Written by: Andrew Dabb & Meredith Glynn
Directed by: Robert Singer
Air date: February 7, 2019
Sam and Dean look to occult lore for a solution to their latest problem, but instead of a resolution, they find much more than either of them had anticipated.
- Answer Cut: As they realize the timeline has been altered, Sam openly asks what else is different. Cut to an alley as Castiel and a very much alive Zachariah appear.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Dean is wanted for murder, assault and credit card fraud.
- Back for the Dead: Zachariah is anticlimactically killed off for a second time in the very same scene he returns in after being dead for the last eight years of the show.
- Back from the Dead:
- John Winchester...is a subversion. While it looks to be this when he first appears, it turns out that he was merely yanked out of his rightful spot in time two years before the beginning of the first episode of the show, making it a Temporal Paradox. This is akin to when Dean time traveled to 1973 to witness his parents' younger lives in "In the Beginning", except that instead of the what-if being "what would happen if you go a time before you exist", it becomes "what would happen if you go to a time after you no longer exist".
- The paradox also caused the angel Zachariah to return, presumably along with the entire host of heaven, although this is wiped by the episode's end as everything returns to normal.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: The magic pearl which grants the holder's deepest desire actually really works, but it has to reorder time and space to do so. This means getting John back will cause all the events of the series to unravel, leading to Dean becoming an outlaw, Sam becoming a motivational speaker, and Castiel still blindly following orders from the angel higher-ups, who themselves are still alive (at least, Zachariah is). Though Mary still exists by that time, the other characters speculate that she will also eventually disappear.
- Big Damn Reunion: Finally for the entire Winchester family. In fact, outside of "Pilot" and the two time travel episodes ("In the Beginning" and "The Song Remains the Same"), this is the first time John, Mary, Sam and Dean have all been together in the same episode.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: The thieving clerk that the Winchesters take out in the opening takes time to gloat to Sam and turning his back on Dean without making sure that he's really been knocked out or dead. This is all just to set up a Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind.
- Broken Masquerade: The kids who stole Baby see Sam and Dean dispatching an evil clown ghost, learning that their urban legends about the Winchesters are truer than they could have known.
- The Bus Came Back:
- Butterfly of Doom: Dean and Sam speculate that because John is brought back from 2003 to 2019 and thus past the time where he is supposed to die, reality is rewriting itself in its attempt to make sense of the events. This results in Dean becoming a fugitive, Sam a motivational speaker, and Castiel a robotic servant of Heaven. Although it hasn't happened yet, it is presumed that Mary will eventually disappear, too, since the new timeline doesn't provide the brothers the means to resurrect her (i.e. the Darkness breaking out of her prison).
- It Makes Sense in Context: John has a dumbfounded reaction to all the things Sam and Dean have done in the decade and a half since the defeat of Azazel - events which include saving the world and meeting God. He reacts to their current situation of living with both an angel and the son of the devil in a manner that implies it all Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
- Godzilla Threshold: The Winchesters decide to use a cursed wish-granting Artifact of Doom in an attempt to remove Michael from Dean's mind without having him take over his body again. Under normal circumstances, neither would have considered such a potentially suicidal option, being more than familiar with cursed items such as the rabbit's foot.
- Monster Clown: Real Life example John Wayne Gacy is brought back by his cigar box being opened.
- No Ontological Inertia: Any wish granted by the pearl requires the pearl to continue existing as whole and undamaged. Destroying the pearl makes the result of the wish disappear as if it had never happened.
- Out-of-Character Moment: With the timeline altered, Castiel is back to the way he was before meeting the Winchesters and still a servant of heaven, except that he is utterly robotic in his willingness to murder innocent humans without a second or even first thought on Zachariah's order.
- Parting Words Regret: During his conversation with John, Sam says that the lash out he directed against John in the hospital where Dean was treated after the car crash in "In My Time of Dying" still haunts him until today, because he did not have time to make up for it.
- Reunion Kiss: When John hears Mary's voice, he can barely choke out her name before turning to her for the Big Damn Kiss.
- Ripple Effect Indicator: The first signs that the timeline has been altered by John's return is when Dean goes to the bar the Winchesters frequent only to find the bartender has no idea who he is. Likewise, Sam runs into some of the people the Winchesters aided earlier who also don't know him. Sam then sees a wanted poster for Dean just as Dean finds a video of one of Sam's motivational speeches.
- Ripple Effect-Proof Memory:
- Most characters change according to how the rewritten time dictate them to (e.g. Castiel becomes an obedient soldier, the local kids dismiss the Winchesters instead of praising them), but Dean, Sam, and Mary still act like how they did before the temporal paradox happened.
- The angels have this at least partially, as Zachariah claims they have detected that reality has been re-ordered, but they have no knowledge of the nature of the change and what reality was before Dean's wish.
- Sadistic Choice: The Winchesters have to choose between letting the new timeline stay, which will cause Mary to disappear, Sam to become a dreary lawyer and self help guru, Dean to be on the run from the law, and Castiel becoming a subservient angel of Heaven, or John goes back to being dead and the normal timeline will be restored. Subverted when John says it's the easiest choice for him to make because he refuses to let there be a world without Mary alive in it.
- Shout-Out: At long, long last, the line fans have waited years for:Zachariah: Come on, Constantine.Castiel: I don't understand the reference.Zachariah: You wouldn't.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: By the end of the episode, the choice for the Winchesters to make is either Mary living but John dying, or John living but Mary dying. John decides on the former.
- Status Quo Is God: John has to return to his rightful time by the end of the episode in order to avert more rewrites of reality. As a result, he will end up selling his soul to Azazel and die in 2006.
- That Was Not a Dream: John wakes up back in 2003 at the episode's end, thinking his time with in the future was all just a dream. Earlier in the episode, Sam suggests to Dean that John might remember some of the future which might still alter history when he returns.
- What If?: The entire episode in a nutshell, the what-if being "What would happen if John Winchester is brought past the time when he is supposed to die?"