‘The Winchesters’ has three episodes remaining in its first season after this one, so I expected things to ramp up as far as finding the Big Bad (aka the Akrida queen). That ramping up did happen, it turns out, in both expected and unexpected ways.
The Akrida have apparently been wreaking havoc since the 1950s, killing poor Dorothea who was only trying to be helpful by fixing a car (I love all the women on this show who are so mechanically talented, even if that is so not me).
The Men of Letters didn’t manage to send all of them back to their own universe, so some have been hiding out ever since – including the Queen.
I’m not as invested in the Akrida as I’m probably supposed to be – this show is more interesting when it’s telling me something about these characters that I know and love from OG Supernatural, assuming it feels like it can connect the two. So as soon as John finds a letter from a university amongst the pile of mail on Mary’s table and asks her about it, I was instantly thinking of Sam Winchester getting a similar letter – and having to hide it from his family.
Mary has been paralleled to Sam in wanting to have a “normal life” and get out of hunting in this show and in the original, and in this episode that’s made explicit. It made sense in the context of this show, so I enjoyed the parallel – it’s only when it seems like a stretch and doesn’t make sense that they don’t work for me. Mary is luckier than her son, who clearly takes after her. In this time (or this world), Mary opens it and John shares her excitement about being accepted – unlike the John Winchester of Supernatural. By this time, even her dad is somehow on board with her getting out of the life – that would have meant so much to Sam!
We get the Dean narration early on, a bit of a warning about expecting happy endings from this show (just as we were warned in Supernatural, and if you didn’t heed that warning, you probably had a tough time with November 2020).
Dean: Hunting and happy endings don’t usually mix. So when you get your chance, you’ve got to ask yourself, how far will I go to get it?
Last week’s episode of ‘The Winchesters’ was extra fun – because I got to watch it with my friend Nightsky from The Winchester Family Business. We’ve been friends since the early seasons of Supernatural but we live in different cities, so getting to watch anything “live” together is rare. We went to the premiere of A Knock At The Cabin in New York City the night before (it was awesome fyi), so were both at my house on Tuesday – which meant viewing party for The Winchesters! Here’s our morning after thoughts on the episode….before coffee, so keep that in mind….
Let’s start with our OG Supernatural fave, Dean. Here’s his narration from the episode:
Dean: This isn’t how I saw things going when I pushed over that first domino. Thing is, I’ve had more than a few dances with free will and fate, but as my dad used to say, “fate is what you make it.”
Lynn: Wait, did John Winchester actually say that on Supernatural?
Nightsky: I don’t remember him saying that, and if he didn’t, this is huge! It means that Dean is changing the timeline.
Lynn: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I don’t want OG Supernatural’s timeline changed!
Nightsky (not at all rattled by the outburst): Including Dean’s narration, fate is mentioned fifteen times in the episode. The gem is the Gem of Ursitoare, the Roman gods of fate.
Lynn: Okay, so it’s about fate. That’s a Supernatural theme for sure. But what was it trying to say about fate?
Nightsky: Lata says, “fate has a different meaning for the undead… It shows the next fated moment in your destiny. According to the legend, the leader saw he was fated to die and chose to save himself over the clan… Once the object reveals your fate, it is sealed.” But John proved that the context of fate is unknown, and within his control. Dean is “undead” in a way, so are they hinting that Dean is trying to change his and Sam’s fates, and maybe even the entire Winchester clan’s fate?
Lynn: That makes me nervous. I didn’t necessarily see this as John changing his fate though. In this episode’s climactic scene with John and the vampire, I saw the fact that the outcome was not what we first expected as made possible because John didn’t know the full context of what was happening in that vision of the future – it didn’t necessarily show that he was being killed, only that the vampire was biting him, and we don’t know what happened before or after. What if that is exactly what happened before and after, and he just figured it out? That would mean John didn’t change anything. The combination of time travel and changing fate makes my head hurt though.
Nightsky: Even though Dean remembers his dad saying “fate is what you make it”, going back through the episode, it was Millie who said it, not John. Maybe this is where John learns that lesson from his mother.
