Season 12, ladies and gentlemen. Supernatural’s back! Finally.
And with it, the Winchester Brothers Report, courtesy of your girl Vee ;).
For those who don’t know, it’s a Sam and Dean-focused, gif happy, episode review that highlights the Best Broments (gotta have those), the Best Dean moments, Sam moments, and the Best Quote, among other tasty bits.
Number 24, here we come! The first episode of season 12 is called “Keep Calm and Carry On.” As the one I like to call the ‘fictional apple of my eye’ once said, “Let’s get started.”
Warning: mentions of self harm
Winchester recap: “Hi, Mom.” “Where’s Sam?”
Dean and Mary: “Let’s get you home.”
Picking up right where “Alpha & Omega” left off, “Keep Calm and Carry On” starts with Dean, and a newly resurrected Mary. She makes him bite the dust when he tries to touch her and only sets him free when he explains who he is. When Mary recognizes her first born, she hugs him. They’re still in the park come morning, talking about the circumstances of John’s death, her time as a ghost and the fact that she met Dean when he time-traveled, neither of which she remembers.
Sam: “Screw you.”
Lady Antonia Bevell persuades a veterinarian to remove the bullet from her prisoner’s leg and tend to his wound. Sam is soon after tied to a chair and shocked with a cattle prod by another member of the order acting as executioner. Toni tells Sam she didn’t plan on hurting him but he gave her no choice. The Order wants to revolutionize the practice of hunting in the United States and they need intel from an insider. Sam reminds her he’s been tortured by the Devil and through the water freezing his bones and the blow torch scorching his foot, his answer remains the same: “Screw you”. Toni tries another approach : breaking his mind. Sam notices the surveillance camera trained on him after Toni injects him with a serum and he soon starts having visions of Kevin, Sarah Blake, Jessica, Dean, and Mary dying, even hearing Dean’s voice blaming him for it all, calling him a freak that needs to die.
Dean on a mission: “You have my brother.”
At the bunker, Dean and Mary find blood on the floor and no Sam. After Castiel mentions the mysterious blonde woman, they retrace her steps, locate the veterinarian and use him to contact her. Dean warns the woman to surrender Sam or suffer the consequences before breaking the phone with his bare hands. The MOL’s executioner locates Dean thanks to the phone call. She finds and neutralizes Dean and even Castiel with warded brass knuckles before Mary takes her down with an angel blade through the chest. Mary later confides that she escaped the hunting life once and never wanted her sons to be a part of it. Dean understands, but he’s come to accept that “saving people and hunting things” is his and Sam’s life and he knows they are doing some good and making a difference.
Sam’s plan: “Maybe you’re not as good at your job as you think.”
Sam takes a piece of broken mirror, slides it across its throat and drops to the ground. Toni rushes in. She gets close enough for Sam to grab her by the neck. It was a trick. What he sliced was his hand, to create a pool of blood on the floor, near his head. He’s tries to get out while she’s gasping for air but doesn’t get far on his freshly injured foot. They battle to reach the exit and between the repeated shocks delivered by Toni’s baton and his own weakened state, Sam loses the battle when Toni locks the door on him. He’s defeated. She’s rattled. She underestimated the oponant and the situation has gotten away from her.
Overall grade : 8 /10
An interesting premiere full of action. Everybody was kicking butt. Sam battling with Toni on those steps kept me on edge. Dean was stunt driving the Impala as it was being run off the road, and Mary wielded an angel blade with deadly precision on her first day back on the job.
The quiet moments had even more impact than the mayhem. The scene between Dean and Mary at the beginning of the episode will go down as one of my favorites ever on this show. If I wasn’t emotional enough, the always heartbreaking Dean’s Theme started playing in the background while Dean and Mary were getting reacquainted.
