03 February 2013

Review: Supernatural 'As Time Goes By'


Is it just me or has Supernatural just produced the best Winchester Family episode since The Song Remains the Same and the best TV episode since Swan Song? I can't see you, but if my opening sentence perplexes you, let me use this review to explain.

For the 101 million times, I love the Winchester family episodes
where more than two Winchesters and/or the entire family appear in one episode  -- Home, Something Wicked, What Is And What Should Never Be, A Very Supernatural Xmas, In the Beginning and The Song Remains the Same. These episodes are tied to the family John and Mary created. These are also my all-time favorite episodes of the show.

"One Direction?"
Apart from the family episodes, the second type of episodes that I love are the time travelling episodes -- The End, Frontierland and Time After Time. When you put the family and time-travel element together, you get In the Beginning and The Song Remains the Same. Not only these episodes are two of my all-time favorite episodes of this particular show, they are also my all-time favorite TV episodes.

And now, I will go as far as to say, As Time Goes By has joined the elite league of awesome with In the Beginning and The Song Remains the Same in my book. It is not to say that this episode was flawless, but it was close to perfection and I can forget about questions I may have regarding the mythology of the Winchesters and the show.



Season eight is really going strong. I find myself saying 'this is my favorite episode this season' in every review of recent weeks! But let me put it this way: A Slice of Kevin, Citizen Fang and LARP and the Real Girl are like 'awesome pancakes day' -- the only day of the week you get pancakes for breakfast, you look forward to it and you love it! But As Time Goes By is like going to Tetsuya's! This episode is that brilliant!! This season does have the season four and five epic vibe, which I miss! While you can't top the apocalypse, there are other things you can top! Jeremy Carver and his team of writers have just shown us that!


Supernatural is about the House of Winchester. As Time Goes By gave me a lot more than I can digest right now. In this episode, we learnt more about the Winchesters as well as the hunters community. There were the Men of Letters, and there were the elite hunters and the 'apes' hunters. I wonder if we will get to know who the 'elites' were. I wonder if Sam and Dean will find out more about the hunters community from the documentations in the bunker. If so, where are the descendants of these elite hunters? One thing for sure, if Henry Winchester was still alive, he wouldn't get along with the Campbells, the hunters. The Winchesters and the Campbells would be like the Capulet and the Montague, making John 'Romeo' and Mary 'Juliet'.  


We knew about John and his ways of rising his children; how Mary's death impacted John and therefore the lives of Dean and Sam; we know about the daddy issues; we know about Mary's backstory as a hunter; we know about Mary and John being Heaven's top priority; we know about how the angels have manipulated details, making sure Dean and Sam were born and prepared to be the vessels of Michael and Lucifer for the apocalypse showdown. These family stories have been carrying the show for seven and a half seasons. By bringing Henry Winchester into the story, I feel the show has entered a whole new level of awesome.


Jeremy Carver told us at the beginning of season eight that there would be a game-changing element. No kidding! The appearance of Henry Winchester and the introduction of Men of Letters and the family legacy will totally change how the game is played from now on -- Dean and Sam now have a motherload of advantage! John, Sam and Dean have been doing the family business for a long time, regardless of the existence of Men of Letters and the Apocalypse. They kept going -- saving people, hunting things. The Winchesters before them were doing just fine, until Henry made a jump to the future. And because he never made it back to 1958, the 'original' family business was discontinued and things turned out differently than the Winchesters ancestors intended it to be. 


The Winchesters have been the angels' puppets, pretty much since Henry left. The angels have ruined their lives! It is good to have an advantage for a change, thanks to their Super Great Grandpas, who have been building their very own version of the Ark of Covenant! The whole secret organisation thing is a bit like the old Knight in Indiana Jones to me -- the guardian of the Holy Grail. Except the Winchester's version of 'Holy Grail' is the supernatural motherload. The Men of Letters have left something extremely valuable for Dean and Sam. 


We are about to see the Men of Letters bunker and how it will help the brothers to fight demons, angels, monsters, the LOT! We are about to see what kind of place this bunker is and how Dean and Sam will utilise this place as a home base. This bunker is a lot more than what Bobby's house was in terms of the quantity of information. This bunker is the Watch Tower, CTU, Atlantis or even better, the Batcave! I wonder if there is a place for BABY too, just like Batman has a permanent place to park the Batmobile in the cave. The boys will definitely be on the road as usual, but at least they have a home, a place to come back to. It's good to have their own HQ for a change!
 

"We're preceptors, beholders, chroniclers of all that man does not understand. We share our finding with a few trusted hunters – the very elite. They do the rest." ~~ Henry Winchester in As Time Goes By ~~
Henry Winchester is not a physical fighter, but he is 500 times way better than Samuel. I don't mean to compare two Grandpas, but I really dig Henry! Gil McKinney is brilliant as Henry Winchester. Matt Cohen totally blew my mind as young John, he nailed every single scene. Gil McKinney is on the same level as Matt. Gil's performance was commanding and believable. I was nervous before because I had no idea who this actor was. But within the first 5 minutes, I was totally sold! Henry was a completely different kind of man than John, Dean and Sam. Henry was like he just stepped out from Casablanca! But at the same time, his mannerism reminded me of Sheldon Cooper and George McFly! Henry was a very well spoken, very well educated and intelligent man. He was a critical thinker. We have never met any Men of Letters, but somehow Henry had defined every quality of Men of Letters.



