The Morning After

Each week my “Threads” review analyses myth arc and plot themes within Supernatural episodes. This will be a special edition of “Threads”, dedicated not to analyzing the continuing themes surrounding Sam and Dean’s storyline but rather to the new hunting team that arose from Sam and Dean’s legacy. This is the first edition of "Threads" for Supernatural’s potential spinoff series, Wayward Sisters.

Why the distinction? Because it is important to watch and evaluate Supernatural’s episode 13.10 on its own merits. The “Wayward Sisters” episode took place within Sam and Dean’s story, but it wasn’t about them this time. This show was about the people they’ve saved in the past eight years, and how the trajectory of those people’s lives were forever altered by Sam and Dean’s realities. For Jody, Donna, Alex and Claire, it was about how much they respect and are inspired by the Winchester brothers; it was about how Sam and Dean’s work expanded the hunting community and gave the world 4 more fierce protectors of the innocent. For Patience and Kaia, still new to the horrors of the unveiled supernatural world, it was a reminder of innocence lost, and the cost of being caretakers of the world.  This show was a peek at a small portion of Sam and Dean’s legacy, a thread that has guided the series since John passed his hunting skills to his sons, since they opened the doors to their grandfather’s Men of Letters’ bunker of knowledge, since Mary carried on the Campbell family business brought over on the Mayflower.

wayward sisters sam and dean

The only plot development in the “Wayward Sisters” episode relevant to Sam and Dean’s lives was that they were saved and returned to their own universe to resume hunting, searching for Jack, worrying about Castiel, and trying to rescue their mother. In fact, I admit that when we were first shown them sitting around the campsite in the land of the lost, I was stunned to realize I had forgotten all about them. I was so absorbed in the ladies’ storyline, I forgot I was watching Supernatural! That’s the way a spinoff should work! I was entirely engrossed in the wayward sisters’ story.

Beyond being a pilot for what is hoped to be Supernatural’s progeny, the Wayward Sisters series is about empowering women. Occurring at perhaps the precise historical moment in time when it is most welcome, the all-female cast follows in the footsteps of Wonder Woman, a multi-faceted feminine superhero on screen, and in reality, the #MeToo uprising of actresses finally speaking against misuse and abuse of women in the entertainment industry. It is difficult to convey the immense importance of a network trusting that women can carry a show all on their own, thank you very much. It’s been a long time coming. The both subtle and overt discrimination against women in writing, production, acting and viewership permeates our society’s attitudes. I am bursting with pride that Supernatural is taking this historical step for television. With its own legacy of taking chances and beating the odds, of setting records for longevity, and forming uniquely close bonds between cast and fans, Supernatural may just be the show that proves that women want to watch, and help, other women succeed.

Andrew Dabb teased the pilot with these words:

I for one didn’t recognize them as the lyrics to the song, “I am Fire”. Written and sung by Lizzy Hale, a women who co-founded her own rock band, it was an energetic, symbolic, perfect beginning what I hope is a long Wayward Sisters saga.

Since "Threads" is all about hearing and understanding the meaning of words, look at these lyrics:

Am I brave enough?
Am I strong enough?
To follow the desire
That burns from within
To push away my fear
To stand where I'm afraid
I am through with this
'Cause I am more than this
I promise to myself
Alone and no one else
My flame is rising higher

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I've been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive and burning brighter
I am the fire

After a verse about love and the heart, the song continues:

I don't believe I'll fall from grace
Won't let the past decide my fate
Leave forgiveness in my wake
Take the love that I've embraced

So perfect for the fire of these women, standing on their own, overcoming their past, learning to trust themselves and rely on each other! The words also position the series well within the Supernatural context, as the thoughts and feelings expressed apply so much to Sam. Do they also apply to Dean? Castiel? You tell me.

What Worked

A Story that Piques Interest. In my opinion, the Wayward Sisters pilot was a success. It had fast paced danger, emotion, relatable characters and lots of Easter eggs for Supernatural fans. The opening music pulled me in and it immediately felt like a different show. I cared about what was happening. I was invested in the characters. It didn’t feel like I was watching a Supernatural wanna-be. That’s what a pilot should be!

wayward sisters claire and kaia talk supernatural s13e10

Chemistry between Characters. Wordless communication between Jody and Sam and Dean. They had all had enough of their own pain, and had shared enough of each other’s pain, to silently understand each other. Predictably, Jody and Donna were a fabulous team. Two women who had each other’s backs.  Alex and Patience were the two intellects who helped with gifts other than fighting. Lastly, the bonding between Claire and Kaia was real. Two street-wise teens that had each seen way too much of the dark side of life. Tough exteriors that protected the scared and vulnerable girls underneath.

wayward sisters patience supernatural s13e10

Interesting, Real Characters. Patience, for example, showed only shock, reluctance, fear and innocence. Like Kevin, Patience was another straight-A, advanced placement student who needed a minute to adjust to her future plans being obliterated and her life being taken over by supernatural evil because of an ability that entwined itself with her DNA.

Patience: If I go now, maybe my dad will take me back.

