Beware! This post is incredibly spoilery, Ye Be Warned.
For a TV show about supermodels who shoot ghosts, Supernatural has presented it’s fandom with some cosmically fascinating ideas, and one of them is a post-apocalyptic vision from an episode titled “The End.” A paradoxically fun episode about the end of the world as we know it.
Recap! It’s 2009, the beginning of season five of SPN, and we find out the archangel Lucifer had been freed from his cage in hell and is trying to bring on the end of days. In order to do this, he needs to take a human vessel strong and biologically specific enough to contain his immense power, but said human must agree first — the writers decided to be smart-asses and call this “saying yes”. Lucifer’s ideal vessel is the tender-hearted, bat-shit insane demon hunter and all-around sweet guy, Sam Winchester, probably because he’s 6’4 with the wingspan of a condor. He’s “The Fecalator” of humans — one look at him and the enemy shits their pants.
But a free, vesseled-up Lucifer isn’t the only necessary component for a successful apocalypse — God’s second in command, the archangel Michael, wants in on the fun, too, and is just as hungry to get his hands on his own ideal vessel: Sam’s brother.
Dean Winchester is basically what you’d expect to find in a box marked “Big Brother.” There’s about as much bad to that as there is good — he’s frequently a bossy, dim-witted jerk with a childish sense of humor who doesn’t respect any non-Dad authority — but Dean is an ultimately good man, a hero, who adores his rhetorically little brother, and wants no part of any angelic agenda that includes killing Sam. Also, if the angels want something, Dean knows better than to give it to them*.
The angels have a pretty strong argument, though — while any fight between Mike and Luci means global devastation, if Satan wins, the planet gets roasted. But still, Dean defiantly says no to all that jazz, time and time again. So they send in Zachariah to come at the problem from a different angle, in this, his never-ending quest to keep his job.
Zachariah has the magnificent ability to screw with a person on every level, and frequently does so psychologically. In “The End,” he shoves Dean straight up the rabbit hole to the year 2014, to see exactly what will happen if he continues flipping off Heaven by saying no to Michael. The future world Dean gets sent to is in ruins — zombies gone wild, humanity is on the run, Dean’s friends are dead, the Devil walks the earth in Sam’s body, Sarah Palin is president and the prom is tomorrow. It’s too late for the Dean of the future to say yes to Michael because the angels have abandoned the earth. All this madness, carnage and “you betcha” government could be avoided if Dean just says yes now, so Michael can kill Lucifer before Sam inevitably gives in.
Sounds like a no-brainer right? And if there’s one guy you need to present with a no-brainer, it’s Dean. But Dean has his gut, a largely unfailing organ that guides him to reject the Mandate of Heaven and embrace a plan that doesn’t include towing the line for a lot of feathered bloodfarts. So I guess that means Lucifer won? Uhhh, not quite. In fact, the exact opposite. It turns out Sam and Dean put the “win” in Winchesters.
But a lot of SPN fans are positive that “The End” will come to pass. After all, the angels all fell and Cas is mortal, which was vaguely referenced in 2014 by Castiel himself. And Lucifer and Michael are locked in the cage together, but they aren’t dead. The 2014 presented in “The End” might still happen, right? Well, as is my way, I’m gonna go out on a limb while it’s early enough to be dead wrong and make a prediction:
No. No “End.” No more Hippy Cas, or Croatoan zombies. No more damned jerky beef. This isn’t gonna happen, so everyone who’s afraid it will can just relax, and everyone who hopes it will can (respectfully) write their fanfiction and cram a bastard in it. Or so says me. But who am I to say, you ask? Someone who’s eerily good at predicting fictional crap. A viewer who watches with the mind of a crappy, amature writer and notices things a lot of other fans can’t or won’t.
Whether the 2014 Zachariah presents is a thwarted prophecy or a giant lie isn’t entirely clear, but it wreaks of wrong, and I’ll tell you why. Submitted for your approval, here are some giant red flags I noticed, ranging from small, factual technicalities to serious clues, that suggest the vision Dean was shown in “The End” — for whatever reason — is never gonna happen:
1.) Sam and Dean got back together, and other fates averted.
Dean: “What about Sam?”
2014!Dean: “Heavyweight showdown in Detroit. From what I understand, Sam didn’t make it.”
Dean: “You weren’t with him?”
2014!Dean: “No. No, me and Sam, we haven’t talked in—hell, five years.”
The first thing Dean did when he got back the “the present” was call Sam and put the band back together. Now, you wanna say that the vision was once an accurate projection of events until Dean changed the future, okay. But seeing as Sam and Dean patched things up, this can still be filed as evidence that “The End” is no longer possible.
