Supernatural Is Keeping It In the Family: Season 12, Episodes 1-8 Review
The iconic line, “Dad went on a hunting trip, and he hasn’t been home in a while,” brought fans on a whirlwind twelve season adventure that followed the lives of the Winchester brothers, who hunt monsters and save people. Viewers have bonded with the boys through the last twelve seasons, as Supernatural has explored many global themes on life, faith, death, friendship, family and the desire to belong in a crazy world where everyone is trying to find their place. Supernatural also does an excellent job of driving home the point that family is what you make of it and “family don’t end in blood.”
Every season explores some aspect of familial relationships, whether it focused on the boys’ relationship with another or one of the reoccurring side characters. Season eleven continued this theme of family relationships as it told the story of Amara and God’s relationship and Amara, wanting to bring Dean the same happiness she felt, resurrects his mother, Mary Winchester.
As it would be difficult to top an epic fight against God and his sister, season twelve seamlessly picked up where eleven left off, with Sam being tortured for information about the whereabouts of other hunters while being berated for not being as efficient as the British Men of Letters.
Mary, meanwhile, is attempting to adjust to her new reality of being alive after a thirty-year hiatus. She finds an unlikely ally in Castiel, who continues to struggle to fit into the world that he doesn’t feel accepted in.
Dean finds Sam, with the help of Mary and Castiel. There they meet the British Men of Letters enforcer, Mr. Ketch. Though Dean and Sam are very excited by being reunited with their mother and the want to have that relationship, they struggle with having her back in their lives.
While all of this is happening, Lucifer is burning through vessels until he settled into the body of Vince Vincente, an aging and washed up rock star. Crowley drags Rowena into the fold, and the two of them track Lucifer in an odd mother/son bonding moment and attempt to send him back to the cage.
Of course, this doesn’t work as planned and Lucifer comes back from his forced excursion and captures Rowena. Crowley makes some effort to help her, but Rowena outsmarts Lucifer send him to the bottom of the ocean and informs Crowley that she is done being wrapped up in his schemes.
The Winchesters attempt to navigate their relationship and Castiel decides to take leave, claiming that the family needs to find a way to spend time together and work through their issues. Continuing the theme of family, Castiel feels that he needs to find Lucifer, as that is his “brother” and he was responsible for releasing him from the cage.
Castiel and Crowley team up as a buddy-cop comedic relief as they progress the Lucifer storyline, while the Winchester clan find an old fashioned ghost case. Dean becomes overprotective of Mary while Sam plays peacekeeper and, pun intended, devil’s advocate as he explains that Mary is having difficulty adjusting to being alive when everything is so different than when she was alive.
The end of the episode ends with Mary leaving the boys in an attempt to find herself, leaving Dean to feel like he was abandoned by his mother again. Though sad, Sam can put Mary’s reasoning for leaving into perspective and eventually can have a healthy conversation with Dean about Mary.
Circling back to the theme of family, the boys end up finding a case in Iowa where a social worker died of apparent stigmata. The case brings them to a family who lives off the grid and does not believe in modern technology. Dean and Sam are told that the family had a daughter who died of pneumonia because they refused her medical care that could have saved her.
Sam immediately dislikes the family and accuses them of being responsible for their daughter Magda’s death, and Dean, ironically, is the more levelheaded one in the situation and tries to downplay Sam’s intensity. Sam discovers that Magda is alive and being held captive and abused by her mother because she had telekinetic powers that had resulted in a life altering injury to her mother.
Sam bonds with Magda by sharing that he too had powers once and was thought to be evil, but he was able to control his powers. The boys save Magda, but Mr. Ketch kills her, as he views any supernatural creature as a threat. Although Mr. Ketch has not played a significant role in the series, he is going to pose a problem later on in the season for the boys.
Season twelve continues it’s episodic feel, while loosely connecting to previous seasons and storylines. The boys are still not connected to their mother or Castiel at this point and have another run-in with the Thule Society (introduced in season 8).
