Thoughts on Swan Song
Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry (don't you cry no more)
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry (don't you cry no more)
Delighted applause was heard in my small corner of the world when then highly anticipated Kansas montage cued up. So many great moments to reflect back on over this season, and every one of them would have a special significance now, in the episode set to bookend a saga that began five years ago, on September 13th, 2005. A saga that has touched many people in many different ways and now has united us before our televisions across the world for this must-see chapter 1,704 days later. So let's get to it:
"On April 21, 1967 the hundred millionth GM vehicle rolled off the line at the plant in Janesville. A blue two door Caprice. There was a big ceremony, speeches, the lieutenant governor even showed up. Three days later another car rolled off that same line. No one gave two craps about her. But they should have; a young marine bought her on impulse. That is, after a little advice from a friend. And that's where this story begins. And here is where it ends."
"It's not on me to let you do anything, if this is what you want, I'll back your play. The truth is, watching out for you, it's kind of been my job you know? More than that, it's kind of who I am...I don't know if we've got a snowballs chance, but I do know that if anybody can do it, it's you."
When an episode has you quivering with emotion before the first five minutes are up, you know it is going to be a good one. Words don't really exist to fully encompass the awestruck state that has befallen me after Swan Song. Truly, this was the greatest forty minutes of Supernatural there has ever been. This was the ending I didn't see coming, even with all the speculation floating out there, it still caught me [exuberantly] off-guard. From the get go, Lucifer calls Sam and Dean on their bluff, he enters Sam and comes out the winner (temporarily anyways), Dean opens the cage and Lucifer doesn't leap - all within the first third of the episode. I'm in awe - what now? This was as far as the speculation had taken me - Sam's plan would either succeed or not and then The End. Not so. That was just the start.
"You gotta promise me something, promise not to try to bring me back, go find Lisa, you pray to God she's dumb enough to take you in, you have barbecues, you go to football games, you go live some normal, apple-pie life, Dean."
The conversation between Sam and Dean in the car was one of the hardest to swallow and it paralleled the infamous moments in the Impala before Dean's contract came due. The promise Sam elicited from Dean was sorrow-inducing. But the cycle had to end - the Winchester brothers had to stop saving (or trying to save) one another. Sam wished for Dean to move on and live the life both of them were never able to have but always wanted in one way or another - a normal, family life. Okay, Sammy. Dean heard you. And while Dean kept his promise to Sam in the end, you have to wonder just how long he'd be able to maintain that life knowing Sam was in the Pit with Lucifer - especially given his own firsthand experience in Hell.
"A wrestling match inside your noggin, I like the idea. Just you and me. One round. No tricks. You win, you jump in the hole. I win, well, then I win."
Mark Pellegrino, as he has without fail over the past year, played a deliciously malicious Lucifer. The icing of the window with his breath and etching of a pitch fork in the frost was one of the great little moments of this episode. When Sam and Dean realized Lucifer knew exactly what their plan was, the we're-screwed-beyond-screwed looks on their faces mirrored my own, I've no doubt. This was the perfect send off for Pellegrino, who brought the character of Lucifer into three dimensional being and made him the fallen angel we love to hate.
Pure, unbridled devastation painted itself across Dean's face when Lucifer in Sam's body disappeared, and I was right there with him. As always, Jensen communicates volumes without words and in Swan Song he did not disappoint. As he called out for Sammy while Lucifer mashed his face - "I'm here, Sammy" - I was even more wrecked than I thought possible. And then as he knelt on the grass in front of his beloved and ever-there car completely alone in the world and wanting to die, I melted into a lamenting puddle of emotion. Finally, as Dean wept on Lisa's shoulder while she held him, I was undone. What an inconceivable spectrum this young actor has - that he hasn't already been granted the official and more-than-deserved accolades is one of the great mysteries of life.
"There was never much hope to begin with. I don't know what else to do."
Equally powerful an actor, Jim Beaver was outstanding in this turn as Bobby Singer. The moment that stands out most was the expression on his face upon turning away from the televisions and reports of world desolation coast to coast. No words were needed to convey the unqualified, unadulterated hopelessness that this man felt. Every ounce of determined fight and strength was completely washed out of this man, leaving a terrified, despondent person in its wake.Â What uninhibited aptitude to communicate all this in a moment-long, wordless expression.
