‘Supernatural’ Season 12 Review: Getting Back to Basics Was the Right Move

Sam, Dean, and Castiel in Supernatural's 'Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets'

Two brothers. An Impala. And a bucket load of family angst as they battle demons, angels, and a whole slew of creatures. This is Supernatural.

Along the way we’ve had some additions to this duo, people that we’ve fallen in love with as Sam and Dean took on the world or tried to save it. Working in such a dangerous field has made them friends with tragedy and death and they’ve lost their father, family, and plenty of close friends.

Then Mary came around.

Her resurrection and the addition of the British Men of Letters, an organized group of tyrannical hunters, revolutionized the show and truly brought it back to it’s basics without losing what we loved about Supernatural.

Read on as we discuss what worked, what didn’t, and what we’d love to see more of, including a list with our favorite and least favorite episodes in this Supernatural Season 12 review!

Overall Impression

When a show says that it’s going to go back to basics you should be afraid. Oftentimes they forget all the progress that they have made along the way I’m try to reinvent themselves from the bottom up. That’s not what happened on Supernatural. Getting back to the basics meant cutting out demons and angels and making the bad guy humans. Getting back to the basics meant having the same Sam and Dean we know with Mary Winchester in the mix. And sure, at some points getting back to the basics was a little shaky. But they didn’t forget who they were or where they came from.

What Worked

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Bringing Mary Winchester Back into the Fold

Honestly, I didn’t think that Supernatural would ever bring Mary back. It seemed like a closed chapter in their lives. Her return made me realize that this particular chapter had never really been touched despite her multiple appearances throughout the years. Bringing Mary back from the dead was a way of revisiting old wounds that still ached and finally healing them for Sam and Dean.

The addition of Mary to the main cast was also refreshing because we don’t see a lot of women on Supernatural going through the drama and trauma that she did. Mary was a woman out of time who woke up in a world where her children were no longer her little boys. They were grown men that she didn’t recognize and her husband had long since passed. And I know a lot of people got mad when Mary left Sam and Dean. (Sore spot right there for a lot of people.) I liked that she left. I wasn’t too hot on the fact that she stayed away so long. But I liked that she recognized that she needed to mourn the family she knew so she could accept the one she had.

I also like the fact that she was in control (besides that time where the British Men of Letters mind controlled her), she made the hard decisions, and despite the fact that she was doing a lot of what she was doing for her son’s, a lot of it was for her as well. She got to know hunting, the internet, and how the world worked for herself. And I know that this is small, and I had expressed horror at it previously, but I like the fact that she chose what she wanted and ended up having sex with Ketch because she wanted to. No one forced her.

Mary was a woman making her own decisions and trying to better herself for her family while trying to find who she was in this new world she didn’t recognize anymore. Now that she’s gone I’m finally starting to realize what we lost and what I desperately want the Winchesters to get back. A mother, a hunter, and a woman who has lost so much but that we can connect to on one level or another.

Having the Winchesters Face Harsh Truths

I felt like this season had some crucial harsh truths for the Winchesters to face. Do I think that they had less than previous seasons? Yes. But it had them nonetheless. Dean’s confession to his mother was like a weight off of his shoulders that had been building his entire life. Her return showed him how she wasn’t perfect and how none of us truly are but we keep trying. As for Sam, he became more of a leader and stepped out of his brother’s shadow without feeling like he was overstepping. He did stumble and it took him a long while to get to it, but he tried and learned from his mistakes and kept going.

And then there was Mary. I feel like she learned more than Sam and Dean combined because she was coming back to a completely different world. She had to face the fact that decades had passed, that her boys were no longer children, and that they had followed the life she never wanted for them. She faced the the harsh truth that the life she had would never be hers again and that this was it. Of course now Mary is trapped in another reality with Lucifer at her side and separated from her boys, but I think the lessons that they have learned will make them stronger and more capable in finding their way back to each other.

The British Men of Letters

While I hate the British Men of Letters I love that they’ve humanized the show and brought it back to its basics. For too long supernatural has been going for big and flashy. They’ve killed Lucifer, Leviathan’s, and even battled God’s sister. And for a really long time I was worried about what came next. What could they do to top battling Heaven and Hell for seasons. The answer was humans.

The British Men of Letters showed Sam, Dean, and the viewers that the biggest danger of all is humans. Weak and feeble humans with delusions of grandeur and fancy objects to make them feel like they’re invincible. Humans who let jealousy, pride, and anger lead their very actions. And while it is true that Angels and Demons have let these things affect them before, they’ve all been supernatural beings.

This season the villains are human just like Sam and Dean. And because they are not otherworldly or creations of hell it’s made it ten times harder for the Winchesters to battle them. It’s made them confront the fact that the villains surrounding them  and trying to work with them could it be the very humans they’ve always fought to protect.

