|Original airdate :||1 October, 2009|
|Directed by :||Steve Boyum|
|Written by :||Ben Edlund|
|Preceded by :||Free to Be You and Me|
|Followed by :||Fallen Idols|
"Things to come. After refusing Sam's plea to return, Dean wakes one morning to find himself five years in the future. In a world that has become a wasteland, he encounters the consequences of his decision - and his future self."
After arriving in Kansas City at the end of a long drive, Dean checks into a hotel to get some rest for the night, while a preacher outside the hotel looks at him rather oddly upon seeing him pass by. In his hotel room, Dean talks with Castiel (who's calling from the side of a lonely countryside road) over the phone about Cass's plan on how they can kill Lucifer: Cass says that if they want to kill the Devil, they'll have to get the Colt back from the demons so they can use it on Lucifer, although Dean is skeptical and believes that the demons will have destroyed the gun by now. Cass gets Dean's location over the phone so that he can talk to him in person about how they'll start the search for the Colt, but Dean tells Cass to give him four hours sleep before he comes over; leaving Cass waiting in stillness and silence where he is in the meantime. After Dean goes to bed, he's woken up in the night by his phone ringing again, but this time it's Sam calling. Sam tells Dean about the recent news that the former is Lucifer's true vessel, and says he wants to be let back in so that he can redeem himself for starting the Apocalypse. However, Dean refuses to let Sam back in, because he believes that their relationship is their weakness and is how the villains always beat them, and that it's better if they fight the Apocalypse separately.
After going to bed, when Dean wakes up, he finds to his shock that his hotel room is now a burned, bare wreck, and the entire city outside is a desolate and devastated ruin. As Dean wanders through the destroyed streets alone in confusion, he comes across a disheveled little girl in an alley, who suddenly attacks Dean with a glass shard with her blood on, prompting him to knock her out in self-defense. Dean then spots the word 'CROATOAN' spray-painted onto the alley wall up ahead, and Dean realizes that the Croatoan virus is what has destroyed the city and turned the remaining people like the little girl into inhuman killers. A horde of Croatoan-infected people (known as Crotes) then show up and chase after Dean through the streets. The Crotes corner Dean at a chain link fence, but before they can close in on him, a military patrol suddenly show up on the other side of the fence and shoot the Crotes down, and Dean manages to take cover and hide in a small nearby alley. After the soldiers and the Crotes have gone at nightfall, Dean digs his way out of the Croatoan-infested city onto the other side of the fence. Dean discovers to his shock from reading the sign on the fence that he has been transported forward in time to the year 2014, and that Kansas City is under quarantine as a 'Croatoan virus hot zone.'
Dean hotwires and steals an abandoned car and hits the road, finding on the way when he tries to get some news on what is going on in this future world with the Croatoan virus that there are no phone signals or operating radio stations. Zachariah then suddenly appears next to Dean in the car, reading a newspaper of this time. The news describes the Croatoan virus as being a pandemic which is continuing to spread further around the world. Zachariah confirms that he is the one who has sent Dean forward in time to this future, having found Dean through the preacher outside the hotel (since the angels have resorted to giving "the fringier Christian groups" instructions to alert them if they see Dean's face, in order to locate Dean after the Enochian warding has hid him from angelic radar). Zachariah explains to Dean that he will leave Dean in this future for three days to look around and see just what will happen to the world if he continues on his current course of action, before vanishing again. Dean heads to Bobby's place, but finds his house dilapidated and abandoned, with Bobby's dusty wheelchair lying among the wreck, riddled with old, bloody gunshots. Though it is clear that Bobby is dead, Dean seeks out Bobby's old journal to see if he can find where any of his other friends are if they're still alive. Dean finds a photo of Bobby, Cass and several others founding the survivor camp Camp Chitaqua. Dean heads to Camp Chitaqua the next night, slipping past the armed patrols and protective fences into the camp grounds, where he finds the stripped wreckage of the Impala. As Dean is distracted mourning his beloved car's fate, the camp's leader catches Dean and immediately knocks him out. The leader is Dean's 2014 self.
When present-Dean wakes up, he is cuffed in a cabin and confronted with future-Dean nearby. Future-Dean reveals he's already tested present-Dean to confirm he isn't a demon or shapeshifter, and demands to know why it is that he's human and identical to him. Present-Dean tells future-Dean about how he's the former's past self from 2009, having been taken out of his time by Zachariah. Future-Dean demands that present-Dean prove he's him, and present-Dean proves they're one and the same by recounting an old girlfriend from when they were 19 (specifically how she made Dean try on her panties). Future-Dean confirms that the Croatoan virus is the demons' endgame for exterminating humanity, and that society and the government has fallen into shambles after the virus decimated and overran the major cities two years ago. When present-Dean asks where Sam is, future-Dean reveals, to his past-self's shock, that Sam was apparently killed in Detroit a year ago, but Dean wasn't there, since the last he saw of or heard from Sam was in 2009. Future-Dean then heads out on a mission, leaving a frustrated present-Dean cuffed in the cabin.
