The story of this episode was penned by Eric "Giz" Gewirtz, who I’ve never heard of and apparently his only one credit on Supernatural, this episode. He’s also written for a long-canceled show called "Inside" according to IMDB, as well as some Star Wars video games. That said, I totally loved the story of this episode, which was adapted by none other than now-former showrunner and creator Eric Kripke. For a first-time writer, I’d say Mr. Gewirtz did a fantastic job of wrapping up this arc — maybe not to everyone’s liking of course, but more on that in a moment. The director of this episode was Steve Boyum, who also directed some amazing episodes like "In the Beginning," its follow-up, "The Song Remains the Same" and several other excellent episodes. One could tell an experienced Supernatural director was at the helm for this episode, as there were many little technical flourishes that I totally adored.
One technical aspect which I’d like to focus on is the music. This episode, unlike most others (and please correct me if I’m wrong) had a gentle, sad and somber piano score going through most of it, and I absolutely loved every moment of it. It made the episode feel different…special…epic…a stand out from others before it, which it ultimately was. Also, the use of Def Leppard’s "Rock of Ages" as Dean was driving the Impala into Stull Cemetery was just inspired. Overall, the music was fantastic in this episode, and I would love to know where I could get a copy of that piano music. 😉
Another interesting technical aspect, and then I’ll move onto broader topics, was the camera usage, especially on Sam once he was possessed by Lucifer. The eerie closeups of Lucifer talking to Sam in the mirror are of particular note, especially with Lucifer being shone upon with a nearby light, while Sam looked darker and more ominous. The use of the broken mirror to have Sam speak through was also a tremendously well-done effect.
As for the story itself…I totally loved it. So much happened in this episode that was made of awesome, I barely know where to begin, so I’ll start at…the beginning. First, Chuck’s narration of Sam and Dean’s life, and especially the Impala and her origins, were nothing short of brilliant. These sorts of things can denigrate into something cheesy or trite, or make an episode feel like a clip show, but thankfully that didn’t happen here. We got a history of the Impala that we hadn’t ever seen before, and we also hadn’t learned these interesting facets of the boys’ lives, like what they did on their off time, or how both of them now hustle pool to make money. We also learned that the Impala is the most important object in the universe, and I’ll talk about that in a moment. 😉
Sam and Dean’s chat, wherein Dean tells Sam he’s "in" with his plan to mind-wrestle Lucifer into the pit, was fantastic. Dean admitting he had to grow up, at the same time admitting Sam HAD grown up, was touching and heart-wrenching, and it was a sweet and somber beginning to the mess that was to follow. Once the boys fill a few gallons full of demon blood, the whole gang, Bobby and Castiel included, drive off to Detroit on Dean’s hunch that Lucifer will be there. Once they’re sure he’s there, Sam says his goodbye’s to Bobby and Castiel, and then drinks the demon blood (while asking Dean not to watch, which I thought was a nice touch).
Once Sam and Dean meet Lucifer again — and find out Lucy knows about the rings — the fit hits the shan. Jensen once again plays the part of a mere mortal way over his head, with a scared look on his face that was impressive as hell. Jared plays Sam perfectly up to the final Yes, wherein Lucy takes over. Watching Jared play Lucifer as Mark Pellegrino did was pretty awesome. Sadly it wasn’t AS good as Mark Pellegrino, but I digress, Jared did an amazing job with what was given to him, and watch him play off both Sam and Lucifer speaking to each other was some damned fine acting.
Jared as Dean was also fantastic, never giving up on his brother, come Hell or high water. When he bust in on Michael and Lucifer upon the battlefield at Stull Cemetery — which apparently does have urban legends about it being a place the devil congregates on Halloween, among others — his determination was fierce. Even while he was getting beat to a pulp, telling Sammy he’s not leaving was just tear-jerking. Seeing Dean’s mashed up face was just hearbreaking, especially as he watched BOTH of his dang brothers get sucked down the hole.
Now here’s where I wonder what the differences between this season finale and the proposed series finale would have been. First off, I don’t think Castiel and Bobby would have been brought back. Secondly, I don’t think we would have seen Sam at the very end (what the heck was UP with that, anyway?). What we would have likely had seen was both Cas and Bobby dead, two Winchester brothers in a hole, and the last man standing to go fulfil his promise to his brother by living an apple pie life with his old flame, Lisa.
Now as series endings go, it’s honestly VERY Kripke-esque. I feel like the man loves nothing more than pissing his fans off at times, and if the show had ended like that, as was likely expected has this been a series finale, SO many fans — myself included — would have been pissed off. Dean gets to live while Sam is stuck in the hole? Everyone else is dead?! WHAT THE HELL!!?!?! However, since we’re getting a sixth season, they probably had to quickly make some minor changes so the show could go on. The way it ended in this episode, I feel, did a great job of wrapping up Kripke’s five year arc while leaving enough open to start a new one next season. It’s not perfect, and even Kripke’s proxy Chuck said endings are hard and the fans will *censormode*. True on both counts, I feel.
I have one final gush I need to get out before I talk about the very few things I didn’t like about this episode. I loved, LOVED how this episode focused on the Impala…and how, ultimately, the Impala saved the world. Sure, Dean drove it to the battlefield so Sam could use the memories associated with it to push back Lucifer…but it was the connection to the Impala that ultimately saved the day. I loved how we learned more about this wonderful car, and how important it actually is. I have to say now, at this point, the Impala is now my favorite character. Sure, I love Sam and Dean, but now, for me, it’s about the car. 😉
Now there’s very little I didn’t like about this episode. Like the episodes that led up to it, it felt a bit rushed. Sadly much of season five was uneven, going all over the place with little sprinklings of the Apocalypse here and there at times, it felt like. Eventually it seemed the writers realized "Hey, we gotta wrap this up like we said we would, crap!" I mean, they did a great job overall, and I feel pretty satisfied with the outcome, I just wanted to see…more. I also wish we’d have seen at least a little of the slug fight between Michael and Lucifer, other than them just circling around each other, but I guess it worked well enough given the budgetary constraints this show has always had.
Overall, "Swan Song" was an excellent end to an uneven, yet overall strong season of Supernatural. Part of me wishes this would have been its final season — as I really, REALLY don’t want the show to go on too long, but have a finite ending so it can end WELL — but if we have to have another season, this finale closed up the previous season and arc well while leaving room for Sera Gamble to step in and start telling her story. I can’t wait to see what the next season has in store for us, and know fans like me have a long, long Summer ahead until we find out (unless y’all read spoilers, you evil, evil people). 😉