Supernatural 13.10 – Wayward Sisters!

 

Last Thursday was a day full of anticipation for the Supernatural fandom – it was the day we finally got to see the Wayward Sisters episode. Wayward Sisters was not only an episode of Supernatural, but a backdoor pilot for a possible spinoff starring instead of two brothers, six women! That fact alone, unfortunately, is pretty unusual on television, let alone on the CW. Women’s voices are finally being heard a bit more both in media and in the world in general, so the Wayward Sisters pilot is coming at a good time. Perhaps not only the Supernatural fandom but a whole lot of viewers are ready for a show whose leads are all female.

At least I hope so. Don’t get me wrong, I love Supernatural and I love it just the way it is. The show has had some amazing female characters over the years, including the ones who star in Wayward Sisters, and it has evolved from the days when a female character was in danger of being ‘fridged’ to inspire a male character to start hunting.  I love Sam and Dean and Cas to the moon and back and always will. The wonderful thing about Wayward Sisters is that it can be its own thing, an extension of the Supernatural universe just like fanfiction and fanvids and fanart are, which can be beautiful and important in its own way while Supernatural itself goes on (and on and on and on, as far as I’m concerned…)  Not all fans were on board with the possible spinoff, and that’s okay – we all like and love and want different things, and nobody has to love the same thing as I do or you do. But for many fans, the idea of ‘Wayward’ had become very important, even beyond the possibility of a spinoff.

The idea for Wayward Sisters began over two years ago – and it began in the fandom. That’s not where ideas for pilots usually come from. Fandom has all sorts of fabulous ideas, as anyone who’s been in a vibrant creative brilliant fandom like the Supernatural fandom knows. But those ideas don’t get heard, and even if they do, they certainly don’t get taken seriously to become reality! Wayward Daughters, as it was first called, was an idea that fans had – not just for a spinoff, but as a rallying cry for some of the things I write about in my books on fandom and Supernatural. For finding the courage to be yourself and proud of it – for being “Wayward As F—k.” That ‘WaywardAF’ slogan ended up on tee shirts and pajamas and all sorts of things proudly worn by fans who were tired of not being real and ready to be wayward. Actresses Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster were on board from the start, adding to the empowering message. They wrote chapters in my book about the power of Supernatural and the SPNFamily (Family Don’t End With Blood) all about being WaywardAF, and so did the two women who started the Wayward Daughters movement, Riley and Betty.  Eventually the rallying cry was so loud that The Powers That Be heard it. Writer Robert Berens, who had penned some of the pivotal episodes introducing these characters, hopped on board to write the episode, now known as Wayward Sisters. And that? Is a big thing.

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Supernatural Gets Wayward – What’s Special About Wayward Sisters

 

One week from today, my favorite show will return from its winter hiatus, and I can’t wait. This return will be extra special, because of two things. One, it’s on my birthday – I suppose that’s only special to me, but it feels extra special because of the other thing. That other thing is the return episode will also be the “backdoor pilot” for a possible spin-off for Supernatural – Wayward Sisters.

What’s so special about that? The show has tried a backdoor pilot before, with the Bloodlines episode back in Season 9. That was a pretty spectacular failure – I adore this show, and I must confess even I didn’t like it. Largely because it didn’t feel like a Supernatural episode at all. There were no established characters who would transition to the new show, and the new characters seemed like they’d be more at home on Dynasty than on Supernatural. I couldn’t imagine Sam and Dean ever making a guest appearance – in fact, I was pretty sure they were secretly rolling their eyes at some of the newly introduced characters.

To the show’s credit, the overwhelming NO response to Bloodlines didn’t sour them on considering a spin-off. And they’ve learned from their mistakes. Wayward Sisters is different in a number of ways. First, it stars characters who are already established on Supernatural, and who fans already know and like (not every character is liked by every fan of course, but you can pretty much say that about any fictional character ever – there’s no such thing as unanimous liking and that’s okay). Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) has been a recurring character for some time, as has Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster) – both are fan favorites on the show and the actors are fan favorites on the Supernatural convention circuit too.

Also in the cast are Claire (Kathryn Newton) and Alex (Katherine Ramdeen), both of whom have been in multiple episodes of the show. In Season 13, we were introduced to Patience (Clark Backo) and Kaia (Yadira Guevara Prip), rounding out the cast. Instead of a bunch of characters we don’t know at all, this attempt at a spin-off utilizes characters who are already familiar to us as part of the Supernatural universe. That should make a big difference.

 

That’s not what makes Wayward Sisters special, though. Instead it’s the way the spinoff came about and the striking evolution that the composition of the show represents. Wayward Sisters, unlike its inspiration, Supernatural, is a cast of women. Don’t get me wrong, I think Supernatural has given us some amazing female characters over the years – the women of Wayward are some of them, but there are many more. The show was roundly criticized in its early days for the rarity of any episode passing the Bechdel test and for its use of the ‘fridging women’ trope to serve as inspiration for its tortured heroes. There has been evolution over the course of 13 years, in terms of cast and more slowly in terms of female writers and directors, but this is a leap forward, not a step. If the pilot flies, this is a show about women that, according to its cast, is committed not only to being told through the perspective of women, but to diversity of many kinds. That’s a lot of evolution for a little show on the CW.

That evolution is one of the unique things, but it’s not the only one. The other unique, maybe even unprecedented, thing about Wayward Sisters is the way it came to be. The idea for Bloodlines came from the usual places – producers, studio, network, showrunners, writers room. The idea for Wayward Sisters came from the fandom. And that really doesn’t happen. Fandom has all sorts of fabulous ideas, as anyone who’s been in a vibrant creative brilliant fandom like the Supernatural fandom knows. But those ideas don’t get heard, and even if they do, they certainly don’t get taken seriously to become reality! As Kim and Briana are fond of saying onstage at Supernatural conventions, “YOU. You did this.” And you know what? We did. And that’s pretty extraordinary.

