Supernatural: As Time Goes By
October 21, 2021 6:16 AM - Season 8, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Sam and Dean's paternal grandfather Henry Winchester time travels from 1958 to 2013, and tells his skeptical grandsons that he has something to protect from a demonic being named Abaddon, who is hot on his trail.


Henry: [looks on the Impala's license plate] 2013. My God. Guess the Mayans were wrong.

Henry: [to Sam and Dean] One of you must know John Winchester.
Sam: Tell you what. When one of us falls out of your closet, then you can ask the questions.

Sam: I get it now.
Dean: Hmm?
Sam: What Cupid said about heaven busting ass to get Mom and Dad together. The Winchesters and the Campbells: the brains and the brawn.
Dean: Well, I'm glad you see it. All I see is in our family tree is a whole lot of dead.

Henry: My father and his father him before were both men of letters. As John and you two should have been. We're preceptors, beholders, chroniclers of all that which man does not understand. We share our findings with a few trusted hunters -- the very elite. They do the rest.
Dean: So you're like Yodas to our Jedis.
Henry: ...
Dean: Never mind. You'll get there.

Dean: Yeah, well, either way, Dad hated the son of a bitch.
Sam: And Dad made up for that how? By being Father of the Year?

Henry: Hand me your walkie-talkie.
Sam: You mean my phone?
Henry: Even better.
Sam: [passes Henry his cell]
Henry: [talking to the cell] Operator, I need Delta 457.
Dean: Who are you not calling?

Henry: Don't do it, Dean.
Dean: Too late for that now.
Henry: That's the problem with you hunters: you're all shortsighted.
Dean: Yeah, at least we're not extinct.

Sam: Give him a minute, Dean.
Dean: We spent *four* hours driving. All he did was stare out the window and request Pat Boone on the radio.

Henry: There's a price we pay for upholding great responsibility. We know that.
Dean: Your *responsibility* was to your family, not some glorified book club!

Dean: Because we're hunters? What do you have against us?
Henry: Aside from the unthinking, unwashed, shoot first and don't bother to ask questions later part, not much, really.

Dean: [to cashier] Hi. Can we hijack your computer for a hot second?
Henry: Ha, ha. Like you could fit a computer in this room.

Abaddon: [to clerk, who is wearing a shirt that says "The devil made me do it"] I like your top.

Dean: [Answering phone] Sammy.
Abaddon: Ha, ha. No. Much sexier. Try again.


The symbol of the Men of Letters was worn by Mary Winchester (Sam and Dean's mom) as a charm on her bracelet in "In the Beginning" (ep. 4.3).

Jensen Ackles actually fell asleep when filming the scene in which Dean is lying on his motel room bed. The director had Jared Padalecki wake him up. They use his real reaction in the final cut.

The Men of Letters symbol is most likely derived from The Unicursal Hexagram, an important symbol in Thelema, the religion of famed occultist Aleister Crowley, who inspired the show's Alastair and Crowley.

The title of this episode is from the 1931 song of the same name that the character Sam sings in Rick's bar in the 1942 film Casablanca.

This is the first time that a "Devil's Trap" has been carved on a bullet and used to shoot a demon. Doing this traps the demon in the person they are using so they can't "smoke out" and holds the possessed person and demon in a single spot unable to move.

Last on screen acting appearance of George Touliatos (Larry Ganem), who died in December 2017.

The Men of Letters Bunker is located in Lebanon, Kansas, which is the geographic centre of the lower contiguous 48 states of the United States of America.

As Henry is flipping through John's journal, an image of a skeleton-like creature is shown. This is the logo used for Rogue Dead Guy Ale, which is brewed in Oregon, USA. This beer was shown in previous episodes, as well.

Abbadon, being a Knight of Hell, should have red smoke essence, not the black shown.

Henry Winchester's first name likely comes from the Henry Repeating Arms company, a firearms manufacturer much like Winchester.

Gil McKinney, who plays Henry Winchester, the grandfather of Sam and Dean, is 11 months younger than Jensen Ackles.

When Henry Winchester finds out that he has traveled forward in time to 2013, he says, "2013. My God, I guess the Mayans were wrong." He is referring to the Mayan prediction that the world would come to an end on December 21, 2012, a prediction that many people around the world took seriously.

Normal, Illinois is a real town in Central Illinois, but the area Henry Winchester walks around in the beginning of the episode does not exist, nor did it in 1958.

Henry refers to Sam and Dean's tactics as "alpha male" behaviour but that phrase wasn't known in his time (it was coined in 1944 but not popularized until post-1968). Henry looks at a license plate sticker to determine the year but those would have not been around in his day.

