The Winchesters – Season 1 Episode 3
“You’re Lost Little Girl”
The Winchesters has Mary ponder the prospect of life after Hunting and consider all that she has missed living as a Hunter.
Supernatural heavily leaned into the idea that being a Hunter was a brutal and lonely life that most only escape through death. John and Mary would eventually try to settle down and have a normal life but their bliss didn’t last long and Sam was pulled back into it by Dean after John disappeared. Sam would eventually give it up entirely but he is very much the exception. Mary is currently operating with the intent to give up Hunting when she finds her father and the possibility of having to find something else to define her life is starting to sink in.
Searching for purpose is a familiar character arc in most media. Characters often start out unclear on their direction in life and build towards finding a path they want to follow. This applies to Mary, John and Ada in this show. Carlos and Lata haven’t had enough attention to get a sense of what their arc will be, but three characters have a particular journey established for them.
John and Mary are opposite in their aim. Mary wants to leave the life behind and John wants to be immersed in it. He talks about feeling fulfilled by what he has been doing and wants more of it. John has been framed as a rookie since the first episode and his enthusiasm supports that but there’s a clear naivety to him as he doesn’t consider the pitfalls of the life he is pursuing. He doesn’t pay attention to what Mary says and isn’t equipped to consider the possibility of him ending up the same way. Part of that is down to his belief that a balance can be found. A break is suggested early on and he asks Mary if she wants to go see a movie; an invitation she declines in favour of getting back to work. This suggests a possible basis for their inevitable romantic relationship with Mary being unable to step back from Hunting and John encouraging balance.
The exploration of Mary’s feelings about being a Hunter is really interesting. She talks about being inducted into the life from a really young age so she doesn’t know anything else and struggles to imagine what her life would be like without it. She has no hobbies or interests outside of what she does because her upbringing was centred around hunting and killing monsters. She has missed out on a lot and doesn’t know where to start catching up on that. John helps her work through this by relating to her desire to find her father. He talks about spending most of his life looking for his father and imagining all the exotic places he could go when searching. His point is that part of life is dreaming about what could be and that she should start thinking about what she’s going to do with hers. She confesses that fanciful future dreaming wasn’t encouraged in her family as Hunting was all she could ever be. It’s tragic in a way because Mary’s life has been mapped out for her and she has accepted the burden of responsibility by default without ever having the opportunity to explore what she wants.
In my review of the first episode, I stated that Mary is a Dean analogue and I stand by that as her attitude and personality resemble him more than Sam but there are elements of Sam in there also. The desire to leave Hunting behind was strong in Sam and the reasoning is very similar. Sam had his life taken from him when John became obsessed with tracking down the Demon that killed Mary just as Mary was inducted into Hunting at a very young age. She has no concept of what’s out there but she would like to find out even if the prospect of doing so scares her. This is personified through the desire she has to let go of in order to escape the clutches of the Bori Baba. She thinks that she summons the sack by wanting to find her father but his hat actually represents her connection to Hunting. She can’t destroy the hat because she can’t let go of Hunting despite how passionately she talks about leaving it behind. John encourages her to be honest with herself and take a small step forward by considering what to do next with her life. He tells her that she only needs to be ok with having to figure out who she is after giving up Hunting. She admits that she has no idea who she is outside of it and the key to freeing herself from captivity is to admit that she has to redefine her life. Using the monster to force Mary to undergo that development was a nice touch and framing this as the first step on a long journey allows for plenty of coverage in the coming episodes. Meg Donnelly is great in the decisive scene, she displays believable vulnerability and fear of the unknown in Mary’s future.
Mary’s final act in the episode is to take some time to relax by going to a movie. There she meets a man who is also seeing the film alone and an impromptu date ensues. Meg Donnelly once again impresses with her performance as a more nervous and uncertain Mary indulging in the unfamiliar. It’s a small taste of normality and a snapshot of what her post-Hunting life could look like. For her, the episode was about taking a small step and she certainly accomplishes that.
