10:15 am EDT, December 29, 2017

Your ultimate ‘Wayward Sisters’ watch guide for the ‘Supernatural’ mid-season premiere

Before the mid-season premiere, refresh your memory of the 21 episodes that feature each and every one of Supernatural’s Wayward Sisters, dating all the way back to season 4.

On January 18, Supernatural returns with a very special mid-season premiere. Episode 10 of the show’s record-breaking 13th season, tentatively titled “Wayward Sisters,” serves as the backdoor pilot for the actual series Wayward Sisters.

If you know what this means, then you know. If you don’t know — the powers that be at Supernatural are trying to get The CW to greenlight a female-led Supernatural spin-off, featuring recurring fan favorites Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster as Jody Mills and Donna Hanscum, two lady sheriffs aiding a group of teenage girls and young women who have been thrust into the world of hunting.

What makes Wayward Sisters so unprecedented is that it was a fan-driven request that the show and network decided to take a chance on — it wasn’t shoved in the audience’s face, like the failed previous spin-off attempt Bloodlines. It was conceptualized and campaigned for by the fandom, supported by the actors and writers, and now it’s been given a shot at actually existing.

Related: Female-led Supernatural spinoff Wayward Sisters greenlit for backdoor pilot

There are a huge multitude of reasons why Wayward — the fandom concept was initially called “The Wayward Daughters Academy,” a riff, of course, on the show’s unofficial theme song; the network, for some reason, has gone with the imperfect pun of Wayward Sisters – is primed to succeed, but one of the most prominent is existing investment.

Rather than a brand new corner of the Supernatural universe, Wayward Sisters involves a cast of characters whom we already know and love, who have extremely strong ties to Supernatural’s central characters of Sam, Dean and Castiel.

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Between the four existing characters — Kim Rhodes as Jody Mills, Briana Buckmaster as Donna Hanscum, Katherine Ramdeen as Alex Jones, and Kathryn Newton as Claire Novak, there’s almost a full season’s worth of backstory — 21 episodes of Supernatural, almost 10% of the show’s 200+, have featured one or more of these women.

Two new characters, Clark Backo as Patience Turner and Yadira Guevara-Prip as Kaia Nieves, were created and introduced during season 13 with the explicit aim of adding them to the Wayward Sisters series regular roster.

Right now, there are 21 days until the Wayward Sisters pilot airs. If you have time, that’s one episode per day in order to pull off a full Wayward rewatch before the big day. Or maybe you don’t have the time to binge just now, and need a quick refresher for the backstory of each of these women in order to fully appreciate what their coming together means. Maybe you dropped the show a while back, feeling that Supernatural itself had become too much of a sausage fest, but want to jump back on the wagon in order to specifically support a show about female hunters.

Whatever your circumstance, use the list below to track the entire chronological history of the women who are to become our Wayward Sisters before the Supernatural mid-season premiere on January 18.

Episode 4.20 – ‘The Rapture’

Our first introduction to our first Wayward Sister — this is Claire Novak’s origin story. When Castiel is banished back to heaven, we learn the story of Jimmy Novak and how he came to be an angelic vessel. When Jimmy comes back to himself, he escapes Sam and Dean and returns to his family – his wife Amelia and his daughter Claire.

In a showdown with demons, when Jimmy is shot and dying, Castiel returns, possesses Claire, and intends to keep her as his vessel. In order to save his small daughter, Jimmy allows Castiel to heal him and use him as a permanent vessel, leaving Cas in the Misha Collins form we know and love, but – as we learn many years later – utterly destroying the remains of the Novak family.

Episode 5.15 – ‘Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid’


In which we meet Sheriff Jody Mills, the sheriff of Bobby Singer’s South Dakota hometown Sioux Falls, for the first time. The boys arrive at Bobby’s place to find his dead wife obsessively baking pies in his kitchen, and she’s not the only one — many townspeople have recently welcomed a formerly deceased loved one back into their homes, and everyone is so happy about it that they’re acting pretty chill.

