‘The Winchesters’ Season 1 Finale: Is It Really No Way to Say Goodbye? Or Season 2?

winchesters jensen ackles on shows season 2 renewal mttg

The season finale of “The Winchesters” was called “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye,” a nod to the fact that it’s some kind of ending even if we don’t know what kind yet or how final that ending might be.

If “The Winchesters” doesn’t get picked up by the CW, which seems unlikely as it’s not picking up many scripted shows, Chaos Machine has said they will shop it to other networks and streamers, so who knows what will happen. Showrunner Robbie Thompson, in his finale week interviews, made it clear that it was their goal and priority to deliver a solid season ending that could work if the show went forward and also work if it did not – which is no easy task, I’m guessing!

The “Supernatural” fandom has a lot of big feelings about endings.

I know I do, and most of my fellow fans and fandom friends do too. I loved the series finale of “Supernatural” and feel protective of it when misinformation about it gets passed around. So, I’m sure that plenty of people will feel protective of the ending of this show as well. I’m sure too that, like OG “Supernatural,” emotions around this finale will be mixed.

Some of my closest friends didn’t love the “Supernatural” series finale because they had a very hard time with Dean dying, and for some of those people somehow this episode of “The Winchesters” felt healing. I confess I don’t entirely understand why, since Dean was just as “alive” at the end of “Supernatural” as he was at the end of this episode, which is to say not alive at all but very much existing, as Jensen Ackles said to me long ago, on another plane of existence. This episode didn’t change that; Dean was happy and at peace at the end of “Supernatural,” and he was more or less the same at the end of “The Winchesters.”

In fact, one could argue he had more peace at the end of “Supernatural” than at the end of “The Winchesters,” after finding out about Chuck’s fail-safe plan instead of believing that he and Sam had defeated Chuck, end of story. But if some people felt they needed healing and they got it from this show, I am all for it! Most of us are very motivated to get back to some kind of equilibrium when it involves something we care deeply about, and if you can figure out a way to do it, go for it.

For fans who ultimately found “Supernatural” as Kripke created it too dark, “The Winchesters” may have felt healing in that sense too. It was a 2023 show, with a more diverse cast of characters and hunters who aren’t averse to therapy or meditation to try to cope with their anger issues and trauma instead of enacting them and periodically taking them out on other people unintentionally. In a sense, Robbie Thompson wrote a sort of fix-it fic for those aspects of “Supernatural,” with an ending that parallels 15.19 instead of 15.20, with John and Mary driving off into a hopeful new life, as Sam and Dean did at the end of 15.19. I didn’t need a fix-it fic; for me, ‘Carry On’ was the ending that made sense and felt right for a show that was a 42-minute horror show, dark and disturbing and sometimes hard to watch but ultimately incredibly inspiring.

Its heroes were flawed and nuanced and not black and white, ever. I felt – feel – incredibly grateful that we got the bridge scene after the barn, a far more happy ending than I ever thought we’d get on Supernatural.

But I can see why people who didn’t feel that way about the finale could have found “The Winchesters” healing, like the best fix-it fics are undeniably healing. Again, if it feels that way to you, please revel in it and feel better. Fandom itself will certainly be the better for any healing that brings.

For me, I felt a mix of things as I was watching, and still do now after taking a week to let it all digest. I was entertained for sure – I’ve said in my last few reviews that the show seemed to be finding its feet in terms of its look and timing – and I felt relieved that my tentative theories about what was going on were mostly correct. (I’m protective of “Supernatural” canon, so while I trusted Robbie and the EPs to be protective also as promised, I still felt a sense of relief that this was indeed an Alternate Universe John and Mary who we were getting to know this whole time, which made the inconsistencies nothing to do with canon and everything to do with this not being OUR John and Mary.) 

I’m still a bit confused about the progression from the pilot to the finale, since it started out sounding like Dean was trying to figure out his own parents’ past (not another world’s John and Mary) and that their epic love would save the world – it turns out that Baby sort of saved the world (again) with some help from all the characters plus one Dean Winchester.

Most of us pretty much knew that Dean Winchester would make an actual appearance in this episode. Anyone who has ever met me knows that I love Dean Winchester like I love breathing. I can’t wait to have him and more “Supernatural” back on my some-kind-of screen again and more of the adventures of Sam and Dean. We didn’t get alot of Dean in “The Winchesters,” though intended or not, Dean’s appearance was a big part of why many people tuned in – but we got more in the season finale than in any other episode. I think because I was satisfied with how “Supernatural” turned out, I didn’t have a burning need to see Dean in this show, and thus his appearance in the pilot didn’t feel like relief, it just felt like having an old friend back for a bit.