Alex: Is that what you want? To go back home, pretend you're Little Miss Perfect and not a powerful psychic? 

Patience: This is just all way too freaky. I mean, your mom's out burying a monster in the backyard.

Alex: Well, you gotta bury him somewhere.

Patience: I came here to tell Jody about my vision, and Claire just blew it off. And I am not a fighter. I couldn't even imagine going up against one of those things.

Alex: You don't have to be a fighter. I'm not. Not really. You know, we help in other ways.

Patience: I'm sorry. I can't do this.

(then to Claire) Look, I gave up a lot to come here, to do what was right, to save you.

By comparison, Patience was still a bit stiff as a character but I'm willing to give the series a chance to develop her personality. Alex was supportive, understanding and helpful to everyone without being too pushy. It is nice to have a quieter background character to balance all the strong personalities. Kaia was fascinating. Yadira’s expressions and vocal intonations show intriguing raw talent (more on this later). Even Claire’s character showed some promising growth. I still have some concerns but at least it’s going in the right direction.

wayward sisters donnas happy to be back supernatural s13e10

Everyone’s sassy wit! The dialog was fast and fresh. The sisters teased each other, the street kids spoke their own language, and Donna’s continued her dry humor:

Donna: Anyhoo, brought the basics.

Patience: Why do you have all this?

Donna: I'm from Minnesota.

Runner up for best line of the episode!

 wayward sisters jody and patience

Donna: You ever shot a gun before?

Patience: No.

Donna: Okeydoke, here ya go. Aim in their general direction, relax, and squeeze. Squeeze. Don't pull. Oh, there he is. Hiya, buddy.

I will admit, it's actually going to take a little time to reconcile Donna's toe-in-the-sand personality with accepting her as a fierce hunter. The last time we saw her, she was still the novice in the group. Then, her innocence made sense with her once-removed association with hunting. Now she's all in. It may be a transition thing, but she's such a good character, I'm willing to believe it will work.

Saving People, Hunting Things, the Family Business

 13.10 0229 Jody Phone

So many lines within the pilot acknowledged how much the wayward sisters owe Sam and Dean (and the pilot owes Supernatural). These subtle nods to the original story demonstrated respect for the rich history the Wayward Sisters series is inheriting, as well as the fans’ investment in 13 years of loving Supernatural. As if to say “We know. We understand”, the Wayward Sisters pilot opened with a direct homage to Supernatural’s pilot:

Jody: It’s Sam and Dean. They were on a hunting trip and I haven’t heard from them in a few days.

Did anyone else get chills when Jody said that line?

wayward sisters claire donna and alex supernatural s13e10

Although not directly referred to as the family business, the “job” of saving people was also woven into the dialog as the sisters’ motivation for what they do. Patience, Kaia and Alex each referred to the brothers’ motto once, but notably Claire repeatedly referred to saving people and hunting things:

Jody: Claire, if I put the brakes on you, it's because you can't go dive-bombing into every fight.

Claire: Yes, I can! That is how you save people. Sitting back and making the perfect plan, losing time - that's how people end up dead.

Claire: So Sam and Dean are missing, and you're bailing?

Alex: I have a job, Claire.

Claire: Well, so do I. It's called hunting.

Claire: But Sam and Dean saved my life, and I can't sit this one out.

Kaia: Then don't. If you go, I'll go with you. Maybe together, we can save them.

Claire: Jody, I know you're trying to protect me, but I need to save Sam and Dean, and you have to let me.

Jody: I know.

Patience: I killed a monster.

Alex: Welcome to the family.

Claire: I came back to Sioux Falls to save Sam and Dean Winchester. And I did. No, we did. We saved Sam and Dean. All of these amazing women. My family. They don't know it yet. They think I'm staying because I'm broken. But I'm staying because I need them. My family. My army.

Appropriately, though, Jody and Donna got the most memorable lines of the pilot. Donna’s were all humorous, adding her special charm to the team. Jody opened with iconic “missing” line, then later rallied her “family” with the best line of the episode and a quote what might become their motto:

Jody:  All right, girls. Let's go to work.

SN1310 06

…and ended the episode with the deepest respect the wayward sisters could pay to Sam and Dean:

Jody: You guys take care of the world. We got Sioux Falls covered.

Dean: Damn right you do.

I agree. I can’t wait to see more.

Surprises, both Good and Bad

wayward sisters kaia

Kaia was killed.  As you know, I don’t watch or read spoilers (to the extent possible) to ensure my first impressions of an episode remain uncompromised. I was therefore shocked when Kaia was killed. “What?! She’s a regular on the series. How can she die? They made a big deal out of a non-white woman not mattering to the world then they prove it by killing her??”

Good!Kaia was my favorite wayward sister (as distinguished from the wayward moms of Jody and Donna). Her evil twin being in the King Kong universe answers a lot of questions, though. For example, that’s probably why Kaia was constantly drawn to that one place instead of dream walking through multiple universes like Derek. She was somehow psychically linked to Bad!Kaia. (What shall we call her? One fan took Dean’s lead and called her DarthKaia! I think of her more as NinjaKaia. The wayward team will probably “name” her once they know about her but we have to call her something until then. Suggestions?)  

