Debate rages through any fandom. It’s a state of affairs as natural as passing of the seasons, as inevitable as death or taxes. And yet, there are some things that even the most passionate fandoms can more or less agree on. In the case of ‘Supernatural’ fans, one of those things is that John Winchester isn’t likely to win Father of the Year anytime soon. And no, that’s not just because he’s dead.
No, even before the character met his end, his relationship with his sons – particularly Sam – was spotty at best. And of course, subsequent flashbacks and revelations (of which there’ve been plenty in the last twelve years) have painted a picture of the brothers’ often dysfunctional childhood. With all of that being the case, it would be easy to vilify John. And to be sure, some have done just that. But perhaps unsurprisingly, Jeffrey Dean Morgan – who so memorably brought the man to life – has a more nuanced, even sympathetic view of his character, as he explained to Entertainment Weekly in the run-up to his impending return for the show’s 300th episode:
“I don’t think he’s as screwed up as other people do. I think he is a guy who’s got a tremendous amount of love for his family. He was willing to die for his sons, willing to put himself in a place to where he could lose his life for revenge on what killed his wife. So as much has been said about John or that I’ve heard about John, I think what is missing is that he shows love in different ways. Maybe he wasn’t a big hugger and he didn’t say the right things when he should’ve – and there’s a bigger picture about getting your kids into hunting ghosts that I should acknowledge – but I think at his core he really loved his family and was willing to sacrifice everything. So I never looked at or played John in a way that there was any malice toward his sons.”
It’s certainly a fair reading of the character. Even at his worst, the John Winchester we’ve come to know over the course of the show’s run was a fundamentally well-meaning man with feet of clay. Boy, were those some ceramic feet. In any case, John’s return may give fans a chance to see how Morgan’s interpretation of the character meshes with what we have since learned about him as he returns to the show for the first time since the character’s death in the second season.
‘Lebanon’, the 300th episode of ‘Supernatural’, will air on The CW on February 7, 2019.