Open Supernatural Couch – Two Minutes to Midnight
 
Or
 
The Coming of the Shadow of Death
 
It’s all for one and one for all. We’re only one episode away from the epic showdown that will surely be upon us next Thursday. According to Crowley, ‘this time next Thursday, we’ll be living in zombie land’.
 
Lucifer marshals up his armies, we can already hear their footsteps. And ‘Death draws his cordons in’. I don’t know why Judith Wright’s poem came to my mind when I watched the episode for the third time, but her words from her poem The Company of Lovers echoed in me. It’s one of my all time favourite poems, and sometimes, after becoming a fan of this show and being enthralled by the tragedy of the Winchesters, this poem somehow reminded me of the sad love stories that eventually set the whole destiny train in motion…
 
‘The dark preludes of the drums’ begin in many places, but we learn of a forlorn convalescent home in Iowa where Pestilence set up his lair, revelling in mixing up various diseases in a Petri dish. Coming back from a ‘productive trip’ he does not ease the patients pains but increases them only to be coated in pea soup, a horror movie classic to make the audience gag. The whole place is indeed, as Sam points out later, ‘more depressive than evil’. Remind me to die before I get so sick and/or old that I end up in a home like that.
 
Mr P’s plan (according to the Lucifer Gospel in this case) is very simple, and therein lies the brilliance of it, not much unlike the deadly simplicity of a lethal virus: spread a swine flu epidemic and then get the Croatoan virus on the road with the vaccine everyone will be craving for.
 
Everyone? Well… after getting my own anti-swine-flue vaccination last fall I was sick for a month. Perhaps I was given an early test version of Croatoan Dry… Don’t get a shot these days, people. It’s an infernal health hazard…
 
‘Don’t “Dean” me!’
 
Sam doesn’t keep secrets anymore, it seems. He tells Dean of his plan who, naturally, reacts with shock and indignation.
 
Dean:    ‘You can’t do this!’
Sam:      ‘That’s a consensus.’
Dean:    ‘Alright, awesome. End of discussion.’
 
Unfortunately, it’s not. Dean will learn soon enough that this will remain pretty much the only decent plan they will have. It might have been interesting to see where this argument would have led, had Castiel not interrupted it with his call – especially after Dean found out that Bobby did not give him the ‘heads up’ he expects from his fatherly friend.
 
Castiel is alive! But, alas, after upsetting the sailors on a shrimping boat where he suddenly appeared after his heroic stunt he can’t zap anywhere without having money wired to him for travel – he’s ‘incredibly human’. For now, he’s lost his ‘angel mojo’, and he’s not feeling well. Of course. Who would in his position? Having known nothing but being an angel, now being victim to e.g. a bug bite that won’t stop itching must be a weird experience for him. And it probably scares him big time.
 
Castiel has had some time to think, tied to a hospital bed, and apologizes to Dean for not believing in him. He was amazed at Dean not saying Yes to Michael and seems to remain in awe about these humans that manage to ‘exceed his expectations’ again and again. 
 

 
Castiel: ‘You are not the burnt and broken shell of a man that I believed you to be.’
Dean:    ‘Thank you. I appreciate that.’
 
I’m sure, Dean needs to hear that from his friend after having feared to have lost him – not only to possible death or destruction, but also to mistrust. As Bobby wires Castiel some money (come on, even though Bobby expressed some annoyed surprise as Dean mentioned that he would, we know Bobby to be the decent man he is and help the angel who often pisses him off out, no matter what. They are brothers in arms. There is no room for petty strives… though I believe Bobby is still mad at Castiel that the angel was not able to make his legs work again months ago) the brothers get on the road to get the third ring.
 
‘If Satan wants them so bad, he can glue them back together!’
 
We get some nice scenes, reminiscent of the early episodes like Nightshifter, as Sam and Dean concentrate on the security cameras. Dean, however, is tired and practically falls asleep – tired of not sleeping enough? Tired of being worried? Tired of being angry? He is hurting with fear, we know that, because it might be trickling through his system that he could be about to lose his brother – perhaps for good this time.
 
Luckily Sam is on guard and notices Pestilence. As they make their way through the corridors, passing a few corpses, it is Sam who remains standing long enough to help Dean on, before finally falling right into the door of ‘Dr Green’s’ room. Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly… He has managed to get various diseases into their bodies over the last minutes, from scarlet fever to syphilis. That’s really nasty. The brothers are coughing up blood again – kind of a familiar thing this season. They are about to die, actually, as Pestilence, who obviously loves the sound of his own voice, doesn’t give a damn about Lucifer’s orders not to harm the vessels.
 