Without Sam, it also didn’t feel like an episode of Supernatural, so the pilot gave me a confusing Dean, the story left intentionally murky about what he was up to and why.

The rest of the season gave us Dean Winchester bits of narration as he (we now know) added to the hunting journal that I don’t think we ever saw him keep on “Supernatural” but he apparently did – it seems a bit more like a Sam thing to do, but hopefully this AU John and Mary benefitted from it. I still have questions, but by the end of this episode it did feel like Dean Winchester himself was on my TV screen, albeit not in an episode of “Supernatural.” That was the intention for this show, to stand on its own two feet and introduce a new cast of characters that would hopefully intrigue fans enough to keep going – and Robbie has said that if that happens, it won’t be the Dean show, but the newly minted hunters in this AU world who will ‘carry on’.

The show’s future is still up in the air, but I think the show succeeded in creating some memorable characters in this world’s Mary and John and Carlos and Lata (and Millie and Ada too).  It doesn’t hurt that the cast is absolutely lovely – it was a pleasure meeting many of them at New York Comic Con for interviews and at a recent convention.

So, what actually happened in this episode? A LOT. Phew. We start off earlier in 1972, as John buries his friends after serving in the war, traumatized and unsure where he belongs or what he wants to do.

Winchesters starts in 1972 with John Winchester returning from war.

He sits down in a bus station, looking lost, and a mysterious man approaches and gives him an envelope – who John calls “Sir” because he’s clearly older than John himself.

Me: Jensen Ackles?!

Winchesters Drake Rodger looking up at Jensen Ackles on balcony.
Dean Winchester looking down at Drake Rodger from balcony on Winchesters set.

I still can’t rewatch the episode and see that as Dean Winchester, it looks too much like Jensen. (I’m not quibbling, because the reason he needed the long hair and beard is, I’m guessing, to return to playing a character that I’m really freaking excited about! And yes, it’s Heaven, he’s dead, he probably can look however he wants, so there’s no canon issue, but I still can’t see that person as Dean Winchester of “Supernatural” no matter how hard I try).

But I’m okay with it, and the merchant marine lighthouse keeper Ernest Hemingway Robert Redford look, unsurprisingly, totally works for him.

Anyway.

He gives John the letter from his father and disappears; we see him looking down on a confused John from the balcony.

Bobby and Jensen Ackles reading letter on Winchesters set.

The plan worked, as John buys a ticket back to Lawrence, Kansas. And then the show pulls off a well-kept secret as we pan out and see none other than Bobby Singer standing next to Dean-who-does-not-look-like-Dean.

Bobby: We’re not supposed to meddle with things, ya idjit!

Winchesters set with Jensen Ackles wearing peacoat and Jim Beavers looking old as Bobby.
Jim Beavers Bobby reacts to Jensen Ackles on Winchesters set.
Winchesters Dean Winchester with Bobby.

Me: Bobby!!!!!

I love surprises and it’s so rare that a show pulls one off – this episode pulled off not one but two! Bobby (the amazing and wonderful Jim Beaver) being there made “The Winchesters” feel closer to “Supernatural” than it has all season, which is a good thing in my book. It tied this show to the finale, since we last saw Dean with Bobby before the final scene on the bridge.

Dean insists he wasn’t meddling (much), that the letter was intended for John and he just “gave it a nudge”. Bobby, disgruntled, sets off to “get the damn cavalry”.

Bobby Jim Beaver pops in on Winchesters finale.
Jensen Ackles in sailor peacoat on Winchesters.

Bobby: One last hunt, huh?

Dean: One last hunt.

Back to the here and now, Mary tells Samuel she’s not sure about going to college – in fact, she’s not sure what’s next for her at all. 

Winchesters Tom Welling looking fat and bloated from alcohol use and abuse.

Meanwhile, Samuel has a lead on the guy the Akrida are afraid of (ie, Dean) from a hunter named Joan.

Carlos, as often is the case, tells it like it is as they look at the photo once again.

Carlos: Well, this guy is ruggedly handsome.

Winchesters Carlos giving big gay smile to Drake Rodgers bulge.

True that.

