As Time Goes By seems to be one of those eps that divides the fans into two camps. One that does not like the writers 'making up' new information about the boys’ family history, and one that enjoys getting some new information.
Giving out new information after so many seasons of course has its risks because there are questions like, why didn’t the boys know about the MoL until now? And isn’t this just a writer’s ploy to create another storyline for the future? But, I believe the writers did an awesome job of it. The idea of John from the MoL line and Mary from the Hunter line and how that would create a perfect line of brain and brawn was ingenious - especially because the whole Angels messing with destiny - or even creating it - is something that is strong in my own canon. I could easily believe that this was even a part of the background to the story created by Kripke himself. This concept of brains and brawn is again talked about by Sam and Dean in a future ep - how Dean believes he is the brawn while Sam is the brains etc. so this whole idea is something that is in preparation for future eps.
Going back to Angels and destiny, we know that the Angels manipulated various situations in order for Sam and Dean to be born - so the question is, would Sam and Dean have grown up the way they had if they had a father who's father had not left him? Did the angels manipulate this situation so that Henry could not come back - specifically so that Dean and Sam would grow up the way they did? I think this is very possible. The Angels could have even set Abbadon free, or let it be possible - allowed the demons to do so - just because they knew that if Henry disappeared/died at that time, this would actually lead to John to being the kind of man he was, meeting/falling in love with Mary, and raising the boys the way he did. This idea is also reinforced by the question that Sam poses Dean at the end.
Another outcome of the whole situation was that the MoL was wiped out early on. If Henry was removed from the picture for Sam and Dean to be born, we can also speculate that the MoL was removed from the picture for the apocalypse to occur - that if the MoL had not been wiped out, they could have stopped the apocalypse themselves as Henry suggests in this ep! This idea that the whole situation could have been set up or 'allowed' by the angels (and demons) is reinforced by the 'THEN' of this ep, where we are reminded of the cupid and what he said about the angels making sure John and Mary got together and Sam and Dean being born.
The MoL and the bunker are new ideas presented to the viewer, that there were actually a counterpart to hunters. And yet, the more I think about it, the more obvious it is that there would be a whole different type of people from hunters - people who are better at gathering information and doing incantations than going out to kill monsters. That is what the monks did in the middle ages, for example. And there is a ton of lore about secret societies in one form or other. We can also see a similarity with people like Charlie of the present - the before Charlie who was happy in her imaginary world of LoTR and Harry Potter but had the courage to help in a way she was good at - hacking computers and research, and love collecting artifacts. There is no reason for everyone to have to be a hunter to fight monsters. And it is also not surprising that these literary types put themselves apart from the rest of the world, and even thought themselves superior. I don’t know from how long ago this MoL would have existed in the USA, but I’d not be surprised if such people came to America on the first ships along with monsters and witches and hunters so forth. We have already been told that the Campbell were hunters since before they came to America as well. And why should any present day hunter know of the MoL if it was such a secret society and wiped out earlier? Very few hunters knew of the MoL even when it existed and not even the uninitiated MoL knew of the bunker, so it seems to have been hidden well enough that Sam and Dean would never have heard of either.
By adding this new information, the writers have also done a brilliant job creating a new fork in the story which allows for another big bad, and actually leads to Dean becoming a demon 2 seasons later (wohoo!). The idea of a big bad from the past is also much more entertaiining than a big bad with no background or history.
Let’s go on to the actual story.
"As Time Goes By" (plays on young John Winchester's music box, and whistled by Henry Winchester)
"The Future Is Strange" by Watt Son (plays from a car as Henry escapes the motel room)
"Surf's Up America" by Bodega Girls feat. Anthony Rossomando(plays when Sam, Dean and Henry enter Astro Comics)
The first scene is of Henry saying bye-bye to his son John for the last time. He has on him the button of the MoL, and he also puts the music box on to help John sleep, which is explained later on.