Lynn: A lot of this show is about where John or Mary learned things from their parents, that’s for sure. (What’s also interesting is that Nightsky and I both thought that John DID say it, but it’s not in the transcript we’re looking at over breakfast…)
Nightsky: In the pilot of The Winchesters, Dean says “I know this story might sound familiar, but I’m gonna put the pieces together in a way that just might surprise you, and in order to do that, I have to start all the way at the beginning.” In this episode, that’s exactly what John did. He was shown a vision of one version of events, but he put together the pieces of that puzzle in a way that wasn’t initially what he thought it would be. Maybe that’s what this series is doing – putting a context around the Winchester story that we know. They’re not changing anything, but fitting it into a larger, more complete, paradigm.
Lynn: Maybe, though that still makes me a little nervous. It still feels like change, even if it’s not going to change those goalposts they talked about not moving.
Nightky: In my reviews, I’ve been noting how I’m getting a much deeper understanding of all of the Winchesters because of the context of their history. It’s not changing anything in their personalities but I’m understanding so much more about them than I ever did before. It’s giving me “aha” moments that are enriching my love of Supernatural.
Lynn: There are some times I can fit them into the canon of Supernatural and then I can feel them as expanding my understanding of them, but there are those other times when I can’t make them fit, so I’m just left scratching my head. One of my hopes for this show is that it doesn’t change anything I know and love from Supernatural – hence my persistent concern – but instead fills in some blanks. There are moments that make me go, huh? That doesn’t sound like anything this character would have said or done in Supernatural! Times when I can’t see Samuel ever saying that, or Mary, or even Dean in his narration. It’s only sometimes, but those times are confusing – hopefully they will all make sense in episode 13!
Nightsky: So besides the theme of free will versus changing or contextualizing fate, what were the highlights of the episode for you?
Lynn: There was a lot of Millie, and that always makes me happy. Bianca Kajlich is amazing, and I believe every single ounce of her portrayal of Millie. Whenever she and Drake Rodger get a chance to interact in an emotional scene, I’m captivated by it because it feels so genuine.
Lynn: You can feel her anguish there, having to do that to her son. I can’t imagine… I love her toughness, and the fierce love underneath, maybe because it appeals to the mom in me, but I also love how we get only little glimpses of that reluctant vulnerability. Hmm. Am I saying she reminds me of Dean? Because sometimes she reminds me of Dean. We haven’t heard her say “no chick flick moments” but that’s one of those things that I can trace forward to Dean and it feels like it makes sense.
I wanted to put together a book with chapters by the Supernatural actors and fans about what the show has meant to them and how it has inspired them to get through some difficult times, because over the years I’ve heard so many incredible stories of what the show and the fandom have meant to people – actors and fans alike. A little while ago, I got an email from Iryna, who is risking her life every day to help evacuate people from war-torn Ukraine. Her sister gave her a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood and she wrote that Supernatural and the stories in that book have inspired her to #AlwaysKeepFighting and been a source of support during an unimaginably difficult time.
I’m always incredibly touched when people say that one of the books has helped them, but Iryna’s story really struck me, so I thought I’d share it here. There may be lots of disagreements among fans, a fact that sometimes leaves me discouraged, but the fact remains that Supernatural has been something special and it continues to be. Iryna’s email was a reminder of that, and of what’s really important. I’m so grateful to all the people who wrote chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood , from Jared, Jensen and Misha to longtime fans to new fans who fell in love later in the show’s run. Look at the difference you made, and are still making. Thank you to all of you for sharing your stories (and to the Show that has kept so many people going through whatever comes along, just like the Winchesters).
And if you are reading this and feeling like you need some support and inspiration right now too, maybe Iryna’s email will be that source of inspiration for you.
Here are some excerpts from Iryna’s story:
Yesterday I finished reading your book Family Don’t End with Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Has ChangedLives and decided to write you a letter. Well, to be honest I decided to do that, when I was starting to read it.
