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'Supernatural' 15.18 Review: Despair

Billie is very, very angry.

Billie confronts Team Free Will after their "betrayal."
(Image: © The CW)

Our Verdict

Get ready for a beautiful and poignant emotional gut punch that is hauntingly relevant and manages to deliver on something a decade in the making.


  • ☠️It happened. Y'know. *It.*
  • ☠️Strong push towards a series wrap up.
  • ☠️Guttingly emotional performances from both Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles.
  • ☠️Charlie gets a chance to tell the Winchesters what's up.


  • ☠️Zip. Perfect episode. One of the best that 'Supernatural' has ever delivered.

This post contains spoilers for Supernatural.
Check out our last review here

Who’s ready to go reap a reaper. Y’know… again? It might end up easier than Dean remembers, but Billie might not be the problem he thinks she is. As a quick catch-up, here’s the breakdown: it was always Billie’s plan to become God and restore balance, Team Free Will called off the offing of Chuck because of it, Billie sends Jack into the Empty so he won’t die when he goes boom, and everybody’s mad at everyone. After their initial tussle, anyone who ever cheated death starts disappearing without a trace. If it feels like that description is rushed, it’s because it’s all important and somehow doesn’t matter at all compared to the rest of the episode.

As it happens, it’s not Billie (Lisa Berry) who’s disappearing folks. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Jack (Alexander Calvert) get all of the Apocalypse world refugees and anyone else who had cheated death together with the help of Bobby (Jim Beaver) and Donna (Briana Buckmaster), but the moment they think they’re safe they all start popping off into nothing. Sam and Jack are left without any idea what’s happened, but Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Cas (Misha Collins) already know it’s Chuck (Rob Benedict). Regrettably, they find out while trying to kill Billie. She’s about to die anyhow, but her last wish is to send Dean Winchester back to hell.

Of course, Castiel could never let something like that happen.

Back when Jack was going to die, Cas made a deal: his life for his surrogate son’s. When he experienced a true moment of happiness, the Empty would be summoned to take him. For the longest time, he wasn’t sure what true happiness could even look like for him. The answer dawns on him as he and Dean are trapped waiting for Billie to kill them both with nothing but a door with a warding signal between them.

The angel looks at his idiot human and tells him of the deal he made. He reminds Dean that though he only sees himself as his enemies see him – destructive, angry, vengeful – it’s not all he is. He tells Dean that the hate and the anger aren’t what drives him, and that everything he’s ever done was for love. He tells him that he’s the most selfless person he’s ever met, and that the reason his moment of true happiness hadn’t occurred to him was because he knew it was something he could never have. And then Castiel, Angel of the Lord, tells Dean Michael Winchester that he loves him.

With that, Cas has had his moment of true happiness. The Empty is summoned to Earth, the one place Billie believed she was safe, and rips the dying reaper into the nothingness with her while consuming Cas. Dean is left behind with dueling realizations that his best friend was in love with him and that he is gone. Turns out this episode was named “Despair” for several very good reasons.

Obviously we’re going to hear everyone talking about the Destiel situation over everything else that happened in this episode – and we’ll most certainly get to that – but there are so many solid moments to acknowledge here. First and foremost, it’s beautiful to have the family together even for just a moment, and even though it ends in heartbreak. Speaking of that heartbreak, having one of the many people who has died on the Winchesters’ watch look them in the eye and ask if they’re all just collateral damage to them is the good stuff we’ve been hoping for out of the final season. Charlie was gruesomely murdered in a bathtub defending these dolts, she absolutely earned that line and has every right to be annoyed that, once again, people are getting picked off because the boys picked a fight with someone much bigger than them.

Alright, you didn’t read through a first paragraph in the cadence of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” for us not to talk about the moment. As I was sobbing, (and I truly wish that were hyperbole, there were noises, it was ugly) I wasn’t really sure if it was because I was devastated that Cas was dead or if because the moment was so damn beautiful. It’s touching whenever any character confesses love, but this hits differently. Let’s ignore the fact that many fans have waited for this moment for a decade for a second and talk about how much courage it takes to look someone in the eye and tell them how much you love them for everything that they are with the knowledge that they can never love you the same way.

Cas isn’t forcing himself on Dean in this moment. There’s no physical recognition of his love, only one hell of a speech. And that, just admitting his love, is enough to be his moment of true happiness. Then there’s Dean. Snarky, last-word-having, no-chickflick-moments Dean Winchester respectfully listens to his best friend. He’s terrified of what he’s going to lose but he knows that what Cas needs is for him to shut up for once. It is a scene that perfectly represents what it means to truly love someone on both platonic and intimate levels and it is one of the best things Supernatural has ever done.

“Despair” is the exact kind of episode that signals how strong this series is about to end. It also happens to be hauntingly poignant. The boys watching so many innocent people get blipped out of existence in the middle of a pandemic where we’ve lost hundreds of thousands of lives in America alone is a lot. But it’s a lot in all of the right kinds of ways. We’re going to see these boys have to decide to keep fighting when they feel like they have absolutely nothing left to fight for. Like, say, how some might feel when their neighbors actively choose hate, or any of the other devastating situations that Americans find themselves facing today.

Season 15 started hitting differently in last week’s episode, and this week takes things to a whole new level. Who knows where these boys are headed next, but I’m damn happy to follow them.

Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.