Supernatural – Season 15 Episode 19
“Inherit The Earth”
Supernatural approaches its end with an empty Earth and the constant threat of God looming over the Winchesters.
The previous episode ended at the lowest point Sam and Dean have ever known with Castiel’s death and God removing every other living being on Earth. The second part wasn’t explicitly confirmed until the opening moments of this episode depicted some major population centres completely devoid of life. Sam, Dean and Jack cover some ground to see if there is anyone else but early signs point to them being the only living things in existence. It’s an odd depiction of such a scenario as there seems to be little to no damage caused by the sudden loss of everyone on Earth. If this were to happen then planes would fall out of the sky, trains would derail, cars would crash and other such chaos. The worst thing that they encounter is a single crashed car beer tap that’s left running. This is very much a deliberate choice to set the mood of eerie silence rather than Apocalyptic chaos but it does stand out as being unrealistically sedate.
In general the post rapture world is introduced and dealt with really abruptly with very little focus on the impact this has on the three remaining living beings. There is a scene where they sit in the bunker looking upset as Dean drinks himself into oblivion but there’s no real sense of how long they spend in this period of hopeless isolation. Perhaps an entire episode devoted to what it would be like living with their failure would have better sold the hopelessness that a few minutes at the beginning of this one could never achieve. What we did get was fine but it suffered from being underdeveloped.
As problems go this would seem to be insurmountable as it cements the fact that God can do anything he wants with no way to stop him. It is fair to ask why God is risking engineering a scenario where there is a possibility, however remote, that he could be defeated and it is built into how his character has been developed. It’s well established by this point that this version of Sam and Dean are his favourite people in the endless multiverse that he created so everything he’s currently doing is in service of creating scenarios for them to react to in order to provide him the entertainment he craves. In essence God is a sadistic voyeur who has taken a liking to Sam and Dean for reasons that are his own. Of course the real reason for this is that the show we watch focuses on these characters so God has to take a vested interest in them but in many ways it’s the greatest meta story the show has provided as God himself is entertained by the adventures of the Winchesters and wants to up the stakes significantly to see what happens. God is the audience and the writers all rolled into one as he dreams up the scenarios and then reacts to how they play out. This makes for an interesting antagonist who doesn’t finish them off because doing so would mean he has to find something else to entertain him.
In universe this qualifies as a built in weakness and compliments the mechanics of the show nicely because there has to be a chance for victory otherwise there would be no show. God systematically fails to realise that he continually leaves open a small possibility that he could be defeated and that is the only sliver of hope sustained over the course of the season. His focus on Sam and Dean ends up blinding him to what could really threaten him which comes across in the interaction where Sam and Dean pledge to give him whatever he wants from them in exchange for bringing everyone back. He references Jack but in a really dismissive way which highlights that he has no interest in him therefore setting up his downfall because he isn’t paying attention to Jack. In this moment Sam and Dean have acknowledged their defeat and come to the conclusion that there’s absolutely nothing they can do now that all of their options have been exhausted. They offer to kill one another to give God the Cain and Abel story that he has always wanted from them but it’s not going to be as simple as that any more because God is enjoying the prospect of watching them wander an empty Earth. He has inflicted a lifetime of suffering on them and is enjoying the entertainment value that brings.
This episode has other examples of God doing horrible things to them for his own amusement such as letting Dean find a dog that he names Miracle before taking it away as Dean can do nothing but watch. Finding the dog represented the smallest morsel of hope that God missed some life on Earth and it was promptly taken away as a brutal reminder of what God is capable of. It’s jarring to watch hope be briefly injected into the episode before being ripped away in an instant though it is a reminder that it does still exist even if it’s very hard to find under the current circumstances.
One major plot thread lingers from earlier in the season that hasn’t been addressed before this point. Michael being out of the cage is the only avenue not explored in the campaign to defeat God so it’s only natural that it would come into play now. Jack feels a presence which leads them to Michael who is hiding out in a church reading up on how Humanity perceive God. It follows on from his curiosity about Humanity earlier in the season though it’s a strangely dropped thread that doesn’t really amount to much. Bringing Adam back earlier in the season only to have him raptured along with everything else is an odd choice as there’s no real closure on him as a character. If he had simply been absent when Michael re-emerged earlier in the season it wouldn’t have been questioned so it seems that there were plans that changed. Of course there is still one episode left so it’s possible Adam will feature in some way.
