Welcome to our weekly series “Cry of the Week,” in which we highlight whatever moment made us ugly cry on our couches the most in the past seven days.
Supernatural Season 13 opened on a more melancholy note than it has in years, with Sam and Dean grieving the apparent deaths of their mother, Mary; their angelic sidekick, Castiel; and even their frenemy Crowley, all of whom were seemingly lost in the Season 12 finale.
The audience knows that Mary and Castiel’s exits aren’t permanent, thank Chuck, but that doesn’t stop the Winchesters from mourning in the meantime, which leads to one of the most heartbreaking scenes in recent Supernatural history.
Sam and Dean Winchester are undoubtedly two of the most tortured heroes on TV, but while Sam (Jared Padalecki) proudly wears his emotions on his sleeve, older brother Dean (Jensen Ackles) is the embodiment of that ’80s action hero archetype, oozing masculinity with his muscle car and shoot-first mentality, and stoically repressing his emotions until they inevitably explode in bursts of violence or self-destructiveness.
The show — a resilient genre series on the smallest of the major broadcast networks — has never received the major awards recognition that its stars deserve just by nature of what it is, but since Supernatural premiered in 2005, Ackles has excelled at finding new ways to excavate the many layers of Dean’s tortured psyche, revealing the damaged soul behind his facade of bravado.
The Season 13 premiere, “Lost and Found,” sees Dean making an impassioned prayer to God (who the Winchesters know personally as Chuck, because this show is bonkers in the best way) to beg the Man Upstairs to bring back Castiel and Mary, because haven’t the Winchesters suffered enough? (Yes, they have — but if they stopped, we wouldn’t have a show.)
“I need your help. You left us, you went off… you said the Earth would be fine because it had me and it had Sam, but it’s not. And we’re not. We’ve lost everything. And now you’re gonna bring ’em back,” he demands.
When Chuck doesn’t immediately appear, Dean’s temper frays and he smashes a sign on the bathroom door in front of him, before begging, “Please… Please, help us.”
Naturally, Dean’s prayer — no matter how desperate — goes unanswered (at least for now), further contributing to what executive producer Eugenie Ross-Leming previews as his “loss of hope” this season.
“He has to come up with a reason to have purpose; every battle, he feels like he’s swimming backwards,” she says. “It’s a personal loss, but it’s also a cosmic loss of ‘what’s the point of being here when you scream at the wilderness and get nothing back?'”
The scene mirrors an iconic moment way back in Season 1, in the pivotal episode “Home,” which sees Dean calling his missing father and begging him for help.
After being forced to take the parental role for Sam during their childhood while their father was hunting, Dean isn’t accustomed to expressing vulnerability or admitting that he needs backup, and the scene in “Home” was the first time we really saw his macho exterior slip, marking a turning point for the character. That’s why it’s so interesting to see the parallels between the two moments in “Lost and Found,” right down to Dean sneaking off behind a wooden building to make the “call.”
It’s clear from Ackles’ performance just how difficult it is for Dean to reach out to Chuck now, which makes his unanswered prayer all the more gut-wrenching.
And while we know that Castiel’s return is imminent, and that Mary is still charging around in an alternate universe with Lucifer, you’ve got to wonder how far Dean will have fallen by the time he finds out that they’re okay. Our prediction? Better start stocking up on tissues.
Supernatural Season 13 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.