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Supernatural Needs to Bring on the Man Tears Already

Sometimes the family business just ain't what it's cracked up to be

MaryAnn Sleasman

Before the British Men of Letters invaded Supernatural and started smashing all the Winchesters' toys, banging their mom, and killing their "loose ends," I think we could all agree that being a part of the Men of Letters was a pretty swell legacy. The introduction of the MOL, their magical mystery schtick, and how the Winchester family fit into that long and storied history continues to be one of the better additions to the show's mythology and the direction it has taken in later seasons.

Why Supernatural couldn't just let us have this one nice thing and concentrate on developing it into a part of the Winchester life that isn't a hot depressing mess, I'm not sure. It's probably some sort of pathological inability to let Dean and Sam be happy-ish for more than an episode at a time, but the B-MOL have arrived and are playing Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) as though they haven't faced the likes of Satan (Mark Pellegrino) and mediated scores of biblical family therapy sessions. Biblical in the literal sense, of course.

"The Memory Remains" is the kind of episode that could be accused of going heavy on the foreshadowing if we didn't already know that Supernatural has been renewed for a mind-boggling 13th season, so even if Supernatural stays true to form and kills one or both of the Winchester brothers during the season finale, it's safe to assume he will return in some form before the end of the first commercial break of the fall premiere.

After a run-in with a pair of brothers struggling to redefine and/or renew their own family's more bloodthirsty "legacy," Dean and Sam reflected on their family's own journey: from raggedy fringe hunters; to legends in the field; to the last rightful heirs to the Men of Letters' vast resources. Will anyone remember them in a hundred years, Dean ponders? Sam says no, because apparently everyone forgot about the Winchester Gospels (REMEMBER???). And Dean, in a fit of nostalgia, gets Sam to join him in carving their initials into one of the Batcave's big, swanky tables all Impala-flashback style.

Is Supernatural just rehashing its classic fifth season?

Guys, I know that your mid-thirties are like ancient by hunter and by CW standards, but why the sudden fatalist turn? Even the case-of-the-week that was meant to evoke the eternally underlying Winchester issues of mortality and identity and legacy wasn't that heavy. One brother out in dinky Tomahawk, Wisconsin decided he'd rather not carry on the family business of worshipping a goat-god and sacrificing the occasional neighbor, while the other was kind of into it. Some local yokels got eaten, Sam and Dean rolled into town, and neatly put an end to the human sacrifice shenanigans. Without those last few minutes of contemplative whiskey-drankin', "The Memory Remains" would have been a solidly unimportant late-season outing.

Dean and Sam don't yet know that the Brits have turned on them. As far as they are concerned, they have this huge, well-funded, international organization backing their backwoods shop. They have their mom back in the picture and, it's implied, a small but reliable network of friendly hunters. Aaron and his golem are out there somewhere too! I embrace the idea that being a Winchester is an inherently lonely and isolated life, but I also need some stability in my characterization, and season 12 has kind of been all over the place in that sense. I can't get behind sad, fatalistic Winchesters just because we're hitting the home-stretch of the season and it's time for everything to get serious. Right now, I'm having an easier time buying perpetually-poop-faced Ketch struggling with his personal feelings for Mary (Samantha Smith) and the duty programmed into him by the BMOL, because British people are basically meaty robots, right?

Supernatural has an extremist problem.

That struggle should be getting real any moment now. Creepy Ketch swiped a photo (THE PHOTO) of wee Dean and not-yet-torched-on-the-ceiling-Mary, and managed to add something that looked kind of like hurt to his normally constipated expression when the bugs he and his goons planted all over the Men of Letters Bunker picked up on Dean calling him creepy. WHYYYY can't his bunk buddy's grown-ass sons just, like, call him dad or something? It's just so hard trying to find a place in an impressively dysfunctional family that you are also simultaneously secretly trying to destroy/murder at least half the members of. Poor Ketch.

If the last five minutes of "The Memory Remains" are anything to go by, Supernatural is about to get traditionally dark and dreary any moment now. If the rest of the episode is to be considered, however, we have to keep in mind that season 12 has been all over the place this entire time, with long stretches of paper doll Winchesters punctuated with the occasional burst of angst, excitement, and man-tears. I am ready for the man-tears, C-dubs. Bring me the man-tears.

Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)