Supernatural: Keep Calm and Carry On
October 14, 2016 2:26 AM - Season 12, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Supernatural returns with Sam Winchester missing and Mary Winchester found. Mary has a lot to catch on over the past 33 years. Will the British Men of Letter break Sam?
posted by cfoxhi (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This was a good set up for the start of a new season. Nothing to over the top and some nice emotional moments.
posted by cfoxhi at 2:27 AM on October 14, 2016

I agree. It hit the right emotional level for me. I was concerned that Mary coming back was going to be too over the top emotional. Hit the right spot for me. I'm also think it's great that so far at least it looks like the main baddie is more human the big bad supernatural. That's refreshing and I think a good call. Bring it down to earth so to speak.

I'd completely forgotten that Lucifer is still out. Wonder where this is going to go. And yay, Crowley. Love that guy.
posted by Jalliah at 6:01 AM on October 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

What a rotten day poor Sammy is having - he lost both shoes now.

I'm confused about Castiel's powers - why did he need to steal that dude's car? Can't he zap himself places anymore? Or track the Winchester brothers by following their souls/prayers? I suppose wherever Sam is has been warded into obscurity, and he might not have thought to look for Dean since assuming he'd died, but the car-stealing was the most confusing.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:42 AM on October 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was puzzled about Castiel's powers too. Apparently he can survive slamming into a cornfield like a meteor but he can't teleport around? But Castiel's powers have been weird for a while now. There was that scene a while back where Dean kicked the crap out of Castiel, and at the time I kind of excused it as Castiel holding back because he refused to hurt Dean. But assuming this torturer lady was a human, even if she had mad ninja skills Castiel really should have been able to knock her out with one touch. IIRC, wasn't that how he zonked the farmer dude and stole his car? Why did it work then, but not on the MOL lady? I'm assuming his powers are reduced for some reason, and hopefully that will be addressed soon. (He also seemed unusually bloodthirsty, so maybe that's a thing too.)

I think I see what they're doing with the MOL as a foe. The bros have been hanging around with God and saving the world, and now they're being taken down a peg. Sam is tied to a chair and being told that all these grand things he's done are really just small and shabby, and Dean and Castiel are getting beaten up by a mortal woman. We keep hearing how much Toni loves her kid, reinforcing that she is a human and not some superpowered monster. It's a real departure, and I think it suggests that the show is determined to continue breaking its own rules. That's all good.

But so far the UK MOL are just... weird. They stayed out of the apocalypse with God's sister, then they show up, shoot Sam and begin burning holes in his feet? WTF? If they had just called and said, "Hey, we're the British MOL, we exist, and we want to work with you folks in the US," everything would have been fine for everybody. The boys probably would have jumped at the chance! But no, they show up and start torturing Sam for zero reason at all. Their cruelty is effectively chilling, but the reasoning behind it seems suspect at best. So far the UK MOL make the Watchers Council look good.

I'm guessing that as bad as the MOL seem to be, eventually our guys will have to team up with them to take out Lucifer again. I also already have a feeling that Castiel and Mary will get flirty. That would drive Dean nuts.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:44 PM on October 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

There were symbols on the MOL-woman's brass knuckles, I assumed they gave her super-strength and/or made angels vulnerable to her blows. Zapping Castiel into the cornfield proved they have anti-angel-symbol knowledge, so that bit didn't bother me.

Oh, I loved the Mary/Castiel stuff - "I don't have a harp" and the "I don't trust them" computer bit were cute, plus that moment at the pie stand commiserating about the strangeness of life on Earth. I don't see them becoming couple-y; from Mary's perspective she's only just lost her husband, but I like them as a platonic ship. (I would fear for her life if the writers tried to insert her anywhere between the ongoing saga of Dean/Castiel.)
posted by oh yeah! at 6:17 PM on October 14, 2016

Maybe they'll keep it platonic... but I have a feeling the writers just won't be able to resist the weirdness of Castiel dating Sam and Dean's mom.

