Supernatural Season 12 Episode 1 – “Keep Calm and Carry On”
The boys are back and so am I! Returned from foreign shores with a new book under my belt, I’m ready to get back to what I do best: watching television.
But first, a word from the Department of Backstory. I’ve watched all 11 seasons of this show, sometimes faithfully, sometimes out of some feeling of obligation. Every season has its highlights, and there have been only a few episodes that were so bad I wanted to quit watching (I think the X-files might have only had one, Buffy had maybe three, Lost…well, the less said about that the better). If you’re wondering if I’m qualified to recap this show, I can assure you I am well versed in all 11 seasons. Here I am talking about it Crystal for the podcast! So with all that said, let’s jump on in…
This episode does not begin with the ubiquitous Kansas harmonies of “Carry On My Wayward Son,” but rather with “Bad Boys” by April Wine.
Saving people, hunting things. A Brit (Wo)Man of Letters zaps Cas and shoots Sammy. Amara and God do their yin & yang thing and run off to start a folk band (I’m guessing) but not before Amara gives Dean the one thing he needs: his mommy! That’s right, Our Lady of Ceiling Fire, Mary Winchester, still in that very unbecoming white cotton
sacrificial gown nightgown.
Mary, understandably freaked out and mistrustful, handles Dean pretty easily until some convincing on Dean’s part assures her that she is, in fact, IN THE YEAR TWO THOUSAAAAAND (and sixteen). I was dubious about this development at the end of last season. Mary has always been this rallying cry for the Winchesters, and throughout the show has been portrayed as being almost saintlike. I shouldn’t have worried, writer Andrew Dabb and Director Philip Sgriccia give Samatha Smith a chance to stretch this character’s legs a bit. The result is a refreshingly 3-dimensional and ultimately human Mary Winchester, so yay. There’s also been talk in the past (specifically somewhere around the season 4 Finale?) that Sam is “just like dad,” a theme that we’ve seen repeated throughout the seasons. We’ve seen this disappointment from Dean, who worshipped his (sorry, terrible) father and wanted nothing more than to be just like John and never quite could. Now, watching Dean interact with his long-lost mother, we see why. He’s just like Mary, and it’s pretty damn great.
Back to the Campbell family reunion, Dean has to break the bad news that Mary is back from the dead, 33 years in the future. With a litany of facts including John & Mary’s meet-cute, he finally makes his point that he’s her son, and with a touch, she realizes that it’s true. There’s a lot of focus on hands in this episode, particularly Mary’s. She pulls him into a maternal hug, and it’s pretty devastating.
No YOU’RE crying!
The Credit splash this year appears to be a brand on flesh, or perhaps it’s stone. We cut to a truck trucking along past cornfields, country music playing on the radio and a pretty hillbilly that would look perfectly at home here in Portland behind the wheel. There’s an external shot and we see, amusingly, a billboard advertising the (Unbelievable! Amazing!) Mystery Spot.
A meteor zooms by and crashes in–I have to admit–a pretty neat effect. The meteor turns out to be Cas, who puts hillbilly hipster to sleep and steals his truck after verifying that he is a paltry 3 hours from the bunker. I can’t remember why Cas can’t Angel around anymore. I thought that was fixed? Feel free to remind me in the comments.
Campbell Family Values. Dean is breaking the news of John’s death to Mary, who is understandably distraught. She’s a little aghast that her hunky mechanic husband turned out to be a Hunter, and raised her children in the life. I’m SO HAPPY they’re pointing this out. In John’s life-turned-revenge-fantasy, did he never once consider that this is NOT what Mary would have wanted for her children? I maintain that John was a selfish person and terrible father, but now I have to consider that he might have also been a crappy husband too. To subject your children to years of neglect and (strongly implied) abuse only to have a son with another woman and be “dad” to that kid…I can’t think of a bigger way to dishonor the memory of Mary. BUT I DIGRESS. I guess John Winchester had his moments because Mary is really grieving for him. Dean recaps Mary’s previous appearances on the show, apart from that harrowing episode in Heaven where she was Zachariah’s galpal.
