Season 5 Episode 1

Sympathy for the Devil

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Sep 10, 2009 on The CW
out of 10
User Rating
994 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Sam, Dean, and Bobby must deal with the aftermath of the Devil's escape from Hell, and receive startling news from the Prophet Chuck.

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  • A new season, new tricks and some new characters spiced up with old acquaintances... Supernatural season 5, here we go!

    I think this was a rather good start to the new season, with plenty of references to the ending of season 4. It also "caught up" with events that people may or may not have forgotten from last season - and also forced us to think back further when an old character was re-introduced to us.

    While nothing special happened in this episode, it tied past events together while moving forward, showing us Lucifer's next move, Dean's answer to the Angels - and the difficulties in Dean and Sam's relationship.

    Top moments were Castiel kicking ass and the well constructed scenes with Nick, who is somehow special and attracting Lucifer's attention.

    I must also note that representing a Wincest writing fangirl was totally awesome! I don't know how many viewers know about fanfiction - or slash fanfiction - but that was one totally hilarious scene!

    I hope this season will have many more awesome episodes to show us.moreless
  • The boys get zapped out of the chapel, Castiel is indeed not dead and supposedly Dean is Michael's vessel. Zach tries to get him to say yes, and Lucifer circles Nick because he needs a vessel.moreless

    I loved it. We find out Dean is Michael's vessel and just how twisted Zach can get when he wants someone to do his bidding. I love that scene where Dean just continues to say no even though Zach makes things worse and worse for him. Not only that but it sets up the free will theme running through the season magnificantly.

    I know a lot of people that are not happy with Rachel Miner's Meg but honestly, I think they should stuff it. We found out way back in Season 1 that demons were going to be able to possess multiple bodies, and that is one of the great things about this show. You never know when a demon is gonna pop up or into whom. Yeah, I loved Nikki Aycox as Meg but Rachel has done a wonderful job and I think those critics need to back off a bit ... A demon isn't going to be the same in another person's body, you can expect that from every actor that plays the same demon. If those people don't like it then they should be mad that Jared played Meg as well, to which I say BAH! Jared was awesome when he was possessed, he pulled it off and then some. I really hope my view of this gives people a better understanding for Rachel. It's not always easy to step into another's actor's shoes with a well established character. I think some fans are just being too damn picky.

    Anyway over all loved it! These are just my thoughts on the episode! =Dmoreless
  • So Lucifer has arisen and the apocalypse is nigh as the fifth season of the CW's superlative Supernatural begins.

    So Lucifer has arisen and the apocalypse is nigh as the fifth season of the CW's superlative Supernatural begins. After having bowled over just about every critic under the sun with a truly monumental 2008/09 year, which saw the programme transform itself from occasionally insightful guilty pleasure to dark, twisted, mature, considered, absolute-must-see television, Eric Kripke is now faced with the unenviable task of maintaining the momentum, surpassing all of our lofty expectations and providing the mother of all pay-offs to the season-spanning narrative of the decade. The writing staff essentially spent year four laying the foundations for what is to come, moving the players into position for the 'final showdown', if you will, so they really have one hell of a lot to live up to. And on the evidence of 'Sympathy for the Devil', the series five premiere (neat pun, by the way), it seems a little like they may already be buckling under the pressure.

    The episode is by no means a bad one. Kripke's script is a roller coaster ride of quick thrills, dramatic tension and fan-pleasing 'squee!'s that keeps you glued to the screen throughout, waiting for the next revelation. The interplay between Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki is absolutely spot on once again, demonstrating that no amount of time apart can negate the very palpable chemistry that exists between the two. Sam and Dean's two-handers, however brief, steal the show, and all parties do a highly impressive job of subtly delineating the undercurrent of unspoken tension that now permeates their relationship. While Dean's ultimate rebuttal of Sam comes as no surprise, it is a thoroughly logical result of the younger Winchester's actions and fits in perfectly with our perceptions of the characters. The scene is beautifully underplayed by both parties; there are no raised voices or aggressive tones, simply resignation and disappointment. Consequently, the emotional gravitas of the situation is greatly amplified, and one is left with the ambivalence of Dean's rightful moral indignance, weighed against the horror and remorse that Sam so evidently feels. It's a messy dilemma and one that the viewer experiences with just as much investment as the characters.