My name is Iryna and I live in Ukraine. You may know that there is war in Ukraine now. And it’s not like we see it in movies. It is really horrible. I`m very lucky to live in the more or less safe city, but it was also attacked by enemies and people died. I work in the charity foundation and every day help evacuate people… In one of the first episodes of Supernatural (The Benders) Dean said, that monsters can at least be understood — their actions are logical, people’s — not. And it’s really so.
On the eve of February 24, 2022, I had a completely normal life. I studied at a Documentary film school, worked in a team of screenwriters on a family Christmas story, improved my skills as a director of editing and motion design, and made some documentary photo projects, I had a lot of friends. But in one moment all changed. My future became ghostly and shaky.
A new life with the sounds of explosions and air raid sirens, often lasting without electricity after massive attacks, began. The lectures at a film school were stopped, and a lot of my friends left our country. But I still stay. I often joke that it’s because I’ve watched and rewatched Supernatural so many times that now I always keep fighting and not giving up. Although it is very difficult.
To support me, my sister, who is now forced to stay with my little niece in another country, sent me your book, because she knows very well how much I adore this show. She suddenly saw it in the local library. Maybe it was a sign? I’ve read it during air raids, I’ve read it when I came home from a hard workday, I’ve read it by flashlight and candlelight during electricity outages due to massive missile attacks on critical infrastructure.
Even though I’ve been watching Supernatural since 2016, I’ve never been a part of the Supernatural family, even though I knew about it. But now the stories of all the heroes of the book inspired and supported me a lot. It makes me very happy to know that there is such a large community, that people find support in it, that they are not alone. Even the awareness of this supports in a difficult time. I am very grateful to you for the decision to create this book. It is very supportive. All the stories are very sincere and inspiring. I hope that all the heroes will be fine.
Thank you, the community, and Supernatural.
It was a great time.
Thank you, Iryna. When I feel down about fandom infighting or missing the Show, I’m going to re-read this and remember how special Supernatural and the SPNFamily are – and always will be.
The one thing that Supernatural fans who are watching ‘The Winchesters’ have in common – possibly the only thing – is that they really want Dean Winchester back. Last week’s episode of ‘The Winchesters’ knew what it was doing when they finally “gave back” the beloved character – on his birthday. Jensen Ackles, who portrayed Dean for so many years, usually acknowledges his best imaginary friend’s birthday, but this year he did it up right, buying plates and party hats and a cake and having the young cast of The Winchesters sing happy birthday. To Dean.
The show was extremely fortunate that it airs on Tuesdays and last Tuesday happened to be Dean’s birthday, so the PR Gods all lined up and made for a fun celebration, topped off by Dean’s “return” to the prequel in a grainy black and white photo.
The Winchesters cast all got together to cook dinner and have birthday cake and then watch the episode, as they’ve done several times – it seems like they genuinely enjoy each other and it’s fun to “hang out” with them on Instagram.
Executive Producers Jensen and Danneel are a little like the mom and dad of the gang of mostly young actors, Jensen doing his best grumpy old man shtick to everyone’s amusement.
As they watched along with us in real time, we got to watch their reactions to the show. When Mary, eyes wide, demanded to know “who’s that guy?” we were treated to a video close up of Ackles looking like “what guy??”
And then when it was confirmed to be Dean Winchester, he sat there grinning like the cat that ate the canary.
All that interaction added to the fun and excitement of this episode – in fact, it was the most enjoyable episode so far for me. I’ll run down the things I liked about it in a minute, but before I do that, this show also makes me scratch my head a lot, and this episode wasn’t an exception entirely. I continue to struggle with lining this show up with the canon of OG Supernatural, and with seeing its characters as the people they will become in just a very short while. Tom Welling is doing a fine job as Samuel, but he’s so different than the Mitch Pileggi version I sometimes can’t see them as the same character. He’s also a bit of an enigma in this episode. He’s bristly, gruff, referring to his daughter as a jackass and admitting that she’s just like him (which fits fairly well with the Samuel we see a little later).
And yet, we also get this conversation, which to me seemed to come out of nowhere.
