Last week’s episode of “The Winchesters’ 1.09 Cast Your Fate to the Wind was extra fun – because I got to watch it with my friend Nightsky from The Winchester Family Business. We’ve been friends since the early seasons of “Supernatural” but we live in different cities, so getting to watch anything “live” together is rare.
We went to the premiere of “A Knock At The Cabin” in New York City the night before (it was awesome fyi), so were both at my house on Tuesday – which meant viewing party for “The Winchesters!” Here’s our morning after thoughts on the episode….before coffee, so keep that in mind….
Let’s start with our OG “Supernatural” fave, Dean. Here’s his narration from the episode:
Dean: This isn’t how I saw things going when I pushed over that first domino. Thing is, I’ve had more than a few dances with free will and fate, but as my dad used to say, “fate is what you make it.”
Lynn: Wait, did John Winchester actually say that on “Supernatural?”
Nightsky: I don’t remember him saying that, and if he didn’t, this is huge! It means that Dean is changing the timeline.
Lynn: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I don’t want OG “Supernatural’s” timeline changed!
Nightsky (not at all rattled by the outburst): Including Dean’s narration, fate is mentioned fifteen times in the episode. The gem is the Gem of Ursitoare, the Roman gods of fate.
Lynn: Okay, so it’s about fate. That’s a “Supernatural” theme for sure. But what was it trying to say about fate?
Nightsky: Lata says, “fate has a different meaning for the undead… It shows the next fated moment in your destiny. According to the legend, the leader saw he was fated to die and chose to save himself over the clan… Once the object reveals your fate, it is sealed.” But John proved that the context of fate is unknown, and within his control. Dean is “undead” in a way, so are they hinting that Dean is trying to change his and Sam’s fates, and maybe even the entire Winchester clan’s fate?
Lynn: That makes me nervous. I didn’t necessarily see this as John changing his fate though. In this episode’s climactic scene, I saw the fact that the outcome was not what we first expected as made possible because John didn’t know the full context of what was happening in that vision of the future – it didn’t necessarily show that he was being killed, only that the vampire was biting him, and we don’t know what happened before or after. What if that is exactly what happened before and after, and he just figured it out? That would mean John didn’t change anything. My head hurts already.
Nightsky: Even though Dean remembers his dad saying “fate is what you make it”, going back through the episode, it was Millie who said it, not John. Maybe this is where John learns that lesson from his mother.
Lynn: A lot of this show is about where John or Mary learned things from their parents, that’s for sure. (What’s also interesting is that Nightsky and I both thought that John DID say it, but it’s not in the transcript we’re looking at over breakfast…)
Nightsky: In the pilot of “The Winchesters,” Dean says “I know this story might sound familiar, but I’m gonna put the pieces together in a way that just might surprise you, and in order to do that, I have to start all the way at the beginning.” In this episode, that’s exactly what John did. He was shown a vision of one version of events, but he put together the pieces of that puzzle in a way that wasn’t initially what he thought it would be. Maybe that’s what this series is doing – putting a context around the Winchester story that we know. They’re not changing anything, but fitting it into a larger, more complete, paradigm.
Lynn: Maybe, though that still makes me a little nervous. It still feels like change, even if it’s not going to change those goalposts they talked about not moving.
Nightky: In my reviews, I’ve been noting how I’m getting a much deeper understanding of all of the Winchesters because of the context of their history. It’s not changing anything in their personalities but I’m understanding so much more about them than I ever did before. It’s giving me “aha” moments that are enriching my love of “Supernatural.”
Lynn: There are some times I can fit them into the canon of “Supernatural” and then I can feel them as expanding my understanding of them, but there are those other times when I can’t make them fit, so I’m just left scratching my head. One of my hopes for this show is that it doesn’t change anything I know and love from “Supernatural” – hence my persistent concern – but instead fills in some blanks. There are also moments that make me go, huh? That doesn’t sound like anything this character would have said or done in “Supernatural!” Times when I can’t see Samuel ever saying that, or Mary, or even Dean in his narration. It’s only sometimes, but those times are confusing – hopefully they will all make sense in episode 13!
Nightsky: So besides the theme of free will versus changing or contextualizing fate, what were the highlights of the episode for you?
Lynn: There was a lot of Millie, and that always makes me happy. Bianca Kajlich is amazing, and I believe every single ounce of her portrayal of Millie. Whenever she and Drake Rodger get a chance to interact in an emotional scene, I’m captivated by it because it feels so genuine.
Lynn: I love her toughness, and the fierce love underneath, maybe because it appeals to the mom in me, but I also love how we get only little glimpses of that reluctant vulnerability. Hmm. Am I saying she reminds me of Dean? Because sometimes she reminds me of Dean. We haven’t heard her say “no chick flick moments” but that’s one of those things that I can trace forward to Dean and it feels like it makes sense.