Henry goes to the MoL’s secret hideout and meets up with Josie, who has 'dressed up' for the occaision. We know from the ep that the person who was dressing up was Abaddon who had already posessed Josie, and not Josie herself. She goes in for her initiation into the MoL. She must not have been initiated at all, though, because only a few seconds after she enters the room, we hear screaming. Henry rushes in, and finds several brothers down while another is trying to send Abbadon to hell. Unfortunately, it has no effect whatsoever. It is obvious that the MoL had no idea how to kill Abaddon and it seems doubtful they knew she was around at all. Abaddon kills the MoL that was trying to send her to hell, and then goes after Henry who bolts with the box (key) entrusted to him ‘Don’t let Abbadon get it.” This is the brother we see again later as an old man.
Henry enters a room with some ingredients and creates a potion that he then smears on the door to create a symbol that will take him to Sam and Dean. He is really thinking to go to an older John and doesn’t expect to arrive in the motel room of two un-welcoming hunters.
I love the way that both Sam and Dean are united in their reaction - you are going to be cuffed to the chair until you tell us exactly who you are and why you all of a sudden came out of a closet in our room!
SAM: I’ll tell you what. When one of us falls out of your closet, then you can ask the questions.
HENRY: Is it absolutely essential, sir, that you keep your hands on me?
Henry is trying to sound very reasonable. I also love the way Henry easily slips out of the cuffs!
He runs outside and looks around and is surprised to see a guy carrying a baby in a sling and child in a three wheeled chair. He has to check the year on the car’s plates because - fathers with slings? Totally does not happen in his time (at least I think this was what he was amazed about).
HENRY: 2013… I guess the Mayans were wrong.
He searches for a vehicle, finds a good one and climbs in to hotwire and get out of there.
Unfortunately, it’s Dean’s car and Dean’s impressed with the choice but not happy that his window was broken (It is all fixed by the time they leave the motel - SPN magic).
Sam and Dean take Henry back to their room and start to interrogate Henry again (where Dean leaks, possibly by mistake, that John is his dad.
Then Abaddon gets to them - because Henry hasn’t ‘locked the door.’
Henry tries to talk to Josie but she can't come out - Abaddon is too strong. They try to fight Abaddon but that doesn't work either until Dean gets out his trusty Demon knife. Unfortunately it doesn’t kill her, but it slows her down, and they run.
Abbadon: Well, that is no way to treat a lady.
Abaddon has some wonderful lines!
The impala stops by the side of a bridge, which reminds me of the scene in Hangman for starters. Henry gets out and unloads his stomach - that could be from the time travel as well as the excitement, but it shows that he is not used to such craziness.
HENRY: I’m from Normal, Illinois, 1958.
DEAN: Yeah, right… SERIOUSLY? Dudes time-traveling through motel room closets, that’s what we’ve come to?
(That sounds totally like he’s complaining to the author(s) :D)
They tell him John’s dead, he tells them he’s John’s father, and we have a Family Theme moment.
Next scene they’ve moved to a burger joint and Dean and Sam are talking at the counter as Henry waits at a table.
DEAN: Dad had his issues, ok, but he was always there for us. Freak’n hate time travel, man.
Dean is upset at Henry for having left John ‘high and dry’ and Sam tells him no parent is perfect. From my pov, sure, Dad may have been there for them, but that was luck and destiny, letting them grow up with their dad was in the stars - what the Angels wanted. Dad could have died hunting or had the same experience as Henry at any time too. And getting upset with Henry for being unable to get back to John is not being very rational. But I guess that kind of anger is never rational. And the point to this ep is how the Winchesters care for family - the intense loyalty that John taught Sam and Dean - well, pretty much all that John taught them. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So they go back to Henry and Henry first assumes that Dean used a regular knife on Abbadon and is like, you thought you could kill Abbadon with a regular knife? You are so ignorant! But Dean shows him the ‘demon killing knife of the Kurds’ and he is suitably impressed. He also is surprised that John did not raise them in the MoL, and when they tell him they are hunters, expresses his opinion that hunters are ‘apes’ which sounds similar to what angels think of humans in general.
