Supernatural, Ep. 7.12, “Time After Time After Time”: Time Travel for the Win, Yet Again

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Supernatural Review, Season 7, Episode 12: “Time After Time After Time”
Written by Robbie Thompson
Directed by Phil Sgriccia
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on the CW

This week, on Supernatural: Paper beats rock, Sheriff Jody Mills returns, and Dean gets his Untouchables on.

Supernatural has a fine tradition of time travel episodes. They’ve used the device several times, almost entirely to great success. They’ve travelled backwards, forwards, looped; they met their parents twice, hung out with Samuel Colt, and now, after accidentally hitching a ride with Chronos, God of Time, Dean gets to go Hunting with Eliot Ness. Unlike last week’s unfortunately paced episode, “Time After Time After Time” balances its serial and standalone elements well, focusing on the case of the week, or more accurately, Dean’s trip to 1940s Land, while touching lightly upon the overarching storyline.

Though they’re mostly set aside this week, the Leviathans do get a mention or two, humorously at the beginning and forebodingly at the end. Bringing Sheriff Jody Mills in allows for a nice, and subtle, reminder of Bobby’s loss- Jody looks to be growing into the Ellen role and that strong (read: badass) motherly presence is welcome. Kim Rhodes is good here, as ever, and hopefully she’ll be making more regular appearances from now on. Sam is mostly sidelined, though Jared Padalecki plays the melancholy of his scenes with Rhodes well, and the brief scene with the elderly Lily functions well to dial up the tension.

The bulk of the fun, however, comes with Dean. As in last season’s jaunt to the Old West, Dean displays his inner dork, geeking out about Eliot Ness, quoting The Untouchables, getting inspiration from Back to the Future 3, and generally regressing to a childlike state. Jensen Ackles is a blast to watch and it’s a relief to see a happy Dean, however superficially and however briefly. The pairing of the setting, 1944, and celebrity historical figure, Eliot Ness, seems a bit strange, and few audience members will know that Ness spent time in Canton, OH around then, as he is so strongly identified with Chicago in popular culture. On the whole, however, it works.

Ness’s Bobby surrogate, Ezra, is fun, as is Dean’s face after she makes her move, but much of the standalone arc comes down to Nicholas Lea as Ness, solid, if not particularly memorable, and Jason Dohring as Chronos, who is great in his limited role. Dohring brings strength, menace, wit, and pathos to his brief appearance and it’s a shame he’s presumably not returning. Perhaps his best scene is his final one, which provides the most effective episode cliffhanger in a while (Bobby’s bullet wound included). The attention to detail, from the CGI light pulsing through his veins to the blood in his mouth, makes his prophesy, for lack of a better word, all the more ominous.

Several of the smaller touches throughout the episode add to the fun- the costuming, makeup, set design, music, and downright swagger of the 40’s scenes contrast strongly with the present, offering respite for Dean as well as the audience. The weapon and attack used against Chronos, a particular stake through the heart, is a nice callback to earlier episodes featuring Gods (the Trickster primary amongst them), and the notion of Dean somehow having technological know-how is an entertaining one. There are quotable lines galore, with Sam’s inquiry of Dean’s computing preferences as a particular favorite, and despite the fun, a sense of threat remains.

With ten episodes left in the season, and no end in sight for the Leviathan storyline, (mostly) standalones like this make for a nice change and, from the look of the episode-ending promo, episode 13 will follow suit. Supernatural has done incredibly effective highly-serialized stories before, but at this point, genre standalones, with a strong dose of fun, seem to be its strength. “Time After Time After Time” is a fine example- here’s hoping we get more like it before returning to the morass of the Leviathans.

What did you think of this week’s episode? How does it rank for you next to the other Supernatural time travel episodes? Post your thoughts below!

Kate Kulzick

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