It’s Gonna Take A lot To Drag Me Away (From Supernatural)

I love the title of this episode (thank you, writer Meghan Fitzmartin). In fact, I’m listening to Toto right now as I write this review. ‘Africa’, the lyrics of which inspired this episode’s title, is a pop culture phenomenon, but it’s also special to the Supernatural fandom, and nobody knows that better than Meghan. It’s so special that I broke my ‘don’t let yourself get onstage for karaoke at a Supernatural con’ rule and joined my friend Alana and her cousin for our karaoke version of Africa along with Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, Matt Cohen and Richard Speight, Jr. – who were all dumbfounded that I was up there doing it. That’s the power this song has over me! Chris Schmelke plays it in photo ops regularly, and I’ve witnessed all sorts of people succumbing to its power, including Jared and Jensen and impromptu waltzes. After ‘Carry On’, it’s one of the songs that is most reminiscent of this wild ride I’ve been on for fifteen years with this show, and it’s always going to bring both smiles and tears every time I hear it. So thank you, Meghan.

This was one of those episodes that kicked up a lot of divergent opinions in the fandom – some people loved it, some people hated it, and a lot of people had conflicting emotions. You can probably guess that I’m one of them, as this show often leaves me feeling that way recently. There was a lot I enjoyed, and then there were a few things that drove me crazy.

I’m glad we got one more flashback episode, because frankly I could watch Weechesters for an entire spinoff tv series and be ecstatic about that. Amyn Kaderali always does a great job directing this show, and he did so here, setting up some truly scary moments while at the same time showcasing Jerry Wanek’s iconic motel décor beautifully.

There were scenes I loved and dialogue I loved. There were also a few things that made me jump up and down and start yelling at my tv screen, which is never a good sign when I’m watching Supernatural. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating – every episode matters now. Every scene, every interaction, every moment, matters now. We have FOUR episodes left. Once again, that makes me cherish just having time with the Winchesters, but also grow frustrated quickly when something doesn’t quite work. Let me start from the beginning, which happens to be in the present.

The Rooster’s Sunrise Motel is quintessential Supernatural. “If I Didn’t Care” plays as adult Travis (Ryan Alexander McDonald) checks into a particular room – 214. Interesting song choice – If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be trying to get past this trauma? If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t lie to you to try to protect you?  There are a lot of options.

Anyway, the opening scene was scary as hell, Travis trying to talk himself into being calm and facing his fears, while we see the closet door slowly opening behind him. AAHHHH!!! A ghostly kid taunts and attacks him. Poor Travis.

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Matt Cohen Directs! Supernatural’s Gimme Shelter

This was a noteworthy episode for a number of reasons. A) There are now only five episodes of Supernatural left, so EVERY episode is noteworthy.

B) This is Matt Cohen’s first time directing an episode of the show that has impacted his life so much. Matt has memorably played young John Winchester and the archangel Michael on the show over multiple episodes and seasons, and he’s been a beloved fixture at the Supernatural conventions for almost a decade. Matt wrote a very personal chapter about how his experience on the show changed his life in Family Don’t End With Blood, so I know how important the SPNFamily is to him and I’m beyond thrilled that he got to direct an episode before the show ended. It’s a testament to how much the cast and crew and everyone involved love him, and a vote of confidence in his substantial talent. So proud of you, Matt!

And C) This is Davy Perez’s last episode of Supernatural. Davy is one of my favorite writers, and the only writer to contribute a chapter to There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, about what this show and this fandom has meant to him personally, so he has a special place in my heart. I’m genuinely sad that I won’t hear his evocative words from Sam or Dean or Cas ever again.

I knew these last episodes would be emotionally fraught for me, but I’m not sure I could have anticipated just what that would mean. I didn’t know that there would be an incredible media blitz around the show’s end run, which has been both heady and wonderful and also made the sadness of losing the show somehow even more poignant. It IS this special, and some of us have known that for a very long time. Now it seems like the rest of the world has caught up, only for the show to be ending. I’m thrilled that Rolling Stone and Glamour and CNN and so many other publications are covering the show now, but I’m also a little bit like, where were you a decade ago?

