Supernatural Review: Family Ties

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This was a fantastic Supernatural outingm with major kudos to writer Adam Glass (who also wrote the Garth episodes "Party On, Garth" and "Southern Comfort") and director Serge Ladouceur (who has been the show's resident cinematographer).

It's nice to see a standout episode, especially one that showcases what the series is all about: the Winchester family, its dangerous monster hunting job and the monsters themselves, all while capturing a feeling of past, present and definitely a look to the future.

Granted, "As Time Goes By" was something of a time travel episode, but more so a filling in the blanks of the Winchester blood line.

Sam & Dean's Grandfather?

While we've been privy to Mary Winchester's family (most notably in Supernatural Season 6), John Winchester's side has been a little more mysterious.

Yet, John had always thought his father had abandoned him, essentially turning him into the hardened and monster focused hunter that raised Sam and Dean. Except truthfully, Henry Winchester had simply gone forward in time to stop a powerful Knight of Hell with tragic consequences.

I'm so glad that John was brought up again, and with such positivity. I've always felt like he'd gotten a bad rap as a father, but it was good seeing that both Sam and Dean recognized that he did everything he could. There was always more good than bad.

Really, the whole family history is rather tragic in that each person always tried to end up doing the right thing or protect the ones they loved, only to end up dead. The hunter's life is clearly a lonely one, one with plenty of strife, so the fact that Sam and Dean have managed to not only survive, but excel for this long, is a testament to their determination and their bond.

Now, if Henry had lived, would it have changed how John raised Sam and Dean? Maybe. Maybe not. If anything, Sam and Dean, even with their flaws, turned out more than okay.

Heck, they're legacies after all!

Which is actually an interesting concept that there used to be a sort of frat boy secret society focused on supernatural information. These so-called Yoda's to the hunter's jedi puts a neat spin on the lore.

It also makes Sam and Dean the culmination of brains and brawn, and a couple of brothers that are able to keep at it with the toughest of times.

I did think that perhaps Abaddon would be connected to Naomi and the angel conspiracy, being that she was from the past, but it looks as if she was a one and done type of villain.

But any type of mythology expanding from Lucifer's hand-picked baddies to the revelation of the Winchester bloodline always ends up being cool and a positive.

Gil McKinney was a great casting choice for Henry Winchester, and even though he looked similar in age, he felt and acted very much like Sam and Dean's grandfather. From his "who are you not calling" moment to explaining the past to the boys worked, it never felt campy or overdone.

It does make me wonder about his soul power skills and if Sam and Dean can use something similar, but it was great that they were able to cleverly defeat Abaddon with the devil's trap on the bullet in the meantime.

And while I wish that Henry might have survived or even stuck around longer, it also makes me wish John might return. Stranger things have happened on this show, right?

Of course, even with the family affairs taking place, Sam and Dean learned of another powerful item to fight for: all the supernatural lore, spells and information in one place.

Will they find it? And if so, what would they do with it?

With this fresh introduction as well as the tablets, it looks like Supernatural Season 8 is really focusing in on information control. I wonder if Crowley knows about all of this and what he might do?

What a great way to reel viewers back in and really capture the show's spirit, giving us some more excellent mythology and preparing Sam and Dean with a new quest.

What did you think? Did you enjoy Henry Winchester? Will Sam and Dean use the key? Sound off below!


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (148 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


Now, THAT episode was more like it! Although the script could've used a bit more work, this showed us a more recognizable Sam! So glad to see hunter Sam back, rather than the whiny mooch when he was with the execrable Amelia (DO NOT BRING HER BACK. EVER.) Season 8 may yet be saved if we see more episodes of this caliber! Not looking forward to more Garth and Charlie however. Lay off the comedy, writers. More Supernatural, that's what the show is about.


