Swap Meat (512)
Hey , there’s actually a SciFi Chick(s) review of this episode. That makes my work here much easier.
There’s not much new to add. I still chuckled at the first scene of Gary-Sam admiring himself in the bar’s mirror. Jared Padalecki did a great job of channeling his inner teen. I initially wondered why Gary chose Sam’s body for the swap when Dean is considered more classically good looking. Of course, the question was later answered. I doubt Gary would want to swap bodies with someone on the devil’s kill list.
Idle thought of the episode: Gosh, it didn’t take long for “salad shakes” to become passé.
Two Minutes to Midnight (521)
- The Winchesters are collecting the rings of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which they need to put Lucifer back in his cage. They have War’s and Famine’s, but need Pestilence’s and Death’s.
- Dean said “No” to allowing the archangel Michael to possess him, so Michael picked half-brother Adam—who was brought back to life in a previous episode (because he was dead before we first met him).
- A vaccine that’s not really a vaccine is being produced and distributed for mass consumption. This episode clarifies that it’s supposedly a vaccine for the swine flu, but is really the Croatoan virus, which makes everyone go mad.
- Bobby made a deal with Crowley, who’s still just the “king of the crossroads,” selling his soul to learn Death’s location.
Top all that off with a ridiculously busy episode, and you have one confused mess.
Sam and Dean go after Pestilence and his ring. They succumb to whatever disease Pestilence is selling today. We know they’re sick because they cough a lot. (Continuous coughing to indicate sickness is one of my pet peeves. It’s never very convincing, because the coughs are hollow, and not all sickness involves coughing.) Just when all seems lost, Castiel comes to the rescue (even though he’s lost his angel mojo) and cuts off Pestilence’s finger. Three rings down, one to go. All within a span of 12 minutes or so.
Two separate tasks complete the final 36 or so minutes. Dean and Crowley go after Death, who’s planning to wipe Chicago off the face of the earth. Sam, Bobby and Castiel set off to destroy the Croatoan virus. But not before Crowley restores the use of Bobby’s legs. It’s a rider Crowley added to Bobby’s sell-his-soul deal (which is actually a rent-a-soul deal because AtCrowley plans to return Bobby’s soul at some point. Theoretically.) See? At this point in the series, Crowley still has a bit of charm. Unlike now.
Sam, Bobby and Cass head for the “vaccine” distribution center, with plans to blow it up. But people are still inside, some of them not yet affected by the virus or possessed by demons. Sam saves them. We don’t see the building blow up, probably because of budget constraints, but apparently the mission is a success, because Bobby says so at the episode’s end.
Dean’s appointment with Death is far more interesting. Julian Richings is terrific in the role, and his initial scene is mesmerizing. All in slow motion as “Oh Death” by Jen Titus plays, Death parks his classic white car in front of a row of Chicago shops. As he emerges and walks down the street, Death touches a passer-by, who immediately falls to the sidewalk, dead.
At Rinascita’s Pizzeria, Death invites Dean to join him for a delicious slice of deep dish pizza. Death is surprisingly willing to help because Lucifer has him on a leash. He gives Dean his ring and tells him how to use all four, but he says Dean must let Lucifer take possession of Sam, who must then return him to hell. Death then saves Chicago because he likes the pizza.
“Two Minutes to Midnight” was not only the prelude to the season 5 finale, it was the prelude to Eric Kripke’s planned 5-year story arc and his time as show runner. Perhaps that’s why too much was crammed into the episode. If felt like the producers mismanaged the timing of the episodes and found themselves one episode short of what they needed.
Clip Show (822)
Now that we know how the season ended, how does the initial review stack up? The Winchesters continue their season of incredibly stupid mistakes, Dean is still pissy, Taylor Cole is still gorgeous, and Crowley’s still an effing ass.
I’d liked the introduction of the angel tablet trials. Too bad it all turned out to be a lie. Metatron, who’d seemed a little hinky here, proved to be totally hinky in the season finale.
As it turns out, the price for closing the gates of hell was Sam, and the decision to stop the trials did all come down to Dean. Way to go, show! I ❤ you! (Even if I didn’t give “Clip Show” a great rating. It was, after all, damned depressing.)
– Written by Andrew Dabb; directed by Thomas J. Wright
– TV Fanatic fan rating 4.8 (out of 5); IMDB rating 8.6; TV.com 8.6