Jody – who doesn’t buy the Winchesters’ cover for even thirty seconds, and who is one of the people visited by the dead – becomes central to containing the crisis, and her introduction to the world of the supernatural is deeply tragic. When the dead turn into full-on murder zombies, her living husband is killed by her young son. Sam takes out the kid so that she doesn’t have to, and since that day, the pair have shared a unique bond – she’s maybe the only friend of the boys who’s consistently shown as closer to Sam than Dean.

Episode 6.04 – ‘Weekend at Bobby’s’


In this Bobby-centric, rather comedic episode which marked Jensen Ackles’ directorial debut and which was penned by current showrunner Andrew Dabb and his former writing partner Daniel Loflin, Jody appears as an unwilling accomplice to Bobby and Rufus Turner when an FBI agent starts investigating Singer Salvage Yard, suspecting Rufus of murder. The pair do have a human-looking body (a dead okami) on the premises, and, now aware of what Bobby is actually mixed up in, Jody helps to distract the agent, and eventually allows Rufus to escape police custody.

Episode 7.02 – ‘Hello, Cruel World’


Jody appears in “Hello, Cruel World” as one of the central figures in the episode, as the extent of the Leviathan invasion becomes apparent. Recovering from an appendectomy in hospital, she discovers that her surgeon is one of the monsters, and calls in Bobby when she is too physically injured to investigate herself.

The fact that she doesn’t engage with Sam and Dean in this episode, and is rather given a B-plot with her own point of view, speaks volumes about her growing importance as a recurring female character on a show that gives very little point of view focus to anyone other than the male leads.

Episode 7.06 – ‘Slash Fiction’


If you need to skip a Wayward episode in this rewatch, it’d be this one. A great episode in terms of Sam and Dean, but not a great one for Jody, unfortunately. She’s there, but she basically just shows up at the Whitefish cabin to clean and cook for Bobby — yeah — and then she accidentally, via her domesticity, discovers a weapon against the Leviathans when some of her cleaning fluid trickles through the floor.

There’s no law saying that a wonderful, well-rounded woman can’t be a bad-ass sheriff and have housekeeping interests – Jody cooks many times in future episodes – but this reads weird, especially when a couple of kisses are shared between her and Bobby. Nothing ends up coming of that, but given that Kim Rhodes is generationally closer, age-wise, to Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, than she is to Jim Beaver, this sat very weirdly to me, a classic case of the normalized age disparity between leading men and women on screen.

Episode 7.12 – ‘Time After Time’


Now we’re cooking with gas. When Dean gets stuck in 1944, wearing fabulous clothes and making hearteyes at Eliot Ness of The Untouchables fame, Jody meets up with Sam to deliver the recently deceased Bobby’s collection of lore and help him summon the monster of the week — Chronos, the god of time — at the precise moment needed in order to bring Dean back. The majority of the episode is weighted pretty equally between the two pairs — Sam and Jody, and Ness and Dean.

Jody, whose cheeky yet no-nonsense personality becomes more fully developed in this episode, actually the one who gave the boys the Chronos case in the first place, and it’s definitely the moment that their relationship as peers solidifies — at the start of the episode, Sam is still calling her “Sheriff,” but after they get drunk together on a bottle of Bobby’s scotch, it’s safe to say that they’re friends for life. Fully embroiled in the supernatural world, Jody easily holds her own as a hunting partner for Sam, and it won’t be the last time.

Episode 8.23 – ‘Sacrifice’


We don’t see Jody again for over a year, but it seems as if the boys have pretty regularly, in offscreen moments, because in this episode, Crowley uses her as the final bargaining chip in his attempts to make the Winchesters call off their plan to close the gates of Hell.

In the preceding episode, Crowley had systematically begun killing a whole bunch of the people who Sam and Dean had previously saved, over the years, and here, Jody is his final threat – posing as an online date, he takes Jody out and plants a hex bag on her, leaving her to die painfully, and then calling the Winchesters to inform them of the situation.

While she’s pretty much only in this episode in a passive sense, her role speaks volumes to her value — Crowley is aware that she is someone the brothers consider a “very dear” friend, and her death, of course, is prevented, because once Sam and Dean work out what Crowley’s been playing at, they call him to make a deal.