The drama and weighty emotion of the episode was nicely intercut with clips and stories of the Winchester's days-off with the Impala. Rob Benedict's soothing voice was reassuring as the narrator each time Kripke ripped my heart out and trampled on it (only to do it all over again!). Â Swan Song was ripe with gem moments, from the comic relief of Castiel and his awkward goodbye with Sam - "you want me to lie" "Just stop talking" to Chuck's "mistress" mis-answer. For me though, what made this pitch perfect was the whole thing ending where it began, in Lawrence, Kansas. This entire drama began on a sad night when a young mother burned on the ceiling of her youngest son's nursery and some twenty-six years, six months and twelve days later, that same son would end it. Delectably poetic and it really brought the series full circle.
"All those times you ran away, you weren't running from them, you were running toward me. This doesn't have to be a bad thing you know"¦I want you to be happy, Sam."
The awards people should be tripping over themselves to honour Jared Padalecki after this outstanding body of work in only one episode. The duality of Sam and Lucifer was as remarkable and even more impressive that it was in The End. These were two completely different characters, from the physical appearance - Lucifer with his narrowed eyes and confidently held chin, hair smoothed back and voice like poisoned velvet was completely inhuman. Sam, a raw and struggling young man desperately trying to do the right thing with an alarmed and sad but determined gaze, was entirely human. The consistency with which Lucifer has been portrayed over this season is quite commendable, given the different actors who have been his voice. Jared is by far my favourite incarnation. The only thing better would have been to see Jared as Lucifer against Jensen as Michael - what an explosion that would have been.
Michael and Lucifer really are Sam and Dean at their core, except for the extremism with which they view the world, of course. Adam and Sam in the cemetery possessed by Michael and Lucifer easily echoed arguments we've heard Sam and Dean have over the course of the series, largely in the first season. Equally palpable was the love that still existed between these brothers, just as it was between Gabe and Lucifer. This really was the Wal-Mart apocalypse in that the heart of the battle was brought to a very ordinary, everyday human level. Of particularly poignancy was the protectiveness Lucifer still felt towards Michael, despite all that has occurred between them. Ultimately, you can mess with your siblings but the moment an outsider attempts it, not cool. Castiel realized this immediately, judging from the I'm so dead expression on his face milliseconds before he exploded on Bobby. And Bobby, he learned plain and simply Lucifer was done screwing around, time to kill people now and ask questions later.
My immense relief at the very much living state of Castiel and Bobby can never be fully expressed in written words. When Lucifer exploded Cas with the flick of his hand, my heart went with him. Or at least I thought I did but then as it dropped to my stomach when Bobby died, I don't know how that's possible. And of course when Sam and Adam tumbled into the open chasm"¦well, you know, you were there. Not only is Bobby alive and well, he's hunting again. Despite the loss of Sam, it must feel good to get back to regular old hunts without apocalyptic omens or angelic agendas. The door remains open for Castiel to return next season as well, and I suspect he will. Honestly, the heaven/hell storyline hasn't been completely wrapped up so I'd bet we'll see him again. Dean positing whether Castiel was God echoed my own thoughts and I am glad that he wasn't, because I enjoy the character so much exactly as he is. Castiel is now Super-Angel - this time, he was able to help Bobby - in an even bigger way. (And if God brought him back - please, please bring Gabriel back too, okay?).
"This is the stuff that's important. The army man that Sam crammed in the ashtray, it's still stuck there.Â The Lego's that Dean shoved into the vents. To this day, the heat comes on; they can hear "˜em rattle. These are the things that make the car theirs, really theirs."
In the end, Sam and Dean alone was what it needed to be. Dean didn't fight against Sam (Lucifer) but reached out to him. And of course, it was the memories and love that gave Sam the strength to tamp down on Lucifer and regain control of his body. And in the end, Sam who opened the door and released the serpent shoved him right back into the box. Of course, he took Michael with him and I wonder the consequences this will have. This moment was exactly right. Sam was strong enough to do what he did because Dean believed in him and they loved each other through it all. Sam got to be the one to take care of his brother this time - "it'll be okay, Dean."
"Endings are hard"¦endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always going gonna bitch, there's always gonna be holes"¦they're a ragging pain in the ass."
Chuck as God. How marvellously perfect. The character in this episode had a different voice from the opening moments, to be sure, but not so significantly that I suspected the Heavenly Father himself. That was a great treasure moment when he leaned back, smiled and winked away. Well played, Kripke. Chuck has been a well used character throughout the series, in my opinion, and that remains true here. This was the voice of Kripke speaking to the fans and what a perfect way to give a wink and a nod to the fans and leave them with a not goodbye but rather atill we meet again feeling. Kripke, I bow and worship at the temple of your incomparable genius. Â Â
"So what's it all add up to? It's hard to say. But me, I'd say this was a test, for Sam and Dean. And I think they did alright, up against good, evil, angels, devils, destiny and God himself. They made their own choice. They chose family. And, well, isn't that kinda the whole point? No doubt, endings are hard. But then again, nothing really ever ends, does it?"
