In my attempt to gather a set of cohesive thoughts for this review of the very exciting “Two Minutes To Midnight,” a comment came through on my site that got me wondering how we watched the same episode. The commenter surmised that based on Death’s comments that Dean cannot intervene while Sam jumps into the fiery pit with Lucifer, and Dean will be left out of saving the world while Sam gets to be the hero. Sure, a lot happened in the episode that might confuse some people, but I had a hard time guessing how that obvious point was missed. Are there those out there who really don’t realize what's about to happen to Sam? I think this episode pretty much spells it out.
Sure, some things finally went Team Freewill’s way, which adds immensely to the entertainment value of this episode. The recent hopeless doom and gloom has been stealing some of the momentum. They bested Pestilence thanks to an almost human Castiel arriving by bus to save the day. Also, thanks to Bobby’s demon deal, not only did they find where Death is but because of Crowley's creative stretching of the rules, Bobby is walking again! How awesome! With Castiel’s return and Bobby’s newfound mobility they, along with Sam, are able to partake in their own act of “domestic terrorism” and destroy the Croatoan virus before it is distributed plus save innocents while doing it. On Dean’s side, he learns that Death happens to be card-carrying member of Team Freewill due to the fact that Lucifer is controlling him against his will. He gets the final ring without a fight, although he gets one big scare.
Much like The Empire Strikes Back, these victories can't be enjoyed. The big bad is still out there and must be defeated. There will be a deep personal cost. With all four horsemen rings in possession they now can open Lucifer’s cage. Death even gave Dean the “instruction manual.”
Now for the tragic part of the tale. No matter which way you look at it, Sam is going down. There is only one way to get Lucifer into his cage. That involves Sam saying yes to Lucifer, becoming his vessel, going through the deep personal torture of being possessed and hoping he’s able to wrestle control of Lucifer long enough to plunge THEM BOTH into the box. If that plan works, he’s either dooming himself to an eternity in a cage with the almighty Satan or, best case, burn up in the process. If he fails, Michael, in his new vessel of brother Adam, will kill him and Lucifer together, taking half the planet with them.