As Time Goes By
8x12 AquarianStarMain
Production information
Season : 8
Episode : 12
Original airdate : 30 January, 2013
Directed by : Serge Ladouceur
Written by : Adam Glass
Preceded by : LARP and the Real Girl
Followed by : Everybody Hates Hitler

As Time Goes By is the twelfth episode of Season 8 of Supernatural.


Sam and Dean are brought to the secret world of the extinct Men of Letters when their late and long-lost grandfather, Henry Winchester, time travels to the brothers to stop a powerful demon called Abaddon from obtaining the key to all of the Men of Letters' immense and powerful knowledge. As the Winchesters work to get to the key before Abaddon, Henry struggles with the discovery of the tormented hunter that his son John will become.

Full synopsisEdit

In Normal, Illinois in 1958, Henry Winchester says goodbye to his young son, a 4-year-old John, late one night before he heads off to work. Before leaving, Henry promises John that he'll one day explain his mysterious job to his son. Henry then heads to his workplace, a secret hideout in an apartment building for a mysterious order of men in red cloaks who use the Aquarian Star as their symbol, for Henry and his friend Josie Sands to endure their finial initiations into the order. However, Josie is revealed to be possessed by a powerful demon who is immune to the elders' exorcism rites. As the demon slaughters all members of the order other than Henry, one of the crippled elders, Larry Ganem, hands Henry a box and warns him not to let the demon, named Abaddon, get it. Henry flees to the order's supernatural lab in the building, with Abaddon following, and uses his own blood and several other ingredients in the lab to perform a powerful blood spell. Just before Abaddon can get in, Henry completes the spell and is transported away, and emerges in the present day out of a surprised Sam and Dean's motel closet. Henry asks the brothers which of them is John.

When Henry discovers to his confusion that neither of the two men in front of him are John Winchester, he ignores their questions on who he is and heads out (turning Sam and Dean's handcuffs on them when they forcefully try to stop him to get answers out of him). Henry manages to find out that he has arrived via the spell in the year 2013, but Sam and Dean capture him before he can escape further. After the brothers test Henry to confirm he's human, Dean demands to know who he is and what he's doing here, with Dean letting slip to a shocked Henry in the process that John Winchester is the boys' father. Abaddon then arrives through the same closet, having apparently followed Henry through the spell from 1958, and intends to immediately kill the trio and take the box she's after from Henry. In the scuffle, Dean stabs Abaddon with the demon-killing knife, but it fails to kill her; although it does wound and disorient her just long enough for Sam, Dean and Henry to make a quick getaway in the Impala. Abaddon then sets about following the Winchesters to get the box from them, and begins the chase by reading the motel manager's memories to get the Impala's license plates.

After the Winchesters escape Abaddon, while they're pulled over roadside, Sam and Dean demand again from Henry to know what's going on, and Henry reveals that he and Abaddon time travelled to the brothers' motel in the present from Normal, Illinois, 1958. Henry also learns to his shock that John is dead in 2013, and reveals to Sam and Dean that John is his son, making Henry himself the boys' paternal grandfather. Sam and Dean afterwards discuss their grandfather while getting lunch with Henry at a diner; the dialogue between the brothers reveals that when John was a child, Henry disappeared, leading John to believe his father had run out on him and to grow up hating the man. Dean thinks Henry doesn't deserve the brothers' help or sympathy for what his disappearance put John through; but Sam feels otherwise, as Henry's time jump from 1958 means that he probably didn't run out on John after all, but rather time-travelled to here and now and failed to get back to his time. Sam and a reluctant Dean subsequently introduce themselves to their grandfather over food and vice versa, and then discuss Abaddon and what she was after, and how to stop her if they can't kill her. Sam suggests Henry could redo the time travel blood spell to send Abaddon away back to her time, but the spell apparently requires very exotic ingredients, and even so, Henry needs at least a week for his soul's power to recharge from the spell before he can repeat it. Henry is surprised to discover Sam and Dean aren't members of the Aquarian Star order, the Men of Letters, like him, and that they were instead raised by John as hunters (as Henry considers hunters to be rash and savage lowlifes).

