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.
You can read the Supernatural actors
thoughts on the end of Supernatural
and what they hope it’s legacy will be
In There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done,
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