Op-Ed: ‘The Winchesters’ and the Future of ‘Supernatural’

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the final season of ‘Supernatural’, so do not continue if you’re not caught up.

On Thursday, June 25th Deadline had published an exclusive report announcing that the CW is in development on ‘The Winchesters’, a prequel series centering around young John and Mary Winchester, which is to be narrated and executive produced by Jensen Ackles, alongside his wife Danneel via their Production company Chaos Machine Productions. The project had been the brainchild of Jensen Ackles when he and his wife formed their company, as he reveals to Deadline (see link below for full quotes). The series currently has a script commitment and will be written and produced by long time ‘Supernatural’ Writer/Executive Producer Robbie Thompson (Seasons 7-11).

While the news spread quickly, exciting fans everywhere, things soon got a little shaky when Jared Padalecki took to Twitter to congratulate his old friend while also expressing some disappointment with the fact that he was unaware of the project until seeing the announcement on social media. This had sparked a very brief behind the scenes drama which has since been resolved, as the two hashed it out as friends and adults, and all seems to be well at the moment.

I’m not going to give an opinion on who was right and who was wrong, or even go deeper into the short-lived drama, because frankly that stuff isn’t interesting to me, but it’s only mentioned here as some context to the basis of this article, looking at what this possibly tells us about the future of ‘Supernatural’ and stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.

Note: I can’t emphasize enough that this is only an opinion piece, and I’m not saying that any of this is what is happening or what is going to happen. I’m just a fan excited by the possibilities for the future, whether they come true or not, and wanted to talk about some of those possibilities.

The most important takeaway from this, at least to us ‘Supernatural’ fans, is that the two actors are most certainly not done with the characters and the world of ‘Supernatural’. Now to be fair, they both have expressed interest in returning to these roles in the future and never specified just how long they’d be gone, but it seemed from how they talked about the decision to end the show that they wanted to take a breather and focus on their families and other projects, with the prospect of a return to ‘Supernatural’ coming down the road. But could it be coming back sooner than later? Are the actors hungrier than they anticipated? This isn’t a case of a couple of actors feeling nostalgic for past roles many years later and agreeing to do a reunion special; instead, despite the fact that the actors saying that they felt it was time to hang it up and move on back when they announced that Season 15 would be the last, in the not-even-full-year since the show came to an end Jensen has already actively pursued and jumped onto a spin-off show, and from Jared’s response to the news on Twitter, he seems pretty eager and willing to reprise his role as Sam Winchester for future projects as soon as something comes his way.

 

While the prequel series ‘The Winchesters’ sounds interesting enough, and I am excited that we are getting more in the world of ‘Supernatural’, it’s not quite what I want as a fan. I’ll take it, but I’m much more interested in seeing new tales of Sam and Dean rather than John and Mary, and let’s face it, a series set before the boys were even born means that there would be minimal onscreen involvement from the two actors aside from voice work. That said, just because this particular project is moving forward, it does not mean that we can’t also get more of Sam and Dean in the near future at well.

A question that should be taken into consideration is this: could the announcement of ‘The Winchesters’ and Jared’s initial “gutted” response to being left out lead to another project in which we see the full-on return of the Winchester brothers sooner than anticipated? And if so, what would be the best approach to take for the actors?

One possible way to do this would be to move forward as a series of movies set to be released every two to three years. This would allow the actors the opportunities to take on other projects while also keeping their Winchester characters alive simultaneously.  For Jensen, he would have ‘The Winchesters’ to fall back on in between the movies, and for Jared, he would have ‘Walker’. This would also free them up enough so that they can spend more time with their families, which was a contributing factor in their decision to end the show. Also, having movies with some gaps in between also reduces the risk of redundancy and over-staying its welcome with the actors and the fans, giving both some breathing room, and providing a hunger for everyone to be ultra-excited with every future installment. Probably not a popular opinion among the many fans who would rather a continuation of the series with complete 20-episode seasons instead, but in my opinion it’s the most efficient way to move forward and keep all parties happy.

But, given the ending to the series finale, episode 15X20: “Carry On”, you may be wondering how they can move on, whether it be series or movies, based on the finality that showrunner Andrew Dabb delivered within that episode?

Well, there’s a way to do that too: reveal that the events of “Carry On” was a hallucination/fever dream caused by a Djinn. I’m not saying to just crumple up that episode into a paper towel and throw it in the trash. No, it has to be done respectfully and meaningfully, otherwise it will do a disservice to the final season and make people question why they even bothered if it’s just a meaningless “Gotcha” trick discarded so easily. Remember, whether or not you liked or even hated that episode, you cannot deny that it was an effectively emotional one, and taking that away would be a mistake. Instead, I would propose that you make it count and give it meaning; let the events of that episode serve as a psychological fear within the brothers, while twisting that episode just enough to create a door leading to a different future.

