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I'm going to warn you all right now, this is a 100 percent lovefest. I think many people were unfairly critical of the episode and I'm determined to spell out in exhaustive detail why every single scene is sheer calcuated brilliance. Oh, but in doing that, you’re also in store for one crazy ass long recap. Seriously, it’s a novel. So make sure you’re stocked up on both coffee and Kleenexes. It’s time to kick off this intense emotional rollercoaster. 

First off is the grand tradition we know and love of our season finales. I've even been guilty thus far of failing to mention this in light of the rest of the episode being so good, but you know a finale is good when the most understated part of the ep is the traditional "Carry On Wayward Son" montage. What can I say about this montage? It's great as usual and sums up season five pretty nicely. My favorite bit oddly enough is that great shot of Dean leaning against the Impala in "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid” although I’ll admit my emotions leapt when I saw Sam and Dean’s reaction to Ellen and Jo blowing up in the hardware store. That gets me every time too. 

Now for the finale (gulp!). This intro wasn't all what I expected. It starts documentary style, showing old footage of a Chevy being built on the assembly line in Janesville, Wisconsin in 1967. I think one of my Ford cars was built in that town too. I'm instantly emotional, for this is pure gold for a car buff born and raised in Detroit. Chuck is doing the narration and I adore his sentimental style with his storytelling all through this episode as well as the narrator's charming score.

He brings up April 21, 1967, when the 100th million GM vehicle rolled off the assembly line in Janesville. It was a blue two door Caprice.  I never understood the difference between a Caprice and an Impala. Thanks to wikipedia, I found out. They're the same car body wise but the Caprice had more luxury features. So that proves the Impala wasn't a glory car. Anyway, there was a big ceremony and speeches. "Even the Lt. Governor showed up." Too funny! Our Lt. Governor is too busy running for Senate now, which makes these Mickey Mouse ceremonies perfect for him. He'll show up at the opening of an auto parts store right now.

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 Back to the story. We see Chuck in his bathrobe at the computer typing away. He goes on. Three days after that another car rolled off that line, but "nobody gave "two craps about her. But they should of." I do! I care! "Because this 1967 Chevrolet Impala would turn out to be the most important car - no the most important object of pretty much the whole universe." I love how these early Impala segments were shot in a way where it looks like old 35 mm film footage. Have I ever mentioned how much I love all the little details that go into this show? Oh, constantly?

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The so called old footage shows the first owner of the Impala proudly getting into his new car at the dealer showroom. The Impala cost $3999, which was MSRP for an Impala at the time. His name was Sal Moriarity and he was “An alcoholic, two ex-wives and three blocked arteries." His primary purpose with the Impala was to drive around on weekends giving bibles to the poor, to get them ready for judgment day. You see, by the time the Winchesters got her she already had experience with the apocalypse. She was ideal for the job. I love how hanging from the rear view mirror is a tacky angel figurine that has “Sal”on it. Angels were watching over him. Ha! “Sam and Dean don’t know any of this, but if they did, I bet they’d smile.”

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After Sal died, which would be sometime in 1973 if we follow "In The Beginning," the Impala ended up at Rainbow Motors in Lawrence. Actually, if you freeze Chuck’s monitor here, it does say “After Sal died, not unexpectedly, of a heart attack in ‘73” She was bought by a young marine, aka John Winchester, on an impulse buy. She cost now $2200. That turns out to be the best two grand ever spent. Chuck of course brings up how John was sold on the car after a little advice from a friend, aka Dean. Yep, another shout-out to "In The Beginning." Chuck goes on in his typing, “I guess that’s where this story begins.” Then he stops typing and says, "And here’s where it ends.” Aww, I’m already moved.  How much more episode is left?  

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Next thing we see Sam resting on the hood of the old girl drinking a beer.  That right there reinforces why this must be a ‘67 Impala. All that hard Detroit steel is needed to hold that giant. A modern day Impala would crumple like paper. A rather unhappy Dean comes over and grabs a beer from the cooler sitting next to the Impala and doesn't say a word, even when Sam says “Hey.” Sam knows something is up. I'm going to point out here that Jared and Jensen in every scene from this point forward far exceed anything they've done before. The chemistry is so intuitive anymore, but they still somehow know how to amp up an intense situation and sell it better than they ever have before.

Sam wants to know what’s going on. Dean reluctantly gets to the point. He's in. Sam needs more. “The whole up with Satan thing. I’m on board.” This has Sam’s interest and he sits up, ready to listen to what Dean has to say. “You’re gonna let me say yes,” Sam asks. “No, that’s the thing. It’s not on me to let you do anything. You’re a grown, overgrown man. If this is what you want I’ll back your plan.” Sam admits that’s the last thing he thought he’d hear Dean say. Careful Sam, that just might being one of the last things. Dean is approving your plan for self-sacrifice. I don’t see this being a precious moment you'll share with the grandkids.