Epic Speeches & One-Liners

What Didn’t Work

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Treatment of Female Characters

There’s always been a problem with the way female characters are treated on Supernatural. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing women on Supernatural. But it’s a fact universally known that most women don’t survive on this show and the ones we love are always killed off. It’s gotten to the point where I just expect Mary to die and I’m honestly shocked that Jody is still around. It’s not good for your fans to expect all the female characters to die. And I understand that male characters always die as well on the show. But I look at characters like Crowley and Castiel and see how much they have grown and stayed alive and I can’t help but be saddened by the fact that Charlie is gone and that so many other women like her could still be fighting alongside Sam and Dean if they weren’t dead for some reason or another.

This season saw the death of some fan favorites. Rowena, a witch that we have fallen in love with over and over again for a couple years now is gone. We also saw the death of Eileen, a female Hunter who had a connection with Sam and was also deaf, something that you rarely see on TV I need more of. Rowena’s death was off screen and felt like a slap in the face considering how loved her character was. And Eileen’s death was just to move the plot along in a manner that was quick and easy for the writers. She died alone and hunted down like an animal by a hellhound. Both deaths and the way that Supernatural continues to treat its women leave a sour taste in my mouth, season after season.

Thank God for Wayward Sisters.

Giving Too Much Time to Other Characters

I love new characters. I really do. They change the Winchesters, teach them new things, challenge them, and make the Supernatural storyline richer. But at some point in the season I felt like they were focusing too much on other characters instead of Sam and Dean. (I’ll allow Castiel and Mary as well into this little group.) I wanted to know more about what the core cast was feeling or fighting against. Instead I was left with a vague feeling about what was going on with Sam and Dean for a great portion of the season and a good understanding of what other people were going through.

I’m not saying I didn’t get anything. I saw Sam’s journey to becoming a leader, Dean coming to terms with the fact that his mother wasn’t perfect, Castiel understanding who was his family, and Mary acclimating to this new life. What I’m saying is that I wanted less Kelly Klein and Lucifer & more Winchester family drama. I really didn’t need that storyline or that of the nephilim’s.

The British Men of Letters

I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t she just include the British Men of Letters under the category of things that worked for this season?” I did. In many ways the British men of letters worked for Supernatural. But in many ways it didn’t. We didn’t go as in-depth as we could have with these characters and killed some of them off just as they were getting interesting.

Some of their methods also left a lot to be desired. The whole brainwashing bit with Mary was kind of lackluster. And quite often we were left feeling like there was no organization in the world besides the Winchesters that didn’t go to such extremes to save people. I especially hated the fact that they really didn’t want to work with the Winchesters or anyone like them. They have their rules and if you didn’t follow them you were dead.

For once I’d like to see a group or organization working with the Winchesters, besides the hunters we already know, to better the world and save it from the things that go bump in the night or the ones that live in the heavens above.

What We Wanted to See More Of

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Dean Being Honest About His Feelings

Dean likes to keep things close to his chest. Always has since episode 1. This season saw him coming face-to-face with one of the biggest sorrows of his life, his mother, and being honest with himself and those around him about how her death changed his life. With Mary gone again, I hope Dean doesn’t clam up again and backtrack on the progress he’s made about his life and his feelings.

Sam Being a Leader

Sam has always in one way or another deferred to his brother and those that were older around him. By the end of this season he was taking control and realizing how good of a leader he really is. Because it isn’t about age or seniority. It’s about who knows how to strategize and who knows how to execute the best plan with the best resources available. That person is Sam and I’d like to see more of him.

The Winchesters Spending Time Together (Including Castiel)

With Mary back in the picture I was hoping to see Sam, Dean, and Castiel spending time together. (I included Castiel in this picture because he’s basically a Winchester and I really enjoyed the time he spent with Mary.) Unfortunately drama happened and Mary spent a great deal of time away from her boys. After miraculously being saved from that other dimension I’d like to see her spend time with her boys, hunt, and save the world together.

What We Wanted to See Less Of

The British Men of Letters

Yes, I’ve talked a lot about the British Men of Letters. No matter how big of a bunch of bastards they are, they deserve to be mentioned over and over again. They caused a lot of trouble for the Winchesters,  75% of it unnecessary and just because the Winchesters didn’t want to play their little games or follow their rules. They deserve to be forgotten and replaced by more formidable organizations around the world. Because let’s face it, they’re not the only human Force fighting the supernatural.

People Disappearing for Large Amounts of Time

One of the most frustrating things about this season was how Castiel or Mary disappeared for great lengths of time with the cheapest of explanations. Even more frustrating is the fact that they always disappeared after a grand gesture or speech. They don’t need to disappear off into the night because we’re done with them. Keep them in the bunker. Keep them with the Winchesters where they belong! You (the writers) might not think we (the viewers) realize that they’re gone but we do. We really do.

Brushing Off Assault When It Clearly is Assault

Supernatural brushed off the sexual assault of Sam Winchester and Kelly Kline way too fast. Maybe not even too fast. It wasn’t addressed at all. If Supernatural is going to use plot devices like this to move the story along then they need to address what they did and not pretend or expect people to just forget. Lady Bevell assaulted Sam and Lucifer assaulted Kelly Klein. Period.

