The Winchesters Isn't Really About The Winchesters, And That's For The Best

Don't let the title fool you, "The Winchesters" is about so much more than the courtship of two doomed lovers. The "Supernatural" prequel has been pitched to its audience as a love story, tracing the origins of Sam and Dean's parents long before the ceiling fire tragedy that kickstarts the OG series. Instead of two brothers hunting down their missing dad, this series sees a young duo slowly falling in love ... while also searching for their missing fathers. But romance isn't the only major change from the 15-season behemoth that came before. The real secret weapon of "The Winchesters" is that it cares about so much more than just Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly) and John Winchester (Drake Rodger).

For all its talk about "family don't end in blood," and despite Dean fondly dubbing their found family Team Free Will, "Supernatural" still jumped at any opportunity to shrug off its extended cast. Sometimes a feature and other times a bug, no matter how much things changed over the years, the brothers always remained the core of the story. It's part of the reason that the show's swan song was so controversial: when everything was said and done, the family they formed along the way was nowhere to be seen. In its final moments, the series only had eyes for Sam and Dean.

But two episodes into its run, "The Winchesters" has made it very clear that this time, things will be different.

Enter Carlos and Latika

Mary and John may be the characters who kickstart this story, but "The Winchesters" doesn't begin in earnest until it assembles its young hunter Scooby gang. After total badass Mary Campbell crosses paths with John Winchester and inducts him into the world of hunting, she introduces him to her fellow pro-hunter Carlos Cervantez (Jojo Fleites) and hunter-in-training/lore expert Latika Desai (Nida Khurshid).

Unlike Mary and John, these two are entirely new additions to the world of "Supernatural." In a prequel series about characters whose futures are predetermined, this is a gift: Carlos and Latika are unknown quantities! Their backstories, whereabouts, and futures are a mystery! Also, despite being brand new to the world, Fleites and Khurshid immediately steal the show. Latika is a welcome change of pace from all the head-butting alphas in the group, while Carlos injects levity and style into their lives. And as wonderful as they all are on their own, bringing them together is where the magic truly begins.

Carlos bullying John about his boring flannel shirts will always be hilarious, as will Latika jumping at any opportunity to gossip about everyone's past romantic endeavors. We even get a montage of the entire group singing along to The 5th Dimension (some more reluctantly than others). But none of that means they won't have a bumpy road ahead. It may not have been clear in the pilot, but the second episode "Teach Your Children Well" makes sure to unpack the baggage that they're lugging around in Carlos' van.

This is no one-man show

Unsurprisingly, it's Carlos — who I've already declared the best character in this whole series — who pinpoints the problem. This young group of hunters is a lot like a band: lots of personality, experience, and talent that isn't quite meshing the way they expected. "I'm used to being the only one on stage," he complains to Latika, in the middle of their second case as a crew. "You're built for a band Lata, I'm not. Especially when Mary is on lead vocals."

Outside of the tree sap monster that absorbs naughty teenagers, the real conflict of the episode is Mary's inability to be a team player. So used to calling the shots and following in the footsteps of her father, Mary fails to realize that this isn't a solo show and she isn't the star. While hunting down her father may be their current goal, that doesn't put Mary in charge of the mission. And it certainly doesn't mean she gets to railroad the rest of this Scooby gang. Since Carlos' words don't help her realize this, Mary has to learn the hard way: by making a massive mistake.

Once she sees that the case they're investigating won't actually lead them to her father, Mary tries to speed things up: she investigates the crime scene, jumps to a conclusion, and sends John away to prepare some weapons. But Mary assumes that they're up against a mimic — a monster easily defeated with copper —even though Latika argued otherwise. Latika is the one to realize that their foe is actually La Tunda, a Columbian tree monster who targets "disobedient children." By the time Mary catches up with her mistake, the monster has already captured John.

The Scooby Gang assembles

Everything works out in the end — the team swoops in to save the day and Mary quickly realizes the error of her ways. But however quickly it wraps up, it's worth noting that this is the focus of "The Winchesters" just two episodes into the story: going forward, this group dynamic will be so important that even the characters themselves must come to terms with it. While there will surely be more disagreements and egos clashing in the future, that's what makes this group so exciting. We have four different minds, perspectives, and sets of experiences, all joining forces for a single mission. If you count Ada Monroe (Demetria McKinney), the occultist bookstore owner, then we have five! (Though she doesn't join the crew on their hunts, only catching up on their progress after the action goes down.) Compared to 15 years of watching the same two cis white men endlessly rehashing their problems, this is a big step forward.

While it's hard to guess exactly what each episode will look like going forward, this episode lays out a very familiar construction: arriving at a new location, solving a monster-of-the-week case, and reconvening to connect the latest puzzle pieces. In "Supernatural," that final part would happen during the infamous B.M. scene — something the writers hilariously dubbed the "boy melodrama" moment where the brothers would sit on the hood of their car and finally talk about their emotions. "The Winchesters" gives us a much lighter version of this: the entire gang comes together to enjoy some pizza and joke around. Ada catches up, Mary reconciles with Carlos, John updates everyone on his conversation with his mother and the audience gets to look around the room and basks in the glow of this newly assembled team, finally coming together.