At dawn after a few hours, present-Dean manages to pick a nail out of the floor and use it to handpick his cuffs. He heads out into the camp grounds to look around, and bumps into Chuck (who is apparently in charge of organizing the camp's supplies in the Croatoan-ravaged future), but present-Dean manages to pass off to the camp as his 2014 self. Dean also meets Risa, a fierce camp soldier who apparently is supposed to have a "connection" with future-Dean and is angry since future-Dean slept with another female survivor last night. The next one of his friends whose future present-Dean sees is Cass; Chuck directs present-Dean to Cass's cabin, where Cass is talking with a group of women who are scheduled for an orgy with him. In 2014, Cass has lost his original odd and non-human personality, and is now a hedonistic stoner immersed in women and drugs. Cass almost instantly recognizes that present-Dean isn't the Dean of this time, but when present-Dean (who is gobstruck at hoe weird and changed future-Cass is) asks Cass to send him back to 2009, Cass tells Dean he can't. Future-Dean and his men then return to the camp from a supply run at a Croatoan hot zone, and when one particular soldier's back is turned, future-Dean suddenly pulls a gun on him and shoots him dead without any emotion. However, present-Dean witnesses the whole thing and runs out in an attempt to stop his future self, exposing the double-Dean situation to the rest of the camp. A frustrated future-Dean orders everyone else back to their work, while he takes present-Dean into his cabin to talk to him.
Present- and future-Dean argue about what the latter just did; future-Dean explains that he saw the man he shot showing symptoms of infection on the way back after they'd fought off a Crote ambush, and had killed him before he could turn. Present-Dean is still disgusted that future-Dean doesn't see anything frightening in shooting one of his own men in front of his own people, but future-Dean retorts that putting down a Crote is commonplace in this time. Future-Dean then talks with present-Dean over a drink about the mission, and future-Dean pulls the Colt out of his bag. Future-Dean reveals that the demons have been constantly moving it around, but after five years, future-Dean has finally seized it, and now intends to use it to kill Lucifer tonight and end this war once and for all.
Future-Dean calls a meeting between himself, present-Dean, Risa and Castiel the next night concerning the Colt. Risa points out that even if they now have a weapon that can kill Lucifer, they still don't know where he is. Future-Dean reveals that an elite demon they captured last week knew where Lucifer is, and Dean has tortured the Devil's location out of the demon (with present-Dean being surprised to learn that his future self is reusing his torture skills learned from Hell): it is the Jackson County Sanitarium, which Cass notes from a map is directly within a Croatoan hot zone. Cass has no faith whatsoever in their chances of succeeding in getting to and killing Lucifer, but he agrees to join future-Dean in the mission to kill the Devil anyway, and future-Dean wants present-Dean to come along as well. Once Cass and Risa have left to get the soldiers ready to depart for the mission at midnight, present-Dean asks future-Dean why he's taking him along. Future-Dean reveals, to present-Dean's shock, that Sam didn't die in Detroit but, for whatever reason, said yes to Lucifer, and is now the Devil's vessel forever, meaning that future-Dean now has no choice but to kill Sam with Lucifer. Future-Dean wants present-Dean to see what's happened to their brother in person so that when he goes back to his time, he can take a better course of action by saying yes to Michael. Present-Dean is appalled, because Michael's battle with Lucifer if Michael possesses Dean will burn half the Earth, but future-Dean declares that that can't be any worse than a Croatoan-ravaged world like this. Future-Dean also reveals that he's completely given up and has tried to say yes to Michael, but it's too late for him, since the angels have given up on the Earth and abandoned the planet to its fate. Future-Dean remembers how he was so confident when he was present-Dean that they would eventually win, but declares to present-Dean that he was wrong. Future-Dean begs present-Dean to say yes, before miserably noting that present-Dean still won't do it even after seeing what will happen to the world if he doesn't say yes, "because that's just not us, is it."
Future-Dean, Castiel, Risa, present-Dean and the soldiers subsequently hit the road to go after Lucifer (with Chuck giving present-Dean some advice to "hoard toilet paper" "like it's made out of gold" if he ever makes it back to 2009), with present-Dean riding with Cass. On the road, present-Dean asks what's up with all the orgies and drugs Cass is immersing himself in, and Cass reveals he's not an angel anymore; his power slowly drained away until he was left fully mortal. And now that he's just as weak and powerless as any human, Cass is feeling a sense of uselessness and hopelessness, and so is immersing himself in "decadence" to cope because, "that's what decadence is for. Why not bang a few gongs before the lights go out!" The team arrive in Kansas City at dawn, and head by foot through the ruins to the abandoned sanitarium where Lucifer is. Future-Dean scopes out the building's demon security and plans how they'll get in, but present-Dean, knowing himself too well, notices future-Dean is lying about something and takes him aside to talk to him. Future-Dean reveals that he knows this is a trap since the Crotes that should be infesting this area have been cleared out, and he reveals to present-Dean's horror that he's going to send the others in as a decoy while the two Deans slip in through the back. Disgusted, present-Dean refuses to let future-Dean sacrifice their own friends, prompting future-Dean to knock present-Dean out cold. When present-Dean comes to, gunfire is tearing through the sanitarium interior as Cass, Risa and the others are wiped out. Present-Dean immediately rushes towards the sanitarium through the garden, in time to see Lucifer, wearing Sam as his vessel, crush future-Dean's neck under his foot, killing him. Lucifer then turns to present-Dean, surprised but unfazed at this.
