Ever since the stupendous and Emmy-worthy season 4 episode, “In The Beginning,” the “Supernatural” writers have winningly explored the theme of time-travel and shaken the Winchester family tree in episodes like “Time After Time,” "The Song Remains The Same" and this week's A-Bomb of an installment, “As Time Goes By.”
Grab your DeLorean and clutch your pearls, we're divin' in!
The episode opens in Normal, Illinois in 1958 with a man tucking in his son before venturing to an event shrouded in mystery with the secret knocks and strange costumes. When the bodies start dropping, it’s clear there is a supernatural connection. Henry, a dreamboat with swagger that would make Don Draper jealous, is given a precious item by a man with bloody eyes and escapes And how he does. Instead of running outside or hiding, he performs a complicated ritual involving finger-painting in his own blood and chanting, and flees to the future. More importantly and confoundingly to Sam and Dean Winchester’s motel room. “Which one of you is John Winchester?” Clearly, that's why I only time travel in a tardis.
In the future, next to Sam and Dean’s brawn and flannel, Henry (Gil McKinney) seems an arrogant, dapper warlock, but he backs it up by easily slipping both Sam and Dean with magic and trying to hotwire the Impala.
Before Sam and Dean can waterboard answers out of him with holy water, the room begins to quake, announcing the arrival of Abbadon and pearls. When the demon-killing knife fails to work, Sam, Dean and Henry haul ass like Usain Bolt going for his 37th gold medal. Or me running to my favorite Mexican restaurant.
After eight seasons and close to 200 episodes, “Supernatural” can bank on its own mythology. Fans know that demons have black eyes; you can kill ghosts by salting and burning their bones; and angels carry special blades. It’s a rarity that a creature actually surprises or intrigues. Fortunately, Abbadon’s got moves we’ve never seen. She dispels a bit of black smoke, ordering the possessed person to show her what they saw, and essentially steals their memories through a demonic link. The black smoke snaps back into her body. It’s a nifty, new trick, and one that helped her track the Winchesters the entire episode.
For all his charmisa and knowledge, Henry doesn’t handle real violence very well, and dives out of the Impala to vomit on the side of the road. Eventually, he spills his guts figuratively, admitting that he's Sam and Dean's grandfather and he's from the past.
“Time travelin’ through motel room closets, that’s what we’ve come to?” Dean asks for half of the audience wondering the same thing.
If you ever watched season 4’s “Jump The Shark,” you probably remember how angry Dean was that John had a son whom he actually protected from the life and even took to baseball games. Dean raged at the poor kid because John had tried to give him a normal childhood, the very thing he was denied. Sam was just excited to be a big brother. Here, Dean’s seen too much to achieve such apoplectic levels, but he’s not at all keen on the family reunion since Henry abandoned John as a child. Sam’s just thrilled to meet a grandparent who isn’t trying to kill him. “Dad hated the son of a bitch,” Dean grouses. “And Dad made up for that how: by being father of the year?” Sam shoots back.
Sam, the giant geek, prods Henry about the portal he created, theorizing that if they can’t kill the Abbadon, they could “shove her back where she came from.” Henry explains that they’d need “an angel feather, tears of a dragon, the sands of time…” and a week to let his soul recharge. He is a man of letters, a legacy even, and assumes that his newfound grandsons must be the same.
“I’m a little rusty on my boybands,” Dean says, baffled.
Men Of Letters are “chroniclers of all that which men does not understand.” They’re basically Rupert Giles without the accent. They pass their knowledge onto a few elite and trusted hunters because the rest are “unwashed, mouth-breathing apes.”
This episode goes full-on “The Da Vinci Code” as Henry drags Sam and Dean along on a quest for answers as to what happened to his commrades. He surmises with the few clues that they find that one survived Abbadon’s attack, faked his death and planted clues for other Men Of Letters to find. He’s also still alive despite being 127 years old. Stranger things have happened right?