    Kripke also demonstrates his masterful command of suspense by making the very bold, and wise, decision to slowly and methodically introduce Lucifer to his audience. While his name has been bandied about since the early hours of season three ('Sin City', to be precise), his actual identity has always remained a mystery; however, season four's concentration on the attempt to free him from Hell has positioned the character on such a lofty pedestal that a quick reveal would arguably fall rather flat. Instead of presenting us with an actor and asking us to buy into his representation, Kripke cautiously feels his way around the issue, using the concept of the 'human vessel' to lengthen the process of his incorporation. Such a move sells the character as a threat to the stability of the show's world to a far greater extent than if he were simply to pop out of Hell, say a few "hello"s and asphyxiate the nearest homo sapien. The process makes him all the more frightening, since he needs our permission to use one of us and, evidently, this requires the subtle use of persuasion. The individual that Lucifer has targeted is expertly characterised by Kripke as a fairly run-of-the-mill guy who has been struck by the most horrifying tragedy, which gives considerable credence to his ultimate decision to let the angel in. The viewer is able to understand his reasons, to feel his pain, to empathise with him, and this, in turn, makes the narrative strand's denouement all the more terrifying and tragic. Cleverly, this will impact upon our perception of Lucifer in the weeks to come, as the preface will make our emotional responses to the character highly ambiguous. Lost's Marc Pallegrino is predictably fantastic in the role too; his casting is a stroke of genius as the actor's considerable versatility and ability to maintain an air of underlying mystery will undoubtedly pay dividends in the future. And it's worth also giving a mention to Bellamy Young, who does a stellar job as Lucifer manifesting himself as Nick's deceased wife Sarah, delivering her lines with chilling calmness and serenity. This entire sequence of scenes is just wonderful, quietly and meticulously creating something deliciously unnerving.

    Unfortunately, the decision to hold back on Lucifer's inauguration into society, to be narratalogically calculated rather than abrupt, seems to have had an adverse effect on the rest of the episode. In refusing (rightfully, this reviewer believes) to get straight down to brass tacks, Kripke essentially robs Sam and Dean of a plot with which to entertain themselves; the logical thing for them to do, in the wake of Lucifer's ascension, would be to smite the bastard. To have him searching for a vessel for an entire episode requires that the Winchester brothers be side-lined, or at least given some other form of distraction to deal with. However, rather than have them concentrate on one plot development, Kripke bogs them down in a veritable quagmire of swerves and revelations which simply aren't given the time and attention that they deserve. It feels rather like he suddenly realised that he had no story to tell, panicked and began throwing things at the narrative in the hope that they would stick. So, Sam and Dean are magically whisked onto a plane to escape the explosion caused by Lucifer's ascension, and then, within seconds, it's hurtling to the ground because of this. Cut to title card (nowhere near as good as season four's by the way, but then, it was never going to be, was it?) and once we come back, the brothers are in the Impala, practically unscathed. The jump is too great and the cut too intrusive, which damages the flow of the story. Then we have the illustrious Michael sword which is introduced and then brushed to one side within the space of a few scenes, as we learn that Dean himself is the object (or rather, Michael's vessel). This reveal should be absolutely huge as it has the potential to greatly impact upon the ongoing narrative, but its significance gets lost amongst the bravado and bluster of the character's interactions with Zachariah (all the insults and quips feel overwrought through the whole episode, grafted on rather than arising naturally from the plot) and later, Castiel's miraculous resurrection. Now sure, this clearly has implied significance that is ripe for explanation in a future episode (is God himself responsible?) but it really does feel like something of a deux et machina, however ironic that may be. Throw in Bobby's demonic possession, which feels far too hurried and is far too conveniently overcome, Meg's abrupt, practically throw-away return, a case of 'blink and you'll miss it' when it should be afforded significant fanfare, and the highly unnecessary 'fangeek' (really guys, does every representation of a 'fan' of a television show have to be this cumbersome, ludicrous and insulting?) and you've got an over-abundant recipe, trying too hard to please.

    'Sympathy for the Devil' certainly has much going for it. Kripke's script deftly sets the scene for the season, introducing the much-lauded 'biggest of all bads' into the Supernaturalverse in a pleasingly methodical and terrifying fashion. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles return to their roles with the greatest of ease and the episode's emotional drama between the two brothers is both moving and believable. The plot generally moves along at a satisfyingly brisk pace, maintaining the tense momentum generated by the concept of the apocalypse, but this also seems to work to its detriment. At times, it feels like there is simply too much going on, that there are too many revelations and developments being thrown at the viewer, and as such they threaten to lose their dramatic impact. Sequences like the re-introduction of Meg, the 'Michael sword' explanation and Castiel's resurrection feel fleeting when they should be shocking, and as a result they fall a little flat. Nevertheless, this remains an enjoyable instalment and one that demonstrates much promise for the future.moreless
  • Brotherhood of the sword

    Well, now, I'll be mucho impressed if the season can follow through on the promise made in this hour: Armageddon (Four Horsemen n'all). A New season brings with it new titles, new Road So Far music (which I'm not entirely loving...) and BIG AMBITION. Lucifer has left the building, gone and found himself a unique vessel and gatecrashed earth, it simply cannot get bigger than this.

