Forget everything you think you know about Sam and Dean’s family history, because this episode of Supernatural changes everything. Up until now we assumed John Winchester was just a regular guy and it was Sam and Dean’s mom, Mary, who came from the important lineage since her ancestors were Hunters. This week we find out John’s family tree is equally important, but freaking time travel prevented him from ever knowing that.

Normal in 1958

Supernatural begins back in 1958 when Henry Winchester tucks his son John in for bed and plays “As Time Goes By” on a music box. This will sadly be the last time John ever sees his dad.

Henry goes off to an initiation for a secret society but it gets interrupted by Abaddon, one of the original demons from Hell created by Lucifer (so she’s kind of like Lilith’s sister or maybe cousin). One of the members hands Henry a special box and tells him to run, so Henry cooks up a magical potion to travel in time. Oh yeah, it turns out Henry Winchester is a lot more knowledgeable about the supernatural than we ever knew.

Blast from the Past

Henry leaps into Sam and Dean’s motel room in the present, and they’re very confused about this random dude from their closet demanding to see John Winchester. They go back and forth until Abaddon also emerges from the closet. Dean stabs her with Ruby’s Knife, but it doesn’t work. That’s usually a sign that you’re dealing with something VERY bad.

Men of Letters

Once the boys escape with Henry they learn the truth: He’s their grandpa. Here we get some major new exposition regarding the mythology of the Winchesters and the show. Henry was a member of a secret organization known as the Men of Letters, the wise men who kept the secrets of the supernatural and shared their knowledge with a select group of Hunters to help protect the world. Dean describes them as the Yodas to the Hunters’ Jedis. I’d go with the Watchers’ Council and the Slayers from Buffy, but it’s all the same thing.

Henry, Sam and Dean follow the clues in the present that ultimately leads them to a 127-year-old man who was there the night Abaddon attacked in 1958. Sam is pretty cool with meeting his grandpa but Dean is dealing with his own daddy issues by passing all the blame onto Henry for abandoning his son, even though it’s now quite obvious Henry didn’t abandon him but rather became unstuck in time.

The Supernatural Mother Lode

Henry goes off to try and travel back in time to undo everything, but Dean stops him because that could also, theoretically, make it so Sam and Dean never existed.

Meanwhile Sam meets the old man to get the 411 on the box. It contains a key to all the supernatural spells, lore and mythology the Men of Letters have ever collected. Needless to say, that much info would be very useful, but also dangerous if Abaddon got her hands on it. The old man suggests taking it to a magical location where nothing but the key can enter and throw it in so the supernatural mother lode of information will be forever hidden.

Saving the Day

Abaddon kidnaps Sam and demands a trade for Henry and the box. Dean agrees because he will do anything to save his brother, but Henry hatches a pretty brilliant plan. He carves a Devil’s Trap onto a bullet and shoots it into Abaddon’s head, keep her immobile. Then Dean cuts her head off and vows to chop her up into a bunch of pieces and bury them all beneath concrete.

The only problem is that Abaddon mortally wounds Henry first. He dies in the arms of his grandsons, happy in the knowledge that his son raised such great sons of his own.

The boys bury their grandpa and Sam wonders how things may have been different if their dad knew that Henry didn’t abandon him, but rather traveled to the future to save Sam and Dean. “Freakin’ time travel” is Dean’s general response to all of this madness. I agree. All the revelations in the world aren’t about to cure Sam and Dean’s deep-rooted daddy issues. But having some context about why John was the way he was might help a bit.

Next week on Supernatural: The show goes all Inglourious Basterds with a giant Golem (which is different than Gollum from Lord of the Rings). If you don’t know what it is, ask your Jewish friends.

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(Image courtesy of the CW)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.