John’s contribution to the episode is about his past rather than his future. Outside of references to his missing father, he reconnects with an old flame named Betty (Andrea Londo). Not much is done with them beyond Betty being a nuisance who has to be lied to about the world of the supernatural. Drake Rodger does a fair job playing John’s discomfort thinking on his feet and being dishonest but the general awkwardness that clearly should have been between them just doesn’t register. The reveal of the engagement ring and the brief conversation about not being ready to take such a big step doesn’t land because the episode only glances at the perceived weight of their relationship. It’s thematically relevant as it shows where John learned the lesson about concentrating on small steps rather than taking massive strides but there was no reason to invest in the John/Betty connection so it fails to capture interest.
Lata gets some development thanks to the Bori Baba. She is the one who recognises the monster and the knowledge comes from her own childhood. There’s a slight payoff when she pushes the monster which counts as her facing her fear to some extent even if is it rushed and ineffective. The mystery around Lata’s parents and her admission that her mother is still alive is intriguing but very much in the background for now. This show is still figuring out how to juggle the characters organically which means that Lata tends to suffer from being used as an exposition dump with hints that there is more to her than her surface-level function. Nida Khurshid is an interesting performer who adds weight to her functional dialogue and Lata’s dynamic with John where she acts as subtle matchmaker helping him get in Mary’s good graces works well. Her backstory definitely has a lot of potential so hopefully seeing it explored will live up to that.
The ongoing plot is handled by Ada and Carlos with this being the first episode to give it major attention. Ada is developed further through her desire to be a witch and she’s definitely capable based on how she handles the Demon. A lot of this plot is thankless as it exists to provide exposition that gives the characters information on the mysterious threat they are facing but it’s a great showcase for Ada and she bounces off Carlos well even if he’s lacking by comparison. It’s another example of not knowing how to juggle the cast in ways that give them all meaningful content but intrigue is already starting to emerge so it looks like this won’t be an issue for long. The ongoing plot so far isn’t all that interesting but revealing Roxy (Bridget Regan) so soon is an encouraging sign that this won’t consist of repetitive reminders week on week.
One particularly notable thing The Winchesters does is introduce new monsters rather than dig into the extensive well of options the parent show delivered. Demons have so far been the only familiar element as far as antagonists go. This creates a sense of freshness and shows that there’s an appetite not to lean on the familiar. The monsters themselves haven’t been especially interesting or delivered anything new in terms of threat value but taking the time to dig into lore and use that as inspiration for the weekly threats is certainly appreciated. Bori Baba was intermittently effective but the episode doesn’t capitalise on that potential and it loses a lot of its menace when it’s actually shown.. In general, The Winchesters is still fighting to define what it is and how it structures its storytelling but the improvements so far suggest that it won’t take long to find a groove.
A good episode that provides a well-explored and meaningful character arc for Mary while starting to show what the other characters have to offer. Mary’s desire to leave the life of a Hunter behind is developed organically over the course of the episode with John offering a valid perspective on how she can go about redefining herself when the time comes. Personifying her struggle through needing to take a step forward in that redefinition in order to escape the Bori Baba works well and establishes an arc that can develop over subsequent episodes. John is well-placed to help her through that and it’s interesting that his arc is opposed to hers as he wants to be immersed in the world of Hunting when she wants to leave it. John’s contribution to the episode includes an encounter with an old flame. It ties into the advice he gives Mary but doesn’t ever because the connection itself doesn’t register. Lata’s development with the suggestion of the mystery associated with her parents is interesting and the material is definitely elevated by strong acting. The show doesn’t quite know how to juggle its cast but intrigue is starting to emerge. Ada and Carlos handle the ongoing plot in a thankless collection of scenes designed to deliver exposition. They do offer an excellent Ada showcase and move the ongoing plot forward considerably. This suggests that the show won’t provide repetitive reminders week on week. Using new monsters not featured in the parent show is a notable aspect as it creates a sense of freshness. Bori Baba was intermittently effective but the episode doesn’t capitalise on that potential and it loses a lot of its menace when it’s actually shown.. In general, The Winchesters is still fighting to define what it is and how it structures its storytelling but the improvements so far suggest that it won’t take long to find a groove.
- Mary’s arc developing organically throughout the episode
- personifying her struggle by connecting her need to take the first step to the threat
- Meg Donnelly impressing with her performances
- John being well-placed to help her work through the arc
- Lata’s contribution being elevated by strong acting
- Ada becoming a more compelling character
- creating original monsters
- the John/Betty connection failing to register in the way it needs to
- a general problem juggling the available characters
- the ongoing plot not managing to be captivating
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