‘The Winchesters’ Explores More Repressed Trauma in ‘Legend Of A Mind’

The fifth episode of ‘The Winchesters’ starts with an unlucky councilman having terrifying nightmares he can’t wake up from, waking up from one into another into another until he finally wakes for real only to fall to the floor screaming and holding his head. Ouch.

And then, we’re at the Winchesters Garage…

Dean Winchester words of wisdom for the day: Spending a lifetime hunting monsters takes its toll. There comes a time when you gotta let out that pain inside you. If you don’t, it’ll eat you alive.

Well, Dean Winchester should know. But easier said than done for most of the characters on OG Supernatural and this prequel!

The episode is mostly about our merry band of young hunters trying to figure out who’s turning people’s brains to mush (surprise, it’s the Akrida) but the more personal story running parallel is John and Mary trying to figure out if they like each other and if they have the courage to talk about it if they do. John’s working on a motorcycle that Millie bought Henry for his birthday – and then he left two weeks later.

Mary: Ouch.

John offers to teach Mary the ropes, which she pretends to go along with until he realizes she already knows, taught by her parents so she “wouldn’t be faced with a starter that won’t catch while escaping a pack of werewolves”.

John says she could work at the garage after she leaves hunting, but Mary confides that she may leave Lawrence too when she leaves hunting, which John doesn’t take all that well – but doesn’t say anything. Millie is glad John’s taking a little break and spending time with Mary, though he insists it’s “not like that” with Mary.

Then Mary finds the councilman’s case in the newspaper (which I love that it’s always in the actual newspaper) and they head to the ‘Clubhouse’ (which I hate because it makes them sound too much like kids playing at something instead of hunters). Anyway, they read about the poor guy who died in the opener, of a massive brain trauma that came from the inside and turned his brain to mush.

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‘The Winchesters’ Explores Monsters of War, Both Literal and Metaphorical

The fourth episode of ‘The Winchesters’ first season is titled “Monsters of War,” which is a good description of what it was about – fighting your monsters, whether you’re a hunter or a veteran or anyone who’s experienced loss, grief and trauma. The opening is an older man stumbling down a psychiatric hospital corridor, walking right into a vivid flashback of his time in the midst of a war, bombs flying, warning shouts of “Incoming!” blaring. He takes refuge in an empty room only to find himself facing something that calls itself “Destiny” armed with a spear.

Blood splatter, title card, Dean Winchester, narrator.

Dean: Fighting the battle between good and evil isn’t easy, especially when the first monster you have to face is the one inside yourself.

I don’t really need it spelled out for me, but yes, true that. One of the main premises of Supernatural from day one, when the monsters Sam and Dean were fighting were not just the literal ones we saw onscreen. Cut to John and Mary sparring like the aforementioned Sam and Dean often did, Drake Rodger shirtless because, well, Drake Rodger, and Mary looking authentically seventies and I’m pretty sure I had those shorts.

John doesn’t want to stop or take a break, saying he missed fighting, even though in the service it was 24/7 “gym class with grenades” which does not sound like fun. He laughs it off defensively, but when Mary laughs too, he admits that was Murph’s line, and the defensive laughter fades away as he remembers his friend’s violent death. Mary realizes that he needs to punch something “that can punch back” to get those kind of big feelings out, so they spar for real. Mary taunts him a bit with “monsters aren’t gonna play nice and neither should you”, and bests him what seems like a little too easily to me – he’s a trained fighter too, after all, and I wouldn’t mind him coming out on top once in a while to make it realistic.

Carlos arrives when they’re in what looks like a compromising position, asking if he’s interrupting “whatever kind of hetero mating ritual this is” which did make me laugh. Sparring always seems a bit like it should engender those kind of questions to be honest, no matter who’s doing it.

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‘The Winchesters’ Gets Spooky For Halloween Week!

The title of The Winchesters third episode is the message of the episode as well: ‘You’re lost, little girl.” It’s about loss – of all kinds – and also about being lost, and figuring out how to find yourself afterwards. And that does not just apply to little girls.

The Kids Next Door

The episode revolves around Mary’s neighbors, a young girl and boy (8 year old Carrie and 12 year old Ford) whose mother is a long haul trucker who is often away for days at a time. It’s the 70s, but it still seems really iffy to have kids this young at home alone for days at a time – I know, I know, shades of John Winchester later. How much did he learn from the Campbells and their neighbors anyway?

The little girl, Carrie, contacts her mother on the CB radio, saying she can’t find her stuffed bear Bernice anywhere, and asking her mother to come home. The mom says the family needs the paycheck, she’ll be home in a few days, she needs Carrie to be a big girl – which is all kinda heartbreaking and also once again reminiscent of John Winchester of the future asking his son Dean to step up and be a big boy long before he should have.

