Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Two Minutes to Midnight" Episode Review

I have to admit, as awesome as the last few episodes have been, I've felt a little bit of lack with Sam and Dean's passiveness in the events occurring around them. Crowley, Gabriel, Kali, even Zachariah knocked every scene out of the park, as Sam and Dean hovered, looking a bit helpless. I was so hoping that would change in this, the penultimate episode of the ultimate season.

Before I begin...I spent much commercial time looking for "O Death" as sung by Jen Titus for the promo and then for tonight's actual episode. No deal. Because, it turns out for those of you who don't already know, Jen Titus is a/the CW on-air promotions exec and her boss, a VP, had her record a tweaked version of the song (lyrics adjusted to match the show). This article says they decided to make the song available as a free download on the CW website. It's either no longer there or not there yet.

So okay, the episode! And here we go! (Recap/commentary typed on second viewing)

Loooong "Then" to start this episode, to make sure we're all caught up. Adam vessel Michael, Cas self-banished, Croatoan virus, Brady, Death free, Crowley's and Sam's plans. Okay, got it.

We start in Davenport, Iowa, with Pestilence looking much nicer than he did in his intro. His patient seems to love him, until he reveals his blend of common cold, Dengai fever, and Japanese encephalitis, to which he adds chicken pox. Ugh, this guy likes his work too much. Aaaaannnnnnndddd there's this episode's Ick, green vomit. OMG that's disgusting.

Cue awesome title card.

One Day Earlier...

Sam and Dean are arguing at Bobby's about Sam's stupid plan to say yes to Lucifer, but they all seem to agree it's a stupid plan, anyway.

Then Cas calls! Yay, Cas! Misha got out of the trench coat! And looks adorable in a hospital gown. He woke from brain-deadness. He's uncomfortable, can't zap, says he's thirsty, his head aches, and he has a bug bite that itches no matter how much he scratches it. What a great summary of the human condition. LOL

Cas apologizes to Dean: "You are not the burnt and broken shell of a man that I believed you to be."

Though Cas seems to have gotten the hang of the telephone, he has not mastered the polite goodbye.

I guess those newspapers on Bobby's desk/lap were exposition avoidance and the reason Sam and Dean now know where Pestilence is holed up. They go to the convalescent home from scene one, knock out a security guard (Dean's Nana is Eunice Kennedy! I knew it! Um...), and hang out looking at the security cameras. Sam's position doesn't change, Dean is sleepy and restless, and he walloped that security guard but good, because he's...still unconscious? And the home apparently has no other security.

Eventually, Pestilence comes on screen and reveals himself with his electromagnetic brain. Or something. Sam and Dean track him...oohhhhhh, please, don't show the vomit again! Okay, phew. A demon nurse senses the boys and alerts Pestilence, saying they should go. They have a track record. But Pestilence wants to take it out on their hides. He doesn't seem to care about Lucifer's orders. "Satan wants 'em so bad he can GLUE THEM BACK TOGETHER!" But ewwwww, vomit hug.

More gratuitous vomit, Sam and Dean grow increasingly sicker as they approach, and they collapse right at Pestilence's door. This scene is more of what I talked about when I started this writeup—Sam and Dean writhe and moan with scarlet fever, meningitis, and syphilis (so mean!) while Pestilence holds court about the beauty of disease. Dean does reach for the knife and gets his hand stepped on for his trouble. Matt Frewer gets his required home run (I love this guy) as he quotes The Princess Bride and Cas bursts in and immediately gets sick.

Pestilence: "How'd you get here?"
Castiel: "I took a bus."

Pestilence taunts Cas about his humanity, but there's "maybe just a speck" of angel left in him. He launches himself at Pest, slices off his ring finger, and ganks the demon. But Pest says it's too late. Uh oh, Croatoan.

Back at Bobby's, no one is celebrating the acquisition of the ring. They ask for good news. Bobby says Chicago is about to be eliminated. Cas gets another great line, made great more by Misha's delivery than the actual words: "I don't understand your definition of good news." But Bobby knows Death will be there. Hopefully they can stop him and get his ring.

