Kripke’s Love Letter; Swan Song – by Elle2
Someone wrote [BuddyTV perhaps] that In The Beginning was a love letter from Eric Kripke to the fans. Not fully understanding the concept I couldn’t decide if I agreed or not, now having watched Swan Song, I get it; Swan Song is Eric’s love letter to the fans – if not the entire Supernatural community.
Kripke has been the vision and the voice from The Pilot. Along the way, five seasons and 104 episodes later, others have added their notes, their insights. The tapestry that is Supernatural has been filled in by many and the layers are deep, rich; at times easy to see and at others difficult to know where one ends and another begins. Through it all the foundation has never changed, demons come and go, angels come and go, story arcs begin and end, secondary characters add their bits and leave, resurface and leave again; the foundation of family remains; in Swan Song it was enhanced.
Swan Song is a love letter and judging from the comments from fans it achieved its purpose beautifully. A love letter should make us weep and laugh, clutch it wonderingly studying the words over and over and letting the intent and emotions pour over us. A love letter should provoke such intensity of emotions that at times you cast it aside unable to abide its very presence nor the response it stirs. A love letter should make us reflect on all that has brought us to that moment and leave us longing for the next moment; Swan Song succeeds.
I’ll admit that as of the drafting of this article I’ve only watched Swan Song once in its entirety. The purpose of this article is not to review the episode or to go in-depth at its quality and shines with quality that is multi-faceted and breathtaking. When I write my Road So Far; Season Five, I’ll review this episode. In the context of the whole I’ll be able to reflect on the individual. The purpose of this article is to allow me to come to grips, to process, to digest, to find support and perhaps give some. I’m on the couch, tissues littered about as I struggle with what I’ve seen.
2010 Hellatus is reminiscent of 2008’s Hellatus. I’ll be able to handle it better because unlike 2008’s I have all of you to spend the time with and that will help. While 2009’s was tough it wasn’t looming as large as this one is. Perhaps it’s the specter of change that grips me and does not let me go. Eric is no longer the showrunner, that’s change. Am I worried? Yes and no. I’ll spend some time these next weeks reflecting on Sera Gamble’s episodes and perhaps share a word or thought but as a showrunner goes I believe we are in capable hands.
Sera looks at the brothers as a unit. Sera understands family is the core, the brothers’ love for each other the heartbeat of the show. Sera has stated that going forward the story will be more intimate that it will explore the brothers’ relationship in a new manner, going deeper; a story is there to be told. Sera recently stated that “they” [writers and crew I interpret that as] are chomping at the bit to get going on Season 6. I find all of that encouraging.
So what is it that grips me and worries me going forward? Just like 2008, post-No Rest For the Wicked, it’s the little comment, the little thread that worries me. Kripke stated in May of 2008 that Sam and Dean’s relationship would be massively affected after Dean’s time in hell and Sam’s time without him; he was right. On the other side Season 4 was perhaps the most cohesive of all of the seasons from start to finish, with the exception of one maybe two episodes Season 4 was filled with solid episode after solid episode; all that and Dean and Sam’s relationship massively affected to boot.
What catches me off guard, what has me fretting is this one line [paraphrased] “This is the last time Dean and Bobby will talk for a long time.’
I don’t know what that means and it bothers me greatly. I understand Dean leaving hunting, he promised Sam he would. Dean has never been a good liar to those he loves; though he tries. Dean has always been a very good soldier, doing what he promises. It’s not surprising that Dean leaves hunting but to leave Bobby too? Perhaps he needs the clean break, fully, completely, leave it all behind, shut the door, nail two-by-fours on it and brick it over. Still, how long is a long time?
Having gotten my biggest fear [that I know of] out of the way I’ll share what I liked.
Carry on Wayward Son. I never get tired of it. I don’t want to hear it every episode because it would become background but once a season is definitely not enough. There’s always the mid-season cliffhanger, play it there too, please.
Every scene on, in, near or about the Impala, here is where Kripke masterfully reminds us that the heart and soul of Supernatural is about family. Put whatever backdrop to it you will, nothing denies that front and center it is always about family; Swan Song put an exclamation point on that.
Legos and toy soldiers, we knew back in Dead in the Water that Dean had toy soldiers, to know that Sam stuffed one in the ash tray; priceless. I love the image of Dean sticking legos down into the heater vent; it’s a playful innocence that we never saw. This is where Kripke shines to let us know all these special moments, not just the ones we’ve experienced over five seasons but even some that came prior. Will we ever watch Faith and imagine that cold drive to Nebraska with the dying Dean huddled in the passenger seat and the heat likely blowing through the vents and not “hear’ the rattle of legos? I won’t. Further layering on the love is telling us that Dean put the girl back together after Devil’s Trap restoring all those treasures; satisfying.
