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The Road So Far, Season 5, Part 2, by Elle2
Whew, the wait to part 2 was certainly shorter than the nine weeks it took to get to Sam, Interrupted! Thank goodness.
Like the first part of the season there were good to great episodes, two clunkers "“ one clunked more than the other at least for me "“ and a lot of superb episodes. We get some old friends, some new allies and tie up a lot of loose ends, not all but that's impossible.
Here we go, Part 2 of Season 5's The Road So Far:
Sam, Interrupted:
Anytime we get a looksie inside the Winchester's noggins I'm a happy girl. Here we get inside both boys' heads and as we suspect it's a mess in there.
Crazy works! So does honesty that is if you're looking to get admitted to a mental health institution and your name is Winchester. No breaking the laws here akin to Folsom Prison Blues just straight out telling it like it is, Sam started the apocalypse 'cause he was high on demon blood. Yep, room for two, please.
Dean trades honest answers with a shrink in order to get information. Sam's anger issues raise their head again "“ truth be told, if we'd gotten a bit more continuity in Sam's anger issues I would have believed this more but Sam was contrite in Sympathy, only flashed anger at Dean in Good God, as he struggled with Dean's constant reminders of his failures.  We saw very little anger in Free To Be and The End and Fallen Idols as well as in I Believe the Children. In The Curious Case Sam was calm and controlled, in Changing Channels he was as confused as Dean, The Real Ghostbusters he was politely amused and the only time we got real anger was in Abandon All Hope so his quick change to all out anger to attack the doctor comes as a bit of a surprise. Then again, he was under the wraith's spell so perhaps this kick-started things into gear because Sam had been dealing quite well up to here.
The goal of this episode appears to be dismantling Dean's mental state and revving up Sam's anger as well as keeping alive the wedge between the brothers; Dean asks Sam twice at the end if Sam is still with him in this fight. Sam says yes but clearly Dean does not believe him as the rest of the season will show.
Swap Meat:
Uh, the opening teaser was great. Dean telling Sam he thinks perhaps they don't know what they're missing after Sam says the kid's life 'sucks ass' adds to the idea that Dean is rethinking the hunter life. Other than that it does nothing for me; now at least I know why. It was supposed to be a lot more body swapping, including the long-asked-for fan wish of Sam and Dean swapping bodies, but again this is an example of a high concept that does not translate. 
Since they apparently reworked this episode on the fly during actual filming, I give them much credit for coming up with what they did"¦still, not one for many rewatches "“ but out of 104 episodes I count this one with maybe four others that are really at the bottom of my list"¦that's pretty darn good at a near 95% rewatch ratio for me.
The Song Remains the Same:
And it's a sad, sad song.  Dean gets another chance to tell Mary not to go into Sam's room but the angels fully intend for events to unfold as they already have and she gets her brain 'windexed.' Tragic.
Sam gets a chance to see who his father was prior to hunting and it's a sorrowful glimpse as Sam realizes that his father wasn't always the obsessed hunter he knew. His dad was a loving, gentle, open man who was horrified to discover that Sam's father had exposed him to such dangers. It's a wonderful scene where Sam gets a chance to apologize to his father through defending him. For that, Anna, I thank you.
Anna's confusing storyline is wrapped up "“ SPN just can't quite figure it out with the 'younger' ladies although they got Ellen and Pamela written superbly. The effect shot of Anna finally being smote by Michael is quite excellent.
The only nitpick I have with this episode is that I believe Sera Gamble missed a golden opportunity with Dean during his dream scene. I think it's safe and simple and frankly a bit uninteresting to have Dean dreaming of an 'angel' and a 'demon' playmate, especially since the episode before we have him pondering what he's missing of the 'apple pie life' and four episodes later he's going to be knocking on Lisa's door telling her he envisions himself happy with her and 'the kid.' 
I think here is where Sera could have laid a bit more groundwork for that, perhaps not with Lisa and Ben actually there but perhaps the suggestion of his secret longing. Dean waking up in a hammock as the sounds of neighbors in pools or lawn mowers to the sight of hamburgers being grilled and a woman calling from the house for Dean to come in and wash up, dinner is almost ready. He sighs in wonder, like in The Rapture as he was fishing, and then Anna is standing there.  This was a missed opportunity to tell us Dean has these thoughts in his head.
Aside from that I love this episode and hope that young John and young Mary can make another appearance, one that makes sense as the two thus far have, in Season 6"¦maybe I should make a list.



# Yvonne 2010-06-30 11:25
Great write up. I enjoy your reviews and perspective as well as reliving the episodes.

Starting to think I’m the only one who enjoyed ‘Swap Meat’. Perhaps it is because I didn’t have any expectations for body switching and I could simply enjoy the ride. I’ve often wondered as well how the town now treats Bobby, especially now that he’s walking again. Hoping the rumors are true, and we get a Bobby centric ep when Jensen directs.