Sam asks how Bobby put it all together, he says he had help, and enter Crowley and the funniest exchange of the show. Bobby made the deal to get Death's location. His Scotch apparently isn't up to Crowley's standards. (I love Crowley!) Sam usurps Dean's usual role and asks if Bobby kissed him. Bobby says "No" too vehemently for Sam's finely hone suspicions, but Crowley proves him a liar with a photo on his phone.

Bobby: "Why'd you take a picture?!"
Crowley" "Why'd you have to use tongue?"


Crowley is holding Bobby's soul as insurance against the boys killing him, though he says he will return it when everything is over. Bobby looks pissed, but come on, Bobby, you can't really be surprised.

Sam: *disgruntled look*
Dean: "Let me guess, we're about to have a talk."

Sam says he's the least of any of them, which is SO not true. But he gives his little speech, and Crowley does the "Aaaaanddd...scene" line and hands over a newspaper story that explains why Pest says it's too late. I sigh a little over the boys' dumbness, which I suspect is network-suit-note inspired. They don't think the viewers are smart enough to figure it out, so they make Sam and Dean dense so Crowley can explain it to us. *sigh*

Anyway, the point is that the virus shall be released nationwide simultaneously. I'm not sure why the apocalypse is only occurring in the U.S., but we can rationalize that because that's where the vessels are.

Somewhere in here is the bit with Death walking down the street, brushing a guy's life off his coat, with "O Death" playing over it. Still awesome.

Cas and Bobby are packing up. Cas gets morose and pensive. He's feeling useless, about to whine, but Bobby has no patience for that. "Quit pining for the varsity years," he tells him.

Apparently, they've decided to split up. Sam, Bobby, and Cas will go try to stop the zombie apocalypse while Dean goes to hunt Death.

Sam: "Remember when we used to just hunt wendigos?"
Dean: "Not really."
Me: "I'll loan you my season 1 DVDs"

Crowley shows up with Death's scythe, says it kills everything—demons, angels, reapers, even, rumor has it, Death himself.

And we have more denseness as Crowley implies, and hints, and finally practically says straight out, that he gave Bobby his legs back. But the look on Bobby's face when he realizes what he's saying is priceless.

Cas is in favor of Sam's plan—the boys consistently exceed his expectations—but tells him Michael has a vessel. Adam. Plus, to keep the vessel strong enough, Sam has to drink tons of blood to keep himself from exploding. Bobby still feels this is the worst plan he's ever heard.

The plan is to plant C4, pull the fire alarm, and blow up the warehouse housing the C4, but a truck starts to leave and they have to move in, which alerts the demons. Um...won't blowing up the virus make it airborne? Oh, wait, it has to be transferred by blood.

The demons sense the Winchesters (I guess they all have Sam-and-Dean-dar now) and launch their own plan, infecting some of the humans with new and improved red-eye Croatoan. That's great, now they can always tell who's infected! It takes effect faster, too. So Sam saves bunches of people and Bobby helps, then Cas saves Sam and finds a new appreciation for sawed-off shotguns. Well, they are effective at point blank range, I guess.

Bobby has a moment, peering at Sam like he's never seen him in action before. Okay, maybe he hasn't, really. I'll give him a pass. A little one. (More later.)

In the meantime, Dean and Crowley do a kind of pointless "Death's here no he's not wait he's over here" thing, and Dean goes in to a pizza joint full of dead bodies...and one live one. The storm slowly moves in, wind and rain and lightning. Death retrieves his scythe, invites Dean to sit, and offers him pizza while he slurps his soda, tells Dean he's totally inconsequential, and shares some interesting tidbits about himself. He's as old as God, maybe older, neither one remembers anymore, and he's going to reap God someday.

But Lucifer has him on a leash, some kind of binding spell, so he has to do Lucifer's bidding, and while he doesn't care about the people being killed, he's really pissed about the leash around his neck, about being enslaved to a bratty child having a tantrum. Which explains why his "attack" back at Bobby's in "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" was so small. He was just trying to get himself tracked. Dean is appropriately terrified beyond anything I've ever seen, until Death offers his ring. Dean can't unbind him, but he can take the bullets out of Lucifer's gun.

Dean: "What about Chicago?"
Death: "I suppose it can stay. I like the pizza."

