Contributors: Jules, Brianna, Kenedi
Nothing ever really dies on Supernatural, does it? Ever since the announcement that Chaos Machine Productions would be developing a Supernatural prequel about John and Mary Winchester (titled The Winchesters), fans have had mixed reactions to the announcement. Many fans were excited to have the show back in any form, especially with the additional tidbit that Dean Winchester would be narrating the new series. Others were concerned about what the prequel could mean for existing canon, particularly with regards to the rocky patches of John and Mary’s relationship and how the show would stick with established timelines and events. Now that some time has passed since the initial statement was released, we wanted to talk about why we’re excited to see what The Winchesters has in store. From building on the canon we know and love to creating new narrative opportunities with a dream team taking charge, let’s dive in to our hopes and predictions for the series!
Expansion of the Universe
Throughout its 15 seasons, Supernatural gave fans a lot of lore and hints at creatures within the universe of the show. With the creation of The Winchesters we will once again be diving back into that world with the huge advantage of expanding on the already known universe of the show. We’ve seen angels, demons, wendigos, vampires, werewolves, and more, but this new venture into the past is a chance for us to experience the world we know and love in a brand new light.
Series star Jensen Ackles, who will be one of a few familiar faces at the helm, has expressed his interest in expanding this universe even before Supernatural‘s ending was announced. With this new production team under Chaos Machine, we also can’t rule out the chance to expand even further. If The Winchesters sees some success we might even see the return of other Supernatural-verse storylines and characters as Ackles himself said there are several project in the works (our fingers are crossed for a Wayward-related project!). With Chaos Machine set to deliver content for both broadcast and streaming platforms, we are excited to see what The Winchesters will do with the Supernatural universe and what that success might mean for the future.
The Return of Dean
One of the facts we know about this story so far is that one of Supernatural‘s central characters, Dean Winchester, will be making a reappearance as this story’s narrator. However, fans were left wondering … where exactly is he? When we last saw the eldest Winchester in the show’s finale, he was knocking around the newly renovated Heaven (yes, the tears are still flowing). Dean telling this story would require some level of omniscience or outside perspective that he simply wouldn’t have had when he was alive, so a popular theory floating around is that Dean is simply telling this story to someone in Heaven. However, who could this mysterious listener be? Jack learning the story of the people who are essentially his grandparents? Cas catching up with Dean in Heaven after his work was done? A crowd full of his family and friends at the Roadhouse? The possibilities are truly endless. Regardless of what role Dean plays in this story, fans are ecstatic at the prospect of having him back once again — not only for the reappearance of the character himself but also the potential that he represents for other familiar faces to appear onscreen.
John and Mary, Husband and Wife
John and Mary’s roles in the Supernatural universe are … complicated to say the least. Throughout the show, the audience is presented with multiple depictions of the two characters that are often at odds with each other — something that viewers and this show will have to reconcile.
Up until her resurrection circa season 12, we only see Mary in about three moments throughout Supernatural, one of which is her tragic (and traumatizing) death scene. Sam and Dean spent the majority of their lives with a romanticized picture of their mother in their heads. After Mary died and John became obsessed with his crusade for revenge in her name, he never painted her in a light that was anything but idyllic — likely to help himself and the boys keep belief in their mission. Part of season 12’s main story arc was the boys learning to reconcile the unrealistic picture of Mary that they had in their minds with the very real, very flawed, and very human version of her that returned. It turned out that Mary was a hunter of the grizzliest variety, a Campbell legacy — something that aligns more with the version of her we learn about in “In the Beginning.” She’s not the warm and fuzzy homemaker Dean remembers from his childhood; she’s an independent woman continuing to carry out the family business.
With that being said, Mary did have her flaws that were outside the scope of what the boys could reasonably expect from her as a person. While trying to reconcile the children she left with the men she returned to, Mary did ultimately end up abandoning Sam and Dean both emotionally and physically, siding with the British Men of Letters and avoiding them so that she wouldn’t have to deal with the new reality she had been forcibly thrust into. And while you can’t blame her for feeling out of place in those circumstances, it’s hard not to feel for the boys as they, in some ways, lost her all over again.
And then there’s John. John Winchester is a complicated character due to his neglectful (and frankly abusive) tendencies that were revealed across the years. When Mary’s life was ended on that fateful night that started it all, John lost something in himself and never recovered. Dragging his kids across the country for a dangerous revenge mission, John trained his children like soldiers, putting the burdensome weight of being a hunter on their shoulders extremely early on.
While we mostly learn things about John’s life anecdotally since he died in the season 2 premiere, “In My Time of Dying,” there are moments throughout the series where we learn tidbits of information that pointed out just how hard the Winchester brothers had it as children. Aside from that, simply knowing how much Dean gave up to take care of his little brother illustrates a rather unfavorable picture of John. However, as we see in episodes where the boys travel back in time, John wasn’t always the shell he became after Mary’s death. When Dean meets him for the first time, the audience is introduced to an honest and kind man who cared about his girl. He’s a simple man with a simple life, uncomplicated by the tragedies that await him in the future.
