So, was the image of Sam Winchester warming his hands by the fire of the undead Nazi the guys had just toasted while hapless-civilian-of-the-week Aaron remarked “Oh my God, these guys are psychopaths,” pretty much Supernatural in a nutshell? Sometimes I forget that Supernatural can be a fun show and that not every episode has to end with a funeral. As further evidence of how badly this show has damaged me, I’m approaching the rest of the season with extreme caution because at the end of “Everybody Hates Hitler,” Dean and Sam Winchester had a home with indoor plumbing and a purpose in life that, for once, wasn’t the Worst Thing Ever. They actually looked, dare I say it, happy. If they are, in fact, happy, then Supernatural tradition dictates that something awful must happen, so brace yourselves. I’ve already got my crash helmet and a bottle of cheap whiskey, man. I’m READY.
Please don’t burn the Batcave down, Supernatural. Pleeeeeease.
Supernatural jumped right into making the Men of Letters an important part of the Winchesters' universe, and specifically, a part that had always been there, even though neither we nor they had ever heard of the legendary organization up until now. It works if you don’t think too hard about it, and the writers are doing a pretty thorough job of covering their tracks whenever a questionable point is made. Like, if the Men of Letters worked with hunters, then why haven’t Sam or Dean or Bobby ever heard of them before? Well, they only worked with a select few hunters, and those hunters are all conveniently dead or defunct. “Defunct?” WTF is defunct?
Defunct—adjective—“no longer living, existing, or functioning.” (Thanks, Webster!) So what you’re saying is that there could very well be a few hold-outs from the glory days frozen in carbonite in a basement in Milwaukee or something. I like it. It sets us up nicely for the future.
Despite its blast-from-the-past origins, the Men of Letters storyline has blown a hole (or several) leading the Winchesters into the future, even beyond the whole Gates of Hell thing. For being a secret society, the Men of Letters apparently had an impressive reach, with international branches dedicated to taking down evil on a more regional approach. One of those affiliates was called the Judah Initiative, a group of Rabbi saboteurs dedicated to battling the Nazi’s Thule Society during World War II—like Inglorious Basterds with less scalping! Sam discovered that one of the members of the Judah Initiative was alive and (relatively) well up until a few weeks earlier when he spontaneously combusted in the middle of a college bar. That sounds like a job for the Ghostbust... uh... Winchesters.
Turns out, the Thule Society survived the Judah Initiative and its pet golem, played by “Ghostfacers” alum John DeSantis, who managed to make Jared Padalecki look like a midget just by showing up on set. With the original Rabbi dead, ownership of the golem passed to his grandson, Aaron, who cheated his way through Hebrew school and used the golem owners manual as rolling paper back in college. His grasp on controlling the sassy (so sassy!) golem was tenuous at best, and the Winchesters found themselves fighting a war on two fronts: defeating the Nazi necromancers who wanted their sooper-secret ledger back, and brainstorming an off-switch in the event that their friendly neighborhood golem stopped being so friendly (and it wasn’t even that friendly to begin with).
Despite a tense stand-off when the—undead? Immortal?—commandant of the original Thule Society lineup depowered the golem and got the drop on Aaron and the Winchesters, some good ol’ fashioned firepower neutralized that threat. Faced with the warning, “You can kill me, but you’ll never kill all the Thule!” right before Sam and Dean capped that Nazi bugger, Aaron decided to keep his golem around and the boys allowed it because Aaron had a point, the golem was less of an issue once Aaron had figured out how to control him properly, and they’re not the boss of him anyway. Oh my glob, did the Winchesters just acquire yet another ally who is awesome and relatively angst-free and not dead (yet)? The world-building in the last two episodes has been impressive, not just because the new mythology is actually interesting and fun but because... okay, mostly because the new mythology is interesting and fun. Like I said earlier, though, Carver and Co. are doing an admirable job fitting the Men of Letters and their vast history into a universe in which they were previously unheard of. Yes, the cracks are there if you look hard enough, but for goodness sake, this show has Nazi necromancers. If we’re being asked to believe that no one, no one at all in the close-knit hunter culture, has ever, EVER heard of this directory assistance for hunters, then fine. I’ll bite. They were a secret society, after all.
Last week, I gushed about how the Men of Letters provided the connection to early seasons of Supernatural that the more recent seasons have sorely lacked. This week, their influence on the personal histories of Sam and Dean as characters became more apparent as the brothers settled into their inheritance—an extensive supernatural base with all the comforts of a brick-and-mortar home. Honestly, I was expecting more dust and cobwebs after fifty years of neglect, but maybe the last occupants left a housekeeping charm behind or something.
While Dean and Sam have both been shown to possess excellent research skills, Sam has always been the brother who genuinely enjoys the bookish side of hunting and, it’s been implied, has always felt like an outcast in comparison to his more physically minded brother and father. Lucifer and his demons used this insecurity to manipulate Sam (or try to, at least), implying that he wasn’t really a Winchester, that Dean and John were an “adopted family at best.” Sam has always struggled to embrace the hunting life as freely as the rest of his family and Dean and John have, in the past, found themselves frustrated by Sam’s inability or unwillingness to accept “the family business.” The Men of Letters as a Winchester legacy finally offers an opportunity for Sam to devote himself fully to the unending family mission, in a role (and on terms) that he actually enjoys, which in turn is a plus for Dean as well. The Winchesters have to stay together because that’s how Supernatural rolls, but they don’t have to be stuck together. They can choose to stay “in the life” because they want to, not because they have to. They can hunt monsters and be happy to do it.
So please, PLEASE, Supernatural, in the name of all that is holy and not-so-holy, please don’t burn down the Batcave. I’m begging you. I’LL BAKE YOU CUPCAKES! I MAKE A DAMN FINE CUPCAKE, YOU WON’T BE SORRY. I PROMISE.
See you next week! Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!
– Smart Winchesters! Speaking in code! I missed code! Also, Sam basically knowing the Library of Congress catalog system off the top of his head. I worked in a library for five years and I’m not that good. (Okay, I’m kinda good. Kinda.)
– Lol Dean and the scimitar. Lol Dean and his “gay thing.” Lol Dean and his bathrobe and his old man slippers. Just lol Dean.
– How does Sam get wifi in the Batcave? I suspect he is a human hotspot.
– Okay, so now that Sam is diving right into this Men of Letters stuff, can he (and Dean because sure why not) start whipping magic spells out of pockets like Gramps did? Because that was awesome.
– Where do you want the Men of Letters stuff to go after the Hell Gate stuff is resolved? Should Sam and Dean hunker down in the Batcave and start outsourcing missions to their pals like some sort of supernatural Avengers Initiative?