TV Review: ‘Supernatural: Who We Are, All Along the Watchtower’ (Season 12 Finale)

Posted Friday, May 19th, 2017 01:00 pm GMT -4 by

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For twelve years, Supernatural has drawn its fans into a myriad of stories filled with adventure, laughs, pain, and heartbreak. Season twelve’s full-night finale offers every one of those Supernatural tenants and leave us fans asking the same question many of the previous finales did:

What the frak just happened?

Part One

“Who We Are” is the penultimate episode and picks up where last week left off. Sam and Dean are trapped in the Bunker along with Lady Antonia. The trio races against the clock—and the receding air supply—to get out, track down the brainwashed Mary, and face the British Men of Letters one last time.

Sam, Dean, and Toni Bevell post-Bunker.

Sam, Dean, and Toni Bevell post-Bunker.

In truth, their time in the Bunker isn’t overly exciting as the three are forced to work together. The standout moment of this has to be Dean Winchester, after months of anticipation, is finally able to use the grenade launcher. The sheer joy on his face was enough to power me through some of the less than spectacular moments of the first hour and, sadly there were more than I’m used to in a Supernatural finale night.

Thanks to Dean and his boomstick bazooka, the trio escape the Bunker but not without Dean’s mangled leg as a casualty. Once out, they put the warning out to their fellow American hunters about the Hunter Purge. After meeting up with Jody, who was a hair’s breadth from being taken down by the murderous Mary, Sam and Dean realize that running from the British Men of Letters is no longer an option.  Gathering as many hunters as they can in such a short time, Sam galvanizes the group into action: an assault on the BMoL American home base. The ensuing confrontation is one of the show’s weaker moments, with Sam’s contingent taking out training BMoL agents carrying assault rifles and dressed in body armor with nothing more than handguns and one smoke grenade. Everything ends as we’d expect: Dr. Hess and her BMoL cronies are taken down, with Sam passing up on her British superior’s plea to work together to take down Lucifer.

Dean readies to go into Mary's mind with help from Lady Antonia.

Dean readies to go into Mary’s mind with help from Lady Antonia.

Though the BMoL assault was necessary, resolving that particular plotline, it was wholly forgettable. What was not, however, is Dean’s own journey. His injury from the Bunker explosion left him at the home base but not without purpose. With Lady Antonia’s help, Dean jumps into the brainwashed mind of Mary Winchester in an attempt to bring his mother back from her mental prison. In what I’d call the most emotionally charged moment of Season 12, Dean realizes that Mary wants to stay in her mental paradise, one where her little boys are just that. Despite his gratefulness at her return, Dean verbalizes the warring faction of emotions within him.

“You left us. Alone…” he tells her, laying himself bare in a way he’s never done before. “I hate you. I hate you…and I love you. Cause I can’t help it; you’re my mom…and I understand…”

“I forgive you. I forgive you for all of it. Everything.”

He promises Mary that they have a chance to start over…only to be ripped from her by Ketch’s arrival. Drugged and injured, Dean does his best to fight off the BMoL attack dog but ends up staring down the barrel of Ketch’s gun. But Mary’s not going to lose her sons again…delivering the coup de grace to Arthur Ketch in the form of a bullet to the brain pan.

The fade to black moment gives us Sam, Dean, and Mary Winchester embracing, a chance to begin again.

Which means that the finale will no doubt punch is in the gut.

Supernatural: “Who We Are” –3.5/5

Part Two

Lucifer on the prowl for murder and mayhem.

Lucifer on the prowl for murder and mayhem.

Unable to celebrate their victory over the British Men of Letters, the Winchesters do all they can to track down Castiel and Kelly Kline as the latter prepares for the birth of her Nephilim son. Speaking of that son, residual energies from his impending birth open a fissure into a parallel world. Yes, Supernatural has channeled its inner Flash.

When the Winchesters track down Cas and Kelly, Sam and Dean are introduced to the Breach—a wrinkle in time to Earth-2/Bizzarro World/call it what you like—a world where Sam and Dean were never born and now is in a perpetual state of war between Heaven and Hell. Oh yeah, Bobby’s there.

So what does this world have to do with anything? When the news of Rowena’s death at the hands of Lucifer arrives, confirming they have no way to stop him, the answer becomes clear. This new Earth will be Lucifer’s own Phantom Zone: lure him inside, do a little spellish jig or two, then slam the door shut. Easy peasy, right?

Not quite.

Sam, Dean, and Castiel face off against Lucifer.

Sam, Dean, and Castiel face off against Lucifer.

While the brothers do the luring and Crowley–again showing that he has an affinity for Sam and Dean that doesn’t vibe with his demonic persona—we know it won’t be that easy. In fact, I’d say the end results are about as surprising as I’ve seen. The spell necessary to close the portal requires a sacrifice, one that Crowley, understanding he can never stop Lucifer on his own, gladly makes. But the death of the current King of Hell doesn’t end the bloodshed. Moments after the Winchesters and Cas exit the fissure, Cas is skewered through the heart by an angel blade as Lucifer walks right on through. With such a small window left to get Lucifer back into the portal, Mary Winchester takes the fight to the Morningstar, who pulls her through to the other side just before the portal closes.

And let’s not forget about Jack. Kelly’s son is born into this world at the expense of his mother’s life. Sam tracks down the newborn Nephilim in a room, catching sight of his glowing eyes and an eerily unfriendly smile.

Welcome to the world, Jack.

Supernatural: “All Along the Watchtower” –4/5 

The Good

Where to begin? There was a bevy of moments in the full night finale with the best of it being Dean’s confession to Mary Winchester. These past dozen years have shown us a Dean who uses humor and, at times, violence, to hide the true depths of his pain. It’s only now, when Mary’s trapped herself in a fantasy world, that he gives voice to that pain. Forced to be the brother, the father, and the mother for his brother has wrecked any semblance of normalcy for the elder Winchester. Even by hunter standards, Dean’s life before The Life was a mess. And now, his layers peeled back, we understand the pain he’s been hiding and now, even writing this, it breaks my heart for this character. The tearful truth, though, may be the salve he needed to lay rest his demons. Only, of course, the season couldn’t go out on such a potential high note.

The Bad

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see the British Men of Letters get their comeuppance. Sadly, the entire assault scene played out more like some amateur film party instead of the network show that it has been. The fight scenes in both episodes—Dean’s portion of that excludes—seemed rushed and overly theatrical, even for a show such as Supernatural. Some would add the overt cliffhanger as a negative but my only issue was Mary’s telegraphed fate to be trapped with Lucifer on the other side.

The Supernatural

It was great to see Bobby Singer back in action, even if he wasn’t our Bobby (and come on, at least have him say “Idgits!” once) but he was the only positive as far as life and death were concerned. Other than the veritable red shirts on both sides during the BMoL assault (in addition to Ketch, Lady Antonia, and Dr. Hess), we’ve potentially lost two of the best characters Supernatural has ever had in Crowley and Castiel. I don’t know if Jack the Nephilim will be able to resurrect Castiel but I don’t think there’s any way for Crowley. And that, my friends, makes me very sad.

So we end with Season 12 with two very big losses. At least we’ll see how the Winchester brothers continue on as the CW has renewed the series for another year. Until then, what did you think of the finale?