. Because despite the sixth season to come, this is the culmination of the “Supernatural” legend. The rest will be epilogue.


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