After noticing his gun is missing from under his pillow, Dean wakes to find two men pointing guns at him and Sam. He recognizes them as hunters - Walt and Roy. Walt says they are there to kill Sam for starting the Apocalypse, and as Sam protests, Walt shoots and kills him. He tells Roy to shoot Dean, and when he hesitates, Walt kills Dean too.
Dean finds himself sitting in the Impala, and when he leaves the Impala a thirteen-year-old version of Sam appears with a box of fireworks. They go to a nearby field and set them, off - Sam obviously delighted. Dean remembers this as the fourth of July. Suddenly memories of the shooting flash into Dean's mind, and he finds himself alone again.
Castiel starts speaking to Dean through the car radio, confirming that he is dead, and in Heaven, and that if he follows the road he will find Sam. What Dean and Sam are living through are happy past memories. Dean follows the road, and finds Sam having Thanksgiving dinner with one of his teen crushes' family. Sam confirms that this a happy memory for him - what was to him his first "proper" Thanksgiving. Suddenly a searchlight sweeps through the house, and the boys hide. Castiel communicates through the TV, telling them Zachariah is looking for them to send them back to Earth and not to go into the light. Castiel explains that this is their chance to find God, and that they should find someone called Joshua who communicates with him. He tells them to follow the 'axis mundi' - the road through Heaven to the garden.
Dean finds a toy race car track in the family's cupboard, which takes them to the next place - a memory of Dean's from when he was 4 of breakfast with his mother, and him comforting her after she argues with John. The next memory experience is through a postcard for Route 66 to Flagstaff, which Sam and his dog, Bones, called home when he ran away from Dean and John once. Dean reveals that to him, it was a terrible experience. They exit there, and find themselves on a road - the place where Sam left his family to go to Stanford. Dean points out, distraught, that Sam's memories are all about leaving him - and then Zachariah appears, pursuing them through a wood.
A masked and caped figure appears, and beckons the boys to follow. They go through a door in the middle of the woods and find themselves in a bar - the Roadhouse - and the masked man is Ash. He explains that each person has their own version of Heaven, except for soul mates, who can share, although Ash has worked out a way to move between these places. Ash says he has seen Dean and Sam on the other occasions they have been in heaven, although they have no memory of it. He goes and brings back Pamela who tells Dean that she is enjoying Heaven, and that maybe he should reconsider his resistance to being Michael's vessel. Ash shows them a shortcut to the garden and the boys leave.
They find themselves again in their family home, and Mary appears again. However this time she taunts Dean, saying he was a burden, and that it's his fault everyone leaves him. Zachariah appears, and tells the boys that he will torment them until they give in. Joshua appears and tells Zachariah that he needs to speak with Sam & Dean and Zachariah must release the boys or risk God's wrath.
Joshua tells Sam and Dean that God is well aware of their predicament, and that it was God who saved them when Lucifer rose, and resurrected Castiel, and has now given them salvation. Joshua says that God is on Earth, but that no amulet will help to find him. God, he says, doesn't want to intervene anymore in the Apocalypse, and He doesn't want them to either.
Joshua returns Sam and Dean to Earth, with their memories of what they have learned intact. Castiel is devastated with the news of God's apathy, and returns the Amulet to Dean saying "It's worthless" before leaving. As Sam tries to offer hope to Dean that they can still defeat Lucifer, Dean leaves the motel room - dropping the amulet in the wastebasket as he leaves.
- "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan
- (plays after Dean is shot, then a few minutes later during his memory of shooting fireworks with Sam; also played in 2.13 Houses of the Holy)
- "What a Way to Go" by Jesse Turnbow
- (plays in the Roadhouse when Sam and Dean meet up with Ash; also played in 1.03 Dead in the Water)
Killin’ Sam was right but Dean...
Walt: He made us and we just snuffed his brother, you idiot. You want to spend the rest of your life knowing Dean Winchester’s on your ass, ‘cause I don’t. Shoot 'im.
Go ahead, Roy, do it. But I’m going to warn you, when I come back I’m going to be pissed. C’mon! Let’s get this show on the road.
Some people see a tunnel or a river. What do you see?
Dean: Nothing. My dash. I’m in my car. I’m on a road.
Alright. A road. For you it’s a road. Follow it, Dean. You’ll find Sam. Follow the road.
Sam: No, uh. I’m just surprised you do. Last time I checked you wanted to break God’s nose, now you think he can help?
Dean: He’s the only one who can. I mean, come on, Sam. We are royally boned. So prayer? The last hope of a desperate man.
Sam: You... You think the road is in a closet?
Dean: We’re in Heaven, Sam, okay? I mean, our memories are coming true. Cas is on TV. Finding a road in a closet would be pretty much the most normal thing to happen to us today.
Kind of trippy, right?
Sam: Yeah. More trippy. Um. Apparently, you ‘wuv hugs.’
Dean: It’s okay, Mom. Dad still loves you. I love you, too. I’ll never leave you.