Dean stares Lucifer down, but Lucifer says he won't hurt Dean, since he notes it would be redundant because future-Dean, and with him humanity's last chance of defeating Lucifer in this timeline, is already dead. Lucifer tries to be sympathetic and apologetic to Dean, telling him that he's sorry that it had to be Sam who would become his vessel. Lucifer also reveals that he doesn't intend to technically burn the Earth as was originally thought; he in fact considers the planet "beautiful, in a trillion different ways," and sees it as "the last perfect handiwork of God," and his real intentions are to purge humanity from the Earth to stop the damage mankind's war, pollution and overpopulation has done to the world. Lucifer also tells Dean the story of how he fell from grace. Lucifer claims that he loved God above all else, but when God created humans and commanded all the angels to love them more than him, Lucifer refused and declared humans "flawed, murderous," which ultimately led to God having Michael cast out and imprison Lucifer; Lucifer believes he was unjustly punished for being unable to love "little hairless apes" more than his Father, and that all the evil and damage that humanity have done to their world since Lucifer's fall proves that Lucifer was right about them. Dean declares that he isn't buying any of this 'sympathy for the Devil,' and that he doesn't need to hear Lucifer's view on his fall and intentions to know that Lucifer is ultimately just another evil supernatural monster like the spirits and creatures Dean's been fighting all his life. Dean vows to Lucifer that if the latter doesn't kill him now, then he will find a way to kill Lucifer and will never stop. Lucifer declares that while he knows Dean won't stop fighting, he also knows that Dean will never kill Sam or say yes to Michael either. Lucifer lectures that after Dean has gone back to his time, no matter what different path he takes and what details he alters, the story will always end here with this: with the angels abandoning the world, with Dean and humanity losing the war, and with Lucifer's victory. As Dean sheds a tear and tries to deny Lucifer's prediction, Lucifer says goodbye, declaring Dean will see him again five years in his future, then teleports away. Zachariah then reappears and takes Dean back to his hotel room in 2009, where and when he left.
Once Dean and Zachariah have returned to the present, Zach confronts Dean with what he's just seen. Zachariah declares that Dean is the only one who can change the future and stop the Devil, and tells him that if he just says yes to Michael then they'll be able to strike, before Lucifer can get to Sam and before billions of people die. Dean seriously considers it and thinks about everything he saw in the future, then he turns to Zachariah and says no; declaring that he has indeed learned a lesson from his three days in the future, just not the one Zach was teaching. Zachariah is furious that Dean is still refusing to say yes, and declares that he'll just have to keep teaching it in even darker ways now that he has Dean in his clutches. But just then, with the time Cass was meant to come to see Dean having arrived, Castiel uses his powers to teleport Dean away from Zachariah and take him to the lonely roadside Cass was calling from. Dean is happy to see present-Cass again, and tells him to never change and become like future-Cass did. After learning his lesson from his trip to the future, Dean then sets about doing what he should have in the first place, and calls Sam. Sam and Dean meet up the next day to confirm that Sam is serious about wanting back in. Sam asks Dean what made him change his mind; Dean says that while he and Sam may or may not be each-other's weakness, either way, they're also all they have, and need each-other to stay human. Sam thanks Dean, and Dean declares that they now prove Lucifer and Zachariah wrong and make their own future.
- Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester/Lucifer
- Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester
- Misha Collins as Castiel
- Kurt Fuller as Zachariah
- Rob Benedict as Chuck Shurley
- Lexa Doig as Risa
- John Paul McGlynn as Preacher
- Devyn Dalton as Infected little girl
- Michael Jonsson as Yeager
- Todd Scott
- Dwayne Bryshun as Hunter
- Dean Winchester
- Sam Winchester
- Bobby Singer (picture)
- Chuck Shurley
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Singer Auto Salvage Yard
- Camp Chitaqua
- In the dilapidated Kansas City street in the future, the billboard on an abandoned cinema gives Route 666 as a movie title. Route 666 is the name of both a previous Supernatural episode and one of Chuck's in-universe Supernatural books.
- The CW submitted this episode in June 2010 for an Emmy nomination along with Changing Channels.
- The End has been extremely popular in Supernatural fandom.
- Fans celebrated 1 August, 2014 as 'Croatoan Day' in commemoration of this episode.
- The setting where Sam and Dean rejoin in the final scene appears to be the same location where they parted ways with John in Salvation.
- There was mixed opinion amongst fans as to whether the future world Dean was sent into was real or was just a construct created by Zachariah. Dean himself said it could have been another illusion for all he knew, to which Zachariah responded, "The time for tricks is over."
- ↑ Supernatural: The Complete Fifth Season DVD episode guide