HENRY: You are legacies!
During all that, they do talk about Abbadon a bit and decide that the best thing to do is go to the MoL headquarters where Henry had been when he time travelled. When they get there, of course the headquarters is gone. Henry is quite frustrated and when Dean demands he tell them more about the MoL he goes on about how it shouldn’t be the concern of hunters because hunters are apes, basically. Sam reminds him that they are also his grandchildren and legacies as he told them before. Henry finally tells them what the MoL are about.
HENRY: We are preceptors beholders, chroniclers of all that man does not understand.
He also tells them that the MoL worked with only the most elite of hunters.
We find out as they go into the building that Henry doesn’t know what the box he is protecting is for or if Abaddon is really after that box or not.
The MoL headquarters is now some sort of comic store…? Some hilarity with Henry wanting to borrow Sam’s 'walkie-talkie', and trying to talk to the operator for an unknown number. Dean suggests they check the computer - and again Henry’s astonishment that a computer could be so small. Not very entertaining stuff for me personally but necessary - it would be weird if he was ok with everything, especially because of the narrow minded way he was brought up in the MoL. That is one thing different between Henry and tech savy Charlie. Henry is a geek about the past, while Charlie is a geek about new technology. If a person similar in type to Charlie had come from the past, they would have been delighted in all the new developments. For Henry, it turns out to be quite a culture shock, something he cannot accept/fathom. He would have worked out better going to the past.
Dean flirts with the goth store clerk while Sam researches. They find out that there was supposed to be a fire and that all that were there died. There is a code in the news though - Albertus Magnus, which indicates to Henry that one of them actually is alive. They find the grave and the military tags of a dead man whose name and identity the person has taken on.
All the while, Abbadon is tracking them. She takes the goth girl’s t-shirt which says, ‘The devil made me do it.’ before she kills the poor girl. This proves to us that she had already possessed Josie before she had come to MoL. Abaddon likes her clothes.
The Winchesters are back researching at the bunker. Henry is whistling the Casablanca tune that was on the music box he gave to John and the boys have heard it because dad used to sing it sometimes. It seems when John was little Henry took him to see a movie about mummies, that scared him. Sam says how hard it is to imagine John scared of anything - but again, it is how John grew up without his dad that made him the man that he was.
Dean finds stuff about the guy using the new identity, and Sam finds out from dad's journal that Abaddon is a Knight of Hell. This journal entry is used again in a future ep.
HENRY: Knights of Hell are handpicked by Lucifer himself. They are the first born...
Henry asks to look at the journal, and finds out that it was his journal that had arrived after he disappeared. He then guesses that he never returned from this trip, and Dean and Sam tell him how John had thought Henry had ‘ran out on him.’
Someone noted that it's strange that Sam and Dean never noticed the initials on the journal. I'd argue of course they noticed the initials. They just never thought they were Henry's and never bothered to ask John about it. Maybe they thought John got the journal from a garage sale (also very likely). Harder to explain is the long time that John would have kept this journal before using it as a hunter's journal. Did he just keep it as an heirloom - packed away in a box - then pulled it out to use when he needed a hunter's journal? Or did he use it as a normal journal all those years before. It would make for an interesting fic.
HENRY:John was a legacy. I was supposed to teach him the ways of the Letters.
DEAN :Well, he learned things a little differently.
DEAN :The hard way. Surviving a lonely childhood, a stinking war... only to get married and have his wife taken by a demon... and later killed by one himself. That man got a bum rap around every turn. But you know what? He kept going. And in the end, he did a hell of a lot more good than he did bad.
And this makes me tear up, both because it shows how much love and understanding Dean has for John and how loyal, as well as how hard it must have been for John, sort of paralleling how Dean always felt people left him, and John thinking his dad had left him too.
