Supernatural Rewatch – The Return of John Winchester in ‘Shadow’

I love this episode so much – it’s scary, creepy, touching, and it brings the narrative back to what Season 1 was so much about, Sam and Dean’s search for their mysterious and elusive father, John Winchester and their rediscovery of being brothers. Like most episodes in this season, it’s also beautifully filmed and full of atmosphere, including the opening scene – which takes place in the windy city.

A young woman walks down the street, blues music playing. Her Walkman glitches, which looks very 2005, and the wind starts howling in the alley. She looks around, asking what people always ask in horror movies, as though being polite might get a bad guy to answer you.

“Hello?” she calls, and there’s no answer, but she’s scared as she hurries to her apartment door. Shadows loom behind her n the walls of the alley as she runs, a giant shadow seemingly following her. Breathless, she fumbles for keys and can’t find them, like in the worst of nightmares. Finally she gets in the door and inside, locking the door behind her and setting the alarm.

‘System armed’ it says, and she sighs with relief, checking her vintage (not at at the time) answering machine. Just as she thinks she’s safe, a shadow moves behind her on the walls, it’s giant shadow hand reaching out for her shadow and stabbing her, blood splattering on the wall as she screams and falls.

Quite an opening!

A week later, Sam and Dean drive, rock music playing. When they get out of the car they’re in uniform, which Dean isn’t exactly thrilled about (but frankly these two look good whatever they’re wearing).

Dean: Dad made it just fine without these stupid uniforms.

That brings back a memory, which gives us a rare and cherished glimpse of young Sam and Dean, when Sam was in ‘Our Town’.

Dean (smiling at the memory) Yeah, you were good.

I’m all warm at the thought of Dean going to see Sammy’s school play, though I wonder if that means John didn’t. I’m glad Sam got to do that though. (My daughter did the same school play, so I had an even stronger nostalgic reaction). I’m always so grateful when we get a glimpse of Sam and Dean’s childhood. Dean brings up the memory more like a proud parent here, not a brother who was forced to go sit through a school play.

They’re posing as working for the alarm company, so the landlady lets them in, but she’s not very impressed with their fake company.

Landlady: No offense, but your alarm’s about as useful as boobs on a man.

I like the landlady.

She tells them there’s no sign of a break in, the chain was on the door and the alarm was still on.

Landlady: Everything was in perfect condition. Except Meredith.

What condition was she in, the boys ask?

Landlady: Meredith was all over – in pieces! Like a wild animal did it.

After she’s gone, Sam says he knew this was their kind of gig, and Dean pulls out the EMF and says he agrees.

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Supernatural Spring Break – Photo Retrospective Part 2

Continuing our week long spring break celebration of that little show we miss, here are some memories of the Supernatural cast over the years, seen through the lens of Kim Prior’s trusty camera – and her photographer instincts!

First up, some pics from Vegas Con 2015. I remember the first time Gil McKinney stepped onstage and started singing and everyone kind of stopped and went WHAT? Because damn, can he sing! The song he wrote for his dad is a favorite of mine – if you haven’t heard it, check out his album with that beautiful song and more.

Rob with the perfect tee shirt and almost clean shaven at that con!

I can hear the harmonies on Seven Bridges Road just looking at this photo…

“Seven Bridges Road” with Louden Swain, featuring Richard Speight, Jr. and Jensen Ackles.

Jensen looks as excited as all of us were to have both Winchester parents onstage at the same time with him!

Here are a few from Jacksonville 2016 – Ruth Connell and Kim Rhodes with smiles that light up the room, and Mark Sheppard doing one of the things that clearly makes him happiest – playing drums.

Nashville 2016 Matt Cohen when his hair was really long, which I’d almost forgotten. Matt can pull off any look, and I love how much he’s bringing to Entertainment Tonight these days – all his experience helping host cons with Rich and Rob have been put to very good use!

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Supernatural Celebration Week -Fave Photos of Jared and Jensen!

