Through the years, episode twelve has been a mix of okay filler and some truly classic Supernatural installments. This episode falls squarely in the middle for me. I enjoyed most all the elements of this episode and despite its lack of overall season-plot momentum, it kind of worked.
There isn't that much to discuss really, but let's take a look at what the good, the bad and the ugly (surprisingly little of the latter, actually).
This episode wasted no time diving into the action with Sam and Dean pursuing an unknown foe and Dean disappearing in a flash of red energy. We then travel back two days to see what led us to this moment.
Dean is researching Dick Roman, again, and Sam is sound asleep only to be woken up by his cell phone. This scene worked for me on many levels. To begin with I thought it was shot well - the lighting of just the computer glow and the sounds of night in the background really underscored the middle of the night feeling, and emphasized Dean is wide awake holding onto every scrap of information he can get on Roman.
The exchange between Sam and Dean worked too, because we had the brotherly banter stuff ("Don't give me that dirty diaper look, I ain't calling ya") as well as a more subtle nod to Dean's obsessive behaviour ("I hope you're watching cartoon smut, because reading Dick Roman crap over and over again is just self punishment"). Subtly is something I've felt Supernatural has been lacking in recent episodes, with an especially heavy handed hammer approach to the personal troubles of the characters.
Jody Mills has rejoined the hunt, so to speak, notifying our leads of a case that sounds right up their alley. This is a character that I like to see, she has spunk but she also knows how to defer to the experts and trust them. I appreciated the reference to Bobby and the emotion in her voice as it was present but not overbearing on the exchange.
Paper Covers Rock
The boys head to Canton, Ohio and speak to an eye witness who was greatly entertaining is his account of what had happened to his neighbour. This character reminded me of such star witnesses as big cup guy Ed from Monster Movie. Sam and Dean also take up residence in a dilapidated house, I suppose because they are still staying off Leviathan radar and don't want their credit cards flagged. They also continue to use generic names like "Smith" for their fake FBI credentials.
One thing that confused me was what the Rock Paper Scissors thing was about. I suppose it was to decide who got the bedroom - but these rooms are certainly big enough that Dean did not need to sleep in the "semi-functioning" bathroom and it isn't as though there was an actual bed to fight about. I think this was just sort of a filler/comedy scene, and because we got to continue the running joke of Dean losing RPS to Sam, it was okay.
After a few tricks on the computer, Dean finally able to demonstrate some savvy tech skills thanks to Frank's tutelage, they track down Ethan Snyder a.k.a. Chronos and we get to the scene where we came in - hello 1944.
Dean gets a fangirl moment with Eliot Ness who it turns out is also a hunter and also tracking Snyder. Now maybe it's just me, but I really didn't connect with the Ness character. He felt very shadowy but in such a way that I honestly thought he'd turn out to somehow be the bad guy. This character didn't feel very three dimensional to me and even though Dean was impressed to meet him it also felt like there was a disconnect between the two - a lack of chemistry. Ness fell flat for me, as an unsympathetic character and I didn't like his mockery of Dean when he expressed that his family kept dying. Yes, I get it, this was another "kick in the pant - get it in gear - hard truths" moment for Dean, or it was supposed to be anyways, but it just felt cold to me. The villain was more sympathetic than Ness, but we'll get to that later.
Dean getting all dolled up a la 40s was, as they say, awesome. We knew this was coming from the promos out there, and damn can that man wear a fedora or what? I do love a good fedora on a guy, especially one as badass as Dean Winchester. This also introduced us to Ezra Moore, another hunter, or at the very least some sort of aid to the hunters. I enjoyed her gruff combination of Bobby and Ellen, and once she said "idjit" I kept waiting for a familial connection to Bobby, but this didn't happen. What did happen was a cougar moment that had me chuckling and Dean wiping lipstick off his face. Ezra was able to track down the right tool for killing Chronos (which was remarkable, given the rarity of this stake, and the lack of Internet) and Dean was also inspired to send a note to Sam.
Back in 2012, Sam worked with Jody using Bobby's research materials to track down who this mysterious character was that took Dean. Blowing up the ring allowed Sam and Jodie to discover this was Chronos, god of time. What really worked for me was the exchange between Sam and Jodie in which Sam explained how the gods of old are have mostly lost their mojo these days, due to lack of worshippers. This conversation felt very organic and worked with the rapport going between the two.
Jody worked on another level in this episode too. Finally we saw Sam comforted in a way for Bobby as he and the sheriff found a bottle of booze with a note from Rufus to Bobby. Jodie had a very apt line about find pieces of their lives even after they're gone and though you could feel the weight of the moment and the sadness of the loss, there was also some fond remembrance in this scene which had the air of natural grieving process. Of course the other great thing is the acknowledgement of Bobby and his death and the very clear way that all of our characters are still coming to terms with this loss.
Jody momed Sam into resting at which point he discovered the note Dean had left for him which led them to Lila, Chronos one true love who bore witness to Dean's demise in 1944 and could tell them with precision the moment Chronos had his hands on Dean, allowing them to summon both men back to 2012.
Past, Present, Future
Chronos, played by the delightful Jason Dohring, wasn't heavily featured in this episode, by which I mean we only had a little bit of dialogue and direct interaction with the character, but I liked him anyways. Unlike the last god (Osiris) Chronos worked as a character - I really felt his desperation in trying to stay with Lila because he loved her yet being chucked through time apparently against his will after his sacrifice-induced battery juice ran low, as well as his frustration with Ness and Dean for disrupting his life with her. Unlike past gods, Chronos wasn't about getting his powers back - he did what he did for love. I mean yes he was sort of evil and murdering, but all for love! The other thing about this character that worked was his demise. The devious pleasure with which he delivered the ominous (though hardly news worthy) prediction of Sam and Dean's future was a great note to leave us on, for both the character and episode.
Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. It felt well paced, it was entertaining, in character and well shot. A number of the jokes about Dean's "futuristic" lingo failed miserably, but there were enough other comedy moments that I can overlook this. The Back to the Future references made me smile, especially Dean remarking that Chronos was pulling a "biff" with the gambling.
This episode certainly felt like another filler episode, which, okay, by this point in the season I'd really like the endgame plot to start moving but in a way this episode also served as a processing moment for both Winchesters (who each had their own Bobby memories) as well as the audience too.
So yes, a pretty enjoyable episode all around and I'll certainly rewatch it when I want some downtime with the Winchester brothers and not a heavy episode or plot to bog me down.
PS- A two week wait till the next episode? After that promo? Not cool, CW, not cool.