In season 13, the Wayward women played a significantly larger role than they had in previous seasons. The group also added two new women, Patience and Kaia, each with her own set of powers and abilities. Season 13 marks the first time that more than three of the six women have starred in an episode together (season 11’s “Don’t You Forget About Me” starred Kim Rhodes, Kathryn Newton, and Katherine Ramdeen). And it also holds the only episode (hopefully the first of many) in which the entire group is complete.
Each Wayward woman has played a vital role in the Winchesters’ lives. But of the six Wayward Sisters, it is Sheriff Donna Hanscum (played by Briana Buckmaster) who arguably experienced the most in-depth character development in season 13. Here are five of Donna’s biggest moments from the latest season of Supernatural.
1. “Wayward Sisters” – Episode 10 (Part 1)
In this episode, Jody and the others rush to rescue Sam and Dean from a dangerous alternate universe (AU). The brothers were inadvertently sent there in the previous episode, “The Bad Place,” when Jack utilized Kaia’s dreamwalker powers to pinpoint Mary’s location. Additionally, monsters from the AU have entered our world through the rift that was created by Jack and Kaia, and they have now tracked Kaia’s location to Jody’s home. The women escape the danger, and Jody calls on Donna to meet up with them and help them rescue Sam and Dean. Donna obliges, bringing with her a kick-ass collection of weaponry.
Why is this important?
This might be difficult to believe, but Donna’s entrance marks the first time we have seen her on our screens since season 11’s “Plush” episode. Regardless of the time that has passed since we last saw her, Donna falls perfectly back into step with the women. We instantly see Donna’s warmth and humor, and her familiar Minnesota accent is a welcome reminder of how fun her character is. Alex and Claire run to hug Donna when she arrives, and they represent how glad we all are to have her back with us.
2. “Wayward Sisters” – Episode 10 (Part 2)
Jody and Donna discover the rift between our world and the AU on the second floor of the boat where the battle with the AU monsters is taking place. Jody immediately tries to enter the rift, but Donna stops her. Jody tells Donna that she has to enter the rift, because if she doesn’t, then Claire will go. Jody says that she cannot risk losing another child and will do anything to prevent Claire from putting herself in harm’s way. Donna understands and silently promises to keep the girls safe. Eventually, the AU monsters gain ground on the women, and Jody realizes that she cannot enter the rift after all.
Why is this important?
We finally get to see Donna-as-hunter mentor someone else.
When Claire and the others make it to the boat, Claire tries – and ultimately succeeds at – convincing Jody to let her take Kaia into the AU. Meanwhile, the monsters are descending upon the women’s location in the boatyard, and Donna takes it upon herself to arm, teach, and protect Alex and Patience. She hands Patience a shotgun and tells her to “aim in their general direction, relax and squeeze. Squeeze, don’t pull.” She provides cover for them as they escape upstairs to safety and later, when Jody has rejoined them, Donna leads them to successfully fight off the remaining monsters, with Patience blasting one of them herself.
3. “Breakdown” – Episode 11 (Part 1)
“Breakdown” is one of the more haunting episodes that we have seen in a long time, primarily because the “Big Bad” in this episode is not a monster at all. It’s a network of deranged humans who kidnap random persons and hold online auctions for monsters who bid on the victims’ body parts. Donna’s niece, Wendy, is the latest victim to be taken, and Donna calls on Sam and Dean to help her find her. As expected, the Winchesters immediately jump in their Impala and rush to help Donna however they can.
Why is this important?
This is the first time we have ever seen Donna request assistance with…well, anything! In “Hibbing 911,” when she and Jody first meet, we see Donna having difficulty putting up with her ex-husband Doug (“old Doug,” as some refer to him), who takes advantage of her every chance he gets. When Jody has had enough of Doug’s mistreatment of Donna and tells him to take a hike, Donna actually comes to the defense of Doug and tells Jody to back off. And in “Plush,” when Donna is teamed up again with Sam and Dean (and we meet “new Doug”), she refuses Doug’s help with moving the perpetrator from the wheelchair to the squad car, emphatically (and hilariously) telling Doug that his help is not necessary, because she does Crossfit.
