As a long-time Supernatural fan, there’s a lot to be excited for this fall on television. There’s the prequel, The Winchesters, on The CW, with Jensen and Danneel Ackles executive producing, and Jensen Ackles’ guest starring role on ABC’s Big Sky (with none other than Reba as the big bad). There’s the return of Jared Padalecki in Walker for a third season (yay!) and a prequel for that show as well – Walker: Independence (nicknamed ‘Windy’ by its director and thus captioned that way in all my saved files), with Padalecki exec producing. At some point, Gotham Knights with Misha Collins will join the party. There is both excitement and controversy about all these shows because fandom is fandom, but I’ll be watching and reporting back in some fashion here (assuming I have a prayer of keeping up with all this TV!)
Although Jared won’t be appearing in Walker: Independence, his executive producing keeps it in the Supernatural extended family, and there’s a lot of buzz about the show, which looks absolutely beautiful in terms of location and cinematography. This week I got a press release spotlighting principal actor Justin Johnson Cortez, whose character Calian I’m excited to meet, so thought I’d share. (Parentheticals added because … because I’m excited!)
Native-American/Latino actor, writer, producer and all-around creative Justin Johnson Cortez is set to star in Walker: Independence, premiering Thursday, October 6, a spin-off prequel of the hit CW series Walker. He’s also set to star in the upcoming indie film “Gift of Fear”, which highlights the major crisis of missing and exploited women devastating Native populations across the US and Canada.
Set in the late 1800s, Walker: Independence begins with Abby Walker (Katherine McNamara) left for dead after her husband is murdered. She survives thanks to the Apache tribe who tend to her injuries and Calian, her Native guide who takes her to Independence and an uncertain future. On her quest for revenge, her path crosses with Hoyt Rawlins (Walker and Ten Inch Hero alum Matt Barr), which ultimately leads to an entangled relationship for the three characters. (Intriguing…). Johnson Cortez takes on this role with the weight of his ancestors on his shoulders – a Native Yaqui, he learned to speak Apache through an Apache translator on set. He also did the majority of his own stunts, including some impressive ones on horseback. (Looking forward to seeing that!)
“When this opportunity came up, I was a bit nervous because I wanted to make sure that the character was going to be represented in a positive way”, Johnson Cortez, who is Yaqui and Latino, says. “I didn’t want to represent the same old image of Native American characters onscreen, assimilating into Western culture, so I’m excited to dive in deeper and show the complexities behind this character. There is a way to tell this story by sharing his interests and curiosity in the town in the expansion of the West authentically. That’s going to come out when exploring his past through his history and experience in the world up to that point.”
Born and raised in Santa Paula, California, just outside of rustic Ojai, Johnson Cortez still lives in the rural house he grew up in. As a youth, he loved and excelled in anything athletic from skateboarding, surfboarding, snowboarding, football, baseball, to riding dirt bikes and motorcycles. It wasn’t until his mid-20s that he began showing an interest in acting and began taking classes, which ultimately led to getting signed with a manager and agent. Around this time, he also began writing as well, as he didn’t see roles that featured characters like him. Half Native Yaqui and half Latino on his mother’s side, he was disappointed in the lack of representation in film and television. He additionally has another project soon to be announced which highlights the lives of Native people in an honest and impactful way. Cortez has also guest starred on Fox’s 911: Lone Star and Lucifer. He also served as actor/writer/director/producer of the short film The Fall, a 2020 Skins Fest official selection.
A true handyman and artist at heart, Johnson Cortez enjoys using his hands to build custom furniture (his whole home is filled with his craftsmanship), riding his motorcycles, painting and doing art/stencil work out of wood blocks, and spending time with his wife Rachel and two daughters Olivia and Evelyn.
I was already looking forward to Walker: Independence for its fascinating premise, talented cast and its gorgeous locations and cinematography – now I’m even more excited!
And as a lifelong Supernatural fan, I’m so proud of Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and the entire cast for all the great story telling and wonderful entertainment they’re putting out in the world.
To say this was a momentous day in the Supernatural fandom would be a ridiculous understatement. Somehow, Jared, Jensen and Misha have all ended up in new shows on The CW and thus they were all in attendance at the CW Upfronts today, which is a story in itself that I’ll make a separate post about so we can remember the lovely happy-making chaos.