Nightsky: I agree, Millie is a gem. More of her please! Her “save it for the kids, kiddo” perfectly cut through all of the young adult angst and dating drama and saw the truth of the situation as only a parent could. John immediately knew she was right!
Nightsky: She also deftly delivered their cover story when Betty was interrogating her about Mary. As far as her discomfort with talking about feelings, I saw that as a strong tether back to the characterization of the Winchesters that we’d been given for so long from “Supernatural.” Maybe John’s and subsequently Dean’s preference for “the punchy part” of hunting rather than emotional sharing comes from Millie and the feminine of the family rather than the masculine stereotypes we may have assumed.
Lynn: Well, we all absorb those stereotypes – Millie embodies more of the masculine stereotypes in a lot of ways. She’s a mechanic too. I think I like that about Millie because that was an actual hole in canon that you can fill in without messing with OG “Supernatural” – it’s like what fanfic does sometimes, find a gap in the canon and then fill it in, in a way that makes sense and is more or less seamless. I like it when the show can do that. So yes, I agree.
(narrator: they agree!)
Lynn: So what was the highlight for you?
Nightsky: I was pleasantly surprised with Mary’s fight scene – it’s about time! They’ve been telling us that she’s a fierce fighter, but we finally got to see some impressive combat skills that allowed her to take on and defeat several monsters at once.
Lynn: That was a good scene, yes.
Nightsky: For me, the scene would have been even more powerful if she wasn’t constantly battling with her “sweet girl next door” image. Curled hair and platform shoes are unlikely choices for a hunter – unless you are going to use them to your advantage, as Carlos did. The straight hair, jeans, and gym shoes that she wore in the pilot seem more practical. I understand that her outward appearance conveys the internal battle she has with wanting to be like the other girls in town, but I’d like to see her be the character who shows that women can dress practically and still be feminine. With all that said, though, I still adored that scene.
Lynn: I think she might be fighting the CW stereotypes more than anything, which doesn’t allow you to not have carefully coiffed hair even if you’re fighting monsters. I liked that scene a lot – it was so well choreographed and Meg did a great job – but it is sometimes hard to believe that such a physically tiny person could swing a machete with enough force to lob off a vampire’s head! I do think Meg Donnelly really showed how desperate Mary was in the fight scene, and her portrayal of those strong emotions was what made the scene more believable for me – she just kept getting up, knowing otherwise John might die. She also made me believe in Mary’s deepening feelings for John, more in this episode than in any before.
Nightsky: Another highlight for me was Carlos’ reaction to seeing John and Mary kiss. JoJo Fleites stole the scene with Carlos’ surprised/not surprised facial expressions and hand waving.
Lynn: Totally. Carlos was like “What? I knew it!” And Lata was like, “wait, you knew it? I knew it!”
Lynn: Speaking of Carlos, I love that he’s getting another chance to maybe start a relationship with Anton after they hit it off so strongly when they first met. It seems believable to me that Carlos got nervous and tried to back off – for some reason he’s insecure about relationships even though we all find him attractive and appealing, I think – but I was rooting for them so I’m glad they had a chance to rekindle those sparks.
Lynn: John and Mary didn’t have the only kiss in the episode! I really hope we get to see more of Anton and that their relationship has a chance to be explored.
So, was there anything you didn’t like about the episode?
Nightsky: There were two things for me. This episode gets the award for the worst insertion of a commercial ever. The entire story built to the climax of John’s fated death and his mom and Mary’s frantic efforts to save him, but right in the middle of their big, emotional scene, the show cut to a commercial. It tanked the scene’s momentum and impact. That was either poor editing or post-production timing.
Lynn: I don’t know whose job that is but yes, that was jarring. And if I’m remembering correctly, it pulled us both right out of the moment. I also got thrown out of the moment in that scene by how quickly they stopped doing CPR. I know you can’t have a TV show with 30 minutes of people attempting CPR, but you absolutely wouldn’t give up after 30 seconds if you want to give that person the best chance of survival! Maybe that’s where the commercial should have been… Those are small constraints by the realities of TV things, but still jarring. Other than that quick giving up, though, that was a powerful scene with Bianca and Meg both doing a good job of showing the women’s panic and grief – even if we all knew he was going to wake up.
Lynn: Anything else?
Nightsky: I’m still not absolutely sure about the monster lore they portrayed. Holy water hurts demons, not vampires. It was a brilliant hunting strategy from Carlos (and reminiscent of the Trickster calling our attention to Carlos’ hair modeling career last week), but was it a mistake or a clue that we’re in an Alternate Universe? Am I wrong here?
