Supernatural Conventions Return – DenverCon 2021!

It’s over a  week later, and I finally have time to sit down and write about Supernatural Denver con, the first Creation Supernatural convention since the whole world changed completely right after the Las Vegas con in March 2020. I remember flying home from that convention, when we had all just barely heard about Covid, wondering what it all meant and how long it would be until I’d be with my SPN friends again. Little did we know that it would be THIS long!

I was only able to go to Denver for the weekend, so I missed the festivities on Friday – and some of my favorite people, including Chad Lindberg, who was only there on Friday. Some friends were kind enough to get my vendor table set up and put out some books, since this was the first convention since There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done:  Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural was published. The contributors all put together their chapters for that book just as the pandemic began, so I hadn’t been able to bring it to a con until now. I think the book was excited to finally meet the cast and fandom!

And I was finally able to give the actors who contributed to the book their copies – if you haven’t read their chapters yet, have some tissues ready if you do. Hearing how much Supernatural meant to them, and what the experience of bringing their characters to life brought them, makes me tear up every time I read the actors’ chapters.

Photos Chris Schmelke (hand model Alana King…)

That was exciting – and so was finally being able to see some of my fandom friends for the first time in 19 months! One of the best parts of conventions is being able to be immersed among people who totally get it – and whose eyes will not glaze over alarmingly if I talk about Supernatural for too long. Therapeutic for sure!

Denver con will definitely go down in history as an unusual con – which I feel like we’ve said about so many things over this past 19 months. There were Covid protocols in place, which meant I stressed myself out trying to get a Covid test that would come back before I had to get on a plane but would also be within 36 hours of me checking into the con – thank you, neighborhood CVS! I’m accustomed to masks all the time, so wearing one for the weekend was no problem at all, and I was relieved that everyone else was pretty good about keeping masks on too. Considering how unsafe I feel teaching in person now, in spite of masks, I felt a little safer at the con knowing everyone was both masked and recently tested.

So that part was good. No fan is ever going to like having a giant plexiglass panel between you and the celebrity you came there to see, but we’re in a pandemic and there’s a lot that we wish was different right now. Waving at Jensen, Jared and Misha is not the same as a bear hug, but it will have to do for now. I have to admire the creativity of some fans, who came up with no-touch photo ops that put that plexiglass panel to good (and sometimes amusing) use!

The other odd part of this con was that the schedule was switched around from what we’re all very accustomed to – there are always things that happen on Saturday (like Misha Collins’ panel) and on Sunday (like the Jared and Jensen gold panel and main panel). Because Jensen was shooting on the Rust film and had to be back on set for Sunday, he appeared on Saturday instead. That caused ridiculous amounts of fan theorizing and conspiracy theory tossing around about why the switch was happening – which was for exactly the reasons put forth, Jensen’s professional obligations – i.e., filming on Sunday. It was different to have solo panels for Jensen and Jared instead of a joint one, and fans had different opinions on that, some happy to have an hour with their fave and others missing the banter that always comes with a J2 panel. In other words, as always, your mileage may vary.

I caught some of Briana Buckmaster, Kim Rhodes and Samantha Smith’s panel on Saturday. The fan who sometimes collects words for a Mad Libs at the con asked them for some adverbs, they talked tattoos, and gave a shout out to Rachel  Miner, who we all missed.

Fan: What tattoo should I get?

At that moment, a loud whistle drowned everything out.

Kim: A train, apparently…

Sam talked about how she had decided to leave acting when Supernatural called her to come back for the finale of Season 11. She thought they meant series finale, and was surprised when the show was actually still going – and that she was returning for more than one episode. Briana talked about the rejection inherent in being an actor and having to learn to keep telling herself that she is enough. All three were happy to be reunited and I was happy to have their inspiration back on the stage.

Jensen’s solo panel was next, and he seemed to take a moment to soak up the love when he came onstage.

It really felt like forever since we’d seen them all in person, so there was ALOT of love in that ballroom!

I think all of them prefer being onstage with one of their friends, and he mentioned that he missed Jared being up there with him – especially because it was the first con back and they’d been looking forward to it.

Jensen: It’s just me – I don’t have my brother here!

