Season 5 Episode 13

The Song Remains the Same

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Feb 04, 2010 on The CW
out of 10
User Rating
744 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

To prevent the Apocalypse before it ever starts, Anna travels through time to kill Sam's parents before they conceive him.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • Besides Mark Pelligrino 'Supernatural' has something else in common with 'Lost'; great mythology. After months of filler episodes the so-called final season of the Winchester brothers is picking up pace with another flashback to the seventies.moreless

    Usually flashback episodes are for later seasons, when a show has run out of things to say, for example 'Heroes' or upcoming 'Brothers & Sisters', but for Supernatural, the flashback to the Winchester parents are actually most important to the story and offer up background information that will spin your head. Because, referring back to the Lost comparison, it's destiny! "Free will is an illusion" and we're happy to accept so for the sake of the show's plot that Dean is going to kill Sam. In order to accept that kind of premise you have to be interested in mythology, but not enough to know all the details. True fans of the show might know what's going down all along, but for a newcomer like me, this kind of storytelling is what gets you hooked.

    Though all the snappy references from Dean were neither funny nor suitable for it's audience, the story itself was great.

    Dean and Sam have to go back in time, again, to stop their parents from getting killed by someone who's not Lucifer's friend.

    Ok, so I might not know everything that's going down. At least it's darn entertaining. This vital episode promises a lot of good during the end run of the show's current season, which for the past five years, has been marked as the end date. And if that promises more of this great mix of family problems and Bible mythology, then I'm in for the ride.moreless
  • Anna's back and looking to kill Sam. When she can't do it in the present, she goes back to the past to kill John and Mary before the boys are born.moreless

    Holy smokes. What an episode! The writing team is back on their game with "The Song Remains The Same". Anna appears to Dean in a dream, tells him to meet her only, Castiel meets her instead. They talk, Anna reveals her plan that she is there to kill Sam Winchester. Castiel warns her that if she tries to kill Sam, that he will kill her. She leaves and appears back in 1978. Castiel, Dean and Sam follow. The trip back taking so much out of Cass that he sleeps it off in a motel room while the boys set out to protect their parents from Anna.

    She enlists Uriel's help to kill the Winchesters. The plan almost succeeds, if not for a little intervention from Michael. This episode had the right combination of wit and drama. It allowed us a peek into Michael and what his plans are. Dean and Sam have some tough times ahead. Hopefully the writers, won't let us down on the ride.moreless
  • Trust Sera Gamble to take a plot premise that's been utilised on the show before and turn it into something resoundingly original and engaging.

    Trust Sera Gamble to take a plot premise that's been utilised on the show before and turn it into something resoundingly original and engaging. Season four's superlative 'In the Beginning' sees Dean transported back in time to before he and Sam are born, thrown into the lives of his lovestruck parents and given the opportunity to change history so that his mother never succumbs to the brutality of the Yellow Eyed Demon. The song essentially remains the same here, natch, as a frighteningly militant Ana throws herself back to 1978 in an attempt to prevent Sam from ever being born and the brothers follow suit, struggling to resist the temptation to interject 'for the better' and put an end to what they perceive to be their miserable existence. In the hands of lesser writers, such similarities would render the episode frivolous and predictable. However, Gamble and co-writer Nancy Weiner know better and what results is a top notch marriage of dramatic ennui and mythological advancement.

    The key to its success is all in the pacing. From the moment that Ana interrupts Dean's somewhat risque dream, it's heads down, pedal to the metal, no turning back. The narrative commences its trajectory, with the viewer believing that Ana has returned for honourable reasons and that her mission is of the utmost importance. There is an immediate sense of urgency established which permeates the subsequent sequences as we move directly into the resolution of this trope, bypassing any extraneous incident or moments of character introspection. The story just gets on with it, throwing twists and turns at us in glorious succession. Very quickly, we discover that Ana isn't trying to help the brothers at all and that her time banged up in Heaven has changed her. Cue a spectacular fight sequence, some wonderful two-handers between she and Castiel and a breakneck narrative that captivates just as much as it mesmerises. In any other show, this would form the meat of the episode, but not here. Instead, this is merely the preface to the main event as the plot shifts a few gears after only the first act, becoming something entirely different in the later stages.