Have to throw out a different opinion on Hammer of the Gods. It made perfect sense to me that Sam was lacking on sleep and worried. The poor guy saw his older brother jump off the Michael ledge. Sure, he caught himself and stabbed Zach through the face, but he did say yes. Sam must have felt he had to find another answer, or at least keep Dean on the move. Add that on top of all his other anxiety and it’s no wonder he fell into some old habits. Sam saw Dean at rock bottom and he was desperate to make sure that didn’t happen again. Dean’s reassurance that no one was giving up “especially me” seemed to take some weight off of Sam. That Dean even said that means Sam was worrying about it.

Love your articles. They’re excellent treatment for hellatus fever.
# elle2 2010-07-01 07:32
Hi, Yvonne,

You make some great points regarding Sam in Hammer of the Gods, hadn't thought about that, thank you.

The whole idea of Jared getting to act out Dean and vice versa has been something in the fandom for a few years (two at least) and while I'd have been happy if it didn't happen and likely happy if it did it's unfortunate that the whole concept was simply too difficult to pull off because it seemed to have caused a crash rewrite of what could have been a solid episode.

For me the biggest issues I have were that Sam got to be confused and looking fairly silly with the kid's family and those scenes were frankly boring and I was constantly distracted by Dean looking down at 'Sam' which kept throwing me out of the moment. I know, I should be able to suck it up and ignore it but I couldn't. Still, as I've said, perhaps five episodes I can miss altogether out of 104, not bad, in fact really, really awesome. I can't think of any other show I can say that about.

Glad you're enjoying the articles, with hellatus getting a wee bit longer, we'll have more time for reading and working through puzzles and whatnot.

# Karen 2010-07-01 10:10
Hi Elle2
Loved it, loved it, loved it…wait this sounds familiar.
The second half of the season was definitely stronger as well as emotionally draining. But I loved it.
That’s too bad about Swap Meat, I guess they did what they could do.
For me if they had left Jared playing the boys character while still being in Sam’s body it would of worked. But I guess for the young actor to get all of Sam’s characteristics and mannerisms down pat, would have been too difficult with the time they may already of lost with the change up.
I loved your vision of Dean being in the hammock, instead of the Angel/Devil dream, however I did find it amusing when I first watched it.
The only part I really hated about Hammer of the Gods was the senseless killing of the Trickster/Gabri el. Lucifer didn’t have to kill him, he could of sent him off somewhere until he got his big show down.
# Suze 2010-07-02 07:50
I think Swap Meat was a sweet enough idea but the wheels rather fell off in the execution, it did have some clunky bits but it wasn't totally dire ... I liked Hammer Of The Gods, although the idea seemed awfully similar to Neil Gaiman's book American Gods and they had a seriously weird selection of Gods on offer! It started out a bit wobbly and then picked up pace as it went along. The Trickster's postumous porno vid was wonderful! For what it's worth, I don't think he's dead and gone, everyone else who gets snuffed in the line of duty seems to get reconboobulated so why not our Gabe? He's just too good to lose, basically.

Still not sure about Swan Song, I think I'd built it up in my head until it was going to be the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything in 40 minutes of TV and then when it wasn't I was all miffed and huffish.

Never mind though ... I'm with you in the Oooh, What's In Store camp, it doesn't look to me like a simple re-set to Old Times either ... Just as long as they manage to work in a few You-Know-Whats I'll be happy! ;-)
# Elle2 2010-07-02 09:36
Hi, Karen and Suze,

Thanks for the comments.

Karen, as for the Lucifer killing of Gabriel, I'd like to offer a slightly different take, it is senseless and I think that was the point. Lucifer, for all his desire to 'walk off the field' did everything he could to ensure the battle was joined on the field in the first place. He didn't have to raise the four horsemen, he didn't have to pursue Sam relentlessly and yes, he didn't have to kill Gabriel. I think all that just goes to show that he was 'having a temper tantrum' against daddy and no matter what, he was going to vent his anger; Gabriel, other gods, failing vessel notwithstanding.

DOn't get me wrong though, I absolutely was devastated at Gabriel's death.

Like Suze, I think he'll be back and for the following reason: (Courtesy of Bardicvoice and terribly paraphrased by me) God restored Castiel because Castiel made a choice using free will (that angels do have or Lucifer would never have fallen and taken a third of the heavenly host with him). Castiel chose 'family'. Dean was restored courtesy of Castiel who was granted that power by God, and Bobby too was restored by Castiel; both those men chose family.

Sam was returned from hell (I believe fully Sam) by God -- here's where Bardicvoice shows her genius -- but Sam wasn't returned until Dean followed through and chose starting a new life with Lisa rather than revenge or suicide; Sam started the breaking of the Winchester cycle of death and blood by offering himself up for sacrifice, Dean finished it by honoring the promise he made to Sam and thus the cycle was broken (Granted that's just Bardicvoice's thoughts on it but darn, that woman is quite brilliant in formulating her thoughts on the episodes and what they mean).