The last two, maybe three seconds of this episode were the most crucial somehow. It was these few seconds that made the pain and heartbreak of the first forty minutes bearable in retrospect. Sam lives. Of course the question we're left to agonize over now - is it Sam as we know/knew him? The flickering light could indicate any one of a myriad of things: that an angel or demon deposited Sam there, that Sam is an angel or demon, that Sam isn't Sam at all, but Lucifer or any number of thoughts I'm sure haven't occurred yet but will in the coming (torturous) wait during the summer months.
"No paradise, no hell, just more of the same."
Not one second of this episode disappointed in any way. This was the perfect conclusion to a remarkable five year run and had it been the final chapter of the Winchester story that would have been okay. But it wasn't and that is so much more than okay - it's freakin' fantastic! Knowing Kripke as we do after five unbelievable roller-coaster seasons, the red-bow ending wasn't going to be neatly delivered to us on May 13, 2010. And true to form, once this viewer regained control of her mental faculties DAMN YOU KRIPKE was heard ringing out, followed quickly by a YOU BLOODY BRILLIANT MAN! Now, we are left to wait, wonder and speculate just where our beloved show could go next September.
Chuck is God? *love* Didn't see that coming but it makes perfect sense
Oh Sam. Oh Dean. *lovesthemtodeath*
Kripke you magnificent bastard.
Too much in love to make any freaking sensible comment so I'm going off to rewatch the hell out of this, until work claims me
Just waiting to get home...
Loved how you captured the essence of this amazing, awe-inspiring, beautiful, magnificent, tremendously moving piece of television.
Have we ever seen better acting on this show? I have to re-watch it a couple of times to get all the layers and undercurrents, but this was so, so amazing. I'm so happy with this episode - and freakin' curious about how it's going to continue.
Sam is back. We just don't know yet as what? or who? Dean will be okay, eventually, I'm sure of that.
Love from a grinning-like-a -fool Jas
And in the end although the brother's love was the thing that helped Sam control Lucifer, finally it felt to me like Dean was a sideline to Sam's story the whole 5 seasons (Maybe the cool sidekick like Han Solo to Luke.)
That said, I still lovelovelove this eppie (and your review) and I'll never stop. This one blew me away to another galaxy, I'm amazed and so so grateful, I love our show and Kripkes little "farewell" was awesome.
Thank God(who is Chuck who is Kripke, hee) for another season but this would have been the perfect series finale too *heart*
*faints in all the love*
Castiel is new and improved, so, is Sam? I think that perhaps the return of Sam is God's way of making things right for the brothers who stuck together and were willing to sacrifice everything to save the world. When Chuck finished his last story and disappeared I wondered where he was going next. If Castiel is gone I'll sure miss him. I was relieved to see Bobby is hunting like he always has. Now all I can do is wait for the blu-ray of season five to get rid of all those annoying adverts on the screen.
Thanks for the fast review.
Very well done!
Like you I am impressed with the weaving of the Impala moments and the voiceover with the episode. Steve Boyum did an excellent job along with the writers and editors in putting it all together.
The opening caught me completely off guard as I did not recognize Chuck's voice and wondered what the heck was going on with a car ad -- yeah, I'm that slow.
I figured out Chuck was God right before he smiled and said...nothing ever truly ends (or something along those lines) so when I say I knew he was God before it was revealed, I mean JUST before -- yeah, still that slow.
Castiel's return was so satisfying and I too wondered, was he God. I'm glad he isn't and I truly hope he returns. Not sure how or why he would but I would like him to return...there' s so much there.
I love the whole full circle bit and Kripke voicing his farewell (as showrunner) to the fans was very touching and very personal. We are raging pains in the butt but as he stated regarding Becky, he has so much respect. A nice spin on the whole "I respect her too much" he respects us.
We love you, Mr. Kripke!
Thanks for putting this together so quickly and so beatifully. Where we go from here I have no idea but this truly was a Swan Song with moments from all five seasons woven in and new moments to treasure. I love the part that's related about when Dean rebuilt 'her' he kept all those touches. I'll forever imagine the Impala's heater coming on and the rattling of legos...sob, sniff...is it September yet?
