On Thursday, January 18, Supernatural returned from winter hiatus with the highly publicized episode titled “Wayward Sisters” that serves as a backdoor pilot to a proposed spin-off of the Supernatural franchise. Here are my thoughts on how I approached watching this episode and my feelings for it overall.
The opinions expressed here are that of the author’s and may differ from those of The Nerdy Girl Express and other viewers of Supernatural. Also, this article contains spoilers so if you haven’t watched the Supernatural episode “Wayward Sisters,” please do not continue reading.
Viewers of Supernatural have known for months that an episode called “Wayward Sisters” would be airing during Season 13 of the long running series on The CW. The media and some viewers herald it as a history making endeavor featuring a female cast fostering a “girl power we are women, hear us roar” attitude. While many cheered, there are some feeling betrayed by the writers of their favorite show to dare to sideline Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) in favor of these familiar supporting characters the writers felt were their best shot at spin-off success (A previous spin-off attempt, “Bloodlines” failed to stir interest).
As I sat down to watch “Wayward Sisters,” I decided to approach my viewing from a different way than most. First let me say this: I am a fan of Supernatural and cover the series for entertainment sites. I have interviewed many Supernatural actors for this site. I have never been a part of fandom for any show (Supernatural included) so my perspective is different from fandom members. I watch the series because I like it and never felt the need to convince others to watch it too. I respect and appreciate the crew, actors and writers for putting forth a series I’ve enjoyed for many years and prefer not to participate in debates and discussions with other fans on likes and dislikes. I have never been interested in shipping; if a show I’m watching presents a coupling, okay but I’m not interested in speculating on romantic pairings. I look forward to Sam and Dean’s scenes, but not at the expense of the story line in the episode. If Guest Character A is talking to Guest Character B and it’s used to advance the plot, I’m not disinterested because the boys aren’t in the scene. So with this in mind, I focused on the “Wayward Sisters” episode as I would any new pilot, watching the characters and story unfold by pretending it wasn’t Supernatural and without prior knowledge of Jody, Donna, Alex, Claire, Patience or Kaia’s histories. For me, this was the best way . It wouldn’t be fair to judge “Wayward Sisters” as an extension of Supernatural or by making comparison. I saw an episode in which a young blonde Buffy (Claire) type saves a little girl from werewolves then gets a telephone call from her surrogate mother (Jody) telling her that it was time to come home because two family friends (Sam and Dean) were missing. Once she gets there, this girl is greeted by a surrogate sister (Alex) and introduced to another girl (Patience), who happens to be a psychic. The girl dismisses the psychic girl’s vision of impending danger and surrogate mother’s worry for her safety due to her hunting activity. But this girl is angry and arrogant, which is a sure sign that one or two things would happen before the episode’s conclusion: She’d get hurt because of her impulsive behavior or she’d put someone else in danger. A third girl (Kaia) appears on the scene with knowledge of what happened to the two family friends. And oh yeah, some scary looking monsters are added into the mix. And let’s not forget the other woman (Donna) driving the car with the license plate ‘D-Train’ and sporting a trunk full of monster annihilation weapons. Just imagine yourself as someone who had never heard of Sam and Dean or Supernatural and turned on the television to watch an airing of a new show. This was me. Now I’d like to discuss in more detail what I thought about the characters and episode.
Claire. Claire (Kathryn Newton) comes off as this know it all teen who refuses to listen to the adult figure. Even with very limited hunting experiences, Claire believes herself capable of handling any monster situation; it doesn’t matter if she’s never seen the monsters she’s up against, she’ll fight. Planning to Claire is a waste of time…while you are going over strategy, someone could die. For a girl who was more or less abandoned by her parents and to later lose them to death brought on by the supernatural (angels to be more specific), she’s has pent-up rage and trust issues. Despite love and concern shown to her by a new family (Alex and Jody), Claire still is a loner. When she meets Kaia (Yadira Guevara-Prip), the two develop an instant connection. In Kaia, Claire finds a kindred spirit. For the first time, it seems that Claire will shed her tough girl veneer. When Kaia appears mortally wounded after taking an arrow meant for her, Claire is devastated and racked with guilt; if only she had taken Jody’s advice and not gone charging in without a plan. This will be a turning point for Claire as she finally realizes that she has a family. Claire also has a new mission, which is avenging Kaia’s death. I see growth for the character if “Wayward Sister” gets the green light to continue as a series.
