The Winchesters may only be in its second week, but it already feels like a well-oiled machine as the core four continue on their quest to track down Samuel Campbell – and save some people along the way. Read on for our review of The Winchesters season 1, episode 2, “Teach Your Children Well.”
Once again expanding the lore and treating us to multiple monstrous monsters – from zombies, to La Tunda, to the reappearance of altogether too many of those giant creepy-crawlies we saw in last week’s cold open – The Winchesters episode 2 “Teach Your Children Well” jumped right into an inventive monster-of-the-week hunt that further established the various dynamics and personalities of its ensemble cast, and drove home some heavy themes that seem likely to crop up again as the series progresses.
After finding what appears to be a message from Samuel in a zombie-infested warehouse, Mary takes charge. Sending Ada back to their newly established base of operations at the Men of Letters clubhouse to continue research into the Akrida and the magic box they recovered during the pilot, she leads the others onward to Topeka, where a young man has gone missing from a hippy commune under mysterious circumstances. Tensions begin to form within the group as Carlos and Latika take issue with Mary’s unilateral decision to appoint herself as leader, and the hunt takes a turn as John’s anger and frustration toward his mother result in him becoming the target of the monster they’re dealing with.
Carrying on from last week, let’s take a closer look at some of the most meaningful quotes from this fun-yet-gut-wrenching episode chock-full of familial expectations, patterns of trauma, and some shockingly hardy plant life.
The official synopsis of “Teach Your Children Well” reads:
FAMILY MATTERS – John (Drake Rodger) and Millie (Bianca Kajlich) are on different pages about his new interest in hunting and Ada (Demetria McKinney) tries to bridge the gap. Mary (Meg Donnelly) follows a trail from her father that points to the disappearance of a teenage boy in Topeka. Meanwhile, Carlos (JoJo Fleites) has a heart to heart with Mary as Latika (Nida Khurshid) dives into her books to identify the monster. John Showalter directed the episode written by Robbie Thompson & David H. Goodman.
’The Winchesters’ season 1, episode 2 review in quotes
”We’re like dolls – you know the Russian ones? Trapped inside our parents, and our parents’ parents.”
Not to leap directly into the deep end, but this sure is an astute observation about the nature of complicated parent-child relationships and inherited trauma within the Supernatural universe. Let’s just say that Barry might have been off his face on the commune-supplied Kool Aid, but in hallucinogen veritas, I guess. And what a way to launch into our first monster-of-the-week!
Monster-of-the-week episodes have always been among my favorites – they’re where all the juiciest character beats are stored, and I genuinely wish that every show still had 23 episode seasons so we’d get more of them. On Supernatural, episodes that centered around a hunt that either paralleled or in some way highlighted the personal issues of the main characters were a fundamental part of the storytelling, so seeing the second episode of The Winchesters open on a soon-to-be victim whose supernatural encounter would act as a mirror for our protagonists’ problems had me instantly hyped.
Barry’s third eye has been blasted open – he sees it all. He sees the truth of his circumstances, and armed with that understanding he decides that now is the time to stand up to his father. There are layers on layers here – a Matryoshka of text and subtext and narrative parallels all stacked together.
We have Mary, raised as a hunter, with a knife in her hand before she could hold it, desperate to get out and live a normal life but feeling obligated to her parents to carry on. John, raised by a mother who sheltered him from the supernatural in an attempt to protect him, steeping in frustration and resentment first at the father he believed abandoned him, and then toward the mother who didn’t think he was strong enough to handle the truth. Both of them are stuck in their parents’ conflicting, constricting molds and yearning to break free, entirely unaware that they’re destined to create the exact same problems for their own children down the line.
Speaking of… Shortly after Barry’s Russian doll theory in the cold open, we hear from Dean, who brings the point home as he talks about the episode’s major themes – breaking free from parental expectations and setting out on your own. Given that Dean (who has at different points in time lionized and loathed both John and Mary) is speaking from what I still strongly suspect is the perspective of a post-Supernatural world where he’s finally experiencing true free will for the first time in his existence, his words hit even harder.
