Thoughts on Two Minutes to Midnight
As second to last episodes go, this one didn't disappoint. From the opening teaser to the last frame of Dean's troubled face, my eyes were glued to the screen.
What I loved about this episode:
Castiel
The return of our angel! He's not quite an angel anymore though, that's okay with me. Human Castiel is way better than no Castiel, and likely to about ten times as funny. Speaking as someone who has always enjoyed the friendship between Dean and Castiel, it was a good moment to see the apology and re-establishment of the status quo between them.
Castiel's apology to Dean on the phone was quite touchingand funny.
"You said no to Michael. I owe you an apology, you are not the burnt and broken shell of a man that I believed you to be. "
As always, Cas' struggle in the human moments and with nuances of our culture provide for great comic relief during a heady episode. Castiel saved the day with Pestilence, proving more and more to be as sneaky as any Winchester. I admit, I love seeing badass Castiel, so he can swoop in heroically anytime! He had a few of these moments in the episode of course, including when he discovered that the sawed off shot gun
Pestilence
Okay, maybe I was the only one who didn't recognize Matt Frewer and know who he was, but as I was watching his scenes, his voice kept tugging at me. So, as any 21st century person seeking knowledge about a celebrity would, I immediately IMDB'd him - Charlie, from SyFy's Alice! I was equal parts satisfied and disappointed with Pestilence. He was well played and thoroughly revolting, however, as many have stated he wasn't present very long as a character. Perhaps there was simply too much to cram into the end of the season and this was one area that got cut short, but it's a shame we didn't see more Pestilence. Though, I did appreciate the lack of flies during this week's appearance (bugs, ew!).
Death
Lucifer has me bound to him, some unseemly little spell. He has me where he wants, when he wants..he made me his weaponI'm more powerful than you can process and I'm enslaved to a bratty child having a tantrum.
The fabulous Julian Richings was such a treat to watch in this role. Sufficiently chilling, his delivery and characterization of such a powerful creature dominated the scene. This is the most interesting of all the horsemen. As Death stated, he is eternal with no beginning and no ending, thus, it makes sense that Lucifer's agenda is of no importance to him. Furthermore, I wondered how the boys could possibly get Death's ring without killing Death (which, wow, talk about a paradox). I hope to see Death again, his pizza chat with Dean was enjoyable for many reasons. Something interesting about the scene in the pizza parlor, the restaurant is called Rinascita, which is the Italian word for rebirth. A hint, perhaps, at something to come? I hope so!
Lucifer's pride is slowly stacking against him. The kind of arrogance involved in lassoing Death, an omnipotent and timeless being, seems to be proving a grave error for the Morning Star. So now, in the arsenal of folks opposed to Lucifer, we have some demons, some pagan gods, possibly the anti-Christ (I think it would be such a waste if he didn't play into the final battle!), and Death. Maybe God too, hard to tell at this point what is truth and what's angelic misdirection.
I would be remiss if in this review I didn't pay proper tribute to the remarkable and effective filming of Death's introduction scene. From the slow motion, to the song this was one of the most potent scenes in Supernatural history, which remarkable given that it had no main characters and only a line of dialog. My god the Supernatural team is awesome!
Sam
Sammy, your harebrained scheme to cage Lucifer might just be crazy enough to work. But given the Winchester luck, this is unlikely to go smoothly. In the warehouse, Sam was strong and unyielding in efforts to get the people out and do what he'd come to do. It seems that Sam took Bobby's message to heart last week and his trying, and succeeding, to be self-discipline, in control and strong willed. When Sam set's his mind to a goal, we know he usually achieves it, one way or another.
Bobby
How wonderful is it to see Mr. Singer as a fully functioning soldier in this final fight? When he spoke about walking up and down the stairs all night, just because he could, it was emotional. The pure happiness on Bobby's face and the marvel when he first stepped out of his wheelchair was rewarding - Bobby has been through a lot this year and deserves to have something good happen after all this time. I have to say, I didn't see this twist coming in the least - to my mind, Bobby was wheeling his way to the final standoff. Glad to know I was completely wrong.
Crowley
Each week I become more intrigued by Crowley. The infamous kissing photo was a riot and the apparently altruistic granting of Bobby's mobility was unexpected. Furthermore, Crowley obviously knew Death wasn't where he took Dean, but he did hint that they should get pizza while in Chicago. Was this intentional so that he could give Bobby's soul back as Crowley, for all intents and purposes, didn't hold his end of the deal, even superficially speaking? His motives aren't clear and I believe there is more to this demon than meets the eye. Someone posited that perhaps Crowley is God in disguise. I'm not sure what to make of that proposal, but it certainly provides some food for thought. Either way, I hope we see Crowley again beyond this season, he's a character I love to hate, and lately, just love to love. There is something charming about his slick manipulations - you just have to appreciate the artistry in his manoeuvres. 
Dean
It was refreshing to see the Dean approach the discussion with Death without his usually bravado. What is remarkable to me, is the number of people (creatures, angels, demons, etc.) going out of their way to tell the Winchesters how "insignificant " they are and yet said creatures don't either kill the Winchester, or they try to kill them with gusto. If they were so insignificant and weak, well why would everyone be so threatened by them then? I would like to say that dean has learned, that trying to put his brother before the rest of the world doesn't work. That sounds cold, but it is what it is. He and Sam continually try to save one another and each time the global cost becomes higher.
The final scene with Bobby twisted up my stomach with anxiety and I have a feeling it's going to stay that way until, well it's Kripke, so probably next seasons premiere. When Bobby posited the last question - is Dean afraid of losing, or losing his brother - I wonder if he was recalling his trip forward in time. The image of Lucifer wearing Sam must have haunted Dean from time to time throughout this season, perhaps more now as the final battle draws closer. A number of things from that future are apparently coming to fruition - and Sam saying yes to Lucifer is more plausible now, given that it's their only plan. Ah Dean, I think you have stop being the big brother here and let Sam make his choice and follow through.
The End
So, less than 7 days till the end of season five, how we got here so fast I'll never know. The trailer for next week's episode has me equally excited and petrified for what's to come. Thank goodness for our online support group - I have a feeling we'll all need it next week more than ever!