At first Michael seems like the best ally against God and there is a glimmer of hope once again that gains more traction when Lucifer unexpectedly shows up looking to lend a hand in dealing with the God problem. Lucifer is the one to start moving the plot forward by conjuring up a new Death (Kimberley Sustad) to read the book and learn what they have to do to bring God down. Once she opens the book Lucifer reveals that he has been working with God all along and all he needed was for the book to be opened. It’s not exactly a surprise twist but it’s always good to see Mark Pellegrino back in that role no matter how briefly. His inclusion in the episode didn’t entirely fit because it further downplays the idea of death as an ending barely any time after Castiel supposedly reached his. If Lucifer can be brought back from The Empty by God then there’s no reason Castiel couldn’t especially given how this episode ends.
Lucifer’s appearance doesn’t last long and his betrayal amounts to a minor threat when Michael kills him seemingly as a confirmation that he is operating against God. There’s a brief taunt from Lucifer when he points out that Michael’s devotion to their father ultimately got him nowhere as they both ended up in the same place and he brags about being God’s favourite despite actively defying him. This further confirms that God just enjoys messing with his creations whether they be his Archangels or Human beings. All that’s important to God is that he’s entertained and he doesn’t care what he has to do in order to make that happen. Though Michael and Lucifer he gets his Cain and Abel wish with Michael striking Lucifer down in envy.
It is later revealed that Michael reported Sam and Dean’s plan back to God in order to gain his favour which backfires spectacularly when God kills him, confirming once and for all that he never really cared about Michael or anyone else. Every other being in the universe is nothing but a means to an end as far as God is concerned which means that Michael is both starved for attention and hopelessly misguided. It feels like an appropriate ending for this character and further reinforces how bereft of empathy or compassion God is.
The main advantage Sam and Dean have at that point is that God is unable to read the book because only Death can read it though for some reason he isn’t aware that it’s impossible for anyone else to even see what is written there once it has been opened. It could speak to his arrogance and his own perception of his omnipotence as well as suggesting that even he isn’t able to get around cosmic balance. In order for him to exist it logically follows that there are ways for him to stop existing and it stands to reason he would have no control over that. Death and the Reapers may be a consequence of creation that balances the scales where required meaning that it is possible for his ending to be written and for him to have no access to how that happens.
His lack of awareness of that means that he does see Sam and Dean as a threat and believes on some level that they have found a spell that could end him so the time comes where he has to get rid of them in order to assure his own survival. In keeping with his personality he decides to enjoy killing them for as long as possible and opts to beat them to death. It’s a terribly edited scene but Sam and Dean taking the beating and refusing to give God the satisfaction of surrendering is truly excellent. The two brothers helping each other to their feet and holding each other up is a perfect representation of the them finding strength in one another. It’s something God can never truly understand as he stands there alone congratulating himself for manipulating everything leading to this point.
As is foreshadowed earlier in the episode, Jack is the key to his defeat through God casually dismissing him. Sam and Dean gleefully deliver an account of everything they’ve done in order to secure God’s defeat. It turns out that they observed Jack absorbing power earlier in the episode and took advantage of the Michael/Lucifer conflict to supply him with extra power. This culminated in God deciding to beat them to death which released even more power for Jack to absorb which resulted in him becoming unstoppable. Once he reached a certain level he was able to absorb everything God had and leave him powerless. This is all a bit convenient as far as mechanics go and it isn’t really justified that Sam and Dean would be aware of what was happening to Jack but the way the reveal is portrayed goes some of the way towards countering that and it feels satisfying to watch overall.
God’s ending is him reduced to the thing he holds in such contempt; Human. It is pointed out that he will grow old and die just like anyone else with his legacy being that he will be forgotten with nobody out there to care about him. For someone who thrived on worship and attention this is surely a fate worse than death though there is a brief moment of excitement found in something happening that he couldn’t predict. There’s a perverse pleasure associated with Sam and Dean being the ones to kill him but they refuse to give him the satisfaction. Dean declaring that they won’t kill him because that’s not who they are calls back to Castiel’s final words to him about the sort of person he is. It seems that he heeded these words and they informed his decision in this moment. Sam, Dean and Jack practically rub God’s nose in the fact that they are leaving together as a united family and God is left alone begging for them to pay attention to him. Many would say that God got exactly what he deserved and was truly beaten.
Jack taking on the role of the new God works fairly well as a conclusion of his arc. He has learned from Sam, Dean, Castiel, Mary, his mother and various others how worthwhile Humanity is and how precious life is so is ideally placed to wield this power with dignity and compassion. The first thing he does is bring everyone on Earth back presumably at the point God removed them so that there was no awareness of what had happened. Jack’s promise to Sam and Dean is to be hands off and let people live their lives. In effect they are completely free to make their own choices. His experience has shown him that people can be at their best when they have to so is content to allow people to continue on without intervention. It’s a great positive message and ushering in an era of benevolence instead of malevolence is a reasonable conclusion for Jack as well as this story overall.
