Friday, February 1, 2013

Supernatural: Season 8, Episode 12: As Time Goes By

 We begin in 1958, a man, Henry, saying goodnight to his son (and I’m going to take a leap from the “previously” and suggest they’re Winchester ancestors) before going out into the night. He reaches a door with a unicursal hexagram craved into it (in a circle, so I guess a unicursal hexacle). He does a secret knock and is invited in to meet Josie and being initiated.

Josie is invited into a room by a man in a robe but when the door closes we hear roaring, screaming and yelling in Latin. Henry rushes in and sees the chanting cultist facing off against Josie. A cultist on the floor, bleeding from his eyes, hands Henry a box and tells him not to let Abaddon get it. Josie snaps the cultist’s neck and turns demon-black eyes to Henry – who wisely scarpers. She follows using the patented slow-villain walk while Henry finds a lab and starts messing with bottles.  Henry, the speed she’s moving you could have been in Canada by the time she gets to you

He adds blood to his recipe and paints a symbol on the back of the door. He chants (not in Latin, I think) and the rune glows as she tries to use her demon powers to open the door (the door knob is right there, you lazy demon). The tension builds, power against power – and there’s a flash of light. And Henry lands in Sam and Dean’s hotel room. Presumably in 2013.

He asks them which of them is John  Winchester.  They reply neither and when he starts babbling Dean slams him against a wall. He asks after John again and Sam insists that since he fell out of their closet, they get to ask the questions. He tries to leave and Sam and Dean start to cuff him – with some fancy finger work he manages to cuff them – and escape into a confusing 2013. He breaks into the Impala (oh dear) and is intercepted by Dean and a gun.

Back in the hotel room and post-demon testing Dean is agitated by the man asking after his dad, breaking his car and calling them “alpha male monkeys”. Which is when Josie/Abaddon arrives and throws Sam and Dean away with classic demon telekinesis. She threatens Henry a little, tells him he’s not a fighter – and Dean stabs her in the back with the demon-dagger. It hurts her – but doesn’t kill her. Oooh uber demon.

They flee to the car and make a getaway while Josie reads the mind of the motel employee to find out about them – before killing him. They stop when Henry needs to be sick by the side of the road. He’s a researcher, unused to action. He tells them he’s from the past, that the demon’s Abaddon and he demands to see John – and Dean tells him John is dead. Which upsets him, since Henry is John’s dad (hands up anyone in the audience didn’t see that coming).

Time for some fast food – whole they’ve tested and believed his story, Dean’s still not a big Henry fan since John hated his father who ran out on him when he was a child (possibly due to time travel). Dam counters that John himself was hardly father of the year. Time to talk Abaddon and Henry underestimates the Winchester’s experience and Dean flashes his shiny demon knife at him. Apparently the time travel spell tracked his own blood – it used blood, sands of time, an angel feather, tears of a dragon and charge from his own soul (so, simple then). He’s less pleased to discover that the big magical legacy he intended his kids to have as “Men of Letters” failed and his grandkids are hunters - which he considers to be apes.

Big grand explanation of how the Men of Letters are watchers, researchers, holders of forbidden knowledge who share their precious knowledge only with special hunters (not those that just rampage and kill), or as Dean sums it up “yodas to our jedis”. Sam points out that neither they nor anyone they know have ever heard of the Men of Letters  (and, all things considered, they would have).

Do you know who would have heard of them? Castiel!

I'm just sayin'
They go to the former location of the Men of Letters’ secret hide out which looks like it’s changed hands, though Henry assumes it’s a ruse and he shows them the box he is protecting  (though, as an unitiated, he has no idea what it does or why Abaddon wants it). Clearly the building has changed hands and after some delightful anachronism from Henry, they track down the news story of all the elders being killed (a tragic fire) and Henry focuses on one name, Albert Magnus.

They go to the cemetery where all the Men of Letters are buried and Henry reveals that Albert Magnus didn’t exist – he was a code word for someone going incognito – it’s a message to tell other Men of Letters to check out the graves. Examining the graves they find that all but one has the Acquarian Star (the unicursal hexagram) except one; Larry Ganem. On that one is  symbol for speaking to the dead. Henry wonders if they’ve ever exhumed a body before. Hah!