Of course, on the surface all of this does relate to the hunt we’re about to watch John, Mary, Carlos, and Lata set out on, but the series-level through line of family trauma can’t – and shouldn’t – be ignored. This is the family trauma show, after all. If there had ever been any doubt that The Winchesters was going to directly address the Everest-sized mountain of issues that began with John and Mary’s relationships with their own parents before filtering down to Sam and Dean’s relationships with them, with each other, and eventually with their adopted-son-turned-God Jack, it’s been well and truly obliterated by this episode.
We’re really going for high levels of emotional distress right out of the gate, hey?
”The box isn’t working.”
It’s a very small thing to be excited about, I know, but I’m beyond happy to see that Latika brought the Men of Letters’ monster trap box with her on this hunt. Sure, it stopped working (perhaps it has a storage limit?) but the fact that she didn’t just leave a potentially helpful tool behind without any logical explanation for doing so – something that happens all-too-often in genre television if said tool would solve too many problems – was just very satisfying to see.
I expect The Winchesters will tell us more about the box as Ada continues her research, but right now I can’t help but wonder if there’s a chance that it might bust open and cause a whole mess of problems. It was locked up in a protected crypt for a reason, and that doesn’t exactly say “empty box” to me. That says TRAPPED MONSTERS, DO NOT EAT TAMPER.
(We really do need to get a better name for this thing, by the way. Magic Pokébox? Creeper Keeper? We can workshop it.)
”My dad always covers his tracks. There’s no way he would leave these behind if he wasn’t trying to send me a message.
While I already love how much The Winchesters is drawing from the style of storytelling established by the mothership, I’ll be blunt – the decision to have Samuel leave clues for Mary to lead her on another hunt did initially have me raising an eyebrow at how closely it echoed Supernatural’s second episode, “Wendigo.”
In that episode, Sam and Dean break away from their search for John to look into a missing person in Colorado after he leaves coordinates for Dean to find in his journal, and the similarities between that hunt and the way the core four end up in Topeka in this episode were glaring. But you know what? Everything else was so different that in the end it really worked for me, so now I’m just finding myself increasingly impressed with how well The Winchesters is managing to pay homage without tilting too far into imitation. (It’s not a mimic after all! Hah!)
One thing about the “Wendigo” connection that really struck me was how – in the spirit of that first quote I looked at – there are shades of both Sam and Dean’s behavior from that episode in Mary’s approach here. Like Dean, she immediately recognizes the coded message left by her hard-headed father, and because following his orders is something she’s been doing since she was a child, she dutifully sets out to follow the breadcrumbs he’d left behind. Like Sam, she just wants to be done with this case already and get back to looking for Samuel – though she doesn’t get to the same level of single-mindedness that Sam does, which is a trait he absolutely inherits from John.
It’s also interesting to me that so much of Samuel’s behavior so far mirrors John’s in early seasons of Supernatural. I’ll be interested to see if this continues, especially once The Winchesters lets John and Samuel meet.
”Your dad came here for the same reason we did: to find the Men of Letters files and talk about our good friend the Akrida. Remember them? And their little plan to take over our world?”
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m a huge fan of monster-of-the-week episodes, but something that does bother me about them from time to time is when characters just seem to forget that they have a big bad to deal with so they can go off and have a wacky one-off adventure. I suspect that this interruption in the narrative flow is the real reason why so many people derisively refer to those episodes as “filler,” despite them generally being fun, re-watchable, and absolutely bursting at the seams with character development.
Monster-of-the-week episodes, if not framed well, can sometimes feel like someone has hit pause on the important story to go off on an irrelevant tangent. This wasn’t often a problem in later seasons of Supernatural – rather than the old “Hey, found us a case!” with no mention of the big picture, the dialogue would come to incorporate the circumstances, or the lead would be something organically stumbled upon while chasing the big bad – but when it comes to genre shows, it’s always a bit of a toss up how they’ll keep that balance.