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It should also be noted that the director of this episode, Steve Boyum, much like Eric Kripke in last season's finale, is pulling out all the old Kim Manners tricks. In this scene he maintains that familiar close up on the faces, cutting off the frame at the forehead. Naturally, which is why Kim Manners always did that trick to begin with, it brings out more of the emotion in their faces. Yep, Kripke and company are trying to kill us before the title card even shows. 

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Dean admits that it goes against every fiber he's got. "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. You're not a kid anymore Sam and I can't keep treating you like one." It's right about here that the sad piano score kicks in and my heart just starts to sink. "Maybe I gotta grow up too." Then there's that long pause where we see Sam's face and his silence speaks volumes. He's truly touched by all this. Dean goes on. "I don't know if we got a snowballs chance, but I do know if anybody can do it, it's you."
 
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Sam nods and says in a soft voice, “Thank you.” Yep, Dean’s getting to him. Dean just comes out and asks, is this what he wants? Sam, showing how much he’s really grown up in the last five years, says the most mature thing we’ve seen from him to date. “I let him out, I gotta put him back in.” Oh Sammy, no. That means a doomed eternity for you. “Okay, that’s it then,” Dean says. So yes, tears begin to flow before the title sequence. Especially with that wide shot with the tender score of the boys having their talk on the Impala. They seem so alone, so isolated in that sea of cars, yet all three are going to face this together. Yep, Kripke is going for the jugular. 

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Just think about it, how far have these boys come since their first series encounter at Sam’s apartment in Stanford? Everything since then has led up to this one defining moment. Now I’m getting all sentimental. The title card accentuates the blatantly obvious in this episode, and this entire story for the last five years. Blood is thicker than water. 

Comments  

nancyL
# nancyL 2010-05-22 14:42
Hi Alice

Love your recaps. Loved the story of the Impala. Really loved the entrance of the Impala and Dean at the cemetary. Loved Castiel. This was a good way of ending the first five seasons and a good way of starting (maybe) the next five seasons. Poor Dean. Poor us, is it September yet????????
Randal
# Randal 2010-05-22 15:49
Not a fan of the Dodge Dart, huh.

"Good answer, I'm going to be watching you."
"Nice teacher. Really seems to care. About what, I have no idea."

Instead of Adamichael, how about Madam? Muah.

Only Cas could have pulled off the "assbutt" line for precisely that reason.

I don't even really have any constructive comments to add (yeah yeah, I know, nothing new) but reading your recap only confirms the fact that Swan Song is the motherfucker of all season finales. If you weren't moved after that forty minutes, you're either a dead, deceased corpse or a no-talent douchebag Caruso minion.
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-05-22 15:57
Loved the recap Alice, thanks. There are so many wonderful moments in this episode I can barely begin to name my favorites - oh heck, the whole dang episode is my favorite. Thanks for once again spelling out the wonderful and genius of this episode and of everyone involved in it. Words can hardly express the greatness of everyone involved.

The performances in this episode especially rocked - which are so evident in the pictures you included. Jensen and Jared were perfection and they have so embodied these characters that you really do feel like Dean and Sam are real people. The inflections they use, the subtle body language to the way they show us their feelings with a look on their faces. Pure awesomeness. This was definitely a great way to end this particular mytharc and as nancyL put it "a good way of starting the next five seasons". If only in my dreams. Can hardly wait to see what genius the writers have in store for us next. September, here we come!!!!! (Not soon enough though)
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-05-22 15:59
Amen! Randal, Amen!!!!! (Hey, I learned how to drive in a Dodge Dart - Loved that car.)
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-05-22 18:37
Awwww, Alice, you made me bawl all over again! :cry::

It took me a long time to read your recap as I couldn't see clearly through the layer of tears.

I love love your recaps when you love an episode and don't mind a bit if you write a novel about it. This one did rip my heart out and stomp all over it and is still giving me fits.

I was so happy Dean was not a mere meat suit for Michael and he was the big hero I know he is and completely human. Dean and the Impala gave Sam his chance and so the Apocalypse was ended. Yay! But how devastating for Dean watching his brother dive down the pit and I have no doubt if he could have moved at all he would have gone down with him. How much more can the poor man take? Kripke, how you torture my poor beloved boys!