All that is to say that I’m going into these last episodes with a lot of mixed feelings. I desperately want to just cherish and enjoy every minute of what we have left, and at the same time, I desperately want these last episodes to be GOOD. There’s no time left to waste time, and it’s a lot harder to hand wave and say well that one wasn’t my favorite, but maybe the next one will be. That’s a lot of pressure to put on the little show – or, more accurately, that’s a lot of pressure to put on myself and my own expectations. The show is filmed and done and it is what it is, and I’m very aware of that. Now it’s on all of us to draw from it what we can – but damn it, I really hope it’s going to go out in a way that everyone can be proud of!

I did like quite a bit of this episode, which had some of Davy’s emotionally genuine dialogue and which showcased Matt as a director who knows how to get the best performances from his cast – maybe especially because he knows them and they trust him. There were some scenes that were incredibly beautiful, which is something that I think we saw more often in the early seasons, and something that made me fall in love with the show. There were also some scenes that made me tear up unexpectedly because they just rang true, and in each case the actor inhabiting the character was clearly feeling that too. Good job, director Matt!

Like the best Supernatural episodes, there was a fair amount of humor, and Cohen managed to mix that in organically with the grab-the-tissues scenes and the scary/gory/horror movie vibe that is also quintessential Supernatural. I also felt like the episode moved the story ahead, with some reveals and some hints of what’s to come next, so that was satisfying.

This was a Cas and Jack heavy episode, and I thought both of their story lines worked well – and that both Misha Collins and Alex Calvert nailed their characters’ emotional journeys perfectly. The confrontation between Dean and Amara also was outstanding, with Jensen and Emily Swallow making me believe every second of it. The fact that I haven’t mentioned Sam yet is my biggest problem with the episode – I don’t have a very good idea of where Sam’s head (or heart) is at right now during the events of this episode, and I want to!  Especially now, with five episodes to go, I need to know exactly what’s up with the Winchesters every step of the way.

I just finished my customary rewatch, and here are the things I liked and the couple of things I questioned. The opening scene delighted me more than usual, not because of anything that happened, but because I found myself asking out loud, ‘wait, is that Dr. Sexy MD???’

It was! Both Steve Bacic (the pastor) and Nicole Munoz (playing the pastor’s daughter) have been on the show before, so it was nice to see them back. I saw a post shared by my friend Amy Hutton about meeting Steve at an Aussie con. He did a double take when she asked him to sign a photo of the Impala. When she informed him, “But you’re Dr. Sexy MD – you’re iconic!” he was dumbfounded, since he had no idea. He told her how great the guys were and how much fun he’d had doing the episode – and that she’d made his day!

Supernatural really does cast the best people.

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Supernatural Returns with Episode 15.14 Last Holiday

The two days leading up to Supernatural’s return – for the very last time – were a whirlwind the likes of which I have never seen in fifteen years of Supernatural fandom. For years, in the early seasons, the fans spread the word about the show and advertised it as best we could, sending postcards of support and starting online campaigns when the internet was still relatively new. In 2020, after an unexpected hiatus, Supernatural made its triumphant return with dozens of major publications and seemingly every CW local outlet covering the first new episode in six months – and the beginning of the show’s end run. I’ve been writing a weekly wrap up of everything Supernatural related, so I spent two days running between my laptop on which I was teaching my classes to the other laptop where I was frantically trying to keep up with the Supernatural news. I’m exhausted, but it was exhilarating – if someone had told me fifteen years ago that everyone from Variety to CNN would be celebrating this little show, I wouldn’t have believed it. But that’s Supernatural. It’s special.

