Supernatural’s latest episode saw the stars of the upcoming spin-off Wayward Sisters meet for the very first time.
Supernatural season 13 is well underway, and the word on everybody’s lips is “wayward.” This past week’s episode “Patience” was the superhero origin story of one of the CW’s newest stars, as we watched Patience Turner discover the truth about her past and her psychic powers, taking the first steps on a path that will eventually lead her to the door of Sheriff Jody Mills and her new wayward sisterhood.
While “Patience” feels like a Supernatural episode first and foremost – Patience’s story is interspersed with the continuation of Sam and Dean’s conflict over Jack Kline, their grief and arguments culminating in the resurrection of Castiel via the traumatized nephilim’s powers — it was more than just your typical monster-of-the-week case. It was a building block for Wayward Sisters, the woman-centric Supernatural spin-off that executive producers Andrew Dabb and Robert Berens hope to launch next year — a thematic taste of what we can expect.
You could call “Patience” — penned by Berens — an hors d’oeuvre, the December mid-season finale and January premiere (produced as Wayward’s two-part backdoor pilot) the entree, and a full series order the main course. Well, appetites across the board are well and truly whet. And don’t fret — the world of the Winchesters most certainly shan’t be neglected in the meantime – rather, season 13 is seemingly incorporating the set-up of Wayward into those major arcs.
The fact that the mid-season finale and premiere will be the moment Wayward is established implies that this scenario will grow directly out of the season’s central plot. Unlike “Bloodlines,” Supernatural’s botched attempt at a backdoor pilot once before, this story will always be intrinsically linked to Sam and Dean’s extended family network, rather than merely a show set somewhere in the same paranormal universe.
I’d hope that if you’re reading this you’d have some awareness of the history and significance of Wayward Sisters, but a few quick crib notes just in case: the idea for a female-led Supernatural spin-off, a “wayward home for girls” featuring Winchester allies Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and Sheriff Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster) caring for Jody’s wards Claire Novak (Kathryn Newton) and Alex Jones (Katherine Ramdeen) was an entirely fan-driven concept which took on a life of its own in the wake of season 10.
In an unprecedented leap of faith, the network picked up this fandom- and actor-supported pitch and ran with it. During season 12, after the Claire-centric episode “Ladies Drink Free,” I speculated the possibility of the spin-off actually being in the works, and indeed, in June the big announcement came. Besides the four established characters, the ensemble cast will be rounded out by newcomers Yadira Guevara-Prip as Kaia Nieves and Clark Backo as Patience Turner.
“Patience,” as the name makes blisteringly obvious, introduced Patience Turner, a high-school senior, as the hero of her own story. She is literally called, within the text, Wonder Woman — a bit of an all-round overachiever, a secretly athletic bookworm who’s juggling AP classes with volunteering, who won’t look at boys who are failing their classes, and who looks practically perfect even when waking up from a nightmare.
She’s also a psychic — the estranged granddaughter of Missouri Moseley, a beloved one-off character that the Winchesters met way back in season 1. Missouri’s return and her connection to Patience was one of the biggest tidbits that the cast and showrunners dropped during summer hiatus PR, creating immediate excitement and investment. It’s Missouri who calls Sam and Dean for assistance, when her protege Dede is murdered by a wraith with a taste for psychic minds. Amid discord about Jack, Dean, unwilling to let any more friends die on his watch, elects to assist on the case that Sam had already passed on to Jody.
What unfolds laid the foundation, both plot-wise and thematically, for Wayward Sisters. Missouri, using her powers of psychometry, is able to predict the wraith’s future movements, and sends Dean and Jody to protect her son and granddaughter, granting them a head start as she leaves herself behind as bait. Patience, unaware of the truth about her family, escapes the wraith once before meeting the hunters and having a full “you’re a wizard, Harry” moment. She confronts her father, who’d lied about Missouri’s estrangement, and is then kidnapped, and her father accepts his family’s legacy and uses divination magic to track her down.
When threatened by the wraith, Patience’s gift is forced to the surface and she sees the imminent deaths of Dean, Jody and her father in their attempt to rescue here. Knowing how the events will play out if unchanged, Patience saves herself, even while tied to a chair, by using that vision to basically wield the others as weapons, warning and directing them of their enemy’s next moves. Safe and sound, Patience initially heeds her father’s advice to reject their supernatural connections and get back to normal, a choice which Dean, deep in the depths of nihilistic despair about his lot in life, supports, but which Jody gently offers alternate train of be-true-to-yourself thoughts about.
Choosing one’s own path is the first crucial theme of both season 13 and Wayward Sisters. When delving into Patience’s story, we learn that her father knows the danger and the emotional toll of “the life” all too well — like Sam and Dean, he grew up on the road, in the backseat of a hunter’s car, feeling terrified and neglected by turns as his mother did her duty and used her power to save others. However, unlike John Winchester, Missouri seemed to be a loving and sensitive parent, which makes James Turner’s dismissal of her after his wife’s death even harder to stomach.
It’s not made clear about whether Missouri’s incorrect prediction about Patience’s mother was a genuine divergence of fate or a comforting cover-up to avoid premature angst (“People don’t come here for the truth, they come for good news,” Missouri told the Winchesters in her first appearance) but the fact remains: Patience was emotionally manipulated and lied to about her grandmother’s abandonment and stripped of the choice to engage with her and the truth of her world.
