During this week’s “previously on Supernatural” montage, we heard Zachariah say, “How many times have you two died anyway?”, so it shouldn’t have shocked you to see Sam and Dean gunned down by two vengeful hunters in the show’s opening moments. They apparently knew how the apocalypse would be started if Sam accepted Lucifer, so they killed him to prevent it. Then they shot Dean to death because they feared his wrath. Also predictable was the fact that Dean wanted to be murdered after seeing Sam die.
But the predictably ended to the sound of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, as Dean woke up in the Impala and was greeted by an adolescent Sam. Just as the two was having a happy moment, shooting off fireworks in a field, the vision disappeared. Dean then heard Castiel break in over the car radio in order to tell him that this was not a dream and he was actually in Heaven. In the Supernatural universe, despite the fact that the moon looks really weird, Heaven looks a lot like Kansas. Dean follows Castiel’s advice to drive down the road, but he finds himself in a strange house, watching a grown-up Sam eat Thanksgiving dinner with an unknown family. Sam then tells Dean that he woke up there, at the home of a classmate who once invited him over for the holidays. Therefore, Heaven, as Dean explains it, is “a chance to replay your greatest hits”.
In a nod to the Poltergeist movies, Castiel appears on a television set in order to tell the brothers, “Don’t go into the light”. In a touchy mood, he also points out that their mission is to find the Angel Joshua, who talks with God. He’s supposed to be at “the garden of Heaven”, which they can get to by following the roads. The roads here are a little unconventional, because the brothers transport themselves to their childhood home by playing with a toy racetrack. Dean walks into another memory, comforting his mother after he overheard her and his father have an argument over the phone. This time Sam finds a Route 66 postcard that takes them to Flagstaff, AZ, where a young Sam once lived alone with a dog named Bones after running away from home. It is at this point that Sam and Dean argue about their different definitions of Heaven, especially when they reach the next location, the night that Sam left the family to go to college.
Before Dean can further elaborate on his point that Sam’s always happiest when he’s away from his family, Zachariah appears to try to take them back to earth. While running away from him, they are aided by a man in a mysterious Mexican wrestler costume. It is their friend Ash, who presumably died when The Roadhouse burned down. Ash reveals that every person has their own version of Heaven and that it’s very rare for two people to share the same one. As his “congregation’s No.1 snake-handler”, Ash’s Heaven is The Roadhouse, complete with an endless beer supply and no hangovers. Just as he was a computer hacker on earth, so is he in the afterlife. He can create wormholes into other people’s Heavens, including celebrities. Oddly, he hasn’t found John or Mary yet and he didn’t know Ellen and Jo were dead. The formerly blind psychic Pamela shows up for a reunion with the boys, imparting to Dean that death isn’t so bad. Ash agrees, stating, “I’m cool with it!” Dean begs to differ, describing it as “The Matrix and saying that, “It feels real, but it’s Memorex.”
After a goodbye kiss for Dean from Pamela, Ash transports them to their next stop. They see their mother again, but this time Mary is mad. With glowing demonic eyes, she gorily describes her death. Zachariah then shows up to creepily fondle this vision of their mother as he tortures and taunts the brothers. His rant about everyone “laughing at him” because of them is cut off by a mysterious man who turns out to be the Angel Joshua.
Joshua takes Sam and Dean away to the garden of Heaven, which looks like “the Cleveland botanical gardens”. Joshua has a message from God, “Back off.” God has heard Dean’s cries for help, but He won’t do anything to stop the apocalypse. Sam and Dean then wake up back where they were on earth, covered with blood, but still unharmed. When Castiel hears what God has said, he’s crushed. After calling Him a “son-of-a-bitch”, he vanishes after giving Dean his amulet back. Dean throws the amulet away, symbolizing his lost faith in God.
The show’s mythology didn’t move ahead as much as I would have thought in this episode. I did like their unique concept of Heaven, but I’m really tired of the cliche of characters referring to God as a “deadbeat dad”. It is overdone and slightly offensive. What I’m really wondering though, is how this apocalypse is supposed to begin and end within a few episodes?