In 13x23, My favorite scenes were Jack's (ALL OF THEM) and, actually, Lucifer's.
My favorite aspect of the finale was the insinuation that a fair bit of time had passed between the end of 13x22 and the start of 13x23: Bobby was talking about his refugees settling into town (can you imagine Lebanon, KS with 30 new inhabitants all at once??? what kind of weird cult moved in??). The fire of his hoo-hah speech about going back to save the homeland and honor their fallen brethren and save the rest is now tempered by the notion of finding lives, right now, for these people he's brought over, right now. He's making googly eyes at Mary. He and the others are falling out of a plot-driven narrative about the Apocalypse and Michael's fiery rule and heroes and war and into a different kind of life, where the plot, the whole plot, is to live.
This piece of the finale was sort of like an anti-finale, if finales are meant to culminate and lives are meant to follow heroic arcs. It plays foil to the ridiculousness that is about to go down in the second half (and that second half is not at all shy about being ridiculous! go big if you can't go home, MAN). And like, I don't doubt SPN is very much aware of its bombast in this bit. I can respect that. XDDD
And sure, eventually we learn that Lucifer is actually the one who killed Maggie, but he did it in such a human way--just like he dug his own hole when summoning Death all those years ago, his own hole with his own shovel and his own hands--it's worse, somehow, than death by monster or angel. Darker. That was my favorite part of the episode.
But I'm also an unredeemable ho for the Winchesters, so let's talk about their blurry faces and HOW AMAZING THEY ARE--even when embroiled in ridiculous things--anyway!
I'm getting ahead of myself with this cap, but since the first scene I wanna talk about isn't anywhere near as tantalizing, here's an out of context shot of Sam's neck above the cut. For zest. XD
Things I Love In 13x23
Sam doesn't take his eyes from Jack the entire time he's getting up off the ground. It's human nature, for whatever evolutionary reason, to look at the floor as you leave it, look at your hands and your feet as you move them. But Sam's gaze doesn't waver once here. When he does finally look away, it's to check on Dean.
He keeps his gaze on Dean for a few seconds here, but he must decide Dean's doing okay, because he doesn't move, and there's no sense of propulsive urgency to get to Dean the way there always is if Sam's not sure. Sam's not even in focus in this shot, but he is so, so Sam, blurry face and all. <33333
Meanwhile, Dean. In the midst of the actual action of the scene, which is Lucifer and Jack and Michael doing their thing, we get some fluttering shots of Dean trying to recover. From the sound of Dean dropping ragdoll to the floor and this shot, 30 seconds have elapsed, and he's still on the floor, looking a little dazed. 30 seconds isn't that long, but in this situation, yeah, it's pretty long. Dean wouldn't take his time if he didn't have to.
Another 15 seconds, and he starts trying to get up, and it's clearly not easy--it's a full minute between release and recovering enough to brace himself on whatever piece of architecture that convenient partition is supposed to be.
(I've heard some call them "stairs," but Michael wouldn't know anything about that.)
I forgot the timestamp for this, but it's some time later, and Dean's still trying to get his throat to remember how to function. His trachea's probably on the verge of collapse and were he not then possessed by an archangel there'd be some wicked bruising and likely dangerous swelling, but shortly after this he's able to talk and he's managed to moonlight piecing together Lucifer and Michael's deal during all this, so taking it slow was not for naught.
It takes him two minutes to gather himself enough to say anything.
We also get these occasional shots of blurry Dean in the background, and they are MAGNIFICENT and I love them, because he's back there a little unsteady, chest and shoulders heaving. He's still having trouble breathing, and is definitely in pain. THESE AREN'T EVEN HIS SCENES.
And back to Sam. When Lucifer moves in for Jack, Sam leaps forward. See, we're back at that neck! LOOK AT IT.
When is the last time you lunged at something so hard every muscle in your neck stood out?
And he doesn't just move to yank Jack out of the way, or push him out of harm's way. He cups his arm around the front of Jack's chest and moves to get in between Jack and Lucifer. He yields his back to Lucifer in order to protect Jack. He's not just trying to rescue Jack; he's actively shielding him with his own body and giving up any position of offense in the process.
Sam recognizes Lucifer as a major threat--one that warrants dramatic and aggressive protection. But Sam's not worried here about protecting himself. It's Jack he's concerned for. Thinking about Lucifer is only secondary.
Which is part of what makes what happens shortly thereafter so interesting/unsettling/alien for me.
After Lucifer is dead and Dean abruptly folds over in pain, Sam doesn't move. He shouts Dean's name a few times, but he doesn't leap to his side, or grab for him, or clasp his hands around Dean's shoulders the way Sam always, always does. (See: Dean after Billie lets him come back to life in 13x05, and Sam patting his brother, reciting, "You're okay, you're okay." See: Sam holding Dean close after the blackout mouth monster thing from 11x16 "Safe House" has left his body, and Dean is Dean again.)
Sam leapt to close quarters with Lucifer but he doesn't budge at all when Michael bubbles to the surface--and you know he knows that's what's happening. He doesn't budge, even though it'd Dean on the line. (And Sam generally gets pretty close to Dean when he shouldn't, like when demon!Dean is trying to bash his head in with a hammer, or MoC!Dean wants to behead him with a scythe, or that blackout mouth monster wants to use Dean's body to get Sam dead.) I dunno; it's just such an unsettling departure from what Sam knows in his bones he will always (almost always?) do. Maybe there's something to be said of the devil you know after all.
In the end, Sam looks inward, and finds nothing.
He looks Heavenward, but there's nothing there, either.
So what's left?