Fantastic review, I canâ€™t believe how fast you did this.
You expressed everything I was thinking and feeling.
This episode was flawless to me.
Half the time I thought my heart was going to break from the heart wrenching moments and the other half I thought it was going to burst from the love and pride I felt towards these characters.
Kudos to Jensen, Jared, Jim, Misha, Mark, Jake, Rob and to Kripke and Co.
September couldnâ€™t get here fast enough.
And CHUCK - LOVE HIM. That whole history of the Impala, OMG that was a stroke of pure emotional genius. And then when Lucifer is going in for the kill punch with Dean, and Sam wrenches control because his memory is jogged by looking at the little plastic men in the car .... and that beautifully edited series of flashbacks . Perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Chuck as GOD ... yes, I did have that thought - What's the writer of any story doing but playing God as the creator and destroyer of everything. The all-white duds and the vanishing into thin air ... if not God, he's something more than human. Maybe as The Prophet God granted him something like Angel mojo too?
One of my favourite voiceovers of the entire episode is this bit about the Impala as "home" - I wept, I truly wept:
"In between jobs, Sam and Dean would sometimes get a day--sometimes a week, if they were lucky. They'd pass the time lining their pockets. Sam used to insist on honest work, but now he hustles pool, like his brother. They could go anywhere and do anything. They drove a thousand miles for an Ozzy show. Two days for a Jayhawks game. And when it was clear, they'd park her in the middle of nowhere, sit on the hood, and watch the stars... for hours... without saying a word. It never occurred to them that, sure, maybe they never really had a roof and four walls but they were never, in fact, homeless."
Hope so anyway!
Yes' I loved the flashbacks about the brotherly moments in the story. So much of that had been missed this season.
And Sam under the light. Is it Sam or not? Only season six will tell us for sure. But at least everyone is alive!
Thanks for reading â€“ Iâ€™m glad you enjoyed.
NicoleB â€“ I am happy my little article helped!
Leslie92708 â€“ I too am in a stupor, even 13.5 hours later â€“ but what can I say, I was inspired!
Supernarttu â€“ lol, no worries â€“ Iâ€™ve done that before too. Iâ€™m a little love-drunk on this episode as well, so I get it
Jas â€“ Thank you for your comments â€“ I was trying to put my raw reaction on paper after the episode. This episode blew everything else out of the water â€“ and there have been some good episodes in the past!
Maryam â€“ I think it became an option because in this case they have a place to put Lucifer (the cage) when Sam gains control whereas if Dean said yes to Michael â€“ where do they go from there? Thatâ€™s my understanding anyways. I donâ€™t think Dean took a sideline, persay. All along Dean has been the â€œnormalâ€ brother, by which I mean no powers or anything like that â€“ and still he keeps Sam grounded and even protected in many cases. In Swan Song because Dean didnâ€™t give up even when apparently all hope was lost and everyone else had given up, Sam was able to keep fighting too. I think if Dean hadnâ€™t come after Michael and Lucifer, then Sam wouldnâ€™t have been able to do what he did.
Rufus â€“ I like the idea that God has returned Sam as a reward for passing His crazy test â€“ guess weâ€™ll have to wait and see if thatâ€™s the case! I am dying for my DVDs of this season, too.
Dany â€“ weâ€™ll survive by sheer want to know what happened to Sam and what incarnation heâ€™s returned in. Bring on the speculation! This is going to be a crazy long Hellatus, thatâ€™s for sure!
Elle2 â€“ Cas can return as a tree-fairy for all I care, I just want him back, lol! This was such an all-around amazing episode, Iâ€™m still thunderstruck.
Tlieso â€“ yes, this was a surprisingly upbeat ending â€“ for Supernatural anyways â€“ even if we now have the better part of four months to speculate on what it all means
Karen â€“ thanks! I thoroughly agree â€“ flawless sums it up perfectly.
Randal â€“ youâ€™re totally right, the execution of this episode was incredibly well done â€“ the artistry can only be admired with awe and applause. Not many shows could have done something like this so well.
Trudi â€“ I cried basically from the get go. BUT then my father broke the Thursday night code and interrupted me to chit chat during the last few minutes of the show â€“ not cool! Itâ€™s hard to get lost in the moment when the comments â€œwhatâ€™s he doing â€“ is he a vampire or something? Whatâ€™s that big hole in the ground? Oh, somebodyâ€™s madâ€ are circulating. That voiceover about the Impala being Home was my favourite piece too â€“ itâ€™s nice to know that our boys did have some down time in between hunting and saving and apocolypsing. I think there is more to Cas and Deanâ€™s storyline, youâ€™re right â€“ they bonded, no question about it. Canâ€™t just leave it like that. All the more reason to rejoice â€“ Cas MUST come back!