I’m extremely relieved to see that The Winchesters is coming through on this front from the outset. Because yes, this monster-of-the-week arrived early, but there was never a moment where it felt like the core four’s bigger problems had been thrown by the wayside. Carlos calling specific and deliberate attention to the ongoing threat before we dip out of the major myth arc and into a very cool, very creepy, very standalone monster hunt – and then looping back to touch base again at the end? Ada keeping her focus on the box and the Akrida as the rest of the gang deal with an immediate threat? This is everything I want from a monster-of-the-week. I’m starting to think that this show is just being made for me personally. Thanks, The Winchesters team.
”I waited for a call, a single call, and when the phone finally rang, you know who it was? Betty.”
Betty? Betty?! Who the hell is Betty?! Millie Middlename Winchester, you can’t just casually name-drop a mysterious person from John’s past in the middle of a tense confrontation and then not elaborate! A little later, Latika speculates that Betty might be an ex-girlfriend, which is certainly a possibility. Still, something tells me that it’s probably not quite as simple as that. John’s reaction is understated – we are instead shown Mary looking curious at the name – but Millie clearly thought that mentioning her would have an effect.
So was Betty an ex? An old friend? And on that track – where are all of John’s friends from before he enlisted? Are any of them still living in Lawrence? Did he tell them he was enlisting? Did any of them try to talk him out of it, or did any of them enlist as well? Actually – was his friend Murph someone he knew before he shipped off? Oh god, is Betty Murph’s girlfriend? His mom? His sister? Who is Betty!!!??? You know what, I’m going to need Carlos to get all the way out of his funk and start doing some gossip-collecting on this one, and soon.
”You don’t think I can do this. That’s what this is all about.”
John’s need to be at the top of the pecking order – to feel like the toughest, most knowledgeable person in the room – is already rearing its ugly head. I spoke about this a little in an earlier article in the lead up to The Winchesters premiere, specifically his short fuse when he feels that someone else is pulling rank on him, and had been hoping we’d see some evidence of it early on in the series as it’s something that is important to me as a deeply-entrenched character flaw. I still never dared to think The Winchesters would begin to address it so soon.
So far, his aggressive reaction to being told what to do, or to being doubted in any way, has only been directed toward his mother, but his new friends certainly noticed his anger while they were waiting for him in Carlos’ van, and I do wonder how long it will take for him to turn his control issues on them. He’s already displaying clear frustration about how little he knows about this world he’s found himself a part of, and considering the fact that both Mary and Carlos have already shown a tendency to boss him around (fair, given their comparative level of experience and expertise) this really feels like a bit of a powder keg. The question for me at this point is no longer if we will see John struggle with the power dynamics of the group and get into a blowout argument with the others because of his own insecurities – it’s when.
”Well it’s nice to meet you Mick. I’m Christine McVie.”
Sam and Dean’s rockstar aliases (and Castiel’s popstar aliases) on Supernatural were always a lot of fun, while often having some crunchy metatextual meaning just under the surface, so I was absolutely delighted by John and Mary’s first attempt at going undercover on The Winchesters. (And it also made me laugh that dressing up like polite and respectable college students basically put John in the kind of outfit he’d been wearing before Carlos gave him his much-needed makeover.)
Of course, the significance of them using the names of members of Fleetwood Mac in a time years before the band’s famously tumultuous “Rumors” era lends this entire moment a level of dramatic irony that makes my heart ache. Not to mention the songs they both chose to playfully quote to one another – Mary with ‘Give Me A Smile,’ a song about remembering to enjoy yourself before the time for fun runs out, and John referencing ‘Lay It All Down,’ which is largely about biblical prophecy. I love being hurt by subtext! Easily one of my top five ways to experience soul-deep anguish.
