The Winchesters – Season 1 Episode 7
The Winchesters opens up old familial wounds as the team takes the fight to the Akrida and tries to engineer a way to stop them permanently.
Fractured parental relationships are rife in both The Winchesters and its parent show, Supernatural. Drama is often created out of parents being failures in some way and the impact this has on their children. John will go on to be a general of sorts raising his sons as soldiers in an unending war and that will shape them in fundamental ways. In this show, John had a less-than-ideal relationship with his father and Mary struggles with the way her father raised her so the thesis of the Supernatural franchise seems to be around parental mistakes creating a chain of damaging parenting.
This isn’t an absolute as there are positive examples to be found. In Supernatural, Mary managed to leave the life of Hunting behind and John was never involved so they both enjoyed a few years as positive civilian parents before Mary was killed by a Demon and John started down the path of revenge. In this show, Millie is a positive influence in John’s life and is fully committed to ensuring that her son knows that she is there for him. She doubles down on this because of what Henry did because she knows John needs that support system.
One of the strongest scenes in this episode is where Ada and Millie discuss their own experience of motherhood. Ada recently reconnected with her son and is working to redefine their relationship in a more positive way whereas Millie is working to maintain a positive relationship with John. It’s an important conversation for Millie as she gets to hear Ada’s perspective on Henry and learns that he did care about their marriage but wanted to separate because he thought it’d be better for her and John. Ada knew Henry in ways that Millie doesn’t and there’s a massive disconnect between what feelings Millie was left with and the truth.
The beauty of it is that Ada doesn’t apologise for Henry or attempt to justify what he did, she simply outlines the reality as she understands it. Millie is concerned that John will head down the same path but Ada has more faith as she doesn’t see John as being anything like Henry. Both agree that he needs to let go of his anger but he isn’t as closed off as his father was so has every chance of being far more well-adjusted. The John Winchester seen in Supernatural is an unfortunate conclusion to this hopeful prediction from Ada but the idea of two mothers making a pledge to do right by their sons is a strong one and the scene is excellent.
Henry Winchester’s legacy touches a lot of this episode and circumstances prompt John to confront it. A spell that will allow them to communicate with Henry requires an object with strong emotions. John produces an old music box that he remembers listening to with Henry when he was a child. He has since broken it because the happy memories have been tainted by his absence but the feelings remain and it’s the perfect object for the spell.
It appears to go poorly which upsets John more than if it had succeeded. It confirms his long-held fear that his father left because of him. This fear comes from hearing his name coming up during arguments his parents had as a child. The music box was used to attempt to drown out the noise of his parents arguing and his reason for breaking it was because he blamed himself for Henry leaving rather than resenting the fact that he left. Mary offers him support and assures him that it wasn’t his fault, something that is backed up by the ghost of Henry (Gil McKinney) appearing to confirm it.
The interaction is brief but offers John closure on something he has been thinking about for years. He now knows that his father leaving had nothing to do with him and gets to hear Henry say that he’s proud of him. Millie also gets to hear that he loves her which puts her own doubts to rest. John’s emotional honesty with Mary is what allows the spell to work and Henry has the opportunity to finally be honest with his son which is cathartic for both of them. Unfortunately, their time together is limited and the information needed takes priority but it weaves neatly in with John’s self-doubt and the questions left in his father’s absence.
Self-doubt feeds into Mary’s contribution to the episode. Finding her father’s bag covered in blood prompts her to blame herself for her father possibly being dead. Carlos helps her see how ridiculous she is being by telling her the story of how he lost his parents and his own personal realisation that it wasn’t his fault. Mary makes his point for him by immediately telling him that and then turning the statement back on herself after understanding the similarities. It’s a good conversation though them talking about how he usually thinks she’s wrong is something that the show hasn’t quite firmly established. They disagreed in the second episode and there hasn’t been any evidence of that since so the episode is trying to exploit a dynamic that barely exists. Carlos having to remind her that they usually disagree is a powerful indicator that it hasn’t been earned by what has been shown.
