Rich, riveting, complex and so full of story details and character threads that it's impossible to make anything of Supernatural's “Stuck in the Middle (With You)” in just one viewing. Consequently, my review offers observations from two separate viewings: My original reactions when the episode first aired plus additional thoughts from my hiatus rewatch. These "retrospectives" were written with the insight of knowing what happened in the season 12 finale.
12.12 was brought to us by director Richard Speight Jr. with a nod to Reservoir Dogs and the incomparable Quentin Tarantino. This episode was not only a visual delight but a whole new wonderment of plot and a fantastic story of mystery and teasing until the very last moments.
Method to the Madness
This week the story was told in an unusual way, far beyond the standard beginning, middle and end. Instead we were given pieces and perspectives in the same timeline – and then some – until finally it all fit together for the audience after some incredible reveals and surprising character moves. This might not be a new way of storytelling, but it was certainly a compelling delivery of “Stuck” and all the information we learned.
The Western style added an effervescence to everything as well, from the music to the angles of the shots to the attitudes of our villain in the final standoff. First, most prominently maybe, was the “slow walk” when the gang assembled in the “Wounded Angel – Earlier” segment. This was also in the segment when we first met Ramiel, by a slow build with the impact of the whistling as he took his time reaching the house. Finally, of course was the music as Castiel dragged himself away from Ramiel after being stabbed. Yes, the western theme was strong throughout and effective from start to finish, fitting perhaps, considering the Colt was the source of this mission – unknown though that may be to our boys – and we last saw it in the wild west. The episode was a tease of mysterious openings and bits and pieces until a small back story blew facts apart as information – unbeknownst to certain key characters of course – slot into place. Maybe not brand new, but certainly compelling and edge-of the-seat at significant times.
Retrospective thoughts: still a visual stunner, even if you know what’s coming and how it will be affected in the future: worth the watch. What’s great about Supernatural, even in reruns? The characters' reaction to the information, news, shocks and heartbreaks means no matter how often we watch, even when we know the big moments are coming, they drag us into those moments again, every time. And it’s why I can’t help but rewatch.
“My father used to tell me stories…”
The mystery item, unknown for the entire episode and only revealed at the very end when Mary handed it over the BMoL as the one, the only, The Colt. Am I the only one surprised Mary didn’t offer this up in exchange for Cas’ life when Ramiel arrived at the end?
Six degrees and full circle, to say the least. Decades of death, sorrow and a successful, if costly, vengeance campaign involving this very same gun; here it is again and I can’t help but wonder how much trouble it’s going to cause now. Another Winchester, another deal and even some yellow-eyed demons too. Only on Supernatural could the same ingredients make such a different product.
The colt invites a multitude of opportunities with its timely return. Season twelve has begun to offer a darker, more demonic focus reminiscent of those early devil days that offered the richest materiel en masse. Since, after all the death and destruction, Mary still simply turned this gun over to the BMoL, I have to wonder: just what will they have to do to convince her they are bad guys (because lets face it, they’re not on Team Winchester in the end) and when all is revealed to Sam and Dean, what purpose will that gun ultimately play?
Retrospective Thoughts: still curious how this will come back in to play and glad to know it is back with the Winchesters, even if it’s a little battered and bruised. We can’t have a “kills everything but 5” trump card running around because it’s just too easy, but the sentimentality of this piece means it needs to be there when the final showdown – whatever, wherever and whenever – finally happens.
The Black Hats
There was a lot of history and information revealed in this episode, but then a few more questions added to the list too. For starters, we finally know the specifics of how Crowley became King of Hell – and it wasn’t a vote by the demons apparently. Surprising, Crowley was a tad hesitant to take the role in lieu of the Princes of Hell – but not that hesitant.
Interesting that the Princes are so individual in their apparent personalities: Azazel was fanatical in his mission to free Lucifer, where the others seem somewhat blasé given this is the first we’ve heard of them after all this time. Dagon and Lucifer’s love child present possibilities though.
Retrospective thoughts: still not sure if that unholy inception is good or bad after all this time. Come on: those eyes, they be creepy. And considering that Crowley said goodbye once and for all with a nod to how power has exhausted him, it was a worthwhile endeavour to learn how it came to be. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, after all.
Deception: The Winchester Way
If there was any doubt that Mary belongs with these boys, blood kin even, her actions in these days and weeks solidify that she is a Winchester through and through. Evidently those diner sales pitches sparked something to her tastes because she’s a busy woman – in secret of course – no doubt justifying these shadowing actions with logic that it’s to protect them ultimately, though Sam and Dean won’t understand. Yes, that sounds like the Winchester judgement if it’s ever been spun.
Retrospective thoughts: We know that Mary’s thinking was sort of along these lines, and of course that aspect of hiding from what she’d left behind upon her death too. Or, more precisely, the damage she’d done through her deal. It’s a dark and twisted emotional psyche that Supernatural leads through every single one of these family members’ hearts and souls (no pun intended) as we move along in time – forward and backward – and it’s some of the most incredible human reflections on relationships and self-views sometimes.
All in all, hats off to those fabulous Supernatural writers for devising this intricate tale of deception, manipulation and surprising loyalties. It was in no way trite or overblown and even managed to delight me in that very last moment.
Retrospective Thoughts: What we learned here ended up having some major impacts going forward, through to those final moments of season twelve (which, also managed to garner serious emotion – though I won’t call it delight). The Mary and BMoL relationships were key, the reveals about Princes of Hell and all the complications associated therein, connected to the finale…and maybe more too. You just never know how long something will cook before being pulled back out again (the Colt?).
Looking back, any thing stick out about this one in particular? Take a second (or third) watch and see what you notice! It’s worth it, just for the excitement.