”The ballad of the Campbell way or the highway.”
I haven’t spoken too much about Samuel Campbell thus far, but when he first appears on Supernatural during season 4, and then again with several other members of the Campbell family in tow in season 6, “my way or the highway” is absolutely the energy he brings with him. He’s anti-social, hard-headed, and not remotely trusting of any hunters who aren’t part of his family, and while Mary certainly takes on some of his more domineering qualities as she leads the charge on this hunt, it’s evident that she does clash with him in a lot of ways.
It’s not a stretch to imagine that when The Winchesters plot finally does catch up with Samuel, he’s not going to be happy about Mary involving so many outsiders in her search for him. Which leads me to wonder where exactly the rest of the Campbell hunter family are right now. Does Mary still live with her parents at this point in time? Does her mother Deanna – who we’re yet to meet or even hear about in The Winchesters, but who we know was a hunter thanks to her appearance in the season 4 Supernatural episode “In The Beginning” – even know that Mary is out looking for Samuel? Has Mary or Samuel told her about the Akrida? Is she out searching for Samuel as well, but just on another trail?
The Campbells role in all of this is largely a mystery at this point, and while we know that Samuel is definitely set to make an appearance thanks to the announcement during The Winchesters NYCC appearance that he will be played by Tom Welling, there’s not yet any word on if or when we might get a closer look at the rest of Mary’s family.
”A commune, you say!?”
You know those moments when you become so overwhelmed with fondness for what’s happening on your screen that you end up holding your face in your hands and grinning like a maniac? That was me during this entire motel room scene. The energy surrounding the core four – both here, as Carlos leads their “Aquarius” singalong, and later on during their post-hunt pool table pizza party – is so sweet and joyful, even though there’s still a little bit of friction over Mary taking charge, and it was such a surprising and wonderful addition to the episode.
While I don’t want to constantly be making comparisons with Supernatural, the tonal differences little moments like this highlight between The Winchesters and the mothership are striking, because it was just so rare to see Sam and Dean enjoying each other’s company. This was largely because of the constant peril (bound to put a damper on anyone’s mood) but also because despite obviously loving each other, they really didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, and they both had wildly different ideas of what constituted fun. Over 327 episodes I can count on my fingers the amount of times we got to see them enjoying themselves together, let alone with the few friends they had.
While we know that they did occasionally take time out for fun offscreen – the brothers’ long drives to see a Jayhawks game and an Ozzy concert, the weekly movie nights of later seasons during which Dean made the whole Team Free Will 2.0 family watch “The Lost Boys” at least 36 times, Sam’s dates with Eileen, the LARPing Jubilee Charlie invited them to, Dean and Cas’ Tombstone screening – it was rare that we actually got to witness them in those happy, carefree moments. The playful, naturalistic style of the “Aquarius” scene, even down to departure from the show’s normal camera angles, is something I can only really recall in two Supernatural episodes ever – one being the “Night Moves” driving montage in “Baby,” (hi, Robbie) and the other being Jack’s wake, in the bunker kitchen during “Byzantium.” A wake, you guys. One of the nicest, most fun and sweet moments of “just being” during the whole show. And it’s a wake.
So yeah. Given how fraught even the good times tended to be on Supernatural, this warm, optimistic beginning to The Winchesters is an unexpected but welcome contrast. These kids just really like each other! They’re having fun! They have cute nicknames for each other! Lata! Mare! Losy! Hearing that last one, from Mary, was a special treat – the pilot implied that Mary legitimately wasn’t Carlos’s biggest fan, but this episode adds more nuance to their dynamic. Seeing Carlos pull Mary in for cuddles during his song and dance routine and her going along with it? There’s history and intimacy there, and plenty of love between the three of them, and John being quickly folded in (pending his opinions on Cabaret.) I’m very deliberately not thinking about the unending horrors we know are coming for them down The Winchesters narrative pipeline!
”I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself earlier.”