 
One wonders whether he is also on a leash, as Death admits later on. Or is he simply playing along out of solidarity with his three brothers? He is a loyal one, that is for sure. We don’t get to know much of him after Castiel saves the day, fresh from the bus, ‘an occupied vessel, but powerless’ with just enough speck to get ring number three. The horseman’s sickness spell only works as long as the gem is on his finger, so it’s a relief to see the guys restored to their health again. Hopefully this holds true for the other patients in that sad home, too.
 
Apparently, losing the ring does not kill a horseman. The others are most likely still alive, too. I would love to see them ride against Lucifer – imagine four gorgeous muscle cars pulling up a dark alley for a fight… Ennio Morricone playing in the background… Wrong movie? Ah, shame…
 
The show needs to pick up speed here, as we have only one episode left, so we get a lot of information in a very short time. That Bobby sold, respectively pawned, his soul to Crawley in exchange for the location and plan of Death. Interesting how the concept of ‘good news’ grows to a whole new calibre.
 
‘Did you kiss him?’
 
The scene with Bobby admitting what he did and Crowley’s cutting enhancement of the deal – documented on his iPhone, adding that Bobby used tongue (ahem, Crowley, too much information!) is one hilarious breather, even funnier as it is Sam and not Dean who wants to know some details here. A short breather, though. I am grateful for any moment I don’t have to be on edge for our team. As we are going into battle with our heroes, we need moments like this to relax at least a minute to keep our sanity for the rest of this season… (yes, I know, it’s just a freakin’ tv show, yada, yada, yada, I keep saying that to me and to other fans, but fact is: I allowed this freakin’ tv show to enter my system and to love these characters…)
 
So, we’re getting on the road… to stop the damn apocalypse.
 
Dean:    ‘Let me guess, we’re about to have a talk.’
Sam:      ‘Look, Dean, for the record: I agree with you, about me. You think I’m too weak to take on Lucifer, well, so do I. Believe me, I know exactly how screwed up I am. You, Bobby, Cas – I’m the least of any of you.’
Dean:    ‘Ah, Sam- ‘
Sam:      ‘It’s true, it is. I’m also all we got. If there was another way – but I don’t think there is. There’s just me. So I don’t know what else to do except just try to do what’s gotta be done.’
 
This scene cut through my heart like a red hot blade. Damn, this whole episode did. I can’t think that any of us who watch this show would agree with Sammy. We’ve seen him be more than he believes to be. But as this show revels in character dynamics we see another facet of Sam here – the confident, more or less independent young guy who left for Stanford once, convinced to have a shot at the kind of life he decides to have, has some severe self-esteem issues, too. Just as Dean. Only a different colour.
 
He’s wrong, of course. He might be screwed up to some extent. But most of us are, aren’t we. Anyone who has experienced some kind of tragedy in their lives has been left with scars. And sometimes those get in the way of rational thinking and common sense. We are all human. We do what we can. Nobody can do more.


 
Look at Sam’s face, here. Such strength. Even though he doubts himself, it is there. He doesn’t seem to feel it himself. I wish I could get into that handsome head of his and trigger the conviction he had so clearly outlined once… He trusts his brother unconditionally. He admits his ‘weakness’ freely, taking in Dean’s doubts (Dean does not voice them in this scene, but it’s all in Jensen’s face – we know what he is thinking, he’s said it more than once).
 
The burden Sam is carrying has weakened him, yes, but he will find his courage. We have rarely seen fear in his face combined with anger and determination in that manner. There are even harder days coming. You have seen the promos for the next episode, right? Storm clouds are gathering. And when we get into a storm, we react according to our character. Sam’s nature will not condemn him to hide or run away or freeze with fear. He will do what needs to be done and soar on the wind. That is my firm belief. And I am so hoping for the brothers that this will dawn on them before the end. Because it might help them survive. 
 
The shadow of doom is upon them, tough. Before I can get any more emotional, Crowley (thank Hell for him) comes and breaks the tension with ‘And… scene!’  More information – Niveus Pharmaceuticals are preparing for the ‘simultaneous worldwide distribution’ of Croatoan. Quite a plan, indeed.
 
‘O Death… o Death… would you spare me over another…? … my name is Death and the end is near…’
 
The fourth horseman, the oldest and most defining one, arrives in Chicago in a beautiful, pale Cadillac, ready to wipe out the city in style. Since we learn later that he needed Dean to find him (because Lucifer has him on a leash, spellbound) the omens and Crowley’s information on Death’s whereabouts probably were a part of his plan to get the elder Winchester hither. 
 

 
His introduction, though, is amazing. Very Ridley Scott. Slow motion, haunting music, and the fact that when Death touches you – you die. Plain and simple.
 
