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Television Tourniquet: 'Supernatural' Episode 5.22


Supernatural Episode 5.22
"Swan Song"
Story By: Eric Gewitz
Teleplay By: Eric Kripke
Directed By: Steve Boyum
Original Airdate: 13 May 2010

In This Episode...

It's armageddon time, folks!  Bobby has been keeping an eye out on signs of the apocalypse.  Dean passes over massive, widespread earthquakes and tornados for a five-block area of Detroit with a twenty-degree drop.  Sam slugs back gallons of demon blood, and the boys face the devil.

Sam tries to trick the devil into believing that he wants to be the vessel.  Lucifer knows that Sam has the rings, but he still wants his vessel.  With a blinding flash of light, Lucifer enters Sam's body.  Sam swears that he has the devil, and Dean uses the four rings to open a tornado hole in the wall.  "Just kidding," Sam-as-Lucifer says.  He takes the rings, closes the hole, and leaves.

The devil has a little chat with Sam, telling him that he is his only true family.  "When you ran away as a child, you weren't running from your family; you were running to me," the devil insists.  No matter; it is time for armageddon.  The battlefield is a decrepit cemetery that is spooky even for a horror setting.  Sam-as-Lucifer faces off with Adam-as-Michael.  Neither of them really want to do this, but Michael feels that he has to - that is what his father told him to do, and he is the self-admitted good son.  He ignores Lucifer's arguments that if he was made in his father's image, than wouldn't that mean that God wanted evil in the world, too?

Dean finds out the location of the battleground through Chuck the prophet.  He shows up at the cemetery, Bobby and Cas in tow.  When Michael refuses to give Dean a few minutes alone with Sam, Cas knocks him out with a molotov cocktail.  It doesn't kill Michael, simply gets him out of the way for a few minutes.  Sam/Lucifer is not real happy about this and blows Cas to bits with the snap of his fingers.  Bobby shoots him; he snaps Bobby's neck with a flick of the wrist.  Then the devil wails on Dean, reducing his face to mush.  He would have kept going, but a glint of light catches Sam's eye, and he is suddenly flooded with happy memories of him and his brother in the Impala.  This is enough for Sam to regain control.  He uses the four rings and a chant to open a sinkhole.  Michael reappears and insists that he and Lucifer must complete their battle.  Sam falls towards the hole, and Michael reaches to save him.  Instead, they both tumble into a 1972 Dr. Who wormhole that swallows them up.

Sad, alone, and broken, Dean lays there.  Cas comes back, having been returned to life, "new and improved," by God.  He heals Dean with a touch, and brings Bobby back to life in the same way.  With the world safe, Cas plans to go regulate in Heaven - now that Michael is trapped with Lucifer, they need a new sheriff.  Bobby goes back to demon hunting.  Dean goes to Lisa to live the "apple pie" life that he promised Sam he would pursue.

But Sam is not dead....

Dig It or Bury It?

"This is the way the world ends; not with a bang but a whimper," wrote T.S. Eliot.  So true for this episode.  You want - expect - a huge, crazy battle to represent the end of the world.  But instead, this episode is quiet, somber, and with virtually no violence or bloodshed at all.  It works well.  The script was very well written, and that cemetery was just so wonderfully spooky.  It had to be a set.

A couple of qualms.  Playing half-Sam, half-Lucifer is a little bit out of Jared Padalecki's range.   And all the FX shots were particularly hokey, even for Supernatural.  The first "wormhole" or "trap" or whatever you want to call it, looked like a scene from within the Wizard of Oz tornado.  The second, as I mentioned above, looked like it came from a 1970s episode of Dr. Who.

Blood Brothers

When Cas explodes, it is in an instantaneous burst of blood and gore.  Even more brutal is the beating Dean takes, and the bloody, swollen, pus-filled aftermath.

Sibling Rivalry

Rather than being rivals, Dean put his own ass on the line for his brother, and once Sam was gone, he was lost, alone, almost suicidal.

Spooky Humor

A more somber episode, this episode was light on the bon mots.  But Cas did lighten the mood by calling Michael an "assbutt" to distract him. Dean gave him shit for it when they were no longer in imminent danger.


This episode truly felt like a series finale.  The boys dealt with the apocalypse, and the episode was loaded with flashback montages.  But we know the show got picked up for a sixth season, and Sam isn't dead.  The final shot is of Sam, staring solemnly through the window to see Dean and Lisa sitting down to a family dinner.  I think you are supposed to think that Sam is still harboring the devil and plotting revenge on Dean, but I think it is just Sam, and he doesn't want to interrupt his brother's new, "normal" life.