Swan Song (Supernatural)
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Steve Boyum|
|Teleplay by||Eric Kripke|
|Story by||Eric Gewirtz|
|Original air date||May 13, 2010|
"Swan Song" is the fifth season finale of the CW television series Supernatural. It is the 22nd episode of the fifth season, and is the show's 104th episode overall. Steve Boyum directed the episode with teleplay written by series creator Eric Kripke and story written by Eric Gewirtz. The episode aired on Thursday, May 13, 2010, and concluded the series' main storyline. The narrative follows the series' protagonists Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles)—brothers who travel the continental United States hunting supernatural creatures—as they attempt to stop the Apocalypse.
Dean Winchester (Ackles) agrees on letting Sam (Padalecki) be the host for Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) so that he can jump into his cage. After consuming gallons of demon blood, Sam and Dean allow themselves to be caught by demons and brought to Lucifer. After demonstrating his enhanced powers to kill the demons in the room, Sam consents for Lucifer to possess his body. He agrees to possess Sam and let him try to retain control of his body. After Lucifer enters Sam, he is knocked unconscious, and Dean quickly throws the key to the cage on the wall and opens it with a spell. After waking up Sam, he watches him preparing to enter the pit, but instead Lucifer then reveals that he overpowered Sam in a matter of seconds. He then closes the portal, puts the key into his pocket and quickly disappears.
Lucifer is seen standing in the cemetery when Michael, who now possesses Adam Milligan (Jake Abel), arrives. Before they get underway, Dean, Castiel (Misha Collins) and Bobby (Jim Beaver) arrive on scene and Castiel throws a Molotov cocktail of Holy Oil on Michael, forcing him to temporarily vanish. Lucifer, outraged at Castiel's action, blows him up with a snap of his fingers, then snaps Bobby's neck after he is shot. Dean repeatedly appeals to Sam to overpower Lucifer, who responds by severely beating him until he is barely conscious. However, as he presses Dean against the side of the Impala, ready to deliver another blow, he pauses as he catches sight of a plastic army man in the ashtray of one of its doors. This triggers memories of Sam's childhood and various warm moments with Dean, which allow Sam to finally overpower Lucifer. He then opens the cage with the Horsemen's rings, when Michael suddenly returns. He says that he will not let it end the way Sam wants it to and charges at him. Sam, now in control, pulls Michael with him into the cage and the portal closes. Castiel then reappears and tells Dean he was resurrected by God and promoted. He then heals Dean and resurrects Bobby.
Dean leaves Bobby and heads for Lisa's house where she gladly welcomes him in. Meanwhile, Chuck Shurley (Rob Benedict), who has been narrating the entire story while writing on his computer, smiles as he brings an end to the story, only to state that "nothing ever really ends, does it?". He then vanishes into thin air with a smile, wearing a white shirt instead of his usual drab clothes. Outside of Lisa's house, a streetlight outside goes out and Sam is shown standing beneath it, watching Dean through the window.
Showrunner and series creator Eric Kripke originally intended this episode to be the series finale, as he envisioned the series as a five-season show. In August 2009, however, he stated that he was "looking at this season as the [last] chapter in this particular story", but "that doesn't mean there can't be a new story. Buffy did it. The X-Files did it. You close a chapter on a big mythology storyline and then you begin a new one". Since lead actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles were contracted for another season, and also due to the show's good ratings, The CW renewed the series for a sixth season on February 16, 2010. Executive producer Sera Gamble replaced Kripke as showrunner.
The staff knew of the series' renewal well in advance, allowing Kripke to write the episode without the possibility of cancellation on his mind. Because of the nature of the conversation between Michael and Lucifer in the beginning of the episode's climax, Kripke intentionally gave the scene a "certain kind of quirk" to make it seem less "heavy". For example, Dean turns on "Rock of Ages", a Def Leppard song, before interrupting their meeting, and Castiel's last words involve "calling somebody ass-butt". However, Kripke did not originally intend for Castiel to die, and instead had Lucifer knock him unconscious against a tree. After realizing the anger that Lucifer would have against Castiel for his attack on Michael, though, Kripke chose to kill him. Bobby's death, according to Kripke, was included to "make this feel like it's got weight". The writers of the series have a tendency to kill off the characters, so Beaver "wasn't shocked" that his character was finally killed. At the same time, he "wasn't surprised or relieved" at Bobby's resurrection because he felt the producers would not remove the character from the series.
Prophet or God
Although Kripke announced at Comic-Con 2009 that God would be a character during the fifth season, He makes no apparent appearance in the episodes preceding "Swan Song". As a result, Chuck's disappearance at the episode's conclusion led some viewers to question whether he is merely a prophet that is no longer needed or is actually God. The writers intended for such a reaction, and avoided giving a concrete answer so that the fans could decide for themselves. On God's identity, Gamble commented, "I love a good God debate, so it's nice to hear we got one going this season. We purposely left a bit of room for interpretation. Although many of your readers probably just read that sentence and rolled their eyes because they feel like we made it all very obvious by the end."
Ratings and viewership
Followed by the first season finale of The Vampire Diaries, which was watched by 3.471 million of viewers, this episode attracted 2.838 million of viewers, with a 1.3/4 rating/share in the 18–49 demographic and a 1.4/4 in the women 18–34 demographic. Compared to The Vampire Diaries' season finale, this episode had lost 18% of viewers and 46% in the women 18–34 demographic. However, this is a 12% increase in million of viewers if compared to last week's episode.
The episode received generally favorable reviews from critics. The general consensus from critics was that the song "Carry On Wayward Son", from the band Kansas, was well displayed in the episode, and that the narration provided by Chuck had sounded like the final goodbye of showrunner, Eric Kripke. TV Guide 's Tina Charles said that "no matter how [the episode] turns out", he will "just feel significant". She also hoped that Mark Pellegrino would get more scenes in the episode, and praised Jared Padalecki for his acting by saying that he "has gotten better at playing Satan". IGN's Diana Steenbergen, who gave the episode a 9, said that the episode served better as a season finale rather than a series ending, and that the episode could have more actions like the previous ones. She also said that even though Mark Pellegrino was great as Lucifer, Jared did "an admirable job playing both Lucifer and Sam". The episode ranked #22 in the Futon Critic's Best Episodes of 2010, being the highest for any series on the CW.
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