Realising something is wrong, Henry forces Sam and Dean to drive with him to the building that serves in 1958 as the Men of Letters' location, but finds that in the present the building is an Astro Comics store with all trace of the Men of Letters gone; indicating that Abaddon's attack and massacre of the elders in 1958 resulted in the order becoming extinct and forgotten in the time gap between then and 2013. Henry finally gives Sam and Dean answers about the Men of Letters; Henry explains that the Men of Letters were an ancient secret order of perceptors and chroniclers, devoted to collecting and chronicling all the supernatural secrets and knowledge of the world over the ages. Membership into the Men of Letters is apparently passed down by bloodline, and thus by bloodline, Sam and Dean are themselves legacies of the order and would have been initiated as Men of Letters if not for the order's extinction.

The Winchesters immediately afterwards set about looking up the incident at the building in 1958 caused by Abaddon's massacre, in hopes that they'll find any of the elders who survived the massacre. In the account of what was assumed by newspapers in 1958 to be a fire at the building, Henry finds an anomaly when Albert Magnus is listed among the names of the deceased elders. Henry, Sam and Dean drive to the cemetery where the dead Men of Letters are buried, and find Magnus' grave. Henry explains that the real Albert Magnus died hundreds of years ago, and that his name was used by the Men of Letters as a common alias when doing incognito work, so this could be a clue if anyone survived Abaddon's massacre. The Winchesters find that all the Men of Letters' graves each have the Aquarian Star on their headstones, except for Larry Ganem's, and they exhume Ganem's corpse. The Winchesters find that the skeleton in the grave is not Ganem's, but that of a World War I veteran called Thomas J. Carry III. Henry realises that Ganem probably survived the massacre, then hid himself by switching identities with Thomas Carry. Meanwhile, Abaddon is still hot on the Winchesters' trail, following it to the Astro Comics store, where she learns what the Winchesters are searching for by reading the store clerk's memories before apparently killing her.

Back at their motel that night, Sam looks up Thomas Carry in hopes of finding where he is if it is indeed Larry Ganem with Carry's identity, while also looking in John's journal for any information regarding Abaddon. Henry, meanwhile, whistles As Time Goes By, and Sam and Dean recognise the tune as John used to whistle it. Henry explains that he used the tune as a successful lullaby to help a young John sleep after John got scared by a horror movie. Sam discovers from John's journal that according to John's interrogation of a demon he exorcised years before, Abaddon is apparently a Knight of Hell. Henry identifies Knights of Hell as a very pure, strong and dangerous order consisting of the earliest demons, who were thought to have been exterminated by the archangels. Sam also learns that someone under Thomas Carry's identity is alive and married in Lebanon, Kansas today, 127 years after the real Thomas Carry was born, and the Winchesters are certain that this person is Larry Ganem. Henry recognises John's hunter journal as one that Henry had himself ordered from a shop in 1958 just before he time travelled away, and pieces together that whatever happens to him in the present, he doesn't get back to his time, and John grows up alone without him. Henry is upset to learn that John grew up thinking Henry had run out on him, and Dean declares that John had a horrible and harsh life but kept going to the end and did much more good than bad. Dean gets heated and accuses Henry of putting the Men of Letters before his own family, before storming out. While Sam and Dean sleep, Henry reads through John's journal and what John's life as a Marine and a hunter was like without his father.

The following morning, Sam and Dean wake up to find Henry gone, having left a note in which he declares he intends to make things right, and realise that Henry must be trying to repeat the blood spell and get back to his time so he can try and change the course of John's life for the better. Realising that they need to stop Henry due to the heavy risks of changing the past, Dean heads to a local store which sells real hoodoo in hopes of finding and stopping Henry; while Sam goes to Lebanon to get to Larry Ganem before Abaddon catches up with the Winchesters. Sam arrives at an elderly Larry Ganem's home, claiming that Henry Winchester is dead but that the box Larry gave Henry in 1958 is safe, and Sam asks about what the box is and why Abaddon is after it. Larry explains that the box contains a key which is the sole means in existence of accessing a secret Men of Letters bunker which houses all the countless and powerful supernatural artefacts and knowledge the Men of Letters ever collected. Larry instructs Sam that since Abaddon apparently cannot be killed, the only way to keep her from getting the powerful secrets and weapons within the bunker is by throwing the key in and sealing the bunker door forever; since the bunker is supernaturally protected against entrance by all and any supernatural forces and entities without the key, if the key is lost then the bunker's powerful collection will remain lost and sealed away and out of the wrong hands forever. Once Larry gives Sam the bunker's coordinates and Sam reveals to Larry that the key is with Dean, Larry's wife reveals herself to be possessed by Abaddon; who knocks Sam out and kills Larry, before repossessing Josie's body.