Other thwarted details in “The End”:
a.) Bobby’s house was still standing (it was burned down by Leviathans in season seven).
b.) Bobby was apparently shot to death while still wheelchair-bound (Bobby got his legs back at the end of season five).
c.) Chuck was part of Dean’s camp (he literally disappeared at the end of season 5 and was never heard from again).
d.) Michael seems to have never fought Lucifer, or even taken a vessel, as Dean still tries to say yes to him (Michael resurrects and possesses Adam at the end of season five).
2.) The timeline for the Apocalypse is poop.
Dean: “Croatoan virus, right? That’s their endgame?”
2014!Dean: “It’s efficient, it’s incurable, and it’s scary as hell. Turns people into monsters. Started hitting the major cities about two years ago. World really went in the crapper after that.”
In order for the events of “The End” to be an accurate vision of the future, the Croatoan virus would’ve had to have started hitting major American cities in 2012. There’s literally no sign in seasons seven and eight that this was ever the case.
3.) Abandon All Hope…
Dean: “Well, that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, why would the demons keep a gun around that kills demons?”
This clue is more clueful than the last two. Part of the plot of “The End” was Dean trying — both in the present and in the future — to find the Colt, hoping he could use it to destroy Lucifer. A few episodes later, Crowley is introduced.
Crowley was the King of the Crossroads demons, and his collaboration with the Winchesters was instrumental in turning the tide against Lucifer and Michael. He sought out the Winchesters because he suspected Lucifer would kill him, along with every other demon. We find out it was he — not Lilith — who had the Colt this whole time, and it turns out it can’t even kill Lucifer. Essentially, “The End” presents a vision of the future in which Crowley never meets the Winchesters.
This means Zachariah was either altering an accurate vision of the future to censor any information concerning options outside of saying yes to Michael, or he had no clue what the future really held and so was just plain ignorant of Crowley’s agenda. Either way, the future he showed Dean was a fabrication. Sloppy work, Zack.
4.) Castiel in Pieces
One of the most fascinating aspects of “The End” is it’s presentation of Castiel’s future. No other character changes more in the course of five years. Yes, Cas goes from being an epic angel to merely mortal, and that’s gonna breed changes. But Cas doesn’t just become human and weathered, he becomes a pathetic wreck. Rather than killing him off, like it does with Bobby and most of the planet, Zachariah’s vision keeps Cas alive so it can run a massive burn on him. It corrupts him, it cuts him to ribbons and uses what’s left as a sad warning. If this is real, it’s a fantastic character study. But if we assume it’s all a fabrication by Zachariah, he either can’t read Dean’s mind or he won’t, because he knows Dean likes Cas, but he clearly doesn’t know why. So he has to make some guesses, and damn, if he doesn’t swing wide.
Nearly everything about Future!Castiel is different than in the present. In fact, it seems the only thing he’s allowed to keep is his loyalty. He snarks at Future!Dean, but he follows him into a massacre anyway. By season five, the angels know Dean has a self-absorbed reverence for loyalty above all else that he calls “family.” Maybe they assume he wouldn’t feel guilty about Castiel’s fate if he had committed the cardinal sin of dissenting against Fearless Leader. Maybe they think Dean will naively suspect any future where Cas might betray him. Or maybe the angels were just more aware of Castiel’s limerence than we were. But whatever the reason, everything else Cas is, anything that could possibly be what makes his aid so appealing to the heroes — his strength and dependability, his earnest hopefulness, his awkward innocence, his faith in and esteem for Dean — all of it gets thrown under the bus in hopes of striking a nerve.
Even if Zachariah knew Bobby Singer well enough to give him the same treatment, Bobby was already a cranky old drunk in a wheelchair. In the eyes of a seraph, he doesn’t have far to fall. I believe Mortal Cas was an attempt at psychological warfare: “Get out of line, and you’ll wish we killed him.”
Some of it lands, but most of it doesn’t. Dean was surprisingly ambivalent toward his new hippy-dippy pal. The Castiel of the future is more human, more laid-back and sophisticated, and Dean was on board for that part. He didn’t understand that Cas is a package deal, because at this point in their friendship, Dean chose to see him as human. In Dean’s mind, Castiel is basically a child with super-powers, and once he’s grown up a little, he and Dean will be on the same page.
But Castiel wasn’t even close to human. He was an angel, which is basically just a powerful but delicate weapon, and it never occurred to Dean that corrupting one might be a terrible fucking idea. In fact, Dean was the one that began corrupting Cas in the previous episode, “Free to Be You and Me,” teaching him to lie, buying him his first beer and taking him to a brothel to bust his cherry. All things that lend credibility to this future vision for the audience, but go right over Dean’s head. He doesn’t seem to appreciate the Cas he had until over a season later, when he really doesn’t have him anymore. If only Zachariah knew that portraying Castiel as less human and more powerful would’ve had a much stronger impact.
But whatever. The point is, there just isn’t time now to turn the Cas we know into the Cas from “The End.” The years he would’ve needed to become a jaded, junkie whore have been spent turning into a self-loathing wackadoo with a lot on his conscience.
