Diyah Pera/The CW
Samantha Highfill
December 09, 2016 AT 03:59 PM EST

Supernatural‘s mid-season finale was full of twists: Lucifer as POTUS, Sam and Dean in handcuffs, and of course, there was that whole spawn of Satan thing. But as Sam and Dean joined forces with Castiel, Crowley, and even Rowena to take down Lucifer, there was one face missing: Mary Winchester. 

“Since episode 3, Mary’s been on an eat, pray, love journey to reorient herself,” showrunner Andrew Dabb tells EW. But the good news is: Mary’s story isn’t over yet. In fact, her strongest stuff might still be to come.

“When she comes back into our story, which she’ll come back most strongly in episode 9, it’s going to be someone with a lot more of a sense of purpose,” Dabb continues. “She’s got the lay of the land. She understands the world a little bit more. She understands her sons a little bit more. Starting in episode 9, she becomes a much more proactive character in our world. She’s not going to be necessarily living in the bunker with Sam and Dean but she’s going to be more of a player in our show.”

Showrunner Robert Singer adds: “She has some big stuff to do. You’ll see her quite a bit in the back half [of the season]. What [Samantha Smith’s] done this year is just great. She has knocked it out of the park; we’re just so happy to have her back and the work she’s doing is terrific.” 

Supernatural returns Thursday, Jan. 26 in its new timeslot at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

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