I thought I was out of "Wow" many times during this episode, but then new surprises turned up.
Dean blowing up at Bobby-- and then being so sincerely sorry, but still knowing he wasn't going to change his choices-- nice.
Dean talking to Sam's body, telling him all the many ways he'd tried to protect him-- and his child's sense of innocence-- for so long... heartbreaking. That had to be the Emmy-nominated scene there. What an emotional punch.
That Dean would make the bargain he did is so very, perfectly Dean. I've always thought he wouldn't want to outlive Sam if he was forced to kill him. But to have Sam just die-- killed by something entirely human, no less-- that leaves too much room for Dean to survive long enough to start asking the "what ifs," and to decide that a bargain that brings Sam back is a damn good one, no matter the personal cost. There is only "a world with Sam" or "nothing" in Dean's mind. The shape of Nothing doesn't matter. :(
Watching Dean come back to find Sam alive-- *sigh*. One of the most emotionally satisfying moments in the series for me. That Sam didn't hug him back (didn't even know why Dean was behaving that way), and that Kripke cut the hug short, was less than I would have liked. Again, we've seen again and again that Dean adores Sam-- we know it, and Sam knows it. The question that haunts us is how much Sam loves Dean. We know that he does, but we don't know how much. And neither does Dean-- it's one of the things that eats away at Dean constantly.
I did love Dean hovering over Sam afterward, and oh, did I ever feel his frustration at Sam being so willing to take his barely-revived body out and overextend it just immediately.
The scene with the boys arriving at Bobby's door was fantastic. All those awkward looks, Bobby trying to act "normal" with Sam while glaring daggers at Dean-- really great moment.
Bobby vs. Dean in the junkyard was even better. To finally have someone say those things that we all feel about Dean-- that he doesn't value himself enough, that what he gave up for Sam would come to hurt Sam in the end-- now that was satisfying as well. I was a little distracted by Bobby's teeth in that scene, but overall I thought the actor knocked that one out of the park, and that his love for Dean came through-- the face touching nearly killed me. In the last two encounters with John's old friends, we've seen both Deacon and Bobby offer love more freely than John appears to have. God, that kills me, especially when you know how much both boys needed that.
Yay for Ellen surviving!
Yay for the Big Bad plot development too. I really was not expecting something of that magnitude, and I was really pleased with the size of what Kripke came up with on the larger Devil's Trap. I DO wish he hadn't ever tied that to Samuel Colt-- that he'd invented an entirely new person to pin that mythology on, which would have been just as convincing and worked better-- but I liked the substance of it very much.
Sam killing Jake was the kind of moment many fans have been crying out for. He stepped up, he did the hard and necessary thing, but it wasn't quite like the Demon painted it for Dean. At the point where Sam killed Jake, that was no longer purely Jake. That was the transformed being who had opted to become an agent of evil all for fairly weak threats and the promise of riches and power.
~~Let me digress a moment to say how much I liked seeing so many black characters this season, especially as compared to the all-white-but-Missouri and Skinwalker-skin#2 in last season. (ETA: whoops, forgot about Cassie, and I liked the fact of her race more than the actual character.) We had a huge range-- a family that was one of the targets of evil (ELaC), a doctor (who got mind-controlled), the very awesome Sarge in Croatoan (wish he'd survived the ending), Gordon (!) and his one-man-hunting-mission (where the character is both good and flawed, and rock-hard in his convictions), and now Jake. I would like to see more Asian/Hispanic/Middle-Eastern/East-India
John coming back to take on the Demon... I did not see that coming. And what an emotional sucker-punch that was, because Kripke knows our weakness for John and the pain from how "quiet" his ending was (powerful in its choice, so very quiet in its execution). That moment brought some tears out for sure. This was our real evidence that he was in Hell for the choice he made (yay for not skipping over that as a "maybe"), and the relief that he has escaped that now, that he's back where he belongs, was just huge.
I don't know why Kripke didn't go for John full-out hugging both the boys, honestly. At this point, they know what he did in bargaining for Dean so there's nothing to hide. And how could he not? Tearful smiles just aren't enough at that point. He'll take his leave of them soon enough, so why not give them what they need in that moment?
Back to the plot: I was both surprised and thrilled that this episode closed down the dangling parts of the series. I really didn't want to be cliff-hangered again after last year, especially since the Finale is filmed long before we know if the show's going to be renewed. This was perfect-- Sam's back, the YED is dead (Oh, Dean for your final words to it), maybe Dean has a year left or maybe he and Sam can finagle something, and the only part left is to hunt down the hordes of things that were let out of Hell in the coming years (along with all the other work the boys do). But that didn't have to happen now-- nothing was left feeling unresolved.
Compared to the ending of S1, this is a relief and again, just satisfying.
Let the hunt continue on...