Supernatural S12E17 Review: The British Invasion

Dagon Supernatural The British Invasion“The British Invasion” brings together a lot of pieces on the Supernatural board, moving forward the story of the British Men of Letters in conjunction with that of Satan’s unborn child. Written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner, and directed by John Showalter, “The British Invasion” reveals what we already suspected—that the British Men of Letters are a tyrannical organization that kills indiscriminately. Sam and Dean have yet to learn about the true nature of this organization, but when they do all hell will break loose on Supernatural.

The Code

We learn that Mick Davies had a Dickensian childhood as a street urchin orphan. He was taken in by the British Men of Letters after pickpocketing a cursed coin. Sounds like he grew up in the 1890s, not the 1980s. During his education at Kendricks Academy, Mick was expected to kill his best friend in order to prove that he would execute orders without question. He is haunted by this memory. His former Headmistress, Dr. Hess, the Dolores Umbridge of Kendricks, is who Mick now reports to.

Throughout “The British Invasion” there’s a lot of talk about “the code” of the British Men of Letters. You would’ve thought we’d have heard a lot more about this important code from Mick, Ketch, or even Lady Toni, well before this episode. But writers Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner sometimes choose to do their own thing, even if it feels incongruent.

Dr. Hess isn’t so impressed with the Winchesters or the American hunters, especially after she learns that a Nephilim sired by Satan is about to be born. She tells Mick, “We don’t have time to court a handful of mangy Colonials. Not anymore. So either Sam and Dean and their ill-bred lot learn to obey, or you turn them over to Mr. Ketch and start fresh.” She tells him to “assimilate or eliminate.” The expectation of blindly following orders, exterminating anyone who is different or doesn’t obey, and trying to establish control in another country—next thing you know we’ll be hearing about their need for lebensraum (living space). Her name is Hess, after all.

After bonding with the Winchester brothers, Mick begins to develop his own sense of morality, which is at odds with the Men of Letters code. When Mick is faced with having to kill another innocent in order to follow the code, Sam talks him down:

“I know you guys have this Men of Letters code that you blindly answer to, but look—you don’t have to do that. Mick. You’re better than that. You only have to answer to yourself. You only have to do what you know is right. You only have to answer to your own code.”

Mick’s freshly developed ethical integrity is challenged when Dr. Hess shows up in the US. Despite Mick’s support for the Winchesters’ methods, Dr. Hess insists they must follow the code.

Dr. Hess: “The code is not a suggestion. It’s an absolute. The code is what separates us from the monsters. It is the order by which we all live.”
Mick: “No, The code is what makes a young boy kill his best friend. When I was a child I had nothing. I owed you everything and I obeyed. But I’m a man now, Dr. Hess, and I can see the choices. And I choose to do the right thing.”

Though he does speak his mind, Mick doesn’t get the opportunity to act on his conscience, because Ketch shoots him in the back of the head, further reinforcing the idea that unless you’ve got supernatural powers to protect you, getting close to the Winchesters will get you killed.

Despite his death, the development of Mick’s moral conscience was a pretty good story arc for this British Man of Letters. Mick shows himself to be less Fagin and more Oliver Twist. With the only voice of moderation in The British Men of Letters dead, it seems that it’s not just the Winchesters in danger, but the whole American hunting community.

Having it All

Mary Winchester is still off hunting with the psychopath Mr. Ketch. Though we softened a bit on her after the episode “The Raid,” the writers are sure making it hard to like Mary. First, she doesn’t want to spend time with Sam and Dean, then she goes behind their backs to help the organization that tortured Sam, and now she sleeps with killer Ketch. When Ketch tells Mary, “Mrs. Winchester, I believe you’re drawn to danger,” we were hoping that he wasn’t one of the dangers she is drawn to, but Mary disappoints once again. And yes, moms deserve a fun roll in the hotel sheets. Just not with serial killers.

The Mary/Ketch story seemed to complicate an already complex episode that was dealing with the British Men of Letters code, the hunt for Kelly, and the Crowley/Lucifer dynamic. The Mary narrative was just one too many storylines. Someone must have realized that we would hate Mary sleeping with Ketch that much more if it happened after he shot Mick. Either way, the whole thing makes her look like a very bad judge of character.

What’s hard to take about the Mary Winchester storyline is that it’s being presented as some sort of false feminist manifesto. She argues that Ketch is trying to box her in as either a hunter or a mom, just she believes her sons are doing.

Ketch: “So you want to have it all.”
Mary: “Tryin’ to.”
Ketch: “Good for you.”