It was also the day that the trailers for the Padalecki-executive-produced Walker prequel, Walker: Independence and for the Ackles-executive-produced prequel, The Winchesters, were released as part of the Upfronts. And that means the Supernatural fandom, myself included, are having A LOT of feelings right now.
Let me just say that I loved the trailer for Walker: Independence (aka Windy) – I don’t have the same kind of emotional reaction to the Walker universe as I do to Supernatural, which means I can sit back and just enjoy both the OG Walker and this new prequel. The cast seems awesome, the look of the show is amazing, and the characters are ones I’m looking forward to getting to know. Add to that director Larry Teng, who I’ve so enjoyed following, and the show’s determination to hire Indigenous actors and get that representation right, and Windy looks like a great way to spend a Walker-intensive Thursday evening.
The Winchesters trailer left me with an emotional reaction so big and so complex that it’s taken me all these hours to be able to write about it. It should be no surprise to anyone, because I am Very Emotional™ about all things Supernatural, so this was probably guaranteed to destabilize my always-a-little-raw feelings when it comes to this show. Its very existence has been contentious in the fandom since its leaked announcement and Jared being in the dark about it before then, which only served to heighten just about everyone’s reaction today. Mine included. I knew that would be the case. What caught me off guard is how intense my emotions are and how conflicted – it’s not very comfortable to be feeling multiple (and sometimes seemingly mutually exclusive) feelings all at once. Humans are notoriously confused by that; we want to think we only feel one thing at a time, but unfortunately that’s not always how we work. Today was one of those days.
I was expecting Dean Winchester to be in the trailer. So I wasn’t shocked when I heard his voice, or when I saw him, leaning against the Impala, like he’d never left (and truly, he has never left my heart or even my brain since the show ended exactly 18 months ago). (Oh yes, and that just added to my emotionality, btw).
I have MISSED him and thought about him, every single day. So my heart soared seeing him on my screen again, and seeing him with Baby, on a deserted highway, everything that I’ve missed so much feeling so familiar. I’ve missed Dean Winchester like I’d miss someone I’ve ‘known’ for seventeen years, and who has meant alot to me. I am beyond grateful to have him back, even if only as the narrator of this story.
It felt so good. We saw the Green Cooler in the backseat, as it should be. And then the Samulet, hanging from the mirror. In that moment, when I noticed that, I think I gasped out loud for the first time – because the emotions were so strong and so mixed up.
I cherish the Samulet, its history, its meaning. I love the episode Robbie Thompson wrote to bring it back, glowing in Sam’s pocket, and the look on Dean’s face when he knows Sam kept it. I love that it’s there now in the prequel, that Dean has it right there in front of him at all times, reminding him of his brother. I love that it’s there; but it hurts that Sam is not. Supernatural to me is the story of two brothers, and that will never change. There are other characters and stories within the story that I love too, but Sam and Dean, that’s the heart of the show. I know that The Winchesters is not that story, but it is the story of their parents, and it tugs at my heart that Sam is not sitting beside Dean as he goes on this quest to tell their parents’ story.
I understand that the network probably wanted some Sam and Dean involvement if they were going to attempt another spinoff, since they’ve made it clear they understand that’s critical to any success. So I get why Dean needed to be added in as narrator. But I am counting on Jared and Jensen to be able to bring Sam into this show also; I can’t imagine how it will feel if he isn’t in some way. I’m going to trust that they’ll work it out the way Jared and Jensen work things out in real life, even when bad things happen. They’ve both told me how they feel about their friendship, and I believe them. But wow, that mix of emotions left me literally breathless for a while today. The fandom reaction was mixed too, with some fans just plain ecstatic to see Dean, and some really missing Sam/Jared’s presence, and some trying to figure out what to make of the two seconds of Lazarus Rising footage that appeared in the trailer. Supernatural fandom is nothing if not multifaceted.
