So how is this second attempt at a Supernatural spinoff?
Bloodlines' problem was that - on multiple levels - it felt tacked on. It didn't fit in properly with the lore of the world, the themes, or continuity. Remove Sam & Dean from the episode and you'd barely have to change anything. Likewise remove the episode from the season and nobody would notice its absence. If you told a viewer that they took a pilot from a completely different show and filmed some pickup scenes with Sam & Dean to attach it to the SPN brand, I would believe you.
This time? It fits within the lore and continuity of the original series. You can't remove Sam & Dean from the episode without breaking the plot and character motivations. Likewise the work put in to make it feel more organically grown from the season also means you can't remove it from S13 without apparently opening up plot problems. Heck they even went so far as to put several echoes to the original pilot within it to really make sure this felt like it belonged to the same world. I have no real opinion on backdoor pilots (not sure if I've seen any others in other series to be honest) but if I was to grade them, this would be my new standard for how they should be judged.
This pilot (and hopefully the resulting series) FEELS like a child of Supernatural, not like an adopted cousin. Whatever else you might say, it made a damn good effort at being a pilot.
There's not much to talk about plot wise - which is good. I think pilot plots should be pretty streamlined to allow characters more room to shine so viewers can decide if they want to spend any time with these people. So let's look at them.
Jody Mills - Pretty much remains the Jody we all know and love. If you hadn't seen her before, it becomes pretty clear that she's "team mom" and the captain of the group. She is seemingly going to be our rock and stability in the new series. Which is good, but I hope we get to see her plan things out more as befitting a leader.
Donna Hanscum - Gotta admit, I'm not normally one for blondes but DAMN did Donna rock that smile and those jeans. (Haven't loved a SPN girl like this since Anna.) Apparently Briana Buckmaster has been holding back her charm because she uncorked it full blast this episode. She's seems set to be "team dad" and the heart of the group. Her positive attitude and encouragement is just a real delight and I'll admit it, I'm probably going to be tuning in just to spend time with her.
Claire Novak - Though Claire is also growing into a very pretty woman herself. Now I've probably been one of her few fans in the Supernatural community (at least it feels like it) but even I'll admit that it was a fandom born of her idea, less her execution. (I would have rather her been the team child, but Jack got that job instead...) I could probably do an essay on the character's problems but FINALLY someone seems to have realized, "what if we actually made her a character instead of a 2-dimensional bitch?" And you know what? That makes her a LOT more interesting to watch! I finally feel like I'm seeing on screen the Claire I always thought we could have. I mean she actually shows concern for saving people! To the point she cries when she fails. I know the show says, "no chick-flick moments" but you know what? Someone dying earns you a tear, even in the manliest of stories. So yay for Claire becoming a person. I even liked the hint that maybe her hunting is something of a death wish. That's complex, it adds layers to her. The pilot was set up to imply that she may be slightly more of a main character than the others but if they keep working on her having growth and an arc, I'm ok with that.
Alex Jones - No not that guy, the girl! Anyway, she's in nursing scrubs which is a cheap move [to get me to like her]. A LOT of my family have worked in nursing. I love the idea that after all she did hurting people, she's now trying to work to save people. It's perfect and I really hope they keep her as the team conscience. Like a recovering alcoholic avoiding the sauce, she should be the one to really fight them on ever having to kill someone. And I like the idea of her as the medic. (Yes, the "Nate Winchester" I rolled for the Supernatural role playing game was a medic too.)
Patience Turner - I'll admit, right now she is probably the weakest link in the group. She's almost "too perfect" and I wonder how long she'll last or if the writers will take risks and have bad things happen to her. (Maybe she'll be the "Dean" who has the "Mishap Of The Week" happen to her.) The pilot didn't give her a lot to do (as it's hard to keep psychics from breaking the plot) so who knows what will be coming up. I will admit Claire's needless antagonism to her was grating a few times (and Clarie's low point in the episode). Given the psychic ability and previous episode, I'm betting that Patience will be the team brain.
Kaia Nieves - Well I hope you didn't get too attached to her, as the version we had just got replaced! (As I started to suspect when much of her writing seemed to be pretty shallow.) Given what we did see from her actions, she'll probably play the role of team muscle along with Claire. I'm curious now about the lore implications (were there versions of Sam & Dean in Kong world? could they be arc villains for a WWS season?) but I'm sold enough on the rest to give them a chance to sell me.
As I've said before, my first fandom was Star Trek - I LOVE TNG and DS9 so I'm not opposed to the idea of spinoffs - heck I proposed my own! So here's hoping that whoever they got on board, the writing and production is top notch, the characters rich and complex, and the adventures fun and meaningful. It doesn't have to run for 13 seasons, but I would give it a chance to.
All told, grading it as a Supernatural episode, it's not quite a 5, but grading it on a scale of what it was trying to accomplish as a possible pilot, it is a 5 for effort. So I give it about...
Yes it gets a +1 shell bonus for a bad CGI kaiju in it. I can't really hate anything with a giant monster in it!
And good luck, girls.
Pump Action gif courtesy of sasquatchandaleatherjacket!