SPN writers should hold a competition for fans to submit stories. I have read better fan-fiction than what we have seen from S6 onwards. S6 was a let-down with the Lisa & Ben rubbish (Lisa was Dean's one night stand from years back), and with Sam's annoying soullessness and wall-breaking down. S7 was bad with Cas killing humans on earth (his issue was with Raphael, and we should have seen the war in heaven). S7 was also damaged by killing and then bringing Bobby back as a vengeful ghost, and with Sam's annoying hell/psychic pain. S8 is the worst with "Bitten", Amelia, teenage Tran, mom, Garth & Charlie. Finally, we have a good episode. However, Abaddon shouldn't have been killed off so soon. They need to show us the Naomi/ Cas story. That LARPing episode was a waste. The tablet story would be better if there was a missing one - the fact that the annoying prophet is taking too long to read them is purely bad writing.


About time family honour was brought back to SPN. Sam not looking for Dean, and not even being particularly interested in Dean returning, was appalling writing. Dean may as well have gone to the store to get a pint of milk for all Sam cared. His pointless flashbacks and maintainance work are unwatchable. He left his post as a hunter, and left the Leviathan loose. He also left Dean tied to a radiator, got unwell hunter Martin involved in a hunt against the creature who saved Dean's life, left Martin in the forest, was unmoved that Martin was killed, comitted adultery, whined about the fake text message, and then gave Dean an ultimatum to end his friendship with the one who saved him from Purgatory. SPN is about two brothers who care about each other and their legacy. Agree that this was the best episode so far out of a very, very bad season.


This is the first good episode of an extremely poor S8. It gets back to basics and family, even if the script was a bit awful, (come on - Dean and Sam took a hundred years to tell Henry that John was their father. Dean would have said, he's our father, who are you?). The episode was also spoiled when Dean said, "I'll phone Garth". Abaddon was excellent, but I agree she shouldn't have been killed. In the Bible Abbadon comes from the Abyss, so this would have been a great way to bring back Michael & Lucifer (in the Bible it suggests that Abaddon IS Lucifer - "the angel of the bottomless pit"). Sam was a bit better this episode - S8 writers have sadly turned him into a nob. The LARPing episode was rubbish. Please writers, no more pointless cliched "comical" characters or nonsense. Back to the brothers and their sense of duty. But good work with this episode.


Finally to see the Winchester side of the family was enlightening-- the old SPN atmosphere made it all look great, but come on SPN producers. I agree with KJF: everything in this episode felt forced as hell. Even the introduction of the new demon type and the division between hunters and the secret club required too much imagination, let alone the wooden box as a key. And does dying on SPN even carry meaning? All that is required is an angel to bring back your loved ones. That is why I hate how a lot of SPN episodes have ended lately, just like a rollercoaster coming to a full stop and beginning anew with each episode. What I need to see is more suspense and character development, NOT introducing all of a sudden some new stuff and not even creating a loud bang for this episode's ending. Too bad SPN.. Too bad.


I agree with most, this was a really good episode. It was good to see John's side of the family and have him mentioned again. I miss John and do wish they could somehow bring him back. Being able to understand his background was really enjoyable. I wish Henry could've stuck around for a little longer.


Loved this episode! One of the best (if not THE best) of the season so far.
But am i the only one who still remember about Dean and Sam's mother (As well as the rest of her family) being a hunter? For some reason i thought it should have been mentioned. The brothers might be Men of Letters legacies by their father's side, but they are hunters, mostly because of John, but through their mother's side as well.


This was the best episode of the season. God I wish I was a writer for this show because sometimes they need a little help. But this one was great and memorable. I've been a fan of this show since it's debut back in 2005 and I still have hope. I think the secret to keeping this show top notch is to not forget where Sam and Dean came from and who they truly are. And Eric Kripke's message about the importance of family. Also please bring back funny, cool, skirt chaser Dean. He's so serious now. Granted he and Sam have aged and have been through a lot but getting older shouldn't change a person that much. At least I hope not.


so can some explain what the men of letters were..??


Really did love this episode. Finally they bring something new into the story. I love Cass but I was starting to get tired of the Angel stuff. I hope that the boys embrace their new found "legacies" and that we learn more about secret society that Henry belonged to. I hope is also gives them some new ways to defeat Crowley though I still doubt they will be able to close the gates of Hell forever as that would end the show.

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Supernatural Season 8 Episode 12 Quotes

Who are you not calling?


He's my brother and he's the only family I've got.