It will be interesting to see how Bad!Kaia’s character develops. Yadira Guevara-Prip’s acting thus far has been impressive so an opportunity to portray an evil character is intriguing. The idea has potential, but could also get tiresome very quickly. I’m sincerely looking forward to seeing what she and the writers do with that character.

13.10 0204 Claire car

Claire was the central character in the wayward sisters’ story. I absolutely expected that Jody and Donna would be the leading characters of the pilot. While certainly they were portrayed as the leaders of their improvised wayward family, the episode’s epilog implied that the story would be told from Claire’s point of view. When she narrated the moral of the story from her entry in her hunter’s journal, I was frankly taken aback. Actually, I was kind of sickened. She's John's equivalent? At least going into it, I have a strong bias of preferring Jody and Donna to be the primary characters. They are well established, almost universally loved in the fandom, and great role models for extremely strong female characters.

First appearing in season 5, Jody has been in 14 episodes with the boys. I love her wit, sass, loving stability and down-to-earth attitude. I also adore Kim Rhodes’ acting. Her timing, instincts, emotions, interactions – it’s all just superb.

I also adore both Donna and Briana. Can you believe she has only been in three episodes?? Donna wasn’t introduced to the Supernatural universe until season 9, and she didn’t learn about vampires and that monsters were real until season 10! The fact that she is a revered part of Supernatural speaks volumes to Briana’s ability to create a memorable, indispensable character.

The idea of these two ladies leading the team is the single, strongest attraction for me as a viewer. Admittedly, my age and life experiences (career, family, home, parenting) place me closer to their stage in life than the younger sisters. It’s been a long time since I worried about high school exams, or fought with a parent about finding my own identity or striking out on my own. However, the vast majority of fans in social media that I perceive or know to be younger seem extraordinarily excited to see themselves portrayed in the circumstances of Patience, Alex, Kaia and Claire. I also acknowledge that The CW largely wants this show to court the younger viewing audience, that elusive 18+ demographic. Kathryn Newton is also a rising star. Having been associated with several award winning movies and cable series, she is a feather in the cap of the network. So for all these reasons, I totally understand why the story was told from Claire’s point of view.

Still, that single point made me wary. Claire seems to have learned a lesson so please let her whining and arguing stop! She is a formidable hunter, but she shouldn’t be portrayed as a better hunter than Jody or Donna. They are trained law enforcement officers, with years of on the job experience. They also have the wisdom that comes from fighting long hard battles as an adult. Claire took her first step toward gaining that wisdom, but certainly that doesn’t make her their equal (Boy, do I ever sound like a parent!). I know my opinion does not reflect the view of the majority of the younger Supernatural family so perhaps Robert Berens, Andrew Dabb and the network are absolutely correct in featuring Claire. However, IF she remains central to the story, I’m worried they won’t attract to the spinoff a large portion (the older portion?) of Supernatural’s loyal viewers. Let me be clear – I do not HATE Claire, but I certainly don’t see her as more important than the other five characters, and I really don’t want the story to be told from her perspective. I will follow Jody and Donna to the ends of the earth, and I’m intrigued by Patience, Kaia and Alex, but mercifully, please make Claire less of a know-it-all.  I’m okay with her being one of the gang, but not the focal point. 

King Kong – I’m relieved to say he looked pretty cool. Hey, he was better than a dinosaur!

Curiosities

  • How has Donna killed so many vampires when supposedly the Mary, Ketch, Sam and the BMoL virtually obliterated them in the United States?
13.10 0112 Claire Shotgun
  • Here’s a point that speaks to our inexperience with female action heroes. Do you think Claire, who lives on the road, ekes out enough money to eat and bounce from motel to motel, fights creepy, ugly, dangerous monsters every day,  would take the time to curl her beautiful long hair or put on perfect makeup? Doesn’t she seem more like the kind of girl who would put her hair into a practical ponytail so it doesn’t get in the way of her shotgun aim? She was really beautiful in every shot (I mean that), but it kept pulling me out of the moment!
  • The theme of “running” appeared several times in the script:

Jody: Claire, you can't just run away from this.

Claire to Alex: Well, did you run rock star aliases?

Kaia: They pick up your scent and they don't stop.

Claire: So you fight them.

Kaia: Fight? No. I run.

Kaia: We were heading west out of Mankato, towards Sioux Falls.  We got run off the road.

Donna: We make a run for the truck, we're dead.

One episode is not enough to determine if this was a purposeful thread, but it is curious. Thoughts?

 

Aside from the concerns mentioned, the Wayward Sisters series looks promising. Supposedly, if it goes to series, the network intends to put many more women on its writing staff and in behind-the-camera roles. That alone is enough to make me watch it but honestly, I want to see what happens. Jody, Donna and Kaia especially have my attention. Let’s see what they can do given the chance.

 

A few additional screenshots courtesy of http://www.homeofthenutty.com/

Past Episode histories confirmed with www.supernaturalwiki.com