Sam and Dean toasting to those they have lost along the way following Jack’s departure was a wonderfully played bittersweet moment as they ponder what happens now that God is gone and they are free to decide what they do next. They’ve both been playing out someone else’s story for such a long time that the prospect of having true freedom is a daunting one. With only one episode remaining it acts as a meta reference to the characters not being led by writers down particular narrative paths any more. Their future remains undecided by anyone and there’s a real sense that their lives will continue after the credits roll for the final time. The montage of clips of moments from past episodes was a great optimistic touch and a reminder of all the fun that has been had along the way.
On a narrative level you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the last ever episode as it features God’s defeat, the promise of a world free of his influence and an open question as to what comes next for Sam and Dean. There is one episode left and a few questions that need to be answered. The most glaring ones are around the characters closest to Sam and Dean that were taken first in the previous episode. Do Eileen, Charlie, Bobby and all the rest come back? Does Jack bring back Castiel? If not then why doesn’t he? It’s established in this episode that God can bring beings back from The Empty so since Jack is more powerful then he should be able to. It should certainly be addressed at the very least. The biggest question is what the last episode could possibly be about considering the plot concluded in this episode. My guess is that it’ll follow the Arrow template and act as an epilogue that celebrates the series while providing a meaningful conclusion for fans that have been invested in the show for the decade and a half it has been on the air.
A strong episode that gears up for the end by taking lingering plot threads and making use of them in a way that feels appropriate for the characters. The empty Earth is very deliberately portrayed to set a mood of eerie silence rather than Apocalyptic chaos which works well enough but it does stand out as being unrealistically sedate when considering all the things that would happen if Humans were suddenly absent and unable to use them such as planes falling out of the sky or trains derailing. There isn’t time in the episode to truly establish the impact this has on the three remaining characters because it has to move onto the next part of the plot. There is a brief scene where they are shown to be affected in different ways and them surrendering to God because they feel there is nothing else they can do but it really needed a full episode to explore this before moving onto what came next. The early part of the episode does a great job reinforcing God being motivated purely by his own amusement and foreshadowing his downfall through his casual dismissal of Jack. This built in weakness is necessary otherwise there would be no show and it has been consistently developed up until this point. Michael’s appearance makes sense given the situation and the fact that it’s a lingering plot thread but casting Adam aside so casually raises questions around why he was included earlier in the season at all. Lucifer’s brief yet meaningful appearance provides interesting interactions between him and Michael while getting the plot moving and allowing for one final Mark Pellegrino display though it does raise questions around the ease of escape from The Empty.
Sam and Dean’s defeat of God by manipulating Michael to betray them and engineer his downfall was great. God’s arrogance blinds him to the possibility of defeat which means that he plays right into the trap set for him. His decision to beat Sam and Dean makes for a horribly edited scene but also allows for the perfect visual representation of their relationship when they hold each other up to signify that they they give each other strength. Leaving God powerless and alone as they refuse to kill him is appropriate justice for the character as he ends up forgotten and alone after spending so much time manipulating others while taking delight in being worshipped. Dean proves that Castiel is right about him when he and Sam refuse to kill God because they’re so much better than that. It isn’t entirely justified that Sam and Dean would know what was happening to Jack but the moment itself works overall because of the way it’s presented. Jack taking on the God role and adopting a hands off approach is an appropriate ending for his character based on all he has learned and experienced since his birth. He firmly believes that people are at their best when they have to be and is content to let the world progress on its own terms. Sam and Dean toasting all they have lost along the way was a wonderfully played bittersweet moment as they ponder what happens next now that they’re free to chart their own course. It’s a great meta reference as the show is about to end and those characters will no longer be beholden to writers giving them adventures. The montage showing some of the great moments over the years was a really nice touch as well. There are a few lingering questions that will hopefully be picked up in the final episode that looks set to serve as an epilogue.
- taking time to reinforce God’s built in weakness and nicely foreshadowing his downfall
- one last Lucifer appearance
- God’s defeat feeling like proper justice
- Sam and Dean proving to God that they’re better people
- Dean internalising Castiel’s view of him and having that inform his decision
- Jack’s benevolent approach to taking on God’s role
- his wonderfully optimistic message about people being at their best
- a wonderfully played Sam and Dean moment at the end of the episode
- that montage
- not taking enough time to develop the post rapture world and mindset
- picking up the Michael thread but dropping Adam entirely
- Sam and Dean’s knowledge in regards to Jack not being entirely justified
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