Friday, 21 May 2010

Spotlight: Supernatural – Swan Song

This week’s Supernatural opens with the signature song by Kansas “Carry on My Wayward Son.” and never have two lyrics been more accurate. Take:

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done

And apply to Sam and you’ll see what I mean. This is the season finale, the final showdown with Satan himself. Many things will be revealed and resolved, not least the identity of God himself.

The episode is narrated by “Chuck” the prophet who writes under the pseudonym Carver Edlund. He opens by describing the history of the Impala, particularly the details that make it unique, like the toy soldiers in the ash trash and the lego Dean stuffed down the vents. This opening is particularly well done because it gives us a sense, that like the medallion Dean always wore, the Impala is part of the legend, but because it is Chuck narrating, the description feels like the opening to a novel, rather than  important exposition for something that will come later.

So, Sam and Dean are finally agreed, Sam will say yes to the Devil, Dean will open the gate and Sam will jump in. As the two of them sup their final beers together they have that heart felt talk we all knew was coming. “Thing is.” Dean says. “Watching out for you, it’s kinda been my job, you know, but more than that, it’s kinda who I am. I don’t know if we’ve got a snowballs chance, but I do know if anybody can do it, it’s you.”

So, as the episode begins Sam and Dean are seen filling great big bottles with gallon after gallon of Demon blood for Sam to drink, in order for him to say yes to Satan. They dump the bottles in the boot of the Impala and they set off for Detroit.

On the way Sam answers that question we’ve been asking. “If this thing goes our way, you know I’m not coming back.” If Sam goes into the Devil’s trap with Satan on board, that’s it for him too… but wait… what about season 6??? “So, you gotta promise me something. You gotta promise not to try and bring me back.”

“What????” Dean snaps. “No, I didn’t sign on for that. Your hell is going to make my tour look like Graceland, you want me to just sit by and do nothing? No, no, no, as if I’m just going to let you rot in there.” But Sam insists. “So what am I supposed to do?” Dean asks. “Go find Lisa, you pray to God she’s dumb enough to take you in and you have barbeques and go to football games, you go live some normal apple pie life. Promise me!”

Dean says nothing. So, they reach Detroit, they say their goodbyes to Bobby and Cas and they go inside to take on Lucifer. With Sam hyped up on demon-juice the guards are no problem and soon enough the brothers are face to face with Satan himself.

So, Sam says yes but Satan knows about their plan, but Sam doesn’t care, he still says yes and they still try the plan, because it’s the only plan they’ve got! Dean opens the pit with the rings, but Sam is long gone. Lucifer takes the rings and vanishes from sight. It seems that all is lost!

It was a dumbass plan in the first place!

With his new meatsuit Satan takes Sam on a trip down memory lane, showing the youngest Winchester that all his life he was being watched by Demons to ensure that he would one day grow into the man he is today and accept his part in the larger plan. One line from Lucy’s speech stands out above the others “So much anger, young Skywalker” Is Lucifer suggesting that, like Luke Skywalker, Sam’s father is not his father?

Outside an electronics store Dean, Booby and Castiel watch as the news reports roll in of disasters all across the U.S. “It’s starting.” Cas says simply and emotionlessly. “So what do we do now?” Dean asks. “I suggest we imbibe copious quantities of alcohol and wait for the inevitable blast wave.” Clearly being human has done nothing for Castiel’s sense of honour, duty and optimism.

“Listen to me you junkless sissy, we are not giving up.” Dean turns to Bobby for support on this, but Bobby too has chosen to embrace the inevitable.

Dean is unwilling to give up on his brother so he calls Chuck to get the location of where the final battle is going to go down. Lawrence Kansas. Right in Sam and Dean’s backyard. Dean asks Chuck if there is another way to stop it, but Chuck doesn’t know one. He asks if he knows what will happen next and Chuck replies “I don’t know yet.” Now, that is important… (see the end of this post)

Dean resolves to go to Lawrence, Castiel tries to talk him out of it one last time. “All you are going to see out there is Michael killing your bother.” Cas says in that emotionless way that we’ve come to love but that make this line just a little soul destroying. “Then I ain’t going to let him die alone.” And that is the true spirit of Supernatural.

In a graveyard, somewhere just outside of Lawrence Kansas, Sam (Lucifer) and Adam (Michael) finally come face to face. “You ready?” Michael asks. “Part of me wishes we didn’t have to do this.” Lucifer replies. “Yeah, me too.” Michael sighs. “So why are we? Think about it, Dad made everything, which means he made me who I am. God wanted the Devil. Why make us fight? I just can’t figure out the point.”

“What’s your point?” Michael asks. “We’re going to kill each other and for what? One of Dad’s tests? We don’t even know the answer, we’re brothers, let’s just walk off the chess board.” Lucifer finishes his proposal.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that,” Michael replies. “You think I’m going to rebel, I’m not like you. You haven’t changed a bit, little brother. You betrayed us, all of us and you made our father leave. You’re a monster Lucifer, I have to kill you.” So, they could have had peace, but instead Michael chooses war. I’m not saying he’s wrong, I’m just saying it was his choice.

