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Review: Supernatural 12×01 “Keep Calm and Carry On”

The Winchesters are back for an incredible twelfth season of the little show that could…and continues to do so. But it’s not just Sam and Dean running the family business anymore, because Mary Winchester is back from the grave, courtesy of a grateful Amara. Picking up where we left off in the Season 11 finale, Dean had to convince his recently resurrected mom that he really was her son, and that she’d been gone for thirty three years. I’ll admit, I was sceptical about this season premiere, and I’m never a fan of bringing back dead characters with magic because it tends to cheapen the emotional impact their demise had in the first place. But some lovely, nuanced character work from Samantha Smith and Jensen Ackles had me reaching for the Kleenex before the pre-title sequence was done! Good work, Show!

Meanwhile, Castiel found himself at a mystery spot (nice throwback to one of the best Supernatural episodes of all time) some three hours away from the Men of Letters bunker, having been blasted there by Lady Antonia from the London Chapter of the MOL. Cas seemed to have rediscovered his Season 4 badassery, coldly zapping a hapless motorist unconscious and leaving him by the side of the road before stealing his wheels. Although, in the angel’s defence, he really needed to get back to the bunker to find out what had happened to Sam, and for good reason.

Castiel’s discovery of Dean (whom he believed to be dead) was a rather sweet echo of all the times Sam and Dean have hugged out of sheer relief, and his meeting Mary was equal parts touching and funny. It was a nice bit of foreshadowing of Sam and Dean’s reunion, which I’m guessing we’ll see next week.

After being shot in the leg by Toni and patched up by a reluctant veterinarian (we won’t speak of the last time he had cause to visit a vet in a season opener!) Sam wound up in the all too familiar scenario of being trussed to a chair and tortured in ways which only seemed to exemplify his attractiveness. I know human beings have come up with some pretty diabolical methods of tormenting each other over the centuries, but I’m fairly sure I’ve never seen ‘ye old cold shower’ in any medieval museum. Although I needed one after all that wet Jared┬áPadalecki screen time. But I digress…After trying to break him physically – no mean feat when you’re dealing with a guy who was the Devil’s personal plaything for a while – Toni gave him a drug which induced hallucinations and tried to crack him mentally.

Crowley was back too, hot on the heels of Lucifer, who was burning through vessels at a rate of knots. While I’m sad that Mark Pellegrino isn’t going to be playing Luci this season, I am excited for the character’s storyline and eager to see how that plays out. I’m imagining an Anne Rice flavour to this arc…

This was a really strong start to the season, with Sam Smith bringing just the right mix of ferociousness and vulnerability to Mary, a woman out of her own time, coming to terms with the loss of her husband and the shock of having adult, hunter sons. Both Jensen and Jared knocked it out of the park this week. Dean’s tenderness with Mary was beautiful to watch, and wonderfully juxtaposed with him threatening to take apart anyone who hurt Sam. And even after more than a decade, I never tire of watching Sam being all brave and defiant in the face of anguish. I loved seeing clever, tricksy, resourceful Sam best his human adversary, a small victory which made the final shot of him sitting defeated in the basement, believing his brother dead, all the more crushing.

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After the overblown mytharc of last season, it seems that Supernatural is going back to basics, examining fundamental themes around family, messing with the natural order of life and death, and the ethics of what hunters do. The nods to iconic episodes from previous seasons and strong visuals such as the human hosts for Lucifer with burnt out eyes (reminding us that he is an angel) give me hope that this year will deliver some good, old fashioned monster of the week action, as well as a lot of brotherly heart. Talons crossed, everyone!

Final Grade: A-

+ Loved Mary and Dean both lavishing borderline inappropriate attention on Baby and staring nostalgically at the back seat, and Dean getting freaked out by the mental image of his parents getting busy. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree!

+ We haven’t had human adversaries for a long time. Good to be reminded that sometimes the scariest monsters are just people with a righteous sense of purpose. And Ms. Watt put up an awesome fight with her magic knuckle dusters.

+ Good to have some rock on the soundtrack. Great use of the Sabbath track over the final montage.

– There was a lot of exposition at the beginning of the episode surrounding Mary and previous encounters the boys have had with her, and given the show’s tendency to ret-con, I’m a bit worried that having her back long term might get messy in terms of continuity. Time will tell.

– Little bit sad Watt bit it. She was rather fun. In a blow-torchy kinda way.

– This might have been a solid A if the vet reference hadn’t set off my Season 8 PTSD.

Extra thought: If Crowley is Posh Spice, who is Ginger? Ha!

What did you think? Was this season premiere a glorious rebirth, or a festering, reanimated corpse of an episode? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

 

About the author

Katie Young