Many Supernatural fans were left in a state of despair two years ago when their beloved show ended after fifteen years. Now the CW is attempting to lift them up with their new show, The Winchesters, but will fans accept this replacement?
[Warning: Spoilers from The Winchesters premiere and Supernatural are below!]
The Winchesters, but not who you think
The Winchesters is a prequel to Supernatural. It follows Sam and Dean’s father and mother, John (Drake Rodger) and Mary (Meg Donnelly), as they meet and fight monsters before the boys were ever even thoughts in anyone’s head. Adult Dean (Jensen Ackles) narrates with beginning and end commentary attached to each episode. Having seen the pilot I think the show needs to be evaluated from two different views; Supernatural fans and new watchers.
The Winchesters premiere is great for newbies
From the point of view of new watchers, the show has a lot of promise. John and Mary bond over their missing fathers and decide to head off on a cross-country road trip to find them. It harkens back to Sam and Dean’s reunion in episode one of Supernatural, where their father has gone missing and they set off cross country to find him. The play between naive John and world-weary Mary is cute. She tries really hard to convince him that he wants no part of her world but of course, guys rarely walk away from cute blondes so he doggedly pursues her.
We’re also introduced to two of Mary’s fellow hunters, Carlos (Jojo Fleites) and Latika (Nida Khurshid), who join them on their journey. Carlos has a very over-the-top personality. Image every stereotype of a dramatic gay man and there you go. I found him rather obnoxious, as stereotypes usually are.
Latika was better. She is a timid girl who got dragged into the world of monsters when Samuel, Mary’s father, saved her from a monster at one point. She is mainly a researcher when we meet her but she wants to stretch her wings and this road trip seems like the perfect opportunity.
The foursome goes off to gather more information about what happened to Mary’s father, and potentially John’s father too. Along the way, they have their first hunting encounter and come out the other side with all their fingers and toes, and a stronger bond to boot.
After meeting Ada Monroe (Demetria McKinney), a rare book dealer whom Samuel was working with before he went missing, the group learns of a bigger threat looming on the horizon. Mary is determined to go deal with it on her own but John convinces her that like it or not, the whole group is going together.
As a new show with no connections to Supernatural, I think The Winchesters had a solid start. There’s a cast of interesting characters that have nice chemistry. They all have tragic backstories that can be explored as the show progresses. Every member of the group has a clear goal to save the world with the engaging setup of monsters popping up as obstacles along the way. And the whole occult world always has a strong pull on our collective imaginations which works in the show’s favor.
The banter between the characters was good and the clear attraction between John and Mary despite her determination to be a lone wolf will make good dramatic tension going forward.
Will Supernatural fans convert?
Now, will the Supernatural fans to which the show is supposed to be catering accept the new story? On that count, I’m not so sure. One of the premises of the show Supernatural was that John knew nothing about monsters before Mary was killed by a demon and he got sucked into the world beyond our world. It had been assumed that Mary was equally ignorant for a long time but eventually the show revealed that she had been raised in the life of a hunter but wanted better for her children and got out. Still, the show made it clear that John knew nothing of her past life.
The Winchesters blows this narrative completely out of the water with the monster-fighting road trip that John and Mary set off on. The show attempts to justify this in Dean’s narration by having him say that every family has secrets and that this isn’t the story they were told but he’s determined to uncover the truth about his parents. I’m not sure this will satisfy most fans though (it didn’t work for me).
Sam and Dean actually travel back in time multiple times to when their parents are younger and not only do they meet differently in Supernatural, John has all memories of monsters erased by angels and he only has one encounter with them which is clearly his first. Samuel is also killed in a very specific way tied to Mary and John and I’m not sure that The Winchesters will be able to swing back to that.
There are two other problems that I had with continuity between the two shows. When the men of letters are introduced in Supernatural the boys are adamant that their father knew nothing about them. Furthermore, there’s an entire episode about how much John hated his father for abandoning him as a child.
However, in the pilot of The Winchesters, John learns about the men of letters and comes to understand why his father left. He seems to fully forgive his father and releases the anger he had been carrying toward him. This doesn’t jive with his sons, who aren’t even born yet, thinking he hated his father and never forgave him for leaving years later.
I’m sure some people would point out that if angels erased his memory in Supernatural then everything that happens on The Winchesters could have been erased too and he could start from scratch for Supernatural. The problem with this theory is the timeline. That would involve (presumably) years being erased instead of a single day. And he would have been the wrong age if the boys traveled back after the events of The Winchesters (plus he would have had knowledge that he clearly didn’t have in the Supernatural episode). If they traveled back before The Winchesters then when his memory was erased it wouldn’t have affected his memories of the events of The Winchesters. It just doesn’t work.
My other problem is trying to figure out exactly when Dean went off on this fact-finding trip about his parents. He is shown in the final bookend writing in a journal and driving off in baby, alone. He is clearly a middle-aged Dean. Supernatural documented pretty much every second of Dean’s life from 26 to his death at 41. There was never a time when he went off on his own to find out about his parents.
And the old “he just came back from the dead” trick doesn’t work because the series finale took us from Dean’s death all the way through Sam’s death as an old man and reunites them in heaven. So that has me puzzled. I’m going to try to put those things aside and give The Winchesters a chance on its own but I’m not sure all fans will be able to do that.
The Winchesters premiere is worth a try for everyone
Overall, the show was engaging and fun. I am definitely interested in seeing more of John, Mary, Latika, and Carlos and their adventures.
I hope Supernatural fans will suspend their complaints about the show and wait to see if they come up with plausible reasons for the dissonance between the two shows. New viewers won’t have this problem and should be able to just enjoy the show without comparing the two.
The Winchesters premieres on the CW on Tuesday, October 11th at 8 pm est, just in time for the spooky season. All episodes will be released to stream on the free CW app the following day. And if you’re looking for a refresher of John and Mary’s time in Supernatural, or a review of the Supernatural series, check out our guides linked below!
The Winchesters Supernatural Viewing Guide
Guide: Reflecting on Supernatural – A Long Strange Ride