Supernatural's constant end-of-the-world stakes leave little room for embattled brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) to have a moment to themselves. However, The CW show's milestone 300th episode, titled "Lebanon," not only provided the Winchesters with a much-needed break from their hectic life of demon-hunting but also gave the duo long-awaited closure in what turned out to be the best reunion of the TV season.
When the boys came across a magical, wish-granting pearl in a pawn shop filled with freaky mystical gadgets, Sam viewed that as the perfect opportunity to banish the archangel Michael, who had been residing in Dean's head, from his brother once and for all. What he should have realized was that Dean harbored a greater desire for something else, something that had been entrenched in the back of his mind ever since Yellow Eyes murdered their mother Mary (Samantha Smith) and ripped their family apart all those years ago. Deep down, what Dean desired most wasn't to rid himself of Michael but to see his family back together again. So instead of banishing the archangel when the pearl was activated, Sam and Dean were met with their father, John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who was pulled from 2003, years before he died and before the show even picked up, and brought to the present day in the Men of Letters bunker the Winchester brothers now called home.
Unlike 2003 John, fans knew it had taken years Sam and Dean to get to this point in their lives, where they have accepted who they are and the path they've taken and finally laid down roots in the small Kansas town that knows who they are -- even if they still don't know their real names and occupations. They might not have achieved the house with the white picket fence, but the brothers found a new family in the hunters they led and in Jack (Alexander Calvert), the doe-eyed Nephilim they were raising alongside their angel bestie Cas (Misha Collins). It's a strange reality that 2003 John logistically would not have accepted so freely, especially since at that point in time, he would have been in paranoid hunter mode, obsessively searching for the Yellow-Eyed Demon that killed his wife. But "Lebanon" was never concerned with reason and logic, choosing instead to relish in the wish fulfillment of Sam and Dan enjoying a rare happy moment with family.
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As a result, the John we saw in the 300th episode was more affable and accepting than the John we saw in the show's early seasons, and he seemed unbothered by alarming revelations like his sons co-parenting Lucifer's (Mark Pellegrino) spawn or the brothers' frequent deaths and possessions. Instead of these potential conflicts, the episode zeroed in on improving John's complicated relationship with his boys and saw him finally reckon with the mistakes he'd made as a single parent. John and Sam's emotional conversation, which ended with a newfound understanding of each other in light of their estranged relationship, showcased just how much Sam has grown over the last 14 years; he was able to understand the choices John made and finally let go of some of that emotional baggage he'd been hauling around since childhood. That gift was also afforded to Dean, who reaffirmed what we knew for a while now: that he likes the man he is today and understands how much John had to do with shaping that. And these cathartic revelations get to the heart of what this reunion was all about.
"Lebanon" was a deeply personal look at the emotional journey the Winchesters have been on since Season 1, allowing them to come to terms with some of the issues of their past and affording them the ability to move forward with less trauma weighing them down. The episode painted a rare picture of the Winchesters, laughing and enjoying a normal family dinner together in a surreal moment that Sam and Dean can hold onto in their darkest hours. With the series poised to end next season, the full-circle reunion feels somewhat like a bucket list item checked off before the boys can go out on their final hunts. And now that Sam and Dean have reckoned with one of the key elements of their traumatic past, they can focus on the insane journey ahead in the 15th and final season. This poignant hour didn't always make the most sense logically, but emotionally it felt just right.
Because this is such a competitive category, TV Guide wanted to take this opportunity to shout-out all the runners-up who just barely missed out on the honor of Best Reunion: Killing Eve's Villanelle and Eve, whose chemistry couldn't be stopped even when they were trying to kill each other; Outlander's Claire and Bree, whose bond helped Bree cope with her recent trauma; and Game of Thrones' Sansa and Tyrion, who might have been the ultimate power couple if Daenerys hadn't gotten in the way.
(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)
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