Anyway, as the two brothers face each other down, ready for the smackdown of the century a 1967 Chevrolet Impala pulls into the graveyard. “Hey boys.” Dean greats the Angels. “Sorry, am I interrupting something?”

“Hey,” Dean says to Lucifer. “We need to talk.” “Dean.” Lucifer sneers, “Even for you, this is a whole new mountain of stupid.” However it is Michael who takes the real objection to Dean’s presence. “You’re no longer a part of this story.” Michael fumes, clearly angry that Dean denied his request to dance.

“Hey, ass-butt,” Castiel calls to Michael, appearing like the cavalry, tossing a Molotov cocktail of holy fire at the Archangel, banishing him temporarily from the battlefield. But Lucy is angry now. “No one dicks with Michael but me!” And Lucifer clicks his fingers and explodes the Angel into little tiny pieces…


I did actually scream that at the Tv. Dean tries to get through to Sam, but Lucifer is all that there is. The Devil throws Dean down on the hood of the Impala, smashing the windscreen. Bobby takes a shot with the Colt, but it is to no avail. Lucy snaps Bobby’s neck as if he were nothing more than a bug to be smushed. Even as Dean cries out with anguish Lucifer begins to pummel him.

Dean repeats over and over again “I’m not going to leave you.” As his brother, heart-wrenchingly, breaks every bone in his face, until at last something catches the Devil’s eye… An army man sticking up out of the ash tray. In that instant Sam seizes control. He casts the rings on the ground and opens the pit.

But just as it looks like it’s all over, Michael returns. After all these years of waiting he isn’t about to postpone this fight. Michael grabs Sam and together they fall into the pit. With them inside the rift is sealed and all that is left are the rings.

After a brief advert break Castiel is returned to life and he is an Angel once more. Castiel heals Dean’s wounds and then the older of the Winchester boys asks him flat out if he is God. Castiel laughs. “That’s a nice complement, but no. Although I do believe he brought me back. New and improved.” He says, resurrecting Bobby.

If there is any part of this finale I don’t agree with it was bringing Bobby back. Much as I love his character, I felt like this episode should have had some collateral damage, after all we know Sam will come back and after all this was supposed to be the last episode ever. But even so, it’s good to have Bobby back and his resurrection is only a minor quibble anyway.

The episode closes out with Chuck narrating the final moments:

“Endings are hard. Any chapped ass monkey with a keyboard can pump out a beginning but endings are impossible.

You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always going to bitch, there are always going to be holes, and since its the ending it’s all supposed to add up to something, I’m telling you they’re a raging pain in the ass.”

As they drive away Cas and Dean talk about what’s next. Castiel tells Dean he will return to Heaven. “I' don’t know what God wants.” he explains. “But he helped; maybe more than you realise.” The Angel offers. “And where’s my big reward?” Dean asks, through his sacrifice he is entitled to be selfish. “You got what you asked for, no paradise, no hell, just more of the same. What would you rather have? Peace? Or Freedom?”

In a series of montages Bobby and Dean say their farewells.

“This is the last Dean and Bobby will see of each other for a very long time. And for the record, at this point next week, Bobby will be hunting a Rugaru outside of Dayton, but not Dean. Dean didn’t want Cas to save him, every part of him, every fiber he’s got wants to die or find a way to bring Sam back, but he isn’t going to do either, because he made a promise.“

Dean knocks on the door and Lisa opens it. The two of them look into each others eyes and they know they will make it through together.

“So what’s it all add up to? 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 ends, does it…?”

And so Chuck fades away, revealing himself to be God in the flesh. The hand that has forever guided Sam and Dean on their journey, whether they knew it or not.

The show finished with a shot of Dean and Lisa and Ben all sitting down for dinner and as the camera zooms out we see Sam standing on the corner looking in. Has God done Dean this one last favour and returned his brother? We’ll have to wait until next season to find out.

Unlike “the fans” Chuck talks about I am not going to bitch. I’ve always been less of a fan of the heavy God vs. The Devil storyline, but this episode really finished it off in a nice and simple way. There were laughs intermixed with some really painfully, heart-wrenching moments and that is why I love this show.

My real fear is where season 6 might go. Like the X-files, which pretty much finished it’s story arcs in season 5 with the episode “The End” there is a distinct possibility that Supernatural could return in a state of flux unable to pick up where it left off, fumbling in the dark unable to find its feet. Or perhaps it will be a return to the good old days, with all of this heavy story telling behind us.

Whatever the case I’m glad it’s still around and I don't want to have to wait four months to find out what’s coming next. This has been My Two Cents… Now it’s time to watch it all over again… from the beginning!

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