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It’s Hellatus – So Of Course Supernatural Leaves Us In ‘The Bad Place’!

 

 

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I LOVED last week’s episode of Supernatural, so I went into this week’s with high expectations, especially because this was the lead-in to the Wayward Sisters pilot episode that happens when we return from Hellatus. ‘The Bad Place’ turned out to be a wild rollercoaster of a ride that kept me on the edge of my seat – it literally looked and felt like a feature film crammed into 42 minutes! That’s not to say I loved all of it, but it definitely did a great job of setting up the possible spinoff while simultaneously entertaining me throughout.

So, what I liked?  Well, I really liked Jack. It was nice to meet Alexander Calvert at last weekend’s Supernatural convention and to be able to tell him in person what a fabulous job he’s doing on this show, because DAMN. I have been rooting for Jack since the beginning, which says a lot about Calvert’s acting and the way he’s been written considering he’s Lucifer’s son. I didn’t think I’d like him at all before Jack was born, so I wasn’t even prepared to care about the character – but I do.

We open with a young Native American artist, Derek, and his girlfriend discussing the difficulties of making a living through art, which, YES.

Enter Jack, a prospective buyer.

Derek: You’re young.

Jack: I am.

I laughed out loud at Calvert’s delivery, and the fresh faced expression on Jack’s face. He manages to make Jack entirely likable while also playing him with a hint of wait-is-that-a-menacing-look so I’m always a little off base and unsure. I was so horrified when we thought that Jack killed Derek, it actually made me a little sick to my stomach. I don’t WANT Jack to go dark side, Show! And that says something very good about how the character is being written and acted, because I actually CARE about him.

Writer Robert Berens does a good job of incorporating a bit of Native American lore and casting does a good job as they almost always do with finding an actor  (Nathaniel Arcand) who makes us care about him even in the four minutes he was in the episode! Arcand is not just very good looking, he invests Derek with personality too.

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Spotlight on SPNFamily Creativity and Making A Difference – Little Pop Workshop!

Sometimes it really helps to shine a light on all the good things about fandom – how we help each other, how we help others, how we try to make change in the world. It’s an integral part of fandom, and one that I cherish – that’s why every purchase of Family Don’t End With Blood benefits Random Acts’ important work helping those who need it all over the world, and Attitudes in Reverse with their mission of ending stigma and opening up conversation about mental health challenges to combat suicide. On this #GivingTuesday, if you haven’t read FDEWB yet, you can help make a difference by picking up a book for yourself or for a friend. Most of the Supernatural actors wrote chapters — Jared, Jensen, Misha and many others — in which they shared their own personal struggles and challenges, hoping that will inspire others to keep going when the going gets tough.

The book has been our way of trying to help, but there are so many people in fandom whose creative talents enrich us all and also make a difference.

Recently a wonderful thing happened in the fandom that also benefits one of Misha Collin’s many charitable endeavors. With the help of charitable organizer Stands on twitter, the “I Wish For This” campaign to benefit Lydia Place was launched. Lydia Place works to disrupt the pervasive cycle of homelessness and foster autonomy for families, something that Collins knows about from personal experience. Fan artist Little Pop Work made a customized Pop Funko Misha doll which was signed by Misha as an incentive to participate in the campaign – which was seriously awesome!

The I Wish For This Misha Pop is based on the touching story that Misha has told about his daughter, Maison. When Misha asked his kids what they wanted to wish for as they picked dandelions and got ready to make a wish on them, Maison simply replied “I wish for this.” Misha can’t tell the story without tearing up, and frankly I’ve never been able to listen to it without tearing up either.

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That Hurt – Alot of Heartache in Supernatural’s ‘Patience’

I was excited to watch last week’s Supernatural episode while at a Supernatural convention in, of all perfect places for this particular show, New Orleans. Ghosts and vampires and witches and voodoo everywhere, what could be better? I made sure to be in my hotel room ten minutes early, ready to tweet, anticipation building…only to find that one of the many versions of CSI was airing on the local CW affiliate. BOO. I managed to watch the episode the next day on my phone, but that’s not the sort of viewing I was hoping for so this is more review than recap. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts on the third episode of Season 13.

It’s hard to say I enjoyed the episode, because much of it wasn’t what I would call enjoyable to watch – this show I love is like that sometimes. It draws me in and then stabs me in the heart, because I care about these characters so much. When they’re hurting, I’m hurting. And right now? The Winchesters are hurting. Add to that several other characters who I’ve come to like a lot – who are also hurting – and that’s a lot of hurt for one poor fangirl to endure in 42 minutes of television.

Let’s talk about those other two first. Missouri Mosely was one of my favorite characters from the early seasons of Supernatural. She was wise and warm and took no crap from the Winchester boys. She was a little bit of mother figure for them in a time when they didn’t have one at all, long before Mary came back or Jody Mills played a bit of that role for them. She was also one of the first women of color to appear on the show. Loretta Devine invested the character with so much personality, she lit up every scene she was in. I always wished they’d have her back, and was thrilled to find out that was finally happening. Loretta did just as fabulous a job as ever, and I loved being able to see both Missouri’s obvious care for the Winchesters (and Baby) and that she’s as capable of sassing them right back as ever. Dean’s quiet “yes ma’am” and Missouri’s returned warmth was one of those small emotional moments that carries a big impact, hearkening back to early seasons and reminding me who Dean really is and how much the people who cared about him in those early days meant to him.

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