There’s still so much we don’t know, so today was a day of speculating. Is Dean narrating from Heaven, while he waits for Sam? I’ve been assuming he is, and that’s the reason why Sam is not beside him. He has the Impala with him, and she has her original KAZ25Y plates, so that fits. He wasn’t wearing the Samulet in Heaven, but it could have been in the car – or maybe he wished it into existence because he missed his brother and hey, this is Heaven. On the other hand, I think he’s wearing his watch, and if this takes place while he’s waiting for Sam, Sam’s back on earth and wearing his brother’s watch. See how complicated this is? I usually love when fandom is busy gnashing our teeth and trying to figure things out, but this is too emotional to be very enjoyable right now!
Some fans, no matter how you feel about Sam or Dean’s involvement, were more intellectually confused than emotionally. The Winchesters was going to be an ambitious show no matter what, because while there wasn’t a ton of time devoted to John and Mary’s past in the original show, there was some – and that canon is tough to line up with exploring their early lives if they were hunting together. Fans from all ‘sides’ are wondering just how that is going to be accomplished, and the trailer didn’t answer any of those questions. Perhaps intentionally!
The premise of Dean not knowing his parents’ story – actually of no one apparently knowing their story – isn’t an expected launching point from past canon, where Dean went back in time and witnessed his mother making a deal to save his father’s life and a John Winchester who knew nothing of the supernatural or hunting or the Men of Letters as far as we know. How they got together was less an epic love story and more an angelic manipulation in original canon, with angels bringing them together and not hunting. I wonder why is Dean urgently needing to know his parents’ story now? Is there some imperative that’s related to him being in Heaven?? Why can’t he go ask John and Mary from wherever their house in Heaven is?? Fandom, as always, has its own ideas. The theory that Dean is writing some John/Mary fanfiction to pass the time while he waits for Sam to get to Heaven is currently my favorite. Ah fandom, you never disappoint.
So there’s a lot of speculation and confusion. That said, Supernatural’s universe has always left a lot of room for pulling the rug out and altering what seemed like established canon (and sometimes outright retconning, I know – I love my show, but it’s not perfect. ‘lolcanon’ is a fandom term for a reason, after all). Memory wipes and time travel and angelic manipulation are all part of established canon, though the show has usually shown that there are also serious consequences to all of those. So Supernatural leaves room for a lot of options, and I’m going to stay cautiously optimistic that something like that will be able to reconcile whatever canon divergence happens. I’m an optimist by nature, and I very much WANT Supernatural and its universe and its characters to keep going for a long long long time, so I’m here for the ride and hoping for the best. I’m also sentimental as hell, so thank you Robbie (or Jensen or whoever) for including the Samulet, even if it did launch me into an emotional crisis. I would expect nothing less from anything Supernatural!
That’s my emotional reaction to the trailer. The trailer itself – other than the Dean introduction and my big feelings about that – also was interesting. I like the look of the show and the way it’s filmed, the technical aspects of which I know nothing about but which I’m sure producer Jensen Ackles geeked out over and had some impact on. Other than the hapless demon lady who gets launched into space by a VW bus, I really liked the look of the show and how it’s filmed. I love that it’s set in the 70’s, and yes, it really does have a 70’s vibe, and I love that. I was also instantly charmed by Jojo Fleites’ character, Carlos, who seems to have great chemistry with everyone and be a bit of a smartass.
One of the things I valued about OG Supernatural was that it wasn’t about romance, so the John and Mary romance isn’t a pulling point for me, but the other characters seem interesting outside what I presume will be the central romance. Nida Khurshid’s character Latika is intriguing, and so is John’s mother Millie (Bianca Kajlich) who it appears was the mechanic in the family to Henry’s more bookish Men of Letters occupation. That could be interesting indeed! I wasn’t a huge fan of Mary or John (or their occasionally A+ parenting) in the original show, but Meg Donnelly and Drake Rodger seem up to the challenge of bringing the characters to life, so maybe I’ll feel more positively when I get to know them better.
It’s been an emotional day.
I loved seeing Jared, Jensen and Misha all up on that stage, thriving, and still goofing around together like old times. I feel incredibly proud of them, all with new shows and these young vibrant new casts who are just starting out on their own journeys thanks in part to J2M and what Supernatural taught them. I loved seeing Dean Winchester on my screen again, driving the Impala down a deserted road. I love knowing that Supernatural will never die, because I want that to be true more than anything, and I’m grateful that The Winchesters is keeping it alive. I’m going to cross my fingers, savor what we have, and hope for even more to love!
