A new column at The Nerdy Girl Express is The Miller Twins Talk Supernatural Season 12. Here twins and The Nerdy Girl Express writers, Stacy Miller and Tracy Miller, will share their thoughts about the heroic Winchester boys, Sam and Dean (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) as well as the many other wonderful characters on The CW’s longest running show. Will these twins agree on the characters and plot themes for each episode? Read below to find out.
This article contains spoilers so if you haven’t seen the episode “Who We Are” please do not continue reading.
“Everything you’ve done has made us who we are, and who we are, we save the world.” –Dean Winchester to Mary Winchester
“Who We Are” was an appropriate title for an episode that delved into the character psychology of Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles). For 12 seasons, we have watched these brothers carry the weight of the world, the weight of their family destiny and the weight of their individual choices. Being a hero isn’t akin to being perfect, as the Winchesters have shown over the years. Rather, the brothers have consistently demonstrated that free will often comes with a hefty price tag. Yet, the love of family is the enduring belief that guides the brothers through the dark times.
This episode before the Season 12 finale allowed the brothers to serve as the focal points for much of the emotional moments. While the life and death battle for survival against the British Men of Letters (BMOL) gave us heart pounding, action intense scenes, I would argue that we also witnessed character growth for both Sam and Dean.
As the episode opens, the brainwashed Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) is now a killing machine, her hands stained with the blood of the most recent hunter she murdered. Like the dutiful weapon the BMOL created, she texts Ketch for the next hunter targets on her killing spree. The list of unfamiliar hunters’ names includes one name that is all too familiar and stands out from the pack: Jody Mills.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean are considering their escape options from the bunker. Dean proposes that they kill the treacherous Toni Bevell (Elizabeth Blackmore) to preserve the diminishing air supply. “I assure you, I’m a shallow breather.” Toni counters. Still, despite the precarious situation, I love seeing the boys working together and Sam using his researching skills to find a way out. After all, what good is a bunker overflowing with books on supernatural lore if one can’t uncover a life saving spell? Soon Sam discovers a spell that will override the bunker’s mechanical systems. Unfortunately, the spell called for virgin blood and since there are no virgins among the captives, Sam suggested that they fake it with a purification ritual. At first the purification ritual appeared to be working before it failed.
Plan B is to go “old school.” With blueprints in hand, Dean determined that they can break down one of the bunker’s weaker walls. This sequence found the boys pounding the walls with sledge hammers. When sledge hammers proved unsuccessful to the physical structure, Sam and Dean realized that this is the end of the line for them and that they wouldn’t go out in a “blaze of glory, Butch and Sundance style.” These words resonated for Dean and with a slight smile of renewed purpose, the elder Winchester brother executed Plan C: The grenade launcher. I was thrilled for Dean that he final got to use the grenade launcher. Success!
While “Operation Survival” was occurring at the bunker, Mary went to Jody Mills. Once the boys were freed from the bunker death tomb, they sought to stymie the BMOL plan to execute hunters. Dean phoned Garth (I wish that we could have seen DJ Qualls) and warned him to get himself and Bess (Garth’s werewolf wife) someplace safe. It wasn’t long before the boys were off to South Dakota to save Jody. Luckily when they arrived at the sheriff’s home, they saw that Mary didn’t kill Jody. Apparently, Alex arrived in time to offer a distraction, although Mary punched Jody in the face.
Later, Sam assembled a group of hunters and told them that the American hunters need to take the fight to the Brits. Sam gave a passionate speech that solidified him as a leader: “Hunting isn’t just about killing. It’s about doing what’s right, even when it’s hard.” You could feel the power of these words and Jared Padalecki delivered them with the genuineness and fortitude that has become his mark as an actor.