Another forced aspect of the episode is John and Mary’s kiss. The show hasn’t done enough to establish that their connection has developed to them being on the brink of acting on their attraction. There have been hints of attraction on both sides, more so where John is concerned. Mary opens up to John in ways that she doesn’t with the other characters and takes an active interest in making sure that Hunting doesn’t consume his life as it did hers but most of the evidence that she is falling for him comes from comments from others who have noticed her interest in him. It isn’t something that has been addressed directly with all signs pointing to their inevitable pairing being in its very early stages. This makes the kiss feel out of place though it could be the result of a surge of adrenalin in a near-death moment that will be written off as a mistake when things settle down.
Mary’s father, Samuel (Tom Welling) appears after being talked about over the course of the season. His appearance is brief but Mary gets to see that he’s alive and injured. There’s a symmetry to John and Mary in this episode as both have to deal with the prospect of seeing their fathers again. The major difference is that Mary has been looking for hers since the first episode whereas John is far more reluctant to confront that aspect of his past. Samuel’s return in theory means that Mary is close to leaving Hunting behind but it’s likely that further complications will continue to delay this.
This episode has the team finally come face to face with Roxy (Bridget Regan). It turns out she isn’t the Queen of the Akrida as they had previously assumed which means there’s a bigger threat out there that the end of the episode teases without showing. Despite being built up over a number of episodes, Roxy is far from a credible threat or an interesting character. She is easily dispatched by John and Mary with the Ostium and manages little more than some mildly threatening dialogue before that. The trouble with developing a distant threat is that they have no interaction with the heroes until they inevitably cross paths and this was a laughably bad example of a first -and last as it turns out- encounter. There is the promise of a bigger threat but the foundation is far from strong.
Some more information is learned such as the Akrida being from another universe. It is suggested that they come from a universe all their own where the only thing to feed on is themselves and the Queen is after Demon/Monster essence in order to grow more powerful. The Ostium is the only way to defeat the Queen and the rest of the Akrida will die without their Queen around to sustain them so the goal is clear but the mechanics of how to achieve it remain a mystery.
The mention of alternate universes possibly sows the seeds of the existence of other universes which may provide a clue to answering the inconsistencies between this show and Supernatural. Signs are starting to point to this being set in an alternate universe from the parent show. The Multiverse was established in Supernatural so such a reveal wouldn’t remove it from the canon. It also means that this John and Mary could meet their counterparts from the prime universe and see how their lives turn out. This could motivate them to make different choices and be better parents to the children they will one day have. It is only a theory at this point but it does fit with the available information and would allow this show to go in its own direction without having to give way to the known future. The question at that point becomes – why make a prequel in the first place? We’ll find out for sure next year.
A good episode that plays to the show’s strengths in delivering engaging emotional beats for John, Mary and Millie that draw on their established character journeys. the focus of the episode is fractured parental relationships with lots of reflecting on mistakes made by parents and how that impacts their children. Millie is a positive parental figure and works very hard to ensure she does right by John. The scene where Ada and Millie discuss their experience of motherhood is excellent. It’s an important conversation for Millie as she gets to hear Ada’s perspective on Henry while recognising that Ada knew him in ways that she didn’t. Circumstances prompt John to confront his feelings about Henry and Mary helps him to open up about his true feelings which allows Henry to appear. It’s cathartic for John as his father tells him that leaving wasn’t his fault. Henry takes responsibility for his actions and tells Millie and John how he feels about them. Self-doubt plagues Mary throughout the episode and Carlos helps her realise that she is blaming herself unnecessarily. Their conversation is good but the episode is exploiting a dynamic that barely exists to make it happen. John and Mary’s kiss is forced and feels too soon given the trajectory of their relationship so far. It could be the result of a surge of adrenalin in a near-death moment that will be written off as a mistake when things settle down. Samuel’s appearance is brief but a definite milestone as the season has been building to this. The Akrida are still uninteresting and Roxy is far from a credible threat especially considering how little she contributes to this episode and how easily she is dispatched. More information is learned about them and there is the promise of a bigger threat but the foundation is far from strong.
- Ada and Millie’s excellent scene
- John admitting the truth about the music box that represents his relationship with his father
- John having the opportunity to get closure on his feelings about his father
- Henry and John’s strong interaction
- Carlos helping Mary realise that she isn’t to blame for what happened to her father
- exploiting a Mary/Carlos dynamic that barely exists
- John and Mary’s kiss feeling forced
- Roxy being far from a credible threat
- the Akrida remaining uninteresting
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