Sam and Dean discover the Thule Society is looking for Hitler’s long lost blood relative, Ellie, so they can use her blood to bring back the spirit of Hitler who is currently residing in a watch. Sam and Dean give Ellie a run down on all things supernatural, where Sam once again brings up his past with being destined to be Lucifer’s vessel as a way to relate to Ellie.
The fact that this is the second time in two episodes that Sam references being Lucifer’s vessel is pretty indicative that Lucifer may take up residence in Sam again. Ellie is captured by the Thule Society but shows that she has some grit as she shoots at Hitler, allowing Dean to shoot Hitler in the head, which is something that he will not let anyone forget. It would be very surprising if Ellie and the Thule society did not appear in the latter half of this season, as Lucifer continues his quest to destroy the world.
The Winchester clan is brought back together once again through the life celebration of Asa Fox, a hunter who was saved by Mary Winchester in 1980 and followed in her hunter footsteps. Dean and Sam are visiting Jody, another adopted family member of the Winchesters, when Jody finds out about the death of her sometimes romantic partner.
The boys accompany Jody to Asa’s hunter send off, where Sam’s possession by Lucifer is brought up again by the fellow hunters. The Winchesters are reunited, but Dean is upset that their mother wants to see a person that she barely knows over spending time with her sons.
A crossroad’s demon locks Dean out of the house, and Dean asks for Billie’s help to get him back inside to help the other hunters, two of which are twins who turn out to be Asa’s children. Mary and Jody have a heart to heart, and Jody tells Mary that the boys are good men.
Billie returns and wants to reap Mary’s soul, stating that Mary has the “dead man’s look about her.” Mary almost says yes, but then tells Billie no, as she looks at Dean and Sam and realizes that she could have some relationship with them. Billie is going to be another obstacle for the Winchesters, even though she begrudgingly helps Dean several times.
Castiel and Crowley have been notably absent in these last few cases and make a sudden reappearance as Lucifer comes earthside once again. They make reference to a Satan stone, which is a stone with a feather from one of his wings that prevent him from completely being expelled, and also what allows Lucifer to break Rowena’s spell.
Lucifer convinces a record company to let him record an album and have a secret concert so he can kill and sacrifice the attendees as a way to get back at God/Chuck. Lucifer, still angry with God for using him and abandoning him while leaving with “Aunty Amara” wishes to wreak destruction and break God’s “already broken toys.” Lucifer’s vessel falls apart at this point, and Lucifer vacates Vince Vincente’s body, leaving him a dead heap on the ground.
To cause maximum mayhem, Lucifer takes up residence in the President of the United States, in true Supernatural fashion, the show was able to relate to current events while seeming completely plausible within the story, again emphasizing the universality that has made Supernatural so popular.
Lucifer convinces the Secret Service that Sam and Dean are cultists who are trying to kill him because they think that he is Satan. Meanwhile, Castiel suddenly finds himself reconnected to angel radio and discovers that Lucifer had gotten a human pregnant.
Crowley absconds with Lucifer’s baby mama (Kelly) and after everyone explains to her what is happening, Castiel tries to convince her to abort the child. She ditches Castiel at a diner, saying that she can’t go through with killing the child. This was a very impressive way of addressing women’s rights within the episode as well, and again circles back to the overarching theme of family, regardless of what others think and want for them.
The cap of the first eight episodes of the season concludes with Dean, Sam, Crowley, and Castiel working together and expelling Lucifer from the President. Dean and Sam, however, are arrested by the Secret Service. The final scene ends with the Winchesters being taken to jail for attempting to assassinate the President and Lucifer escaping to find another vessel.
Things are looking pretty dire for the Winchesters, but this does give Mary an opportunity to rescue her boys with the help of their makeshift family. It also gives Mary, Castiel, and even Crowley a chance to find their place within the makeshift family and no longer feel like they are living on the fringes.