TIME travel has always proved fertile ground for Supernatural's writers, producing some of the best-loved episodes.
Think season four's In the Beginning, where Dean (Jensen Ackles) discovers his mother was not only a "babe" but from a long line of hunters, or season five's brilliant post-apocalyptic trip to the future in The End where Dean meets future Dean, a man who's prepared to sacrifice his friends to kill the Devil.
Even the uneven season seven, disliked overall by some fans, threw up a good time travel episode in Time After Time where Dean, in pursuit of Cronos the God of Time, discovers Eliot Ness was a hunter.
Last week season eight took a different twist, throwing a new character from the past into our time in As Time Goes By. We meet Henry Winchester, Sam and Dean's grandfather, who has time travelled to his son John for help in stopping a demon. Instead, with John dead, he falls out of a closet and comes upon his grandsons Sam and Dean.
And here the writers introduce a fascinating, game-changing twist to the season. Henry, it seems, is a "Man of Letters", a secret organisation of "preceptors, beholders, chroniclers of all which man does not understand", as Henry puts it. Dean interprets this to mean "You're like Yodas to our Jedis".
I love the Men of Letters' complication which is explored further in tonight's episode Everybody Hates Hitler; it backs up the idea presented in season five that heaven was very keen for the union of Mary Campbell and John Winchester as it was a union, we now learn, of the "hunter" line and the Men of Letters' line.
It also hints at an interesting relationship between the educated Men of Letters and hunters, who Men of Letters apparently think of as "apes". Henry is certainly disappointed that his grandsons are hunters and weren't trained as Men of Letters as their heritage demanded.
As Time Goes By continues the run of refreshing episodes in season eight. After a bleak season seven, with occasional glimpses of delight, like the Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo, season eight has come to life over the past weeks, particularly with episodes like LARP and the Real Girl, which again featured the character Charlie Bradbury from the Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo.
Tonight's episode Everybody Hates Hitler continues this resurgence. The story sounds a little silly on paper, but it actually comes together well.
It kicks off in Belarus at a Nazi - yes, a Nazi, encampment where (spoiler alert here) a monster of some sort attacks the Nazis (though we just can't feel sorry for them as they're ripped up).
The action then returns to 2013 where the brothers investigate the death of a Rabbi researching Nazi necromancers. When they're attacked by a golem belonging the Rabbi's grandson, we know we're in for a fun ride. And as Supernatural fans know, the show does "fun" well.
The writers also develop the Men of Letters' theme, with the boys taking the key brought to them by Henry and unlocking a bunker of sorts - and a luxury bunker at that - where all the knowledge of the Men of Letters is kept. It's the equivalent of a "bat cave" for the boys, who have been without a home and refuge since the creepy Leviathans destroyed Bobby's house in season seven.
This entire Men of Letters theme opens up all sorts of future possibilities for Supernatural, given what we already know about the Men of Letters' global reach and power. Where will it take us? We may not find out until the resolution of the "closing the gates of hell" storyline.
In the meantime, Supernatural has been reinvigorated with the prospect of an exciting and intriguing end to season eight.
Supernatural, staring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, is on Eleven at 8.30pm on Mondays.
For more reviews and previews, go to www.tvtragic.net.
Join the Community.
Get your local news, your way.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.