Season-long spoilers.

Supernatural Official Site 

The Time:
Thursdays, 9:00 PM, The CW

The Show:

and Dean Winchester are two brothers who roam the back roads of America
in a 1967 Chevy Impala hunting evil.  At first they fought all
of the usual: vampires, ghosts, werewolves and the like, but in recent
yeas they’ve found themselves more and more dealing with the literal
forces of Hell as a demon war has been brewing for decades, with their
family caught in the middle.  Sam has been pre-ordained from
birth by a past foe, the yellow-eyed demon, Azazel, to be a pivotal
figure in the war…on the demon side.  Meanwhile, Dean has
recently been resurrected from Hell by angels because they have the Lord’s work
for him to do.

The Stars:

•  Jared Padalecki – Sam Winchester
•  Jensen Ackles – Dean Winchester
•  Misha Collins – Castiel
•  Genevieve Cortese – Ruby

The Episode: “Lucifer Rising”

Only the last seal remains to be broken in order for Lucifer to go free from his prison and bring forth the Apocalypse.  If Dean and Sam were united, maybe they could find a way to stop it.  But after coming to blows last week and Dean’s ultimatum to Sam about choosing a side, the Winchesters are fractured and hope seems dim.  Sam is off with Ruby, trying to track down Lilith and kill her to stop her from breaking the final seal, as she’s the only one who can do it.  Meanwhile Dean is a “guest” of the angels, and waiting to play his part in trying to stop the end of the world.

The Lowdown:

This is a solid capper to a kickass season of Supernatural, which I think is right up there with Angel, a show to which I’ve frequently compared this one.  I’ve seen every episode of the show and been following closely the episodes of this season, so I wasn’t too surprised with how things played out, especially with the angels and Ruby in particular.  Things didn’t end up quite like I thought they might with Dean and Sam, though.  Glad to see Yellow Eyes make an appearance and wrap up a storyline that had been hinted at in Dean’s time travel episode, “In The Beginning,” and I also like seeing Kurt Fuller back as the angel Zachariah. 

The basic premise of this finale is that Lilith and her demons have broken every seal but one.  The final seal has to do with a convent where Yellow Eyes possessed a priest in and slaughtered eight nuns back in 1972.  He did this as a way to communicate with Lucifer, who spoke through a dead nun and informed him of the way that Lucifer could be freed.  Sam and Dean had parted company after a thunderous beatdown the previous week, and now Sam is on Lilith’s trail, while Dean is taken by the angels and held in a room, waiting for them to call on him to play his part in the Apocalypse.

What I had expected was that Sam was being steered by Ruby to drink demon blood under the pretense of fighting demons, but in actuality to be an eventual vessel for Lucifer when all of the seals were broken.  I also thought that since Dean had been resurrected by the angels, that an eventual showdown between the two brothers would be established, with Sam on the dark side and Dean on the light.  And considering the warnings of both psychic Pamela Barnes (Tracy Dinwiddie) and prophet of the lord / pulp novelist Chuck Surley (Rob Benedict) about the angels, and Uriel’s betrayal of Castiel to help usher in the Apocalypse, that the angels were playing Dean and not telling him everything. 

Turns out I was somewhat correct.  Sam wasn’t a vessel for Lucifer; rather, he was the only one, ordained since before he was born, to have the ability to kill Lilith, which it turns out, was the final seal.  Yellow Eyes had hinted at this plan in “In The Beginning” and we saw him lay the groundwork in this episode in the flashback.  And Sam and Dean weren’t set up to be the two pivotal opposing forces of the Apocalypse, but Dean would be the only one who could kill Lucifer once he emerged.  It turns out that the angels were indeed playing him.  They needed him to kill Lucifer, because, as was revealed in “On The Head of a Pin,” Dean’s cracking under torture in Hell was the first seal, and only he could kill Lucifer as a result.  Zachariah and the other high-level angels, not including Castiel, want the Apocalypse to happen.  Zachariah confessed as much to Dean.  They don’t want to end the world, but they do want a purification because they feel confident of their ability to defeat Lucifer’s forces of Hell.  Again, it’s a lot like Gabriel’s plan in Constantine.  When Dean asks where God is in all of this, Zachariah tells him that God has left the building.

So Dean has to enlist Castiel’s help.  Castiel’s and Dean’s defiance will result in their being hunted and killed by the other angels, which I assume will be a key plotline next season.  It also turns out that Ruby was indeed playing Sam.  Only she and Lilith knew the terms of breaking the final seal.  Not even Alastair was in on the plan.  So when Dean is finally freed and able to track down Sam and Ruby, it’s already too late, as Sam has killed Lilith and freed Lucifer, which is where the episode ends as Lucifer is rising to Earth.

Looking back on this season, there isn’t a clunker of an episode to be found anywhere, although there were a couple, like “Metamorphosis” that weren’t as good as the others.  But this season was a fantastic mix of mythology and stand alone episodes, humor ad deadly seriousness.  Episodes like “Monster Movie,” about a classic monster-loving shapeshifter and “Yellow Fever,” about a fright sickness that ends in death and turns Dean into a screaming little bitch, and “Wishful Thinking,” which features a depressed, alcoholic giant teddy bear among other things, are uproariously funny.  While “Family Remains” provided genuine chills and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” / “Heaven and Hell” were rife with action and high stakes.  There were also alternate timeline episodes like “In The Beginning” and “It’s A Terrible Life” that showed the interesting possibilities of storylines that the angels offered this season.

New cast member Misha Collins, who’s set to become a regular next season, is the real revelation this season and he added a lot of new energy and possibilities to the Winchesters as he shepherded them through the entire season.  I liked Collins’ work and am looking forward to seeing more of him as Castiel.  Jim Beaver’s work as Bobby has been enjoyable the entire series run and that certainly didn’t change this year.  Glad we’ve gotten to see more of him this season than ion past ones.  We need to find out what happened to the angel Anna, as her fate was left up in the air an episode before this.  Genevieve Cortese was also fine as Ruby, an old demon in a new body.  I did suspect most of the season that Ruby was playing Sam and Dean, but she made me reconsider several times along the way.

Creator Eric Kripke and his people have created something fantastic here.  Supernatural has an awesome mythology that isn’t threatening to crumble under its own weight like Lost’s is.  The show keeps getting better and better with each passing season, and if it ends after Season 5 as Kripke said it will, I’m fine with that, because it’s been a well-told and well-made show since its inception that will be wrapped up as it should be.  But if it goes beyond that, I’m also fine as long as the high level can be maintained.  Finally, they don’t get the credit they deserve because they’re a couple of pretty boys, but Jared Padalecki and especially Jensen Ackles are doing fantastic work on this show.  I think Ackles gets the meat of the good stuff, and he’s seamless in transitioning from comedy to soul-crushing despair.  I’ve liked Ackles’ work going back to Dark Angel, and I hope to see him parlay this show into a successful movie career.  From what I understand of My Bloody Valentine, he’s well on his way. 

Supernatural is a damn great show and if you don’t know, you should take the summer to get caught up to speed on it, because if Season 5 is even half as good as this one, you’ll be missing out big time.

Episode: 8.7 out of 10
Season: 9.5 out of 10