The Winchesters are visited by their time-travelling grandpa from 1958, discover they’re part of an ancient secret society, then tackle Nazis and gain a new base of operations…
These two episodes of Supernatural show all the signs of a series recovering its mojo after a few mis-steps during the season’s first half. Much of what preceded this duo was tiresome, with maddening flashbacks and fraught character development rehashing storylines we’d seen before. With the introduction of the ‘Men of Letters’ secret society backstory, all of a sudden Sam and Dean’s mission hunting demons is put in a whole new, and very welcome, context.
Time travel has served Supernatural well, so the signs were good that ‘As Time Goes By’ was going to be a corker. As Henry Winchester arrives in the present on the trail of the demon Abaddon, the inevitable culture clash gags quickly follow. As the relationship between the startled siblings and their grandfather develops, the alert viewer begins to suspect we might just be witnessing the reason their grandfather vanished in the first place. Most importantly with this episode is the addition of an extra layer of backstory mythology that position the Winchester’s battle against supernatural forces as part of a larger tradition (even responsibility) running back to antiquity. Whether they rise to their new status or somehow flunk the challenge will make for interesting viewing.
Next episode ‘Everybody Hates Hitler’ (a riff on Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who episode title ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’, perhaps?) is an indirect follow-on, as the brothers uncover the storehouse of supernatural knowledge that was the base for the Men of Letters. Here, naturally enough, Sam is in hog heaven, while Dean seems more intent on exploiting the facilities and drinking the bar dry. It’ll be interesting to see if this new location functions as a new base of operations for the Winchester boys when they’re not on the road.
The Golem, a figure from Jewish mythology, has been much used in science fiction and fantasy, so its appearance here is hardly originally. It is done with some nice deadpan humour, though, and the role of Aaron as the clueless inheritor of the creature is nicely played. Alright, maybe by this time we’re tripping over one mysterious society too many in the ‘Judah Initiative’ and the ‘Thule Society’, but they both add a historic depth to what might otherwise have been just another supernatural run-around. If these episodes indicate a fresh direction for the rest of the season after the earlier rough patches, I’ll be along for the ride with the newly minted Men of Letters.
Verdict: A cracking pair of episodes laying a new foundation for future seasons…
Episode 12 ‘As Time Goes By’: 8/10
Episode 13 ‘Everybody Hates Hitler’: 8/10
Brian J. Robb