Meanwhile, Dean tracks Henry down to the real hoodoo store as Henry begins the time travel blood spell to try and get back to his time. Henry reveals he's been left beyond devastated by learning from John's journal how hard and horrible John's life was in his absence, and he intends to go back in time to an hour before Abaddon attacked; in hopes of stopping the Men of Letters from being wiped out, and of being there to raise John to have a happier and less violent life. Dean tries to persuade Henry against it; because recasting the spell before his soul has fully recovered could kill Henry, and because if Henry changes the past it could erase all the good deeds that Sam and Dean have ever done; including the derailment of the Apocalypse. When Henry refuses to listen and still intends to go ahead with this, Dean knocks Henry out before he can complete the time spell. Meanwhile, Abaddon calls Dean after killing Ganem and capturing Sam, and demands that Dean meet her in Lebanon at a warehouse for a trade - Henry and the key for Sam, or Sam dies.

Dean subsequently drives with a cuffed and captive Henry to the warehouse in Lebanon, where he rendezvouses with Abaddon for the trade. Abaddon gives Sam back to Dean when Dean hands Henry with the key in his pocket over to Abaddon; but Abaddon then goes back on the deal and stops the brothers from leaving, intending to kill them with Henry, and severely wounds Henry in front of the boys by stabing him through the belly with her fist. However, Dean and Henry have themselves second-guessed Abaddon's betrayal and planned to stop her and save Sam without the deal; while Abaddon is briefly distracted, Henry manages to use a concealed gun to fire a bullet into Abaddon's skull, which binds Abaddon's powers and restricts her movements to the spot. It is revealed that Henry and Dean's plan was that once Abaddon double-crossed them, Henry would stop Abaddon by shooting her with a bullet engraved with a devil's trap, so that the devil's trap's binding effects on demons would lock Abaddon in her vessel and bind her powers and immobilise her. As the Winchesters still don't have a way of killing Abaddon, Dean has an alternative solution - he decapitates Abaddon to fully incapacitate her, and plans to cut Abaddon's vessel up and bury the pieces under cement, with the devil's trap bullet stopping Abaddon from ever escaping the buried pieces. With the threat of Abaddon stopped, Sam and Dean rush over to Henry's sides as he lies dying from the mortal injury Abaddon gave him. Both the brothers are impressed with how well Henry did, and Henry admits that his initial low opinion of the brothers as hunters was wrong and that Sam and Dean are indeed true Winchesters. With his dying breaths, Henry says that while he never personally knew the man John grew up to be, he knows from what kind of strong and stoic and resourceful men Sam and Dean are that Henry would have been proud of his son.

After Henry's death, Sam and Dean bury him at the cemetery among the other deceased Men of Letters and mark his grave, then pay their respects to their late grandfather. Sam says that the brothers' encounter with Henry has given Sam an epiphany about what Cupid meant when he told Sam and Dean three years ago (in My Bloody Valentine) why Heaven went to so much trouble bringing the brothers' parents together - to unite the brains and resourcefulness of the Winchesters with the brawns and strength of the Campbells. Dean admits that he is glad and grateful that Sam sees this beacon of hope, as Dean himself sees nothing but death in their family tree. The brothers also look at a photo from Henry's wallet of Henry and John together and happy in John's childhood, and Dean laments how John spent so many years angry at his father and thinking he'd run off, when in reality Henry had sacrificed himself saving his grandsons. With Abaddon stopped and the key now in their hands, Sam and Dean set about finding the secret bunker, hoping it'll still be standing.








Supernatural Season 8
We Need to Talk About KevinWhat's Up, Tiger Mommy?HeartacheBittenBlood BrotherSouthern ComfortA Little Slice of KevinHunter HeroiciCitizen FangTorn and FrayedLARP and the Real GirlAs Time Goes ByEverybody Hates HitlerTrial and ErrorMan's Best Friend with BenefitsRemember the TitansGoodbye StrangerFreaks and GeeksTaxi DriverPac-Man FeverThe Great EscapistClip ShowSacrifice