Much like their individual characters, we also see differing depictions of the pair’s relationship throughout Supernatural. At one point, the audience learns that John and Mary were basically tied together for the purposes of fate, tethered to one another by a cupid’s arrow so that Sam and Dean would exist. However, John painted their love as one for the ages. With Dean’s account of their regular fights, we simply don’t know what the pair’s relationship truly looked like from the conflicting narratives. Despite being wrangled together by Heaven, their reunion in Supernatural‘s 300th episode shows a pair of people who deeply care about each other.
The events that occur in the pilot undoubtedly change the course of their journeys drastically. Young John and young Mary were very different people than the ones we come to know in Supernatural, and it will be interesting to see their stories fleshed out in the time before they come to be the characters we know from the show. What quest will the pair undergo with young John’s obliviousness to the supernatural? Will this story paint a different picture than the idyllic relationship that was touted throughout the show? These difficult questions will have to be rectified while remaining canon-compliant, but with the team assembled for this project, we have faith that everything will work itself out.
The Team Behind It All
And speaking of that team … If there’s one major reason to be excited about this prequel, it’s the group that is creating it. Robbie Thompson is instantly familiar to Supernatural fans for his role as a writer and producer between seasons 7 and 11. He is responsible for the creation of fan-favorite characters like Eileen and Charlie, and he wrote iconic episodes like “Goodbye Stranger,” “LARP and the Real Girl,” “The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo,” “Don’t Call Me Shurley,” and “Baby” among many others (you can check out our interview with Thompson to hear about how each episode was brought to life).
He was also given the herculean task of writing the series’ 200th musical episode, “Fan Fiction,” which functioned as a tribute to the show’s devoted fanbase. Thompson is adept at bringing a unique voice to existing canon, from his Netflix series Cursed to his work with Marvel Comics. He is well versed in Supernatural canon as well as the fandom, and as a writer who has proven he understands what fans love about the show, it’s certain he will bring that expertise to The Winchesters. Thompson is the perfect writer to co-create this series.
Of course, Thompson won’t be creating the series alone. Jensen and Danneel Ackles will be co-producing the series through their production company Chaos Machine, and this is another reason for confidence. Danneel Ackles is a fan of Supernatural in addition to playing Sister Jo/Anael in the last few seasons of the show. Aside from playing Dean Winchester for 15 seasons, Jensen Ackles has repeatedly discussed his passion for expanding the world of Supernatural beyond the main storyline centering on Dean and Sam. He was a big supporter of the Wayward Sisters pilot in 2018 (including advocating for a resolution to Kaia’s storyline in the final season when Wayward Sisters was not ordered to series), not to mention his support of Castiel’s journey on the show and his frequent acknowledgment of the large cast of recurring characters on Supernatural who added so much to the story.
Even before Supernatural ended, Ackles expressed his desire to continue telling stories within the Supernatural universe in new ways. As he told Michael Rosenbaum in September 2020, “I do feel like this isn’t the long goodbye, right now. I feel like this is a … let’s hang this in the closet for now, and we’ll dust her off down the road a bit.” Ackles, like Thompson, is well versed in what the Supernatural fandom wants to see from a new story. He also has the added advantage of understanding Dean better than perhaps anyone else, and with the character slated to narrate The Winchesters, this perspective will be invaluable. Ackles also directly addressed fans’ concerns that a story centering on John and Mary Winchester’s early years would immediately run into issues with existing canon and what we already know about the state of their relationship, showing that he and the writing team will be expanding the canon we know rather than trying to alter it.
Their third partner at Chaos Machine, Renee Reiff, is a champion for diversity within the industry who has worked with DC Entertainment as a Creative Executive for the brand’s television series as well as being on the board of Warner Bros. LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group (OUT@WB). Reiff recently co-created the group Out In Hollywood to support queer artists and writers in pitching to networks and studios. The group also curated the Out Loud List, which is devoted to spotlighting pilots centering on the stories of LGBTQIA+ individuals. With Reiff’s involvement, it’s clear The Winchesters will center new perspectives alongside Mary and John’s story that we’ve seen so far. Additionally, her work on DC’s many superhero series on The CW make Reiff an expert on navigating fandom spaces much like Thompson, which can only help the series going forward. Chaos Machine as a company is also committed to telling diverse stories, which will undoubtedly carry over to The Winchesters as its first project.
Overall, there are a lot of interesting directions The Winchesters could take that make it an exciting prospect. From the team behind the series to the narrative possibilities, it has a lot going for it as it begins the long process of development. We’re intrigued to see what comes next!