Saving people, hunting things. The family business.
Supernatural’s prequel series The Winchesters has landed on The CW and brought fans back to a world filled with demons, monsters, and things that go bump in the night. Following the story of Sam and Dean’s parents, Mary and John, the series tells the pair’s epic, untold, love story and how they put it all on the line to save the world.
Given Supernatural’s long-running success and rabid fanbase, anticipation for the prequel runs high. Jensen Ackles returns to narrate the series – from Dean Winchesters’ perspective – which sees Meg Donnelly and Drake Rodger carry on the family legacy by taking on the roles of Mary and John Winchester. Set many years before the arrival of Sam and Dean, the show takes us to the deep south of New Orleans, where the world of monster hunting is well and truly alive.
Supernatural created a legacy that will stand the test of time, so the pressure is on. But does The Winchesters pilot offer hope for an exciting new chapter, or merely fall into the cash grab category?
Let’s talk about it!
The series picks up with events soon after John returns home from serving in the Vietnam war. And, it’s not long after he steps off the bus that he meets the 19-year-old Mary Campbell. The pair’s relationship is set up with a sense of comedy, whilst immediately hinting there might be more to come. At first glance, the casting choices are solid, with both offering a sense of likeability and intrigue. However, the show wastes no time in throwing us straight into the action and asks us to suspend belief when John, new to the notion of a Supernatural world, is introduced to a demon. While we know what’s to come from the character, John’s initial acceptance of this terrifying revelation seems inappropriately calm. Sure, this is a decorated soldier who has served his country proudly, but a confrontation with this new evil should at least cause a shiver down the spine. Instead of taking the time to flesh this new dynamic out, the pilot propels the story forward and focuses more on the romantic back-and-forth between the pair.
Talking of advancing the story, The Winchesters feels like it’s treading old ground, rather than forging its own path. Sure, the pilot offers a distinctly different aesthetic, but its subject matter follows a familiar pattern. And while the deep south offers a fresh look, some of the production designs can be brought into question – those familiar with Scream 4 and its artistic choices might draw comparisons.
At times, the pilot felt like something taken from an Indiana Jones movie, and that offers an exciting adventure premise which the show could benefit more from down the line, but its injection of horror felt rather flat, which could leave some fans disappointed. The characters are confronted with creatures of night throughout the episode, but it feels more kin to the later seasons of Supernatural, where the fantastical took precedence over its grounded horror beginnings – a return to that flavor would be much appreciated.
While Donnelly starts strong with her badass version of Mary, Rodger feels like he will need time to mold into the role. Not so much for his performance, but rather for the material he is having to work with. At this time, Mary is very much involved in the hunter lifestyle and is seasoned in the ongoing battle between good and evil, whereas John is finding his footing at an alarmingly quick pace. While this presents some original problems, it helps build the chemistry between the two, which is charming and offers moments of humor.
Unlike its predecessor, The Winchesters also wastes no time in introducing supporting characters, and while they all bring their own distinct voices to the episode, it once again feels a little rushed. The pilot barely offers any time to sit with Mary and John as they begin their journey, before chucking more factors into the equation. Jojo Fleites’ Carlos and Nida Khurshids’ Latika will likely become fan favorites for many, but embedding them into the story with more patience could have heightened their impact. However, The Winchesters is trying to establish their version of the Scooby gang from the beginning, and the interaction between all members could offer up some fun moments throughout the series.
The Winchesters introduces us to a whole new chapter in a quick fashion. Rather than taking the time to flesh this new world out, the pilot introduces us to a lot of moving pieces, which doesn’t work in its favor. Fans are treated to a plethora of Easter eggs and tie-ins to the original, but a more comedic tone dampens what made Supernatural’s pilot so great. While the leading characters offer up hope, the story feels a little flat and rushed. But here’s hoping the new big bad, and the many road stories to come will help this new generation of hunters find their footing.