He’s also “not of this Earth”, which is why he can apparently destroy the Akrida Queen – what a design flaw that anything that isn’t of this Earth can kill her! Poor planning, Chuck.

Ada finally tells the rest of them that the crystal will only work if she adds a fragment of her human soul, which Lata points out will then cause the rest to fade away. So, maybe they should avoid that unless absolutely necessary, Carlos wisely suggests. Smart, Carlos.

Also, Ada, don’t you want to say goodbye to your son before you power that up??

Lata is determined to find a spell that will fix that pesky little soul-fading problem, which of course she will.

Samuel, John and Mary meet with Joan Hopkins, who it turns out is a former hunter. (Radio Company’s “Keep On Ramblin’” plays in the background – nice touch, EP Mr. Ackles).

Winchesters fat Tom Welling with Drake Rodger and Mary meeting Joan hopkins.
Winchesters Joan Hopkins.

She’s pissed that Dean has been messing around in their world but assures them that he won’t be a problem anymore since she sent him through the portal – along with his car. Oh no, not Baby! A human would be torn to shreds, she says. For centuries. Ouch.

His “old journal” is all that’s left of him apparently, says Joan aka the Akrida Queen. For some unknown reason, she decides she wants to “level the playing field” instead of just taking them out like would make a lot of sense, falling prey to the dreaded villain exposition curse as she tells them who she is and how she came to be the Queen. John is me.

John: We came here for a fight so maybe we could skip the monologuing.

Winchesters Drake Rodger in tight t shirt looking confused.

A+ for that line!

Anyway, a) she’s not Akrida, b) she’s a former hunter, c) she’s out of her mind. She doesn’t say that last part but it’s what we infer.

Joan: I don’t want one more hunter to needlessly die. Join me – or die.

I guess she means join me as the host for an Akrida, which seems like a very bad option. Also, she’s infiltrated the clubhouse where Lata is. Lata breaks her pacifist streak in a big way to try to fight her off, but to no avail.

Winchesters Akrida fighting off Joan.

We get the rest of Joan Hopkins’ story from the lore – that as part of a family of hunters in the 1600s she lost her parents, her brother, all her family, and then her William. So, she decided that the monsters that were never going to be gone weren’t the problem, mankind was.

They always needed to be saved, so hunters kept needing to hunt and humans were ungrateful, destroying the planet and each other. (Not entirely wrong there). According to the lore, Joan apparently decided that she needed to wipe out everyone who might need saving, aka all humans, so hunters wouldn’t have anyone to save and then….could live? Which seems like a pretty bizarre way to save hunters who are, after all, humans.

Mary Winchester reading from book of spells.
Winchesters Drake Rodger looking sexy with hot nose job.

She was banished from this world, but now she’s back. Lata gets possessed, and the Queen burns the Men of Letters wards that kept the portal from opening. The rest of the gang turns up to save Lata, who (in her possessed Akrida state) gives some more exposition – explanation – for who the Akrida are. Apparently, they are an angry god’s “fail safe” – if anything ever bested him (presumably the way Sam and Dean bested Chuck), then they’d wipe out all life in every universe. But Joan as their queen gave them meaning, she says. I guess everyone needs meaning, even weird little alien bugs.

Before Akrida Lata can kill the actual Lata, Ada says the magic word and uses part of her soul to activate the crystal to save her.

Winchestesr Drake Rodger trying to hold back Akrida Lata.
Winchesters Akrida Lata trying to kill actual Lata.
Winchesters Lata with shining bright purple crystal.

The gang decides to reverse the polarity of the Ostium using the mystery man’s journal as directions to bring him back through the portal, and if you got all that on first watch, phew. That can only happen at midnight, so the gang needs to keep the Akrida and Queen busy until they can bring back Mystery Man through the portal – by tossing in the journal.

John volunteers to stall them so Mary can lead the Mystery Man into battle, insisting that he’s not running toward danger again, but towards hope for the first time.

John: If we do this, if we save the world, we’re free.

Winchesters Drake Rodger holding Meg Donnelly hands on set.

And she’s free to do whatever she wants – Joan’s original dream of freeing up hunters from having to save people also weirdly coming true.

John, Samuel and Carlos stand up to Joan, who for some reason initially is all alone. Her “Hello, boys” was a nice touch, but she’s no Crowley – or Rowena.

Winchesters Joan brings forth a huge blue tunnel of light.
Winchesters gay Carlos hot Drake Rodger and Fat Tom Welling ready to fight.

