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The Winchesters Episode 4 Has Fans Divided Over John Winchester's Legacy

The following article contains spoilers for "The Winchesters" Season 1, Episode 4 — "Masters of War"

There is much difficulty to be had in writing a prequel series. One has developed characterizations to deal with from the previous film or program and these building blocks have to be followed to properly result in the fully-formed character that fans know from the original. In that regard, "The Winchesters" definitely has to deal with a lot of baggage left over from "Supernatural." One of the biggest pieces is the character of John Winchester. 

In "Supernatural," John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is a hard-bitten father to Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki). He pushes his kids into the hunting business and into danger to help get revenge on the demon who claimed the life of his wife, Mary (Samantha Smith). But the John we meet in the prequel series "The Winchesters" (played there by Drake Rodgers) knows nothing of his future; he's a young kid who just survived Vietnam and has been thrown into the deep end that is monster hunting without previous experience. The familial legacy he's about to sew is unknown to him.

This switch from semi-antagonist to protagonist is one that has, to a degree, bugged a certain number of "Supernatural" fans, some of whom blame John for the travails the Winchester boys go through. In "Masters of War," we learn more about the abuse that John experienced during his own childhood, and how it affects him as a hunter. It is a revelation that has left fans of the show divided.

Fans have mixed thoughts about this side of John

"The Winchesters" fans took to Twitter after "Masters of War" and shared their mixed thoughts about John's quasi-redemption arc. "'There are centuries of violence and rage in your blood, John. Become what you were born to be,'" said @winchdeann, quoting the episode and subsequently marveling at the depth of the quote, as well as how much John has been through. "There is NOTHING wrong with feeling bad for John," wrote @DemonChloe. "This is young John." They also pointed out that this side of John is brand new and exists to explain why he was the way he was in "Supernatural." 

Other fans walked the middle ground. "It is OK to both feel sympathy for who John is here in this moment AND acknowledge that he did unforgivable things to his sons later on in life," said @BobWess. They went on to add, "It is also ok to not feel sympathy at all ..."

For some fans, however, the show's treatment of John's behavior hit too close to home for them to take a neutral stance. "I know he's a fictional character but seeing a good portrait of John is just triggering my own trauma. How many people told me that my dad was this amazing loving man? When to me he was just this drunk bullying, harassing, knocking trauma into me, kind of guy?" asked @jemi_dm. And @MichLovesJensen spoke for many when they said, "I felt sorry for John but that's still not gonna make me like him later. I'm almost even more pissed at him now tbh. He went through all this s*** and still treated his kids that way?"

Whether you sympathize with John or cannot, it's hard to deny the power of the legacy of "Supernatural." Fans will have to keep watching to find out if the character's final form makes sense to them.