Castiel and Bobby, to say that I’m relieved they’re alive is an understatement. To say that I hope they both reappear in Season 6 is to relive my fear, how long is a “long time’ and what role could Castiel possibly have going forward that isn’t awkward? I don’t know. I’ll be looking forward to any spoilers that say Misha is signed as a regular or recurring and any tips of Jim Beaver saying he’s headed to Vancouver to shoot. [BTW, Jared stated at a recent con that Season 6 shooting begins July 1st.]
Bobby’s story continues as he goes back to hunting. There is a quiet strength there that with everything that has happened Bobby goes back to hunting.
Castiel the new sheriff in heaven? I don’t know. Perhaps God is going back to take control and Castiel will be able to have time off, don’t know. I like that Castiel is fully restored and finding his purpose again. And I can’t leave him without noting that only Castiel would be redundant in insulting someone – ass-butt, too funny!
Jared/Sam, to say that Jared knocked it out of the park is to say that the law of gravity is fixed on earth, in other words, obvious and irrefutable. [I’m confident should anyone try to say Jared sucked in this episode will have their comments hoisted high and flayed to the quick – is that possible?] Jared was magnificent. We’ve seen him grow in his confidence and his abilities, the abilities were always there he just needed experience and understanding with the character to know how to fully use them but here he has performed beyond what I expected, way beyond. It was flawless. I’ll enjoy rewatching Season 1 of Supernatural over Hellatus and then intersperse it with episodes of Season 5 at the same time and I know I will be amazed at how improved he is.
Jared knew exactly what to do with Sam here, as he has for quite some time now. I knew every time I was looking at Sam and every time I was looking at Lucifer. He had so many of Mark P’s mannerisms in his performance that there was no doubt Lucifer was “in there.’ It was mesmerizing and when I’m able, I will watch it again and again and enjoy it for the magnificent work it is.
It has been a treat this season to see Jared portray Lucifer twice as well as watch him step up into the leadership role that we last saw him in All Hell Breaks Loose I. From Jared’s incredulous moment of realization that Dean was letting him call the play to his quiet, shame as he told Dean to not watch him drink the blood – he never wanted Dean to know much less see – to his rage as he confronted Lucifer initially, the battle within played out with only Jared watching himself in the mirror – he didn’t even have someone there to look at, just a mirror – to him retaking control and telling Dean that it’s going to be okay. He’s got him – it does not get better than that. May Season 6 bring many more opportunities for Jared to shine as Sam Winchester.
Dean, maybe it’s time I grew up, when you put it like that, I agree. I never thought he needed to grow up as John had once said, “I made you grow up too fast.” But there is truth in the premise that for all that Dean grew up quickly, he never matured in his outlook fully. The transition started in earnest at the beginning of Season 3 in The Kids Are All Right as Dean, in one episode, went from looking for a “bendy weekend’ sequel to realizing he was missing out on something bigger; he wished Ben was his kid. The thought evolved and we saw in Dream a Little Dream of Me that Dean actually contemplated a life with Lisa, there was nothing sexual in that dream, it was romantic, intimate, loving – a life.
It’s been a quiet thread building slowly in the background but even Swap Meat – for all its missed opportunities – built on this idea and had Dean wondering if perhaps they were missing something in their lives. To hear him give voice to his longing in 99 Problemsâ€¦ “When I do picture myself happy, it’s with you – and the kid”, didn’t seem out of place. To see him fulfill his promise to Sam and seek out Lisa, into whose arms he allowed himself to be drawn and sob was bittersweet.
A note on that moment as Lisa hugs Dean, I’ve read a comment that someone said they’re very disappointed in Dean for not shedding a single tear over Sam’s death. I think they missed it completely. No, unlike Sam at the end of No Rest For the Wicked, Dean did not sob openly, but he never has. Dean’s tears have always been quieter as he struggles to maintain control, even in Heaven and Hell when the tears are pouring down his face he is struggling for control. As Dean kneels at the cemetery beaten bloody he may or may not have tears, too much damage to tell. When Cas restores him, Dean is immediately swept up into the fact that Castiel is back and then Bobby is alive. After that Dean retreats to anger only to be left with the provocative questionâ€¦what did you want?
But when Dean is enveloped in Lisa’s arms, he breaks down. We may not see the tears but there are sobs, there is brokenness. Lisa’s repeated words of comfort are those that are said when confronted by someone so broken there are no words but a mantraâ€¦shhhh, it’s all right. Shhh, it’s all right. Dean is lostâ€¦the glass of whiskey reminds us of that.
That there is a Season 6, I don’t know where we go from here, I’m only glad that we are going on from here. I don’t worry that Sam is Lucifer. Chuck stated that perhaps it was all a test and that Sam and Dean did fine. I think they passed, I believe the test is over. Is Sam an angel? I don’t think so. Sera has stated that they were closing the major storyline here, Sam coming back as an angel doesn’t close the storyline and allow for a smaller more intimate one going forward. Sam as immortal would not allow the brothers to relate on that smaller, intimate scale.
