I'm so lucky to have the first essay spot after the finale, but I had so many potential topics! I decided to land on the biggest one: when Sam appeared in the final seconds of "Swan Song," who was he? We've talked a little about the possibilities in the comments, but I think the theories deserve more exploration.
1. He's Sam
God restored Castiel to his full power and position, which enabled him to heal Dean instantly, and bring Bobby back to life. Seems logical he'd pull Sam from the cage, too, free of Lucifer. A case can be made that the (very subtle) look on Sam's face was satisfaction that Dean was following his promise, mingled with longing and loneliness.
The streetlight going out? That could have been from the energy that moved Sam to that location, though the timing doesn't really work. It could have been "coincidence" (i.e. the writers/director messing with us). It could have been that Sam is changed from the dual effects of hosting/battling Lucifer and drinking those gallons of...um...go juice.
This is my favorite theory, the one that kind of seems to be favored by most people, and the one that best fits the "apocalypse is over" mindset Kripke and Co. have described. But it's far from the only possible theory, and the fact that it's the most obvious might make it less likely.
2. Sam is Still Lucifer
That is the second most obvious theory, and the only other one mentioned by many recaps/articles/blogs. The idea being, I suppose, that they didn't do the cage right, or that Lucifer got out, or tricked them.
I did see one person postulate quite logically that Lucifer told Gabriel he taught him all his tricks, which would indicate he could create an avatar of himself.
Despite the solid logic, this theory bothers me. It seems too contradictory. All season, Lucifer has been out there. Not hiding, not avoiding anyone, only seeking Sam, seeking the fight with Michael, wreaking havoc and being quite happy to take credit. He exerted power over the four horsemen, two of whom, at least, resented it mightily. So why would he pretend that Sam took over the body? Why would he risk opening the cage, even believing his enemies to be vanquished? He messed with Dean when Sam first let him in, but he immediately copped to it. I can't believe he'd be able to resist lording it over Dean (because he was all that was left) that he'd not only avoided falling victim to their plan, he'd dropped his brother in the cage, instead.
Since God immediately acted to set a few things right, too, I can't believe he'd have done so knowing Lucifer was still free. He'd have to have known—he's omniscient!
The concept did give me another idea. But I'll save that for #4.
3. Sam is Michael
Not many people are talking about this possibility. The cage was built for Lucifer, by Michael, so it makes sense to me that it might not have been able to hold Michael. He probably wouldn't care about Adam and Sam, but he'd need to ride one of them to return to Earth, if he had a desire for revenge or a need to get the key back, either so he had control of it, or to release Lucifer again to fulfill his destiny. He seemed pretty obsessed with that. Either Adam or Sam would work as vessels, and Sam would be the stronger of the two.
I like this idea because it's a surprise, but I don't really buy it any more than I buy #2, because Sam being possessed by either Lucifer or Michael would require a long-term plot to do it justice, and the fans wouldn't be happy with that. We want SAM, not Sam-the-Meatsuit. Plus, there's a definite sense of been-there-done-that far beyond the sense that "Swan Song" haters complained of in the finale.
4. Sam is ?
So my idea that stemmed from the trickery theory in #2 doesn't really support Sam being any particular being, or lend itself to concrete speculation.
Back in "I Believe the Children Are Our Future," I envisioned a finale in which all allies of Sam and Dean combined forces to defeat Lucifer, including Jesse, the non-evil Antichrist. Even when the season evolved away from that possibility, I still expected this all-powerful little boy to show up and do something. It's unsettling that he didn't.
So what if he did, but we didn't see it? What if he had something to do with some of the events of the finale? What if it wasn't God who restored Castiel? I mean, Cas said Jesse could wipe out the entire angel population with a thought. Seems like the opposite might be just as easy. Okay, I know destruction is easier than creation. And bringing people back to life is harder than turning them into action figures...well, no, maybe it isn't. Jesse did some pretty powerful stuff. Like teleporting himself to Australia. See? Entirely plausible. :)
Go to my Who is Sam poll!
Argue/discuss the details in the comments!
A Brazilian magazine interviewed Jensen Ackles, and asked one question about season six. His answer, a translation of which you can read here, seems to be more supportive of Theory #1, above.
Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW ©2010 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.