John gets to say “Hunters don’t kneel” before Joan adds a few more Akrida and then they all have a sword fight. I still don’t know why the Akrida don’t fight in their scary bug forms instead or why they’re using swords for that matter.

The journal goes in the Ostium and sure enough, back through the portal comes – Baby!  With the original license plate, but without the Mystery Man, who they say must be dead. However, the car is not of this earth either, so it will make a good weapon to take out the Queen.

Winchestesters Lata and Ada shining bright red light into sky.
Front grill of Chevrolet Chevy Impala baby on The Winchesters with Kansas license plate.

Mary jumps in and peels out – fun fact, Meg Donnelly got her license just to be able to drive Baby! (And confessed she almost peed her pants three times doing it)

The Queen also lets John know that she wiped out the Men of Letters, including Henry, taunting him.

The Doors “LA Woman” starts to play as Mary drives Baby through the night, over a bridge. Past an astonished Carlos.

Meg Donnelly Mary Winchester driving baby impala.
Supernatural baby Impala ready to crossover on The Winchesters.
Winchesters gay Carlos reacting with wide open mouth ready to take Drake Rodgers in.

She drives Baby right into the still-fighting-with-John Queen, which is an awesome music cue for that sequence NGL.  Baby, Mary and the Queen are knocked right into the open portal.

Winchesters reacting to bright blue light tearing through multiverse.
Gay Carlos and hot Drake Rodger react to blue light tearing into their world on Winchesters.

They disappear, and the formerly possessed people walk away, confused. John falls to his knees ala Dean when Sam fell down the hole. Samuel looks crushed.

Baby Impala from Supernatural coming through multiverse for Winchesters finale.
Winchesters Drake Rodger bulging t shirt with fat Tom Welling and gay Carlos spotting Baby Impala from Supernatural coming at them.

Then the portal reopens and Baby comes crashing through, engine revving. They all rush up to the car.

The door opens – and it’s Dean Winchester who gets out.

Dean Winchester with Baby on The Winchesters finale.
Jensen Ackles looking askew at Drake Rodger bulge on Winchesters set.

He helps Mary out the passenger side; she collapses into John’s arms.

John asks how they’re okay and Dean says that Baby kept Mary safe.

Dean: Me too. Course there’s not much that can tear me apart. I’m already dead.

Dean Winchester Jensen Ackles talking to parents on The Winchesters.

He was stuck in the world between worlds – the limbo reference I speculated about last episode – and hopped in when he saw Baby come back through.  Dean tells them he’s a hunter, but not from this Earth, as Americana starts to play (though I’m not sure how I feel about it playing for a family that’s not “our” Winchesters). Dean says he made it to Heaven when he died, found Baby waiting for him, and went for a drive – but then took a little detour.

Lata: Through the multiverse.

Carlos asks what he was looking for.

Dean: That’s a good question, Carlos.

(A shout out to a Robbie Thompson episode of “Supernatural” that referred to a hunter named Carlos who Sam was talking to on the phone).

Winchesters gay Carlos excited to see that Tom Welling is now a bear.
Dean Winchester Jensen Ackles shocked at Tom Wellings weight gain from Smallville on The Winchesters.
Tom Welling weight gain on The Winchesters.

He says he was looking for his family – for an Earth that had a version of his family where they had a shot at a happy ending. Then he found out about the Akrida.

Dean: Eventually the Akrida were gonna make their way to my world and I got family there, so I couldn’t let that happen…. Now that the Akrida are gone, you can choose your own destiny. Write your own story.

Jensen Ackles Dean excited to see Jim Beaver back with Jack Alex Calvert The Winchesters finale.

And then we get another surprise – Bobby comes back with Jack! It was a total surprise to see Alex Calvert reprise his role, and a really nice one.

Jack: Hi.

Jack Alex Calvert waving to gay Carlos with Jim Beaver on The Winchesters.
Winchesters gay Carlos with Lata waving hands.

Bobby speaks a bit of the weirdness we’ve all been dealing with: seeing Samuel with a full head of hair.

Jack: When I restored things, I wanted mankind to make their own fate. That meant no interference from on high, no exceptions.

And then Dean convinced me, finally, that he really was our Dean.

Dean: I couldn’t let our world be destroyed – Sam’s still down there, okay? He deserves a good, long life.  Hell, they all do. So, if you wanna cast me out of Heaven, so be it.

Jensen Ackles Dean Winchester shocked to see Jack Alex Calvert back on The Winchesters.