I especially loved hearing the details John shared with Dean about Mary, even if the story “Keep Calm…” presented didn’t exactly jive with what the Cupid from “My Bloody Valentine” said about John and Mary hating each other before Heaven intervened. I’ll choose to believe that after Mary gave John her number, he started calling and somewhere in the middle of their conversations they started getting on each other’s nerves so bad, Heaven had to blow fairy love dust in their faces to put them back on track. What can I say, that story of them meeting outside the theater and going for a cup of coffee at Moroni’s was really cute so I won’t nitpick.
The most visually stunning scene had to be the one with Dean and Mary in the park. The two of them sitting on a lone bench surrounded by a cocoon of leafy trees, Mary in her nightgown with Dean’s jacket on her shoulders. Mary’s reaction to John making a deal for Dean ꟷ a smile and a tear ꟷ was beautifully acted and there was something different about the way Dean was saying “Mom”. Like he was getting used to the word and everything it meant now that Mary was an actual, living, breathing, flesh and blood being sitting next to him.
It’s surreal to have the myth of Mary, ghostangel floating in her white gown, come down to earth, delicately anchored by the very human denim jacket on her shoulders and the arm of the son who wants to take her home. Ah… anyone had a flashback of our very first Monster-of-the-week? The lady dressed in white who for a long, long time, couldn’t go home, to her two children? Excuse me while I weep into a slice of pie. Well played, show.
Speaking of kid number 2, Sam was once again, tied up and physically tortured. I didn’t enjoy any part of that, except for that one moment you’ll see later, but the mental torture was a lot more interesting, especially when Sam started hearing Dean’s voice calling him a freak who needed to die. Oh Sam. His fear of the so-called freak within never went away. He just locks it in somewhere quiet, but the speed at which it can resurface gave me whiplash. Gadreel told us about the shame that was eating Sam’s insides, and I’m wondering how much of him saying “You’re right” to the voice that was berating him was him putting on a show for Toni and how much was an expression of what he believes, deep down.
His plan to trick Toni into rushing down to the basement, panicked and therefore vulnerable was brilliant, which made it all the more difficult to bear when it failed, leaving Sam lost, hopeless and utterly alone. It makes sense that he would slice his hand, but I liked the parallel with the other times Sam has used an injury to his palm as a tool to ‘save’ himself from the psychological nightmare he was drowning in, a coping mechanism Dean taught him way back in season 7.
There was another great scene between Dean and Mary with Mary playing the role of Sam in “Wendigo”, telling Dean how unappealing she thought the hunting life was, and Dean, crouched down in front of her like his younger self in “Wendigo”, looking up, and repeating the immortal words, “saving people, hunting things”. There was more fire when Young Dean said it more than a decade prior, and so much knowledge, experience, some weariness yes, but also understanding and acceptance when season 12 Dean repeated one of his most famous lines. Excuse me while I grab a second slice of pie. I have dust in my eye.
Sometimes in an episode, there is a one-off I particularly enjoy. In this one, it was the pet doctor (get away from me, Amelia’s ghost). I enjoyed him, and the way he tried to stand tall in the face of Toni’s weapons (the actual gun and the muscle holding it on the inside of his suit), because he was not getting involved in whatever criminal scenario Miss Bevell was a part of, only to end up falling in line when he saw the bag of cash. The man said it, those student loans are no joke. Then he tried to play dumb when Sam’s rescue mission rolled up, only to swiftly remember Toni’s number when things got a little too real. Smart choice Doc, in both situations. Now take some of that cash and get yourself a vacation. Being visited by Dean Winchester when he’s on the hunt for his missing brother will age you ten years.
Now for the recurring characters I’m not loving right now. After Toni introduced herself in the worst possible way in “Alpha & Omega” I decided I was going to give her a chance. I am now convinced she isn’t half as smart as she looks. She’s comparing Britain to the USA, to boast about how efficient the British MOL chapter supposedly is, having eradicated monster-related attacks on humans since 1965. First, one of those countries is significantly bigger than the other. Second, only one of those countries has an actual, functioning Men of Letters Order (a pair of sexy denim-wrapped legacies does not an Order make). Third, Queen Abaddon needs to rise from the ashes, paint her nails red, and direct her fury towards the British MOL chapter, while little Miss Toni is having her cup of tea in the headquarters. Please and thank you.