    Normally, I wouldn't be the fondest of Supernatural Premiere episodes, but this one has plenty to chew on and mull over, it almost warrants a second viewing. Even from last year's finale, so much has changed within this hour; it takes everything to a much darker place. I mean, you can't trump The Devil as a Big Bad!

    Becky said it best, Sam has a firm…I mean, er, I love what the show has done to its mythology, having the angels act as bad, if not worse, than the demons themselves. Zachariah is a sadistic feather flinger, isn't he? Alistair would have done well to take a few notes from his book of torture: broken legs, removing lungs and stage four stomach cancer, this angel holds no punches.

    I really enjoyed the scenes with Lucifer explaining his side of the story. Firstly, I really got a kick out of his apparition being a woman. Secondly, this show is so warped, it has warriors of God behaving demonically, while Lucifer comes across as an almost sympathetic figure here. This show has balls.

    The brothers are at an interesting crossroads, and it's only right that they cannot go back to the way things used to be. Throughout the episode Sam attempted to apologize, hoping to evoke some sort of emotion from Dean, but the big fight that usually ends in man-tears and a group hug never comes. Instead, the episode ends with the brothers fizzling out. It's an off-beat ending that's surprisingly effective.

    --Additional Thoughts--

    + I was a little worried when Dean thought Ruby was back, I'm so relieved to see Meg again (even more so now that she'll have a few actresses to possess as opposed to season 4s Ruby fiasco, although I'll miss her original meat-sack).

    + Is it me or did Jenson sound rather horse, almost husky, but definitely deeper than usual? His line delivery felt a little off in places…

    + Glad to see Misha in the cast. Why not Bobby, though? + If this is the last season, I wonder if we'll see a few familiar faces? I hope so!

    + Is Cass working for Anna? If he died, did he go directly to the head-honcho?

    Overall, a terrific start to the season!moreless
Mark Pellegrino

Mark Pellegrino


Guest Star

Bellamy Young

Bellamy Young


Guest Star

Emily Perkins

Emily Perkins

Becky Rosen

Guest Star

Robert Patrick Benedict

Robert Patrick Benedict

Chuck Shurley

Recurring Role

Rachel Miner

Rachel Miner


Recurring Role

Jim Beaver

Jim Beaver

Bobby Singer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Trivia: When Sam and Dean were flipping through radio stations and finally gave up after hearing nothing but reports of impending disasters, the time on the clock was 11:58PM. Iron Maiden released a song in 1984 called Two Minutes to Midnight which told a story of how mankind's penchant of war would result in his destruction.

    • When Becky finds Sam and Dean at the hotel, she calls Sam "Sam Winchester". Last season, when the guys meet Chuck, he states that he didn't include their last name in the books.

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Dean: Cram it with walnuts, ugly.
      Zachariah: This isn't a game, son. Lucifer is powerful in ways that defy description. We need to strike now! Hard and fast! Before he finds his vessel!
      Sam: His vessel? Lucifer needs a meat suit?
      Zachariah: He is an angel. Those are the rules. And when he touches down, we're talking Four Horseman, red oceans, fiery sky, the greatest hits. You can stop him, Dean, but you need our help.
      Dean: You listen to me, you two-face douche. After all that you did, I don't want jack-squat from you!

    • Nick: If I help you, can you bring back my family?
      Sarah/Lucifer: I'm sorry, I can't. But I can give you the next best thing. God did this to you, Nick, and I can give justice, peace.
      Nick: How do I know you're telling the truth?
      Sarah/Lucifer: Because contrary to popular belief, I don't lie. I don't need to. What I do need is you. Nick, I need you to say yes.
      Nick: Then, yes.

    • Zachariah: How about this? Your friend, Bobby, we know he's gravely injured. Say yes, we'll heal him, say no, he'll never walk again.
      Dean: No.
      Zachariah: Well, how about we heal you from... stage-four stomach cancer?
      Dean: (coughs up blood) No.
      Zachariah: Then let's get real creative. Let's see how Sam does without his lungs.
      (Sam gasps for air)
      Zachariah: Are we having fun yet? You're going to say yes, Dean.
      Dean: Just kill us.
      Zachariah: Kill you? Oh no, I'm just getting started.

    • (Sam opens the door to a stunned woman)
      Sam: You okay, lady?
      Becky: Sam? Is it really you?
      (she steps closer and puts her hand on his chest) And you're so firm.
      Sam: Uh... do I know you?
      Becky: No, but I know you. You're Sam Winchester, and you're... (looks at Dean, unimpressed) ...not what I pictured.