Episode 9.08 – ‘Rock and a Hard Place’


In the midst of the whole Sam-unknowingly-possessed-by-Gadreel mess, Jody calls the Winchesters in on a monster-of-the-week case down in her neck of the woods – disappearances from a local church group. The culprit turns out to be Vesta, a Roman goddess of the hearth for whom vestal virgins were named.

In a reenactment of an ancient punishment, Vesta’s been kidnapping born-again virgins who broke their vow and trapping them underground to be buried alive. When the boys take the pledge as part of their undercover research, Dean and his new hookup end up being taken, so once again we see the Sam and Jody dream team working together to solve the mystery.

This episode is not a big fave for a lot of people, but it’s got its moments — Dean may be a little dumbed down, but his genuine, kind appreciation for the ex-pornstar he meets is weirdly very respectful and sex-positive, and there are some interesting facets for Jody about the comfort of religion – plus it’s Jody herself that ends up both identifying and eventually slaying the goddess, saving the day.

Episode 9.13 – ‘The Purge’


The unmissable introduction of another of our crucial Wayward players — Briana Buckmaster as the effervescent and unflappable Sheriff Donna Hanscum. The boys, as FBI agents, are aided by Sheriff Donna at the local police station in Stillwater, Minnesota while investigating a slew of deaths where the victims are drained of body fat.

They later meet Donna again at the health spa they’ve traced the monster to, where she’s actually checked in as a guest, and we learn more about her, including her failed marriage and her struggles with body image. The murderer Alonso is a Peruvian fat-sucker called a pishtaco, but his killing is because he’s out of control, not because pishtacos in general are evil, and his sister Maritza is deemed innocent and allowed to go free.

“The Purge” is also notable that Donna herself does not discover the truth about the Winchesters or the existence of the supernatural in her debut – and despite that, her character was deemed memorable and valuable enough to write back in for later seasons.

Episode 9.19 – ‘Alex Annie Alexis Ann’


This Jody-centric episode is a crucial moment in the Wayward Sisters journey — it marks the first time that staff writer Robert Berens, whose baby Wayward has very much become, got a chance to play in the Sioux Falls sandbox, and it facilitates the beginnings of the female found family that Wayward is all about.

The titular character is Alex — born Annie — Jones, a teenage girl with a very dark past. She crosses Jody’s path when she’s picked up by the police, and with Sam and Dean’s help, Jody uncovers the truth of Alex’s story. Kidnapped at eight years old by a family of vampires, they raised her as their own while keeping her human, feeding off her and using her as a honeytrap to draw in men for them to kill.

There is a very real, but very toxic love between Alex and her adopted vampire mother Celia, but she runs away when the guilt of aiding with all these killings gets to her. She returns to her nest and even allows Celia to turn her, and Jody has her first real falling out with Sam and Dean over the priorities of this hunt.

Ultimately, Jody commiserates with Alex and her mother as she’s forced to face the void left by her own family, and in turn, Alex realizes the horror of her own situation and tearfully helps take down Celia. As Alex had not fed on any humans, Sam and Dean are able to work the vampire cure on her, and she remains with Jody to recover.

Episode 10.08 – ‘Hibbing 911’


In which Donna Hanscum meets Jody Mills at local sheriff’s retreat and learns the truth about the world around her, and everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

It’s hard to believe that actors Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster had never met before the filming of this episode – they make magic together with a rapport that gives Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki a run for their money. In fact, the boys are almost secondary in this episode — Donna and Jody have about double the screen time that they do, in a case involving vampire attacks.

There’s a lot of deep character work here, as the cynical Jody — who initially finds Donna’s pep very tiresome — attempts to investigate the case on the down-low, and learns how Donna can use a cheerful bedside manner as a tactic to achieve things that her straight-shooting attitude can’t, and Donna deals with the cruel presence of her negging ex-husband Doug, also a sheriff at the retreat.

To the audience, these lady cops were obviously a match made in heaven, and after Rhodes and Buckmaster got to know each other on the convention circuit, they went on become practically best friends, an inseparable, inspirational double act around which the fandom built the entire Wayward philosophy, long before the network got on board.

