Here's the thing about Supernatural's big old season 12 premiere: we knew that Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) was going to emotionally slay us — and we showed up anyway, because that's what this show has conditioned us to do after all these years of scary-sexy man-angst.
The show wasted no time on rationalizing this latest weird development to the formerly departed Mama Winchester, a decision that worked to the series' credit. After all, Mary grew up a hunter too. She knows what's out there, and that the monsters under the bed don't always make sense. She's been dead for over thirty years and recently resurrected by God's sister as a kindness to Dean (Jensen Ackles), since he helped her overcome that pesky bloodlust murder-machine shtick she had going on.
Okay, cool. Unexpected, but not impossible. A woman with Mary's experience and background can handle these sorts of revelations and keep functioning with only a pause here and there to reflect on OMG COMPUTERS ARE SO SMALL NOW and WOW THE MEN OF LETTERS ARE REAL? and WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY SONS ENDED UP BEING HUNTERS ANYWAY?
Also, Dean was conceived in the back seat of the Impala? Is that what was going on there? With the smirk and the Official Dean Winchester Shudder of TMI? All I have to say to that is: well of course he was.
During all of the sharing and caring with the obligatory undercurrents of death and disaster, Sam (Jared Padalecki) was in fact shot in the leg at the end of season 11's finale, tossed in the back of an SUV, and whisked away to the latest forgettable basement torture chamber by Scowly Spice herself, Lady Toni (Elizabeth Blackmore). Why is she torturing him again? I honestly don't remember. Something about the Colonies' Men of Letters sucking, the Winchesters being monsters/frauds, and...I don't know. For being so much better and smarter and in-the-know about all things supernatural, I'm having a hard time swallowing the idea that Lady Toni and her merry band of monster-murderers have no idea what the last few apocalypses entailed.
Anyway, Sam Winchester spent a century sharing a bunk with Lucifer himself. He thinks his brother died stopping the Darkness. There's literally nothing Toni can do to him that will break him at this point, short of pumping him full of demon blood, and even then, results may vary. Sam was very clearly bored through the whole ordeal. I'm bored. We're all bored.
"Keep Calm and Carry On," was a slow starter, as far as Supernatural premieres go — but that's okay. So often, the show has given us a premiere that ties up the strings from the previous finale far too quickly. Supernatural is very much at ease with being a serialized story, but too often, each season can feel isolated from its brethren.
That isn't the case from what we've seen in Season 12 so far. There is new, looming danger on the horizon: Lucifer is free and leaving a trail of corpses across the midwest; Heaven and Hell are plagued with infighting (as usual); and the UK Men of Letters draconian approach to human-monster relations is certainly going to play a large role this season, given Dean and Sam's own struggles with whether to kill first or look for the humanity in the vampires, werewolves, and other creepy-crawlies they come across.
Right now though, this is a story about a mom and her sons reconnecting after decades of loss... And that's not the kind of story that gets wrapped up neatly in sixty minutes or less.
Supernatural airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of the CW's parent companies.)