(SPOILER ALERT: Read only after watching Supernatural‘s Season Five finale)
It’s all been building up to this. The moment Sam’s girlfriend Jessica was murdered by old yellow eyes in the pilot of Supernatural, it set in motion events that brought the brothers to the climactic battle that took place in the finale of Season Five entitled “Swan Song.” Initially, the story was that Sam was chosen by Azazel (aka yellow eyes) to be his warrior. Well, Azazel chose a few different people and then had them duke it out to see who would come out on top. In this fight Sam ends up being killed which prompts Dean to sell his soul at the crossroads to bring Sam back. The third season is all centered around figuring out how to get Dean out of his deal which will cause him to be dead in a year’s time. Unfortunately, the brothers fail and Dean is killed by hell hounds and sending him to hell.
While in hell, Dean is forced to torture other souls which breaks the first of 66 seals that will release Lucifer from hell and allow him to walk the earth. In the season 4 premiere “Lazarus Rising,” the angel Castiel pulls Dean out of hell and brings him back to earth. The brothers and Castiel work together to try to prevent more seals from being broken. Unfortunately, the demon Ruby enters the mix and is able to convince Sam she has good intentions but Dean never trusts her. With Ruby, Sam follows a path of darkness and destruction that even led to an addiction to demon blood.
In the Season Four finale “Lucifer Rising”, Dean is told by the angel Zachariah that the angels actually want Lucifer to rise and the apocalypse to start which will cleanse the earth. The angels admit that killing the demon Lilith will break the final seal which is exactly what Sam plans on doing, believing that it will STOP Lucifer from emerging from hell. Unfortunately, Sam succeeds and realizes that Ruby had used him while Lucifer rises, like the episode title promises. Also revealed in “Lucifer Rising” is a flashback to 1972 in which Azazel has a conversation with Lucifer about the seals and that in order for Lilith to be released from the depth of the pit to break the final seal, Azazel must find special children. Ding ding! It’s all connected!
So Lucifer has risen. In the Season Five premiere “Sympathy for the Devil,” Sam and Dean learn that there is a weapon that can be used against Lucifer called Michael’s Sword. Surprise! The sword is Dean, who is Archangel Michael’s vessel. Dean refuses to give up his life for Michael despite Zachariah’s threats. Two episodes later, in an episode titled “Free to Be You and Me”, Lucifer finds Sam and tells him that he is his true vessel. Snap! Dean and Sam are destined for a fight to the death.
Which is how it ended. (Sorta.) Dean and Sam’s younger half-brother agrees to be Michael’s vessel instead of Dean, and Sam decides he can fight Lucifer internally and finally agrees to let Lucifer in. Immediately after Lucifer possesses him, Lucifer takes control. It’s only after Lucifer/Sam is beating Dean to death and sees Sam’s toy soldier inside the Impala that Sam is finally able to take control. Sam throws himself in to hell, sacrificing himself to save the world.
This was the plan from the beginning. Sam had to make amends. On paper, he was the righteous one and Dean was the screw up, but beneath the surface Sam has had a dark streak and has constantly struggled between what was wrong and right. His addiction to demon blood is the best example of this.
There was a plan all along. The direct foreshadowing of “Swan Song” began, for me, in the Season Two episode “Houses of the Holy” where angels are mentioned for the first time. People are killing others claiming to be directed to do so by angels. Dean believes that it’s actually a spirit claiming to be an angel, whereas Sam admits that he not only believes in angels but prays everyday. The spirit/angel chooses Sam next to murder in God’s name and Sam believes the angel truly chose him to do God’s work. Dean, however, is adamant that angels don’t exist and there must be another explanation. Dean only believes in what he can see. His mother told him every night that angels were watching over him, but this couldn’t have been true since she was brutally murdered by a demon. It turns out that in this instance Dean is (mostly) right, there was no angel, only the spirit of a murdered priest who truly thought he was doing God’s work. (It’s also worth noting that in this episode even the Archangel Michael is first mentioned by a priest explaining a stained glass window.)
“Born Under a Bad Sign”, a few episodes later, also directly foreshadows “Swan Song.” Sam is possessed by the scorned demon Meg. Dean doesn’t realize right away that Sam is possessed. Meg is able to convince Dean that Sam has blacked out and lost time and during this blackout killed a fellow hunter. Dean knows that it wasn’t Sam but doesn’t initially make the connection that he is possessed. Meg, pretending to be Sam, begs Dean to kill him to stop him from hurting anyone else. Dean tells Sam, “I’d rather die.” This theme carries on throughout the series. Ever since the death of their mother, the main mission in Dean’s life has been protecting his younger brother no matter what the cost. (Extremely similar to Buffy’s irrational protection of Dawn in Season Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) This protection of Sam is part of why he refuses to be Michael’s vessel, and is so adamant against Sam allowing himself to be Lucifer’s vessel.
“Swan Song” truly should have been what the title promised. The CW has ordered a sixth season, without creator Eric Kripke on board and after the resolution of the series. “Swan Song” was what it was all about, all it was leading up to. How can the series possibly move forward and maintain it’s integrity? Sam had to die. It was meant to happen. Dean already messed with the universe by bringing Sam back once. Yet, according to Entertainment Weekly in Season Six Sam will have “escaped from hell.” Really? We already had one brother do that. I’ll still be watching, but anything moving forward will feel like an Epilogue. Sam sacrificed himself for the world, and Dean is finally able to have a family of his own and the normal, happy life that goes along with it. Happily Ever After.
Below: The awesome promo for “Swan Song”