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Quintessential Supernatural – Crossroad Blues (Supernatural Rewatch)

Crossroads Blues is one of those quintessential Supernatural episodes that seems to encompass what the show is all about. It’s scary, creepy, horrible – and at the same time, it has a lot of heart. Sera Gamble is one of my favorite writers, and her early seasons episodes are some of my favorites, including this one. Steve Boyum, who directed multiple episodes, takes the helm for this one.

In the THEN, we revisit the tractor trailer smashing the Impala, Sam confronting his father when Dean was dying, and John’s deal with the Yellow Eyed Demon to bring Dean back. Their father’s death is still weighing heavily on both brothers, and both are probably thinking way too much about the suspicious circumstances under which it occurred, as we go into

NOW

Greenwood, Mississippi, 1938. Summer time, blues music playing, a man plays guitar in a smoky dimly lit club. The flashback is filmed in sepia tones, and the whole scene is surreal, haunting.

The man pauses when he hears wolves baying outside, then growling, and we see a woman in the audience growing increasingly worried about him. He resumes playing, startling as we see shadows outside the window, the growling getting closer. The cigarette he’s been smoking falls from his mouth and the man looks terrified as he runs out of the place and down the road in the middle of the night, pursued and surrounded by unseen creatures. The trees shake with their bulk, and we hear their growling and barking. The man drops his guitar and runs, hiding in a deserted barn and locking the doors behind him.

The unseen wolves throw themselves against the door as the terrified man puts a chair in front of it, sobbing. The door breaks finally – and the woman and some other people find the man lying on the floor.

Woman: What happened?

Man: Dogs…black dogs…

Woman: Robert, don’t you die on me!

But it’s too late.

That whole scene is so scary, largely because we never see the black dogs – but we hear them and clearly see how terrifying they are to Robert. Well done, Show, well done.

Back in the present, Sam and Dean are eating at a diner – you can’t get much more quintessential Supernatural than that. I do love the early seasons when the brothers were on the road all the time, living out of their car and cheap motels, sharing diner booths, Sam on his trusty laptop.

Sam finds a mugshot of Dean online and Dean preens, saying he’s like Dillinger or something. Sam warns that it makes their job harder since they have to be more careful, and Dean snarks back that they don’t have anything on Sam.

Dean: No accessory? Nothing?

Sam: Shut up.

Dean: You’re jealous.

(Dean is inordinately pleased about this).

Sam: No, I’m not.

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Linda Blair Allies with the Winchesters in ‘The Usual Suspects’ – Supernatural Rewatch

This episode is written by Kathryn Humphris, who I wish had stuck around longer, and directed by Mike Rohl, who directed quite a few episodes of the show.  It’s an episode that gave Jared and Jensen both some time off (because they weren’t in all the scenes together) and yet managed to be all about how close the brothers have become and how in sync they are at this point working together.

The recap reminds us just how badass Sam and Dean Winchester are, with their many disguises, and of the recent shapeshifter episode when Dean took the blame. Then we’re in Baltimore, Maryland, at the City Centre Motor Hotel as a SWAT team advances.

The motel capture in progress is interspersed with an FBI guy questioning someone – we don’t know who. We hear him say, “credit card fraud, breaking and entering, grave desecration….suspected of torturing and murdering a young woman…you supposedly died there”…

The SWAT team break down the door at the motel as he goes on, saying “you look pretty healthy to me.”

Meanwhile, the SWAT officer confronts Sam Winchester.

Agent Ballard: Goin’ somewhere, Sam?

Back to the interrogation, with Agent Sheridan (Jason Gedrick).

Sheridan: So now we know Karen Giles wasn’t the first person you murdered – but I guarantee you she’s the last.

The camera pulls around so we can see that the prisoner he’s interrogating is, as we suspected, Dean Winchester.

Clearly this episode is the brothers having a terrible horrible no good very bad day. Again.

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There’s “No Exit” from Supernatural (for me!) – Supernatural Rewatch Episode 2.06

The sixth episode of Supernatural’s second season, ‘No Exit’, was aptly named – aptly for me, personally, at least. Because by the time this episode aired, I was head over heels in love with this show and these characters, and for the next fifteen years (which brings us to 2021 as I write this), there would indeed be no exit. I was a Supernatural fan and would stay that way.

‘No Exit’ was directed by Kim Manners, whose brilliance made every single one of his episodes memorable and the ‘look’ of Supernatural so distinctive. This episode is also personally relevant for me because it takes place in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA. I’m a proud Philly resident, and it was extra exciting to see Sam and Dean be in my hometown even if Jared and Jensen were still filming in Vancouver.