And in a few hours, I’m gonna settle in to watch yet another show that Jensen Ackles is in, the season finale of Big Sky.
But for now, I’m gonna go watch a few minutes of Dean Winchester again. I really really missed him.
It has been a BIG day for the SPNFamily! After weeks of speculation as to whether zero, one, two or all three of the Supernatural cast’s new pilot projects would be picked up by the CW, the news came in the afternoon that the network had cancelled multiple shows. Some of those were fan favorites, and my heart goes out to those fandoms – it’s especially heartbreaking when a show is cancelled and doesn’t have a chance to do a proper wrap, leaving its characters and its fans in limbo. I’m so sorry for all those fans, and all those talented actors and crew now out of work.
The chances for the SPN pilots were clearly improved by that news, so it wasn’t shocking when all three pilots with Supernatural cast connections were picked up – ‘The Winchesters’ prequel with Jensen and Danneel Ackles and Supernatural writer alum Robbie Thompson executive producing and Jensen doing the Dean Winchester narrating, the Walker prequel ‘Walker: Independence’ aka Windy, with Jared Padalecki executive producing and Walker alum Matt Barr one of the stars; and Gotham Knights, with Misha Collins as Harvey Dent/Two-Face.
Fans joked that they’re changing the name of the network from The CW to The J2M network. But no joke, it’s a testament to the lasting popularity and power of Supernatural and the Supernatural fandom that they’ve made room for all three SPN cast pilots. The fandom may be fractured and contentious and right now arguing over which of the three everyone will be supporting (or not), but we are also passionate as hell, and currently trending all ‘our’ pilot pickups and faves.
After two failed Supernatural spinoffs, The Winchesters is the first to actually become a series. Fans have been a mix of enthusiastic and skeptical about the show portraying the beginning of the love story of John and Mary Winchester. The “mothership’s” canon had John not knowing about the supernatural at all at the time it’s set and their relationship being manipulated by celestial forces, so the prequel will have to come up with an explanation for them working together and their love story being an epic one. I’m a big fan of Robbie Thompson’s writing though, and I know how much Jensen cares about Dean, so I’m going into this hopeful – and beyond excited to hear Ackles bring Dean Winchester to life once again. I miss him. (I miss both Winchester brothers, and Supernatural itself, like a constant ache that just won’t go away). I’m hopeful that Exec Producer Danneel Ackles will bring a vintage aesthetic to the show that I can fall in love with too. Bell bottoms, paisley, the music…. Shot in New Orleans, so far, the show looks hauntingly beautiful and the cast seem wonderful.
I’ve been enjoying Jared Padalecki on ‘Walker’ so I’m excited about that prequel too. Windy is set even farther back in time, in late 1800s Texas, centered on Abby Walker and her husband’s murder and her quest for revenge, and Hoyt Rawlins, the oft described “lovable rogue” type. I really enjoyed Matt Barr’s portrayal of the present day Hoyt on Walker, so I’m looking forward to the prequel. Much like The Winchesters, the show looks gorgeous, and the cast and crew are clearly beyond excited about it. Director Larry Teng took the fandom along on much of the journey, tweeting lots of photos and enthusiasm. I’m so happy for the cast, who seem lovely.
Padalecki took to twitter to let the Walker family know that the enthusiasm and congrats weren’t lost on him – and that he is as excited as we are!
Misha Collins is playing the role of Harvey Dent (and later Two-Face) on the third SPN cast-related pilot to be picked up, Gotham Knights. Part of DC’s Batman universe, the show takes place after Bruce Wayne has been murdered and his adopted son allies with the children of Batman’s enemies when they’re framed for killing him. Misha has said that the first season sees him playing Dent, but later he’ll get the chance to play a villain as Two Face. Also he seems to have a black trenchcoat, much to the amusement of his Supernatural fans.