Her father isn’t a tyrant — it’s obvious that this was done out of love and protection, and even Missouri sympathized with her son’s choice — but it’s a classic example of the perils of lack of agency: hiding the truth and not allowing people to make decisions based on all available information only ends in tears. On a personal level, it can lead to irreparable trust issues, but in Patience’s case, we’re lucky if that’s the worst consequence.
We don’t know what Patience is capable of yet, but we do know that the wraith claimed that Missouri had the most power he’d ever encountered and that Patience is primed with even more potential. We’ve also seen what happens when psychically powered humans are left with no idea what’s happening to them – for example, Magda, in last season’s “American Nightmare.” Before the wraith’s arrival, Patience’s psychic power hadn’t manifested more than déjà vu and dreams: if she hadn’t had a warning from Dean and Jody, or if she wasn’t naturally fairly grounded, she could have gone full Credence Barebone — who knows what direction her fear-fed powers might have lashed out in.
Choice plays a key factor even in death — the value of a death can shift a character’s end from senseless victim to meaningful sacrifice, and given the history of gratuitous female deaths on Supernatural and in entertainment media at large, that’s sure to be an element of Wayward Sisters that the producers want to be extra-careful with. If you did the basic math, you probably went into this episode assuming Missouri would die — way before the season began, we knew that the premise of Wayward was Jody bringing together “a group of troubled young women, all of them orphaned by supernatural tragedy.”
Plus, there’s the tiny fact that Missouri is played by the legendary Loretta Devine, who probably has a dozen more important things than starring in a Supernatural spin-off on her plate. Both on-screen and off, With Missouri in the picture, Patience would have no reason to seek a new support system and a new mentor for her supernatural abilities, so it was unfortunate, but not unexpected, to lose her.
Yes, it could be argued that Missouri was fridged to kick off Patience’s journey in the way Mary Winchester was fridged to further Sam and Dean’s. However, the agency granted to Missouri at her time of death was a refreshing and powerful thing. Missouri saw all possible futures and knew this was it – so despite knowing that this is how she would die, she refused to be a victim, refused to be terrorized, refused even to scream, and she did what was left to her to do in order to give her loved ones the advantage. On a show with a track record like Supernatural’s, these final moments of autonomy really make a difference.
Still, maybe it’s possible we haven’t seen the last of Missouri, even after death? After all, she did promise Patience that no matter what, no matter where, she’d always look out for her, and that shiny talisman that invoked her memory looks pretty special. If anyone can hang around after death in order to be some sort of spirit guide, or meet with her granddaughter on a metaphysical plane, it’s Supernatural’s most powerful psychic.
And then there’s Jody. She’s defied the odds to become the Winchesters’ longest-lasting human ally — season 13 marks Kim Rhodes’ ninth year of guest-starring in Supernatural. Initially introduced in season 5’s “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” as the sheriff of Sioux Falls, South Dakota — Bobby Singer’s hometown — she’s survived zombies, Leviathans, vampires, vengeful gods, demon possession, and even a date with Crowley. Given that the creators have literally decided to build a show around her, we can expect her to survive a good deal more.
While Bobby was alive, her stories were often tied to him — including a hint of romance which sat rather oddly, given that Rhodes is generationally much closer to Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki than to Jim Beaver — but she sized up Sam and Dean from the get-go and has become, over time, one of their closest friends, with motherly affection for Dean and a more peerlike relationship with Sam.
Jody, who juggles a work-life balance of above-the-board policing and underground hunting, also lost her family to the supernatural – her zombified young son killed her husband — but her heart never hardened. Instead, she opened her door to two orphaned girls in need of a new family — Alex Jones, who was kidnapped and raised by vampires, and Claire Novak, daughter of Castiel’s vessel Jimmy, and the slice-of-life appeal of following this found family is really what spawned Wayward Sisters.
What we’ll see, in the heart of Jody’s home, is the polar opposite to Sam and Dean’s experience as young hunters. Berens told EW that one of the intrinsic aims of Wayward is to explore what a hunter’s life could be with a healthier support network than the toxic one-and-only codependency that Sam and Dean have spent a decade working through. “Could it be different? Could it be less psychologically and physically damaging than what we’ve seen Sam and Dean go through? That’s a really core question of the show.” It’s no surprise that these questions are being asked right now, as Supernatural itself shouts the importance of the wider family net that the Winchesters have slowly been coming accustomed to and are not coping well with losing.
The girls couldn’t have a better role model. Jody is the epitome of supportive without ever becoming saccharine — her heartfelt compassion is never at odds with her rather impatient and sardonic nature, a trait that’s thrown into sharp relief when played against Buckmaster’s ball of sunshine Donna Hanscum. These already-richly-drawn characters will offer us a 3D look at the emotional life of complex women all ages, and the setting and structure — based in one town, in a home base, as opposed to crossing the country every week — will allow developments that Supernatural has never been able to foster, including a local community, and, according to Dabb, “romance or rivalry.”
Patience, it’s promised, will serve as the audience’s eyes as she enters this well-established world and finds her place. However, how and why she’ll wind up on Jody’s doorstep is still a mystery – her father is still alive, and when we left her last week, she was hoping to regain a sense of normalcy with him. What might happen to change her mind — or force her hand — is yet to be discovered, but one thing’s for sure: Dean’s advice was painted as explicitly negative, a symptom of his current lack of coping, and Jody, with her frank yet gentle home truths, speaking from experience about the dangers of denying your instincts, is the episode’s moral center.
For now, the seeds are planted, the connection has been made, and the choice is in our new hero’s hands. For what comes next, we’ll just have to exercise some… well, you know.