The Lady of Letters, who the show credits tell me is named “Lady Antonia Bevell” knocks on a door and a sleepy looking man answers. He’s a vet, it turns out, and she wants him to dig the bullet out of Sam’s leg. Poor Sammy is tied up and fairly bloody in the back of the SUV. The doctor balks at first, but Lady Bevell knows there are few problems that can’t be solved without throwing a bag o’cash at it, and the doctor agrees.
Elsewhere, Crowley inspects an eyeless corpse. He hides as a couple of henchdemons (one recently freed from a teenage girl and still having some residual d-r-a-m-a) arrive to dispose of said corpse before meeting “the big guy,” who we later find out is Lucifer. Yawn. As much as I enjoy Lucifer, if he ain’t Mark Pellegrino I can’t guarantee I’ll be interested.
We cut to a house that has seen better days (Supernatural’s favorite kind) and a sensible red heel as Lady Bevell paces and tells her child she’ll be home soon. She clearly hasn’t seen the previous 11 seasons. Downstairs, Sam is shackled to a chair and being watched by a sleek and dangerous Bronagh Waugh, who I last saw playing the wife of a serial killer on The Fall. Here, she’s called Miss Watts, though I’m not sure if that’s a joke since her job seems to be poking Sam with a cattle prod.
Lady Bevell tells Sammy she “just wants to talk.” Mmmhmm. I find a cup of coffee or a glass of wine to be far more effective in getting people to loosen up. Sam declines, telling Lady Bevell “I’ve been tortured by the Devil himself. You’re just an accent in a pantsuit.” Harsh, but, I’m not the one shackled to a chair.
Dean brings Ma Winchester to the Men of Letters bunker. She’s impressed and glad to be wearing actual clothes and not the
shroud nightgown of death. They spot the bloody sigil on the wall and the trail of blood from Lady Bevell shooting Sammy. Dean gives Mary a gun and tells her to stay put while he investigates. While Dean is investigating Cas comes in and he and Mary are instantly suspicious of each other until Dean comes back. Cas says “Deeeeean!” and throws his arms around him, earning a look from Mary. Awkward introductions are made and Cas informs mother and son that Sammy has been moosenapped. Side note: who wants to start placing bets for a Mary/Cas pairing this season? I mean if you squint he kind of looks like young John so, maybe she’s got a type? There’s a cute moment where Mary and Cas are old fogeys together.
Mary: “Is that…a computer?”
Cas: “Yes. I don’t trust them.”
Yeah. Two tickets to Bonetown.
Speaking of Bonetown, Mary is reintroduced to Baby, and it’s a surprisingly emotional scene. She whispers “Hi, sweetheart” and I cry a little bit. Dean calls Baby sweetheart! She peers wistfully into the backseat and for a moment Dean is caught up in the reunion until he realizes she’s probably thinking about when he was conceived and is adorably squicked out. It’s so fun, so satisfying, getting to see Dean have these moments.
Back in ye olde torture basement, Ms. Watts has just given Sam a cold shower. And before you ask, yes, he’s fully clothed. Sam’s shivering like my cat after she gets a bath.
Lady Bevell is back and wants a chat. She explains that in Britain (emphasis hers) they don’t have Monster Problems™ because every inch of London is warded. We get a shot of what looks like actual London! I think that’s supposed to be St. Paul’s in the background. ANYWHOOO we are clearly getting the cautionary tale of a fascist regime because what about the monsters that aren’t so bad? I guess they get murderated too. I really hope Garth never goes there.
Lady Bevell wants to know the names & locations of all the Hunters he knows so they can be “taught.” She wants to “make America…safe” which tells me she’s completely missing the point of America. She saunters away and Miss Watts fires up a blowtorch. She asks Sam if he’s really going to make her do this and he tells her the same thing he told Lady Bevell: Screw You. Miss Watts shrugs and torches Sam’s little piggies in the grossest scene of the episode.
Commercial Break! Well, I’m sure excited about that Doctor Strange movie now.
More Crowley stalking henchdemons. Lucifer is hopping from vessel to vessel. Crowley kills the demons, who are gratingly inept. Remember a time on this show when demons were scary?
