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.



My Bloody Valentine:
It's out of order and disgusting as all get out but I really liked this episode, this is the second in a string of really strong to superior episodes, from The Song Remains the Same all the way through Point of No Return. I know some didn't like 99 Problems but I really did"¦but I get ahead of myself.
Blood and gore aside "“ and skipping past the ubiquitous infantile humor of a naked Cupid "“ I like this episode. As others have said, there is a brief glimpse of Jimmy inside Castiel's love for White Castle. That little smile Cas' gives as he says"¦ "These make me"¦happy." Yeah, I see Jimmy there. Misha had said that he'd find it interesting to play Castiel once he knew who Jimmy was and that 'he' was in there, well here he got a chance to show Jimmy for a moment.
The cell phone gag is exceptionally funny in this episode; I hit rewind again and again just to catch all the little moments between Misha and Jensen.
"Will you be my valentine?" Too funny. I don't mind that Sam and Dean were checking the organs; at least they weren't doing the autopsies which to me are just silly. The coroner was a great character and like Dean I kinda liked the guy, sorry dude, you were bound to die. 
Sam is strong here, sure at first he tells Dean he's fine when clearly he isn't but I think he just was so weirded out at first that he didn't know what to say so chose to keep silent. Once things got dicey though, Sam didn't hesitate to tell Dean what was going on and what needed to be done. Sam has come a long, long way.
Dean gets his third viewing of Sam using his powers and it's just as devastating to him as it was in It's The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester and The Rapture. What makes it worse is that Dean's mental/emotional decline is so nearly complete that he can barely hold on anymore. At the end we see him with his best friend, liquor, and even Cas' steady presence is no consolation; Dean is so broken he goes outside and prays. 
This entire episode carries so much more power when you watch it in the order it was intended, so I highly recommend when you're viewing Season 5, if you're viewing it in order, put Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid before My Bloody Valentine.
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid:
No, but they do wear flannel. Sorry, couldn't resist, see I resort to cheap, simple, easy writing too.
Bobby is neat, shaven, books are filed away, walls and floors and furniture is tidy and what is this...the smell of soap? Geez, check for sulphur someone please!!! Not that Bobby is unkempt; he's just super busy with all the trying to stop the end of the world business. 
I loved Karen. She was warm and witty and strong and fully aware of who and what she was. She was gentle but firm with Dean and I do believe he genuinely liked her, zombie notwithstanding. Sure he didn't trust Bobby to be safe in her presence but he didn't think twice about eating her pie. Hey, Dean, haven't you ever read any Grimms Brothers? Oh, that's right, Sam has done that. Anyway, poison can be put in pie.
This was a nice treat to see how the community in which Bobby lives views him, wonder how they view him now. This was also a devastating blow to Bobby to not only have a chance to spend time with his beloved wife but also to have to kill her "“ again; and then to find out it was all because of his devotion to Sam and Dean and dedication as a hunter. 
Sadly this was never followed up again in any way shape or form"¦or was it? I wonder if part of Bobby's reasoning for making the deal with Crowley was because of what Death imparted to him here. Don't know, 'tis fun to speculate.
Dark Side of the Moon:
I would never have expected an episode like this out of Mr. Dabb and Mr. Loflin. I'm not a huge fan of their writing, although I do like how much they make a point of pulling elements in from earlier seasons and that is to their credit. DSOTM is nothing short of brilliant. From beginning to end there is nothing in this episode that I do not like.
The opening teaser is shockingly violent. The first of several Winchester memories juxtaposes that violence with a sweet memory that allows us to see Dean experience some pure joy, something long missing as the burdens weigh heavier. Sam's memories are no less interesting as he moves through various phases, a real Thanksgiving, likely sanctioned by John or at least Dean, to his first taste of freedom when he ran away to his absolute rejection of 'the family business' as he leaves for Stanford.
While Sam looks for a 'real' Thanksgiving in part because he never had the crusts cut off of his pb&j, Dean is thankful for the Thanksgivings they did have, bucket of extra crispy and dad passed out on the couch notwithstanding.
Zachariah is near gleeful to have Sam and Dean on 'his territory' but that's of no use when Ash arrives on the scene. Ash, for that alone I love Dabb and Loflin "“ but unless they continue writing at this caliber or give me more Ash they're going to remain low on my list of favorites; come on, guys, you can do better than you have.
I love this episode and if I were to tell you all the reasons I would just have to review it which I don't think I have nor do I think I will; suffice it to say in my opinion this is a nearly perfect episode.



