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12.01 review/reaction 
15th-Oct-2016 07:22 pm
A mother's love
Dear Supernatural,

Welcome back!! You knocked it out of the park! \o/

Lots of Love
Me.

I think I can safely say that is my fave season opener after 2.01 (In My Time of Dying). I know 4.01 (Lazarus Rising) is pretty damn awesome too, but as it was the beginning of a season of secrecy between Sam and Dean I think I'd put that slightly behind this one.

This episode had a lot to achieve in a very short time. I'm happy to say that it not only achieved everything it had to, but it achieved it all so damn well. It was wonderfully paced and deftly crafted. There was an underlying sense of urgency and yet it never felt rushed. It even managed to get in some humour. I am so proud of my show!!


I think the biggest challenge was the re-introduction of Mary. It really needed to be handled sincerely and meaningfully for it to ring true. And it did. In fact, I thought it was beautifully handled. Sam Smith's performance was a stand out. She had a constant air of confusion and fear about her - mixed with an almost child-like bewilderment of the new world. She had to absorb so much in a short amount of time. It could have easily been melodramatic, but the script, directing and acting ensured it never tipped over into that. I wiped away a tear a number of times during her touching scenes with Dean.

I like that we got some extra backstory between herself and John. I also like that it suggests that John shared those stories with Dean, which paints a nice picture of some shared time between father and son. Of course, we have no idea the manner in which John told him, but I'll probably fanon that it was over a shared beer as they watched the sunset.

Jensen gave Dean a good mix of disbelief and then relief at having Mary back. The chemistry between Jensen and Samantha was strong - you could see shades of "little boy" when Dean was around her. Dean's "I know we make the world a better place" was perfect. So good to hear him be positive again. (And how wonderful is it to have Dean is back - not possessed, or under any influence (Mark, Amara etc) - it's Dean, as Dean! \o/).

And then we got Dean's awesome trademark badass determination once he knew Sam was missing. I love how this totally contrasts the last time Dean knew Sam was being held (when he was uncaring demon!Dean).

In fact, I love just how different this torture scene is compared to the one with Cole in the beginning of S10. These tortured Sam scenes were so much more poignant. It wasn't just torture for the sake of it, it was used in such a way that showed us more of Sam's character (and how damn hard were those scene to watch?! You know I'm a hurt!Sam fan, but wow... they were so difficult for me. I wanted to turn away a few times...).

Jared's performance was stellar. He balanced the mix of fear, vulnerability and stubborn determination perfectly. It was so heartbreaking - knowing he's been here many times before. He's no stranger to torture *sob*. Even with the knowledge that Dean is dead, he's fighting on. He was able to fight through the hallucinations because he knew that's exactly what they were. It was reminiscent of his hallucinations in When the Levee Breaks and of course the ones he had post Lucifer's cage. We saw Sam's current state of mind - the way he blames himself for all those deaths. We also saw clever and resourceful Sam, tricking Toni into thinking he'd killed himself (I gasped out loud at that moment).

I was puzzled why Sam didn't make sure Toni was definitely out cold before he tried to escape, but I reconcile that with his state of mind and what he's had to endure to that point. Even though he could have (and probably should have) killed her, he's still the Sam that hold back on killing humans. And that final shot of Sam alone on the stairs has to be the most heartbreaking moment in the episode. He's so totally alone and knows that no one will come to help him. I seriously hope all this hurt is matched with some comfort in the coming episodes. Sammy needs it!

I even liked Toni! I know I know. She was horrible - but she was a really interesting horrible. She wasn't portrayed as a cardboard cutout villain. She's been given some interesting layers. I am curious who Mr Catchit (something like that?) is - someone she is clearly terrified of (saying she never wants that psychopath near her again). She's seen as a loving mother and yet has such disregard for human life. We often got her point of view watching Sam with (almost?) admiration. Most definitely curiosity. I think there could be some really interesting story lines ahead for her and the BMoL (I think she's been indoctrinated into this life without a opportunity to see things differently - maybe Sam and Dean will show her (them?) that you can be a hunter without being totally soulless. We'll see.

Cas was back to being badass, but his abilities were a little mystifying. I assumed that his fall meant he wasn't fully powered - but he did zap the guy in the truck in the beginning, so he had some juice. I wondered way he didn't use some angel juice to fight the BMoL thug? I am going to assume those magic knuckle dusters prevented angel juice and gave he extra strength (a very cool weapon!). I really enjoyed the badass women in this episode.