Dean, Mary and Cas find Lady Bevell’s driver. Cas roughs him up a bit until they get the info they need. Cut to Miss Watts telling Lady B “no one can take that much pain and not break.” She offers to kill Sam, quick and clean, or Lady B will have to “make the call. Bring in Mr. Katz” – she could be saying Mr. Catch or Mr. Ketch but looking forward on IMdB I think it’s Katz. Lady B is visibly shaken and says she won’t have “that psychopath” anywhere near her. Since they can’t break Sam’s body (they don’t call him Gigantor for nothing) Lady B decides they’ll have to break his mind. She produces a syringe filled with what looks like gold glitter glue.
Mary and Cas have coffee and she confesses how weird it is for her to be back. Dean interrupts just as Mary spots the vet, Dr. Marion, from earlier arriving home. They’ve been staking out his house/practice. Dean stalks up behind him (I am distracted by how pretty the Hydrangeas are) and does the menacing thing until they’re in. Mary is a little grossed out that Dr. Marion took money to dig the bullet out of a man who’d clearly been abducted. He tells them “everything he knows” but he’s no match for Mary’s mom gaze. Surprise! Dr. Marion has a phone number.
Basement of Perpetual Torture. Sam comes to, examines his ouchies, including a new puncture in his neck, and starts to explore his environs now that he’s been unshackled. Lady B and Ms. Watts watch on a monitor, Ms. Watts says she doesn’t think it’s working but Lady B assures her it will. Her iPhone rings and shows “Dr. Marion” calling, which seems like a rookie mistake to me, adding his number to her contacts. She answers and is rightfully suspicious. Just before she hangs up Dean grabs the phone and growls that she has his brother. Only the slight grinding of her molars gives away her anxiety. He promises that when not if he finds her, if Sammy is not in one piece he will take her apart. Lady B hangs up and Dean snaps the doctor’s phone in two.
I don’t understand why I find this hot but I do
Lady B is now panicked. She tells Miss Watts “We have a problem.” You have no idea, lady. Sam tries the cellar door to no avail just as someone starts playing waterbowls in his head. He sees ghosty no-eyes Kevin, Mary on the ceiling, Jess. Dean explains to Mary that he can trace the number just as a SUV blindsides Baby, knocking Mary out. Miss Watts makes her presence known.
Lady B watches Sam stumble around the torture basement on the monitor, looking increasingly uneasy. When Sammy punches a convenient mirror, she flinches. He picks up a hefty shard and drags it across his throat, collapsing in a pool of blood. Yikes! Lady B says “no no no no” in that way people do when they’re at someone’s house and the toilet starts backing up. She grabs the trusty cattle prod and races downstairs, at which point I question a) her intelligence and b) her sanity. Seriously, Lady B, have you never watched this show? Carver Edlund wrote some pretty accurate novelizations if they don’t get The CW in Britian. Sam is, of course, a big faker, having cut his hand open to create the pool of blood. That old chestnut! He grabs Lady B but is no match for the Cattle Prod, and she scampers upstairs, locking him in once more. A for effort, Sammy.
Meanwhile, Miss Watts has a pair of enchanted brass knuckles and knows how to use them. It’s a pretty impressive fight scene between her, Dean, and Cas while Mary is still unconscious in the car. The boys are no match for her (part of me was really rooting for her, I don’t know, she could have been a fun character to keep around) but just as she levels Dean’s gun at his pretty head Mary stabs her through the heart with Cas’ Angel sword. Talk about an October Surprise! Later, Mary is looking at her hands, rubbing them together as if washing them, even though they’re clean. Dean asks if she’s okay and she says she’s really not, which is a decision I approve of. She’s taken a human life, she shouldn’t be okay with it, but Mama bear is going to protect her cub. The episode ends with Mary feeling uncertain, Dean feeling desperate, and Sam still locked up. All in all, a decent return to form! I’m looking forward to the season, the implications around Mary’s return, her eventual reunion with Sam, whether or not she and Cas will make smooshy faces, and Rick Springfield as Lucifer I suppose?
What did you think? What are your predictions for the season?