Last night was the winter premiere of Supernatural, but it’s understandable if you didn’t realize it. After all, there was a bunch of women on screen instead of our Winchester boys. I know, I know — women? On Supernatural? What, did they die or something?
Well… we’ll get to that. Spoilers and so on!
Sure, it was an episode of Supernatural but it was ALSO a backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff called Wayward Sisters. As in “Carry on my wayward sonnnn…” only, you know, with women. So many women! When we last saw Sam and Dean, they were trapped in an alternate dimension called “The Bad Place” where there be monsters. Really big ones at that.
That cliffhanger was setting up this backdoor pilot by putting our flannel-clad boys in a pickle so nasty they’d be the ones in need of saving. Enter motherfuckin’ badass Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) with her fresh new female posse, ready to save the day! Along for the ride were familiar faces like Claire (Kathryn Newton), Alex (Katherine Ramdeen) and the always hilarious Donna (Briana Buckmaster), as well as a couple of relative newcomers we just met in the first half of the season: the psychic Patience (Clark Backo) and the dreamwalker Kaia (Yadira Guevara-Prip). Most of the episode was dedicated to bringing this crew together — with a clever callback to the original Supernatural pilot, when Jody tells Claire, “It’s Sam and Dean. They’re missing. They were on a hunting trip and I haven’t heard from them for a few days.” Gee, why does that sound so familiar…
So the actual “saving” became something of an afterthought. Turns out the portal that sent the boys to The Bad Place? It was still open. All the women needed to do was find it, go through, then grab the Winchesters and lead them back to reality.
Which, if you think about it, means that if the Winchesters had literally just LOOKED BEHIND THEM… they could have seen the trans-dimensional rip for themselves. But nooooo. Instead, the boys get their asses handed to them by a mysterious female warrior (BECAUSE WOMEN, YA’LL), and then tied up as an offering to Mr. Giant McMonsterface.
Since the rip had been standing wide open for *flaps hands to indicate indeterminate amount of time*, monsters from The Bad Place have been crossing over to our world. Imagine hordes of short, slimy hobo-Predators and you’ll have an idea of what Jody & Co. were facing in their quest. Kaia leads the women to the boatyard, and she and Claire head through the portal while Jody and the others fight off the critters. Once in The Bad Place, Kaia handily finds our favorite sacrificial hunks of man-meat, then she and Claire cut them down and beat feet for the rip, which is finally shrinking or whatever (because NOW the show needs a ticking clock).
But you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you? If there’s one thing Supernatural likes, it’s killing off characters. So naturally Kaia dies at the end of the warrior woman’s spear, saving Claire in the process.
And if there’s another thing Supernatural likes, it’s bringing people back from the dead. So when the warrior woman emerges from a DIFFERENT portal into our world at the end of the episode and removes her hood… SHE’S KAIA!
Look, this isn’t the first time Supernatural has attempted a spinoff. Season 9’s “Bloodlines” episode tried to introduce a whole new monster/hunter hierarchy in Chicago, full of characters we’d never met before, and make us care about it in a single hour. It’s like if that “Blink” episode of Doctor Who was trying to establish a spinoff centered around Sally Sparrow — only even that would have been more successful than “Bloodlines” because it at least had the tone of the original. “Wayward Sisters” has a leg up on its predecessor because we are already invested in the characters. Especially Jody. Hell, I’ve talked about how I worry for her every fucking time she pops up in an episode, and how excited I am each time that episode ends with her still breathing.
(By the way, I’m not alone in that: “I make no bones about the fact that every time they contact me to be a part of the show, I’m sure I’m going to be killed off,” Kim Rhodes told Variety in a recent interview. ME TOO, KIM. ME FUCKING TOO.)
But more than the familiar characters, “Wayward Sisters” tackles a major theme of Supernatural as well: Family. The Winchesters are constantly facing the terrible lengths they go to for each other, and the bonds of blood that are inescapable. Instead, “Sisters” takes characters who have lost or are estranged from their blood families, and shows them choosing to form a sisterhood of their own. Will they still make terrible decisions for each other? Yeah, probably.
There is also just something undeniably electric about seeing women of different races and ages all grabbing guns and facing horror together — especially today. And I hope it succeeds, if only because there is beauty in seeing a series that has long been criticized for its treatment of female characters giving birth (heehee) to a show built from the ground up to showcase strong women. And sure, there’s some vague potential built in, about how someone needs to handle the monsters that came through the rip while the Winchesters go back to saving the world or whatever, but if there’s one thing I learned from Supernatural, it’s that the plot is almost beside the point. Or at least, a ridiculous plot certainly isn’t a hindrance. The relationships are what matter, and that is the potential that counts here.
So, in conclusion: big thumbs up on “Wayward Sisters.” But as for Supernatural, I really didn’t want Sam and Dean to make it out of The Bad Place without fighting Godzilla or King Kong or something first. WHERE’S MY KAIJU MONSTER HUNT, DAMMIT?!