I get so emotionally involved with these two and only have this outlet to express my feelings as one of my friends calls me obsessed and another one, if I even hint that I am in distress over the Winchesters only keeps saying "It's ONLY a TV show already!" So, opening up to either of them is a nono.

And Randal, I used to own a Dodge Dart and there is nothing wrong with them as long as it never rains and you can ignore the humongous rust holes that eventually appear. Just never take your foot off the accelerator if there is even a hint of rain and use your left one on the brakes when stopping at a stop light. Not inconvenient at all! :-?
Galina
# Galina 2010-05-22 18:54
As I am one of those disappointed with the episode I thought I might post to give my reasons for it and see if I need to get new glasses or a hearing aid. Of course it’s just my opinion, so please don’t let me spoil your pleasure.

I loved the documentary style intro with the Impala and her „experience with the apocalypse“.

The boys’ conversation at the Impala’s side however sounded like your standard made-for-TV therapy session. Sam and Dean’s expressions and tone were realistic, the words – a complete cliché.

Sam’s taking responsibility wasn’t anything new, he expressed as much in episode 1 of this season. Besides, I would expect at least as much maturity from a twenty seven year old. On the other hand, the wish to sacrifice yourself to right a mistake you were expertly manipulated into making smacks more of teenage melodrama than of maturity. Doesn’t matter that it was mostly others’ fault – you’ll show them all by taking ALL the blame!! You’ll die in a blaze of glory so nobody would even DARE blame you for ANYTHING, even if your plan fails!!! In my eyes it simplifies Sam’s character horrendously. I’ve been having this problem ever since the “Say Yes to Lucifer”- plan was introduced.

I was very glad both boys were disturbed by the slaughter of the innocent hosts of those two “stunt demons”. It was an appropriately chilling prelude to their suicidal plan.

Sam and Dean on the way to Detroit – now that was a mature conversation. It hit all the right notes with me.

The good-byes were very effective. I liked the contrast between Bobby and Castiel. Bobby’s false bravado and gruffness let Sam keep his game face more or less on, Castiel’s tragic attempts at the same technique elicit a small tortured smile from Sam that lets us realise that he’s barely keeping it together. Great moment.

The whole sequence with Lucifer was a pleasure to watch. The way he played Dean was delightfully evil. However, for me, it all went downhill from there.

Lucifer playing “I’m your friend” to a mirrored Sam had excellent atmosphere and acting and… was a cliché for the most part. Lucifer tries to tempt Sam with revenge on demons who acted on Lucifer’s orders in the first place? A fact that somehow flew over Sam’s head? Not buying Sam’s stupidity here at all.

Men looking at the stars for hours… Through telescopes – sure, just because it’s so peaceful and pretty – not buying it, sorry. I know Dean could spend his time much better watching “Dr. Sexy MD”.

Samifer and Adamichael – just NO. For me it was one of the worst scenes on TV ever, period. No chemistry, poor acting, at least on one side, and nonsensical dialogue. Haven’t we heard the “God made evil, so it’s His fault it exists.”- argument a thousand times already? On top of that, those two are archangels who’ve been exercising free will since the beginning and failed to realise it was so for thousands of years? And instead spend their time squabbling like kindergarteners ? Compare this scene with Death’s scene from last episode – how are they even in the same show?

The first time I watched this scene threw me clean out of the story so I couldn’t enjoy the rest. On the second viewing I ff-ed past it so the final confrontation hit me but good. The wind whistling over the montage was inspired. I’m not much into “the power of love” – concepts but that one worked well. Maybe it’s the way the boys can communicate the world without words.

Dean’s devastation was the best scene for me hands down. He and the always faithful Impala mourning their colossal loss amidst a bright sunny day was a truly haunting image. Interestingly enough, the death and resurrection of Cas and Bobby didn’t change that feeling of finality and loss at all. It stayed with me to the bittersweet end and I loved it.

What I didn’t care for were the endless flashbacks and Chuck’s narration – it was too melodramatic for me to take seriously and manipulative enough to irritate me. So the overall feeling is of a very uneven episode that had some strong and some weak ideas, some excellent and some poor execution, and superb acting that honoured the script much more than the script honoured the actors.

Thank you for your detail-obsessed recap and for reading, if you’ve gotten this far!
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-05-22 19:50
Thanks for the recap!!! Like watching the show again but a little lighter, which is good since I can't watch it again for fear of my sanity.

One note, am I the only one who heard this? In the goodbye scene with Cas, didn't Sam say "Just, stop. He's looking." Meaning Dean. Thought it was sadly hilarious and I hope I heard right.
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-05-22 20:37
Thanks for reliving with us this wonderful episode!

