I’m officially back in the Supernatural game and I couldn’t be happier. As I was trudging through feet of snow in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, I missed the return of Supernatural three weeks ago. This, unfortunately, also meant I missed the backdoor pilot of the spin-off show Wayward Sisters, something I’ve been looking forward to ever since it was announced, despite Supernatural‘s unsuccessful attempt at spin-offs previously. I tried to avoid spoilers, but I did hear a general consensus — Wayward Sisters is exactly the thing we’ve been looking for. These three episodes also center around strong female characters, which can only mean good things for Supernatural’s future. Because I was out of town for two weeks, I decided it would be easier to cover the first three episodes of Supernatural‘s mid-season return all in the same post. After this, it should be back to regular weekly postings.
Though not as smooth a beginning as I would have liked, the sisters of Wayward Sisters are badass and intriguing in their own right. Already, I can pick out the foundations of what the show has to offer. Claire, who’s had her own rebellious story on Supernatural, finally makes the decision to return home to Sioux Falls, and will be the resident fighter of the group. Alex, who’s stayed away from the hunting game for the most part, is a nurse at the local hospital, but will most likely provide the science-related inquiries about monster-hunting, if her monster autopsy is anything to go by. Will she be the Scully of Wayward Sisters? Patience, though reluctant at first, will continue to grow into her psychic powers, while also learning more about the supernatural world. Jody and Donna will lead the group in family affairs as well as fighting the good fight.
If anything, this episode did a great job with giving us a sneak peek into what Wayward Sisters will be like. It also seems to have more of a sci-fi feel to it, and I hope it continues in that vein. Even though it’s in the Supernatural universe, the show also has a chance to branch out from what we’ve already seen. If they decide to explore the multiverse more, I’d be down with that, especially with the mind-twisty reveal of Kaia’s alternate version. Claire’s proclamation that she’s going to kill the mysterious hooded being who killed Kaia just adds more fuel to the fire. Although I wished we had more time for the friendship/kinship between Claire and Kaia to grow, I’m excited for this development. It looks like Wayward Sisters will strictly stay within the boundaries of Sioux Falls (“We’ve got Sioux Falls covered”), and I’m cool with that. If the core group of the show is stationary, that might give the show more opportunity to expand its cast. I’d be interested to see, with a title like Wayward Sisters, if the show would add any male cast members, and how that dynamic would work.
As for the episode itself, it did feel a little rushed, but I think the emotional journey of its main characters is the important part. Not a lot of time is spent on Sam and Dean, who are trapped in “the bad place,” but their scenes managed to be entertaining and funny in a way Supernatural hasn’t been in awhile. I was also impressed that the show had monsters that actually looked like monsters, not some human/monster hybrid, which I’m sure is a product of the show’s budget. Maybe Wayward Sisters will delve more into that, sort of in the same vein as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its own spin off, Angel. Regardless, “Wayward Sisters” was a great return for Supernatural and an even more successful beginning for Wayward Sisters.
“Breakdown” is a solid episode, mixing in a regular case story with some quality character moments. It’s written by Davey Perez, who wrote some of the better episodes of season twelve, so when his name popped up in the opening credits, I knew I was in for something good. “Breakdown” brings back Donna and her boyfriend Doug, who call Sam and Dean for help after her niece goes missing (a pretty decent cold open, actually). It’s not one of Sam and Dean’s usual cases — there’s no evidence the supernatural is involved — but Donna did help save the brothers the week before, so they kind of owe her. The case is interesting, and actually expands the show’s mythology in a way. Monsters getting their food on the black market makes sense, although I laughed out loud at the idea of monsters conversing in internet chat rooms like raging fanboys.
We also get a look inside Sam’s head a bit, too. This season seems to have done a reversal in terms of Sam and Dean’s attitudes. After Jack reveals that Mary is alive, Dean is more optimistic than ever about finding her while Sam seems to have taken the news with a grain of salt. What’s more, when Dean calls Sam out on his unwillingness to help Donna, they have an actual discussion about what’s bothering Sam instead of throwing insults at each other. Donna’s story too is engaging, even though we shouldn’t have a lot of investment in Doug since we last saw him during season eleven. But we get to see something I’m not sure has ever been played out on Supernatural before — that is, the reveal of monsters, the acceptance of monsters, and the ultimate decision to not join the fight. Doug’s decision was played beautifully and the heartbreak of Doug ending his relationship with Donna really cements how much the hunter’s life kind of sucks. But I also love how Doug isn’t angry at Donna for keeping all this a secret. He accepts Donna, even calls her a damn superhero. But then, he just gracefully bows out, explaining it’s not the life for him, not when he’s already dealing with the human monsters of the world. I freaking loved this whole part of the episode because it’s genuine and carries emotional impact on a character that isn’t Sam and Dean. Bravo, Davey Perez.
“Various & Sundry Villains”
Rounding out this solid three-episode return, “Various & Sundry Villains” finally brings the story back to Cas and Lucifer, who are still trapped by Asmodeus. Cas and Lucifer as a team is quite possibly one of my favorite things. Their dynamic onscreen is electrifying, and they work well together as frenemies who can never actually become friends. Their part of the story is about them attempting to get out of their cells, while Lucifer works on gaining his strength back after Apocalypse World Michael took some of his grace.
Sam and Dean, meanwhile, run into some trouble with a pair of witches who are trying to raise their mother from the dead. The sisters are not all that interesting, although they are frighteningly brutal to their victims, but their goals ultimately lead to nothing of significance. The episode itself even treats them with little care, as it’s more concerned with the other witch present. Now, I know Supernatural is lenient when it comes to killing off characters, but the return of Rowena feels like they’re over-doing it. This is, what, the second time we’ve seen her die onscreen and return a few episodes down the line in order to further the plot? If the show wants to keep her around, then by all means, do so. I like Rowena. But there’s only so many excuses we can burn through about how she survived. Hopefully, she sticks around this time.
That being said, I do like her moments with Sam in this episode. Unwittingly, the two have something common — they’ve both been tortured by Lucifer. Sam acknowledges he’s never really talked about his time in the cage (this could also be seen as the show acknowledging they really screwed up Sam’s mental health story line in season seven), and his openness with Rowena eventually leads to him giving Rowena what she wants. Apparently, part of her power had been locked away (retcon!) and a spell in one of those ancient spell books that always seem to be the catalyst for Rowena returning will be able to restore that power. I’m inclined to believe Rowena’s fear is real and her opening up to Sam in return wasn’t some ploy to get him to side with her, but I guess we’ll never know. I’m also not sure if Rowena’s eyes turning blue indicates she’ll be a threat down the line, but I hope she isn’t.