Episode 8.12

“As Time Goes By” Review
By Annie Kenney

The first thing that struck me about this episode was that Henry Winchester started it by leaving Normal! Given what has happened since it was a very telling moment and made my heart ache.

This episode seemed oddly out of place in the season. It was a really good episode, explored the mythology of Supernatural (something that all fans like) and introduced us to another member of the Winchesters who was involved with the mystical world. However it seemed as if the episode would have been more at home in one of the earlier seasons. It was real old school Supernatural and all the better for it.

One thing that was refreshing was that the brothers seem to be together again, reading from the same page and supporting each other. They have returned to the family business without question and both of them seemed happy, in the end, to have met their grandfather.

There were a few glaring continuity errors however (unless I’m not following closely enough). The first one was that Henry noted he was now in 2013 but there have been two time jumps in Supernatural (Season 6 & the beginning of this season) so, technically, that should find us in 2015! The other is that I am pretty sure that we, as an audience, never learned about John being bought up without a father. We only really saw John in the latter end of Season 1 and at the beginning of Season 2 and there didn’t really appear to be any abandonment issues. In fact in the Season 1 episode ‘Home’ the garage attendant actually talks about John’s old man. This might be conceived as me being a bit picky! Certainly the latest episode offered a good explanation about John’s upbringing and the way he bought up his own kids.

I liked the direct comparisons with the Campbell’s and the Winchesters. The Campbell’s were fierce hunters whilst the Winchesters more educated ghost hunters. The idea of a secret society (a bit like Sherlock Holmes’s Diogenes club) its concepts handed down from father to son over the years is quite fascinating. It is also makes the audience wonder what would have happened if John had been a member of the Men of Letters and what affect that would have had on Sam and Dean. Their lives would have been totally different if John had had the key to this secret society and there may have been another way to kill the yellow eyed demon.

The concept of brain versus brawn wasn’t as amusing as it could have been. Dean is often portrayed as being the ‘brawn’ of the outfit but incidences over the seasons have told us that this is not totally the case. Dean has shown himself to be well read and has a fantastic pop culture knowledge that would surely earn him a Media Studies degree in the real world. Sam started out as the brains but as time has gone on he has also shown himself as being perfectly capable when it comes to fighting and killing.

What was very sad and bitter sweet to me was Dean’s reaction to his grandfather. The Dean of Season 2 would have been overjoyed at finding more family but this Dean is far more pragmatic, less emotional, worn down no doubt by his experiences with the Campbell’s. It is obvious that the only person that Dean now really counts as family is Sam. He actually tells Henry that Sam is all he has and, in turn, he is all that Sam has. Dean’s willingness to sacrifice Henry to the demon was telling but it was also an indication of how far the brothers have come since the earlier episodes of this season. The Dean that was under the influence of the Confederate soldier in ‘Southern Comfort’ is not the Dean who went to save Sammy in ‘As Time Goes By’. Dean’s accusation that Benny had been a far better brother than Sam ever had is long forgotten and it is clear that the brothers are bonding again having made their choice.

Henry was a really interesting character and it would have been nice to see more of him and to learn more about his life before he became a ‘Man of Letters’. We, as an audience, don’t see a Mrs Winchester and John’s mom is never mentioned. I would have liked to see more interaction between young John and his father, maybe to have seen something that John passed on to his boys too. Little snippets about how John was scared by ‘Abbot & Costello Meet the Mummy’ made the episode more bitter sweet but I think that it would have been nice to meet Henry earlier in the series, get to know him so to speak.

I enjoyed this episode but can’t agree with the majority of fans who say it was the best of the season. It was a good episode, full of mythology, family and intrigue. There was a good baddie (if there is such a term), there was Sammy in peril and Dean to the rescue and it was definitely old school Supernatural but there was something that made it not quite all that for me personally.

Perhaps it was because it felt out of place so far through the series as a whole, something that should have been explored earlier. I am not sure if there will be a follow on from this or if we will see more about the Men of Letters. I have no doubt in my mind that the evil demon Abaddon will reappear and that Sam and Dean will find a use for Henry’s key but it all seems too little too late but that is just my humble opinion.

All in all a great episode but a little out of time for me.