We didn’t get much time with Ada last week, but it was clear from the moment she appeared in her bookshop that she was going to play an important role in The Winchesters story. No small part of that is thanks to the fact that Demetria McKinney is scene-stealing every time she shows up. The energy she imbues this character with is utterly electric, and I hope we’ll get to see her a lot more in the coming weeks.
Now, having spent a little more time with Ada in episode 2, I’m VERY curious about exactly how connected to Henry and the Men of Letters she was before they were wiped out. She clearly knew Henry well enough to be able to see the similarities and differences between him and John, and worked with the Men of Letters closely enough to have more than a passing knowledge about the things they studied and made, but she wasn’t actually one of them. So how did she become involved? What secrets of Henry’s was she privy to – and what more does she know that she isn’t yet telling anyone?
”It’s nice to officially meet you, Millie Winchester.”
Though Millie’s awareness of monsters, demons, and the Men of Letters was never actually established one way or another on Supernatural, she’s still proving to be far more knowledgeable here than I expected, and the full reason why she chose to keep John completely unaware of what his father was involved in is something that I hope to see explored further as the series continues.
In The Winchesters pilot, she spoke about just wanting to keep him safe – but how safe could she have truly expected to make him by keeping him ignorant of the realities of their world? Was her decision to do this purely motivated by fear that he would follow too closely in his father’s footsteps and be taken from her in the same way Henry was? How much did she actually know? Was she ever involved at all, or only peripherally part of that world? And given that John was a Men of Letters legacy, when had Henry originally planned on telling him about the line he had been born into? Did Millie already have reservations before Henry disappeared? Was that one of the things they fought about?
When Henry made his first appearance in Supernatural’s season 8 episode “As Time Goes By,” arriving in the present day by way of a time travel spell, the way he spoke about his role in the organization made it clear that he took a lot of pride in what he did, and intended to pass the mantle down to his son. He told Sam and Dean: “My father and his father before him were both Men of Letters, as John and you two should have been. We’re preceptors, beholders, chroniclers of all that which man does not understand.”
With all of this context, Millie’s past choices, her fears, her reluctance to accept John’s involvement in the supernatural world are all coming further into focus, and I’m interested to see if it will lead to her seeking more answers now that Ada has reached out to her. Personally I’m hoping to see if a friendship will develop there, especially given that according to Bianca Kajlich, Millie feels that Ada is “on her side” since their brief exchange outside the garage.
”It’s jasmine. It’s for protection.”
Setting aside the fact that Millie is apparently so far from being a green thumb that she couldn’t pick jasmine out of a lineup, the reveal that it had been planted by Henry for protection has me wondering if we might see evidence of warding or other spellwork he might have left behind as the season goes on. The presence of the Men of Letters star on the Winchesters Garage business signage already put me on the lookout for visual hints, but this has turned my clues-in-set-design detector up to eleven.
One major question I have on this point though – and one that I’m sure is shared by everyone else with Supernatural derangement disease – is when Henry could have planted that jasmine. During “As Time Goes By” we learned that the Winchester family had been living in Normal, Illinois when Henry went missing on the night of his formal initiation into the Men of Letters at the Normal chapter house. Of course, that initiation never went ahead as every last one of the Men of Letters in attendance was killed by the Knight of Hell Abaddon – aside from Henry, who whipped up a spell to get to safety.
It’s possible that they had been living in Lawrence before then, of course, and relocated to Normal in order to be closer to that chapter house in the lead up to his initiation – it certainly looked like it might have been more of a headquarters for the MoL than the clubhouse in Lawrence – but at this point that’s pure speculation. Given the careful attention to detail that Robbie Thompson and the rest of the creative team has already shown in keeping canon in line, I have to assume we’ll be finding out more about this as we go.
”The part where they’re trying to kill you is usually a dead giveaway.”
