Supernatural “Keep Calm and Carry On” Review (Season 12, Episode 1)

Welcome back from hiatus, SPN Family. It’s been a long break. At least it’s felt long to me because I was pretty disappointed with the way Supernatural wrapped up last season. Admittedly, there were a lot of behind-the-scenes issues that contributed to last season’s rather disappointing conclusion, so I sort of forgive the powers that be for it. But only sort of. My forgiveness doesn’t mean I wasn’t worried about the direction the show would take this season. I make it a practice not to judge a show/episode before I’ve actually seen it though. That being said, I was (and still am) cautiously optimistic about what this season has in store. So this season opener had the difficult job of reassuring me that my favorite tv show still has some interesting stories to tell. Thankfully, it achieved that purpose in fine form.

The opener picks up right where last season’s finale left off. Dean is confronted with his resurrected mother and she’s understandably confused. After Dean convinces her that he is actually her son, he takes her back to the bunker where they find blood all over the floor. After Cas makes it back to the bunker, the three of them set off to find Sam. When Mary showed up at the end of last season, I wasn’t sure how I felt about her return. On the one hand, there could be a great deal of dramatic ground to mine with her as a regular part of Sam and Dean’s lives. Dean only possesses half-remembered moments about her from his childhood, and Sam never got a chance to know her at all. Then Mary, who only has a relationship with 4-year-old Dean and infant Sam, is faced with two grown men who have been through more in their lives than any two people should have to endure. So the dynamics of Mary attempting to fit herself into her grown sons’ lives and her sons attempting to get to know their mother could be very interesting. My hesitation with Mary’s return is that Mary, at least to me, was a pretty one dimensional character. She was the impetus for the Winchesters getting into the hunting life, but that was pretty much it. They tried to add some depth to her in season four when they attempted to parallel her desire for a normal life with Sam’s desire for a normal life. But for the most part, she’s pretty flat as a character. Hopefully, though, her attempts to develop a relationship with the Boys and figure out how to navigate the 21st century will be enough to add some more depth to her. Besides, the Boys may be able to learn some old school lessons from her.

I’m most interested to see how this storyline plays out for Dean. Despite all of Dean’s bravado, for a long time he’s really just been a little boy who wanted his mom back. He came to terms with her loss a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean he missed her any less. However, given who Dean is and the emotional walls he’s built around himself to survive everything he’s been through, I don’t know just how deep an emotional bond he’s going to be able to form with Mary. Not necessarily because he doesn’t want to, but because she creates another vulnerable spot for him. Right now, Dean is kind of distracted by the fact that Sam is missing and in all likelihood injured. But after he gets Sam back and has a chance to consider exactly what Mary’s return means for him in the grand scheme of things, Dean’s probably going to start pulling away from Mary. That’s going to hurt them both. Like I said, it could be some really great dramatic ground to mine.

Cas also seems to be in a much different frame of mind than he was for most of last season. Going into this season, Cas believed Dean died in the confrontation with Amara. The last thing Cas said to Dean was a promise to look after Sam, so when Lady Toni (who I’ll get to in a minute) blasted him away and kidnapped Sam, Cas was not only worried, he was angry. He was worried because he didn’t know what happened to his friend. Cas and Sam may have started out on rocky ground, but over the years Cas has come to love Sam too. So there’s that. But he was angry because if Lady Toni hurt Sam, that would mean Cas broke his last promise to his best friend. So when we see Cas this season, he is a man on a mission. I don’t think we’ve seen this Cas before. Yes. We’ve seen Cas beat and/or torture demons to get information, but Cas was beating up humans when he thought they were holding out on him. I think Cas is just done. He’s done being a pawn. He’s done wallowing in guilt and self-pity. Misha Collins said at SDCC this year that we would see more of a return of season four Cas, and he wasn’t exaggerating. I don’t know whether this version of Cas will last all season, but I hope so. Because Cas so focused on helping Dean find Sam right now, the show didn’t give us any indication of what Cas’s season long journey might be yet. But I hope the show will address the fact that Cas taking on Lucifer last season wasn’t a good idea. It was a mistake, and I want to spend some time with Cas exploring why he keeps making those same kinds of mistakes over and over. I want to see some actual, lasting growth in Cas this season.