    • Dean: Where's Cass?
      Chuck: He's dead. Or gone. The archangel smote the crap out of him. I'm sorry.
      Dean: You're sure? I mean, maybe he just vanished into the light or something.
      Chuck: Oh, no. He exploded. Like a water balloon of chunky soup.

    • Chuck: Oh god. Is that a molar? Do I have a molar in my hair? This has been a really stressful day.

    • Sam: Becky, does he know where it is?
      Becky: In a castle on a hill made of forty-two dogs.
      Dean: Forty-two dogs?
      Sam: Are you sure you got that right?
      Becky: It doesn't make sense, but that's what he said. I memorized every word... for you.
      Sam: Umm... Becky, can you... quit touching me?
      Becky: No.

    • Sam: I brought this on.
      Bobby: You're damn right you didn't listen. You were reckless and selfish and arrogant.
      Sam: I'm sorry.
      Bobby: Oh, yeah? You're sorry you started Armageddon? This kind of thing don't get forgiven, boy. If, by some miracle we pull this off... I want you to lose my number.

    • Zachariah: I see you told the demons where the sword is.
      Dean: (deadpan) Oh, thank God. The angels are here.

    • Zachariah: You're Michael's vessel. Or rather, his receptacle.
      Dean: I'm a vessel?
      Zachariah: You're the vessel. Michael's vessel.
      Dean: How? Why, why me?
      Zachariah: Because you're chosen! It's a great honor, Dean.
      Dean: Oh, yeah. Life as an angel condom. That's real fun. I think I'll pass, thanks.

    • Dean: You need my consent. Michael needs my say-so to ride around in my skin.
      Zachariah: Unfortunately, yes.
      Dean: Well, there's got to be another way.
      Zachariah: There is no other way. There must be a battle. Michael must defeat the Serpent. It is written.
      Dean: Yeah, maybe. But, on the other hand... eat me. The answer's no.

    • Castiel: You two need to be more careful.
      Dean: Yeah, I'm starting to get that. Your frat brothers are bigger dicks than I thought.

    • Sarah/Lucifer: I'm not your wife, Nick. I'm an angel.
      Nick: An angel?
      Sarah/Lucifer: My name is Lucifer.
      Nick: Sure. Naturally. Umm... could you do me a favor there, Satan, and remind me to quit drinking before I go to bed?

    • Dean: What if we win? I'm serious. I mean, screw the angels and the demons and their crap Apocalypse. They want to fight a war, they can find their own planet. This one's ours, and I say they get the hell off of it. We take 'em all on. We kill the Devil. Hell, we even kill Michael if we have to, but we do it our own damn selves.
      Bobby: And how are we supposed to do all this, genius?
      Dean: I got no idea. But what I got is a G.E.D. and a "give 'em hell" attitude and I'll figure it out.
      Bobby: You are nine kinds of crazy, boy.
      Dean: It's been said.

  • NOTES (4)

    • International Airdates
      Sweden: November 15, 2009 on Kanal 5
      UK: February 10, 2010 on LIVING
      Portugal: April 5, 2010 on AXN
      Spain: August 23, 2010 on AXN
      Germany: January 3, 2011 on Sky Cinema Hits
      Czech Republic: July 8, 2011 on Prima COOL
      Finland: March 6, 2012 on Sub
      Slovakia: April 12, 2013 on Markiza

    • Becky and Chuck's conversation where he corrects her and tells her the books are real, and Becky says she knew it all along, is heavily paraphrased from the 1999 film Galaxy Quest in which a super-fan of the fictional television show was asked to help the crew for real.

    • As of this episode, Misha Collins is listed as a star, third in the credits.

    • Music: Thunderstruck (AC/DC)


    • Title:
      Referencing the opening track on the Rolling Stones 1968 album Beggar's Banquet. It was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, as a first-person narrative from the Devil's point of view. It is also a 1968 documentary directed and written by Jean Luc Godard, which also features the Rolling Stones as they rehearse and record the song Sympathy for the Devil.

    • Meg: These are the days of miracle and wonder, Dean.
      Referencing the 1987 Paul Simon song, The Boy in The Bubble. It was based on David Vetter, the boy who suffered from a rare genetic disease that kept his immune system from functioning. He was forced to stay in a sterile environment, confining him to a plastic bubble.

    • Chuck You went full-on Vader.
      Referencing the primary villain of the Star Wars series, played by Dave Prowse, James Earl Jones, Hayden Christensen, Sebastian Shaw, and fencing instructor Bob Anderson. Vader has become an iconic movie villain of the 20th century and is strong in the Force, allowing him to telekinetically manipulate objects and choke others, similar to how Sam telekinetically manipulates demons.