In such an emotion-filled episode is hard to pick a favorite scene. But the dialogue in the car in their way to Detroit, with Sam's calm acceptance of his fate and Dean having to make such a promise kills me everytime. :cry:: :cry:: :cry::
RylinnB
# RylinnB 2010-05-22 23:57
Love your review. But one question: did you notice there was 5 rings? I think I missed something along the way, where did the fifth ring come from? Was it Dean's ring ring that disappeared after Changing Channels??

Can anyone clarify for me?? Thanks in advance : }
Karen
# Karen 2010-05-23 02:19
Hi Alice
Fantastic recap! I’m going to miss them for the next few months.

Everything you commented on is basically what I loved about this episode.
The history of the Impala and the flash backing of the boys.
The moments between Sam and Dean.
Sam’s goodbye to Bobby and Castiels.
The use of mirror for the conversation between Sam and Lucifer.
And the whole confrontation between Samifer and Dean.
I know some fans were very disappointed that there was no big battle between Lucifer/Sam and Michael/Dean. But for me I was happy they didn’t do that.
After all wasn’t the whole basis of Team Free Will, NOT to fight?
To NOT give in and become Luci and Mikey’s vessels for that very reason?

Galina I don’t think you need glasses or a hearing aid. If this episode didn’t work for you then that’s your opinion. After all it would be a pretty boring world if we didn’t have different views or opinions.
Suze
# Suze 2010-05-23 04:16
Hey, Galina, it's not just you, mate ... I thought bits of this one were pretty clunky too. Chuck's voice-over broke up the mood and really got on my nerves and I hated the Whoops-Oooer-He re-Comes-The-Bi g-Twist stuck-on ending.

Mind you, Lucifer's Devil went down to Georgia moment was absolutely perfect! That song is one of my all time top guilty pleasures ... :D

PS. Alice ... Detroit, Michigan? Us cheese eating surrender monkey Euro-types completely feel your pain, kiddo. London, England ... Paris, France, as opposed to some home-grown version that doesn't have red buses and Eiffel Towers all over the place ... :lol:
ElenaM
# ElenaM 2010-05-23 10:31
Dean called Cas “Bukowski”, referencing the writer. For any geeks like me who care. His stuff’s pretty gritty and depressing; Kripke talked about him in the commentary for WIAWSNB as well [geek]. Speaking of which—so Rachel hooked up with Dean at the prom in this reality AND the alternate reality??? Wow, that sucks.

Bevie and Evelyn, would you be the two Dodge fans? ;-)

Thanks for all the Detroit detail, loved it!

I didn’t even pay attention to the label on the tape!!! Thanks! Re: Rock of Ages—Despite immersion in our new local classic rock station, 95.3—which pretty much has the Supernatural soundtrack as its playlist--that was actually the first time I heard the song (what? I grew up listening to the Goo Goo Dolls). Don’t know about the opening words (huh?), but the thought the few lyrics we heard fit: “I got something to say/it’s better to burn out/than fade away…”

Really loved the editing in this episode, whoever put together those flashback montages, amazing…

Remember that scene from 4x18 where Chuck says “Obviously I’m a god”? Pretty funny to begin with, but it’s so much more hilarious now!

Otherwise,
:cry:: :cry:: :cry::

Awesome recap.
Julie
# Julie 2010-05-23 12:31
Alice ,
Thanks so much for the recap , I have loved them all but this one was special.
You should not offer us apologies for writing `a lovefest` this episode deserved, and demanded it .
From the monemt I heard the first bars of Kansas I found myself with tears in my eyes ,and I continued to be moved by every following scene , like you my heart broke when Sam asked Dean to not watch him as he drank the blood.
The scene in the cemetary was both beautiful and brutal, I know many people were disappointed that they did not get `the big fight ` they wanted but I was so pleased that Dean never said `Yes` and that in the end everything came down to what the core of this show has always been about , family and love .
I find it hard to believe that some people did not like this wonderful episode and cannot believe anyone was unmoved by it .
I just hope that Kripke and his magnificent team know how much we all appriciate their work
Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2010-05-23 12:47
Hi Alice.

Good stuff. Big things. ;-)

I loved this eppie to death and I love your recap as much :-) Reading this brought back so many lovely moments and looks and glances and lines that I still feel a smile tugging in the corner of my mouth.

So many fave moments; Dean at Lisas doorstep (*chinwibble*), "the Impala moment" and the way Lucifer loses control during that montage of love and brotherhood (Ah, be still my heart!), their talk in the car on the way to Detroit, "I ain't gonna let him die alone", to Marks Lucifer freaking me out to Jareds little mirror conversation keeping me glued to the screen and taking it all in with fear and fascination. And Chucks narration moving the story along, with the little tidbits of their childhood. *happysigh*

Wow. What a fantastic Rollercoaster Ride -finale. Awesome. Amazing. Tear Your Heart Out. Love, just love.

