Supernatural ended season 11 with a pair of big twists, one each for Sam and Dean. They both paint a fairly distinctive picture of what’s to come in season 12, including a new threat to the Winchesters unlike anything they’ve ever faced.
SPOILER WARNING: This articles contains spoilers from the Supernatural season 11 finale.
The sudden return of Mary Winchester, back from the dead courtesy of Amara, will have big consequences for Sam and Dean. The very first scene in the whole series centered on her death and in many ways, Mary dying is the formative moment that crafted who Sam and Dean are to this day. By bringing her back, it changes everything.
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But in terms of what season 12 could look like, Sam’s twist is more revealing. Lady Toni, a member of the London branch of the Men of Letters, was called to take the Winchesters into custody after they nearly broke the world once again. It’s probably safe to assume that Sam isn’t dead after her gunshot, but the arrival of the Men of Letters as a prominent and potentially deadly force creates some interesting new questions.
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I’m intrigued by the idea that this organization designed to chronicle the world of the saupernatural is now working against Sam and Dean, and if done right, it could be one of the best foes they’ve ever faced.
Why It’s Better to Go Small
Ever since angels showed up in season 4, Supernatural has had to raise the stakes every season when it comes to its villains. By now the Winchesters have faced Lucifer, Leviathans from Purgatory, the Mother of All Monsters, evil angels, Abaddon and now Amara, God’s sister. The problem is that there’s nowhere to go but down.
The Darkness is literally all-powerful, present at the dawn of creation alongside her brother God. By definition she’s stronger than any monster or demon or creature Sam and Dean have ever faced or will ever face. It would be silly for season 12 to try and top Amara, introducing yet another big, scary monster or demon trying to destroy the world. Nothing the writers could come up with would be scarier or stronger than Amara.
Instead, by introducing the Men of Letters as a principal antagonist, the show is going in the opposite direction. They aren’t monsters and while they study the supernatural, they aren’t a part of that world. They’re just men, just humans. In 11 seasons, Sam and Dean have never really had to deal with a serious human threat unless you count Bela the thief or Gordon the vampire hunter. Instead of giving us another monster, the show is going in the opposite direction with a more personal threat.
The Winchesters Go Rogue
Perhaps the best part of the Men of Letters being the bad guys is that it allows Sam and Dean to become rogue agents. It’s a classic story in which the organization they thought they knew and were a part of has turned against them, so they must find a way to save themselves against people who know all of their tricks.
That’s also a new twist. For the most part, the Big Bads of Supernatural show up with their own evil plans, relatively unaware of the Winchesters. But as we saw in Lady Toni’s basement, the Men of Letters have been observing Sam and Dean for a long time. They know exactly who they are and what they’re capable of. And they’re not trying to destroy the world, they’re trying to stop the Winchesters. This time, it really is personal.
The Show Can Dive Into the Mythology
Sam and Dean first found the Men of Letters bunker in season 8 and it’s been their home and the show’s main base of operations for four seasons. We’ve gotten bits and pieces of the organization’s history, mostly through time travel, but there’s a lot left unexplained. The Men of Letters has always seemed like one of those pieces of the show the writers never fully explored and now they can. There’s obviously a hierarchy in place with Lady Toni receiving those phone calls, so season 12 can really dive into what the Men of Letters is.
After 11 seasons of fighting monsters and stopping at least half a dozen apocalypses, Supernatural may have found a way to tell a different kind of story with the Men of Letters. If they’re the major villains of season 12, which the finale certainly suggested would be the case, then it’s a threat unlike any the Winchesters have faced. They’re going up against an institution that knows all about them and which has no apparent interest in destroying the world.
I’m certain the show will continue to have horror elements with cases of the week and various monsters, but the Men of Letters allow the show to evolve into more of an action thriller. The idea of the show being more like a Mission: Impossible or Jason Bourne film gives Sam and Dean something completely different to deal with.
Supernatural returns Thursdays at 9pm this Fall on the CW.
(Image courtesy of the CW)