To elaborate a bit further, with the Chuck/God arc complete they now have the unique opportunity to explore the characters in a slightly different light. No longer lead characters in Chuck’s books, the stakes are much higher and anything goes. (Hypocrite Note #1: while I said above to go forward with respect to “Carry On”, I would be perfectly happy to discard the bullshit tenth episode of Season 15: “The Heroes Journey”, which implies that the brothers have no skills other than what Chuck writes and couldn’t have even instinctively learned said skills, such as picking a lock, over the years they’ve been hunting). Having them stripped of plot armor is an interesting theme that could be explored with the Djinn induced dream that would be “Carry On”, perhaps giving the brothers a sense of fear that they haven’t experienced since childhood; each hunt now feeling more dangerous than ever before, and every move needing to count because they’re more mortal than they’ve ever been.

What’s even more interesting to explore is the fact that plot armor has been stripped from the whole world, and not just the Brothers. In Episode 5X13: “The Song Remains the Same”, Castiel (Misha Collins) transports the brothers back to 1973 to prevent rogue angel Anna (Julie McNiven) from killing the younger versions of Mary (Amy Gumenick) and John (Matthew Cohen). Near the end of the episode, the Archangel Michael possesses John to get rid of Anna and preserve his true vessel. Here he informs Dean of the larger picture, warning him that there is no changing the fate that has already been determined by God. He asks Dean to think of all of the circumstances and decisions that lead to John and Mary even meeting, implying very heavily that everything from human history has been predetermined. Sam and Dean may be the lead characters in their world, but ultimately, nobody has ever been truly free. With their defeat of Chuck in Episode 15X19: “Inherit the Earth”, free will goes beyond just the Winchester Brothers. The fact that defeating Chuck leads to a truly unpredictable world in which anything goes now that the script is now off the table is an incredibly appealing one to develop as they transition between mediums.

To quote ‘The Terminator'(1984) : “There is no fate but what we make”.

I feel like “Carry On” can be an episode used as a bridge; the end of one life – one where they’re able to conquer the greatest of obstacles as predestined by Chuck – while also serving as the beginning of the next life for ‘Supernatural’ – one where the brothers face a whole new set of obstacles when taking on the creatures of the night, as they do so on their own free will, still believing in the cause of “saving people, hunting things, the family business” despite the risks being more dangerous than ever. Another big draw for a future with movies is that they can do things they might not get away with on the CW and really raise the stakes, reminding the audience that the brothers are no longer protected, and really put them on the edge of their seats from time to time. The important thing though is to make them entertaining and fun – I’m certainly not going to suggest doing bleak, hard R films, however: what makes ‘Supernatural’ work is the balance between horror and humor, but maybe they can take it up just one more notch.

Who would I like to see on the creative side of potential ‘Supernatural’ movies?

I say bring back Eric Kripke and Ben Edlund as Writers/Directors, and Robert Singer as Producer. Maybe get together with some of the writing staff from the earlier seasons and hash out a multi-film arc. Ultimately, I would want them to deliver the quality of storytelling from the first five seasons and make the movies something really special.

Again, this is all just opinions and speculation, but looking at Padalecki’s response to ‘The Winchesters’, it’s only a matter of time before the actors take Baby for another spin in the not too distant future.

At least so I hope.

So, what do you think? Do you want ‘Supernatural’ to continue or are you fine with how it ended? How would you bring back the Winchester brothers? Would you want movies or full seasons? Jump on over to our Facebook page and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

You can read Deadline’s exclusive on ‘The Winchesters’ here:

‘Supernatural’ Prequel ‘The Winchesters’ In Works At The CW From Jensen & Danneel Ackles

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About Seth T. Miller 48 Articles
I am first and foremost a proud father of two daughters who may or may not be possessed by demonic entities/deadites (time will tell on that one, but I am pretty confident that one of them translated the Necronomicon). I am very passionate about writing, and spent a great many years focused on the craft of Screenwriting, but I have recently decided to switch gears and pursue my works as novels instead. While I do enjoy a variety of different genres and sub-genres, I am always and forever a horror film fanatic that loves the genre from the 30’s through the mid-90’s, and some afterward. I am particularly very fond of Werewolf fiction, as well as anything by John Carpenter, Stephen King, and George A. Romero.