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The Devil You Know:
 
So to which 'devil' does the title allude? Is it Crowley? Or perhaps more subtle, is it Brady? Could very well be a nice play on words. Sure, I'm betting it's the title of some classic rock song too but since they could have picked any one of a hundred plus, I'm glad they went for one that plays on the meaning of the words.
 
I don't mind the introduction of Brady or the thought that all throughout Sam's life he had been manipulated and pushed and watched (stalked). Hey, it's fake so go for it; don't stalk me in real life (or Jared and Jensen) that's just too sick. This is a nice bit of continuity for Sam's character since all along the way as his powers revealed themselves and he wondered and worried about what it all meant he's often questioned if he was, in fact, being pushed along a course; turns out he was.
 
Crowley is an interesting character with his own agenda and while I don't trust him for one second I also do not believe that the Winchesters do either. Dean might have stated that going with Crowley made the best sense to achieve their goal, Pestilence and Death, but there is nothing to suggest that Dean was being manipulated as Ruby had manipulated Sam and to a lesser extent Dean. While Dean foolishly went upstairs in a building full of demons and got a beat down, he did not go along with Crowley's wish to leave Sam out of the confrontation with Brady; I quibble with the un-Deanlike part where he turns over the complete strategy and planning of their moves to Crowley.
 
For Sam this was a good time to show that he has developed some control over his temper. At first it looks like he's gone off the rails to kill Brady but either his plan was to test himself against Brady or he found the control in the midst of his confrontation with Brady; not sure but in the end Sam comes out on top, as he has several times this season and that just boosts his confidence in a good way, it's not self-righteousness but rather the result of lessons learned the hard way.
 
Two Minutes to Midnight:
 
Sera Gamble and Eric Kripke have cooperated in splitting up 'goodies' in scripts before, they gave us the two-parter AHBLI&II and IKWYDLS & HAH, here though I feel as if they left so much to the end that it was crammed in there with hardly any room to breathe.
 
We get Pestilence and Death, the croatoan virus and Chicago on the verge of annihilation, Bobby's deal is exposed and the results of it "“ he can walk!, Castiel returns and is able to catch a bus and make it in the nick of time to where Pestilence is killing Sam and Dean, the final two rings are in hand and thanks to a little 'domestic terrorism' the croatoan virus is destroyed. Whew, in only 42 +/- minutes. It's a lot, so much so that I felt rushed, stuffed and frankly a little under whelmed. I needed more of Pestilence and Death throughout the season, a bit more of a sense of difficulty in getting the rings, a bit more development of Sam as hero "“ uh, who didn't already know he was a hero? The warehouse seemed contrived and too easy that in one fell swoop the entire croatoan virus is gone. Also, I have no idea what it meant to have Crowley take Dean to Chicago and put him in front of a warehouse with dozens of reapers only to have him say, oops, so sorry, no Death in there. Maybe the next city. I don't get it.
 
Bobby's question to Dean at the end though is similar to the question Dean posed to The Trickster/Gabriel at the end of Changing Channels. Dean absorbs the question and meditates on it between this episode and Swan Song and he reaches the 'right' decision. Team Free Will has to individually have free will and sometimes that means choosing to sacrifice oneself for the greater good and choosing to sit there and watch it happen.          
 
 
Swan Song:
 
The finale of Season 5 and perhaps the last episode Eric Kripke will every write for Supernatural. I'm okay with that as over these past five years he has developed a capable group of writers headed by Sera Gamble and Ben Edlund who know and understand these characters and what the driving engine is to Supernatural, family.
 
Free will versus destiny has been a theme for so long I'm not sure when it began"¦back in Season 1 that's for sure. Once again we get more parallels between Sam and Lucifer as Lucifer is intent to rebel against God's plan while Michael is determined that it must happen. Where Sam was victorious is that he finally decided between running away or embrace his destiny, on his own terms. Sam didn't 'become' evil; he chose to allow evil to inhabit him so that he could save the world. Lucifer was destroyed not because Sam was destroyed but because Sam destroyed him. Pride is again the underlying bit of continuity. Sam's pride or as Dean rightly said his self-righteousness led to his downfall with Ruby. Lucifer's pride directly led to his downfall at Sam's hands because Lucifer truly believed that Sam would not be able to regain control; wrong.
 
Whereas Sam had rebelled against being told what to do he never stopped loving his family. Granted Lucifer was not impressed when Michael was toasted briefly by Castiel and his reaction was swift and devastating; similarly Lucifer showed real remorse over killing Gabriel but he chose to kill Gabriel because he wanted the showdown with Michael. For all Lucifer's rebellion against his father he actually followed his every wish; Lucifer knew the final battle was foretold and instead of walking off the field as he begged Michael, you know, move to Australia and munch prawns on the barbie with Jesse, he chose to force the fight precisely because of his pride, his wounded, over-inflated pride.
 
I'm going to leave Swan Song alone at this point; it was an excellent tie up to five seasons of questions and buildup. I know it didn't 'do it' for everybody out there but hey, it 'did it' for me. I liked it very much. I cried and cheered and rooted and walked away determined not to watch it for some time. I've since watched it again and frankly it does a lot to get me very excited about Season 6. Where are we going from here? How will Dean and Sam and Bobby and Castiel be different based on the events that lead us to this point? Will Sam be able to be a hunter, a leader in his own right, much as Dean was able to do outside of John's shadow? Will Castiel be the sheriff in heaven and how will he being needed on earth? I have no idea"¦I'm just pretty stoked about what is to come.
 
September 10th is the anticipated start date of Season 6 and the countdown clock is doing what it does best, counting down. Hopefully that date doesn't move but if it does move further out, we here at The Winchester Family Business will keep the Supernatural fires burning as long as we have to.
 
Thanks for reading, Elle2

Comments  

Yvonne
# 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
# 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
# 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
# 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
# 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
# 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
# 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
# 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
# elle2 2010-07-04 18:31
Jas,

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!