To make the day even more exciting, some news that I’ve been waiting for was also released – Jensen Ackles will guest star as Sheriff Beau Arlen on the season finale of Big Sky airing next Thursday. (I was sitting there watching Big Sky, trying to get a little caught up in anticipation, when that news came out). His character is described as “a confident and charming good ol’ boy from Texas who steps in as temporary Sheriff.” Charming indeed. That Deadline article came with a little ABC promo video, and let’s just say that Mr. Ackles is looking fine fine fine indeed with that long hair and a cowboy hat. Now we’ve got both Jared and Jensen as gun-toting cowboy lawmen on our screens this month. Phew.
Looking forward to next Thursday!
It’s been a great feeling to watch my timeline explode all day long with fans and other Supernatural cast reacting to all the good news. Misha Collins tweeted his excitement to his former co-stars, who will perhaps all be at the Upfronts next week (if Ackles isn’t committed to The Boys publicity and Padalecki isn’t finishing up Walker).
Looks like Jared is up for it – as long as he can play the cowbell! Seriously though, I love how this cast will always support each other and genuinely look forward to enjoying each other’s company.
Eric Kripke seemed almost as emotional as me about the incredible legacy the little show he created has left – and all the wonderful new things its cast has gone on to create. What a wonderful legacy for Mr. Kripke as well, as he prepares for the launch of Season 3 of The Boys (also starring Ackles, who luckily likes to keep busy).
Nothing is ever going to replace the OG Supernatural for me, but I feel incredibly lucky to have all these other shows to look forward to – and so proud of the actors who made Supernatural the phenomenon that it is, and everything that they’re out there creating now. Whether you’re planning to watch one show or two or all three, there’s alot to look forward to coming up!
There’s something almost ‘Supernatural’ about the pilots for two new shows from Supernatural costars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles getting greenlit by the CW on the same day and announced in the same press release.
It made perfect sense for multiple reasons, though. Ackles and Padalecki worked together for 15 plus years and have remained the closest of friends even through a couple of those inevitable bumps in the road, proving their friendship can withstand challenges and come back strong. Both continue to profess their undying love for both Supernatural and their characters, Sam and Dean Winchester, reassuring fans that they’re not gone, but safe with the actors who portrayed them for so long. Ackles is about to direct an episode of Padalecki’s new show, Walker. So it just made sense to announce the pilots were greenlit for both of their new projects on the same day, with Padalecki happily tweeting the news about both prequel series.
As a forever Supernatural fan, that made me very very happy.
A little while later, Jensen Ackles joined in the joint celebration, posting a celebration of The Winchesters and congratulating his brother Jared on the Walker: Independence prequel too.
Jensen and Danneel Ackles are executive producing the Supernatural prequel, ‘The Winchesters’, which tells the story of Sam and Dean’s parents, John and Mary. We know some unusual things already about how John and Mary ended up together, some of it the result of supernatural manipulation, so it will be interesting to see how the prequel depicts their early days. Sam and Dean thwarted all kinds of (even Godly) manipulation pretty successfully, so I wonder if their parents did some of that too? Apparently they “put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world” so it sounds like something interesting happened! Robbie Thompson, one of my favorite Supernatural writers and EPs, is shepherding the prequel into being. And Jensen Ackles will narrate as Dean Winchester, who I and many many fans have missed intensely for the past 15 months. Just knowing Jensen Ackles is inhabiting Dean Winchester again feels like the balance has been restored to the universe.
Padalecki, who has been starring as Cordell on ‘Walker’ since Supernatural wrapped, is executive producing the prequel, ‘Walker: Independence’, set in the late 1800s. The show follows Abby Walker, who’s looking for revenge after her husband is murdered right in front of her as they make their way West. She meets Hoyt Rawlins, “a lovable rogue in search of purpose” and they end up in Independence, Texas, whose eclectic population make up the rest of what sounds like an ensemble cast, similar to Walker. I’ve really been enjoying getting to know the Walker family on the original show, so I’m looking forward to a glimpse into their past too. I’m guessing this one will also be filmed in Austin, which should provide some great visuals for the West of the 1800s.
With Ackles already set to direct on Walker, I can’t help but hope that Padalecki reprises his role as Sam at some point on The Winchesters every now and then, with a little narration of his own. Or maybe there’s a time jump into the future… hey, it’s just a thought…
Whatever the future and the two new prequels hopefully bring, I’m celebrating with the SPNFamily tonight – congrats Ackles and Padaleckis!