The brothers can’t be at two places at the same time. Clearly. So, they need so split up. They prepare for this step like weary warriors – which they are – exhausted, almost out of hope but clinging to it like a drowning man…being matter of fact here, no lamenting… reactions that are so authentic and real…  At this point that is the only option – do what needs to be done. There is no more time for discussions. Or world weariness. So, their goodbyes are equally short despite the fact that they are aware that this might actually be the last time they see each other alive. Each mission is dangerous. Way too dangerous.
 
Dean is hardly able to say anything, except ‘Good luck stopping the whole zombie apocalypse’ with Sam answering ‘Good luck killing Death’. Sam, however, remembers – not without a sense of longing, I think – the early, much simpler days when they still hunted Wendigos… They have indeed come a long way from the early season we began to follow their exploits. Let’s hope, should they survive, that life will get a bit simpler for them, at least. But …life’s hardly ever that way…
 
‘Bobby, just gonna sit there?’
 
Who would have thought that Crowley is an altruist? He added a little something to the contract when borrowing Bobby’s soul – giving him his legs back. At this moment my heart jumped. And Jim Beaver made so much of that scene with hardly any dialogue… give-him-hell attitude, surprise, confusion, elation, incapability to believe what’s happening, unfathomable gratitude. Oh, Bobby! I missed you in action so much… This is lovely scene. I’m in tears.
 

 
I’m only afraid Crowley threw him a bone here before Bobby’s life will be taken. That’s one of the possible character deaths I fear. There have been speculations that Crowley might turn out to be God, as it is so un-demonlike to do a selfless deed like that. At this point, although I love to speculate away sometimes, I won’t indulge in it. I don’t trust Crowley. The following episode will prove me right or wrong. I’m okay with either, yet hoping that Bobby will be standing at the end and continue to be an asset in the sixth season.
 
So, the Anti-Croatoan team gets to Niveus, but this is Supernatural, and nothing goes smoothly here… Castiel, still pining over the loss of his angel mojo, informs Bobby and Sam that Michael has chosen a new vessel – Adam. An idea everyone had but feared to actually think about. That’s not the only quake shaking the truck. Cas likes Sam’s plan, but:
 
Cas:        ‘Sam, if you say Yes to Lucifer and then fail, this fight (the celebrity death match) will happen And the collateral, it’ll be immense. There’s also the demon blood.’
Sam:      ‘What? What are you talking about?’
Cas:        ‘To take in Lucifer you’d need more than you ever drunk.’
Sam:      ‘But, why?’
Cas:        ‘Strengthens the vessel. Keeps it from exploding.’
Sam:      ‘But the guy he’s in now-‘
Cas:        ‘He’s drinking gallons.’
Bobby: â€˜And how’s that not the worst plan you’ve ever heard?’
 
After being happy to see Bobby on his feet again, this twisted the knife in my body with typical Kripke-esque sick pleasure… What exactly does this mean? Ruby’s words at the end of season four ‘you didn’t need the feather to fly, you had it in you the whole time, Dumbo’ keep ringing in my ears. Did that not mean that Sam in fact was not in need of the blood to wield his power? Or did I miss something? Not paying attention?
 
What if – the angels have probably seen Nick/Lucifer swallowing huge amounts of blood… what if that is the only intel they have on the matter. Observation. Do they really know that Sam will need the blood or do they assume he might? I’ve been convinced that he had enough power within him. That’s what we have been told, right? 
 
 

Sam remains silent, but his face, wonderfully lit by Serge Ladouceur, master of photography, speaks volumes. Castiel’s words must be shattering news for him, but he won’t allow it to torpedo the mission. Bobby and Sam get into the pharmaceutical storehouse and save as many civilians as they can. (allow me a shallow note to ease my soul – didn’t Jared look incredibly handsome in that scene? That decisive look on his face as he was shooting the Croatoans, so silent, so gorgeous… sorry, SamGirl Moment over).  And hopefully – none of the saved civilians was already infected with Croatoan, or.. well… it might get nasty..-
 
‘You have an inflated sense of your importance.’
 
In the meanwhile Dean finds Death, with Crowleys help. The scene with the reapers waiting outside that building (which eventually proved to be the wrong one) creeped me out – what were they waiting for?

Death is having a pizza (as a European, can I ask – Chicago pizza is famous in the US, right? So then Death’s choice of lunch would be understandable. Personally I would have expected him to have some five-star meal in a fancy restaurant.)
 
Death is pissed, and rightly so, being ‘enslaved to a bratty child having a tantrum’, but with so much elaborated style that I almost like the guy. Well, being afraid of death would seem more appropriate, just as Dean is – but he needs to do this. Again, there is no other choice if he wants a shot at Lucifer. He listens in awe as Death explains to him who he is… and what he is capable of, in fact even reaping God one day (perhaps the day people will cease to believe…?).
 