Meanwhile, Josie Abaddon is still on their tail, reading the mind of the shop assistant at the old Men of Letters building

Digging up the body they find Captain Thomas J Carey III, a world war 1 veteran. Not Larry. Back to the motel to do some research. Abaddon is a Knight of Hell, handpicked by Lucifer (not quite so ominous since they’ve faced Lucifer in person) one of the first born demons and very powerful. Henry also realises that he didn’t return to his time to see John and Dean gives him the hard, harsh family history. Dean’s not impressed by Henry’s excuses of responsibility to his “glorified book club” rather than his family.

Henry spends all night reading the journal and in the morning he’s gone, leaving only a note saying he’ll fix things. Dean has little confidence in him managing this especially when they discover he’s stolen angel feathers from their boot. Dean goes after Henry, Sam goes to speak to the 120 year old Larry

Henry goes shopping for some sands of time and dragon’s tears. He finds some hunters signs on a shop and tries to buy them but the shopkeeper is reluctant and when he points out the signs she points a gun at him. He uses magic to knock her unconscious.

Sam talks to Larry who survived because Abaddon blinded him. He says Abaddon is a hired gun and in the box is a key to a vast supernatural motherload of spells, objects and other shinies. He says they can’t stop Abaddon (not even with an angel? Hello? Castiel?) and the best thing to do is to take the key to a location he gives Sam and cast it in – forever sealing it and the motherlode for all time. At which point Larry’s carer reveals herself to be possessed by Abaddon, she punches Sam and slices Larry’s throat.

Dean finds Henry performing his time travel spell and they have an argument – Henry about doing the right thing, giving John the life he deserves and Dean about changing the past and may result in Sam and Dean not existing. Henry feels he disappointed John and throws around a lot of guilt. Dean throws in that even if Henry is so disappointed in his mouth-breathing Hunter grandsons, they still stopped the apocalypse.

Abaddon calls Dean and offers a trade – Henry and the Key for Sam. Henry insists he can fix this by going back in time but Sam won’t risk it – and strangles him to unconsciousness.

At the trade, Dean sends Henry and the box to Abaddon and she sends over Sam. Of course, she doesn’t let Sam and Dean go; she plunges her hand into Henry’s stomach and Henry shoots her in the head. This doesn’t bother her much but she is annoyed when she finds he doesn’t have the box. She tries to enter his mind but is stopped by a barrier. Nor can she move. Flashback to Henry carving a devil’s trap in the bullet.

Dean beheads Josie/Abaddon. The demon trap is in her head, preventing her leaving the body. They’re going to cut her up and bury her under cement – sure it won’t kill Abaddon but death would probably be preferable.

Henry still has a sucking stomach wound so it’s time for a reunion moment – praising him for doing well despite being a bookworm and him apologising to them for judging them for being hunters, before dying.

They bury him. And Sam finally “gets it” their legacy. How cupid (see earlier season) said their parents had to marry to bring together the brains of the Winchester Men of Letters and the muscle of the Campbell Hunters (actually, heaven brought them together to create vessels for Michael and Lucifer, remember? Season 6? Apocalypse? Really annoying archangels?). Great, Sam gets it – does this mean we’ll never again have to hear him whine? All Dean sees on their family tree though is a whole lot of dead. Brief consideration follows of how different their lives would have been if John hadn’t thought his dad had run out on him.

I always like the insights into Dean’s hurting mind (unlike Sam who gives us his insights all too often), his transplanting his anger against his dad and his upbringing (and the shit he’s lived through) on the absent Henry. There’s so much you can read into this – loyalty to John who hated Henry, anger at what Henry turned John into and, consequently, forced on Dean etc etc.

Devil’s trap carved into a bullet freezes a demon. Nice… except… 8 seasons of demon nastiness and now they use it? For a throwaway episode with no real meta or character development, just a nice fun ride to get Sam and Dean back on track as gritty hunters together? Don’t shake 8 seasons of established canon so casually, it’s annoying. At least show Henry do some more woo-woo with the bullet (but even then, I’m going to expect Sam and Dean to use these for the rest of the season)

I think this may be another filler episode like last time to get us back on the track of just Sam and Dean (no Castiel. That’s 2 episodes. Final warning Supernatural, don’t make me fanpoodle) doing what they do with some added family dramangst. Unless they make a big thing of the Legacy thing or the nifty key of awesome power (I suspect it may be a Deus Ex at some time in the future). It was a good episode but after these last 2 I’m going to need some decent meta in episode 13.