Side note: I remember CB radios from the time before cell phones (yes, I actually remember those times) – I once went on a cross country trip with my husband-to-be and he had a CB radio in the car and we made the whole trek going back and forth with all the truckers we were sharing the road with. When we stopped at the first truck stop for dinner, they were all amazed that we were “a four wheeler”!

Anyway, there’s eerie music, a thud thud thud, and then there’s a burlap sack on the table. Carrie opens it and Bernice the bear is in it. Yay? Not yay. No sooner does Carrie happily crawl into bed with Bernice than the sack starts wriggling and then a freaking creepy as hell hand comes out, nails like claws, and then we see Carrie scream as a giant shadow looms over the bed.

Now that’s an opener! Worthy of the mother ship and its horror show roots – and it’s scary because we don’t see the monster, we see Carrie and her terror instead.

Family Histories

Cut to the title card and our erstwhile narrator, Dean Winchester.

There’s no map to being a hunter, no playbook. You’ve gotta follow your gut, but that can only take you so far. Truth is, you can’t do it all on your own.  You need other people to help guide the way. Your friends, your family. Otherwise you just end up lost.

I guess that’s a theme of Supernatural too, from the pilot episode on, where Dean came to get Sam at school and said he couldn’t do it alone (Sam: yes you can. Dean: yeah well I don’t want to…)

Dean hasn’t forgotten that lesson, but apparently Samuel Campbell is actually trying to do it alone, and it turns out there’s more than him being missing going on in Mary’s life. Her mother is also out of touch, no word from her and last Mary heard she was working with hunters in Minnesota a few months ago. Mary says sadly that she’s not even sure her mother knows her dad is missing. Apparently Deanna and Samuel are separated, which – what?! That’s a canon change I didn’t see coming (assuming it will make sense whenever things are explained in episode 13 if not before…but surely Deanna would be keeping tabs on her hunter husband even if they were separated?)

Mary says that nothing has been the same for their family since Maggie died, for any of them. I hope they explore that more – I could get behind the show going a little deeper into things like loss, which really can turn a family upside down. It’s such an inevitable part of a hunter’s life, this show could benefit from digging into it.

It’s Mary’s turn to be discouraged, John’s turn to be determined. Mary worries that maybe her father just wants to stay lost, especially because the last time she saw him, they got into a big fight about her quitting hunting. Guilt, such a big part of loss for so many.

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‘The Winchesters’ Teach Your Children Well

Get ready for a brand new episode of The Winchesters tonight with our review and recap of last week’s episode…

The second episode of the Supernatural prequel, The Winchesters, is titled after a song I loved in the 70s even though I was too young to ever really be “into “ CSNY or see them in concert. Still, it brought back fond memories to actually hear it play in this episode.

As someone who was alive then, I enjoy this show being set in that time period, though sometimes it strikes me as an idealized TV version of the 70s, which was complicated and not all peace-love-flower-power. This episode lets the show really sink into the flower power part of the time, the monster taking up residence outside a commune. It opens with kids (okay young adults maybe, this is a very young show) singing and swaying around a campfire, wearing flower crowns, doing drugs, walking in the woods…  It’s a 2022 version of 70s nostalgia, and a little less gritty than I remember.

In a typical opener of a Supernatural universe show, one kid soon sees what he thinks is his dad (in the middle of the woods inexplicably) telling him it’s time to go home – and then growing menacing looking tree vines from his arms and wrapping poor Barry up and spiriting him away.

The Winchesters logo pops up and sparks out just like the Supernatural logos have always done, and that makes me smile for some reason.

To Savannah, Georgia, as we get the Dean Winchester narration about family ties being complicated. (That is the most gigantic understatement ever for Dean Winchester to say!)  They raise you, teach you what’s right and wrong – and in some instances teach you how to kill monsters. But no matter who you are, there comes a time when you have to break from them and make your own way.

I guess that was sort of Sam and Dean’s journey; John himself never had to break from his dad since Henry was gone.

Dean: And if you’re not careful, things can get pretty ugly.

Again with the gigantic understatement, Mr. Dean Winchester monster hunter!

Moving on to a pretty flashlit scene, the Core Four finding a bunch of dead zombies while Mary barks orders and Lata enthusiastically investigates a zombie’s dislocatable jaw.

Carlos: You are deeply weird and starting to concern me.

The weird is kinda the point though, Carlos!

