It’s always such a relief to get our show back. It’s a long hiatus, and though this year we were treated to slew of amazing articles and photos during our 5 month dearth, nothing takes the place of the show and brand new episodes - time spent with our favourite characters in brand new situations.
The fact that Supernatural has made it to season 12, is one hell of an achievement; the fact that it can still turn out season premiere episode like Keep Calm and Carry On is why it has made it to 12 seasons!
Written by our new show runner, Andrew Dabb, Keep Calm and Carry on deftly juggled 3 storylines, changing from scene to scene with perfect pacing and allowing us to understand what was happening, and what was being set up for the future, with minimal exposition.
With an episode so rooted in the Winchester family mythology, Dabb brought into focus series and character history through Sam’s hallucinations, and introduced us to new history, stories we hadn’t heard about John and Mary, giving us tantalising snippets for our imaginations to run wild with, while filling out the Winchester family lore. it was beyond perfect.
I freely admit I sobbed in the opening scene with Dean and Mary, I know I’m not the only one, because you all told me you did too! The idea of John telling his boys how he met their mum was equal parts heart lifting and heart breaking. I pictured, as most did, Sam and Dean as children, pestering their dad to tell them the story one more time. Maybe to fill long drives, maybe as a comforting bedtime story. Keeping them in touch with their mother, making sure she stayed alive in their minds, “Tell us how you met mum, dad, please, just one more time.” Can’t you just hear it? Can’t you just see it? John acquiescing and relaying the, much told, story to his young sons. Sam and Dean hanging on every word, even though they knew the words by heart. The picture Andrew Dabb painted in that small scene was incredibly vivid, and it totally hit me right in the feels.
As did Dean repeating those stories to Mary, like a wide eyed child, words almost tumbling over each other. Then telling Mary how long she’d been gone, “33 years”, without hesitation, not even a beat, like that number is on his mind every day, like the death of his mum and the length of time he has had to live without her, is a constant he endures. It was an incredibly moving and telling scene.
I honestly can’t think of a more perfect way for that scene to have played out. Dean looked so small as he stared at Mary. Standing in front of his mum as a grown man, but still so much the little boy who lost her so many years ago. Every emotion danced across Dean’s awe-struck face. His eyes filling up as he relayed the stories of Mary and John. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Dean as a son, but in this moment, that was who he was. Even just hearing him say, “Dad told me” was like a punch to the gut, and he seemed to, at every opportunity, say ‘Mum”, like he’s been waiting to do that for 33 years. I felt the loss that Sam and Dean suffered so profoundly in these moments.
I wasn’t sure how the whole reintroduction of Mary was going to play out, but certainly this first taste was beyond wonderful. Samantha Smith did such a amazing job of portraying Mary’s confusion, her fear… Realising that this grown man standing in front of her was her 4 year old son! I kept thinking, wait until she sees Sam! I can not wait for that moment. Lord, she even remembered burning on the ceiling, as her final moments came flooding back to her. The sadness.
As Mary said “Dean” and Dean said “Hi mum”, his voice so small, the beautiful Winchester theme accompanying them as they hugged, Dean’s face framed by his mother, I was completely lost to this episode - and that was just the teaser! Argh. I loved it so much.
Yep, I totally loved Keep Calm and Carry on. It was one of those episodes where I suddenly realised it was nearly over and I wanted to cry, because I didn’t want it to end, ever! Every element, from all of Dean and Mary’s heart wrenching interactions, to Cas, to Crowley and the sassy (now dead), demons, to Sam displaying that Sam “fucking” Winchester strength of mind, body and soul, to Dean’s contained intensity as he searched for clues to his brother’s whereabouts, to Mary’s separateness as she tried to understand this world she’d been pulled back into. The pace built beautifully, slowly ratcheting up until I was on the edge of my seat screaming violent instructions at the television! Amazing storytelling from a show that can tell the big biblical stories as easily as the small personal stories; characters as comfortable in quiet, personal moments as they are kicking asses all across the screen.