Long-time Supernatural fans will know that one of the easiest ways to tell if you’re dealing with a shapeshifter is to look for the laser eyes – the creepy, glowing reflection that can only be seen when viewing the creature on video. Without easy access to that technology – the first camcorders with screens didn’t come out until the 80s – this hunt starts out very differently than it would in the modern day.
Last week I guessed that a lack of access to modern technology might see The Winchesters leaning more heavily into the use of magic as the core four attempt to solve the many problems that come with hunting monsters. While we’re yet to see a lot of that, I’m absolutely loving the way that they’re working with and around the limitations so far – and the extra tension afforded by the modern fixes being unavailable is especially fun as a viewer.
”Who are you trying to convince, John? This isn’t about me or your friends. Deep down you know – it’s your dad that never believed in you.”
In the Supernatural universe, there’s really nothing more effective in turning the screws on a character than having their worst fears and insecurities laid bare by a monster masquerading as someone they love. After its first outing (in season 1, episode 6 “Skin”) this narrative device was used to devastating effect many times on the mothership – through possession, shapeshifting, and supernatural manipulation, depending on whether the instigator was an angel, demon, monster, or witch – and it’s another of those things that I’m shocked (and thrilled) to have seen so soon.
In the form of Millie, La Tunda – or Not Mom, as Bianca Kajlich called her while livetweeting the episode – doesn’t pull any punches as she breaks John down. Every word is delivered with venom, and it’s clear as she speaks that John feels every barb. Earlier, he expressed to Mary that he’s afraid that he’s not cut out to follow in Henry’s footsteps, that he might not be able to live up to his expectations. Shortly after, that fear came out as anger when he felt like Millie’s concern for his safety was the result of her doubting his strength and ability to do what he feels he’s been called to do. Everything La Tunda said to him was something he truly believes his mother thinks of him. Every word cut deep.
Interestingly (where “interesting” means “extremely distressing”) a lot of John’s fears are things that are reflected in Dean’s John-related insecurities on Supernatural, and considering Barry’s nesting-doll-theory that we opened the episode with, that feels very deliberate. I doubt this will be the last time we see something evil appear in the form of a loved one on The Winchesters – it’s probably only a matter of time before another member of the core four is forced to confront their own dark mirror – but this was a hell of a way to get the first occurrence.
“I do remember this one poker tip they gave me.”
So, uh… is anyone else slightly horrified by John’s complete lack of hesitation when it came to swinging a copper pipe at the head of something that looked exactly like his mother? Yeah? Not just me? There wasn’t even a moment of uncertainty or discomfort in him – and considering how green he still is in the hunting game, this level of confidence in his own judgment feels like a bad, bad accident waiting to happen.
What’s more, this seems like further evidence of John seeking acceptable outlets for his worst impulses, because he was pissed at his mom when this happened. “There’s a part of him where it’s a device,” Drake Rodger said in a recent interview, talking about John’s approach to hunting, and this moment feels like a huge red flag for that kind of thing. And while I’m not suggesting that he’d actually want to hurt Millie, I can’t discount the possibility that he might have found the action of hurting something that was essentially an avatar of all the things he fears she thinks of him extremely cathartic.
”You’re the one who told us we’re dealing with Audrey III.”
Mary’s topical and historically accurate quips come fast in this week’s episode, and I could not be happier about it. On Supernatural this was firmly Dean’s realm – there’s a running joke in fandom that he’s completely incomprehensible to most people he meets because of how often he’ll speak in a jumble of idioms and obscure pop-culture references – so it tracks that the parent he takes after the most is already being established as his fast-talking counterpart on The Winchesters.
Carlos has a few great one-liners of his own – his delivery of the phrase ”a one-two punch of some DDT and a pair of garden shears” is easily one of my favorite moments from the episode – and with all the similarities between him and Mary it’s easy to see why they’re friends (and why they butt heads.) I’m now eagerly anticipating the moment when the two of them have a reference-heavy conversation in front of someone who has absolutely no clue what they’re talking about. It’s gotta happen at some point, right?