Is Lisa going to marry Dean? I don’t know. It depends if the story picks up right away or if there is a long, long time [again, how long is “a very long time’?] I don’t think we’re going to see Dean married to Lisa and Lisa and Ben killed by evil because that just starts the whole story all over again. What I do believe will happen is what Zachariah told Dean all the way back in It’s a Terrible Life – you’re a hunter, Dean, it’s who you are and you’ll find your way to it in the dark every time.
Does Sam go and hunt with Bobby trying to shield Dean that he’s back and let Dean live the apple-pie life? I don’t know but, if he does, he won’t for long. The writers know the heart and soul of the show it the love story between the brothers. Watching them apart, living separately is not going to bring us running. Watching them with Lisa and Ben in tow is more awkward than having The Roadhouse as a central meeting place and is not likely to last.
My bet is that Dean tries with Lisa but realizes who and what he is and that Lisa lovingly reminds him that she’s always here for him. She won’t wait for him but she’ll always be there should he need her. He’ll have a shining light in his life to get away from the hunt but the hunt will always be in him.
Just as I don’t believe Sam is an angel I equally do not believe he’s Lucifer; see the reasons for him not being an angel for the reasons why I don’t believe he’s Lucifer. Just as God brought Cas back fully restored and allowed Cas to restore Bobby I believe either God or Cas restored Sam. I’m going to go with God on the hunch that either Cas went back to heaven and had a chat with God and God agreed to release Sam or that God intended to do it anyway once Sam passed his part of the test.
By the way, if you haven’t guessed by now, I love the idea of Chuck as God as well as Chuck as Kripke’s “voice’. I have no idea if it was planned from the moment the Chuck character was conceived that he would be God or if that just came along by happy accident, either way it works.
Chuck would never work as a character going forward, just like I fear Castiel will not, but more so because Chuck only has a purpose as the prophet and holder of conventions. To drop Chuck unceremoniously would leave a loose thread just aching to be yanked but to make him the “master’ of all that has come before and all that can come in the future makes him the “man behind the curtain’ that now having been revealed can quietly go back to performing his magic without all the ceremony but we know he’s there.
I don’t care that in all the times Chuck and Dean have been in the same place at the same time Dean’s amulet didn’t glow. Castiel stated that the amulet glowing in God’s presence was a rumor, not fact. Also, God can do whatever he wants, if he doesn’t want the amulet to glow in his presence, it’s not going to glow. Joshua gave voice to that – magic amulet or not, you’re not going to find him.
Speaking of the amulet, I stated back in my review of Point of No Return that I believe the amulet is gone forever. I still have no idea but I do have this possible inkling of its future reappearance. Jensen said at a con that occurred just after Dark Side of the Moon was shown but just prior to Point of No Return in response to a fan’s question was the amulet gone and he said – reportedly with a twinkle in his eye and a small grin – that Sam was still in the room after Dean left.
What lies ahead? Does Sam have the amulet? Is Sam Sam? I read his expression at the end as sorrowful, not angry. There is thunder rumbling in the background which could be misleading – you know, Bobby sold his soul, a beloved character is killed. Both were true and yet not really, pawned, resurrected, tomato/tomahto [that works better out loud]. Did Crowley return Bobby’s soul? We’re left to assume he did as “for the record, next week Bobby will be hunting a rugaru.” Still worried about “a very long time’ don’t like that – that and the fact Jim Beaver stated after shooting his scene he went and cut all his hair off, something he hadn’t been able to do in five years. Still, he’s alive, he’s alive, he’s alive.
Does Meg reappear? She could; her own demon, not toeing the line for Azazel or Lucifer. Demons are still out there. Will we finally see a chupacabra? No, don’t think so. [Still hoping, for Suze’s sake, for a zombie alligator – especially as Suze is a bit blue about this episode. Sorry, Suze, love ya, sibâ€¦.huddle on the couch with me anyway!]
I do not plan to rewatch Swan Song for a little bit, as Datafrom Star Trek NG would say, processing – processing. I will rewatch it before too long. In the meantime I’m finalizing a five-part series in which I examine “the” pivotal episode for each season. I’ll also begin working on the latest installment to The Road So Far series – Season 5. I’ve got ideas and outlines in mind to ensure I provide an article per week of Hellatus. They’re no love letters to be sure but they’ll help me and hopefully some of you through the wait.
Mr. Kripke, you may be stepping away from showrunner status but you’re not stepping out of the realm of Supernatural, not when there’s still so much blood and gore to splatter and so many more urban legends to blenderize. You may never write us another love letter but I’ll eagerly await any postscripts you do decide to bless us with.
Thank you, Eric Kripke, you are a Magnificent bastard as Alice affectionately likes to say, and Damn You, Kripke, very much!
Thanks for reading, Elle2