What about the chemistry between Jensen, Jared and Gil? Totally believable! There was so much chemistry between the actors. It was truly a Winchester affair. There chemistry was as strong as Jensen, Jared, JDM and Samantha Smith; as strong as Jensen, Jared, Matt Cohen and Amy Gumenick. It was totally awesome!! The dialogues were well written, the story was well-paced and well-directed. As Time Goes By seemed like an old Supernatural classic, not because a Grandpa was there, but everything in this episode reminded me of Home, In the Beginning and the Song Remains the Same. I love how John's diary played a great part in this episode. It was so amazing to see how emotional the diary was for Henry (and me). I love the initial 'HW' on John's diary, John hated his father, but he still kept the diary. I thought the last scene where Henry held Dean's and Sam's hands were amazingly touching. They didn't even get to hold John when he passed. They didn't have a proper goodbye with John. Part of me wanted Dean and Sam to talk to their Henry more, and I wish Dean wasn't as resentful (but that's Dean for you!) Part of me wanted Henry to stay alive for a little longer because I think this character has so much potentials. But I guess the writers have to keep you wanting for more!


Did Henry know about the bloodline angel vessel thing? Did they angel know about Henry? I think the angels definitely knew about Henry and the legacy. I think while the angels may not have any direct influence on Henry's journey into the future, they certainly didn't stop that, they just let things to work itself out! The angels definitely knew about Henry and his secret organisation. But they have to make sure John grew up the way he did, met Mary, got married and be the father of Dean and Sam -- the vessels for Michael and Lucifer. If it wasn't Abaddon, the angels would've destroyed the Men of Letters anyway to prevent Henry from raising John. 



John never found out about it and the legacy, he grew up just as the angels wanted him to be. The angels wouldn't settle for the Winchesters being just scholars and keepers of knowledge, which was really the true purpose of the Winchester bloodline. I don't think Henry knew about the angels' plan for his son and grandsons. It certainly wasn't part of his duty. I don't think he had ever interacted with the angels. Henry was just doing his job and concentrate on becoming a Man of Letters. The angels had to make sure they carried out their plan and executed it without disruption and unnecessarily confrontation. 



The Dean speech in the motel room to Henry was so Dean. Here, Jensen Ackles gave one of his best performances, it was so season four and five Dean. Dean and Sam both have Daddy issues, and their feeling for John was always complicated. But no matter how much it hurt and how resentful they were towards John, they always saw their father as a hero -- a father who really tried to be a good father. Henry couldn't 'Marty McFly' himself back to John in 1958, leaving John to grow up alone and experienced life the hard way. Dean had some serious issues and also uncomfortable about this legacy and Henry's presence. I can't read Sam just yet, he is always hard to read. But I think Sam agrees with Dean, but at the same time he is keeping an open mind about this legacy. 



As Time Goes By reminded me of another theme of Supernatural -- hope. As long as the Winchesters are here, there is always hope. When things have been taken away from them, their family dead and their friends dead, it is good to see the brothers gaining friends -- Cas, Garth, Charlie, Kevin, Benny and Amelia. These people help them to gain perspectives. And now, the brothers will begin to unearth their family history. It isn't so bad to know about their family history, and all things that come with it -- the supernatural motherload! The whole revelation reminds me of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code -- what if you find out you are the descendant heir of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and there are people in a secret society who have been protecting this secret for centuries?  


How will the Men of Letters legacy change Dean and Sam? I don't see Sam and Dean abandoning their identity as hunters -- the way John taught them -- and I don't see them doing things by the book as Henry did, because since when Sam and Dean do as they are told, right? I think Sam and Dean will defy everything and keep doing things their ways. It's up to Sam and Dean how they run their family business. While I don't see Sam and Dean falling into the tradition and all of a sudden feel obligated to abandon this jobs as hunters to exercise their duties as Men of Letters, I do see the legacy element as some kind of constant, returning Dean and Sam back to the Winchester family business. If you don't have a constant, you'll drift, you'll get lost, you need a constant to latch on to. Dean and Sam are each other's constants, but they have been experiencing some very difficult times in their relationship over the past few years. I think this family business thing serve as a constant for them, helping them to move forward. 


The House of Winchester has been around for a very very long time. But now it involves more than a family that started off with only four members -- John, Mary, Sam and Dean. There were others before them -- their ancestors, who have been preceptors of supernatural things. That's the family business. The supernatural motherload is very powerful, it could be the ultimate weapon against demons, angels and all things supernatural. In light of current events, Dean and Sam will do anything to protect their legacy from demons and angels, as well as hunters. Jeremy Carver and his team didn't disappoint us, Dean and Sam are not just Hunter #1, 2, 3, the family legacy is giving them an advantage to fight. And I think they are going to love it and it will change their perception about the Winchester Family. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I am hearing Bobby screaming "Why didn't I know about it before? It would've been made life so much easier." 



