Supernatural: Lebanon

What a lovely episode. It didn't feature a huge battle or the culmination of a major story arc. It wasn't a musical production with a large cast. It was small and personal, and deeply emotional.

Clearly, Sam should have been the one to wish for his heart's desire, because I bet it would have been what they wanted, that Dean be free of Michael. Instead, Dean held the pearl, and what he wanted more than his own life was his father back. Not a surprise, but it says a lot about Dean, doesn't it? That he wanted John Winchester more than he wanted to be free of the probability of eons of suffering? That in Dean's heart, just like when he went to Hell, he still doesn't believe he deserves to be saved?

This heartfelt Winchester reunion would have seemed bogus if John and his boys had just fallen into each others' arms. John, an active hunter fresh from 2003 who got dropped into the darkened bunker with his sawed-off in his hands, had trouble recognizing his own sons as they are in 2019, and who could blame him? It was almost a miracle that he didn't shoot first and ask questions after.

But once the truth set in, it was lovely. I keep using that word about this episode, but it bears repeating.


The best scene was the one where John apologized to Sam for not being a good father. I honestly believe this was Jared Padalecki's best dramatic scene in the entire series. Sam told John that their argument was a lifetime ago, that he had thought for years of John on the floor of that hospital and how they never got to say goodbye. Sam was crying. John was crying. Of course, I was crying, too.

And during all of the bunker scenes, Dean's heart was in his eyes. This was what he had always wanted: the four of them together, his father expressing total love, pride, approval of him. And I loved how Dean was sensitive enough to leave his parents alone. Mary got to embrace her beloved husband one more time, touch him, kiss him, and I hope they did more than that while the boys were out shopping. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Samantha Smith did a wonderful job expressing John and Mary's love and deep connection, especially when you consider that these two had only one scene together in the pilot episode way back in 2005. No need to mention that both of them look older. It wasn't important. The two actors aren't old enough to be J&J's parents, anyway.

I thought centering the reunion on a family dinner was, I'll say it again, lovely. These four people have never even had a family dinner together. Sam was a baby when Mary died, and Dean was only four.


Like all of the best Supernatural episodes, "Lebanon" started out funny and ended tragically. Of course the boys couldn't have their father back, and I loved that John was the strong one. John was determined that they all simply enjoy being together one last time. John kept smiling at them, a genuine smile. He stayed positive. He gave Sam closure, and he gave Dean approval. He kept holding Mary's hand as if he couldn't bear to let her go. And he took a bit of it back to 2003 as a dream. It will have to be enough.

The rest of the episode was delightful, too. We've seen way too little of Lebanon, even though the Winchesters have been living there for six seasons. I enjoyed every single easter egg and callback, and I'm sure I didn't catch them all: the clown ghost; Max stealing the Impala like the valet in "Baby;" the Winchesters using the name Campbell, which is Mary's last name and an alias that actually means something to them. The movies at the Lebanon Vista Theatre included Hell Hazers and All Saints Day.

The three kids, Eliot, Max and Bea, got to find out who those two strange brothers were, and thought that monster hunters were incredibly cool. (Well, they are until you need them.) I also loved how Marta the post office clerk melted when Dean flirted with her, while she looked at Sam distastefully. How could anyone but a monster find Sam distasteful? I watched this episode with my son Daniel, who was going, "Yeah, let's take home an entire box of actively evil occult objects, because nothing could possibly go wrong with that." And "It's never a good sign when a teddy bear has no eyes and its mouth is sewn shut." I assume "Precious Pawn" was a reference to Lord of the Rings. Loved the dragon's breath. Laugh out loud.


It was even nice to see Kurt Fuller as the nasty Zachariah again, although I hated seeing Castiel so hateful. It's sad to think of how Castiel would have been without his love for the Winchesters – although it would have been much sadder if Misha Collins hadn't been in the 300th episode. I'm glad Sam thought of the sigil so that he didn't have to kill alt-Castiel. Even though it wouldn't have mattered since time was reset and it never happened.

And the alternate timeline versions of Dean and Sam were a hoot. Especially Sam as a self-help guru with glasses. And kale.

Bits:

— This is Supernatural's 300th episode. Wow.

— There was no credit card for Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the opener. He got an end credit as "special guest star." Thoughtful, although I bet every fan of the show was already spoiled that he was going to be in this one.

— The date was the same as the episode air date: February 7, 2019. Skip day.

— I assume Mary didn't tell John that she's been dating Alternate Universe Bobby.

— The boys were at the pawn shop because of the skull of Sarah Good. She was a real person.

— As has been mentioned before, Lebanon, Kansas is the geographic center of the contiguous United States, a clever choice by the writers.

— The Agents of Doux put together an article on our favorite episodes of Supernatural. What do you think? Should "Lebanon" be on the list? It would absolutely be in my top twenty, that's for sure.

— We're getting a mini-hiatus. The next episode airs March 7.

Quotes:

Dean: (re: the dead pawn shop owner) "They always talk too much."

Eliot: "Where did they even come from? Them, or their weird sidekick with the trench coat? And what about that kid with the dumb Bambi look on his face all the time?"

Marta: (to Sam) "So you want me to give you an underage girl's address?"

Dean: "A serial killer clown. I mean, this is like the best/worst thing that's ever happened to you. You know, 'cause you love serial killers but you hate clowns."
Sam: (frantically trying to burn the cigar box) "Yeah. I get it, Dean."