He couldn’t be more surprised (neither could I) as the horseman offers him his ring freely. 
 
 
 
Death: â€˜There are conditions.’
Dean:    ‘Okay, like?’
Death: â€˜You have to do whatever it takes to put Lucifer in his cell.’
Dean:    ‘Of course.’
Death: â€˜Whatever it takes.’
Dean:    ‘That’s the plan.’
Death: â€˜No, no plan, not yet. Your brother. He’s the one who can stop Lucifer. The only one.’
Dean:    ‘What, you think-‘
Death: â€˜I know. So I need a promise. You’re going to let your brother jump into that fiery pit. Well, do I have your word?’
Dean:    ‘Okay, yeah. Yes.’
Death: â€˜That’d better be: Yes, Dean. You know you can’t cheat Death.’
 
As Dean returns, having been given the instructions manual, he is freaked out. Of course. He lied to Death. To his face. He knows he will have some nasty punishment to expect the moment it’s discovered. He has doubts. He’s not okay with Sam’s idea at all, but in all likelihood doesn’t see another option either.
 
Bobby, who is sore from walking up and down steps all night, quite happy, actually (we have rarely seen Bobby smile, ever, so this scene is a real treat for me…), tries to reach out to Dean in a manner only he can. By first stating the ‘character defects’ and ‘darkness’ that Dean is afraid of might sabotage the mission (as they approach the final battle). He needs reassurance.
 
Bobby puts Sam’s asset on the table, how he has been saving many people at that storehouse, ‘never stopping, never slowing down’. He has been running into burning buildings since he was twelve… What a life. Both brothers have. If there has to be a price for redemption – haven’t both already paid more than enough? ‘Sam will beat the devil or die trying.’ That’s exactly what he will do. And Dean will have to let him go – maybe for good, this time, to save the world.
 
Can a price be too high? Sure, one person here and six billion there – no contest, right? I pray to never have to face a decision like this in my life. In terms of ripping apart my heart and soul this show is reaching for the peak…
 
‘What exactly are you afraid of: losing or losing your brother?’
 
 
 
Looking at Dean’s face, we can guess the answer. Jensen… what an amazing actor. All the despair, confusion and pain in one glance… Where are those damn tissues again?
 
We need to stock up on whatever we need to get through the next episode. If any of you want to avoid spoilers, don’t read on, as I’m looking out to Swan Song.
 
The promo many of you have seen – Sam in front of the broken mirror in both roles, Lucifer talking to him (‘we are your family’) and Sam being defiant (‘I’m gonna rip you apart from the inside out’ – hope I got that right, I had a sound disturbance here). So, I assume the plan will be set in motion. Knowing what Jared can do, as he’s already given a hell of a performance (yes, pun intended) as Lucifer in The End, he will be marvellous here, as he has grown so much as an actor over the last couple of years.
 
Just as Jensen delivered an award worthy performance in All Hell Breaks Loose, mourning over Sam, this one will be Jared’s award worthy moment. I’m sure.
 
Everyone in this episode was fantastic; to see so much talent and fulfilled acting promises in one episode alone left me speechless. I’m hungry for more.
 
In the same promo we see a fight between Dean and Sam which is going to get ugly. Jensen referred to that particular scene at the L.A. Con, talking about how Jared helped him act this scene – since his eye was closed (by injury make-up) and he couldn’t see, so Jared helped him by indicating the coming blow with his other shoulder which made it possible for Jensen to react accordingly. Since that confrontation hasn’t been in the other episodes, we will see a nasty fight scene in the last.
 
Sera Gamble allegedly stated that the Impala will have an important role to play in the finale. Well, she has had a hard time, lately, a rip in the back seat upholstery… Let’s hope the car won’t be the beloved character death that was announced. Though (I expect Alice to hate me for this) I could live with losing the car better than with losing Bobby.
 
In the picture Ardeospina pointed out to us in her SwanSong Speculations Sam is lying on the floor. So, basically, I expect him to die and find redemption in the final and greatest sacrifice. Knowing that Jared will be around next season, this is fairly safe thought.
 
But – nothing is really safe on planet Supernatural. It’s time to cuddle up in warm cushions and find comfort there, to get our strength up for the finale – which is going to be mind-blowing. I’m quite curious which of the story lines will be tied up. Will we see the amulet? Will Jessie reappear? What about Chuck? And – where the heck is God, anyway?
 
What is going through your head concerning the upcoming episode? What is bothering you after this one? Need group therapy? Doctor’s in the house.