On another note, I actually like the executioner lady. She was straight forward, not pretending to be a victim of Sam’s stubbornness or acting like he was forcing her hand, like little hypocrite Miss Toni, plus, I really started to enjoy the actress’ performance after she put on the brass knuckles and started swinging.
A little word on my king without a throne. I see Crowley is still a laughing stock in Demonland after Lucifer turned him into his dog/mop. I will enjoy watching him fight to regain his kingdom. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again. Crowley is the craftiest demon walking, and Lucifer should sleep with one eye open.
Now back to my beloved wayward sons, and some of the ways in which they shone in “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
Best Dean moments
Dean’s face when Mary hugs him. As some of you know, I love Dean so much, I call him my son sometimes. Seeing his face while his mother’s arms surrounded him, broke my heart, in the best possible way. I loved Amara from the moment she turned her head and glanced over her shoulder in “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire” and I always believed she truly cared for Dean. The look in his eyes as he got his Mom back made me appreciate her that much more. I don’t see what bigger gift she could have given him and from someone who loves nothing more than seeing Dean happy, I say, once again, Thank you, Darkness (some might remember I thanked her once before, for walloping the nuisance that was season 11 Lucifer when no one else would).
Dean channeling Liam Neeson in “Taken” during his phone call to Toni, and then breaking Doc’s phone with his bare hands. Need I say more?
Dean realizing Mary’s smile as she was looking at the back of the Impala was because she was remembering the good times she spent with John there. My poor Dean now he has to drive Baby, forever wondering, if he was conceived in it. Cold world. In Dean’s voice: now I’m thinking about Mom sex, shut up! (“Jump the Shark”)
Best Sam moments
Sam Screw You Winchester. Sam told Toni four times but this one was my favorite. He stopped his teeth from chattering and gathered his freezing lips long enough to tell her to screw herself, at a moment where she probably thought all he would have the strength to do was beg for mercy. You tell her, Sam. You tell her while I warm a blanket for your return. * wipes tear., takes another bite of pie *
Sam Wetchester. Listen. I don’t enjoy watching Sam get tortured, but if Jared wants to give us a little more with his performance? Who am I to argue? Sometimes he gives us L’Oréal, sometimes he gives us Herbal Essences. Whip it back and forth, I say.
Sam carrying out the plan to free himself by tricking Toni. That was one of the top moments of the episode. A great attempt. I would have loved it for it to work, but it shows Sam’s resilience and will make it that much sweeter when he finds out that others have been fighting to get to him all that time he thought he was all alone.
Best quote / Best broment
Well my darlings were separated in “Keep Calm” but you know me, I’ll manage to spot a broment in any episode (almost). Does it concern Sam and Dean and how close and important they are to each other? Broment! They don’t even need to be sharing a snack by the lake or heavy bromenting in the Impala while the rain falls gently on the windows (season 10 anyone?). In this episode, the Best Broment is also the Best Quote.
“If he’s not in one piece, I will tear you apart”.
Well hello to you too, Mister ‘I’m gonna rip his lungs out’ for messing with Sammy. When Toni said, “We have a problem”, all I could think was, girl, you have no idea. This dude eats Horsemen for lunch and you’re messing with the guy he’d inhale poison for? Like I said before. Not half as smart as she looks.
Juicy bit: “And then I burned…”
I noticed two elements that gave me cause for concern for the boys’ fate, and they both come from the same source, Mary. She said, “And then I burned” and a few minutes later, Sam was burning. It could just be that the imagery of the blowtorch to the foot was used to show the amount of pain Sam had to endure, or, it could also be a clue he’s the one who ends up burning, later in the season.