That’s the Dean Winchester I know and love! And I love his resolve and willingness to do whatever it takes (even though we all know that Sam did, in fact, live to be an old man, so clearly Dean succeeded in this mission).

Bobby votes for another chance.

Jack: There’s always another case with you hunters, even in death.

He gives Dean the journal to give to John and Mary.

Jack: After this, it’s time to get around to the ‘there’ll be peace when you are done’ part of the song.

For now, it seems, Dean will listen.

Dean: My dad, he kept a hunter’s journal, looked just like this. This is my hunter’s journal. If you’re gonna stay in this game, it will help guide you through.

The son gives it to the father (sorta).

Dean asks Mary to do him a favor, keep an eye out for a yellow eyed demon – and gives her the Colt in case she runs into him. (I guess Jack restored that too? It was melted last we saw it)

Winchesters Colt back after being melted on Supernatural.

Mary asks if there was a version of Dean’s family that had a shot at a happy ending, and he says yes.

John: You never told us your name.

Dean: Hetfield. James Hetfield.

Metallica had to get in there too.

Nick Drake’s “One of These Things First” plays as Dean, Bobby and Jack disappear and the rest of the gang head home.

Lata manages to restore Ada’s soul with a magic plant.

Samuel hugs his daughter goodbye and hits the road.

Mary plans to hit the road too, to find out who she’s gonna be. John says he found where he belongs, being a hunter, but can’t be the best version of that without facing the anger he has inside him, by therapy or some other means.

John: Do me a favor? No goodbyes.

Mary comes by the next morning.

Mary: I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing…but maybe there’s something out there for the both of us and we can figure it out together during the day and you can hunt at night?

It’s a little like Dean coming to get Sam at Stanford and the two of them hitting the road, except this time they plan to combine maybe-college and maybe-hunting a little more seamlessly.

And off they go, driving down the road, in Mary’s blue car instead of Baby, but with the right “Supernatural” music playing – reminiscent again of Sam and Dean in 15.19.

Mary: I was reading Hetfield’s journal and he was very specific on this issue. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole.

Led Zeppelin’s ‘Ramble On’ ushers the Winchesters out, a montage of their meeting and falling in love playing as they drive.  That was a financial sacrifice for sure, but I’m guessing it felt special to Jensen to finally have Zeppelin in this universe, as it should be.

So, “The Winchesters” succeeds at creating a separate story and not messing with “Supernatural” canon in a significant way. At some point in his time-altered drive in Baby, Dean decided he wanted to see if there were any Winchester families out there who didn’t have to live the kind of life that his did (presumably because time wasn’t quite altered enough for him not to get bored waiting for Sam).

Baby came with him somehow because – magic? – and then, to his surprise, Dean discovered that Chuck had left the Akrida as a fail-safe. Which meant Dean’s world – and Sam – were threatened. Cue Dean breaking any promise not to meddle because SAM! (And everyone else).

I guess Jack took his anti-interference directive really seriously and was going to let the Akrida do what they were created to do. Sheesh, Jack!

“The Winchesters,” while it takes place decades before “Supernatural,” was not truly a prequel – not for the world of “Supernatural” that we know, anyway. For Dean, it’s in the midst of the timeline of the series finale, with him in Heaven and Sam still alive on Earth, so it’s really an interlude during 15.20

I’ve thought many times that a reboot of “Supernatural” could take place during that same time period, or even as a true sequel post-Sam and Dean’s reunion on the bridge if Sam and Dean had to jump back into action. “The Winchesters” can be a set up and kickoff for either of those options, as EP Jensen Ackles has said. Theoretically, a reboot of “Supernatural” could also run parallel to the continuation of “The Winchesters” – assuming viewers decide they’re now invested enough in this universe’s story. It will diverge from Supernatural’s story and won’t involve Dean Winchester, presumably, but John and Mary and Carlos and Lata still have their own story to tell. It remains to be seen whether viewers are invested enough to want to follow along.

Is The Winchesters cancelled now or a Season 2?

Whether it continues or not, I’m still waiting (and hoping and praying) for Sam and Dean to put their boots back on. Fingers crossed!

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Lynn Zubernis PhD is a psychologist, a university professor, and a passionate Supernatural fan. Her book 'Family Don't End With Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Changed Lives' was released in 2017 to critical acclaim, and her newest book, 'There'll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural' is out now! Her site is: fangasmthebook.wordpress.com