As if hearing my complaint about last week’s The Winchesters episode, “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”, “Suspicious Minds” gives us plenty to chew on and mull over. This is more what you’d hope a Supernatural spin-off would be – looking at questions and themes from the mothership from a unique angle provided by the different time and cast.
Yes, it did help that this episode had a lot of continuity call backs to earlier in the season. That always elevates a score for me. It really makes the world feel lived-in and real. It’s how the showrunners show that they care.
Before Supernatural, my fandom was Star Trek so I’m no stranger to ensemble shows. For years, their usual routine would be that an episode would have one or two characters as the focus with at least two storylines running through the hour. One famous example would be a two-part saga where Worf discovered a lost camp of Klingon POWs (A plot) while Data unlocked and experienced dreams (B plot).
I really liked that The Winchesters’ “Suspicious Minds” made it very difficult to label the plots as A or B. You could have a real debate over it as both plotlines felt equally important and vital. That’s some really respectable writing craftsmanship there. Again I wonder where this was earlier in the season, letting episodes tackle more than one plot at once. Plus as I said, it would have been really interesting seeing different pairings as the ensembles rotated through said plots. Like how would John interact with Latika? At first glance they seem to have absolutely nothing in common, but sometimes those kinds of people can be really great friends because both are fascinated by the strangeness of the other. What is the story between Carlos and Mary? We get little hints, but only in the broad sense. Is Carlos a drifter who happened to run into Mary when he was in town and was staying too long because of the Akrida threat? Or did she convince him to put down roots long ago? Yes, in episode 1.02 we had Carlos giving everyone labels based upon band members but that’s not a substitution for character and relationships knowledge. Similarly, we don’t need to know the exact date and incident by which Mary met Latika, but they are probably the other most developed relationship after Mary + John and I still don’t think I could describe much about that relationship other than “generic girlfriends.”
If you’ve been around The WFB at all, you know I write fanfiction sometimes. (see them on my Writer’s Page!) Part of why I loved doing them is that Supernatural had such great, vibrant characters, it was a blast to bring them back for scenes and new situations. That’s why I loved working on my big magnum opus of the finale because it was so inspiring to ask questions like, “What if Dean and Anna had a family? What if Henricksen and Donna had some sparks? What would Castiel and Crowley be like if neither met the other?” To be honest, some days I have to fight the urge not to keep going back and turning the whole thing into a 900 page epic.
With The Winchesters, I don’t feel like I could do much fanfic with them just yet. Especially if I try to set aside the mothership and concentrate just on the show, there doesn’t seem to be much to draw on save the characters we spend the least amount of time with – Millie and Ada. I could totally write a “Themla & Louise” style hunting trip fic about them. Roxy has some story potential, as does Tony. But the main cast? Only feeling a bit of inspiration from John – and a little from Carlos but that’s mostly because John/Carlos could be as entertaining a pair as Bobby/Rufus. As we start reaching the end of the season, I keep wondering, “are they going to start tapping into their potential? Are they going to start bringing out more depth to their main characters?” I believe the show does have the raw material it needs, they just haven’t even started tapping into it.
Thanks as always for the screencaps, courtesy of Raloria@livejournal.
Enjoy more of Nate Winchester’s Video Reviews of The Winchesters and Supernatural, plus book reviews, fan fiction books, games, and more! All found on Nate’s Writer’s Page!