“Hibbing 911” is compulsory viewing in order to understand the heart and soul of Wayward Sisters, and it should come as no surprise to learn that the story was pitched by longtime Supernatural director Phil Sgriccia, who’s signed on as an executive producer for Wayward.

Episode 10.09 – ‘The Things We Left Behind’


Straight off the back of “Hibbing 911” is another relevant episode, which re-introduces Claire Novak. In the years since we last saw her, Claire has been in and out of foster care, acting out, an angry teenage delinquent. She’s found by Castiel in a group home, and, wishing to make amends for the damage he has caused in his time on earth, he poses as her father and gets her released.

He seems to intend to keep her with him and care for her, but she steals his wallet and bounces, and Cas calls the brothers for help. This is a fabulous episode for Team Free Will, featuring some important personal moments as Dean struggles with the Mark of Cain, but in terms of Claire’s story, we follow her back to a former foster father — a Fagin-esque crook called Randy whom she trusts, but who has been exploiting the children in his care, encouraging them to commit theft.

Randy sends Claire to rob a store at gunpoint, claiming that it will help him with debt and that if caught, she’d only be charged as a minor. When Cas stops her, she returns home empty-handed and Randy turns on her, selling her — yeah, in that way — to a loan shark. When Sam, Dean and Cas track her down and rescue her, the Mark’s influence takes over Dean and he brutally slaughters the house full of entirely human men — including Randy.

Episode 10.10 – ‘The Hunter Games’


Claire’s story, exploring the effect Castiel possessing her father has had on her life, immediately continues in “The Hunter Games.” As Cas attempts to care for her, and to explain Dean’s actions, she leaves once again, claiming that there is nothing he can possibly do to help her. She meets a couple of random travelers at a bar who take a liking to her, and, upon hearing her (supernatural-free) stories about Cas and Dean, offer, for whatever unknown motivation, to beat Dean up – or worse.

When Dean himself – at Cas’s request – reaches out to talk to her, “one extremely messed up human to another,” about Randy, she agrees to meet, setting him up for the planned attack. Dean easily defends himself, and does not kill in retaliation, despite the Mark’s growing control, and Claire takes off again.

She’s later found by Cas — in a little bit of canon expansion that proves that angels can hear longing thoughts, not just specified prayer — and they have a heart-to-heart, in which she expresses a desire to have some sort of relationship with him, but ultimately goes off hitchhiking on her own.

Episode 10.20 – ‘Angel Heart’


Later in the season, we learn that Claire has begun to search for her missing mother, whom, it turns out, didn’t utterly abandon her as we previously believed – while looking for Jimmy, she left Claire with her grandmother for what was meant to be a much shorter time.

During this episode, while attempting to follow leads, Claire is knocked out and taken to hospital, and Castiel gets a call as her emergency contact. Although she’s very unhappy to see the three guys, she reluctantly lets them in on her search and allows them to teach her some hunting and hacking skills.

Sam and Cas go to investigate the results and leave Claire and Dean behind for their own safety, allowing them to bond over mini-golf. The pair of them establish a true kinship and actually crack the case, and they follow Sam and Cas out to a farm, where it’s revealed that Amelia Novak, along with many other people, are prisoners of Tamiel, one of a rank of angels called the Grigori, and he’s been feeding off their souls. Amelia dies protecting Claire, but the pair reunite for some final moments together before Amelia joins Jimmy in heaven.

At the end of the episode, the guys send Claire to stay with Jody and Alex, and encourage her to find some normalcy, and though the various bonds between all these female characters were already coming together, her skeptical comment — “So, what? This is some sort of halfway house for wayward girls?” is when the fan-led Wayward fantasy was truly born.

Episode 11.07 – ‘Plush’


A pretty simple monster of the week episode featuring Donna — when a guy in a mascot costume commits murder without motive, and the oversized bunny head mask is physically unable to be removed from the suspect, Donna calls in Sam and Dean for assistance. Repeat incidents begin occurring, involving all types of costumes, and the culprit turns out to be a ghost.

A young man, Chester Johnson, who’d been an innocent children’s party performer in life, returns as a vengeful spirit, using those who don his old costumes – donated to charity stores – to get revenge on the men who accused him of child abuse and murdered him, making his death look like suicide.

