Supernatural – Season 12 Episode 2
Supernatural picks up where it left off last week with Sam still held captive by Toni as Dean and Mary continue to look for him.
Sam’s situation is a fairly dire one from any way that you look at it. After facing down untold world ending threats he risks meeting his end in a basement at the hands of someone half his size. I mentioned last week that this shows that Earthbound threats are credible again and Toni continues to be impressively sadistic.
The hallucination that Toni subjects Sam to is surprising yet effective. It opens the episode in such a disarming way by trying to make the audience think that Sam had somehow charmed Toni into sleeping with him. Given the events of last week I had trouble believing that this was true but the episode spends a fair bit of time on this which almost made me dismiss my doubts.
I found the hallucinated pillow talk really interesting as it shows that Sam and Toni can work well together having a more civilised conversation. Toni talks about Hunters in Britain being tools that follow orders and do the dirty work. American Hunters are different in that they aren’t organised in any way so aren’t able to deal with the root of supernatural threats as effectively. Sam tells her that American Hunters are bad in some way so I wonder if this suggests failure on the part of the United States chapters of the Men of Letters and if that will be explored.
Once the hallucination ends Toni takes a sort of sadistic pleasure in how much it confused Sam. She proceeds to use more painful interrogation methods on Sam and shows no remorse for having to do it. Elizabeth Blackmore is excellent at conveying the detachment between her and her actions as well as the hint of enjoyment.
She repeats her question about the American Hunters but also wants to know more about Ruby and Benny which I found to be very surprising. I can accept that the UK Men of Letters would be able to find that information -after all they would only have to read Chuck’s books- but it’s unclear why they want to know more about them in particular. Perhaps the next few episodes will revisit these characters in some way which wouldn’t be the worst thing.
Another interesting thing about these scenes is that the various forms of torture are starting to take a toll on Sam. Outwardly he’s trying to remain strong but it’s clear that he’s struggling. Jared Padalecki’s performance is wonderfully subtle and he conveys so much through his facial expressions. This episode and the previous one have been great acting opportunities for Jared Padalecki and it’s great to see him getting so much to do.
The Dean and Mary scenes are also compelling. Mary isn’t only dealing with being resurrected; she also has to deal with the fact that her sons have completely grown up and technology is more advanced. She calls Dean’s laptop and “electric typewriter”. As funny as the line was I imagine she would have some idea of what a computer is. It’s not as if she lived in Medieval times and has no idea what any of this is.
One way she fills in the blanks is by reading John’s journals which makes her emotional. It is clear to her that he completely changed after she died and there’s this whole other life that she was completely absent for. Scenes like this help to add depth and nuance to Mary which is essential given that her return might feel like something of a gimmick otherwise. She is able to be vulnerable, badass and maternal which is impressive with only two episodes of development.
She finally gets to reunite with Sam in this episode after he is rescued by Dean and Mary. Although it’s Mary that does most of the work after Dean gets captured. I really liked that Sam assumed he was a hallucination at first considering what Toni put him through earlier.
Mary’s fight with Toni is definitely one of the highlights of the episode. Both are very competent fighters and Toni is shown to be very creative in her use of magic. Both Mary and Toni are quickly being established as forces to be reckoned with.
The arrival of Mick (Adam Fergus) adds more intrigue to the Men of Letters plot as he offers them a reasonable deal rather than going straight to the torture. It’s a different approach to the one Toni used and I like that Mick admitted it might be a little over the top. I sense a reluctant alliance coming up once Sam and Dean think about it.
Sam’s interaction with Mary is brief but well done. She laments the fact that Sam managed to get out of hunting but found his way back into the life and Mary seems genuinely regretful of that but Sam is happy enough with his life. He tells Mary that she “fills in the biggest blank” which could be her role for the season. She could be the uniting factor when the Winchesters inevitably disagree about something that causes them to separate for a while. In a lot of ways she’s a reminder of what they lost but at the same time reminds them that things aren’t necessarily lost forever. Sam staring at the ceiling fan is a not to her death and bookends the experience of losing her and getting back in Sam’s mind.
Unfortunately Rowena is back and she’s trying to trick some rich mortal to put up with her for the rest of his life. I know it’s personal bias but I just can’t stand her character and the constant back and forth she has with Crowley is really getting tiresome.
Crowley’s reasons for seeking her out did at least make sense. He is after Lucifer and she is the only person he knows who might be able to contain him. Having them interact also ties into the mother/son angle in other scenes but I don’t think there’s much more to do with Crowley and Rowena.
Lucifer gains a new vessel and it’s a musician named Vincent Vincente (Rick Springfield). His performance is spot on as well. Springfield plays Lucifer as darker and less whimsical which is a lot like he was back in season 5. I’m not sure it counts as an error as I don’t know what they plan to do with it but I thought it had been established that only certain vessels can contain Lucifer. Rick Springfield might be temporary housing for him before the body is dried up and he has to move on.
Either way I’m happy with his current vessel and how casually evil he is. Having him decide to keep Rowena around is somewhat painful but it seems like we’re never getting rid of her.
Lucifer weighing Vincent’s resolve down in the same way he did to Nick back in season 5 was appropriately creepy. The things he did to terrify Rick before offering him salvation in the form of his dead wife and tricking him to say “yes” was brilliantly done but I do feel like it was slightly rushed. It felt like no time at all before Rick was in the right head space to agree to be Lucifer’s vessel when the episode could have spent more time gradually getting him to that point.
Two episodes in and the season is off to a great start. Toni and Sam have a fascinating dynamic with Toni being impressively detached with a glimmer of enjoyment in torturing him. Dean and Mary are still impressing in their scenes together with Mary standing out as being a rich and layered character. Sam’s conversation with her in this episode was particularly good and it seems that she will fit into the show nicely.
I could do without Rowena’s return but that’s a personal issue for me. Crowley’s reasons for finding her made sense this time as he needs help against Lucifer who now inhabits the body of Rick Springfield. As good as the scenes of Lucifer tormenting him to say “yes” were I think they could have gone on a bit longer.