In advance of the Supernatural season 13 premiere, we’ve got a recap reminder of season 12 and a spoiler roundup for what comes next.

Only a few more sleeps until Supernatural returns with its mammoth 13th season, and the record-breaking series shows no hint of slowing down. It’s a new era under new showrunner Andrew Dabb, and we at Hypable think the show is better than ever. Are you ready for Lucky 13? In case you haven’t managed to do a full rewatch since season 12 was released on DVD, or if you’re looking to jump back in after some time away, we’ve done a bit of a refresher for you so that you can be prepared and up to date on Thursday night. As for what you can expect to see in season 13, we’ve also rounded up all the major news, but be warned, that portion of the article is not for the spoiler-phobic!

The Road So Far

The British Men of Letters

The season 11 finale set up the still-active British chapter of the Men of Letters as a major factor of season 12, and indeed, over the course of the season, they gave the Winchesters plenty to think about. Initially, Sam is shot, kidnapped and tortured for information by Toni Bevell, a posh and determined operative who introduces Sam, and the audience, to the state of supernatural affairs in Britain – completely under control for over fifty years. The Brits want to round up the American hunting community and lead them in performing the same level of operation in the States – using the hunters as the gruntwork cannon fodder, supplied by the intel, magic and technology of the Brits in order to eliminate many, many more targets.

Toni’s initial torture of Sam is an attempt to gain information about the state of the hunting community from someone she views as a threat and liability – the Winchesters have been watched for a long time. The carrot to Toni’s stick is Mick Davies, a more approachable operative who claims that Toni’s actions were rogue and that the BMoL really want to extend a hand in friendship. He’s not initially trusted either, but eventually, after helping Mary and Cas save Sam and Dean, he and his ruthless field agent Mr Ketch do become allies with the Winchester family, going on hunts together.

Early on, we get big warning signs that the Brits’ idea of right, wrong, good and evil is very different to the Winchesters – Ketch kills a psychic girl whom Sam and Dean saved – but Mick begins to soften to Sam and Dean’s way of life, recognizing the personhood of those supernatural who sometimes need saving, and begins to assess his ideas of right and wrong. This gets him killed – by no other than Ketch, who reports to Dr Hess, one of the leaders of the British chapter, who deems the American mission a failure and orders all opposing parties eliminated.

When Sam and Dean get wind of how bad things really are, they reach out to the wider hunting network – the expansion of this community and how Sam and Dean are viewed within it was also a refreshing factor of season 12 – and fight back against the Brits, with Sam finally stepping up to the plate and embracing the general he was meant to be, leading a huge raid on the HQ, destroying the compound and removing the British Men of Letters from power. This is all out of the way by the penultimate episode of the season, leaving the finale to focus solely on…

The son of Satan

After being released to fight Amara in season 11, Lucifer was on the lam throughout most of season 12, with no master plan aside from pursuing aimless hedonism and devotion. The first half of the season sees Castiel, who feels responsible for Lucifer’s freedom, teaming up with Crowley, who also wants his old enemy re-caged, in order to track Lucifer down, and they call in Rowena and the Winchesters as assists when necessary.

The devil possesses a number of powerful figures, including rockstar Vince Vincente and the fictional sitting president, Jefferson Rooney, and it’s while inside POTUS that he intentionally impregnates a presidential aide, Kelly Kline, creating a nephilim. The uncertain innocence of the nephilim, who possesses a world-ending cocktail of angelic grace and a human soul, is a source of conflict between the angels, the Winchesters and Kelly – they teeter between trying to kill it and trying to find a better solution.

Kelly is at first kidnapped by Dagon, a Prince of Hell (the same high-ranking class of demon as Azazel, the original yellow-eyed demon) who hopes to bring Lucifer and his son together, but Castiel manages to recover her. When Castiel is attempting to take Kelly to heaven, the unborn nephilim is able to brainwash him, and Cas and Kelly run away together to protect the child, who Kelly – knowing the birth will kill her – plans to name Jack.

The Winchesters are able to expel Lucifer from the president (and served time in a secret government facility, for his attempted murder!) but for most of the season they assume that he’s back in the cage – however, Crowley had other plans, trapping Lucifer in the body of his old familiar vessel Nick, in an attempt to show off his control over his foe. This backfires. Lucifer is able to take control of his body and follows Cas and Kelly to their safehouse to claim his child.

The return of Mary Winchester

Huge for our boys (and hopefully pretty permanent) was the reintroduction of Mary Winchester, mother of Sam and Dean, whose death at the hands of Azazel set off the entire course of events that became Supernatural. Amara brought her back from the dead as a parting gift for Dean in the season 11 finale, and Samantha Smith finally gets a chance to play a real part in the narrative that her character’s fridging started.