”I was angry at dad and I did what I always do. I took out on you what I can’t take out on him.”
Much like the John Winchester we came to know on Supernatural, this John is, to some degree, aware of his own worst qualities. In season 1 of Supernatural, he acknowledges his obsessive tendencies, and how they are a primary factor in his failure to look out for his family the way he should. He admits to Dean in the season 2 opener that he put too much on his shoulders and forced him to grow up too fast to take on the parental responsibilities that he himself was shirking. In season 14, when he briefly returns thanks to a wish-gone-wrong, he tells Sam that he knows he screwed up in the way he treated him. Here, only two episodes into The Winchesters, we learn that he knows he’s transferring his anger onto a more convenient target; he knows he’s got a short fuse; he knows he’s got control issues.
But here’s the thing – as he says, this is what he “always” does. He already knows that he does this, and he knows that it’s bad. He does it anyway. Seeing these early seeds of the same negative qualities that eventually lead to him – in his own words – being less of a father and more of a “drill sergeant” toward his children is both heartbreaking and extremely vindicating to see as someone who has always taken issue with the claim that he was simply trying his best in an impossible situation. He has always had this darkness in him, and he’s known it, but rather than address it in any meaningful way, or accept outside help when it was offered, he just let it fester and grow.
Whether we’ll see any moments of positive growth in him remains to be seen, but given who he becomes, I expect that it will be short-lived. Have I mentioned how very here I am for the decay of John Winchester? I’m VERY here for the decay of John Winchester. Rude of Drake to be so damn charming though – making me feel a layer of sadness about it all when I would otherwise just vindictively enjoy the deterioration process.
”I am never gonna let you walk out that door again without telling you I love you.”
For whatever reason, John doesn’t actually seem to internalize this advice from his own mother, and finding out what the emotional roadblock is for him is now on my long, long list of things I need to know.
With the context of John telling a teenage Sam not to come back if he left to go to college, of all the times he ignored Sam and Dean’s calls when they needed his help, of him briefly moving out of the house before Mary died as we saw in the season 5 episode “Dark Side of the Moon,” leaving a four-year-old Dean to tell his mother “It’s okay, Mom. Dad still loves you. I love you, too. I’ll never leave you.” All of that context makes seeing John get taught a lesson we know he’s ultimately not going to take to heart utterly soul-crushing. Remembering that we’re watching this all play out from the perspective of Dean’s narration makes it even worse.
Also, I don’t think I’ve ever been more sad about a fictional character never getting to spend time with their grandchildren. Can you imagine what a difference it would’ve made for Sam and Dean to have had a relationship with someone like Millie when they were kids? To have that connection to someone who would regularly tell them she cared? Though, given that we never actually learned what happened to her, it’s possible that she was still alive when Mary died, and John just cut her out of their lives. Maybe that’s why Sam and Dean never spoke about her – they never knew her at all. Food for very depressing thought, that.
”There’s more to the clubhouse than you may have guessed.”
There sure is! These sets, y’all. The Winchesters set design team definitely had some big shoes to fill, given the level of detailed visual storytelling that we became used to seeing in the sets on Supernatural, and they’ve absolutely nailed it. After the pilot, I’d been hoping that we’d get to see a little more of the clubhouse the core four had claimed – as a Men of Letters “capitulum” or chapter house, I was mostly expecting that it would a smaller version of the Lebanon bunker that became home to Sam, Dean, Cas, and Jack, consisting, beyond the library and research room, of possibly some bedrooms, definitely storage, and maybe a dungeon. (I bet they have a dungeon.)
A gorgeous, spooky, plant-filled conservatory wasn’t even on my radar of possibility. From the wall of apothecary bottles to the lamps and phone already set up in the space, it seems that Ada has well and truly settled in here – Is she actually living in the clubhouse now? It’s unclear if she’s completely abandoned the Texas bookshop she’d kept before, or just relocated a few things for ease of access. She seems to know a lot more about the space than the kids do. Did she work there with the Men of Letters in the past? Has she been accessing it the whole time, the past 15 years? Here’s hoping we’ll see a lot more of this set, and more of the clubhouse in general.