It was startling for them to acknowledge, however indirectly, that Dean is 37 now. He was, what, 25 when the show started? This show's been on a LONG time. I'm not sure how old Mary was supposed to be when she died. They might be around the same age now!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:50 PM on October 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

It does seem a bit silly that they want to torture Sam to find out where they can get in contact with other hunters. Anytime a demon or monster wants to kill hunters, they're a cinch to find, but this boastful secret society can't figure it out. They found Sam easily enough. Seems a bit farfetched. Perhaps they don't really care about the information, but just enjoy torture.
posted by cfoxhi at 1:29 AM on October 15, 2016

I can't believe it took them 12 years to get to that title, but I'm glad they waited. It was a good time to play that card.

I thought I read somewhere that this was actual the last season, does anybody know?

In terms of this episode, I was pleased. I loved the awkwardness of Mary gazing longingly into Baby's backseat and Dean realizing what she was imagining.

There were parts of her return that didn't make sense...she hasn't had time to miss John, and only just found out he's dead too---shouldn't she grieve at least a little. John trading himself for Dean should have been a little more confusing since John wasn't a hunter when she died. I don't know. I'm not sure they played that all quite right.

I liked the episode overall though and thought they set up a new season well.
posted by terilou at 11:00 AM on October 15, 2016

I thought I read somewhere that this was actual the last season, does anybody know?

No, all the news of the season 12 renewal back in March said that they were renewed for season 13 already as well. The CW president said he'd keep renewing the show for as long as Jenson & Jared wanted to continue, so, I half expect this to go on long enough that someday their children will get into the acting business and take over the franchise.
posted by oh yeah! at 11:12 AM on October 15, 2016

Dean is 37? Fuuuuuuuuuuck.

Mary's leering look in the car just like Dean's...heheheheh.

Seriously I don't get why the British MoL wouldn't just offer to team up instead of oh, kidnapping and torture. If they've genuinely had no monster incursions since 1965, great (also, call up the Checquy from the Rook Files books, I'm sure they'd love to hear some tips), but why act like that?

Also, Sam is all, "I have seriously been tortured by Lucifer. You think I'm scared of you?" followed by her...turning on the water? SO LAME.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:19 AM on October 16, 2016

When last we saw (the shadow of) his wings, when Cas got his grace back in S10E18, they were all broken and tattered-looking, like Gadreel's after he fell (shown in S09E02). I was rather hoping Chuck might have healed them, but since Cas is stealing trucks and such, I assume he still can't fly, though he seems to have his other powers.
posted by tomboko at 12:10 PM on October 16, 2016

Fairly sure Lady Toni Bevell is reflecting the fascism in the current political environment. The way she describes the MOL setup is some straight-up V for Vendetta dystopia bullshit (and a very American reaction to the so-many-cameras-omg-surveillance-state that Britain has going on), and the "Make America ... ... ... safe" line has that pause, inviting us to fill in a different phrase.

So, she was basically treating Sam and Dean like we normally treat terrorists, because that's what she thinks they are.

What's interesting is that her MOL setup wouldn't keep out demons. Or, it demonstrably doesn't keep out demons, else there's all sorts of plot holes, like the demon that bought Bela Talbot's soul (from season 3), and those times Crowley teleported into Scotland in s6 and s9. So does she ... not know about demons? Does her organization work together with demons? Or is this a plot hole?
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 2:06 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm completely prepared to let this go, and do so now, but by my count they're up to two "One Year Laters" on this show, so Mary's been gone 35 years, not 33. (It's cool if you don't remember, Deano, literally no one else involved in this show does either.)