Donna and the boys are also aided on this case by Officer Doug Stover, a local cop who has a bit of a thing for her, and Donna continues to deal with her baggage about her ex-husband, also called Doug.

Episode 11.12 – ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’


For a long time, we all thought that this episode was the closest we’d ever get to the Wayward Daughters Academy dream becoming a reality – it’s certainly a hat-tip to the idea, but little did we know how much more was to come. “Don’t You Forget About Me” sees Sam and Dean once again heading to Sioux Falls, where they drop in on Jody, Claire and Alex, and we see how that dynamic is working out.

The boys are there at Claire’s request — she’s ungrateful and unsettled, and she’s been desperately, fruitlessly hunting, much to Jody’s chagrin and Alex’s scorn. Alex, meanwhile, has been trying to forget her past, relishing high school where she’s doing very well and even has a popular boyfriend.

There’s a wonderful family dinner scene — including a sex talk! — between the Winchesters, the two teenagers and Jody, and the guys try to talk some sense into Claire. However, it turns out that there is a real case at hand — deaths begin occurring at Alex’s school, due to a vampire from her past wanting revenge posing as a janitor.

Her relationship turns out to be a lie — her boyfriend is also a vamp, turned by the janitor and used to monitor her, and when Jody and Claire are attacked and held hostage, he brings Alex in too. The girls take out the vamps with the help of Sam and Dean, and bond together much more closely taking care of Jody, who was injured in the fray.

Episode 12.06 – ‘Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox’


In this wonderful ensemble episode, we get a sense of the continued establishment of Jody’s relationship with the Winchester family — rather than Jody calling in the boys on a local case, we see a seemingly routine social visit as Sam and Dean pass through the area. Their hang-time is interrupted when Jody gets a call about a death of Asa Fox, a hunter friend, and the brothers accompany her to his funeral up in Canada.

“Asa Fox” is, most importantly, a widening episode — it shines a light in corners of the Supernatural universe that Sam and Dean usually pass over. At the wake, Sam and Dean are introduced to the wider hunter community, which their father had always forced them to avoid, and learn a little more about what happens in Jody’s life during the moments they’re not in it, and Jody meets Mary, who has her own unique connection to Asa.

During the gathering, a demon with a vendetta against Asa interrupts things, and possesses a number of guests, most significantly Jody – so Kim Rhodes now gets to add her name to the list of recurring Supernatural actors who’ve had a shot at playing someone other than their main character.

Episode 12.16 – ‘Ladies Drink Free’


“Ladies Drink Free” was the first serious hint we got that a Wayward Daughters-esque project was in the works, as the Supernatural executive producers hinted as much during this episode’s promo. Sam and Dean – with Man of Letters Mick Davies tagging along – are tracking a werewolf in Wisconsin when they run into Claire Novak, who’s there for the same job.

The rapport between the brothers and Claire is fantastic and well-established, but through a series of rather aggressive heart-to-hearts, the boys discover that Claire has been hunting in secret, lying to Jody and pretending to be looking at colleges.

Related: Did ‘Supernatural’ just backdoor pilot the ‘Wayward Daughters’ spin-off?

When the case goes sideways, Claire herself is bitten and turned, and, knowing her own weaknesses, believes that she is unable to try live safely as a werewolf, requesting instead to be taken out. Through Mick’s intel, the boys are able to experiment with a risky bloody therapy treatment, which would either cure or kill Claire.

It works, and Claire recovers, human and very shaken by her ordeal. She tells Jody the truth about her recent hunting, and expresses honestly why she feels the need to continue, setting off on her new path with a new perspective.

Episode 12.22 – ‘Who We Are’

The penultimate episode of season 12 – one of the show’s strongest in many years, and another offering from Wayward EP Berens – saw the brothers trapped in the bunker and a Winter-Soldiered-up Mary Winchester, under the control of the British Men of Letters, go after Jody as the next target in their attempt to eliminate the entire American hunting community.

When Mary arrives in Sioux Falls, Jody and Alex manage to subdue her, and as Sam and Dean eventually escape, they use Jody’s house as a mustering point for the final fight against the Brits. Jody sends Alex to a safehouse with Donna, and the pair get to share a “kick it in the ass” moment — a very meaningful phrase in Supernatural’s history.