Finally, Gabriel chose humanity over the cycle of blood and destruction that Michael and Lucifer were so intent after thus it is entirely plausible and in keeping with what we've seen for God to restore him as he did Cas, by proxy Dean and Bobby, and Sam. I hope Bardicvoice is right, it makes logical sense to.

Yeah, Suze, Swan Song like the 100th episode carried a burden that could be too much to be carried. I came into both without any illusions and so while the 100th I was able to enjoy immediately, Swan Song was so devastating to me that I couldn't rewatch it until five weeks later but I still liked it very much.

Upon rewatch I liked it more and since I knew this wasn't the end I didn't expect it to tie everything up. We still are left with some delicious dangling threads for Season 6...not the least of which is is it fully Sam or something/someo ne else? I still come down on fully Sam and Bardicvoice's review only firmed that up for me.

We'll know in 12 weeks...that sounds long but since we've already come 7 weeks we're well on our way to the half-way point.

I'll keep hoping for some You-Know-Whats. ..or anything else that leads to wet-shirted goodness!
# Evelyn 2010-07-03 16:50
Alas, what can I say elle, another great look back on the second part of Season 5. I loved the trip down memory lane. Thanks for this.

I loved your comment about the missed opportunity in Song Remains the Same with Dean's dream. That would have been very cool to see Dean dreaming about a family life, maybe then when Dean goes to see Lisa it wouldn't have been so out of the blue. Yes, Dean starting to wish for a family life was briefly hinted at in conversations, but seeing this now be a part of his dreams - that would have tied everything together with a neat little bow.

As for My Bloody Valentine, when Dean sees the full power of Sam. Yes, he witnessed this power in previous episodes, but not to the extent he did in this one. So, it was no wonder that Dean "lost it". Finally witnessing as he did first hand, what his "Sammy" is truly capable of - truly heartbreaking.

Big question about 99 Problems. I enjoyed the episode. But, when they went to fight the demons, they brought along the knife - BUT where the heck was the Colt?!?!?!?!?!? They still had that weapon in their arsenal, but we hadn't seen it since Abandon All Hope. So, since they realized it couldn't kill Lucifer, did they just forget about it? It still was a useful weapon in their fight and to not see it in this episode, well, I thought that was a lost opportunity. Would also have loved to see a scene where they explained the demon killing powers of these weapons to some of the townsfolk.

Point of No Return is one of my favorites and yes, this is an episode about family. And although Bobby and Castiel are not Winchesters, these four men are more like family than some other families out there. It's beautiful to watch.

Good point about the rings - I always just thought that they kept them because if someone else got their hands on them, the power held within the rings could still be used for evil. Also would have loved to see Pestilence and Death get their own episode. Missed opportunities there.

I so look forward to Season 6 and the smaller, intimate moments they will be showing us. Swan Song set things up perfectly for this new beginning. I also believed that Sam was restored to his whole self and enjoyed the insight that was brought out that he wasn't restored until Dean fulfilled Sam's promise and thus breaking the cycle of Winchester's sacrificing themselves. Which brings to point another question, with that thought in mind - just how much time do we think has passed now since Dean went to find Lisa and Sam appearing. With the sacrificing cycle being broken - it leads me to think that quite a chunk of time has passed, because I think at any time Dean could have broken that promise and gone to search for Sam, so it makes me wonder. Hmmmmmmm. It will definitely be interesting come Episode 1 of Season 6 to find out how much time has passed. Anxiously looking forward to it.!
# Elle2 2010-07-03 18:50
Hi, Eveyln

You are so right...where the heck was the Colt then. Excellent question. I too am wondering how much time has passed, a day, a few hours a week months? It's quite a topic in the fandom (at least it was last time I checked which wasn't recently.)

It would be interesting to see how that town deals with what it did, almost did and thought about doing. There sure is a lot of destruction going on there in Season 5!

Thanks for the comments...we'r e getting closer
# Jasminka 2010-07-04 14:28
Elle2, this is a great sequel to an already great part I - I think this season is my favourite so far (though even thinking which I like best is kinda ridiculous), and this account of the episodes brought back the episodes and its crucial scenes... ah.... tissues...

Thank you for this, Jas
# elle2 2010-07-04 18:31

Glad you enjoyed the rewatch through this article. It's the hardest one I write out of any article I do and purposefully I do wait until all 22 eps are done so I can frame it properly...stil l, so much to catch in the season that I end up leaving plenty out. But that's what articles on specific characters or writers or pivotal episodes are for, to add those other bits in.

I know about the tissues, I keep 'em stocked up.

Enjoy being home!