Crowley hunting for Lucifer felt a little like an amusing interlude. The "teenage girl" demon certainly made me chuckle.

I really liked the balance of all the characters. It's an absolute given that the show needs some series regulars to help spread the load of the Js. If they balance it out, like they did in this episode, I'll be pretty satisfied with that.

Other highlights:

The fabulous use of music (*guh* that last song - "Solitude" by Black Sabbath).
The snappy editing of the opening sequence. Great summing up of S11.
Mary's reaction to the car.
Dean realising she's remembering the fun times her and John had in the back seat *g*
Toni's "We want to make America safe". A nice tie to Trump's slogan (and maybe a nod to their "evil" ways...;D)
The "Mystery Spot" billboard Cas crashed through in his landing.
The little moments of stillness - Dean and Mary on the bench, the final scene of the Impala driving away and Sam on the step.

Great cinematography as always.

12.01-Dean-&-Mary-on-bench

So. A really strong start to the season. I can't wait for next week. I can't stand the thought of poor Sam being left alone in that hell hole.
Comments 
15th-Oct-2016 01:21 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to see you back!!! Always love your reviews!
Yes to all this. I think the torture scene was well handled too. It really made me want to look away when the hand torch (?) came near to Sam's bare feet... thanks for all the hurt!Sam though.
I'm looking forward to the role Mary is going to play in Dean and Sam's life now :) I'm glad that the brothers now have a loving mother to lean on. It won't surprise me if there arises some conflict between Mary and the brothers, because they are from different times, and especially because what Sam and Dean have gone through may not be something Mary experienced. I'm wondering if Mary would try to ask the brothers to quit hunting and have a normal life... or something.
I like Toni and her side kick so far, and I'm definitely would love to see Mr. Catchit. He actually reminds me of Mr, Scratch from Alan Wake, who is a psycho dark version of the hero Alan. I hope when he is introduced to the brothers, he'll be as scary and creepy as Alastair...
All in all, I need a rematch :)
16th-Oct-2016 11:50 am (UTC)
I'm glad to see you back!!! Always love your reviews!

Thank you! It's great to be back being to able to be so positive (and excited) about an episode. :))

Sam's feet!! That was SO hard to watch. I had been spoiled for some of what was going to happen - but not that! It was so hard to watch. Even the cold water had me cringing.

The impact Mary will have on their lives has potential to be so interesting. I particularly love this angle because it so inherently part of their story. I wonder if she'll just spend most of the time in awe of their abilities and close relationship. I'm excited to see what they will do with it.

I hope when he is introduced to the brothers, he'll be as scary and creepy as Alastair...

*rubs hands* I suspect he'll be the actual villain of the piece. And I think (I have absolutely NO idea on this) he might be someone that Sam and Dean may need to "save" Toni from.

I've re-watched this once already - which is always a good sign. :D



15th-Oct-2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
Guh. Perfect review. Love hearing your thoughts, and seeing a beautiful episode highlighted just as beautifully. It's almost like watching it again!

While I appreciate your assessment of Toni, I just cannot get over my feelings shouting out "DIE, BITCH, DIE!" for the ways she is hurting Sammy. *sobs* I do hope you're right and that they balance all the hurt with some comfort later, because that poor boy certainly deserves it.

(What do you mean, "Am I a 'Sam girl'?" Really, I don't know what you're talking about XP)

Seriously. I could respond to every point you made with a happy burst of agreement and squee. I hope this episode is an indication of what we can expect from the entire season, because, if so, it may just be one of the best yet. Soooo looking forward to next week!!! :D
16th-Oct-2016 11:56 am (UTC)
Hi hun!

Love hearing your thoughts, and seeing a beautiful episode highlighted just as beautifully. It's almost like watching it again!

Thank you! What a lovely thing to say. <3

I just cannot get over my feelings shouting out "DIE, BITCH, DIE!"

