At the end of last week's episode Bobby made a deal with his own soul as collateral but that was just the beginning. As if it wasn't enough to have their hands full with Bobby's pact, Sam and Dean still have to take on Pestilence and Death.
After a brief showdown with Pestilence, this week's show had the Winchester brothers splitting up to track down Death and stop a potential disaster while engaging in "domestic terrorism". As always with the Sam and Dean, things hit a snag and Dean is left with two options: keep his brother safe from Lucifer or give Death a reason to hold a grudge.
Following last week's complete letdown I wasn't expecting a great deal from "Two Minutes to Midnight" and I was right. While not as nearly as bad as "The Devil You Know", Supernatural seems content to rely on great performances by guest stars rather than great stories. The character Pestilence, played by Matt Frewer, had been built up over the past few episodes as a real threat to Sam and Dean but was easily stopped by Castiel well before the midpoint of the show. While I'm glad Misha Collins returned (now as a human) it seemed like a waste of time to have any build up when all attention had been on Death anyways. Overall, "Two Minutes to Midnight" was very rushed as the show seems to be in a hurry to reach the end of the season without taking the time to develop the story or flesh out a character's intentions. For example, Sam wants to say "yes" to Lucifer in order to lure him into a trap but his decision to do so seems reckless since more time has been spent with Dean having trouble with it rather than Sam.
Performances by Shark Sheppard, Misha Collins and Julian Richings were the highlights of "Two Minutes to Midnight". Mark Sheppard returns as the demon Crowley to once again steal every scene with his sharp wit and devious charm. In order to prove their deal was sealed with a kiss, Crowley even shows everyone a picture on his camera to which Bobby asks "Why did you have to take a picture?" but Crowley simply responds, "Why did you have to use tongue?" Crowley is motivated only by his desire to save himself but Mark Sheppard's execution of the dialogue is outstanding. Misha Collins can do no wrong as Castiel. I know I have mentioned it in several previous reviews but nevertheless, he is one of the best parts of the show. In a surprising twist, Julian Richings was excellent as Death. It could have been the material he was given to work with but this horseman was what the others should have been. Richings could have been over the top and cheesy but instead he took a cold, toned down approach which added believability to the character. In doing so, Death didn't come across as a gimmick but really a character I would like to see again.
My biggest complaint about this episode was that everything has already been done before. Bobby has made a deal with Crowley and Dean has made a deal with Death but we already know that neither of these deals will go well. Dean has already made a deal before with demons for Sam's life at the expense of his own and as a long time fan of the show, it's disappointing. Sam commented to Dean that he remembered when they were just "hunting wendigos" which reminded me of season one when episodes were fresh and exciting. At this point it is just a matter of time before every character on the show says "yes" to something; whether it be the angels, the devil or even for a bag of chips (just kidding...but you never know).
I don't expect this season to be as original as the first season of Supernatural but "Two Minutes to Midnight" was filler in a season with not enough story. As a positive, the show does seem to have a grand story arc that parallels the story from the episode "The End" where the pieces are falling into place for a bleak future where Sam has been the devil for a number of years. It's too bad the show has not taken the time to show us more of that story arc because when Supernatural wants to, it can be a great .
Mark Pellegrino returns next week as Lucifer and I hope the show can both tie up some story arcs and generate excitement for next season – a difficult task for the Winchesters.