Before Sam and Dean, there were their parents, John, and Mary. Told from the perspective of narrator Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), The Winchesters is the untold story of how John Winchester (Drake Rodger) met Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly). When John returns home from fighting in Vietnam, a mysterious encounter sparks a new mission to trace his father’s past. In his journey, he crosses paths with 19-year-old demon hunter Mary, who is also searching for answers after the disappearance of her own father. Together, the two join forces with young hunter-in-training Latika (Nida Khurshid) and easy-going hunter Carlos (Jonathan “Jojo” Fleites) to uncover the hidden truths about both of their families.
While the pilot feels different to its predecessor, fans will be able to enjoy the expansion on familiar characters and discover new sides to them. John and Mary have excellent chemistry from the instant they interact and that builds over the pilot episode. The focus of the pilot is not their relationship, but the mystery of their parents. This is a good move that allows the chemistry and relationship to build well in the situations Mary and John face. In the original series, John Winchester was not the best parent and often left Dean and Sam to hunt but, in The Winchesters, John is open and caring and not afraid to show his emotions as he battles with his emotional hauntings from fighting in Vietnam. Mary is pragmatic and resourceful but Donnelly gives her vulnerability and compassion as she struggles with finding her father and trying to stop others from being sucked into the hunter life as she had been. She offers people a way out and it feels bittersweet since she was not offered that exit herself. Mary is very practical; John is the more emotional one but they already have a good balance with good chemistry. Both are “haunted” but foundations are set to show they will eventually be a support for each other. It is interesting to see the story Dean heard play out, how his parents met for coffee. Although not entirely a lie, the coffee is a good moment for the titular couple but also signs acceptance of the entire group.
Aside from the relationship of Mary and John, The Winchesters sets up a group dynamic with different personalities. The more experienced hunters, Mary and Carolos seem to whisk in and take charge while the in-training hunters Latika and John are guided. Carlos is a fun addition to the more serious Mary, with a history that is intriguing and sets up the show and promises a good direction.
Overall, the pilot is a good start and it is clear the dynamic of the group will be what propels the show through the mystery and since they have good chemistry with each other, that promises to be a treat to explore. There are moments of clunky and cheesy writing but the performances make up for that most of the time. Sadly, the fight choreography was not the best and distracting but given this is only the pilot episode, that could improve and hopefully it does. All the characters are fleshed out from the pilot except for John’s mother, Millie (Bianca Kajlich) who has no real input on the episode and forgettable with nothing to do and a stifled performance.
Mary Campbell is the MVC of the episode. She propels the story forward and links all the characters together. She has a determination and strong will but with the addition of some vulnerability that Meg Donnelly makes a charming and well-rounded character.
The pilot was screened for review.
The Winchesters premiers on The CW Tuesday, October 11 at 8:00 pm ET.