So to see Donna ask for help from someone – regardless of the reason – is significant. Asking for help is so foreign to Donna that her request to help save her niece’s life has an apologetic tone, both over the phone (“I know it’s not your normal thing, but…”) and in person (“I’m sorry for calling you guys, but Jody’s got her hands full with the girls…”). As much as Donna has grown in her self-confidence since we first met her in season 9’s “The Purge,” seeing her struggle with asking for help is heartbreaking. Donna has not given herself permission to trust others for support, and perhaps this is a lingering after-effect from her failed marriage.
4. “Breakdown” – Episode 11 (Part 2)
When the Winchesters and Donna discover what has happened to Wendy, they soon realize that they must inform Doug about the truth of their world: that monsters are real, and they are the hunters who kill them. Understandably, Doug is shocked at this news, as well as with learning about Donna’s “other life” as a hunter.
Why is this important?
This episode makes it clear that Donna does not seem to understand only a certain type of person is cut out to be a hunter, like she is. In other words, she does not realize her own strength and power and how special she truly is. At this point in her life, the people she is closest to (except Doug) are either hunters or supporters of the hunter life. And the most probable reason for Donna never telling Doug the truth about any of this was to protect him, both physically and emotionally.
So it is understandable that Donna believes they will be able to work everything out when they return to Stillwater. Doug will come around and join her in this life of a hunter, she thinks. She apologizes sincerely for lying to him throughout their relationship, but once Doug knows the truth about her and the world, Donna does not give it another thought.
However, the damage that this revelation has done comes to light by the end of the episode.
5. “Breakdown” – Episode 11 (Part 3)
Doug has been cured of the vampire bite he suffered at the warehouse, and Dean tells Doug that he and Sam could really benefit from having him on their side, fighting the good fight. But Doug seems too scared to commit to the hunter lifestyle. Donna tries to convince him that he can get used to it, but Doug disagrees:
And what [will I do after we go back home]? I’m a cop ‘cause I like helpin’ folks, but… Vampires? That’s… I’m not… Donna, you kill monsters. You’re a damn hero. But that’s… it’s not me. I’m sorry. I love you. I’m sorry.
Doug turns and leaves Donna with Sam and Dean.
Why is this important?
In “The Purge,” Donna tells the Winchesters that her ex-husband Doug left her because “…he said I loved cookie-dough milkshakes more than him.” And when we meet old Doug in “Hibbing 911,” we see exactly what kind of jerk he is to have made such a horrible remark. Nevertheless, Donna believed that her marriage’s demise was her fault, and she carried with her the belief that she simply was not good enough for him.
So to see Donna lose new Doug in this episode is agonizing for two reasons: not only does she have to suffer another breakup, but she is losing new Doug because she is “too good” for him – a “hero,” as Doug calls her. Those of us who love Donna know she was too good for old Doug, and losing him was a blessing. But losing new Doug was a shocking turn that Donna could have never anticipated. She is finally living her life in a way that empowers her and helps her to help others. It is a life that she cannot and does not want to give up. And yet it has cost her the love of her life.
Sheriff Donna Hanscum was only in two episodes in season 13. But her storyline was taken to places we had not previously seen. She is a fan favorite for numerous reasons, and it is difficult to think of another Supernatural character who has provided not only some of the series’ biggest laughs, but also some of the most heart-wrenching and dark scenes. Hopefully we will not have to wait so long this time around to see Donna again.
In the weeks ahead, Nerds and Beyond will be featuring many more “5 Biggest Moments” articles that will focus on all of your favorite Supernatural characters, so stay tuned! Do you think Donna had other significant moments from this season that were not covered here? Tell us about them in the comments below!