Death's condition: Dean has to let Sam stop Lucifer. Sam's the only one who can, and his plan is the only way. Dean promises and takes the ring. Death offers the instruction manual and the storm stops. I like this. So much better to have a real plan and some hope of achieving it than just winging it to the end!

So now Dean has all four rings, and they like each other. Bobby shows up—he walked up and down stairs all night for no damn reason. It's so nice to see him happy! Even though the world's dying bloody.

Dean tells Bobby he lied to Death's face, but Bobby has come around. He says he and Dean have always been hard on Sam, and he knows there's darkness in him, but there's lots of good, too. Well, duh. Frankly, I've never bought into the "Sam's a mass of character defects" garbage. I never saw darkness, just hope and good. It's either ineffective writing, or very complex writing. Way back in "Bloodlust" in season 2, Dean started to question his entire existence. Believed he'd been killing some things that didn't deserve it. Sam has been the most important thing in his world since he was 4, but he feels betrayed by Sam. And Sam is an addict, which always adds to trust issues. But I think Sam's "darkness" is more about Dean than it is about Sam. And a lot of the way Bobby sees Sam is through Dean's filter.

So, either the writers really mean Sam to be dark and it's just not working (for me, anyway), or they mean it closer to how I interpret it, and what is said is not the whole story. Of course, I prefer to believe the latter. :)

Bobby says Sam will beat the devil or die trying, and of course that's Dean's fear. Bobby knows it, too, asking Dean if he's afraid of losing, or losing his brother. Which brings us right back to the beginning in a nicely done circle.

The preview for next week was short, giving us a horribly damaged Dean at possessed!Sam's hands, and Sam facing himself and his demon/angel in a mirror. I've talked before about Jensen's superior acting ability giving him the choice nearly solo shows, but it looks like Jared's going to get his Emmy submission clip next week.

And I can't see it! Waaaahhh! Okay, I'm not that upset. I'll be on retreat Thursday morning through Sunday, but if this year holds true to the last two, iTunes will have the finale up early-ish on Friday and we can download it and watch it together, me and my local gang of obsessed passionate fans.

Are we ready for the finale?

Promo Photos: Jack Rowand/The CW ©2010 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Trish Milburn said...

Good episode. I was surprised by and liked the whole scene with Death and Dean. I liked the actor who played Death.

Loved the scene where Crowley showed the phone photo of him and Bobby kissing to seal the deal. LOL. I just love Crowley's character. He and Cas keep me in stitches.

Maureen Child said...

LOVED it, except for the inevitable EW's involving Pestilence!

Crowley is priceless and his line about "ah, hearing the clacking of the Abacus" was great!

Bobby was so good, but my heart's wrenching because I fear they're setting him up to die at the end.

And yeah. There's WAY more good in Sam than there is dark. Let's have some faith here, Dean!

Cas, as always, was fabulous.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Me, too, Maureen, re: Bobby! I'm ignoring the possibility but I'm really scared!

MJFredrick said...

LOVED the whole scene in Bobby's house. Thank goodness the boy was walking the dog, or he would have thought I'd lost my mind. I'd die laughing, then rewind!

I was following Misha's tweets, too, which was fun.

Trish Milburn said...

Maureen, I had the same thought about Bobby, and it makes me want to cry at the possibility. :(

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Oh, I forgot all about Misha's tweets! Must check them out...

Anonymous said...

Chalk me up another one who's scared Bobby won't make it. :( Loved Misha's tweets during the show. He's too funny. Great write up, Nat.

MJFredrick said...

So, wait. If Bobby DIDN'T wish to walk again, what did he wish for???

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Death's location.

When I saw the offer again, I realized Crowley said he could wish for anything "up to and including" Death's location. And then when he told Bobby to get up, he said the trick is in wording the wish and he added the subclause. So Bobby was apparently too fixated on saving the world to realize he could ask for more than one thing.

That's my understanding of the events as they unfolded. :)

MJFredrick said...

Oh. Duh, Mary.

Kim said...

I think this was a huge improvement on last week. I have to admit though, I am looking forward to this season coming to an end and hoping for a slightly less stressful season next time. When the characters steep too much in the juices of OH MY GOODNESS THIS THING IS MUCH HUGER THAN US they get lost in it. I'm tired of that.