Mary was raised a hunter, and ran away from it all for a normal life with the then-naive John Winchester. However, it was her deal with a demon to save John’s life that caused her eventual death, John’s descent into hunting, and Sam’s grooming as one of the Special Children, a vessel for Lucifer. Mary’s return and development in season 12 is one of Supernatural’s finest choices, expanding the Winchester family and allowing a female lead character to become so much more than her sons’ romanticized ideas of her.

Mary struggles with her return to the world, and mourns for her children, who did not get the normal life she desperately wanted for them. She breaks Sam’s and Dean’s hearts a little when she needs space from them, but they come to understand one another and become great friends and allies at their own pace. The family bond is tested again when Mary buys in to the British Men of Letters’ sales pitch, hoping to help create a world where Sam and Dean can get out of hunting, but even when this is exposed, the sense of betrayal is overcome fairly quickly as Dean follows Sam’s lead on teaming up.

When the more sinister faction of Brits take over and deem the American operation a failure, things take a turn for the worse – Mary is kidnapped and brainwashed by Toni and Ketch, basically becoming their very own Winter Soldier, a murder machine used to take out other hunters who haven’t complied. Dean is able to enter Mary’s mind and bring her back into herself, and she rejoins her sons for the final fight against Lucifer.

The clean slate

Regardless of the actual plot, season 12 was one of the most satisfying stretches of Supernatural in a long time purely because the lead characters have grown into a really healthy place emotionally. The huge Team Chuck team-up and Dean’s reprieve from self-sacrifice in season 11 – a sacrifice he was willing to make to save the world, not as part of the ongoing cycle of personal trauma and debt and guilt passed back and forth between him and Sam for the ten years prior – left Sam, Dean and Castiel in a place of support, balance, trust and unconditional love.

Despite all the external drama happening, it was surprisingly easy to be happy FOR the characters – they have a home, they have a secure safety net, they have a hopeful outlook – or at least, a marked improvement on “I hate myself and death is coming so what’s even the point.” They have grown into much more comfortable versions of themselves. They handle conflict between themselves differently – much, much better. Even when there’s a hidden truth or a reckless choice, there’s very little guilt or grudges, much more “Okay, I understand why you did it, let’s see how this goes.” There’s maybe “I need some time.”

Amongst themselves, their behavior and decision-making is shockingly, thrillingly reasonable – to the point where half an episode’s humorous bickering about Cas saving the Winchesters from a deal with a reaper ends in a literal “I’m not mad, I’m worried” conversation. They communicate now. With words. Yes, there are still moments where someone was willing to die, but the tone of it all is so, so different. Even Crowley, who’s been on a subtle path of redemption for several years, finally reached that turning point where it’d be absolutely implausible for him to ever be shown working against the Winchesters ever again, and received validation from his beloved Dean for it.

There is so much forgiveness. There are so many lessons learnt, so much old baggage catharcized – the brothers’ acceptance of their mother as a flawed human being, Dean finally confronting Mary about his ruined childhood, Sam embracing his natural power and dominance that he’s always feared being corrupted by, Dean stepping back and encouraging his brother to lead instead of trying to protect him, Castiel’s place in the Winchester family being shouted about over and over again, practically through a megaphone. There’s never been a season with more exchanges of “I love you.” This dynamic between the lead characters, this mental state, is a dream come true.

The final showdown

Having tidied up after the British Men of Letters and in the process discovered that Lucifer is not safely caged away like they thought, the Winchesters reunite to track down Castiel and Kelly Kline and save them from Lucifer’s clutches, still hopeful to remove the baby’s powers and let it live a normal life. Meanwhile, as Kelly goes into labor at the safehouse, the nephilim’s energy opens a rift in the universe, which Cas enters to discover a dusty post-apocalyptic wasteland. He meets a figure he recognizes, who gives him information about this new world.

When Sam and Dean find the safehouse, Cas shows them the rift and the brothers take a look by themselves, they also meet Castiel’s new ally – an alternate universe version of Bobby Singer – and they put together the pieces: this is a world where John died young and Azazel killed Mary too, where a successful apocalypse took place, because Sam and Dean were never born to stop it. Crowley, who’d been trying his best to join the mission despite Sam and Dean’s misgivings, appears with a solution – a plan to lock Lucifer in this realm. It requires activation with a lifeforce, and Crowley gives his own, killing himself to save the Winchesters and the world.

Castiel, unaware of the proceedings, follows Sam and Dean back into the new world too late, and goes to attack Lucifer as the rift is sealing. He makes it back out, but so does Lucifer, who stabs Cas in the back with his own angel blade, killing him – wingprints and all. Mary then attacks Lucifer on behalf of her shellshocked sons, and the pair of them fall back through the rift together, sealed inside the Apocalypse world away from Sam and Dean.