I dug this more than I expected, even though the pretext was pretty thin for why Toni had to get the information from Sam and not, say, an American hunter who might think she was making an entirely reasonable offer and be happy to help. Or really literally anyone who did not have an extensive background in resisting torture, I guess.
posted by jameaterblues at 6:22 PM on October 17, 2016

At least one of those "One Year Later"s, the one between s7 and s8, was making up for the lack of time between s6 and s7. But in general I think of Supernatural as more of a tall tale than anything solid and real.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 9:34 PM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Or rather, Kripke was the one who wanted the show to correspond with the real calendar, at least for the premieres and finales. After season 5 they stopped caring about that. (Literally immediately after season 5, because if the s6 premiere was actually "one year later" it would be taking place in May and not October. And if s6 spanned the usual 8 months the finale would be taking place in December, which it evidently wasn't.)

So you're right that it's a detail they don't pay attention to anymore but you can explain it to yourself as compensating for calendars not being synced anymore. Just don't look too closely at the props. Any calendars or hospital files or anything are set to the airdate. XD
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 9:45 PM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this, but I was also perplexed that Toni went ahead and treated the brothers like terrorists. If the British MOL have been following them like she said then she should know it'd be much easier to take them down by working with them first and then betraying them rather than confronting them head on.

That line about where other hunters are might just be a throwaway question to see if Sam will start cooperating, I didn't think much of it, since her portrayal came off as she'd rather get more into the torture at that moment than getting an actual answer.

Yeah Castiel hasn't been teleporting around for a while, he's had to drive everywhere most of last season, except when Lucifer was in him.
posted by numaner at 2:01 PM on October 19, 2016


Mary: [to Castiel] Are you a hunter?
Castiel: No, I'm an angel.
Dean: He's an angel.
Mary: Come again?
Dean: An angel, with a capital "A". You know, wings, harp.
Castiel: No, I don't have a harp.


The billboard Castiel crashes into in the beginning of the episode is an advertisement for an attraction called Mystery Spot which appears in "Mystery Spot" (ep. 3.11).

This is the first time the show has actually shown us what happens to an angel after they are banished.

The title "Keep Calm and Carry On" is from a motivational poster produced by the British government during the Second World War. This is now used as a slogan on various goods such as mugs and T-Shirts, with adaptations aplenty.

When Ms. Watt blowtorches Sam's right foot, she starts all the way at the back of his heel and when we see the burn, the entire side of it is burned. Later, when his burns have been bandaged, only the middle of his foot is bandaged, but such a bandage would never cover the burns he had.

In the first shot of Sam at the back of the SUV, the gag is covering his mouth like tape. In the next shot when he's struggling, the gag is inside his mouth like a rag.
posted by orange swan at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2022

Sam should have killed Toni, or at least disabled her, before he tried to make a run for it. He didn't throttle her long enough for her to lose consciousness.

As others in this thread have commented, it makes NO SENSE whatsoever that the British Men of Letters would take the approach that they did, abducting Sam and torturing him for information, in order to extend their operation to the U.S. They would surely have decided that their best plan was to work with the Winchesters or other well-connected hunters, at least until they could get established in the U.S., even if they think they're bumblers.

Where do the British Men of Letters -- and the extinct American Men of Letters, for that matter -- get the resources to do what they do? It's such an elaborate infrastructure, and they have state of the art, first-class everything -- how is it funded? Toni is titled and has probably inherited a lot of money, but surely not all of the Men of Letters are independently wealthy.
posted by orange swan at 12:22 PM on January 8, 2022

And so begins the Dabb era.

Samantha Smith was a gift this show neither deserved nor ever figured out what to do with. So was Mary Winchester, actually. I’ve wondered at times how differently this arc for Mary would have landed if they’d gone with her other actor, Amy Gumenick, who’d look like she could’ve been the 28 years old Mary was when she died. It makes a ton of sense why they’d go with Samantha Smith and I’m happy that they did, but the entire dynamic would be even weirder if on top of being a stranded time traveler forced back into a life she escaped, she’d also looked and acted almost a decade younger than her kids.

That Sam and Dean spy on and record local traffic cameras is a small detail but 100% in character as something they would take the time to do when they settled down long enough, John would be proud.

Sadly we are not anywhere near the end of BMOL forced plot dumbness.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:53 PM on February 16, 2022

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