Character growth and the circular narrative in season 12.
This season will never cease to amaze me with just how meta it is. The bookending is just fantastic and these are only a few examples.
1. Cas having Dean torn away from him. The emotional reunion. Dean now having Cas torn away from him in turn. When Dean ‘died’ Cas only cared and asked about Dean even though God was dying, the world was ending and the Sun suddenly rejuvenated, indicating that he should be dead. When Dean thinks Cas is dead, he looks at Lucifer in shock rather than fear, when Jack is born Sam runs into the house, Dean just kneels down in shock by Cas’s side. Their reactions are heavily mirrored.
2. Angel blade stabbings. The visual narrative of these stabbings is fantastic. Mary stabbed Ms Watts in the back with an Angel blade while she was threatening Dean and Cas. In 12x09 Cas then stabs Billie in the back with an Angel blade while she is threatening Dean, Sam and Mary. In 12x10 Cas stabs Ishim in the back after he threatened Dean. Finally Lucifer stabs Cas in the back with an Angel blade while he is threatening Sam and Dean, only for Mary to knuckle dust him into the rift (Knuckle dusters that were first introduced into the show by MS WATTS by the way).
3. “Are you ok? No”. Dean started the season more open but still with the facade in place. Asking Mary if she is ok, to which she replies NO instead of the usual “I’m fine”, which is a relatively new concept for our Winchester brothers, to actually show how you feel. By 12x23 Dean has gone through such a journey he actually mirrors Mary’s words and admit that he is not fine, re emphasising his character growth from the hugely important 12x22 Mary/Dean interactions.
4. Crowley. Started the season desperately trying to cling onto his power, to defeat Lucifer, seeking out his minions, killing them with an Angel blade. He ends the season sacrificing himself with the same blade to stop Lucifer after admitting that he has had enough, this is not what he wants. Again, a fantastic mirror for the dark side and metaphorical death of Performing!Dean, which Crowley has always represented.
5. Sam’s self forgiveness arc. Sam starts out the season alone, trapped and hallucinating that Dean, Mary and others all hate him, that everything bad that happened to them was his fault. By the end Dean has let Sam go from the parent - child dynamic. Their toxic codependency is let go and they both grow and benefit immediately from this, Sam defeating the MoL and Dean saving their mother.
I wish I could go on and on because there is so much more. But this is such a fantastic season character wise and the cinematographic choices, mirrors and tropes were so well handled, I really look forward to seeing how it continues into season 13.