“Swan Song” Review
By Amanda Rebholz
When I first heard that Eric Kripke had written a distinct ‘five year plan’ for the show, I was pleased; I like when shows know where they’re going, and when, instead of meandering aimlessly until the network gets sick of them and cancels them. ‘Supernatural’ had quite a few episodes that were red herrings or filler throughout its seasons, but in the latter half of season 5 it picked up steam until it was a full-blown force of nature hurtling toward the finale.
And what a finale.
It’s very obvious that this episode was meant to be the wrap-up for the show; from the title, “Swan Song,” to the beautiful montages and narration by the beloved prophet Chuck, the show had a finality to it that rang like a eulogy. Characters who people may have been lukewarm toward suddenly were given important roles or heartwarming lines, endearing them one last time to the fans. My tears started up the minute Chuck showed young Sam and Dean in the backseat of the Impala, playing with their toys. The Impala is as much a character in the show as the Winchesters, and it was beautiful to get a glimpse of the background and show just how pivotal it had been in the boys’ lives. During the show, we as an audience were so busy watching them chase demons and hunt monsters that we greedily lapped up the few ‘normal’ moments, like the prank war or the time Dean put a spoon in Sam’s mouth while he slept and took pictures with his camera phone. Their brotherhood was always strained and dramatic on-camera… so it was completely devastatingly gorgeous to see the moments between the monsters, to hear that they traveled for concerts and ball games and sometimes just sat out drinking beers and watching the sky together. The bond between these two is so solid, so cemented, that no trip to Hell or Heaven could break it.
The acting in this episode was top-notch all around, but Jared Padalecki got to have fun playing both sides of his personality at once, much the same as Jensen had the opportunity to do back in the shape-shifter episode many seasons ago. Jake Abel really blew me out of the water as Michael; it was so different than his portrayal of Adam, and it was truly fantastic to see him flex his acting muscles. Jensen brought a strong, heartfelt performance, and Jim Beaver was of course terrific as a wounded, soul-weary Bobby. Misha’s uncertain bravery in the face of his brother was absolutely awesome. But perhaps to me, one of the most unsung heroes of the show, Rob Benedict, truly got to come into his own as Chuck in this episode, his fantastic delivery on the narration and expressive body language was so understated and wonderful and perfect for the part.
I was worried about how Kripke was going to wrap everything up with the finale so abrupt, but I should’ve had faith. Much as the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fans had unrelenting love for their creator Joss Whedon, the ‘Supernatural’ fans have a diehard devotion and trust in Eric Kripke, and it’s easy to see why after tonight’s episode. Twist after twist appeared without any sign of slowing or relenting. Characters died in horrifically final ways only to be resurrected moments later. Flashbacks provided foreshadowing for events we couldn’t possibly have foreseen. And everything was resolved, every loose end tied up with an airtight knot. It was one of the most complete endings to a series any fan could have asked for. It was heartfelt, sincere, genuine. It didn’t cop out or jump any sharks. It was beautiful and damn near flawless.
And then Kripke had to throw his hat back into the ring to leave it open-ended for the upcoming Season Six.
Now don’t get me wrong… I am glad that there’ll be more excuse to appreciate this amazing gem of a show come fall. But I also felt a wash of dismay at the knowledge that this isn’t what Kripke wanted, or intended. He had the story told, every avenue explored, every character fleshed out and filling their purpose… and then money and demand insisted he milk it out another season.
Once again, I will have faith in Kripke and keep my chin up, because I don’t believe that the cast and crew of this show would produce anything less than amazing for their beloved fanbase. But I just don’t see WHY it had to happen, or HOW it’s going to play out. There is so much potential given the final twist that they used to leave the door open, but it felt cheap, tacked on to what was otherwise a gorgeous salute goodbye to an incredible ride.
Season six, ahoy. I can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for us when the show resumes later this year.