We also got to see our first motel room of the series, and considering that small-town motels are such an iconic part of the Supernatural universe, this was great to see so early on. A particularly fun aspect of this is how often the motels the brothers spent their time in looked like they hadn’t been updated since the 70s. The room Mary, John, Carlos, and Latika are staying in could easily have been one of the places that Sam and Dean checked into – except that nothing looks faded.
”Not the kind you’re thinking – those will kill you in seconds.
It’s the 70s. Recreational drugs are obviously going to play a role in the show and were mentioned a number of times in this episode. It’s clear that at least some of our core four partake, if Carlos trying to pocket mushrooms is anything to go off. But listen. If they can drink beers, they can smoke weed, and if this little gang of weirdos doesn’t end up sharing a joint in their cluttered Men of Letters clubhouse then what is the POINT?
Give me Mary and Ada being giggly and useless after a stressful hunt, while Carlos gets extremely intense and poetic about every little thing that settles in his line of sight. Let me see Latika accidentally crack all the secrets of the Chuck-directed narrative while baked out of her gourd, and then completely forget about all of them by the time she’s slept it off. Show me John trying to seem 100% clear and sober in front of his not-remotely-convinced mom, who’s frankly had too long a day to deal with this. I’m begging you, The Winchesters writing team. I need it!
”I brewed a potion to tap into my subconscious so I could access the echo of any remaining portion of the demon that possessed me.”
One: Ada is a badass. Two: I am very concerned about her. Doubly so now that I’ve just remembered Robbie Thompson telling us directly during the NYCC panel earlier this month that Ada is “somebody you should also worry about.”
Very briefly I did entertain the thought that she might be a prophet. There was something very Kevin-Tran-Going-Guano-With-the-Demon-Tablet about the way she was letting the words flow through her, and considering her background as a collector and seller of rare books, the connections are certainly there. Another option is a psychic, like Missouri Moseley. Now, I find myself wondering if she might be a full-on witch – the helpful kind, like season 15 Rowena, not the scary kind, like season 10 Rowena.
She’s obviously got some experience with magic beyond that of someone who has merely studied it academically – her level of comfort in concocting that potion and inducing a trance to access traces of the demon in her subconscious was well beyond that of someone who had never tried anything like it before – so how far does that history go? Was she raised into magic by her family? Did she find it later in life? And if she is a witch, is there a chance that in trying to exploit the traces of the demon that possessed her she might end up getting corrupted in some way, pushed over to the dark side?
A Morgana Pendragon, dark-Willow turn could absolutely be on the horizon for Ada, and while I think Demetria McKinney would be nothing short of flawless in the role of ally-turned-villain, I do hope that if that does happen it’s temporary – if only so that The Winchesters would be sure to keep her.
”We might be able to get some answers… and the Akrida.”
Is the scuttling creepy crawly monster from the cold open of the pilot and the end of this episode aligned with the Akrida somehow? And who was that cloaked figure? Are they the Akrida, with the crawly things functioning like their personal attack dogs? Or could they be someone we already know? With that manicure and all that jewelry, not to mention handling a magic that’s on the purple side, the thought that it might turn out to be Rowena did cross my mind – and I’d definitely like to see more of her in a time when she was far more self-serving than she eventually became, though I do adore her in all incarnations.
Whoever they are, I’m fascinated by what they could possibly be up to in these final moments of the episode. Was that La Tunda’s soul or essence that they drew from the earth and bottled? Her blood? Her power? An echo of what she’d done to her victims? And what on Earth do they want with it? What is happening!? Once again, the wait for next week’s episode of The Winchesters already has me on the edge of my seat. Let the speculation begin!