The season 12 opener, brought the story of the Winchesters out of the lofty realms of heaven and hell and back down to earth. Family has always been the corner stone of Supernatural, and no one is more important to the roots of that story than Mary Winchester, the jumping off point of the mythology of the Winchester boys; the reason for all that followed. She’s pretty much a myth to them - a story told by their dad - a photo by the bed. Dean barely remembers her, Sam has no memory of her at all. They have created her in their minds through 33 years of loss, and longing. Bringing her back forces Sam and Dean into a long forgotten role - that of son. We will get to see them in a new light, and through the eyes of an outsider (which, regardless of her connection, Mary currently is and surely feels), showing us a different side to the brothers, as well as reflecting them back on themselves. The promise of all this is fascinating, from how the reintroduction of their mother in their lives affects the dynamic between Sam and Dean, as well as their individual relationships with their mum, to having her in the mix of a hunt - an additional worry of another person to care about and endeavour keep alive - another Achilles heel. How will all this impact Sam and Dean?
This is all outside of the story of Mary herself, and her struggle to fit into a world 33 years further along than when she left it, without the husband she loved and with two very large, self sufficient, capable, hunter sons, regardless of how long she is a physical part of the story.
The promise of all of this was deftly set up by the season opener…we’re in for a good ride!
I loved seeing the aftermath of the angel banishing spell. Who hasn’t wondered where the hell the angels went when they’re zapped off like that. Apparently they don’t go all that far and apparently they get there at a great rate of knots! Cas (Castiroid - as Kevin Parks dubbed him), landed like a meteor in a field some 300 miles from Lebanon, Kansas, burning through a Mystery Spot billboard, crashing to earth in front of a gob smacked local, and promptly steeling his car - well I guess he learnt from the best, though the Winchester’s way is more hot wire than send to sleep! I laughed out loud! Poor dude!
We’ve been promised a Cas more in line with the badass we met in season 4. Cas back then, though sympathetic to humanity had a dangerous edge to him that we really haven’t seen for a long while. As he became more like people, that I’ll smite you at a moment’s notice attitude, gave way to the more confused, fish out of water Cas we’ve come to know and love, and though that Cas is adorable, I’ve always loved it when he’s kicked some ass.
Cas is on a mission - he promised Dean he’d look after Sam, those were his parting words to his friend, and Sam got taken, and Cas is pissed off! I really love pissed off Cas! I also loved Cas practically yelling at Dean when he realised his friend was alive, "WHAT ABOUT THE BOMB, AND THE DARKNESS?", and glomping him, because that was a powerful glomp not a hug! A big, wide eyed, over excited, glomp!
Crowley is also on a mission, to regain hell, regain respect - or maybe fear might be the appropriate word - kill Lucifer or lock him up or whatever he needs to do to become the King of Hell again, and though we didn’t see a lot of him, we know what his fight is going to be. I hope he gets all that back, like Cas, I prefer my Crowley as badass!
Then there was Sam and Dean.
The two worst things you can do to Dean is hurt his brother and hurt his Baby! The British Men of Letters have really got off on the wrong foot with the elder Winchester, because they’ve done both those things!
In the midst of the weirdness of having his mother back, of having to tell her that her husband, his father, died to ensure Dean lived, of having to tell his mother that her husband, his father raised her sons as hunters, that their life was everything she didn’t want for them… in the midst of all that Dean must have been feeling in those moments, his little brother had disappeared, and he was thrown into a search for Sam.
Driving back to the Bunker with his mum in tow, Dean was expecting to be reunited with his brother, instead he found pools of blood. I was impressed with the way Dean kept it all together, with so much craziness going on, he, dare I say, kept calm and carried on! He reminded me of Sam. Don’t panic, work the case, work out the answers, track down the clues - methodically but rapidly - because he had that traffic camera and car details sorted in a matter of minutes! I love when we see Dean do stuff like that, I love it when we see how damn smart he is.