Dean proudly watched as Sam took charge. What I loved about this scene wasn’t just the pride that Dean had for Sam, but also the faith and trust that Dean enunciated to his baby brother. Viewers will remember that Sam led a mission with Bobby and Castiel way back in the Season 5 episode “Two Minutes To Midnight” to save people from Niveus Pharmaceuticals’ “Croatoan virus.” But even years later in the Season 8 finale “Sacrifice,”Dean remarked that Sam couldn’t do the heavy lifting. “Who We Are” was wonderful progression for Dean viewing Sam as capable and in for Dean uttering the words that perhaps Sam longed to hear: “You’re ready.” I felt that Dean’s endorsement of Sam’s ability was just what Sam needed to carry on.
Because Dean injured his leg in the grenade launcher explosion, he told Sam that he would stay behind and try to reach the real Mary buried deep within this killing replicant. In my opinion, this was the perfect writing strategy for Dean’s character development. Back at the bunker, Toni’s “drug therapy” connected Dean to Mary psychologically. Dean mind traveled to 1983 and had a revealing heart-to-heart with Mary where he told her that he hated her for making the deal with Azalel that resulted in the destruction of their family. Yet, he clarified that he hated her but loved her and that Mary, he and Sam could start over as a family. Jensen Ackles’ poignant delivery was the stuff of Emmy reels.
The American hunters stormed the BMOL’s temporary bunker and with Sam at the helm, triumph over the Brits. Dr. Hess (Gillian Barber) plotted her escape (where is a portal when you need one?) before she came face-to-face with Sam. This confrontation served the plot point of having Hess reveal to Sam that Lucifer was alive.
In addition to revealing to Sam that Lucifer was alive, Dr. Hess told Sam that Crowley was dead and that Lucifer was following Kelly Kline in search of his soon to be born son. I loved how Sam resisted Hess’ suggestion that he needed the BMOL to help them in the impending battle against Lucifer and I also loved that Jody fired the fatal shot that killed Hess. When I initially read that Kim Rhodes was returning for this episode, I feared that we would see Jody’s swan song. I’m pleased that Jody survived the hunter massacre. She is a real asset to the boys.
The final confrontation between Dean and Ketch took place in the bunker. Just when it appeared that Ketch would kill Dean, Mary emerged to save her son. Ketch is a cold-blooded assassin, but David Haydn-Jones played him with such aplomb. I’m going to miss him on Supernatural.
“Who We Are” was a well-written, solid episode.
One of the biggest complaints leveled at Season 12 of Supernatural was that Sam and Dean (Jared Padalecki and JensenAckles) didn’t take as active role in the episodes as they had in past seasons. I can most certainly understand the frustration echoed by the Supernatural fandom as Sam and Dean are the characters the fans have grown to love and for many are the reason they tune in week after week to see Supernatural. Well for the Sam and Dean fans who love the Winchester brothers, you were rewarded with the episode “Who We Are,” as our hero hunting duo indeed showed who they were. Which is “To keep fighting or go down swinging.” If Arthur Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) thought that a little thing like cutting off the Men of Letter bunker life support systems, like the oxygen would stop Sam and Dean, he was sadly mistaken. The Winchester brothers would fight with their last breath. Throughout the series, Sam has been referred to as the brains and Dean the brawn. But less face it, both these guys are pretty darn smart and their IQ increases when they are in peril and have to put their heads together. Sam and Dean are stronger (in every sense of the word) together. They researched and discussed strategies. And when one plan failed, it was on to the next. They were fighting for their lives and there was no way Sam and Dean would let some ‘imitation Christian Bale’ (Ketch) be their downfall. Of course I’d rather it has just been Sam and Dean trapped in the bunker and wondered why Lady Toni (Elizabeth Blackmore) had to be there. But her usefulness was revealed later in the episode.
