Supernatural – Season 12 Episode 23
“All Along the Watchtower”
Supernatural wraps up season 12 by returning to the Lucifer’s child plot as the father comes looking for his son.
Lucifer as a character has been a lot like this season in general. He has been random and unfocused. This season more so than any other I can remember has jumped around a lot in terms of plotting and it’s been hard to figure out what the endgame would be.
The final episode of the season does a good job of giving us an ending to the enduring saga of Kelly Kline carrying Lucifer’s child and the effort made to keep her out of the hands of his father while also setting the stage for things that could be explored in season 13.
As the episode opens Kelly is still under Castiel’s protection and they have a secluded house where the child can be raised while also being hidden from Lucifer. Anyone who’s seen TV before will know that it’s a plan that could never work but it does keep up the ongoing story of being on the run and keeping the child away from Lucifer.
Kelly is really close to giving birth as the episode begins and is concerning herself with some essential yet mundane tasks. She has a very common issue for many expectant mothers; an inability to build an IKEA crib. There’s a clever misdirect when it looks like she’s praying to God for help but she’s actually expressing frustration at a customer service representative who is unable to help her. It’s a solid comedic moment and helps ground the situation with something relatable.
Cas is still fully committed to protecting the child after his view of the future that we still don’t see in this episode despite the moment being replayed. I’m somewhat suspicious of that and feel like this will become significant next season. I actually suspected Cas to be somewhat in a daze in this episode indicating that the child was influencing him in some way so I was surprised to see him completely in control of his faculties though being very protective of the child.
He has also accepted his role as surrogate father as per the apparent wishes of the child. Kelly has accepted that she will die giving birth to her son and feels secure in the knowledge that Cas will raise her child to be the positive influence on the World that she thinks he will be. This is a dynamic that unfortunately doesn’t have a lot of time to assert itself but it works well. It’s believable that they trust each other and think they’re doing the right thing.
The imminent birth is causing all problems such as tearing a hole in the fabric of space-time. It leads to a dark and desolate world locked in a perpetual War between Angels and Demons with very few humans left. As the episode progresses it is suggested that Sam and Dean never being born in this world is what caused it to essentially end. They weren’t around to stop an Apocalpse so it was allowed to happen.
Alternate universes are nothing new in sci fi/fantasy or even in this show; something that is addressed with a reference to the excellent “The French Mistake“. There have been multiple episodes depicting alternate universes in some way and they’ve all handled the concept differently. This use acts like more of a plot device than anything which I will come back to but the prospect of what happened on that other world is an interesting one. I suspect it will be covered in more detail next season.
The alternate universe is visually distinct in a really simple way. It is mainly identified by the loss in colour which immediately sets it up as a desolate world devoid of life of hope. Arguably it’s too obvious a choice but it gets the point across quickly and clearly.
It comes with a nice surprise in the form of an alternate Bobby who has come up with a way to make Angel killing bullets. It’s good to see Bobby again even if it’s not “our” bobby but I was actually expecting the hooded figure to turn out to be John Winchester so we could be treated to a pseudo reunion between Mary and her husband. Any excuse to get Jim Beaver back for a little while is fine by me though.
I have mixed feelings about the way Lucifer was handled in this episode. On one hand he’s a really formidable opponent and his presence is mostly menacing enough but the episode doesn’t build the threat very well. He seems to meander from place to place until eventually finding where his child will be born. His plan to create another Apocalypse and recreate the Earth according to his own standards is somewhat underwhelming as it feels like an empty threat.
Mark Pellegrino makes for an entertaining presence as always and this is the first time we’ve seen a full strength Lucifer in the flesh played by Mark Pellegrino so it’s noteworthy in that respect. His casual disrespect for the opposition he faces also says a lot about how powerful he is. He doesn’t see Sam, Dean and Cas as a threat and is happy just to toy with them until he becomes bored of them.
Crowley’s role in the episode is an important one. As predicted last week he possessed the Rat and used that to escape so that he can reclaim his vessel. He goes to Sam and Dean to offer his services as well as raise his dissatisfaction with his role as King of Hell. It’s easy to believe that he is sick of his underlings trying to overthrow him as it’s exhausting trying to stay on top of the situation. Enslaving Lucifer was his way to solidify his power and show that he meant business but even that failed. Crowley has basically had enough of the constant struggle and doesn’t really want to be involved any more.
This motivates his actions in this episode. The alternate dimension is used as a variation of Lucifer’s Cage. Trapping him in there means that he isn’t their problem any more and Crowley knows how to seal the tear so a plan is put in motion to close it with him on the other side.