Haha! Oh me neither! I can't stand her impersonal approach to our darling Sam. I just suspect - in terms of story telling - her story will be deeper than just pure villain. She is no doubt horrid, but I'm thinking there's even nastier villains behind all this. I am very curious to see what happens here (I suppose I am worried they'll do a "Cole" on her and let her off lightly, but I'm already feeling there's better storytelling here *fingers crossed*)

I feel more positive about this season, but I know I have been disappointed in the past. My hope is that Dabb and Singer have a better handle on it all than Carver did. We'll see!
15th-Oct-2016 05:07 pm (UTC)
Yes!! Yes!!!! Yesss!!!!! *nods in agreement with all you said* :D \o/ ((happy hugs))
I was worried to watch the episode. Its thumbnail looked at me from the streaming site and I looked back at it. We stared at each other for a while and I wasn't sure if I was ready to take the chance of possibly getting disappointed or frustrated again. But I watched it. And it all just went so very well!! :D I really hope they keep going like this. I'm loving it! Yes, yes, yes!! :D
Welcome back, Supernatural, indeed! ♥ no title
16th-Oct-2016 12:02 pm (UTC)
Hey honey!

I was very spoiled for this episode, so I knew (pretty much) what it was going to be like. I've been so damn excited about it for ages!! I just wasn't sure how it was all going to work. I was thrilled that I loved it as much as I did. :D

I think I'm passed thinking one good ep will mean the whole season will be awesome, but I am going in with a refreshed view of it all. I'm going to take each episode as it comes. I know there will be some I'll love and some I won't. I have to say that I am happy that Carver has gone though. It at least gives me hope that we won't see the brothers being at constant odds with each other as we have for the last 4 seasons *fingers crossed*.

15th-Oct-2016 05:16 pm (UTC)
(points) Oh yes, so much "what you said."

I'm surprisingly interested in Toni, and I would love to see the contrasts between her and Mary explored a little, as mothers, and as women knowledgeable about the hunting world.

I definitely got a vibe of the current political clime "making America safe" off the whole tribe of MoL UK (which I still have to stop myself calling the Watchers Council).

I did something last night I haven't done in...well, seasons! I rewatched the ep! I'm hoping really hard this bodes well for the season.
16th-Oct-2016 12:06 pm (UTC)
Hi!

and I would love to see the contrasts between her and Mary explored a little, as mothers, and as women knowledgeable about the hunting world.

Oooh yes. That could be an interesting exploration. I wonder if Toni will see something in Mary that she has in herself? A love for her children - and that Sam and Dean will not be seen has people to be tortured, but rather as sons. Hmmm...

I rewatched the ep! I'm hoping really hard this bodes well for the season.

Me too! I can't remember the last time I did that (probably Red Meat *g*).

15th-Oct-2016 07:10 pm (UTC)
I shall just wallow in contented speechlessness over here. And maybe watch it again.
16th-Oct-2016 12:07 pm (UTC)
Hehe. Oh man, the hurt!Sam was off the charts. I used to wallow in fic like this. I just need ALL the comfort now (which I know we won't get because show doesn't really do comfort. FIC WILL BE NEEDED! *g*)
15th-Oct-2016 10:03 pm (UTC)
I'm glad show is back but I'm also glad you're back and enjoying it! I loved this episode and am ready for a rewatch for all the powerful reasons you've said - I have quibbles over Toni and the getting rid of her sidekick so quickly because she (the side kick that is) was fun. But apart from that, I totally agree that the way they are dealing with Mary's return is wonderfully well done - subtle and not overly emotional. It felt like show was ecognising the audience's intelligence and allowing us to see things and fill in the gaps. The acting, of course, really helped that along! Lovely non verbals.

Sammeeeeeee!
16th-Oct-2016 12:12 pm (UTC)
Hey hun!

I agree! I wish the side kick was still around because she WAS fun (i mean, horrible, but deliciously fun...).

It felt like show was ecognising the audience's intelligence and allowing us to see things and fill in the gaps.

Yes! This is something I wanted to mention actually. I loved that we were treated with respect and intelligence. We weren't spoon fed. There were gaps - but nothing that we couldn't fill in ourselves.