The file cabinets are empty of any Akrida information, but Mary finds shotgun shells with “SC” on them – Samuel Campbell always signed his work. She’s convinced this is his way of contacting her. It’s very much a repeat of Dean always convinced that their dad was trying to contact them in Season 1 of Supernatural, insisting that he and Sam keep following his coordinates and his leads.

A few zombies, it turns out, are not dead, and they attack, the very convenient monster trapping box rendered unworkable for some reason (perhaps because it was too convenient). They’re all pretty badass fighters, including John, who ends up splattered with zombie guts. Drake Rodger is very good at the subtle comedy, so this is a running gag that tends to work.

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‘The Winchesters’ Pilot Episode Brings Lots of Emotions to a Long-Time Supernatural Fan

I already posted my emotional non-spoilery reactions to the pilot episode of The Winchesters which aired at New York Comic Con, but I also wanted to do a rewatch and a deep dive into the events of the episode itself and the introduction of the younger version of John and Mary Winchester who we know from the original series, Supernatural. As a very very passionate Supernatural fan who watched that show for 15 seasons, I felt both anticipation and trepidation at a prequel kicking off – it was mostly due to the reassurance of people who knew the Supernatural world intimately that I went into watching ‘The Winchesters’ pilot hoping for the best. I was also anxious, though. I am very protective of “My Show” and always will be.

So it was with a lot of conflicting emotions that I watched the series premiere. Now that I’m home and have done a rewatch, here’s my deep dive into the events of the pilot and the characters, familiar and new, introduced in the episode.

It’s a suitably spooky beginning, a dark graveyard and an Indiana Jones-esque character entering a crypt by torch light to slice his palm and draw a blood sigil, opening a stone container to retrieve something – and then run like hell trying to escape from the monster that’s now after him! As Supernatural beginnings go, that’s pretty on point!

And then we’re greeted by a “Welcome To Lawrence” sign and an instrumental music background that’s also reminiscent of what Jensen Ackles likes to call “the mothership”, OG Supernatural. That show used lots of signage to mark the brothers’ travels, so this also feels familiar. Young John Winchester (Drake Rodger) is on a bus heading back to Lawrence, fresh from the war, still rattled by flashbacks thanks to the PTSD he’s brought back with him, and clutching a mysterious letter addressed to him.

Apparently the show had to fight hard for the extra budget to film John’s war scenes, but I think those instincts were good – we need to understand how much impact the violence John experienced had on him, and how much guilt he’s carrying around as a result of not being able to save his comrades. Those experiences are integral to his determination to head down the ‘saving people hunting things’ path, especially the guilt and the subsequent need to save everyone he can. Similar motivations will send his sons down the same path eventually, as we all know.

“March 23, 1972” a familiar voice narrates – it’s no surprise to anyone that it’s Jensen Ackles reprising his role of Dean Winchester. The narration is emotional for any Supernatural fan, but it’s also a bit confusing, because we don’t know who Dean is supposed to be talking to, and it actually sounds like he’s talking to us, the audience – and that he’s somehow savvy about the anxiety fans have had over whether this prequel will mess with established canon. “I know this story might sound familiar, but I’m gonna put the pieces together in a way that might surprise you” seems directed at us, the anxious viewers. Perhaps that’s only for this first bit of narration but it struck me as interesting. I guess we’ll see!

I’m not entirely convinced that we really needed Dean as the narrator, as much as I’ve missed having my favorite character in the history of the universe on my screen. I would kinda like to watch this story as its own thing, and am not sure I need the frame of Dean looking back. But hopefully they worked that into the ongoing story in an organic way that just hasn’t been revealed yet.

Anyway, John does indeed bump into Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly) just like we’d heard in the original show. It’s a “meet cute” in the tradition of meet cutes, and both John and Mary are likable, but they don’t get that cup of coffee that we heard they did right away. Instead, Mary walks away with a “see ya around, soldier boy”, a cheeky shout out to Jensen Ackles’ role on The Boys as Soldier Boy.

I admit I smiled at that and both her and John’s love of licorice (something their son Dean will later share and which I cannot fathom at all..). Also I love Mary’s bell bottoms! Don’t tell me that bell bottoms aren’t awesome, I remember how awesome they were! I’m hoping fervently that Danneel Ackles agrees with me, because I’m fairly certain she’s the biggest influence on the fashion choices we’ll see on this show.

John’s reunion with his mother Millie (Bianca Kajlich) is frosty to start, which is interesting. Millie owns the gas station and is a mechanic, and she pulls no punches reminding John that from her perspective, “my husband and son walked out on me, so…”

She also clearly adores him as she sweeps him into a welcome home hug.

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