As Dean remains reeling and kneeling by Castiel’s body, Sam returns to the house to find Kelly’s dead body, labor complete and, instead of a baby Jack, a fully grown young man crouched in the corner of the room, eyes glowing.

Also in Supernatural season 12: Mary’s meatloaf is a lie, Dean gave Castiel a mixtape, Sam harboured a secret love for hair rock, Castiel once had a female vessel and Mary – probably more than once – got busy in the backseat of Baby, Crowley had a coronation flashback, Claire Novak became a werewolf for a hot second, Rowena got crispy-fried by Lucifer, Eileen died needlessly and better be resurrected for Wayward Sisters, Sam killed the alpha vampire, and Dean killed Hitler.

Next, on ‘Supernatural’

Thanks to a combination of network press releases, major outlet exclusive reveals, sneak peek videos (including an official CW trailer, a production team trailer, and an iTunes exclusive for those purchasing the digital download season pass) cast and crew social media, set visit reports, convention panels, and of course, our own roundtable interviews with the cast at SDCC, we’ve pieced together a fair amount of information about what you can expect from at least the first half of Supernatural season 13. Spoilers ahead!

  • It’ll pick up exactly where season 13 left off, at the lakeside house with Castiel dead, and Mary trapped in Apocalypse world, and Jack fully grown.
  • Dean will be in a very dark place due to grief, after losing Cas, Mary and even Crowley. Sam is slightly more optimistic and practical, and he’ll believe that Mary, at least, can be recovered.
  • Mary is very much alive in the Apocalypse world, and may be stuck there with Lucifer for a while.
  • Jack, played by Alexander Calvert, is a young adult and displays the classic angelic overly literal interpretation of conversation and lack of understanding of humanity.
  • Sam and Dean will clash over whether Jack is a threat, with Dean wanting to kill him and Sam wanting to use him, as Jack is their best hope for opening another portal to Apocalypse World.
  • Jack will not have a lot of understanding or control over his powers, and Sam will try to help him with this.
  • Alexander Calvert’s unexpected promotion to series regular implies that Jack may be a new long-term main character.
  • Mark Sheppard will not return as a series regular, implying that Crowley’s death is permanent.
  • Misha Collins will return as Castiel – how, and in what state, we don’t know, but we may see what happens to an angel’s consciousness after death.

  • Cas will be in on a plane of existence that the show has mentioned before but never visited. Given the released episode titles, it’s likely that we’ll see him in The Empty that Billie threatened.
  • We are pretty likely to see more than one version of Cas before he returns to normal.
  • Cas will reunite with the Winchesters and Jack by episode 6.
  • Wayward Sisters, the fan-driven, female-led spin-off, will get its true backdoor pilot for episode 10, the Supernatural mid-season premiere in January.
  • It will star Kim Rhodes as Jody Mills, Briana Buckmaster as Donna Hanscum, Kathryn Newton as Claire Novak, Katherine Ramdeen as Alex Jones, and newcomers Clark Backo as Patience Turner and Yadira Guevara-Prip as Kaia Nieves.
  • We’ll first meet Patience in episode 3, where we’ll also see the return of Jody Mills and the psychic Missouri Moseley, played by Loretta Devine. Patience is Missouri’s granddaughter.
  • Patience, Jody and Dean will face a wraith.
  • We’ll meet Kaia in episode 9. She’s a Native American character with a unique power: she walks between worlds in her dreams.
  • Following on from the reveal of alt-universe Bobby in the season 12 finale, some other old favorites will return as new versions of themselves, or in new bodies.

  • One of these will be the archangel Michael, played by Christian Keyes. This world’s Michael will be a Genghis Khan-like conquerer.
  • Some familiar (or long-forgotten) faces will return in the real world as well, including, as mentioned, Missouri, and also Donatello the prophet.
  • Another new contender will be Asmodeus, the remaining Prince of Hell, who was namedropped during season 12. He seems to be gunning for the throne of Hell and will be played by Jeffrey Vincent Parise.
  • Cast member-turned-director Richard Speight Jr will again direct two episodes this season. No word on whether we will see his character Gabriel on screen.
  • Dean (presumably in a hallucination) or something wearing Dean-shape (like a shifter) will rip Dean’s face off with his own hands at some point.
  • Sam will show off his anti-possession tattoo at some point.
  • There’s going to be an animated Scooby-Doo episode. It will feature all three of Team Free Will – Sam, Dean and Cas – and the voiceovers were recorded well before the rest of the season went into production.
  • There’s going to be a vampire train heist.
  • Sam and Dean will finally go to family therapy… albeit (probably) undercover.

‘Supernatural’ returns this Thursday, October 12 at 8/7c on The CW

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