Supernatural spin-off The Winchesters seems to be quite the hit for The CW, which is a pleasant surprise for a show just starting out. The first episode is the most-watched premiere this season for the cable channel, beating out Walker; a feat that is quite impressive. Luna Gauthier, our resident Supernatural superfan, was able to review the premiere early and was quite impressed with what The Winchesters had to offer. While part of her was skeptical about certain aspects of the show, she felt that it was a good spiritual successor to the original series.
You can tell just how much each and every one involved in this project cares for the story they are trying to tell. Earlier this month, Ayla Ruby was able to sit down at New York Comi Con with the stars of the series, Meg Donnelly and Drake Rodger, as well as executive producers of The Winchesters Jensen and Danneel Ackles. Ruby was also able to speak with the showrunner of the Supernatural spin-off series, Robbie Thompson.
Each one is as passionate as the next, I can feel the level of dedication these individuals have to get this show right. It’s about honoring what came before while setting up the next chapter in the goldmine of a franchise. So how does the second episode, titled “Teach Your Children Well” measure up to the premiere? Lets go on that hunt together.
[Warning: Spoilers from The Winchesters episode two are below!]
Take me home, country road
Mary (Meg Donnelly) is on a mission to find her father and will stop at nothing to do so. She, John (Drake Roger), and the rest of the crew have been on the road for weeks and tensions seem to be high. Mary’s made herself the defacto leader of the group, which seems to put her at odds with Carlos (Jojo Fleites). Come on Carlos, don’t you know she’s the main character in this show? Get with the program! You later find out that Carlos isn’t used to sharing the stage with others and Mary happens to be stealing his spotlight.
Their adventuring eventually takes Jon back home, where he discovers an angered and scared Millie Winchester (Bianca Kajlich), who has been worried sick about her son’s disappearance. Getting in his face, she compares him to his father, who also disappeared into the night. John obviously doesn’t like that comparison and angrily storms off to continue the search for Samuel, Mary’s father.
While the group can’t seem to find Samuel, they do stumble on their monster of the week in true Supernatural fashion. Shocking I know. The disappearance of a teenage local boy at the hands of a monster draws Mary and John to solve the mystery, especially because no one seems to believe the only witness, because of her drug use. Time to pull out the linen from Woodstock and strike up the band, because the mystery gang is going undercover at a commune to get to the problem of whatever is happening in the woods.
Monster identification in episode two of The Winchesters
Mary clues in that something is off at the commune when she notices an interesting symbol around the neck of one of the hippie men. They come to learn it’s Celtic in nature and suspect that the monster is actually a shapeshifter of some sort. After a second attack, Mary believes the shapeshifter to be a Mimic, due to some green blood.
Latika (Nida Khurshid), the book-smart individual of the group, suspects a different kind of monster. When she proposes the idea to the group, Mary shoots her down quickly and kinda rudely. For someone who wants help finding her father, Mary sucks at being kind to those closest to her. Eventually, Latika convinces Mary and the rest of the group that there is another monster and power at play in the forest, however, they need to work fast before it claims anyone else for its own.
There’s a softening of Mary, after John’s kidnapping at the hands of the monster. She accepts that she was wrong, apologizing to her friends. You get to see that part of the coldness is a desperation to find her father. She’s trying to stay strong and be the individual her father wanted her to be. However, there is a kindness to her that is starting to make its way out of the hard shell. I expect her walls to break down the longer she and John travel together in search of her father.
Shifting perspectives in how I view John
As someone who has watched a good chunk of Supernatural, The Winchesters gives a new and interesting look at Sam and Dean’s parents. In the early seasons of the original series, John was an expert hunter, passing on all his knowledge and tricks of the trades to his sons after the death of his wife. However, in The Winchesters, John is a novice and learns how to monster hunt from Mary, who is truly the expert of the group.
The Winchesters definitely changed how I look at John as a character. Rodger’s portrayal is incredibly different than Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s. Morgan’s John is cold, callous, and calculated. An individual who was living his worst nightmare, the loss of his wife at the hands of a demon. Rodger’s John is funny with a lightness to him. He doesn’t seem weighed down by the problems of the demon world. This series makes him more likable and also makes me more sympathetic to the struggle Morgan’s John has gone through.
The good and the bad of The Winchesters episode 2
A problem I had with Supernatural that I can see myself having issues with within this series is the Monster of the Week structure. While Supernatural was a great show, there was a point where the new monster every week grew tiresome. It starts to feel like groundhog day and can drive viewers a bit mad.
Perhaps it’ll be different in a weekly structure, seeing as I binged nine seasons of Supernatural in an incredibly short period of time. I think part of the show which makes it enjoyable is the overarching mystery of Mary’s father’s disappearance. I hope there is a greater focus on that story and less on the monster of the week. I want it to add to the mythos of Supernatural, not just be a carbon copy.
The structure of The Winchesters might cause me a bit of a pause, Mary and John do not. Donnelly and Rodger are fantastic in their roles. Rodger is incredibly endearing as John, breathing new life into the tired character. Donnelly is kick-ass as Mary, showing off some new moves and also her incredible range as an actress. Both were absolutely the right calls for the roles. Donnelly and Rodger bring familiarity to these characters, whom fans can easily recognize, but also provide a new take on them. I will be tuning in every week just for these two.
Final Thoughts on The Winchesters: “Teach Your Children Well”
Was “Teach Your Children Well” as good as the premiere episode? No, not really. The action was fleeting and the episode as a whole felt like filler. There’s nothing wrong with a filler episode, however, there’s a huge difference between one in the middle of the season and one in the second episode.
That being said, “Teach Your Children Well” allowed for greater exploration into the characters and their minds. Having a moment to pause with Mary and John and truly examine them is important. As a psychologist, I will always appreciate more character-driven stories. However, they cannot be at the expense of the story as a whole. I still have faith that The Winchesters will continue on a good trajectory because the second episode is good. It just isn’t great.
The Winchesters airs Tuesday nights on the CW and the next day on the CW App. Have you watched the episode? What are your thoughts? Let us know on social media. And if you want more of John and Mary, check out our Viewing Guide to their appearances in Supernatural!