Favorite Episodes

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“The Foundry” (Episode 12×03) – This episode saw Mary Winchester trying to acclimate to 2017 and her boys being grown ups when two seconds ago they were children. It was painful to watch her struggle and ultimately decide that she needed time to mourn the family that she lost so she could appreciate the one that she had gained.

“Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (Episode 12×06) – This episode brought together Mary Winchester and Jody Mills, introduced some newcomers that I absolutely loved, and gave a little background on how Hunters mourn their dead. It also gave the Winchesters a little bit of downtime where they were just boys hanging out with a mother figure that cared for them. Everything was tied off really nicely with Mary turning down Billi’s offer and deciding to stay with her sons.

“First Blood” (Episode 12×09) – This episode saw the Winchesters going somewhere they’ve never gone before, an underground facility run by the government. They didn’t break, miraculously escaped, and we’re confronted with Billi once more. Just when I thought this episode was going to take a cliched turn with one of the Winchesters dying, Castiel appeared and gave one of the best speeches in Supernatural history.

“Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (Episode 12×10) – This episode had one of the strongest and most capable women I’ve ever seen on Supernatural. She channeled her pain into becoming stronger and more capable than angels as a means of punishing those who hurt her and her child. She was a sight to behold and I hope that she appears once more on Supernatural or on Wayward Sisters.

“Twigs & Twine & Tasha Banes” (Episode 12×20) – This episode saw the return of Max and Alicia Bane’s. Too often we’ve seen what sacrifice means for the Winchester brothers. In this episode we saw the lengths that other Hunters would go to save their family and that the Winchesters aren’t that different. We would sacrifice the world for our loved ones and shield them from as much pain as possible.




Least Favorite Episodes

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“Rock Never Dies” (Episode 12×07) – While I love the return of Lucifer, this episode felt like they were just filling up space or wasting time. Lucifer didn’t really have a goal and was just angry that Daddy left him behind and he was going to destroy his toys just to spite him. The only bright spots of this episode were Dean’s hate for veggie water and Castiel’s, “Hey assbutt.”

“Stuck in the Middle with You” (Episode 12×12) – I love Richard Speight, Jr. Really do. But this episode will forever be remembered as the one we’re Mary lied about how she got this job and everything went to shit. Castiel’s speech was beautiful, yes. But, again with the “but”, it was all overshadowed by her decision to work with the British Men of Letters. I know she was trying to do the right thing but I still haven’t forgiven her for it. Castiel could’ve died.

“Family Feud” (Episode 12×13) – For a second there I thought Rowena & Crowley had buried the hatchet. Apparently not. This episode saw them up to their same tricks once more and broke whatever bond mother and son had built. I truly believe this was the beginning of the end for Rowena and the MacLeod family. Also, who actually cared for Gavin? (I’m talking about the viewers.) Anyone? I didn’t think so.

Season Finale Impression

The season 12 finale of Supernatural left me shocked, frustrated, and in awe that Supernatural was ready to break these barriers! From Crowley’s sacrifice to the birth of the Nephilim, I didn’t think Supernatural would take it in this direction at all. I thought there was going to be a miracle that appeared out of nowhere that saved them from what they were fighting. But no miracles came and they had to deal with the British Men of Letters and Lucifer on their own. I’m still a little skeptical about the alternate world that they found and confused about what they’re going to do with that creepy grown man Nephilim that just came from Kelly Klein, but I think they’re going in an unexpected direction that could yield great rewards.

Next Season Speculation

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With the appearance of the creepy nephilim, heaven and hell are going to be vying for his destruction or his attention. His powers are unlimited and have barely been explored. In the right hands, he could be a tool for destruction or change the world for good. Hopefully he won’t be an empty vessel with no personality that gets conveniently taken down in the first episode. I want personality. I want someone to care for that surprises us and makes us invest in someone else besides the core Supernatural family of Sam, Dean, and Castiel. And since the finale cleared the slate when it comes to people we know, love, and love to hate, we’re going to need more people to cheer for.

As for Sam and Dean, they’re going to be babysitting the world’s most powerful creature. They’re not going to have time to grieve the loss or feel the pain of never seeing Castiel or Mary again. It’s going to be go, go, go into a new and scary world where the unimaginable is real. Here’s hoping that Sam and Dean see the value of organizing American hunters and preventing another invasion. Because let’s be honest, if the British had a chapter of the Men of Letters, other nations can to. What’s to stop them from coming over and trying to pull the same move the Brits did?

Also, with Wayward Sisters set to have a backdoor premiere in Season 13, I hope The CW starts a trend of crossovers that strengthen bonds between both shows and gives Wayward Sisters a fighting chance, knowing that they’re supported by their mother show.

What were your thoughts on Supernatural season one? Let us know in the comments section below!

Supernatural has been renewed for season fourteen.



Lyra

Editor, Writer, Supreme Mugwump

Lyra enjoys loud mouthed, damaged characters, with a penchant for rescuing people and drinking their sorrows away. When she isn’t splurging on Netflix shows she’s not so quietly ranting about Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural!

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