Alex. Alex (Katherine Ramdeen) was thrust into the world of the supernatural at a very young age. Kidnapped by vampires when she was eight, Annie Jones (Alex’s birth name) spent her childhood in the nest of the bloodsuckers used as a human feeding bag when the creatures hunting for humans went dry. Or as a “honey lure” delivering victims to the vamps. Meeting Jody Mills gave Alex her first taste of stability and a normal life. Now, Alex has a job as what I believe is a nurse’s assistant. She is helping people in a non-supernatural way and seems content with her choice. But that doesn’t mean that Alex won’t fight when she needs to; she’s just not gung-ho like Claire to dive into battle. Alex will do whatever she can to help Jody and her family. In many ways, she’s like Sam in the early seasons of Supernatural, she doesn’t want hunting evil to be her life but she won’t let people die either. I like the character of Alex; I just want to see the writers reach into her personality more so we will learn who she really is.
Patience. Short of the fantasy idea of being able to foresee lottery numbers and become an instant millionaire, knowing things before they happen can be scary. Especially getting glimpses of violent deaths at the hands of monsters. Patience Turner (Clark Backo) was a high achieving student, destined for a bright future that included an Ivy League education. Now, she has left home and has to watch monster autopsies and learn how to fire a rifle…I bet she never saw that coming! Patience is full of doubt on where she fits into this female hunting thing. But what she does know is that these people are now her friends and she’ll do whatever she can to protect them.
Jody and Donna. Being the parents on a television series used to be limited to giving sage advice and hoping your kid didn’t break curfew or do something illegal. But times…they are a-changing. Today’s screen parental units are in the thick of the action along with their children. Surrogate parents Jody (Kim Rhodes) and Donna (Briana Buckmaster) are sheriffs of Sioux Falls and Stillwater. They were used to dealing with perps threatening the well being of their respective counties. But Jody and Donna probably never imagined they’d have to face creatures with claws and fangs. They’ve adapted pretty well and are capable hunters. Between the two, I have a soft spot for Donna. Though I must confess, it took me awhile to get into the character. Buckmaster is a likable and talented actress, but every time Donna said “Jody-o” or “You betcha,” I cringed. But in “Wayward Sisters,” I felt Donna finally came into her own. During her off-screen time, Donna has become a skilled vampire hunter. It is unclear of how she was able to develop this skill without guidance of other hunters is left to the viewer’s imagination.
What I find the most interesting thing about these “Wayward Sisters” is besides for psychic Patience and dream walker Kaia, none of these women have special gifts or abilities. They’ve had to “learn on the job” so to speak. And okay, not realistic that they have easily become able to “kick evil in the ass,” but belief often needs to be suspended when watching fantasy shows. I appreciate these actresses’ passion for this project and their desire to take their characters’ stories further.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed “Wayward Sisters” more than I thought I would. Is there room for improvement? Of course. If “Wayward Sisters” is picked up, I intend to watch looking for these characters to be fleshed out further. Will I encourage others to watch? No. I feel that a decision to watch or not watch a television show is up to the individual. One of the perks of being a fan and not in a fandom is your enjoyment is not contingent on wanting interaction with others based on your television preferences. I know Supernatural has brought many people together and that’s great as I’m sure “Wayward Sisters” will if it becomes a series. The power of television is its ability to unite those from all walks of life. And if any series in recent memory has accomplished this, it’s Supernatural.
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