It wasn’t until Dean spoke to Lady Toni and his fury was released, Hulk smashing the phone with his bare hands (a real, solid, not pre-broken phone by the way…H-O-T), that we saw what we knew was burning through his insides. She took Sam, she hurt Sam (or worse), and she was going to pay for that. Dean can be terrifying. That quiet, seething threat of violence that permeates his body language and tone of voice, is equal parts scary and super hot! I wondered if, before this moment, he was keeping his ferocity in check around his mum - who's already pretty freaked out, I wondered if it was just him and Cas how his temperament may have differed, I wondered if he’s already protecting his mother. I remember Jensen saying that Dean worries that Mary could become another weakness for him, another chink in his armour, another tool to be used against him and Sam by those who want to destroy them. The cascade of emotions he must have been feeling, dealing with the confusion and wonderment of having his mother standing beside him, and the anger and fear of the unknown in regards to Sam. Man, I bet all he wanted to do was have Sam meet their mum…share that moment with his little brother… Yep, they’ve both gotta get put through the ringer first! Heaven forbid they have nice things!
Mary never wanted the life Sam and Dean have, for her sons. She fought against being a hunter, rebelled against the family business and got out, marrying a civilian (of course we now know John was actually a Men of Letters legacy), raising her family in what she hoped would be safely away from the supernatural. But Sam and Dean have, through years of grappling with their destiny, embraced their life’s purpose. They’ve embraced that this was what they were meant to do, to help people, to help the world. They've come to a place beyond purely acceptance, to a place of some pride in the work that they do - it’s been a struggle to get to there - for all of us (!) - but there is a peace within Sam and Dean now. This is their road, and as long as they’re travelling it together, they’re okay with it. Still, hearing Dean articulate this to his mother was deeply moving. To hear Dean utter belief in his worth in the grand scheme of things completely choked me up. It’s taken a long time for him to believe in himself like that and to believe him and Sam do more good than they do bad. A long time. I’m so proud of who this man has become.
Mary - “I spent my life running from this, from hunting. And I got out. I never wanted this for you and Sam.”
Dean - “Mom, I get it. I do. If I had kids, I wouldn't want them in this. But, Sam and me. Saving people and hunting things, this is our life. I think we make the world a better place. I know that we do.”
I think this harmony between the brothers, their belief in what they do, is also what helped Sam deal with what he was going through while being tortured by Lady Toni and Ms Watt…well that and he thought his brother was dead, what could they possibly do to him that would hurt him more than the loss of Dean...
Sam’s strength is one of his most amazing assets, and I’m not just talking about his physical strength, but his mental strength and the strength of his soul. Yep, he’s been tortured by the devil himself and is still standing, in fact, he was willing to go down that road again last season, rather than bow to Lucifer’s demands. If Sam believes in it, he will stand firm no matter what. His resilience is breathtaking. I’m not sure Sam Winchester is breakable anymore. Not mentally anyway.
When Lady Toni decided to attack Sam’s mind and release in him all the things that he’s felt guilt over in the past, well once upon a time that would have worked much better for her, but this is a different Sam. Like Dean, Sam is far more assured of his place in the world and the good that he and his brother do. He has accepted hunting as his life, and has even said that he likes his life as a hunter. Last season his brother told him he held no grudges, that the past is the past, all that matters is the they’re still together - that’s all that’s ever mattered. A fresh breeze blew through Sam and Dean’s relationship, and each openly supported the other with no judgement or finger pointing. They are stronger because of it, both as brothers and as individuals. The guilt that Sam once felt for just about everything, though probably not gone completely, is no longer as crippling as it once was. It’s baggage he can carry more easily these days. He could recognise when it was the Darkness making him say untruths to Dean in the penultimate (who says penultimate) episode of last season, just as he could recognise what he was seeing while being tortured, was not the truth of his life; that he’s not responsible for every bad thing that’s ever happened ever. His understanding of this helped him overcome those inner demons flashing before his eyes, and fight back. Sam is stronger than he’s ever been.
