Once again I am filled with awe and love.
The only spoiler I'd seen was Sam getting shot and, for a minute, I thought the episode would turn out to be a huge April Fool joke. Therefore, I didn't bat an eye when Dean got his guts blown out as well. Let's face it - Sam and Dean can't die, so I knew the episode would end with them alive, even if it did turn out to be a joke.
Cut to Dean in the Impala and young Sam running by with a box of fireworks. Loved the look of pure joy on Dean's face as he relived a cherished memory with his little brother. But then, Dean remembers getting shot and while he thinks he's dreaming, he knows this is something more. Then 11-year old Sam remembering his first "real" Thanksgiving, complete with crushing-on-him girl and turkey. Nicely done. And! They're in heaven - despite the terrible things they've done!
Sam's memories vs. Dean's memories and Sam saying "I never had anyone cut the crusts off my sandwiches" *sobs* Which is worse? Having those kind of memories and knowing you'll never have that again, or never having them and knowing other people you love have? Dean very obviously did his young best to keep Sam's childhood as normal as possible considering their circumstances, and Sam did what every kid is supposed to do - pull away and seek his own future. Interesting and very good insight.
And then! Ash! Ash in his own personal heaven at the bar and no hangovers. And he's still a techno geek, checking out the angel speak and going to see Johnny Cash's heaven. Very cool. I loved when he told Sam and Dean that they died more than anyone he knew. And then! Pamela shows up. I'm not sure if Ash and Pamela ever knew each other in life, though I suppose we can assume they did because of Bobby and the bar, ect. I didn't like that she tried to hard sell Dean the idea that he should just let the apocalypse come and then sit back and enjoy his heaven. I have to wonder why Ash didn't know Ellen and Jo were dead, and why he hasn't found Mary or John. Though, would Mary be there for selling her kid's soul to Yellow Eye? I don't know.
Zachariah is a douche. No arguments there. Though I wonder how he can get away with being so evil while in heaven. He really put Dean through the ringer, and then...Joshua. I loved his character and while I believe the things he said, I also think he's only saying what God tells him. God might talk to him, but it doesn't mean he tells him everything. Dean had such high hopes that they'd finally get the help they need, or at least some good advice. What he got was a loss of faith for himself and Castiel. (Nicely done, Cass.) When Dean threw the necklace away, I almost cried. Though I know Sam had to have taken it back out of the trash.
I'm definitely buckled in for the ride, and loving every minute of it. (and not thinking too hard about missing the finale while on the retreat!)