Nobody cares if she hunts. Nobody expects her to make sandwiches with the crusts cut off for Sam and Dean. What viewers do expect is that she would want to spend a bit more time with her children, who have already experienced a lifetime without her. Is it us, or does it seem like Bobby Singer has spent more time with the Winchester brothers since he died than Mary Winchester has since she came back to life? Why can’t she hunt with Sam and Dean instead of serial killer Ketch? Even if she wants to work outside the family, why go long stretches without contacting her sons? It just seems cold and cruel. We didn’t like it when John Winchester did it in the first season and we don’t like it when Mary Winchester does it now.

The Container

Though the British Men of Letters are just learning about the spawn of Satan, the Winchesters are using all their hunter contacts to try to track down Kelly Kline. When Mick asks why they hadn’t told him anything about Kelly, Dean tells Mick, “’Cause it’s kind of a need-to-know kind of thing.” Mick scolds them for not killing Kelly, referencing the above-mentioned code.

This story had a fun flirtmance between Sam and Eileen Leahy, the banshee-haunted hunter who we last saw in “Into the Mystic.” Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) and Shoshannah Stern (Eileen Leahy) even have enough chemistry as actors to make their flirting seem convincing. A couple more episodes of Sam and Eileen smiling at each other would be pretty great, particularly in a season that doesn’t have an end-of-the-world threat looming. It’s a good time to loosen up a bit (as long as it’s not with a psychopath). Let’s hope that romance wasn’t created just for Ketch to kill Eileen and turn Sam against the British Men of Letters.

It seems inconsistent that Sam and Dean, who rarely bother to check if demon-possessed humans are still alive before shanking them, would work so hard to spare Kelly’s life. They just barely sent Crowley’s son Gavin to his death in the episode “Family Feud,” sending him back in time to a ship destined to sink, without even considering other options. And let’s face it—it’s a little late to terminate this Satanic pregnancy, so it’s hard to imagine what their plan was even they could have kept Kelly away from Dagon. Will Kelly be so eager to keep her son now that Dagon has revealed that his birth will mean her death?

Despite the shortcomings of the story, Dagon (played by Ali Ahn) is pretty funny to watch as a bored babysitter (“Do you need a pillow, or whatever?”). Of course, she can get motivated when she needs to. It was fun to watch as she appeared, knocked Sam and Dean around, and disappeared with Kelly just in time for Renny Rawlins to get shot. Even as he fell back, dying, you expected to hear, “Renny Evans, top of my classssss ….”

Meet the Master

Lucifer may be physically controlled by Crowley, but that doesn’t stop Luci from telepathically contacting Dagon to check on his unborn son. He warns her, “Don’t fail me, Dagon. Not again.”

After Lucifer makes a show of being submissive by licking the floor, Crowley trots his new pet out in front of his “loyalish” minions for affirmation as the one true king. Lucifer makes a proclamation that there is only one true leader of Hell, all while smirking and winking at the demons. He flashes his red eyes and tells them, “Anyone who does not support this one true king can be assured of suffering unendurable and everlasting agony.” It’s quite the mixed message.

One of the demons gets the message and comes to Lucifer when Crowley is out. Lucifer points out that it’s a smart move, because “When the dust settles, there’s only gong to be one of us standing, and it ain’t going to be the guy with an accent.” The demon examines Lucifer’s vessel, as well as the system that keeps Crowley in control. The demon reports the vessel is completely sound, but he can’t turn off the security system that Crowley uses to control Lucifer. This battle between Lucifer and Crowley continues to hold our attention, in part because both Mark Sheppard (Crowley) and Mark Pellegrino (Lucifer) are fascinating to watch.

“The British Invasion” Review

With 23 episodes, Supernatural knows how to draw out a story, mixing in various elements throughout the season.

“The British Invasion” reveals that the British Men of Letters follows a moral code very different from that of the Winchesters. With Mick gone, the British Men of Letters left on the board seem like clichéd British characters. Despite Mick’s Gryffindor conversion, Kendricks Academy clearly follows a Slytherin kind of ethic. We’ll be sad to see Mick go, being that most of the other British characters aren’t particularly likable. Maybe it was just Mick’s cockney accent that drew us in. “The British Invasion” is the beginning of the end for Sam and Dean’s foray into the British Men of Letters. Mick’s tip about their bunker key opening all Men of Letters bunkers around world is likely to come in handy down the road, though.

The conflict between Lucifer and Crowley remains engaging, as we never know what either of these two could have up their sleeve. Dagon remains an interesting character with a lot of potential she can still fulfill. Supernatural Season 12 has a lot of interesting paths yet to be followed.

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