It seems like a fairly standard spell on the surface and the tension appears to come from Dean distracting Lucifer by acting as a punching bag. It could be argued that Lucifer could easily kill Dean with literally a snap of his fingers but I see it as Dean being toyed with. It’s not out of character for Lucifer to behave this way and his arrogance ultimately proves to be his undoing.
Lucifer is forced back into the alternate universe thanks to Mary’s enchanted Brass Knuckles. It was really satisfying to see Mary beating him into submission especially since she spent most of the episode in a passive role acting as a midwife for Kelly. She was due to get involved in the action and did so in a really big way. It was fairly obvious that she would end up trapped in the other universe but the sacrifice was well played and Lucifer’s reaction was appropriately over the top. I wonder if they’ll find a way to work together or if Lucifer will meet himself. There are certainly a lot of possibilities.
This episode had a number deaths but Crowley’s was the most effective. His sacrifice made sense as a result of his dissatisfaction with constantly having to battle against his own underlings for control of Hell. It makes sense that Crowley is at the point where he feels ready to end his long life and doing so to trap Lucifer is appropriately narcissistic. If he’s going to die then he wants to make sure it’s something that won’t soon be forgotten. Leave it to Crowley to make it all about himself even to the last.
Castiel’s death was less effective. It came across as a surprise but not a good one. There was an emptiness to the death that left it devoid of meaning and Cas deserves much better treatment than that being an important pillar of the show. The alternate universe seems like the obvious solution to this problem as I presume there is another version of Castiel somewhere in there. It might be interesting to see him return to the Heavenly servant he was when he first appeared but I also don’t want to lose the version that has developed over several seasons, certainly not in such an ineffective way.
Rowena’s death was even worse as we don’t even see it happen. Readers of this site will know that I never liked the character but she has been a big part of the show for a while and important in terms of Crowley’s development so delivering her death off screen does her a disservice. Despite that the reveal was effective with the shot of her charred body before showing Lucifer holding the red hair. Going after her makes sense for him as well since she is one of the few people who actually stop him.
The existence of the alternate universe renders all of the deaths potentially meaningless since alternate versions of them could easily pop up next season. Granted they wouldn’t be “our” versions of them but I suspect Mary and Lucifer will spend some time wandering the Apocalyptic landscape encountering different versions of characters that we know. It has already been established that Lucifer’s child is powerful enough to break down the fabric of reality so getting back there doesn’t look like it will be an issue.
If the deaths are to be made permanent then it could be a sign of the show going to a more “back to basics” approach which could be good or bad depending how it’s handled. If Cas and Crowley are removed then it may remove access to the politics between Angels and Demons that has become a fixture of the show since Castiel’s introduction. It could be interesting to watch Sam and Dean return to “saving people and hunting things” without any bigger picture thinking going on though is it possible to go back to that after so much has gone on?
The cliffhanger ending was great. Sam following the footprints to reveal the dark figure huddled in a corner looking less than friendly was really striking and leaves things really ambiguous for next season. It’s unclear at this point if the child will be a force for good or evil or have his own set of values that he builds based on his own experiences. If the show does take a more back to basics approach then Sam and Dean could show him the ropes of Hunting which could be interesting.
A solid finale that wasn’t without its flaws but resolved the Kelly Kline plot while setting things up for next season. The dynamic between Castiel and Kelly makes for good viewing. It’s clear that they trust one another and believe they are doing the right thing. It’s unclear if Cas has been brainwashed by his vision of the future and the fact that we don’t actually see it makes me somewhat suspicious of it but at least Cas isn’t in a brainwashed daze. The tear in space-time caused by the child’s power is an interesting prospect that has a lot of potential plus it allows Bobby to come back in some form. Lucifer’s handling in the episode is mixed. On one hand he’s menacing enough but he also seems to meander from place to place without any real purpose. His plan to end the world and remake it in his own image is fairly dull as well. Mark Pellegrino is excellent as always and it’s great to see him finally play a full strength Lucifer in the flesh.
Crowley’s role in the episode was significant and a fitting end for the character if it is to truly be the end. Expressing his dissatisfaction with the way things are in Hell before sacrificing himself to trap Lucifer worked really well and was an appropriately narcissistic act for Crowley. Castiel’s death was less well handled as it came as a shock because it does the character such a disservice to be taken out in such a way. I doubt this will be permanent so I can forgive the lack of impact. Rowena’s death was even worse. Even though I personally disliked her it’s impossible to ignore her contribution so she deserved more than an off screen death even if the reveal was effective. Mary ending up in the alternate universe with Lucifer was a bit obvious but still a good moment and it creates potential for those characters to explore the alternate universe next season. The cliffhanger ending showing Lucifer’s child was really striking and ends the season on an ambiguous note.
Roll on season 13 for a Scooby Doo crossover and more reviews written by me!