*meep* Sammeeee. I can't. It still hurts (in all the best ways...)

xx
15th-Oct-2016 10:05 pm (UTC)
PS I heard that name as Cratchit - I wondered whether it was a Dickensian reference?? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Cratchit
16th-Oct-2016 12:14 pm (UTC)
Ah. Yeah, I couldn't make out his name. He sounds bloody evil though. And I wonder if he'll be the "real" villain of the piece. I don't feel that Toni is (even though see her here as absolutely horrid), but the way she spoke about this guy suggests he's a nasty piece of work.
15th-Oct-2016 10:11 pm (UTC)
I was really hoping to see the boys back together, but other than the word not feeling right when they're separated, the ep was awesome! :D

Mary was out of the hunting life and she obviously didn't feel good about having to kill someone, so maybe she could become a MoL and be more on the research side of things. She might even connect with Toni and/or the UK MoL because of that. *ponders*
16th-Oct-2016 12:17 pm (UTC)
I was really hoping to see the boys back together,

I was spoiled for this so I knew it wasn't going to happen. I actually don't mind them being separated when the episode focus is about them being back together. I mean, there was a lot of other things going on, but the driving force was hunting for Sam.

And yes...I think there may well be a connection between Mary and Toni. I didn't think about Mary being a MoL (like Toni is a BMoL) but maybeeee.....I see a lot of potential here. :)
15th-Oct-2016 11:06 pm (UTC)
I agree wholeheartedly with every word you said here. Especially your comments about Mary. Sam Smith knocked it out of the park; a really nuanced and sensitive performance. She and Jensen really do have great chemistry.

And Jared. Stellar, as you say. I need Sam rescued immediately though. Poor baby. Sobs.
16th-Oct-2016 12:18 pm (UTC)
*nods* yes! The performances were fantastic. I didn't realise how much I'd enjoy seeing Mary back on the screen. :)
15th-Oct-2016 11:20 pm (UTC)
I watched it yesterday morning and was simply astonished at how much I enjoyed it. Especially the return of Smart Bad Ass Sam! There was much, much more I enjoyed...back to being a fangirl, I guess!
16th-Oct-2016 12:18 pm (UTC)
Haha! Back to being a fangirl. Damn show! Always drawing us back...

<3
16th-Oct-2016 12:27 am (UTC)

I was really looking forward to your review because the ep left me a bit unsatisfied and since you always write very poignant reviews you usually make it better. This time too! the only instance I disagree is when Sam didn't make sure Toni was out cold or tied her up. while this ep was certainly better crafted than a lot of the eps in the last seasons, this felt like a lazy writing moment. the writers wanted to show sam's badassery (thank god) but needed him to stay captive. so yeah. i thought sam would have done better considering he was still able to fake a suicide to get out of there. cas' powers are certainly confusing but all in all was this much better than what i expected. and i whole-heartedly agree, they did handle mary's return beautifully and the acting was stellar, from everyone. i think you could see how much the Js liked the script. now we just have to hope the rest of the season continues like this and doesn't go like last season...
thanks for your review i'm looking foward to many more!

16th-Oct-2016 12:27 pm (UTC)
Hi,

Sorry to hear the ep left you a bit unsatisfied. Though I'm glad the review made it a bit better! *g*

That Sam moment was a niggle for me too. He had threatened to kill her earlier and then didn't when he had the chance. Though it's very "sam" not to kill humans - so I'm glad he didn't. But he should have made sure she was totally incapacitated - so he was assured of a get away. But yeah, he needed to say captured so they played it like that - slightly tighter scripting could have found a way around that maybe.

now we just have to hope the rest of the season continues like this and doesn't go like last season...

Yeah, it's always a worry. My hope is that as they are not dealing with a *huge* myth arc like God and His Sister, the stories might be back to basics. It already has a more insular feel - more closely connected to Sam and Dean, than it has done for a while. *fingers crossed* anyway. :)

thanks for your review i'm looking foward to many more!

You're welcome! I wasn't even sure I was going to right reviews this season, but I had so much I wanted to say about his one, I just had to!
<3
16th-Oct-2016 12:54 am (UTC)
I just watched the episode today and was also glad with how Mary's been handled so far. I was rather looking forward to her appearance because I always thought Sam Smith was a wonderfully nuanced actor and I was hoping for a whole season of her bringing Mary to complicated life. (Amy also did an outstanding job as younger Mary).

The extra details on Mary and John were interesting but what really caught my attention was the discussion of how different the UK is from the U.S. in terms of hunting and monster control. Presumably though this doesn't work for demons, given that Bela was able to make a crossroads deal... I can't remember at this point if Bobby ever discussed hunting in Japan or was merely informed about creatures generally found there, but we've hardly ever gotten any clues about what goes on outside U.S. borders.