John: "So. You saved the world."
Dean: "More than once."
John: "Then it's all true. God, the Devil, you boys smack in the middle. Now you live in a secret bunker with an angel and Lucifer's kid."
Dean and Sam: "Yeah."
John: "And you've done this whole time travel thing before?"
Dean: "Few times."

John: "I went out taking out Yellow Eyes. I mean, that was the point, right? Get the thing that killed Mom."

John: "Son, I am so sorry."
Sam: "I'm sorry, too. But you did your best, Dad. You fought for us and you loved us. That's enough."

Dean: "According to the internet, you run a law firm and love kale."
It's sad that even in the alternate timeline, the boys had no families.

Dean: "I googled me as well. Lot of beheadings."

Zachariah: "Earth, where you're always stepping in something. Come on, Constantine."
Castiel: "I don't understand that reference."
Zachariah: "You wouldn't."

Dean: (to Sam) "I'm good with who I am. I'm good with who you are."
They're not angry young men anymore. They've grown up.

John: "I choose grateful. So to whatever brought us together, we owe you one. Amen."

Supernatural does time travel good. I could probably write about this episode for a few more hours, but I'd better stop here. Four out of four pearls,

Billie
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Billie Doux has been reviewing Supernatural for so long that Dean and Sam Winchester feel like old friends. Courageous, adventurous, gorgeous old friends.

10 comments:

Unknown said...

Beautiful episode, wonderful review. Glad to share it with you. Amazing that they can still tug at the heartstrings this many years. Thanks for sticking it out and continuing to review this show, and Smallville as well. I know that was a tough ride especially once Lex and Lionel left, but my favorite part of these shows and others is reading the doux review family thoughts afterwards, even if our opinions don't always match it always brightens my day.

Billie Doux said...

Unknown, thank you so much. I can't believe how much this episode made me cry. After fourteen seasons. Which is why I'm still reviewing it.

Chatter said...

That was one of the most emotional episodes of SPN, and a fitting one to be the 300th episode, i just wish at least on the final episode( on season 50 haha) we´ll get to see John again...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Billie! I'e never missed any of you reviews, and never was disappointed. Lovely work, indeed!
And I fully agree wih you that Sam Smith has nailed it in her scenes with J.Morgan. Her best performance on the show!
I wonder if the Lebanon kids will ever appear again? Now they know the great secret what is their next move?
I would like to know more about Lebanon. What's the meaning of the episode's title, by the way?

The Fearless Freak said...

So, I hated this episode .What a waste of such a milestone episode. There were bits that were decent, but the rest of the episode felt like a mid-seaon forgettable filler piece. Not the 300th episode. That being said, I can't stand John and I don't really like Mary, so the fact that they were both in this episode irritated me from the get go. The boys did a decent job of playing the sad kids striving for dad's love, but anytime they interact with him, I just want to shake them and tell them.its time to get over him. He's a loser asshole who doesn't deserve your time or attention, let alone love and adoration, so instead of being the tearjerker they intended, seeing John being Dean's heart's desire just made me mad.

I'm hoping we get some decent follow up episodes soon, because, while this isn't the worst season, it's been getting on my nerves so far and this was the worst episode of the season.

TheShadowKnows said...

So the original plan (when season 14 was first announced) was to end the show with this episode. Obviously it would have been a very different episode if that had been the case.

Based on the main story arc of the season, does anyone else think the plan was to end the show with Dean sealed in the box? Or perhaps more optimistically, with Sam talking him out of it and Dean agreeing to continue to look for another way (i.e., the show would have ended much the way the last episode did)?

Heather1 said...

I have to admit: I was underwhelmed. This was two potentially powerful episodes mashed into one. I think more could have been done about the lives the boys are leading and how they are perceived in Lebanon. John coming back and how it affected time... in my opinion... should have had more time -- its own episode. Like this, everything felt too rushed. Zacaharia is back... oh, he's dead in a second. Cas is bad... oh, he's gone in a second. I really enjoyed the idea of how the townspeople in Lebanon see the "Campbells". To me, that should have had its own episode... especially considering it really had nothing else to do with the John story. It just felt disjointed and not enough time spent on either side.

Billie Doux said...

Thank you all for your comments, always.

I'm guessing the reason that "Lebanon" was the title was because this episode was about home. Lebanon has become Dean's and Sam's physical home, and of course, their emotional home base is their parents. The bits about the city itself were a fun backdrop and I think they lightened an episode that could easily have gotten too heavy.

Dragonfire said...

When I heard that the 300th episode was going to be Outsider POV, I was really excited for a character study on the Winchesters and how people see them. How normal people see them, how hunters see them, how their family and friends see them, going into depth on how they're good men but not nice ones and all of that.
Instead, I got a few scenes where a couple of teenagers are talking about the two strange guys who moved in a few years ago, and that's it. The plot promptly swung over to "John's back!", which was not something I particularly wanted.
Also, if eel like I'm just too emotionally distant from John to really care that he's back. It's been about a year and a half since I last saw s1, and he just doesn't feel like a relevant character to the story anymore.
Sure, it was beautifully executed and incredibly well done, and I really liked seeing who the Winchester's would've become without John there to put them on that path, but it felt a little like there were three plots that could've been really cool, and only one of them got any real coverage.
All in all, this left me a lot more dissatisfied than s10's Fan Fiction did, but in terms of execution and acting and everything that doesn't have anything to do with stylistic choices (which I can't blame the writers for), this was definitely four out of four pearls

Laure Mack said...

Absolutely beautiful review, Billie.