Review of Episode 8×12: As Time Goes By
Overall: I feel like I’ve gone back in time to a previous season – and that ain’t a bad thing. This was an “old school” ep, full of Winchester family history, bonds, and oh yes, dysfunction. The boys talked about how they were raised, a cool demon made snarky remarks, and Baby filled up my screen in all her gleaming glory. That, my friends, is an episode of Supernatural.
Dean: Here we got to see Dean as we know and love him – sticking up for John, protecting Sammy at all costs (Dean even called him “Sammy” – how great was that?), and reading Henry the riot act for not realizing that family comes first. These are the qualities that made me fall in love with Dean way back in Season One. I wish the writers hadn’t strayed from this version of Dean in the first place, but I am very glad to have him back.
Seems after everything that’s happened, including finding out about Adam, Dean’s love for John has never truly wavered. Dean still defends John’s child-rearing choices, and holds a hard grudge against Henry for making John feel abandoned as a young boy. The main thing that’s changed about Dean? After all the demon-deals, the time travel, and the short time he spent as Death, Dean has finally learned that you don’t screw around with the timeline. You don’t bring people back from the dead, you don’t try to rewrite history, and you sure as heck don’t take a chance on restarting the apocalypse. Dean, you make me proud :).
Sam: Just like with Dean, we have the return of “old Sam” – the guy who says, “Hey, let’s hear him out,” or “Hey, maybe there’s a good reason for this,” or “Hey, let’s not shoot him until we have all the facts.” In contrast to Dean’s “You hurt my Daddy – prepare to meet my fist” attitude, Sam seeks to understand why things happened the way they did. He gives Henry the benefit of the doubt. He even gives John the benefit of the doubt, wondering whether Henry’s abandonment caused some of John’s failings as a parent. And, in the end, Sam finds some solace in knowing more of his family history and the “whys” of it all – a bookish, philosophical quality that apparently comes from John’s side of the family. Who would have thought?
Henry: “A man of letters,” eh? Interesting. Very interesting. When they first showed him, I thought he was a wizard of some kind. This idea was strengthened by the fact that he did a spell. However, as it turned out, he is more about chronicling magic than actually using it. His derogatory attitude toward hunters was funny. Apparently, his son and grandsons wound up in a lower “class” of the supernatural community, and this guy was not pleased. Henry’s supernatural snobbery didn’t lower my opinion of him, though – in fact, he became more and more endearing to me as the episode went on. He seemed to develop genuine fondness for both Sam and Dean – a sharp contrast to Grandpa Campbell, who left the boys to die in hopes of resurrecting Mary.
In fact, I saw Henry as a kind of redemption for the writers, after screwing up Samuel’s character so badly in Season Six. Mitch Pileggi – and the fans – deserved better. So did Sam and Dean. I’m glad they finally got to experience what real love from a grandparent is supposed to feel like.
Another reason to love Henry’s character: Great taste in cars! Obviously, he couldn’t have recognized the Impala, since it was made after his time. Nonetheless he was drawn to it – probably partly because it was the most similar-looking vehicle to the ones he was used to, but I also like to think that all Winchester men have a special connection to the Metallicar. 🙂
Henry’s shock and heartbreak when he learned of John’s death rang very true, as did Henry’s anguish at Dean’s words. I really felt for Grandpa Winchester as he tried to go back and change things – to be there for John instead of leaving on that fateful night. Henry desperately wanted to fix what he’d broken, even though we all knew it wasn’t possible. I wish Henry didn’t have to die, but anyone who is willing to lay down his life for our boys wins a permanent spot in this gal’s heart. My only complaint about his death is that it seemed like there wasn’t much effort to prevent it. Henry walked in knowing he was going to die, and I feel like Dean would have tried to plan a way where everyone would at least have a chance of making it out alive, even if the odds weren’t good.
Other Notes: We got an official name for the demon-killing knife. I’ve already forgotten it, but still, it was cool to learn what the knife is actually called. We also learned that: there is a special class of demons that the knife doesn’t work on, there exists a physical key to all magical knowledge, a bullet with a devil’s trap can keep a demon in her body, Sam and Dean keep angel feathers in the Impala (Cass: “Here you go – I plucked a few. Use ’em if you need ’em.”), and humans can tap their own souls and time travel on their own – no angels required. Regarding that last item, I might’ve been annoyed if time-travel was just some spell that any random dabbler could do, but the inclusion of angel feathers and the mention of using the human soul to power the journey made it fit with the previous mythology. I like it when things fit :).
Final thoughts: This ep was a throwback in all the best ways. The humor was flying fast and furious – I think I laughed out loud at least five times, especially at Dean’s “mouth-breathing hunters” comment. Family connections were at the heart and soul of the story, and the end of the episode had that melancholy ache to it that used to be Supernatural‘s standard tone for closing an ep. So, by my count, we’ve had three awesome, wonderfully redemptive episodes in a row. Shall we try for four? 😉