HENRY:I'm sorry. I wish I had been there for him.
DEAN:Yeah, it's a little late for that now, don't you think?
HENRY:It's the price we pay for upholding great responsibility. We know that.
DEAN: Your responsibility was to your family, not some glorified book club.
This is interesting also, because it reminds me that John (and Dean) only got into hunting because he lost his wife/mother and it was all for family and revenge. And Dean in season 1 and later on this season would rather save his family than save the world. That is what is most important to him.
Dean walks out because he’s a bit emotional, then next scene we see him asleep, Sam trying to wake him (we know Jensen was actually asleep for that! :D) telling him that Henry had gone leaving a note that he was going to fix everything.
Henry’s gone to a potion shop that has a sign he knows - a hunter sign. The lady there is not happy to see him and points a rifle at him, but he does a little potion magic and she falls asleep so he can get what he needs. He’s already stolen an angel feather from the impala trunk.
Sam and Dean find out about the death at the comic store and split up so they can work faster.
Sam goes to find ‘Larry’ the guy that survived Abaddon’s attack, and Dean goes to find Henry. But by that time, Abaddon is already with Larry, impersonating his wife. Sam finds out what the box is for - a key to open the bunker. Dean on the other hand, is with Henry, who is trying to go back to save his son and stop Abaddon.
Dean argues that stopping Abaddon and going back to John could stop Dean and Sam from being born.
Then Dean receives a phone call from Abaddon asking for a trade - Henry and the Key for Sam. Henry again presses that he could go back and stop everything from happening, but Dean this time argues, what if Henry can’t stop it?
DEAN:Listen, I understand that this is not your idea of a happy ending, okay, and that – that you're disappointed that me and Sam are mouth-breathing hunters. But you know what? We stopped the Apocalypse.
HENRY :If this works the way I planned, there will never be an Apocalypse to stop.
So this again gives me the idea that Henry was meant to come to this age and never go back - that this is all part of the plan to start the apocalypse and get Sam and Dean to end the world. The more I think about it that way, the more it seems possible that the angels and demons worked together to free Abaddon somehow, or at least hired her to go after the box and destroy the MoL. (Larry the old man explains to Sam that Abaddon was a hired gun.)
Dean hits Henry unconscious and takes him in the car to the meeting point with Abaddon. While in the car, they come to an understanding and decide on a plan to stop Abaddon. Henry would get close and put a devil’s trap carved bullet in her to stop her.
DEAN :You're gonna have to get close. And "close" means it could get ugly.
HENRY :I know. But you do that for blood.
Henry shows how important family is to him as well. If he can’t save his son, he’s going to save his grandsons.
So they cut off Abaddon’s head and promise to bury her in cement in little parts, then the grandpa-grandsons goodbye talk.
HENRY :We did it.
DEAN :No, you did it. For a bookworm, that wasn't bad, Henry.
HENRY : I'm sorry I judged you two so harshly for being hunters. I should have known better.
HENRY:You're also Winchesters. As long as we're alive, there's always hope. I didn't know my son as a man, but having met you two... know I would have been proud of him.
(Gah… :’) the Family Theme)
Wow, so people watching Season 13 now would find special (ominous almost) meaning in the words, “As long as we're alive, there's always hope.”
Sam and Dean bury Henry in a grave. Dean is depressed that their whole family tree is just “a whole lot of dead” while Sam’s contemplating the reasons why the angels chose the Winchesters and the Campbells to bring together. They talk about dad and how he did the best he could, as well as the fact that they were legacies; and they decide to find out what the bunker is all about.
DEAN :Kind of makes you wish he knew the truth, huh? I mean, all those years thinking his old man ditched when the poor son of a bitch really came here and saved our bacon. Freaking time-travel, man.
SAM :You think it would have made a difference?
SAM :Dad. If he'd had his own father around.
DEAN: What, in how he raised us? Sammy, he did the best he could.
Awesome episode leading to many many good episodes in the future!