Monday, February 4, 2013

Review - Supernatural 8.12 "As Time Goes By"

I love the time travel episodes. Love them. I love that through them we’ve found out Mary was a hunter, that she made the deal with the YED that sealed Sam’s fate, that the vessel thing was in the bloodline of the brothers…I love that stuff. I love that we can go forward whilst going back to flesh out the story that we thought we knew, add more layers to it and discover new things to over think! So guess what? Pop me into the camp that dug “As Time Goes By”. 

Sure, it wasn’t perfect. When you take on something as monumental as revealing the true nature of why these boys ended up with the destiny they did, when you boldy tackle the history of a family we all feel we know so well - 8 seasons in to a series – well some things are bound to get lost in the wash. And yes, I felt the mythology bumps in the road and had to side step a couple of plot holes as I careened towards the end of this episode and I acknowledge that, but did it impact my enjoyment of the story? No. As much as I like to delve into the mythology, I'm willing to overlook things if I think it will benefit the overall story, if I think that it enhances what we know. It's about moving the story forward as much as recognising history.  "As Time Goes By" had me sucked in from the first moment and in the end, I was very excited by where we landed. Very excited.

How epic was the 'THEN". Epic!

Anyhoo… So John Winchester was supposed to grow up as one of the ‘Men of Letters’ (not in love with that name btw, it’s a big naff), but instead, he became a Hunter. I’m kinda glad he did…I think Hunters are way hotter!

It’s hard to equate Henry Winchester to John, talk about chalk and cheese. Henry’s so stiff and formal, while John…well I guess we didn’t really get to know John that well, only through the hearts and minds and memories of his sons.

We still basically know nothing about John, only that his dad disappeared when he was a kid and he carried that hurt with him, which he told his boys, because clearly they knew that John grew up feeling abandoned and angry. This of course doesn’t mean John didn’t have a father figure in his life, in fact we have to assume he did, because a father figure was referenced for John in 4.03 “In The Beginning”. At some stage, John moved from Normal, Illinois to Lawrence, Kansas…so maybe his mum remarried or something. But, we still don’t know. I hope now that we’ve opened up this door, we can open up another to more of the Winchester history…I definitely want to know more. I reckon I could go for a good tie-in novel that fleshed this out a bit maybe? But I digress…

When we first started hearing about this episode, I wondered how Henry Winchester could be a time traveller, what must he be in order to be able to do that, because we knew John came to hunting through the loss of Mary. I also started to think, how much sense it makes for both sides of the boy’s family to be somehow linked to the supernatural, to somehow both have a connection to the family business. Especially off what Cupid said about John and Mary being a priority match up and what the Archangel Michael said about the vessel thing being in the bloodline. All of a sudden it made perfect sense that the Winchester line must have some role in this whole epic tale beyond which we already knew. I started to wonder if they were like “Watchers” or something. Not too far off I guess. The Winchester legacy is being the keepers of all the supernatural secrets. They were the ones with the knowledge, knowledge they only shared with a few Hunters. I guess when the ‘Men of Letters’ got decimated by Abaddon, Hunters had to learn to find their own way without the help of some elite group of bookworms. Hunters became the bookworms as well as the warriors. That’s pretty neat. And seeing as for the longest time, Sam and Dean knew very few hunters and certainly knew nothing of any kind of Hunter network, it’s not surprising that the memory of the ‘MoL’ was lost – Hunters not being the chattiest of folk.

I love that the Winchesters were the brains and the Campbells were the brawn. I love that, because it’s Sam and Dean (though they both have brains and brawn really). Sam’s all let’s find out what we need I’m going to look it up, Dean’s all tell me what I need so I can go stab it in the face. Even in this episode, when Dean used the comic-book chick’s computer, he handed it straight to Sam (while Dean gave the chick the silent how you doin’! Bless his flirty heart).

It’s interesting that Sam wanted to go to college and leave hunting, making him more like the Winchesters than he could ever have known, hungry for knowledge, with a love of books. He’s been likened to John because of his focus on the job above all else. Dean called him out on it in “Jump the Shark”, when he said Sam was more like John than Dean would ever be, but little did they know, he was like a Winchester of the past. Maybe that makes Dean more like Mary and the Campbells. Being the caretaker, the “mother” in the family, raising Sam, making sure his family was looked after, being the peacemaker between his brother and father when they butted heads, being happy to do the fighting and let someone else do the research. There was definitely a picture being painted of the two families that splashed more colour onto the boys in this episode. Even I feel like I have a little better understanding of the brothers and their place in their families, through this reveal of new history.

I found “As Time Goes By” emotionally engaging. I was a tad teary at the end I have to say…not for Henry, but just for the overwhelming loss of everyone in the brother’s family – on both sides. I also found myself wishing this episode were longer. We were given so much information about the legacy, about Abaddon, about Knights of Hell, about the ‘MoL’ and their super-double-triple-secret batcave… that we didn’t have time to find out more about Henry and he didn’t have time to find out more about his grandsons or his son. I wished they’d had an opportunity to talk. I really wanted them all to sit down and have a good natter!

