Supernatural: Season 12, Episode 1 - "Keep Calm and Carry On"

Jessy Krupa

A new showrunner and the reappearance of Mary Winchester promises an intriguing season 12.


Airtime: Thursdays, 9pm
Cast: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard
Subtitle: Season 12, Episode 1 - "Keep Calm and Carry On"
Network: CW
Air date: 2016-10-13

It's been an interesting summer for the CW's Supernatural. Not only was it featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly's Fall TV Preview issue, but fans have been speculating on just how new co-showrunner Andrew Dabb (replacing Jeremy Carver) will change the show's dynamic. (Also, the CW's affiliate changes mean several viewers across the country will now face fewer local sports-related delays.)

Season 12 opens, as usual, with a recapping montage, this year set to April Wine's "Bad Boys". Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) finds himself reintroduced to his formerly deceased mother, Mary (Samantha Smith), presumably brought back to life as a goodbye gift from Amara (Emily Swallow) at the end of last season. One might have expected a very emotional mother/son reunion here, but the moment, culminating in an awkward hug, seemed very rushed. As hokey as this plot development is, it does bring in an interesting new (old?) character, with an important backstory for those who've followed the show from the beginning.

Although Mary spends most of the episode bewildered by today's modern technology -- she's been dead for more than 30 years, after all -- she did prove to be a valuable aspect to the team by saving a (too-easily) overpowered Dean and Castiel (Misha Collins) from the brass-knuckled hands of a Man Of Letters goon (Bronaugh Waugh). Adding depth to her character is the closing scene, set to Black Sabbath's "Solitude", in which Mary seems remorseful for her role in killing and disposing the goon's body.

The goon, of course, is one of the still-mysterious members of that organization holding Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) hostage. Possible season 12 "big bad" Lady Antonia Bevell (Elizabeth Blackmore) shot Sam in the final moment of season 11, then paid off a bewildered veterinarian (Colin Lawrence) to help him. Apparently, she's been torturing Sam in order to get information on American hunters, as the British branch of her organization is on a mission to make this country monster-free. Another weird plot development but, so far, we know just enough about Bevell to distrust her, especially as we see her order Sam to be tortured. Honestly, though, after Sam's literally been to hell and back at least twice, aren't the scenes of her burning his feet with a blowtorch and shooting him up with a hallucinogenic drug rather underwhelming?

We didn't see much of Crowley (Mark Sheppard) in this episode, but we can assume that he's back in (some kind of) charge of Hell, as he orders random demons to search for Lucifer. Led to a house full of bloody victims, he surmises that the devil is searching for a powerful new vessel.

Also making the most of little screen time is Castiel, who's bounced back from the events of the finale (being Lucifer's vessel) with a more aggressive disposition. Instead of being his usual rational, if not passive self, Castiel was quick to knock out an innocent bystander, steal a car, and threaten a witness. Is there a big reason for this personality change?

All in all, “Keep Calm and Carry On” (which was originally advertised under the episode title of "Family Ties") was an intriguing, if somewhat uneventful, episode that nonetheless offers a promising preview of the rest of the season. It'll be interesting to see how next week's introduction of Rick Springfield as Lucifer's new vessel adds to the season's focus on the darker side of things.






A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.