I was not expecting to watch the first few minutes of Supernatural’s season twelve premiere through tears, but a mother reuniting with her eldest son after being dead for more than 30 years will do that to you.
After a…rather anticlimactic “showdown” between God and his sister Amara in the season eleven finale, our main players are now scattered across the board. Cas and Sam think Dean is dead, and returned to the bunker only to get attacked by the mysterious Antonia “Toni” Bevell, who claims to be from the London chapter of the Men of Letters, and who blasted one away before kidnapping the other. Dean’s soul bomb has been diffused, and as a token of her thanks for helping her repair her relationship with her brother, Amara leaves Dean with, “You gave me what I needed most. I want to do the same for you.”
Cue Dean walking through the woods shortly afterwards and stumbling across Mary Winchester, his mother, who’s been dead for over thirty years.
Season twelve picks up immediately where season eleven left off, with Dean and Mary staring at each other, and it’s hard to tell who’s more shellshocked. After a quick miscommunication, Dean begins to fill in his mom on everything that’s happened–to him, to Sam, to John, to the world–since she’s been gone. They go back to the bunker, which is where Cas also makes a beeline to after returning to Earth. His relief at seeing Dean and realizing that he isn’t dead is so palpable, especially since Cas is a character that rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. He and Dean share a long hug, and then Dean gets to introduce him to his mom.
The way Dean so clearly revels in the way the word “Mom” sounds on his lips is heartbreaking, and already makes me anxious for the mid-season or season finale, when something terrible will inevitably happen and Mary will be ripped away from her boys again (which, if her reuniting with Dean made me tear up, imagine how I’ll be when she reunites with Sam oh my Chuck); my heart hurts just thinking about it.
Speaking of Sam, the poor guy’s season is off to a rough start, to say the least. After being shot and kidnapped by Toni, he’s held in a basement and tortured for information, namely the identities and locations of other hunters in the United States. Toni reveals that she and the rest of the London Men of Letters believe that Sam and Dean have screwed up so badly when it comes to hunting that they can’t be saved, but they want to train the rest of the hunters in the U.S. to track and dispose of monsters in the foolproof, efficient way their overseas brethren do, which has resulted in not a single monster-related death since 1965. There are lots of questions floating around already about the London MoL’s tactics, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to see more of what exactly happens in London, because it definitely doesn’t look or sound as perfect as Toni made it out to be.
Sam refuses to give up any information even under terrible physical torture, so Toni decides to switch over to the mental side of the spectrum. She injects Sam with a hallucinogen that shows him all the people who have died in his life–Mom, Jess, Kevin, and Dean, among others–and he can constantly hear Dean’s voice telling him that he’s not worth it, asking him why he hasn’t already killed himself, why he isn’t already dead. It’s a heavy scene made even heavier when Sam smashes a mirror and appears to use a shard of it to give into the voices and slit his own throat.
I’ll admit, I had a minor OHNOTHEYDIDN’T moment at that, but after a second, remembered that I’m watching Supernatural, and there’s no way Sam just did what I think he did. And after a tense commercial break, we learn that nope, he’d just slashed his palm in order to try and draw Toni out and overpower her. He does, momentarily, but she tazes him repeatedly and manages to make it back upstairs and lock the door before he can escape.
The only character who really didn’t have much going on was Crowley; hell, the two demons he was tailing to try and find Lucifer’s new vessel had better storylines than him, and they were killed before the end of the episode. It looks like the former King of Hell will be finding Lucifer in the next episode or so, though, so that’ll be interesting, especially with Rick Springfield taking over for Mark Pellegrino in the role.
I’d like to give a quick little shout-out to Toni, a fierce, refreshing character who hopefully has as deep of a backstory to match the questions raised about her during the premiere. I’m really excited (okay, maybe cautiously optimistic is the better term to use here) to see the arcs that new showrunner Andrew Dabb & Co. have in store for both her and Mary, and I’m hoping that neither of them end like Charlie Bradbury’s–bloody, absolutely unnecessary, and just really goddamn upsetting.
The humor and one-liners were also on point, which is something I remember being pleasantly surprised by when I first started watching Supernatural nearly four years ago, and is now one of my favorite parts of the show. From Dean watching his mom admire the Impala to suddenly realizing that she and his dad had definitely fooled around in the backseat, to Sam referring to Toni as nothing but “an accent in a pantsuit,” longtime writer-turned-showrunner Dabb kept things snappy and sharp, even amidst the general feeling of darkness, anxiety, and uncertainty permeating the rest of the episode (if anyone wants to fangirl with me over how gorgeous the last shot of Sam in the basement was, please, please tweet me).
Dabb definitely came out of the gate strong with this one, and promised over Twitter that nothing exciting, dramatic, or heartbreaking would happen on Thursday night. He didn’t keep his promise, but I for one am pretty freakin’ glad he didn’t.