A conversation on Twitter got me thinking about the Winchester family business. The introduction of Men of Letters is certainly so tightly connected to the Winchester family business. The series started off with two sons looking for their missing father, it was personal! And then, things got bigger, John, Dean and Sam were smacked in the middle of something much bigger. Now that the Men of Letters business is introduced, things will come full circle. Perhaps this is heading to the end of the series. I do believe Jeremy has a three year plan, which takes Supernatural to season ten. If so, this is a perfect to end of the series, back to basic, back to the men John, Dean and Sam should've become a long time ago. But like I said, Dean and Sam will do it their way!


In terms of the production of the episode, of course it was brilliant! This is Adam Glass' best work to date and Serge Ladouceur did a superb job as the first time director! This was a near classic perfect Supernatural episode. An epic opening montage marked the beginning of a great episode -- the Winchester mythology was brilliantly summed up in 53 seconds. It was very nice to see Dean and Sam still using John's journal and it turned out the inside cover had Henry's initial 'HW' in it all these years. How brilliant was that? It was brilliant! The Devil Trap bullet was Daniel Loflin's idea, according the Adam Glass on Twitter. I think it was a geninus idea, and I can file this one (and the demon bombs) under 'best new tricks'. The Back to the Future and Star Wars references were my favourites. Of course, Henry's 'I am his father' carried the same epicness as Dean's 'I am your son.' in The Song Remains the Same. EPIC! 


The time-traveling element was close to perfection. On one hand, it stayed true to the mythology of the story and the characters, but on the other hand, it added new elements to the show. I feel that As Time Goes By could well be a two parter because there were so much to explore -- the family legacy, the emotions and the reunion. Fans are probably trying to connect all dots, going way back to season one. But where do we start questioning about the mythology and where do we end? As Time Goes By was so great and well written, I can forget about questioning the past and to look forward to the future and how this Men of Letters legacy will integrate into the future of the story. 


Before I wrap up this week's review, I have a crazy theory to share: What if Samuel Colt founded Men of Letters? Samuel Colt disappeared and nobody knew where he went. Samuel was a man with great supernatural knowledge, he built a giant devil trap with five churches and he built the devil gate. It is possible that he founded this secret organisation from his days with another Winchester? Because Samuel knew the boys needed all the help they could get. Knowledge building doesn't happen overnight! May be he met a Winchester after 1861 and they founded Men of Letters? Just saying…

Next week, we will see the new HQ for the boys! I have already watched that clip many times, but I can't wait to see more. I really can't!!! 



Episode 8.13 Everybody Hates Hitler: SAM AND DEAN FACE OFF AGAINST A GOLEM — Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) investigate the death of Rabbi Bass (guest star Hal Linden, Barney Miller), who spontaneously combusted. The case becomes ever more confusing when they learn that the Rabbi was researching Nazi Necromancers. Sam and Dean are attacked by a Golem (guest star John DeSantis) who turns out to belong to the Rabbi’s grandson, Aaron (Adam Rose). The key to the case lies with the Golem but Aaron doesn’t know how to control him, which leaves everyone in danger. Phil Sgriccia directed the episode written by Bed Edlund. 



4 comments:

  1. Great review Tiny! Very comprehensive!

    I love the time travel eps - you know that - especially the family ones with John and Mary.

    Like you, the two highlights of this ep for me, were family and hope.

    When Supernatural focuses on the family, it soars - this ep had fantastic family stuff and I love what it's opened up for us and it left me feeling hopeful for the brothers moving forward together, as a team.

    I'm super excited! Isn't season 8 tops! Love it!
    - Amy xx

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    1. Thanks Amy! Yes, I think I am in love with this episode more than I should. I think I am obsessed. I just love the things the writer threw at us this season. And this is truly game-changing.

      Dean and Sam had things and people taken away from them, it's good to have new friends and resources -- an advantage -- for a change. Henry gave them a lot to use and think about, which I am super excited to see. A shape of things to come!!

      -tiny-

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  2. Awesome review Tiny!
    This is such an interesting blog. Just imagine if things were different, if John became a Man of Letters. Jess would probably still be alive.
    I think some how the boys will continue their family tradition. The family business now consists of two different fractions. I really think Sam will go into the Letters and still be able to have that normal life - as Grandpa Winchester said 'As long as there are Winchesters in the world there is hope' and Sam will share the information with Dean and the tradition will continue. But I think the boys will fight against it for quite some time. Obviously.

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    1. Thanks Kara. There are certainly a lot of things in this episode to digest, explore and get excited about. Like I said, I am a little obsessed with this one than I should! LOL..

      I definitely see Sam being the Man of Letters more than Dean, who will always prefer to shoot first ask questions later.

      Thanks Kara..

      -tiny-

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