    It's a somewhat brave move to transform your story in this manner and to do it in such a way that effectively decreases the momentum. As Sam and Dean are (re)introduced to their young parents, the motifs change dramatically; the characters inevitably find themselves questioning what they can do, how they can prevent the seemingly inevitable from arising. While the show has touched on this before, it remains a relevant and realistic concept and is distinctly well-handled. Gamble addresses the issue and resolves it quickly, demonstrating to both parties that nothing can change. Essentially, they would be no better than Ana if Mary took their advice, divorcing John and running off into the sunset. It's heartbreaking to see them realise it, which is a testament to the strength of Padalecki and Ackles's respective acting talents, but it is a necessary epiphany and one that ties neatly into the episode's thematic web. Credit should also be given to the actors portraying Mary and John, who deliver whirlwind performances with what they're given, making it seem like they've been part of the show's framework since the very beginning, not simply since last season. John is particularly good when he discovers the truth about the demon world and even exhibits shades of Jeffrey Dean Morgan at times, most notably as he's insisting that he can draw the symbol on the wall.

    Of course, in amongst all of this, there's the small matter of the debut of the one, the only, motherfracking angelic Michael to contend with. After easing the pace of the plot in the episode's mid-section, Gamble ramps it up again with this knockout of a sequence, mercilessly slaughtering Ana to begin and then unpacking a whackload of mythology on Dean's ass in a spectacularly shot and written scene. Remarkably for something so loaded with development, it comes across as rather methodical, feeling less like an information dump and more like a tempered, natural progression. Michael's likening of his own situation to Sam and Dean's and his rationale for occupying the Winchester's meat suit is very effective and adds further shades of grey to this already refreshingly murky paradigm. There's a notable sense of foreboding about the whole thing too, which is perhaps due to the eerily composed manner in which Matt Cohen plays the part.

    A pretty darn spectacular episode then and one that recalls Supernatural's more recent penchant for playing with its own format, taking chances with its narrative and making brave and unconventional decisions regarding the structure of its stories. At once packed with mythology and resoundingly introspective, 'The Song Remains the Same' acts as a blueprint for how this show should operate, providing a thrilling roller coaster of engaging plot and insightful cornucopia of character examination at the same time. Predictably, Sera Gamble stands victorious again. Unquestionably brilliant.moreless
  • The winchester seriously kick but

    this was seriously one of may favorite episodes of the season and defnity make the top 20 out off all the seasons. I don't know how the writers do it but they keep finding ways too make the show new and fresh. I really couldn't care if they made one about speed dating jensen and jared would find a way too make it work. misha collins is also doing such a great job, and I am glad that they have kept him as a prement chacater, hes one of my favorites. But all in all a great episode that just kept me guessing! Go team freewill!moreless
  • Definitely one of the best Supernatural episodes.

    I'm not going to review the episode itself, since it's already been done well by a few people here, but I'd just like to point out some points in a few other reviews that were completely incorrect.

    First up, the episode is a vital "plot-solidifier". What I mean by this is it gives the entire story behind why Sam and Dean actually have destinies a solid MEANING to them; not only by Michael's appearance, but also the fact that they travel back to the past. We learn a lot about Mary and John. It's a completely vital episode in the show's storyline.

    The entertainment in watching this episode: Straight-up 10/10: it's funny, engaging, action-packed and dead serious when it needs to be. Plus the dreamy intro scene: f*** that got me going =P. I'm sort of an Anna-hater myself, (only her as an angel: she seriously fails to make the impression that she's actually an angel, seems more like some insecure stuck-up b****) so when she gets roasted by Michael, I was satisfied ;]. The 'action' isn't just the fighting: it's everything intense that goes on during the episode, and that tension was top-notch. A VERY simplified plot:

    "Sam and Dean go back in time with Castiel (who almost dies from the effort) to stop their young dad and mom (who's pregnant with Dean) from being killed by a now-evil Anna, who teams up with a young Uriel (who she kills in the future), and succeeds in killing Sam, when the long-awaited Archangel Michael appears (for the first time) in John's body, kills her, revives Sam, and 'corrects' their parents' memories and saves the day before introducing himself to Dean and giving him a revelation about his destiny!": Holy S***: a must-see episode. Even that's enough to tell you how awesome this episode's gonna be.