5.) Everything’s Coming up Dean
One of the biggest red flags that “The End” might be a sham is the fact that in 2014, everything apparently revolves around Dean, and not in a fun way. He wakes up in a god forsaken nightmare, the whole world has gone to hell. But what does he run into every step of the way? Pretty much only the things that matter to him personally: his own humanity has slipped away, the Impala has been wrecked and abandoned to the ravages of time and zombies, Bobby’s dead and his home is defiled, Castiel is almost the complete opposite of himself and Sam is the full-blown Devil. Everyone looks to Dean to lead them and no one can find a way to live without him, so when he fails, he fails big.
It takes a lot of different people fucking up to make an apocalypse, but somehow, everything is so totally Dean’s fault. It’s eye-pokingly obvious that this world is styled to revolve around him and play on his feelings of guilt and responsibility-. In fact, there’s only one person in the world who’d fall for something that transparent, and it’s Dean. I’m not saying Dean’s an idiot, I’m saying he was raised by one.
Dean was inadvertently trained by a hapless father to think he’s a big fat failure. That he’s responsible for the world and if things ever go wrong — as they’re wont to do — it’s all on him. To think that if anything bad happens to Sam, it’s all his fault for not protecting him. And Zachariah exploits this nonsense like an old pro.
The angels don’t care how self-centered their own morality is, because they see themselves as higher than human, therefore their needs and wants aren’t just good, they’re The Greater Good. To the Host of Heaven, Dean’s refusal to play ball is just him being obstinate. Most humans fall in line when they realize they’re talking to angels, (thanks to Heaven’s amazing PRD) but knowing who they were only made Dean fight harder. So to them, it’s not that Dean truly believes that what they want from him is wrong or too much to ask, it’s just that he hates authority. He won’t help them because he doesn’t like them, and he doesn’t like them because they have power over him. And you kinda can’t blame them for making that mistake — this is a man who sassed Death.
So the angels are frustrated, they’re scandalized, and they’re running out of time.
This is where the gloves come off. Zachariah’s message is, “Alright, you little turd, have it your way. You don’t care about saving the world — or yourself — if you can’t protect your precious little brother? Then I guess you don’t care about your humanity, either. And your surly surrogate father — he’s part of the world, right? Accidents happen all the time. And that turn-coat you think is such a swell guy — I wonder if it’ll still be ‘awesome’ having an angel for a friend if someone were to come along and break him? And the classic car you love so much…”
Put this way, it sounds less like a heavenly intervention than a threat from a bookie. That alone should be enough to make us wonder if the future Dean is shown in “The End” is a steaming load.
6.) Out of Character is Serious Business
The main problem I had believing in this future was that the most important character in the whole timeline was making choices OOC. I’m talking about Lucifer. In the this vision of 2014, Lucifer had achieved everything he set out to — he broke free of his cage, unleashed the Croatoan virus, and claimed his chosen vessel, all without Micheal even daring to step to him. The only celestial being who opposes him is Mortal Cas, and that’s just… sad.
So after donning his gay apparel and turning the world into The Walking Dead, Lucifer could have made a bid for heaven. He could have sought out God for revenge or reconciliation, or whatever. He could’ve wiped human kind off the planet in no time. He could’ve hunted all the angels who opposed him and smote the crap out of them. He could’ve created a new race in his image and set them loose. He could be New God. Pope or something, in an ivory tower or a black bloody castle, or a fortress inside a volcano. He could’ve done literally any Satany thing he pleased, he’s on a mother-fucking boat.
Are you really gonna tell me that, after crossing off the top of his to-do list, Lucifer is just gonna get in his Andy Gibb suit and do a five-year victory lap of Adam-ondi-Ahman, where he’ll piss his pants every time he sees a rose bush and recount the story of his fall to any human within spitting-distance before showing their insides some style? (Okay, maybe that last one, but not the rest.)
And Dean lasts five years, even though he’s been hunting Lucifer, even though he doesn’t stand a chance against him. Why would Lucifer let Dean hunt him? For shits and giggles? To tire Dean out so he could get him into his jammies without a fight? Lucifer’s little “man in the mirror” trick proves angels can talk to their vessels-.
Crap, just got a fic idea. Never mind, where was I? Oh, yeah.
Lucifer seemed to want Sam on his side, even after he didn’t need him to say yes. In fact, the only reason he attacked Dean at Stull was because he just couldn’t take his jackassery anymore. He either wanted Sam on his side because he wanted the DTs to stop, or he wanted it just ’cause. So why wait five years, then kill Future!Dean just on the off chance that Past!Dean might be there to see it and alter the timeline?
So anyway, that’s my argument. It may be wrong and oddly structured, but it’s long and listy, you gotta give me that.