While Dean, Mary, and Cas were searching for Sam, Sam was suffering torture at the hands of the British Men of Letters chapter. They wanted Sam to give them information on the American hunter network, but Sam refused. The British MoL have decided that the American way of hunting isn’t working, and they want to get information on other American hunters so they can “form a partnership.” Form a partnership my foot. They want to boss around all the American hunters. Good luck with that. But my question for the British MoL is the same as the one Sam asked Toni: where were you people when all this crap was going down? Toni claims the British MoL (let’s just call them BMoL for short) wanted to keep to the traditional role of the MoL, but my question is why? Who are you chronicling information for if everyone is dead? It wouldn’t matter how much they stayed out of the way and kept records of everything if the world ended. Toni claims the BMoL are so good at their jobs that there hasn’t been a monster related death within their borders since 1964. Ok. Great. So why is it that you’ve taken more than 40 years to try and help with the American monster problem? Were you unaware that the American chapter of the MoL was wiped out in 1958? I sincerely doubt it. So if y’all have such a great system up and running over across the pond, then why wait until now to “offer assistance”? Furthermore, as a dear friend of mine pointed out, comparing England to America is not an apples to apples comparison. First of all, it’s much easier to secure an island than it is to secure a country that is roughly more than 40 times the size of the United Kingdom and bordered on two sides by two different sovereign countries. Second of all, Toni was boasting about how the BMoL have worked their way into government and law giving them the ability to ward every bridge and airport and yada yada yada. Well, that’s awesome if you actually have an active chapter able to spend the time and money necessary to insinuate yourself into the fabric of the country like that. There’s been no one doing anything in the American MoL chapter since 1958. That is until Sam and Dean came along. So Toni’s and the other BMoL’s, assertion that Sam and Dean are just “bad at their jobs” is a ridiculous and flawed argument. Sam and Dean who, let’s be real about it, constitute the entirety of the American MoL chapter have been doing the best they can with what they’ve got.

Then there’s the allegations that Toni threw at Sam about all the harm the Winchesters have caused. Starting with the apocalypse. Admittedly, Sam and Dean made some poor choices leading up to Lucifer rising. But the the truth of the matter is, Heaven and Hell had been conspiring for millennia to bring on the apocalypse. Both the angels and demons navigated circumstances over all that time to ensure Sam and Dean would be the vessels and so forth. It didn’t really matter what choices Sam and Dean made, all of that was still going to happen. Then she threw the Leviathan mess at Sam and Dean’s feet, but that wasn’t their fault either. That was Cas and Crowley. The Winchesters simply cleaned up the mess. Then she blamed the Winchesters for the angels falling. Once again, Sam and Dean had nothing to do with that either. That was all Metatron and Cas. That’s not to say that Sam and Dean haven’t made bad choices that cost people their lives. They have. But I have to wonder just how “good at their jobs” the BMoL are if they don’t know and/or understand that Sam and Dean are not actually the cause of every horrible thing that happens in the world. Even if they were, both Sam and Dean have spent several decades (and in Sam’s case centuries) being tortured in Hell. Whatever mistakes they’ve made, they’ve paid for them and then some.

All in all, this was a very solid season opener. We didn’t deal too much with Crowley, but it looks like he’s going to spend this season trying to take down Lucifer so he can regain his position as King of Hell. Good luck with that. I’m excited at the prospect of exploring the hunter network more. I’ve wanted to delve deeper into that world since way back in season two, so I’m hoping we get to do more of that this season. I’m also interested in delving deeper into the MoL. Although I do not like any of the BMoL we’ve met thus far, I would like to find out whether all of them are as arrogant and misinformed as Toni. Because I honestly believe if they had just contacted Sam and asked him to listen to them, he would’ve been much more inclined to do so than before they kidnapped and tortured him. But whatever happens, Dean needs to take Toni apart. Not just because she’s been torturing Sam physically. But because she’s messing with Sam’s head and making him see all of the worst things that have ever happened to him. That’s just wrong on so many levels. I’m reserving judgment on Mary’s return until I’ve had a few more episodes to see how it’s playing out, but suffice it to say, she’s got a lot to digest. But I have to admit that one of the most entertaining moments in this episode was the moment Dean realized why Mary was smiling when she looked at Baby’s back seat. That was just priceless. So what did y’all think of this week’s Supernatural?