Mary: You are my little angel. How 'bout some pie? Okay.
C’mon! Your Heaven is somebody else’s Thanksgiving. Okay. It’s bailing on your family. What do you want me to say?
Sam: Man, I never got the crusts cut off my PB&J. I just don’t look at family the way you do.
Dean: Yeah, but I’m your family.
Sam: I know...
I mean, we’re supposed to be a team. It’s supposed to be you and me against the world, right?
Zachariah: Wow. Running from angels. On foot. In Heaven. With out-of-the-box thinking like that I’m surprised you boys haven’t stopped the Apocalypse already.
Mm-hmm. Yeah. See you got Winchesterland. Ashland. A whole mess of everybody-else-lands. Put them all together: Heaven. Right? At the center of it all? Is the Magic Kingdom. The Garden.
Dean: So everybody gets a little slice of paradise.
Ash: Pretty much. A few people share—special cases. What not.
Dean: What do you mean ‘special’?
Aw, you know. Like, uh, soul-mates... Anyway. Most people can’t leave their own private Idaho’s.
We’ll find another way. We can still stop all this, Dean.
I don’t know, but we’ll find it. You and me, we’ll find it.
Trivia & References
Last I checked, it wasn’t the road to Heaven that was paved with good intentions.
- This is a reference to the popular quote "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Yeah, well, if this is the SkyMall it sucks. I mean, where’s the triplets and the latex, you know? C’mon, a guy has needs.
- SkyMall is the name of an in-flight publication, best known for selling unusual products. Dean is using it here to refer to Heaven.
Don’t go into the light.
Dean: Okay. Thanks, Carol Ann. What was it?
- In the movie Poltergeist, Carol-Anne is pulled through a television into another realm by a poltergeist. When trying to get her out the psychic warns her “not to go into the light.”
It’s called the axis mundi. It’s a path that runs through heaven. Different people see it as different things. For you, it’s two-lane asphalt. The road will lead you to the Garden. You’ll find Joshua there. And Joshua... can take us to God. The Garden. Quick. Hurry.
- The axis mundi is a concept appearing in all cultures that there is some place that is the center of creation and describes a point of connection between the earthly plane and the spiritual one.
I think we hit the yellow bricks, find this Joshua cat.
- Reference to the Yellow Brick Road from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
See, you gotta stop thinking of Heaven as one place. It’s more like a butt-load of places all crammed together. Like Disneyland except without all the anti-Semitism.
- Ash explains that everyone has their own “Heaven,” and at the center of all of them is “the Garden.” Most people can’t leave their own “Heaven”, although Ash has worked out a way to do so. Other people Ash has met in Heaven are Johnny Cash, Andre the Giant, Einstein, Pamela Barnes and Mallanāga Vātsyāyana who wrote the Kama Sutra.
- Walt Disney, and many working at the Disney Studios during the '30s and '40s were purported to be anti-Semitic.
This ain’t the first time here. I mean, you boys die more than anyone I’ve ever met.
Ash: Ah, yeah... you don’t remember. God! Angels. Must’ve Windexed your brain.
- Ash confirms that previously when Sam and Dean were brought back from Heaven, their memory of the experience was removed. At the end of the episode Joshua says this time they will remember everything.
So this is how you get around up here?
Ash: Hm, more or less. It’s awesome to finally have an application—a practical application—for string theory.
- Ash has rigged a PC to monitor angels as they speak Enochian, by using string theory. String theory is related to quantum physics, and may in fact be the key to the theory of everything. You need to be really really smart to understand it.
You know, this place feels real, but it's Memorex.
- References television commercials from the 1970s and 1980s, for Memorex brand audio cassettes, in which a sung note played back from a recording would shatter a glass. The company slogan was "Is it live, or is it Memorex?"
and Daniel Loflin
who wrote this episode, are also the writers of the third Supernatural
comic series Beginning's End
, which documents the time in the Winchesters' life up to Sam leaving for Stanford.
This is the first episode to be directed by Jeff Wollnough
, who has worked on many series including Dark Angel
, Battlestar Galactica
, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
- Dean remembers setting off fireworks with Sam on 4th of July 1996. He would’ve been 17 and Sam 13. Dean says they "burned down that field”
- Sam’s memory of Thanksgiving with a school friend’s, a girl called Stephanie, family occurs when he is 11.
- Dean remembers comforting his mother after a fight she has with John, that led to John moving out for a few days. Sam has been born, and so Dean is four.
- Sam ran away in Flagstaff and spent two weeks on his own, and befriended a dog he called Bones.
- The final memory for Sam is of the night Sam left for Stanford. (2001)
The concept of soul mates or soul bonding is a very popular one throughout fanfiction
in many fandoms, indicating the essential and OTP
nature of a relationship. In Supernatural
fandom, it is usually found in Wincest
fic, although it can occur in a non-sexual form in Gen
fic. It also features in Dean/Castiel
Sides, Scripts & Transcripts