TV Review: Supernatural (Season 12, 2016-2017)

Alright, look – this is season 12. You should know by now what to expect: Dean is the better actor, Sam gets into more trouble, Castiel doesn’t understand humans and Crowley is a loveable jerk. Lucifer is the snarky major antagonist, but there are always vampires and werewolves and ghosts along the way. I can’t imagine many people starting their viewing here, so this is mostly for the fans already watching. Because of this, there are spoilers for the previous seasons.

After stopping The Darkness, with some timely intervention from God himself, hunter duo Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) are now joined by their recently revived mother, Mary (Samantha Smith). Aiding the now family trio are the Angel Castiel (Misha Collins) as well as the ruler of Hell, Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard), though the latter is more of an on-again-off-again relationship. Lucifer is on the loose (portrayed by several actors, with Mark Pellegrino reprising his role as the ‘main vessel’), and the team also has to deal with a new group: The British Men of Letters are a new faction on the world-protecting Hunter scene, and they stand at odds with their American counterparts in several ways.

+ the core cast are all as you’d expect; Dean (Ackles) gets the more emotional scenes, and Sam (Padalecki) is the one who makes all the connections and discoveries in the cases. Castiel’s (Collins) lack of understanding of the human world makes for much of the comedy, and Crowley (Sheppard) is the antagonistic friend we all love. There are no surprises here, and this is the sort of stuff you either like or don’t like by the 12th season
+ Rick Springfield (yes, the “Jessie’s Girl” Rick Springfield) stars as an in-Universe rockstar for several episodes as one of Lucifer’s vessels. His flamboyant, larger than life personality fits perfectly with the show’s version of Lucifer. Mark Pellegrino’s return was a personal highlight for me, as I have always found him to be a highlight of the series
+ the British Men of Letters side plot was more enjoyable than previous seasons, mostly because there was some intrigue behind it all; they were not necessarily mustache-twirling, one-dimensional “bad guys”, and their motives were not always a hundred percent clear

– I was not a fan of Mary’s reintroduction. I did like having a core team member who was female and a perennial non-love-interest, but the series essentially came to life on her death in the Pilot, so having her return for this season somewhat removed the entire drive behind the series
– this season really missed having some more light-hearted episodes. There was lots of action this time around, but only one episode I could say was a required break from the various backstabbing and ghoulish entities haunting the screen
– as is a problem with all long-running series, it gets to a point where I can never buy a character’s death in anything other than a mid-season or season finale. This is not to say there are some surprising cast changes along the way, but it becomes somewhat formulaic, and ruins the suspense when you can be 99% sure any Winchester “death” will be undone by the end of the episode (this was actually addressed many years ago, but it still holds true now)

Should you watch this show: From the moment it happened at the end of the previous season, I did not like the resurrection of Mary, and that feeling never went away throughout this season. A strong side plot helped a somewhat generic main story, and this was a far more enjoyable season than the previous. The finale was also significantly more interesting, and sets up far more things which I can’t wait to see.

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