    Favorite scene was when Michael finally appears and speaks with Dean. I was under the impression that he would act a little more 'badass' and talk more like Dean, but I have a feeling he will be, when he comes down in the 'present'. He still mirrors that attitude in young John's body though. It also seems like Castiel and Michael are gonna be the only two angels who aren't 'dicks'. I mean come on, Michael said he hates this whole deal as well and he wants to restore Dean when he's done with him, which means he actually respects humanity.moreless
Matt Ward (II)

Matt Ward (II)


Guest Star

Juliana Semenova

Juliana Semenova

Angel Dancer

Guest Star

Daniela Dib

Daniela Dib

Devil Dancer

Guest Star

Julie McNiven

Julie McNiven

Anna Milton

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Young John: (to Young Mary, Dean and Sam) Shut up, all of you! Look, not another word or so help me I will turn this car around.

    • Dean: So, what? You're like a DeLorean without enough plutonium?
      Castiel: I do not understand that reference.

    • Dean: Really? Anna?
      Castiel: It's true.
      Dean: So she's gone all Glenn Close, huh? That's awesome.
      Castiel: Who's Glenn Close?
      Dean: No one. Just this psycho bitch who likes to boil rabbits.
      Sam: So, the... the plan to kill me--would it actually stop Satan?
      Dean: No, Sam, come on.
      Sam: Cass, what do you think? Does Anna have a point?
      Castiel: No. She's a... "Glenn Close."

    • Dean: What exactly are we gonna march up there and tell 'em?
      Sam: Uh, the truth.
      Dean: What, that their sons are back from the future to save them from an angel gone Terminator? Come on, those movies haven't even come out yet.

    • Anna: I need you to kill some humans.
      Uriel: Always happy to do some smiting.

    • Michael: And you think you know better than my father? The one unimportant little man. What makes you think you get to choose?
      Dean: Because I got to believe that I can choose what I do with my... unimportant little life.
      Michael: You're wrong. You know how I know? Think of a million random acts of chance that let John and Mary be born, to meet, to fall in love, to have the two of you. Think of the million random choices that you make--and yet how each and everyone of them brings you closer to your destiny. Do you know why that is? Because it's not random. It's not chance. It's a plan that is playing itself out perfectly. Free will's an illusion, Dean. That's why you're going to say yes.

    • Dean: Well... this is it.
      Sam: This is what?
      Dean: Team Free Will. One ex-blood junkie, one dropout with six bucks to his name, and Mr. Comatose over there. It's awesome.
      Sam: It's not funny.
      Dean: I'm not laughing.

  • NOTES (3)

    • International Airdates:
      Latin America: March 11, 2010 on Warner Channel
      UK: April 28, 2010 on LIVING
      Sweden: July 23, 2010 on Kanal 5
      Spain: November 15, 2010 on AXN
      Germany: February 14, 2011 on Sky Cinema Hits
      Czech Republic: September 30, 2011 on Prima COOL
      Finland: May 29, 2012 on Sub

    • Working title: "Back to the Future II"

    • Music: Cherry Pie (Warrant), Life's Been Good (The Eagles)


    • Title:
      The Song Remains the Same was a concert by Led Zeppelin that was recorded in 1973 and released in 1976 as a live soundtrack album and a concert film, and then subsequently re-released as an album in 2007.

    • Dean: So she's gone all Glenn Close, huh? That's awesome.
      Referencing the 1987 movie Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close as a woman who has a brief affair with married businessman Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) and then becomes obsessed with him when he breaks it off and starts terrorizing him and his family.

    • Dean: So, what? You're like a DeLorean without enough plutonium.
      Referencing the Back to the Future movies (1985) starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a teenager who travels through time using his mentor Doc Brown's (Christopher Lloyd) time-traveling device, mounted in a DeLorean. The DeLorean is powered by plutonium initially, thus Dean's reference.

    • Dean: What do I look like-Dr. Angel, Medicine Woman?
      Referencing the 1993-1998 CBS series starring Jane Seymour as Dr. Michaela Quinn, a frontier doctor in the 1860s and 70s serving the town of Colorado Springs.

    • Dean: Six degrees of Heaven Bacon.
      Referencing the trivia game based on the concept of "six degrees of separation" where players try to link any actor to Kevin Bacon in six movie/TV steps or less. For instance, Misha Collins would be two steps away from Kevin Bacon, since Collins starred in Girl, Interrupted (1999) with Whoopi Goldberg, who was in Destination Anywhere (1997) with Kevin Bacon. Anyone who appeared with Collins in an episode of Supernatural would thus be three steps away from Kevin Bacon. Many routes can be traced: the person who can trace an actor to Kevin Bacon in the least steps is the "winner."