Back for an unprecedented twelfth season on Thursday, October 13 is this increasingly wacky roller coaster of angels, demons, gods and the damned, as the brothers Winchester are once again central to and/or start — but then miraculously prevent — an apocalypse, and then at least one of them dies, but not really. Probably. And there will be pop culture references and at least one fourth wall-breaking meta episode full of fan service. That part’s a guarantee.
Hot but oft-estranged brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester go on the road in a vintage muscle car, searching out monsters, ghosts, demons and Daddy, to a soundtrack of 80’s hair bands. Then angels start meddling in their lives, and everything goes even more comprehensively to Hell…
Sam is brought back into the Winchester family business (monster killing) after the demon-related death of his pretty blonde girlfriend. With his hunting-expert father missing, Sam must reluctantly rely on his snarky brother Dean to help track down the demon responsible. They find Dad (), who tells them to kill the accursed, girlfriend- (and Mom-) burning “yellow-eyed” demon with a magic gun. Also, Sam’s psychic now!
With Dad dead, but the demon still at large, Sam and Dean are on the road once more, destroying random beasties while trying to figure out what connection lies between Yellow Eyes, Sam, and a bunch of his super-power-having contemporaries. New friends are met, new enemies created, and the gates of Hell are opened. And — oh, dear! After a pact made with a demon to bring a newly-dead Sam back to life, Dean has only a year to live.
The search for demon-contract loopholes takes the brothers into some murky territory, making alliances with bad girls like Ruby the demon (Katie Cassidy) and Bela the thief (Lauren Cohan). But in the end, their attempts at reneging prove futile, they fail to kill the powerful (so creepy) child-demon Lilith (Sierra McCormick), and Dean is dragged off to Hell.
Dean is back from Hell! What a thoroughly unexpected development. How, though? And, why? Well… it’s ’cause of angels, obviously. The legions of Heaven are gearing up for a showdown with the minions of Hell, and they need Dean in the mix. Sam is also important in the coming war; he becomes addicted to drinking demon blood, hooks up with the new and improved Ruby (Genevieve Cortese) and ends up raising Satan. The Winchesters are both consumed by the ensuing explosion…
… oh, not to worry. God saved them. But with Sam and Dean still first round draft picks for the opposing sides, they must battle their inner demons, as well as many literal ones, in order to save the world from the already-in-progress Apocalypse. With the help of their ex-communicated angel buddy, Castiel, the boys fight the good fight — and each other — in what may well be the end for the entire human race. And after taking on the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, sundry minions of Hell and Heaven, plus Lucifer and the Archangel Michael themselves, it is the boys’ *car that ends up saving the world… but now it is Sam’s turn to go to Hell. (Also, their half-brother Adam goes down into Lucifer’s cage too, but since no one seems to care too much about him, we needn’t either.)
A year without Sam leaves Dean bereft in suburbia, and with a most questionable haircut. But Sam has actually been back the whole time — via Castiel, we later learn — and is more than a little off-kilter. since Castiel can do nothing right this season. Turns out, in being retrieved from Hell, Sam lost his soul. He did, however, find for the orphaned brothers a whole peck of family, all of them monster hunters and none of them up to any good. Eventually, Sam’s soul is returned and the family all dies. Meanwhile, newly-minted King of Hell Crowley inveigles the winsome Castiel into an unlikely alliance, and they work together to open the door to Purgatory, where the soulless dwell. Then Castiel proclaims himself God.
Castiel is not God. Though he craved the worship of the denizens of Purgatory, even he cannot contain their evil, and the worst of the worst, the Leviathans, escape into the world to possess the innocent. One such is entrepreneur Dick Roman ( Patrick Stuart), who becomes their leader and is soon plotting to fatten up and farm humans for his Atkins-loving kind. Escaping our boys’ wrath, he shoots their beloved mentor Bobby (Jim Beaver), making him Dead Leviathan Walking, because now it is personal. But while the Winchesters do get their revenge, Dean and Castiel — who not only went crazy but who is for sure dating demon helpmeet Meg (Rachel Miner) now — soon find themselves cast into Purgatory, from which there can be no escape.
Dean escapes from Purgatory! With the help of his new vampire buddy Benny (), he reunites with his brother, who has been getting on perfectly well without him, thank you very much. Happily, Castiel also escapes, with the help of a slightly sinister angel named Naomi (Amanda Tapping). The rest of the season is mostly taken up with Prophet of the Lord, Kevin (Osric Chau), being kidnapped and forced to translate an ancient text from the original God, which all culminates in pretty much every angel falling from Heaven, thanks to the traitorous, power-hungry Metatron (). Also, a much-beleagured Sam is on the brink of death, and Castiel is human now!
It’s Fallen Angels vs. Team Winchester here, with the heavenly host mad as Hell over losing their lofty positions. A still ailing Sam is healed from within by the sneaky angel Ezekiel, who it turns out is actually one Grabeel, an escapee from Heaven’s supermax thanks to the Fall. Soon under the command of Metatron, but in possession of Sam’s body, he-as-Sam kills Kevin, and then steals the ancient writings that were poor Kevin’s raison detre. Elsewhere, Castiel is annointed as leader of the anti-Metatron league and badass demon Abaddon (Alaina Huffman) attempts to usurp Crowley’
s throne. Both are defeated, the latter by Dean and his new magic sword (with One Ring-style personality effects), and the former by Castiel (with the old “disdainful monologue overheard by minions” trick). But not before Dean is mortally wounded. Does he die? Of course not. Thanks to a demonic curse he received as the sword’s bonus-gift, he is reborn as a… wait for it… demon!
King of Hell Crowley has himself a new best-friend, in the Demon-ish Dean, while Sam feverishly seeks to remove the Mark of Cain and bring his brother back into the fold. But nothing Sam can do is right in this season of craziness, and he makes some bad deals with some worse people in order to save his brother — who is kind of digging his new beserker-frenzy, killing-machine ways, actually. Castiel is thoroughly compromised in Mission Save Dean, and the boys’ hacker pal Charlie (Felicia Day) meets a tragic end at the hands of the Steins, née Frankensteins (yep) as a result of it all. Meanwhile, Crowley’s manipulative, centuries-old witch of a mother, Rowena (Ruth Connell), reunites with her son, pisses him off and gets exiled from Hell, takes up with Sam to break Dean’s Curse and then sends Castiel mad and sets him on Crowley. But Dean’s curse does indeed get broken, unleashing The Darkness (not the band) that was trapped within it since Biblical times… but not before Dean kills Death (Julian Richings) in order to save Sam. Because of course that happened.
The boys have unleashed some pretty awful things in the past, but nothing that compares to The Darkness, aka Amara, who is, it turns out, God’s sister. She is pretty mad at her brother for locking her away since the beginning of time and wants to tear down all of His creation; God, meanwhile, has been a sulky brat but comes through in the end, only to die alongside his sibling. Yep, God is dead, friends. Other insanity this season includes Lucifer ruling Hell for a bit, inhabiting Castiel for a lot, and then dying; Sam, Dean, Castiel, Crowley and Rowena almost or apparently dying dozens of times; Dean kind of being in love with Amara, and her definitely reciprocating (okay, that part is less crazy); and then just a bunch of random cases being worked even though the end of the world is upon them AT ALL TIMES. And in the end, with his dying breath, God gives Sam and Dean their heart’s desire, which sees Sam about to be shot at the hands of a very cranky British Woman of Letters and Dean discovering their dead mother, resurrected…
Tune into the CW on Thursday, October 13 for the twelfth season premiere.