Well, "Lebanon" was surprisingly subdued, all things considered. "Fan Fiction", the 200th episode, was filled with Easter eggs and in-jokes and not-so-injokes. "Lebanon" had plenty of callbacks: Winchester versus Winchester in a dark room, like in the pilot; an All Saint's Day poster; Castiel not getting cultural references and doing the shadow-wing angel thing. They even had a brief bit with Jared Padalecki glimpsing a Friday the 13th-style mask. But there was no one figuratively jumping up and down and pointing at them: it was all very understated.
"Lebanon" focused on the Winchesters. We got a little bit of Castiel, but no Jack or Nick or Rowena. Michael got a few mentions, and he basically served as the impetus for Dean to do what he did. But "Lebanon" was pretty much a standalone anniversary episode.
So what did Dean do? The episode starts with the brothers confronting a shady pawnshop owner (Donny Lucas) who killed a Hunter and collects magical artifacts. He uses some dragon breath on them, and Dean shoots him. They then drive back to Lebanon, Kansas, near the bunker. Where some local teenager tells mostly two other teenagers urban legends about the Winchesters, which is cute given the Winchesters started out hunting down urban legends.
One of the teenagers steals the Impala with the box full of the magical artifacts. We get a brief pretty much pointless adventure where the ghost of John Wayne Gacy (in his "Pogo the Clown" outfit: look it up) comes out of a cigar box, and the Winchesters get the teenagers out of the house where they're partying, and then destroy the ghost. The three aforementioned teenagers see the Winchesters destroy the clown ghost and the brothers swear them to secrecy. Maybe they'll follow up on this in the future. The teenagers sure get a lot of screentime. And if they haven't cast one of the actresses, Skylar Radzion, as Abigail Arcane on the upcoming Swamp Thing show, they should. She's the splitting image of the comic book Abby.
It turns out one of the magical artifacts is a Chinese wishing pearl that grants the user their "heart's desire". Dean uses it to wish Michael out of his head, but that isn't his heart's desire: it's getting his father John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) back. This is a John from 2003, before Sam argued with him and left for Palo Alto. The Winchesters bring John up to speed on what has happened in the last sixteen years. Mary shows up, and she and John have a heartfelt reunion.
But since John disappeared in 2003, that altered the timeline. In the new timeline, Sam is a college professor who gives TED lectures. Dean is wanted by the FBI because of the various beheadings he's done on his solo hunting career. The angel Zachariah (Kurt Fuller) is still around and can sense someone has been mucking with time. He shows up with pre-Winchester smiting angel Castiel (Misha Collins). They talk to a few townspeople, Castiel reveals his true power, and the Winchesters spot him and come running. Sam kills Zachariah and banishes Castiel with a glyph.
The brothers realize if they don’t send John back, the new timeline will take over entirely and they'll be wiped out of their original existences and become their doppelgangers. Mary will never be brought back by the Darkness, and John will presumably still be alive but his new-timeline family won't know him. So they have one last family dinner and all have sad faces until John says they can either moon around or enjoy their last time together. So they enjoy their time together and then smash the pearl, which sends John back to 2003 where he thinks he dreamed the whole thing. The end.
Like I said, it's a very understated homage. So understated one wonders if it means much to relative newcomers to the show. Yes, if you've been with Supernatural since 2005, seeing a 2003 John, and Sam and Dean getting closure with their father, is very touching. If you started watching the show in 2010, or 2013, or 2019, you might wonder what all the hubbub is about. Or go to a wiki. Or both.
Ditto for Mary's reunion with her dead husband. Most of the angst she had about dying and coming back got resolved in season 12. And since then, she's moved on and has sort of shacked up with Bobby. Except when the creative team couldn't get Jim Beaver, or they decide they need some space after leaving the bunker to... get some space.
Which is a shame, because I would have liked to see Jim Beaver and Jeffrey Dean Morgan together. They were old friends, right? It would have been a crowded episode if the writing team of Andrew Dabb and Meredith Glynn had tossed Bobby in, too, but it's not like they did that much with John and Mary. Once they got the set-up out of the way so John could show up in 2019, they didn't show him much. And most of his time was spent with Sam and Dean. And the teenagers. And Castiel and Zachariah.
It was also understated because they didn't toss in any blatant Easter eggs. Zachariah does call Castiel "Constantine" at one point. But there's no baseball bat, or someone named Lucille, or a horde of zombies, or someone calling John "Comedian". Or John show up in an overly dramatic Vampire Hunter D outfit, which I would have paid good money to see. They didn't even play "Carry On Wayward Son". All things considered, it was pretty mellow. Which is a good thing. The writers gave Sam and Dean closure with their father, and a happy family dinner. I wouldn't think too hard about the timey-wimey nature of it all, like how the new timeline taking over has a great sense of dramatic timing. Could anyone have a happy family dinner, knowing at any second they might get replaced by an alternate-timeline self? The sentiment is what matters, and there's lots of manly tears flowing in the last fifteen minutes of the episode.
And that's essentially what "Lebanon" is: a sentimental visit to the past. It's not the fan-satisfying joke-a-thon that #200, "Fan Fiction" was. "Point of No Return", the 100th episode, was pretty much business as usual. But if you've stuck with the show since 2005, or are just a big fan of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, then "Lebanon" is the anniversary episode for you.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Feb 8, 2019