Next up in our celebration of Supernatural Spring Break week, I asked my partner in crime, Kim Prior, to compile some of her favorite photos that she’s taken at Supernatural cons over the years. Three days later, after she probably wanted to kill me for my request, she managed to narrow it down enough to make a few posts. But hey, that’s not such a bad problem to have, is it? Too many beautiful photos of gorgeous (and wonderful) people to sift through? I think she should probably thank me.

At any rate, I know I’m thanking her!

We hope this brightens up everyone’s Friday!

First up, Jared and Jensen.

This one is from Jacksonville 2016… highlighting Jared’s incredible multi-hued eyes. Kim takes photos that are so clear and so true to color that it makes his eyes even more striking.

I’m not going to have to convince anyone that Jensen’s eyes are equally striking – there’s a reason the words “fanfic green” exist in the Supernatural fandom.

Also she captured an adorable expression. Skeptical Jensen? Grumpy Jensen? Doesn’t matter, adorable nevertheless.

And Rockstar Jensen is a whole other level. Damn, I miss his live performances so much. It’s been a privilege witnessing the evolution from hesitant duet partner to confident command-the-stage rockstar.

Now where’s that new album, Mr. Ackles??

Here are a few from Dallas con 2019, with hiatus beards in full bloom. Jared in a beard and beanie is always a good look and even though I’m not the biggest fan of beards, Jensen can rock any look – as evidenced by the recent ‘mountain main’ incarnation. And the long hair? Yes please.

Back to Pittsburgh con 2016 for the next few photos, more bearded boys and gorgeous eyes and damn, that shirt looked so good on Jared and his hair was *chef’s kiss*.  He looks amazing on Walker, but sometimes I do miss those luxurious locks that Sam Winchester favored.

One from Vegas con 2015 in beautiful black and white capturing an equally beautiful moment. I caught Jeffrey Dean Morgan on Kimmel last night and he is such a lovely human with an adorable giggle. The bond between these three real life friends and on-screen family is so heartwarming. And now they have matching tattoos!

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Going ‘Home’ Again: Supernatural Rewatch 1.09

I’m now convinced at this point in my epic Supernatural from the start rewatch that the entire Season 1 was just freaking amazing, but even before the rewatch, I knew this week’s episode was one of my favorites. The aptly named ‘Home’ told us so much about the Winchesters, and is one of the very few episodes that includes Sam, Dean, John and Mary. Just that alone makes me extremely emotional.

I was at a convention once when Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Samantha Smith were both there, with Jared and Jensen, and I couldn’t help but tear up.

Photo: Kim Prior (@PriorStudios)

When you care about the Winchesters, it’s a special thing to have them all together – even if they don’t all interact in this episode. Typical heartbreaking Winchester lives, right?

I’m doing the rewatch with a group of friends (via Zoom, as everything is done in the midst of the pandemic we’re a year into…), so we all settled in to watch with anticipation.

The episode begins with a woman unpacking, having just moved into a new house. Her young daughter insists, as kids sometimes do, that there’s something in her bedroom closet. But this is Supernatural, so the mom’s casual “oh honey there’s nothing in here, look I’ll just open it up and then turn my back on it” does not reassure all of us watching. Instead we all start screaming NOOOOOOO because it’s creepy as hell even though I mostly remembered that nothing happens until later.

Little kid agrees to go to bed, mom hears scrabbling and scratching noises in the basement, and unlike me, decides she needs to go down there and investigate right now. When the lights don’t work for some unknown reason she’s undaunted and continues with a freaking flashlight.

Everyone watching: No no no why would you do that?

Upstairs in the little girls’ bedroom, the closet door slowly opens.

Everyone watching: Why are you just sitting there, little girl? RUN LIKE HELL!!!

The woman in the basement finds an old wooden box and stops to open it up.

Me: Does she think the rats are in there? And if they are, what the hell is she going to do armed with a flashlight??

She pulls out some old photos. Written on the back: The Winchesters. John, Mary, Dean and Little Sammy.

Awwww.  No time for sentimentality though, because a flaming creature walks out of the closet and the little girl screams and then we see the mom screaming from a second story window.

Sam Winchester wakes up from a nightmare.

Later, he keeps drawing the same tree that he saw in his dream over and over, lost in thought, while Dean is looking for cases.

Dean: Am I boring you with this hunting evil stuff?