In this episode, Henry disappears from John's life while he is still a young boy. His departure from John's life and John's ensuing resentment are major plot points in this episode. However, in "In the Beginning" (ep. 4.3), in Jay Bird's Diner, a man walks in and greets John with, "Hey Winchester!" At the end of their conversation, the man says, "Say hello to your old man for me." John replies with, "You got it, Mr. D." This presumes that John's father is still alive in the 70's when he has already served in Vietnam, so he's definitely reached adulthood with his father still around. John also describes himself as "a mechanic from a family of mechanics". We never hear about John's mother, and it is possible that she remarried, and that John's stepfather was a mechanic and the "old man" the other man asked John to say hello to. Or this could be just a lack of continuity on the part of the writers.

When the owner of the new age shop pulls the gun on Henry, her movements and the sound it makes when she cocks it insinuate she has a pump shotgun. However, the weapon she's holding is a single shot breakdown style not a pump and would not have made that sound nor required that motion.
posted by orange swan (5 comments total)
Where was John Winchester's mother? We see Henry is wearing a wedding ring. Was he widowed or was his wife still alive? And if the Winchesters were longstanding Men of Letters, wasn't there anybody around to figure out what might have happened to Henry and explain it to John? And even if there wasn't, why would John assume all of his life that his father had abandoned him and not consider that something might have happened to him? Surely there would have been some sort of missing person investigation.

It seems like a bit of a leap that when Henry is running from Abbadon and trying to keep the key from her, the solution he lands on in the spur of the moment is time travel. Seems like a risky proposition, especially given that she could follow him through the portal.

Sam and Dean run true to form in being suspicious and hostile towards their grandfather.

I must admit, Abbadon in an updo, pearls, and that gray silk cocktail dress is quite a look.
posted by orange swan at 6:19 AM on October 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Somehow, I have a hard time believing you can just elbow your way that easily into shattering car-door glass.

Great interrogation technique, Dean. You’re supposed to be getting information out of the suspect, not letting details slip. Also, Dean should be more open minded about time travel, given how many times he has done it.

Also, how does Dean the movie buff, and Sam for that matter, not recognize As Time Goes By as being from Casablanca? Sure they get it was a song their dad knew, but they should have been able to identify it further.

The old guy does not look like somebody over 100. I guess that’s the power of magic anti-aging.
Also, I get why Sam was cagey with the true details about Henry, but it’s sad the old guy died thinking all of his friends were dead.

I can’t explain why, but Henry’s suit doesn’t scream period to me. Instead, it’s saying modern.

Overall, I’m not really a fan of divine intervention. I know John and Mary coming together was supposed to be ordained, and I get the brains and brawn union, but I liked John having a background devoid of the supernatural. It makes his (and the boys’) story more poignant, plus it makes Mary’s background stand out even more, which I like for the distaff side of the family.

This makes two grandfathers the boys have killed off. Are there any more grandparents out there? Are they going for the whole set?
posted by sardonyx at 10:29 AM on October 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

I am not smart enough to talk class on this show but there’s something going on with how the MoL are immediately positioned as the intellectual/white collar approach to dealing with the supernatural, in opposition to hunters who we’re generally meant to take as blue collar jocks, and Henry's failure in delivering that status to his kid, and (we’ll get to this next episode) how this also pretty directly takes Sam and Dean down a road of stability that didn’t exist for them up to now and whatever else it’s meant to do, is evocative of attaining higher socioeconomic status.

I was surprised by the callback to Cupid arranging John and Mary’s relationship as canon they want to stick to, though the idea that the angels bred them partly because of their hunter/MoL family backgrounds doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. I’ve come around to 51% liking the arranged marriage idea because a) of course the angels wouldn't leave that to chance and b) it makes all the horror and misery that comes from John and Mary's devotion to each other so much more grim. But I also prefer John as previously being a totally normal person all the way down. (The total absence of John’s mother is weird and annoying but not surprising given…everything about this show.)

I don’t know if it’s the script or the actor, I think it’s both, but it’s striking how much more, I don’t know, cartoony? Flat? Henry is compared to Samuel Campbell. Even if you just compare this to In the Beginning, Samuel felt like a person and not a plot/theme delivery vehicle with some quirky anachronisms.

But forget all that, what WOULD happen if you died while time traveling on this show? Did Henry get snapped back to Heaven in 1958 or go to Heaven of 2013, and would the answer be the same if he became a ghost instead? Can reapers time travel? (How salty was whatever reaper who got to experience a dead Winchester inventing a new way of being annoying?) I'm going to say, with no basis whatsoever, that he stayed in 2013, because if he went to Heaven of 1958 the angels would know he'd seen the future and interrogate him, and would learn pretty quickly that something in the big plan was going to go really wrong.
posted by jameaterblues at 5:08 PM on October 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Am I the only one who thought it was really weird when Dean said their dad was always there for them? Like, really Dean?
posted by solotoro at 9:07 PM on August 2

Oh and also why did Henry say he'd need a week for his soul to recharge then like the next day he was successfully charging the blood sigil again?
posted by solotoro at 9:20 AM on August 3

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