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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.
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