99 Problems:
I like this episode quite a bit. Michael Shanks can never go wrong and while I would have liked his character to have been a bit more front and center that is more because I just enjoy him as an actor. 
This is a very good follow up on what transpired in DSOTM. Dean is convinced they cannot win; Castiel is drunk because what else is a fallen angel to do now that he's learned that God isn't willing to intervene. Sam is taking up the leadership position as he sees that Dean is not and he's also very aware that all is not well with Dean; what happened at the end of DSOTM is not lost on Sam.
There is plenty to laugh about, Castiel drinking a liquor store and Misha's portrayal of a smashed angel is very good, and the introduction of the Whore of Babylon idea loosely translated from Revelation is actually quite good although not funny, but well done.
99 Problems succeeds best at taking Dean to"¦well, the Point of No Return. 
Point of No Return:
I reviewed this after it aired and I chose it as my pick for 'the' pivotal episode of Season 5. This is perhaps Jeremy Carver's final episode with Supernatural as he is embarking on a new project but perhaps - pretty please - we'll get an episode or two out of him just as we did for so many seasons with Cathyrn Humphries.
Action was not the main focus or impetus of this episode. While Castiel got a good fight scene in with the two angels at Adam's grave as well as the excellent effect of him blasting all the angels, himself included, to locations unknown this was mainly an episode where the characters talked.
Kurt Fuller got an excellent vehicle to send his character into the history books of Supernatural with snarky witticisms and underhanded, smarmy tricks. Kurt Fuller, like Mark Pellegrino can chew the scenery without once making it seem like he is chewing the scenery. I sometimes cue up this episode just to watch Kurt Fuller work his magic. Zach joins Azazel and Nicki Aycox' Meg and Robert Wisdom's Uriel and Mark Pellegrino as characters I hate to root for ('cause they're the bad guys) but love to see because the scene will always be very good.
This episode is all about family and love and holding on when someone is doing everything possible to push you away. Bobby, Castiel and Sam hold on tight and in the end, Dean finds a reason to hold on just as tight. It's a beautiful episode that epitomizes what Supernatural is all about, family, love, relationships, loyalty "“ the list could go on.
Hammer of the Gods:
I didn't mind this episode as much as some, although it was not a strong follow up to what had come before. Here Sam goes back to being the back-seat driver, the snot nosed kid brother. Why is it that all of a sudden Sam's not getting enough sleep and Dean needs him sharp? Aren't they both suffering sleep deprivation and both need each other sharp?
To me the main excellence of this episode are the scenes with Dean and Sam and the room full of gods and then any scene the Trickster/Gabriel is in; Lucifer making an appearance is just icing on the cake to me. 
Once again the family drama of Sam and Dean is played out by others. Gabriel can't kill his brother much as Dean has battled that fear for many a season. In the end, Gabriel joins Team Free Will and chooses to come down on the side of humanity; it doesn't end well for him but it didn't end well for Ellen and Jo either; this is a battle to end all battles so casualty count must be as high as the stakes. 
I don't mind the reveal at the end that the rings of the horsemen can cage Lucifer. This was somewhat hinted at earlier that the rings embodied a power in the horsemen. What does bother me is that this information was not suggested earlier because what would be the purpose of Sam and Dean keeping War's ring or for that matter Famine's when it appears as if Famine was destroyed by Sam rather than his ring being cut off. 
The idea of the rings doesn't bother me overall "“ sweet lord of the rings! "“ but the planning for it should have been hinted at earlier so that the continuity was stronger. I'm just saying.



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