Samuel: Had I told you what I was doing, I know you would’ve charged in headfirst. I did everything I could to get you off my trail, because I couldn’t… I can’t let you turn out like Maggie. You could’ve been anything, Mary, anything. But when I put that knife in your hands, I chose this life for you. I forced you to follow in my footsteps, just like my dad forced me. It was wrong. I don’t want you to hate me like I hated him. I heard tall tales of an Oppenheimer– someone who found a way to nuke all these damn monsters, so that you could be free of all of this—forever… I can’t give you back all those years. But I’m your dad. I have to try.
The first “Salute to Supernatural and Other J & J Projects” and the first con of 2023 happened in Las Vegas two weeks ago. Anyone who knows me knows that I am generally a person who loathes change – especially when it comes to things that are important to me. Like Supernatural. So I had a little trepidation flying to Vegas, wondering if the con would feel different, if it would be less “Supernatural” and if that would make me sad. I was nostalgic to be back at the Rio despite my less-than-wonderful memories of the year our toilet started overflowing in the middle of the night (when everyone had been asleep for hours) and we ended up having to switch rooms at 3 am in the midst of a truly horrific mess. Somehow I am STILL fondly nostalgic for the Rio anyway, with its open-24-hours Starbucks and its gigantic Hash House breakfasts and its 20 mile walk to the convention center (yes, that’s an exaggeration). Alas, there’s only one Starbucks left and it closed at 5 pm every day much to my dismay, but I did have some Hash House thanks to my lovely friends.
Most importantly, yes, it still felt like a Supernatural con! Give me the Jared and Jensen gold panel and the Jared and Jensen main panel and the Misha Saturday panel and Louden Swain at SNS and I will continue to be happy. I thoroughly enjoyed the Smallville panel with Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum, and the Walker panel with Mitch Pileggi, Jake Abel and Keegan Allen. SNS was awesome and there was no drama (that I witnessed anyway) and phew, I feel like I can relax a bit. I just don’t want to lose what I so love about Supernatural cons, but I’m happy to get to hear some new stories and meet some new people for the other shows I’m watching too.
The new semester just started, so this is a briefer con write up than I usually do, but I wanted to write up some of the fun before I don’t remember it all. I missed Kathy a lot at this con, since my first trip to Vegas was with her – we rode the roller coaster and saw the Criss Angel magic show and generally “did” Vegas, and it will always remind me of her. I still can’t believe she’s gone, honestly. (If you’ve read Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls you understand how unique and wonderful our friendship was). Luckily I had lots of friends at this con, and I’m very grateful.
My friend Sue picked me up at the airport on Friday afternoon after a flight that was long but not arduous largely because I got a very nice seat that had a footrest! So I might have slept most of the way… Anyway, caught some of the Gil McKinney and David Haydn-Jones panel, which was hilarious. When I came in, Gil was telling the story of the time he was filming a show and they gave him a prosthetic penis and it looked like a cave man’s.
David: Why didn’t you keep it? And use it as a hat?
I mean, sure, why not?
From there they ended up talking about hat size…and head size…
David: We’ll try on hats together later…and that’s not even a double entendre!
Gil thanked the fandom for their influence in giving him the courage to go back to performing onstage as a singer – he writes about it in his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood. And he sang at the SNS in Vegas too, yay!
David wrote a chapter in the next book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, about the impact the Supernatural fandom has had in his life too.
They talked about the flexibility that’s essential to being an actor. David said he first auditioned for Ketch looking scruffy and wearing a motorcycle jacket, but the next time after they took the character in another direction, in a tuxedo!
Gil said that he especially loves working with directors who are also actors, like Richard Speight, Jr. and said he had a great director once who really helped him get back to where he should be.
Jason Manns was the emcee for Friday, and did a great job as always.
Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster had a panel on Friday too, which as always was equal parts amusing and serious (as in, tears in my eyes kinda serious)
What other characters would they like to play?
Kim: I’d like to play Lucifer, angelically… as I pop your eyeballs out…
They told the hilarious story of when they first met on set and Briana apologized to Kim for cussing a lot!