In addition to the heart pumping adrenaline situation that comes with figuring out a way to stop your oxygen from running out, we got the brotherly emotion that help make Sam and Dean more than just characters. If the best parts are when they cry (according to the publisher of the Supernatural books), when they share their feelings (and a hug) it stirs something in those watching. “I pretty much learned there’s nothing the Winchesters can’t do,” said Charlie Bradbury once and I agree, as long as they work together. That being said, after figuring out a way to avoid becoming permanent sleeping beauties (thank you rocket launcher!), Sam and Dean did end up separating: Sam to lead a contingent of hunters including Roy and Walt (those douchebags that shot and killed them in “Dark Side of the Moon” But hey, bygones), Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and some other never before seen hunters (with Bobby and Rufus gone, hunter minion #1, 2 and 3 just had to do!) to storm the BMOL headquarters and strike them first. And who knew Sam could be such a motivational speaker (Eat your heart out Dick Roman. Oh wait, your dead. And even if you were, no way were you bibbing yourself!). And Dean to try to crack Mary’s brainwashing (with the help of Lady Toni. See, she was useful). Let’s talk about both missions, starting with Sam’s operation storm trooper. Remember back in Season 2 when Azazel pitted the Psychic Kids against each other to lead his demon army? Well, Sam got to show what an awesome general he makes. Armed with guns, grenades and skilled hand-to-hand combat, Troop Winchester kicked some British ass! When I learned that Kim Rhodes would be guest starring in the episode, I feared Jody’s demise. Especially when Mary arrived at her door. But Alex helped to save her surrogate mom’s life (Can we get a spin-off with them already?) And Jody proved her skill as both a cop and hunter. Dr. Hess (Gillian Barber) first sought to run away via a portal and when she realized she was caught between and rock and even harder place, attempted to show that the hunters needed her. “I know something you don’t know,” was the tune she sang belting out the lyrics of “Lucifer on the loose.” But fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, have you met me? I’m a Winchester! No deal and it was bye bye Hess. Though we have to thank her for giving Sam the Lucifer information because I love the boys, I do, but were they ever going to find out about Lucifer without someone telling them? The only bone I have to pick about the whole killing all the BMOL at the temporary headquarters and then blowing it up was how did the hunters believe that would stop the Brits? I mean, c’mon – aren’t there other sleeper cells out there throughout Europe? “Cut off the head and the body will flounder” shouldn’t work in this case. Will more BMOL pop up in Season 13?
Now onto Dean’s mission. Getting inside Mary’s psyche to reverse the brainwashing effects was going to be tricky. First of all, Dean had to rely on Lady Toni to set it up. And what if she double crossed him? I guess she knew what was good for her. Dean took a brain walk journey inside his mother’s mind. What followed was some great acting and dialogue from Jensen Ackles. Dean finally got to tell Mary how he felt about her deal with Azazel that tore their family apart. He hated her but loved her too. And above all, he needed her. Dean, strong hunter. Dean, Sam’s protector. He needed his mother. His words broke through the conditioning. And in the end saved Dean’s life when Ketch came to the Men of the Letters bunker to finish him (Dean) off. Mary shot and killed Ketch before he could kill her son.
As the episode concluded, Mary worried that Sam wouldn’t be able to forgive her. But he entered the Men of Letters bunker and told his mother he did. Then we got a mother and sons Winchester hug. I loved that these three were able to reach this moment. From the remarks I have read on social media, I’m sure that they will be some who feel that Mary got off easy as they have been extremely unhappy and angry with Mary’s response to her sons throughout the season and especially her decision to work with the BMOL. I still believe that she felt she was doing the right thing and wanted to help rid the world of monsters for her boys. Plus, not being around for their entire lives, Mary has lingering guilt. And finally, it was difficult for her to associate the men in front of her with the baby and toddler she left behind three decades prior. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this closing scene and saw it as a new chapter for the three of them.
“Who We Are” was a great written script by Robert Berens. And the cast and crew delivered a powerful and highly enjoyable episode.
Comments? Sound off below. Or tweet @thenerdygirlexp and @stacyamiller85 .
Comments? Sound off below. Or tweet @thenerdygirlexp and @stacyamiller85 .