The recap reminds us of that amusing moment when Jo asks Dean if he’s really afraid of her mother, and Dean admits with a nervous smile, “I think so.”

Damn right.

As this episode opens (in Philly), a young woman comes home to her apartment, annoyed by the lights flickering. She doesn’t realize she’s on a horror show, so instead of immediately getting the hell out of there, she calls her landlord to complain. Even when black goo starts to drip onto her and pour out of the light sockets, she does not leave, as all of us doing the rewatch start yelling “Time to go, lady!”

Instead she leans in close to the dripping light socket – and sees an eyeball looking back!

Finally she screams, but of course by then it’s too late. All the kudos, Mr. Manners, for making that scene horror movie levels of scary and creepy! There are so many brilliant shots in this episode – Kim had dramatic sweeping crane shots in some of his memorable episodes, but in this episode he uses these ultra close up very boundaried shots to create a terrifying claustrophobic feel, like evil is right up against you and you can’t escape it. Gives me chills in the best horror movie kind of way!

Cut to the Winchesters discussing a girl kidnapped by an evil cult, snarking at each other in between job related talk.

Sam: Girl got a name?

Dean: Katie Holmes.

Sam (laughing) That’s funny… and for you, so bitchy…

Snarky Sam is the best. Jared Padalecki got a few comedic moments in this episode, and he always uses them so effectively. I don’t know if he thinks of himself as talented with comedy, but he really is.

The brothers park outside the Roadhouse, hearing raised voices and the sound of breaking glass from inside, which immediately attracts Dean’s attention.

Dean: On the other hand – catfight!

Oh, Dean.

They find Ellen and Jo in the midst of a mother-daughter argument that rings true for every mother who has had to come to terms with not being able to keep their child safe 100% of the time, and also has something to say about the way Ellen is raising Jo compared to the way John raised Sam and Dean. Jo insists that her mother can’t keep her there; Ellen counters with a ‘don’t bet on that, sweetie.’ The option of tying Jo up in the basement is not entirely shot down, but Ellen does encourage Jo to leave and do something productive, i.e. go back to school.

What a contrast to how John reacted to Sam’s desire to go to college!

Jo protests that she didn’t belong there, feeling like “a freak with a knife collection”, which is something we know Sam experienced too, no matter how much he wanted to fit in and get away from the hunting life.

Ellen: And getting yourself killed on some dusty back road – that’s where you belong?

At that moment, they see Sam and Dean – whose life has just been vividly described.

Ellen: Guys, bad time…

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Happy Supernatural Day 2021!

My fear was that I’d be the only one to remember this year. That this year, Supernatural Day would feel more sad than joyous, and I’d be sitting here recalling years past when we all took to social media with posts and tweets and photos celebrating the premiere day of the Little Show That Could, together.

I should have known better.

The fandom can feel like a fractured and contentious place sometimes, especially now a year after Supernatural ended, but I woke up today to find my timeline overflowing with beautiful memories and heartfelt sentiments about what the show has meant to people who are still grateful – and still missing it, like I am. One of the best things about fandom has always been that it feels like having a community of like-minded people around you, sharing the joy you find in something, and understanding just how passionate you are about that something. It’s validating, and it makes the experience of being a fan a million times more enjoyable. It’s why so many of us describe joining the fandom for the thing we love as ‘coming home’ or ‘finding my people’. Being able to wake up today and feel all those wonderful things all over again is such a gift.

So I’m joining the chorus (which is the best feeling ever – to raise your voice and express your emotions along with a whole bunch of other people doing the same).

Happy Supernatural Day!

We came a long long way over the fifteen years this show was on the air.

Thank you, Eric Kripke, for creating these characters and this story that has changed so many people’s lives.

Thank you, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and so many more gifted actors for bringing these characters to life and making them so real – imperfect, complex, struggling, enduring loss and pain and confusion and despair just like the rest of us do.

But never giving up.

I am so grateful for the journey we got to take with Sam and Dean and Cas and all the other memorable characters who were a part of this fifteen year story. Grateful that the story itself was never simple, and rarely easy, just like real life. We watched the characters we loved go through unimaginable pain and loss; watched the actors portray their grief and rage and longing and love so vividly that we could feel it ourselves, in our own hearts.

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