Lynn: I thought the same thing. It’s so confusing because vampire lore is so different across books and films and TV series, but I don’t remember Sam and Dean ever tossing holy water at vampires. If this is an AU, that makes me happy because I don’t have to worry and be overly protective of canon, but if it isn’t, that seems like a canon fail. It was an amusing moment, but sometimes this show skews closer to campy than “Supernatural” did, and that’s a little jarring too. Also, I feel like it took time to soak his hair and the vampires just stood there watching – maybe it would have been better to just quickly toss the holy water on them from the bottle? Luckily for some reason they just stood there … maybe Carlos’ hair is just that fascinating! (It is pretty awesome NGL)
Lynn: Remind me of vampire lore in “Supernatural?”
Nightsky: John was bitten by a vampire but, consistent with “Supernatural” lore, he wasn’t transformed because he didn’t ingest vampire blood or feed on human blood.
Lynn: Right, it’s not just being bitten itself. Anything else stand out to you?
Nightsky: I was surprised to learn that the reporter was possessed by an Akrida, but I never trusted him anyway. Do you think he was already possessed when he “ran into” Mary at the theater? I do. He was just too smooth to be trusted.
Lynn: Probably, though I didn’t necessarily think possession at the time – but he was a little sus from the start. Which is too bad because I kinda like his character. It’s interesting that the two “exes” have teamed up now, Kyle who dated Mary (once) and Betty who was engaged to John. But I think Betty’s intentions are good, don’t you? She has reason to be suspicious after the gang keeps turning up at crime scenes.
Nightsky: Yes, she’s become an antagonist in the story but not in the way I expected. I thought she would be the love interest in a romantic triangle, but they bypassed that cliché and are using her law enforcement training to make her suspicious. I hope she ends up like Victor Henriksen, who was a thorn in the Winchesters’ side but ultimately became an ally.
Lynn: I was just gonna compare her to Henriksen! She gives an outsider’s point of view on the way hunters would surely appear to the rest of the world, and I love that trope.
What else stood out to you?
Nightsky: It was nice that they expanded the “clubhouse” – Lata described it as “endless, in the best way”. That really opens up the possibilities for future stories and is again consistent with Sam and Dean slowly discovering the mysterious caverns of the bunker.
Lynn: I wish they didn’t call it the clubhouse, it sounds a lot less serious than the bunker, but yes, that was a nice callback to the bunker and its many, many rooms. I don’t think they actually constructed it like they did the bunker, though! I had the pleasure of being in that physical set and it was amazing – but I’m sure very costly to make it an actual real (and large) “building”.
Nightsky: I’m also fascinated that besides fate, another underlying theme of this episode was time. One possibility is that Dean was inserted into this timeline via time travel. While no one traveled through time for this hunt, the amulet looked into the future. Carlos specifically asked if the amulet “has the ability to tell me the future or a future” which again emphasized that timelines can be influenced.
Lynn: I had a visceral reaction to the mention of an “amulet” on a show that’s in the universe of “Supernatural,” gotta say. But yes, that was an interesting connection. Clearly part of what the show is all about, but it’s also part of what makes me so anxious about it! Also, John really takes after Dean – I mean, Dean really takes after John – like oh, amulet, here let me pick it up, oops!
Nightsky: Mary’s desire to keep things “in the moment” with John was also a study of time in a way. Then the vampire told John “it’s not your time yet, but it soon will be, John Winchester” and Millie said, “I’d say that our time is running out.” What are the connotations of those quotes to the Winchesters’ timeline??? “Time” was mentioned fifteen times in the dialog. That’s not accidental.
Lynn: So both time and fate are mentioned fifteen times. Obviously, this show is all about time, and “Supernatural” has always been about fate versus free will, so I guess that makes sense.
Nightsky: Time travel is a favorite theme for Robbie Thompson, and this story emphasized both the present and the future. I have to wonder about the implications for what Dean is doing.
Lynn: I noticed when the vampire said that, too. Was it just to move the story along a few minutes so we could get to the red carpet scene? Or did it have a more prescient meaning, that it turns out his time is not that day at all, but he’s still in danger? (Also, that poor woman – did she really think she could trust that vamp?)
Lynn: As for Dean, we know he’s trying to change something, I just hope he remembers watching “The Butterfly Effect” at some point in his life – or what happened when he went back in time before (after…) this. I was amused that Mary calls the guy in the photo handsome, not knowing he’s her son. A nice callback to Dean calling his mom “a babe” when he time-traveled to the 70s in the original show.
Lynn: Time travel makes my head hurt, seriously.
We left it at that, since my head was hurting (and I had to go to work…) But we were both surprised that we actually agreed on a lot of things, both positive and negative! Do you agree?
Catch a brand new episode of “The Winchesters” on the CW tonight with 1.10 Suspicious Minds!