Thank you Alice for all the wonderfull recaps, and come on season 6!
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-05-23 16:06
Alice, I can hardly believe what you did with this recap - you drew me back into this episode and the whole emotional mess... Being a true masochist ;-) I can't help but love you for it.

I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Jared's acting here - we have rarely seen so many facets of Sam, I was in awe from moment one till the very end... What a marvellous young actor he has become.

My psyche still has trouble dealing with the episode, as you well know. I still trust the creative team to come back with a wonderful, fantastic, haunting and emotionally draining sixth season. What else to expect from a show that plays my soul like a fiddle?

thank you so much for this. I absolutely loved it, Jas
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-05-23 17:48
Elena-I learned how to drive in a Dodge Dart - loved the car, it had a lot of power and was fun to drive. But truthfully, I am a Ford girl through and through. Give me a 67 Ford Mustang Coupe and I will be a happy camper. (You know, like the one War had in GGY) Love that car. (second choice, of course, if the 67 Impala.)

Thanks again Alice for the recap. This episode kicked-a***. Loved it from beginning to end. :D
trina
# trina 2010-05-23 20:13
I read this in a snackbar at a campground (the only place with wi-fi). I am pretty sure everyone in the room assumed I just got horrible news.

Regarding the episode, I loved it. I don't think it was perfect. I hate slow-motion (it is never an actor's friend) and Michael was not very imposing. But none of that really matters. From a character standpoint it was beautiful, tragic, and in many ways pitch perfect.
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-05-24 11:13
Great recap Alice, I just loved the story of the impala and the big part it played.

I'm glad you got the screen cap of the boys under the stars. I totally agree! We need to see much more of the happy stress-free boys between jobs, and I'd LOVE to see them on a day off! I hope more of this is done in season 6.

It's sad that Kripke left us with such sadness again for the summer, Sam back but not happy about it at all, and Dean grieving for Sam, and not being able to help him.

Hope they don't have too much time pass before the boys reunite.
Bethany
# Bethany 2010-05-24 14:22
comment for the site in link above … ok this must be a generational thing because I’d never heard rock of ages before and the first bit is sampled on the offspring song ‘pretty fly for a white guy’ so when the song started up I was really confused thinking “really weird song choice” then was really embarrassed when the actual song came on and I cracked up when I realised my error (not the impression Kripke was going for I guess). I didn’t like that song either I would have much preferred say ‘back in black’ or ‘carry on my wayward son’ or would that have been far too cheesy?



Did I like the episode, yes. Did I think it was the best they’ve ever done, no. Doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it though. Like some other commenters I thought it was a bit clunky the first time I watched it and that Chuck’s narration broke up the tension and the fluidity of some scenes but on re-watching I thought it worked better than I originally thought. I loved the flash back moment where Lucifer sees the army man in the ashtray and gets a glimpse of all of Sam’s memories, like the firework scene in DSOTM it was just beautifully done and captured something that wouldn’t have been conveyed half so poignantly in words, so much work must have gone into that moment but it was worth it, just lovely … I rewound and played it over and over again. I also loved the moments from their lives just that little glimpse of bored wee Sam and Dean in the car growing up, them sat on the hood just enjoying the moment. It was just lovely that for all the show is, the finale seemed to be about the little moments that make up the boy’s relationship, how sometimes the most important moments in a relationship, that define that relationship, aren’t the grand gestures or the big speeches but in the every day moments that make up a relationship. I just loved that about this episode.



Bizarrely enough the one part of the episode I didn’t like was when Sam was about thrown himself into the hole and Michael came back. I didn’t know why he needed to be there, I think the shot would have been mush better with Sam stretching out his arms and falling backwards. I also liked the idea of Michael foiled and having to face the fact that destiny fate and everything he’s been spouting had been proved incorrect by two rather stubborn brothers. It just spoilt the moment for me as I felt it took something away from Sam in that moment when everything should have been focused on him. But that’s a personal niggle.



Wow this was long, longer than I thought it was going to be but all in all I loved it and I loved the fact that Kripke told his story his way and ended it how he wanted and Bobby and the Impala (I always knew she was special) made it out ok so I’m happy.
Ardeospina
# Ardeospina 2010-06-01 12:08
Late to the party, but I'm so behind with the recent articles! Great recap, as usual, Alice. I also really loved the episode, so it was great to be able to hear how much you loved it, too. Now you have a much-deserved break from recapping!