I get that Sam and Dean were not in a caring and sharing mood though. I mean those guys keep getting royally screwed (and not in the good way that means we get shirtless episodes). I get why they didn’t trust Henry, not just because he popped out of their closet, but also because of the history they’d been told. They thought he was a deadbeat. Dean, in particular was falling in line with what his father told him about his grandfather and was being ultra-protective of his dad and his memory. At first I thought this was a little bull-headed, even for Dean. But when I watched the episode again, it didn’t come across like that at all. I felt him defending the memory of a man, that sometimes he couldn’t even defend himself. All those feelings coming to the surface again. Like he said, he’s read John’s journal more times than Henry could imagine and it hurts every time. There was a lot of pain being relived here. All he could do was back his dad. I get that. Also…Henry called them apes! Well screw you very much buddy! Ooo that sounded like I didn't like Henry. I quite liked him...but don't call the boys apes 'k?

And the brothers backed each other. They really felt like a team in this episode. Moving as one, conscious of each other. After their wonderful LARPing moment last week, which showed that they were both willing to try to make an effort to put the anger behind them, I was hopeful we’d see them in a better place and for me, we did. They felt pretty solid. I appreciated that Sam never chastised Dean when he was berating Henry, it smacked of solidarity. When Dean stormed out, Sam quietly allowed Henry the time he needed to learn about his son, through his son's own words. I liked that. I think Sam would've been feeling just as conflicted as Dean was, Sam's feelings for John are equalily as confused, it's just Sam has less bluster about these things. Sam was strong, calm and Zen to Dean’s tense and angry.

At one point I was thinking, hey guys, tell Henry about all the stuff you know about Lucifer and the angels and the like! Then I thought, well, really, if I were the vessels of the Apocalypse…would I share that information? “Hey grandad, so this one time, I was like, Lucifer’s vessel and you know, he was in me for a bit and…” yeah probably not! They’ve learnt to keep their secrets close. There’s a hell of a lot those brothers know that they’ve never shared with another soul. I did appreciate Dean big upping them when he was trying to prevent Henry from jumping back through time though… “We stopped the Apocalypse!” Yes you did! Shout it loud and proud baby! Funny that Henry didn’t say…”Hang on! You stopped the what now?”

Beyond all the conflict though, Dean worked with Henry. Dean and Henry nutted out a plan that would not only save Sam…as Dean made it perfectly clear, that was going to be the endgame no matter what…but if they pulled it off, it would stop Abaddon forever. Their plan was simple and it worked and it was family working together. It was the Winchester family brains and brawn, coming together to win the day – even though it was at the loss of one of them. And in his final moments, Henry saw the men that his grandsons were and in doing so, got a glimpse of who his son must have been.

I was so worried that this would be another lump of guilt for Dean to drag around, that he’d think he was partly responsible for his father not having a father, but I was happy to see they didn’t go that way. Instead we got the brothers talking, sharing their feelings about what just happened, what they’d just learnt. Sam seeing some sense in the whole thing, Dean seeing more dead. Even though it was a sad scene, it wasn’t, because they were together, being who they’ve always been and being it side by side. Boy-howdy, I loved that scene. It packed the emotional wallop I’ve been pining for.

This new layer to the Winchester mythology, this legacy business, this secret batcave joint that they now have the fancy key to, all the knowledge inside…man, this feels like it opens up a whole lot of story. I’ve been wondering if that’s where they end up stashing those damn tablets. My first thought was, oh there will be clues to help with decoding the tablets and then I thought, hang-on, impenetrable supernatural Fort Knox…what better place to pop the tablets to keep the demon's and angel’s grubby mitts off them. I’ve always kind of thought that the comeuppance of using the tablets would be so great that they wouldn't be able to use them…maybe they lock them up forever…like the Arc of the Covenant or something? Anyway, I’m craptastic at theories, so I’ll just say I’m really looking forward to seeing this secret lair of the ‘Men of Letters’.

What this show always does best is family. When the show focuses on the story behind these boys, when it focuses on the strength and importance of family, this is where it really flies. “As Time Goes By” was all about family. It was about Sam and Dean finding out about their roots. It was about them putting to rest something that haunted their dad. In “As Time Goes By” I felt a little closure somehow, like both Sam and Dean have come to a place within their hearts where they can understand John better. But not only that, in finding out about their family, they were left with a better understanding of themselves and why they were thrust into this life. I think this was especially important for Sam, who's always felt like he didn't belong. I don’t know about you, but I felt hope, the most hope I’ve felt for a long time. As Sam and Dean stood over their grandfather’s grave…in my heart I felt this little tingling of hope that maybe they'll be able to put the anger and conflict from the first half of this season behind them and move forward into this new chapter together as brothers, as family. I mean, they’re Winchesters…and as long as they’re alive there’s always hope right?

I’m excited to see where this takes us.

And just because I hate leaving you on such a deep thought…please enjoy these caps.

Thanks for reading
- sweetondean

sweetondean is Chief editor and writer for The Winchester Family Business

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