Sablegreen â€“ Glad you liked the recap! The most special part about this episode was that the Impala had such a vital role â€“ this was her episode.
I am with you right there that they all did an outstanding job, especially Jensen and Jared.
It never dawned on my that this was Kripkes way of saying how much respect he has for the fans as well as his goodbyes. Still wondering what it will be like without him.
And yes my favarite part too is the one with the impala being their home.
Thanks Elle for doing such a fan - tastic job.
Have you seen this youtube vid? It's a wonderful summation of Swan Song and whatever tears I still had left in me after last night flowed freely this morning as I watched it!
Rose that video is brilliant - thanks so much for the link. Holy crap that was quickly put together!
Best quote of the episode: Do you want peace or freedom?
I was thoroughly enjoying all the doomed heroics right through to Sam's last stand ( how can you drink 16 pints of blood and not get any on your chin ...? ) and his dive into the Badly-CGIed-Pit -Of-Despair. Cas gets weird one last time and then goes POOF ... Fine. Bobby is all vertical and up to his old tricks ... Lovely. Dean gets to leave Sam in said pit and go and play happy families with bendy Lisa and little Thingy ... Me no like at all. I know he's earned it and I know Sam told him to but I never thought he actually WOULD. So huh.
Chuck is God. Huh again. Disgruntled archangel huffing off to moonlight as various pagen trickster gods, OKish ... Supreme Being hiding out as Cowardy Custard Pizza Obsessed Skuzzbucket With A Fixation For Ladies Of Negotiable Affection ... Er, what? Also, he's had angels all over his gaff and none of them got a tingle that Daddy was home ... Bit off, really.
Closing shot of Not-Dead-At-All Sam under flickering street light looking sinister ... Gaah! Please not another season of Sam! Is He All Evil Or What? We just did that ... Enough already.
I know it must be supremely tricky to tie up 5 seasons worth of story with a satisfying bang and still leave sufficient cliffhangery goodness to bring people back next September but I could really have done without those last few minutes, as they left a sour taste that messed up all the fine stuff that went before.
Now, regarding Sam and Dean brotherly love, I just got a word: perfect. My favorite scene of the episode was what made Sam assume control of his body. Too bad the sourness (sorry, I don't have a better word) of the ending kind of messed the episode.
Just one little quibble and I'm leaving: how come the demon blood did not coagulate? It's a fast process, you know.
Will S6 pick up a year or so in the future, since Chuck said that Dean wouldn't see Bobby for a long time?
What's going to happen to Bobby's soul? Is Crowley's word good?
Is Chuck God?
What happened to Adam? Is he dead or alive?
Where is Michael? Can he get himself out of hell, or is he locked in the cage with Lucifer? If he can climb out of the pit, would he free Sam, since neither angel require their vessels anymore? Argh!
I wanted to add my compliments, as well, to Jared and Jensen on their performances. Jensen does emotion like nobody's business, and Dean's heartbreak and loss made me want to shed a tear along with him (and then crawl up on the couch with a blankie and a stiff drink). Jared plays Lucifer well. Okay, understatement. The mirror scene with Sam/Lucifer was extremely interesting to watch, and a little reminiscent of the Dean/Demon Dean scene in 'Dream a Little Dream...' Okay, obviously Jared did that scene in two sections, but seeing him play an emotional-but-s trong Sam, opposite a calm, confident, superior Lucifer in the one scene was powerful (in my humble opinion). It's right up there with my favourite ever Sam scene (in BUABS, with Jo held captive). And the close-ups of Jared's face added to that (gosh he's nice to look at...lol). I guess I'm usually blinded by Jensen's 'facial acting' but when Jared turns it on, he really turns it on.
I could go on, but there were two things in this episode that made me either smile big or laugh at:
Cas' attempt at lying to Sam when they were saying goodbye, and the part where Dean put on Rock Of Ages and drove into the cemetery. That one made me laugh. Gotta love Dean's bravado.
DAMN YOU, KRIPKE!
THANK YOU, KRIPKE!
I'd like to repeat what det_coverdale said:
DAMN YOU, KRIPKE!
THANK YOU, KRIPKE! 8-)