Dean takes Mary home to undo her brainwashing, leaving Sam to step up as a de facto general for the gathered hunters, with Jody as his right hand woman. Together, they lead the hunters in storming the base, and Jody gets the kill shot on the ringleader, Dr Hess, when Sam is in danger.

Episode 13.03 – ‘Patience’

Season 13 started gathering the major players for Wayward Sisters early on — our introduction to the new characters and their circumstances over the course of the first few episodes has been one of the major factors of the season. In “Patience,” we met Patience Turner, the granddaughter of long-lost fan favorite character Missouri Moseley, who unknowingly shares her grandmother’s psychic abilities.

When Missouri calls the boys asking for help in protecting Patience, Sam, caught up with dealing with Jack, puts Jody on the case, but Dean, furious with his brother for neglecting their friends when they’ve already lost so much, goes along to help Jody and Missouri.

Related: The unkillable Jody Mills and the virtues of ‘Patience’

Patience discovers the truth about her family when they’re pursued by a wraith, and though Missouri dies, Patience is able to aid in her own rescue by tapping into her gift and warning the others about the attacker.

Dean, deep in his own nihilistic despair, is extremely harsh with Patience when warning her to stay away from hunting, as is her father, but Jody is a more welcoming and supportive figure, offering an invitation to the girl if she ever needs time or space to work through things.

Episode 13.09 – ‘The Bad Place’

While the January mid-season premiere is the true Wayward Sisters backdoor pilot, the December mid-season finale was the first half of an entire whole – this episode and the next were written and shot as one continuous two-parter, by the same writer and director — Robert Berens and Phil Sgriccia, of course.

In this one, we meet our final Wayward lead – Kaia Nieves, a dreamwalker with no way of controlling her abilities. In her dreams, she visits different worlds – most usually a scary one she calls the bad place, and comes back from therewith very real damage.

Jack finds her in a drug rehab center, after she abused substances in order to stop herself falling asleep, and when the boys catch up to him and his plan to use her powers alongside his in order to get to Mary, in the Apocalypse world is revealed, she’s kidnapped by the angels – who want to take Jack to heaven – as bait.

The guys find and rescue her, but she is then forced at gunpoint by Dean into going along with them to South Dakota, where there’s a spiritual spot ideal for dreamwalking. However, they don’t make it to that location – they’re forced to flee from the angels tailing them and take cover in an abandoned shipyard.

Meanwhile, over the past little while, Patience has been ignoring calls from Dean – his voicemails have been rather apologetic, and he wants her help finding Jack. Patience has been ignoring her power and trying to live a normal life like her father wanted, but when she starts having visions about Sam, Dean and Jody in trouble, she insists on going to help. After a huge falling out with her father, she shows up on Jody’s doorstep, warning her of the danger, and Jody, in turn, finds herself unable to contact Sam.

In the midst of a huge concentrated attack, Dean prepares for a last stand, but Kaia and Jack use their powers to open a portal in order to escape. Their combined energy destroys the angelic battalion, Kaia is seemingly thrown elsewhere into our world, Jack ends up where Mary is, and Sam and Dean wake up in a mysterious new world – the bad place – in the middle of what looks like a huge dinosaur footprint.

This cliffhanger leaves us with the setup for Wayward Sisters — with Sam and Dean gone from this world, the perspective of the story shifts to those left behind. With Castiel off the board right now and Jody as their closest living friend, she’ll bring together this group of women to help save the men that have saved them all so many times.

We know that Patience has made her way to Jody already, and that Alex is still living in Sioux Falls with her while training as a nurse. The prodigal Claire will be called home from the road, and somehow Kaia, who holds the key to Sam and Dean’s whereabouts, will find her way to the group — promo pictures make it appear as if she’ll be a patient in Alex’s ward. We also know that the rift inside the boat is still open, that at least Claire and Kaia will enter the bad place themselves and find Sam and Dean. Who or what else they’ll find there is still a mystery…

‘Supernatural’ returns with ‘Wayward Sisters’ on January 18, 8/7C on The CW

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