“It’s time to come home.”
“Wayward Sisters” is Supernatural’s second attempt at using a backdoor pilot for a spinoff and whereas the “Bloodlines” attempt failed miserably, what we get in this week’s Supernatural reminds us that the way to succeed, with any show really, is to make us care.
This episode picks up a few days after Sam, Dean, and Jack disappeared after the trio opened a doorway (thanks in part to Kaia) to rescue Mary from Apocalypse-world. While we see neither hide nor hair of Mary and Jack, it wouldn’t be Supernatural without us peeking in on Sam and Dean. And while they are relegated to the background, their return is a necessity, both for the path of this season and, more to the point, the character arc for Claire Novak.
So what makes this standalone/backdoor pilot work where others haven’t? The biggest aspect is that save for Kaia and Patience, we’ve had many interactions with the Wayward Sisters lineup. Jody’s been around since Season 5 with Claire, Alex, and Donna making their debuts in either Season 9 and 10. And while it may be the broken record syndrome here, it’s still true: there has never been a show out there that treats its supporting characters with such respect and grace as Supernatural. And everything they’ve done for ‘Wayward Sisters‘ set the foundation for this episode.
It comes as no surprise that Claire is slated to be the heart of the Wayward Sisters offshoot. From day one she’s had a vibrancy that at times has put me in mind of a young daredevil version of Dean: a Gibraltar-sized chip on her shoulder with something to prove and not very appreciative of the dangers she faces on a daily basis. The problem is that whereas Dean has decades of experience to fall back on as well as a partner in Sam who balances out Dean’s more mercurial personality quirks, Claire’s been doing it alone. Her choice to go solo is a major cause of the rift between her and Jody. It only intensifies when Patience comes to Jody, explaining her vision that Claire will die. Jody’s motherly instincts kick into high gear and much of the tension of the episode is not about bizarre creatures from a distant universe but that of a mother trying to keep her kid safe.
One of the best things the episode does is to show Claire as more than a headstrong badass, willing to ignore all advice just because she thinks she can do it. Claire may be young but life has dealt her quite a few sucky hands of life. So despite initially brushing off Patience’s warning, when Claire realizes that her death is very much on the table, she actually steps back and takes stock in the frailties of her life. She admits this, not to Jody but to Kaia. A young woman who Claire immediately takes a liking to and the pair are on the verge of becoming two peas in a pod. Claire even promises to protect Kaia as they head into the Bad Place to rescue Sam and Dean.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize what that means.
Yes, death is a big part of Supernatural and we don’t get out of “Wayward Sisters” without a casualty of war. And this one, it’s Kaia. I never saw that coming as my assumption always included Kaia as an integral part of the new show. Well, that still may be the case, though not quite in the way one may have expected. Turns out that the hooded figure of the Bad Place, the one that killed Kaia, is Kaia. Or at least a monster that wears her face.