Yes, I really don't get Sam ensuring she's unconscious or, for that matter, appropriating the taser for himself -- especially after the clever escape attempt.

Actually given that you mentioned IMToD at the start, I was surprised you didn't mention the callback to that arc with the Impala car crash. This time we have Dean driving with Mary shotgun rather than Sam with John, and Cas is in the backseat instead of Dean, but I'd be really surprised if the connection wasn't intentional.



16th-Oct-2016 12:43 pm (UTC)
Hi,

I have to say I am so relieved by the way the handled Mary. And it's wonderful to see Sam Smith back.

but what really caught my attention was the discussion of how different the UK is from the U.S. in terms of hunting and monster control.

Yes! That was very interesting. I had the feeling that the UK division feel like they know everything about Sam and Dean - and yet they really know nothing (as Toni was seen to be realising in that episode). It has such great potential.

I was surprised you didn't mention the callback to that arc with the Impala car crash.

ah..well, I can't say I saw that connection I have to admit. But when I think on it - yes, there was a similarity in the way it was filmed. They were certainly blindsided as they were in Devil's Trap.

I loved that silent moment with Dean looking back at Mary as if he was going to say something, but didn't. Just so much to say - where do you even start?

Some lovely little nuanced moments like that throughout the episode.

Happy to know you're still watching. :)

16th-Oct-2016 02:46 am (UTC)
Glad to see you back!

Dean + Mary--their faces showed so much emotion...

Sam--fighting so hard even though (he thinks) Dean is dead...

If what Lady Toni wanted was to improve the hunting techniques of American hunters, why was it necessary to start so antagonistically toward Sam???

I predict that the little bit of admiration she was developing for Sam has been replaced with conviction he really is a monster and she's going to call Mr. C the psychopath to really work him over next week and I really don't want that to happen!!!

Lots of credit to Andrew Dabb for giving us backstory that is consistent with previous canon and addressing the times Mary has appeared in the show previously--that was well done!

Can't wait for the reunion scene!!!!
16th-Oct-2016 12:48 pm (UTC)
Glad to see you back!

Me too! Wasn't sure I would be to be honest, but that episode renewed the love (and the break was good).

If what Lady Toni wanted was to improve the hunting techniques of American hunters, why was it necessary to start so antagonistically toward Sam???

Good point! Sam's approachable...just talk to him! I wonder if this was to show how brutal and out of touch the BMoL are. I had a feeling that they were shown to be cold and calculating (even in their treatment of that monster) for a good reason. I think this might be about them learning from Sam and Dean (and learning that there is US MoL like there is in Britain).

Lots of credit to Andrew Dabb for giving us backstory that is consistent with previous canon and addressing the times Mary has appeared in the show previously--that was well done!

Yes! I loved that.

Can't wait for the reunion scene!!!!

I WANT IT NOW!!!
16th-Oct-2016 03:59 am (UTC)
It's a great start to the season! Yes, to everything you said about the timing and still getting everything covered without feeling rushed. I found the Dean, Mary, and Cas scenes were great, and the Sam scenes were amazing. A++
16th-Oct-2016 12:50 pm (UTC)
*thumbs up* all around then! :D Great way to start the season. :)
16th-Oct-2016 12:26 pm (UTC)
hi ash, im glad you enjoyed it. ive decided to stay away. i spent this summer thinking should i return? i was very upset how season 11 ended. i know why, i learned a painful lesson;Sam's pain and faith are irrelevant. i dont trust Andrew Dabb. i'll stay away until its safe to come back again. i did it before, i came to your journal. read your review and watched again i'll still read you episode reviews i have to know what's going on. i need a break from watching i cant take anymore disappointment reading is better than watching. season 11 killed my passion, i dont want 12 to kill my love.
16th-Oct-2016 12:31 pm (UTC)
Hey hun.

Fair enough. Sometimes it's just the way it goes. I will say that this was a great episode, so if you do decide to come back it would be worth a watch. But yeah, maybe see how it all goes. It would be awful to be disappointed again. The last few seasons have been pretty damn rough.

My love for Sam and Dean will never fade though (and the Js). I may be thoroughly pissed with some of the story lines but as long as they did what they did in this ep, I'll be pretty happy. :)

Take care!! And thanks for always popping by to my reviews.
xx
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