Sam says no, but continues to pore over the drawing of the tree, while Dean gets increasingly frustrated with the lack of his little brother’s attention.

Dean: A man shot himself in the head…. Three times…

He theatrically waves his arms around, trying and failing to get Sam’s attention, while all of us watching are laughing. It didn’t take long for Jensen Ackles’ talent for physical comedy to make itself known, and it is a joy to behold. All over the world, in 2005, people were falling in love with Dean Winchester because of it.

And with his shaggy haired, intense younger brother.

Sam: Wait! I’ve seen this.

He pulls out Dad’s journal and finds a photo with the tree. And the Winchesters.

Sam: Dean, I know where we have to go next. Back home. To Kansas.

Dean: Okay, random….

Sam doesn’t want to explain further, but Dean has had it with his brother’s repeated nightmares and reticence to tell him what’s going on.

Sam (reluctantly) I have nightmares.

Dean: I’ve noticed.

Sam: And sometimes… they come true

Dean: Come again.

Sam finally tells Dean what he’s been keeping from him. That he dreamt of Jessica’s death for days before it happened.

Dean is clearly rattled, trying to cling to the belief that it’s a coincidence, and that it’s not something to do with their family. He’s tried so hard to regain a sense of control with hunting, and the last thing he wants is to think their family curse is reasserting itself – and that Sam is somehow in the middle of it.

Dean: First you tell me you’ve got the shining and then that I’ve gotta go back home? Especially when I… I swore to myself I would never go back there.

Dean has on the red plaid shirt of doom, and sad violins play as he looks back over his shoulder at Sam and you can see just how anguished he is. But this is Sam telling him they need to go save people, and there’s no way Dean Winchester is going to say no.

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Happy Birthday, Dean Winchester – We Miss You!

You know how they say you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone? Or that you don’t know how much you love something/someone until you don’t have them anymore?

Yeah. It’s true. I’ve known for fifteen years that I was madly in love with Dean Winchester, but even knowing that, I truly didn’t know how much I was going to miss him when he was gone. I took for granted that I’d always be able to “see” him, that I could keep discovering his character and his story, little by little as time went on. I underestimated how wonderful it was to be endlessly fascinated by a fictional character and have the privilege of learning who he was, in bits and pieces and often-covered-up glimpses of the ‘real’ Dean Winchester, over the course of years and years and years. There was a reality to that discovery, in that it played out gradually, just like it does with people in our actual lives. And thanks to Jensen Ackles’ brilliant portrayal, there was a reality to everything about Dean Winchester that made him real to many of us.

That made him very hard to lose.

I thought that 2020 would be the last time I wished Dean happy birthday; I knew that he wouldn’t exist in the present by 2021. But right now I find myself needing to write about him again. It’s part of grieving the loss of something/someone important, that we want to hang onto our memories of them and remember why they were so important to us. I don’t want to forget him, not ever. And since fictional characters never needed our real-life validation, it doesn’t make any difference whether Dean ‘exists’ in the present or not – remembering him is for me. I miss him, and reminding myself of all the reasons why I love  him helps me feel just a little bit better.

This could be a really long article if I tried to make an exhaustive list of what I love about Dean Winchester, so I’ll keep it short. Top five reasons why I will always love Dean Winchester.

One, I love his complexity. That’s due to Eric Kripke, who created him and wrote him for the first five seasons, and to Jensen Ackles’, who brought him to life in a way that was even more vivid than what was written on the page. It took me a whole season to fall for Dean Winchester; at first, I dismissed him a little as a stereotypical ‘bad boy’ type, a little too brash. Pretty on the surface but too stereotypical underneath. (Forgive me, I was only watching because a friend insisted, so clearly I wasn’t paying enough attention!) When Season 2 began, I suddenly realized that I had misjudged the show, and the brothers. I remember watching Dean, leaning against the Impala, break down and confide to Sam that he was not at all okay, tears glistening in his eyes, voice breaking. I let the papers I was grading slide to the floor and said out loud, “how did I not realize this show was amazing?”   But it was also Dean, and Jensen’s willingness to show his character’s vulnerability, that made me fall head over heels for Supernatural.

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