Friday, October 2, 2009

Gettin' The Band Back Together

Supernatural:The End
Season 5, Episode 4

One thing that I absolutely love is the idea of a "What if..." story. I adore Marvel Comics What If... books(though I have not read one in about a decade. Do they still exist?) because they are always interesting at the very least. These types of stories allow the reader/viewer to see something that could have or might happen. Supernatural fans are particularly used to this form of storytelling from episodes like "What Is And What Should Never Be"(wherein Dean is drugged by a Djinn to believe his mother never died).

These stories seem to crop up quite a bit in genre television with your mirror universes, vengeance demons and quantum mirrors allowing characters to visit a different reality to see what might have been or what might occur. These stories are always interesting to me when a character from the show gets a chance to see this altered reality and learn something important that can possibly benefit them. Stargate SG-1 did this wonderfully in the first season where Daniel Jackson visited an alternate reality through a quantum mirror wherein he learned that the Goa'uld were headed towards Earth. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer did this horrendously in the episode 'The Wish' where a vengeance demon sends Cordelia to an alternate reality where Buffy never came to Sunnydale. In that episode Cordelia is killed and when the world reverts back to the status quo NO ONE remembered that any of it happened. It was a wasted event.

I'm happy to say that Supernatural follows the SG-1 model and doesn't make this episode worthless. Plus, ya know, semi-sequel to two of my favorite episodes: 'Croatoan' and 'In The Beginning.'

I think I can safely say that this episode of Supernatural will go down as a classic. If for nothing else than the spectacular acting of Jensen Ackles. Dean speaks to Sam after last week's reveal that he is the vessel of Lucifer and, well, let's just say that the phone call didn't go the way that Sam exactly wanted it to. Sam is at a point where he needs his brother to strengthen his resolve and keep him from submitting to Lucifer. Dean tells Sam that the two of them need to stay away from each other because staying together might be worse--might cause the catastrophe they are trying to prevent. The emotion in Dean's voice and on his face betray his true feelings to us. This separation is killing Dean just as much as it's hurting Sam. Dean is just too proud to admit this to Sam or Castiel.

Dean ends his call and goes to sleep but when he wakes he finds that he is in the near future of 2014 where most of the world has been decimated by the Croatoan virus. It's a spectacular reveal, after the season two episode where the boys first encountered Croatoan. My only gripe, and this is a small one considering how awesome the resulting action sequence was, is that the infected people act more like 28 Days Later zombies than the demon infected people from the first 'Croatoan' episode. Dean escapes the infection zone and heads off to find Bobby.

Zachariah appears to Dean and reveals a couple things about this nightmare vision of the future. Yes, Sarah Palin is president. The end of the world is indeed nigh. Also, Dean has to stay in the future for three days. Supposedly this all happens because Dean doesn't agree to be host to Michael. So Dean gets to play Ebenzer Scrooge and visit his and his friends futures.

Let's see where everyone stands
Future Dean: Kind of a Dick
Future Castiel: De-Angeled and leading a harem in orgies
Future Impala: Busted and rusted
Future Sam: Dead to Dean

Of course, WE can tell that Future Dean is lying. In fact Future Sam isn't dead, or at least his body isn't. Apparently in the future at some point Sam will say yes to Lucifer and become his host. Think back to 'Croatoan.' Remember when the infected guy left town and told(presumably) Yellow Eyes that Sam was immune to the virus? Well, we've got our answer as to why that was important. I had assumed that the Croatoan virus was never going to be brought back into play since Yellow Eyes was killed so the fact that it was made a large part of this episode was invigorating, but getting an answer to why Sam being immune was important was downright amazing. It's part of why I love this show. It truly is the Babylon 5 of horror and if it turns out that all of this wasn't the result of planning, but just happy coincidence...well, then these writers are the luckiest people in Hollywood.

Future Dean has succeeded in finding the Colt and intends to use it to kill Lucifer once and for all. I've got to question whether this would work or not. When Dean first met Castiel, he tried using the demon killing knife on him and it didn't work. Lucifer is a fallen angel, it stand to reason that the demon killing knife would not work and if the knife doesn't work who is to say that the Colt will work. Regardless Dean and Dean head out to attempt anyway. Dean is knocked out by Future Dean(who isn't a very nice guy and intended to use his friends as a diversion while he faced Lucifer) and when he awakes he finds Future Dean dead at the feet of Lucifer/Sam.

Now, my praise of Ackles stands as the best acting in this episode, but Jared Padalecki's portrayal of the devil was spectacular as well. His Lucifer isn't as great as Mark Pellegrino's but it's so off-putting to watch Sam as the devil. Lucifer continues his attempt to win the hearts and minds of the people by explaining that he's a good guy who's only crime was loving God too much. That the angels were better than humans who only kill and make war. Hello! Mr. Lucifer! It's the pot calling, he says the kettle is black. Dean pleads with Lucifer to kill him, because if he doesn't then Dean is going to find and kill him.

Zachariah ends this trip to the future and again asks Dean to be Michael's sword. Zachariah is appalled when Dean again refuses. Dean's a smart guy, there is one thing that he can change that may prevent this future: he can bring his brother back into the cool kids club to help stop Lucifer. And so the Winchester brothers are back together. Though they only spent two episodes away from each other, the return is much appreciated.

So in the end, can we believe any of what Dean saw in the future? Did Zachariah really send Dean into the future or is this another one of his games. Last season he did make the boys forget who they were. None of that was real, why should we believe this is any more real? Plus, President Palin? Preposterous!

So, we got our "What if..." story and we got the boys back together. Dean remembers everything from the future and is determined not to have it happen. Now more than ever I cannot wait to see what is going to happen next on this series.

As a fan of the show, I must caution everyone to be prepared for the worst. The ratings this season have been abysmal. Thursday is a very competitive night of television. The Winchesters may be facing an apocalypse in more than one way.


Jada said...

Great review! Thanks!

As for Thu nights... I have a lot being recorded that night and a lot competes with one another. Thankfully I have satellite with many many channels and time shifting but Supernatural takes precedence over everything!

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