But he’s so alone - or at least he thinks he is - as he sat on the stairs, trapped, injured, angry…seriously, with Black Sabbath’s Solitude playing, that was one of the saddest images the show has ever jabbed into my heart! I can not wait until Sam sees Dean. Can not wait.
I think we’re going to find there is more to Lady Toni than meets the eye. She’s being set up as a potential rebel, and shown to have a softer side as a mum - which also parallels to Mary. She didn’t necessarily agree with the old men preventing the Men of Letters from getting involved in the first round of the Apocalypse, she watched Sam on the monitor with a mix of curiosity and what looked like admiration, she seemed genuinely horrified when she thought her drugging him had cost him his life, thought that might have just been because she wasn't finished with him - and of course, she now knows, given the opportunity, Sam did not in fact kill her as he had promised he would, he let her live. I think she could be being positioned to come around and become an ally in whatever is coming. Maybe. Currently though, the accent in a pantsuit is enemy number 1. You do not shoot, water torture, burn, or in anyway hurt Sammy and not pay for it. She’s got a lot of looking over her shoulder in her future!
I’m so fascinated by whatever lies ahead in relation to Mary, and how long she'll be part of the season. Samantha Smith did an amazing job at portraying Mary’s sense of bewilderment at the world she’d been thrown back into. The astonishment of Dean, the overwhelming information crashing down upon her, the isolation and strangeness that she felt. She looked so lost in the back of the Impala, as Dean drove; he tried to say something, but at that point, what was to be said. She must have been reeling, husband dead, grown up sons hunters, an alien world, and she’s back on this earth less than a day and already dragged into the life she fought so hard to leave; her first kill as tough to stomach as it should have been - even if it was to save her son’s life. Mary is obviously a kickass, accomplished, savvy hunter, but that’s not who she wants to be. Or at least it wasn’t. So it’ll be super interesting to find out who she becomes now, and how she fits in - if she indeed does. I’m looking forward to not just her interactions with her sons, but also with Castiel - they connected over the strangeness of a world that neither really belongs in. I’m looking forward to discovering how Mary chooses to use this second chance.
For the most part, Keep Calm and Carry On was pretty serious stuff, there was some very serious shit going down, what with the torture and heavy family discussions, and phone rage and all, but like Supernatural does so well, Andrew Dabb in particular, there were still some light moments.
I’m pretty sure we found out that Dean was conceived in the back seat of his precious Baby! That look Mary had, as she reminisced over whatever took place back there, and Dean’s face as he realised what his MUM was thinking about… SCARRED FOR LIFE - let’s face it, no one wants to think about that stuff about their parents - and Cas’ confused face as he tried to figure out what the hell just went on… It was all delightful! It makes perfect sense to me that Dean would have been conceived in that car, perfect sense! That car’s backseat has seen a lot of Winchester action!
I loved Dean’s pride when his mum said that John’s car was still beautiful, “Hell yeah she is”, I loved the whole moment with Mary gently running her fingers over Baby’s body, as she remembered her husband. I loved that she said, “Hey sweetheart, remember me?”, just like when Dean came back from hell; “Hey, sweetheart, did you miss me?” The synergy was beautiful. There was just so much history in this episode - which was sooooo perfect!
Yep…I loved Keep Calm and Carry On, can you tell? It was a particularly strong season opener. It felt fresh and exciting, a mean feat for a show starting its 12th season. Jensen was amazing, Jared was amazing, Samantha was amazing - their performances were all so powerful. I’m so excited for them all to be together and see how that pans out! Andrew Dabb wrote a script that pack an emotional punch, and was rich in the family ties that make this series so special. He touched on so much history, he set up teases for the season, without hitting us over the head with it, and gave us enough little treats to set our over imaginative minds racing. I cried, I laughed, I cried again, I screamed expletives - all signs of a damn good ep! I’m excited for what’s to come.
I’m so sorry this was so long, I know I rambled a bit - but I had a lot to say…and you know, 5 months of waiting to say it! Let me know your thoughts in the comments. As always, thanks for reading! WE’RE BACK!