Weekly Review: Supernatural (12.12)

Sam and Dean Winchester team up with Castiel, Mary Winchester, and fellow hunter Wally to take care of what they think is a run of the mill demon problem. They soon find that they’ve gotten into something far bigger and far more dangerous than they were expecting.

This review will discuss the 12th episode of the 12th season of Supernatural, titled “Stuck in the Middle (With You)”

I don’t typically review individual episodes of television series. Whenever I do, I find that the reviews go deeper into actual plot points than I prefer. When I watched this particular episode of Supernatural, though, I felt that it needed to be discussed.

I’ve been watching Supernatural since I was 13 years old. I’ve seen it when it was really good. I’ve seen it when it was really bad. I’ve managed to continue watching it to this day as if there is no escape. I’ve dedicated too much time to give up at this point.

This particular episode is an example of a shining light for the series. It’s one of those episodes where you remember what drew you into the show in the first place. It’s dramatic, intense, full of pop culture references, and it delves back into some of the early plot elements.

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In a general sense, “Stuck in the Middle (With You)” doesn’t really tie into the ongoing story arc of the season. It’s more of a Monster of the Week (MotW) episode, and this is why it stands out so much. MotW episodes are usually filler. This episode, however, is chock full of so many important revelations that it feels like 4-5 typical episodes crammed into one. This episode contains plot points that will likely extend throughout the remainder of the season.

It’s one thing for an episode to contain a lot of information. It’s another thing for that episode to reveal said information in a stylized way that makes each reveal just as jaw dropping as the others. “Stuck in the Middle (With You)” accomplishes this feat, and it does so by pulling from the portfolio of Quentin Tarantino.

Other than dramatic, slow motion walking, paired with spaghetti western music, well choreographed, brutal fight scenes, and plenty of movie references to Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Kill Bill, this episode of Supernatural uses Tarantino’s disjointed storytelling. The episode plays out a scene, then goes back and plays out that same scene from a different perspective, revealing plot points that shine a new light on the events that transpire. Title cards flash on the screen to show different chapters (“Mother Mary”) or a specific place in time (“6 years ago” or “9:03”). The Tarantino references are definitely not subtle.

While the Tarantino format may confuse some viewers, I thought it was an interesting change of pace for the series. After 12 long seasons, the traditional format can get a little stale. Some of the better episodes as of late have all gone into experimental territory. The way that this episode slowly gives out a series of reveals worked really well with the non-linear passage of time.

Am I hoping to see this style returning for future episodes? No. I am, on the other hand, hoping that this season at least keeps up with the momentum that this episode started. The verdict on that is still out. Only time will tell.

Another thing that this episode brings to the table are some really inspired cinematography choices. From a nostalgic close up of Dean loading a gun to an emotional close up of hands showing the bond of family, there are plenty of really great shots in this episode. The cinematography, direction, and editing all blend together really well to make the emotional moments more poignant, but not over dramatic.

Since it’s impossible to review an individual episode without delving a little bit into the plot, I’ll do that now, but I’ll try to be brief. Season 12 of Supernatural has set itself up as being a confrontation between American hunters (specifically Sam and Dean Winchester) and the British Men of Letters (the sophisticated British hunters). Within this episode, we continue to see how this confrontation is escalating, and another piece of the Mary Winchester puzzle is added.

Another antagonist that this season has brought back is Lucifer, and he is mentioned in this episode as well. Lucifer’s involvement in this season has been different, and there are other characters that are taking notice. This episode sets up the return of a type of antagonist we haven’t seen since the first few seasons, and I’m very interested to see where that’s going to go.

The Tarantino style of this episode really lends itself well to the complicated interactions between the characters. When it comes to Sam, Dean, and Castiel, we’ve had several seasons for them to grow and hopefully get past the keeping secrets phase. The introduction of Mary Winchester to this season has definitely brought with it a lot of questions, for both the characters within the show and the fans viewing it. What is she thinking? What are her intentions? At this point in time, we can’t really know for sure, but we do know that she has the power to hurt both Sam and Dean. With the emphasis on family this season, I think the stakes will only get higher.

Overall, this episode is easily one that stands out from the other episodes so far this season. Even if you’re behind on Supernatural, you could jump into this episode and enjoy it by itself. The story takes you back to some of the earlier seasons. It answers some questions you didn’t even know you had, and it poses enough questions to be answered moving forward.

Check out the clip below! It’s only the beginning of the Tarantino references.

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