The second element also involves a foot (I dare you to find a more elegant way to put it). Mary’s, on Dean’s neck. The last being who had their foot on Dean’s neck was Lucifer. He’s still around, and seemingly struggling to find a vessel that can contain him. They don’t just hand out archangel perfect vessels with Knight of Hell upgrades like they do angel blades these days. I don’t want to think about it, but the parallel between “The End” and the beginning of “Keep Calm…” was simply too striking for me to ignore.
Final verdict: “Hi sweetheart, remember me?”
Welcome back, Supernatural.
Welcome back Sam and Dean.
Welcome back, Mary Sandra Campbell Winchester.
I enjoyed the season 12 premiere. It did a good job building on Alpha & Omega” to usher in the new era of family-focused storytelling the producers have promised us this season. There was a good bit of action. Sam fighting for his freedom and his sanity while injured. Dean masterfully handling the Impala after she was rocked by executioner lady. Mary proving she hadn’t missed a beat, even after a 33-year hiatus.
There were moments that took my breath away. Dean telling Mary the story of her life like only the son who adored her would. Sam tricking Toni into thinking he’d done great harm to himself. Sam fighting with everything he had to get out.
And then there were moments that broke my heart. Sam fighting with the demons that were swirling around him in bloody clouds, whispering words of hate and death in his ears, using Dean’s voice. Sam defeated, alone, and broken at the bottom of those stairs, with not even the hope that his brother was coming for him this time. Don’t believe the song, Sam (Black Sabbath’s Solitude). You’re not “on your own” and somehow, he’s made good on his promise not to leave you. Your brother’s coming. Excuse me while I weep, into the last piece of pie.
I still don’t hate Toni Bevell. I feel she’s misguided, and definitely a coward. She’s fine with executioner upping the ante but won’t stay downstairs to be inconvenienced by the smell of burning flesh. She’s not interesting enough to warrant hatred. I just wish another hand on her throat, more forceful next time, or a stiff tumble down those stairs she tossed Sam at the bottom of. Reluctant ally. That might be where they’re taking her; and so far, I’m not interested.
Great performance by Jensen, especially in the first scene with Samantha Smith. As for Samantha, she is as good as I remember. I love her sad chuckle when she learned that John gave his life for his Dean. She was the perfect choice to play a character whose presence was going to weigh so heavily on a more than decade-long series with only a handful of appearances. I enjoy her immensely and am so grateful to see her back on a more consistent basis on the show. My one prayer is that nothing horrible happen to Mary this season.
Wonderful performance by Jared also. He gave his all in a role that must have been physically demanding and mentally draining. When Toni escaped his grasp and he fell back down at the bottom of the stairs, I fell like I was right there with him, with the sky having fallen onto our heads while the ground opened underneath our feet.
Now 8/10 is what I give episodes that I enjoy, and can rewatch without too much irritation or an excessive amount of fast forwarding. It felt a bit crowded at times, and I will bypass some parts on rewatch. I also tend not to derive a great deal of enjoyment from episodes where Sam and Dean are separated (“First Born” being a notable exception), but in “Keep Calm…”, the good parts were not just good, they were great, and they made it all worth it.
Plus, the premiere gets an automatic upgrade for blessing us with the heavenly Sam Smith. Her chemistry with Jensen is a sight to behold, but I’ve known that since “What Is and What Never Should Be”.
“Let’s get you home.” We have Mary back, now let’s go get Sam. I’m looking forward to the next episode. I know too much about spoilers to act like I don’t know how the rescue mission goes down but I want to see Mary embrace her second child and sit with the both of them, trying to come to terms with the fact that her babies have become hunters who get shot, sliced and tortured more than she would ever like to think about. The dream that is reconnecting with them is tainted by that permanent bit of nightmare, and I want to see how the Campbell Winchesters will navigate their new reality together.
Welcome back, Show. You did good.