Cue Kansas' "Carry on My Wayward Son" and get ready, it's Supernatural's season finale.
With no options left to stop Crowley from killing everyone they saved, Sam and Dean decide to surrender the demon tablet in exchange for the angel tablet. When the Winchesters meet Crowley at a scrapyard to make the deal, they spring the trap and capture him. Crowley is the third trial. Meanwhile, Castiel and Metatron are closer to completing their second trial but Naomi and the angels get wind of their location and abduct Metatron, leaving Castiel to seek Dean's help. Dean doesn't want to leave Sam alone with Crowley but Sam tells him go and not worry. In order to purify his blood for the exorcism, Sam confesses his sins and then gets to work. After injecting his blood into Crowley a few times, nothing seems to happen and Crowley is able to send out a call for help after tricking Sam. Unfortunately for the two of them, Abaddon has answered the call. After throwing Sam out the window, she has a few ideas of her own on who should be running hell. Sam manages to get the best of her and lights her on fire, forcing Abaddon to abandon her host and flee. Dean and Castiel manage to get Cupid's bow from her without violence to complete Castiel's second trial, but then Naomi swoops in to speak with them. After reading Metatron's thoughts, she says that he has been lying to Castiel the whole time. Naomi claims that Metatron isn't going to close the gates of heaven but that he is actually going to cast all of the angels out, much like Lucifer and the others so long ago. After pleading with Castiel and even admitting the archangels have lost their way, she also tells them that if Sam completes the trials, he will die as the ultimate sacrifice. Castiel is confused but Dean needs to see his brother immediately. Castiel takes him to Sam and immediately leaves to confront Metatron for the truth. In the end, Dean saves his brother from completing the exorcism but not before Castiel's essence is taken by Metatron and he is cast down unto earth, along with every other angel in heaven.
Needless to say, the season finale of Supernatural was amazing. Sacrifice was the culmination of the season and did everything right. Every part of the story was superbly connected and the twist that Metatron would betray Castiel and the angels was an excellent setup for next season. Each time the story began to slow down something would happen that would pull us right back into the story, which made for excellent pacing. When it appeared Sam and Dean had given up, they actually duped Crowley into the third trial. When Crowley called for help, Abaddon showed up and gave them more than either of them was expecting. Naomi confronted Castiel and Dean but pleaded for their help to save heaven. Those are a few of the examples but there was never a dull moment in this episode. Nothing felt rushed yet each scene built on the last leading to the final scene where the angels were cast down from heaven like a meteor shower tearing across the night sky. It was beautiful and tragic and brings a true sense of terror for what may come next season if it manages to be as good as this one.
I couldn't write this review without mentioning how great some of the performances were. After eight years, it would be easy for Jared Padalecki to coast through and pull a Tom Welling (you know it's true!) but Sam's sickness and insistence on continuing until the end came through in spades. His confession to Dean was poignant as he saw his sin as failing again and again; being afraid of who Dean would turn to next when he could no longer trust him. Padalecki simply nailed it in Sacrifice. Mark Sheppard gave us a very human, very vulnerable portrayal of Crowley becoming a mortal. His query to Sam about where to begin when asking for forgiveness drew sympathy which is something I have never once felt for Crowley. It goes to show how amazing Mark Sheppard is and how much he has brought to Supernatural throughout the years he has been on the show.
Overall, season eight was one of the best years for Supernatural in quite some time. A lot of this credit must go to Jeremy Carver who took over as show runner for Sera Gamble after the abysmal season seven. Where season seven sought to tear the boys down and remove them from everything they knew, this season clearly brought the Winchesters back to who they were and built on that further. The Men of Letters arc gave the Winchesters a history that they never knew about and we got to experience that discovery with them. Dean came out of purgatory with Benny and although it didn't have an overall affect on the season, Dean isn't the same person. Dean was trapped in prison with the monsters he put there and wouldn't have made it out with Benny. His reference to killing Benny for Sam shows how much his friend meant to him. Last year's villain, Richard Roman, was a one dimensional character masquerading as an antagonist. He may have killed Bobby but that was just to create an emotional connection between him and the boys that didn't exist previously. Conversely, Sam and Dean have years of history with Crowley. It was even Crowley's hell hound that had killed Dean at the end of season three that Sam killed for his first trial. Crowley and the Winchesters have history that can't simply be recreated. At this point, Crowley has become as memorable as the Yellow Eyed Demon. This also goes for the angels and the leviathans. The leviathans felt too powerful and could never truly be killed. Bringing back the angels and demons took Supernatural to its roots. Removing the angels from the equation changes the show in ways I can't even imagine yet. As one of the original writers of Supernatural, Carver said that he has plans for the show through to season ten and I sincerely hope that he gets that opportunity since he is crafting an impeccable story here.
Sacrifice wasn't everything I thought it would be, it was more. It exceeded every expectation for a show on its eighth season finale and helped reinvigorate the series. I for one am very much looking forward to see what happens in season nine. I hope all of you have enjoyed each of my reviews this season for Supernatural and you will hear from me when again when the show returns in the fall.