More on that in my weekly wrap up article, with links to most of the coverage, but for now, I want to talk about the return episode, Jeremy Adams’ Last Holiday, directed by Eduardo Sanchez, who has directed some of my favorite episodes.

I really really enjoyed some of this episode, and part of me wants to just wallow in that joyful celebratory portion – just like the Winchesters wanted to do. In the midst of a seemingly endless pandemic, without our favorite show, I think we all desperately needed a feel-good episode, and I’m incredibly grateful that we got part of one at least. It felt so good to see Sam and Dean smile and laugh and enjoy their lives. They have had so little of that, their entire lifetimes, and they so richly deserve some happiness. Jack, in his short time alive, has had very little of that too.  So, while we knew from the start that things would inevitably go south, I enjoyed every moment of Mrs. Butters taking care of ‘her boys’. And Meagen Fay was awesome.

The THEN segment reminds us that the Men of Letters weren’t all good guys, especially the problematic Cuthbert Sinclair. Jeremy Adams has said that he wanted to dig into the MoL history a little before the show wraps, so this episode did some of that. Though, as we all know, sometimes when you dig into things you don’t like what you find…

We get some lovely domestic Winchesters to start, Sam researching and Dean coming up from the kitchen, be-aproned.

Sam: What’s with the apron?

Dean: Burgers!

Unfortunately the power, the water, and eventually the air conditioning aren’t working right, so the boys go downstairs to fix the pipes. Oddly, they don’t seem to be very familiar with the control panels etc., which I find hard to believe. Yes, they’ve been busy, but who decides to live in an underground bunker without thoroughly exploring it and making sure you know how to keep it running? Dean especially is mechanically inclined, so his cluelessness is a little annoying. His impulsivity is more Dean-like, I guess, as he hits the giant Reset button while Sam expresses his doubts about that being a good idea.

Everything seems fine until Dean returns to his room with his burger and finds an older woman folding his Scooby Doo boxers (a little shout out to Jeremy’s first Supernatural episode)

Dean: SAM!!

They meet the wood nymph folding Dean’s “underthings”, Mrs. Butters.

Dean: Uh, then shouldn’t you be in the woods?

Sam: Underthings?

It’s the little things that make me smile.

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And That’s a Wrap – On Supernatural the Series

It’s taken me two days, after Supernatural finished filming its last episode ever, to sit down and be calm enough to write about it. We knew the day was coming – in fact, we expected it to happen back on May 18. But then the pandemic pushed it back and I think I got lulled into a sense of complacency, as though now that it hadn’t ended in May, maybe it really wouldn’t end at all. All those years of saying “Supernatural will never end” felt prophetic – or maybe I just needed to stay in denial for a while to cope with everything else going on in the world.

Either way, ready or not (not), Supernatural filmed its last scenes on Thursday, September 10, 2020. As I’ve been doing for the past month, here’s a recap of that memorable day, and the few days before, so that we can always remember.

The cast and crew were wonderfully generous in sharing the end of their journey with us, so there were posts all week – often emotional ones, as they dealt with their own feelings of both loss and pride, in making something that became so important to so many. Fandom emotions also ran high, so there were eruptions of fear and sadness and anger spilling out in sometimes unexpected ways or at unsuspecting targets. It was an odd reminder that no community is a utopia – there are always disagreements, in groups and out groups, jockeying for power. Fandom is a group, after all, and that’s what happens in groups. But in the midst of those things, there was also celebration and support and the validation that comes only from someone else really “getting it”.

Michael Rosenbaum’s InsideOfYou podcast aired his chat with Jensen Ackles on Tuesday, taped during the start of his quarantine in Vancouver (when he still had that glorious quarantine hair!)  The podcast and youtube video were a breath of fresh air, as Jensen and Michael reminisced like old friends and Jensen talked about the end of Supernatural. We were all happily distracted from the looming ending for an afternoon, and I was grateful.

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In their chapters in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Jensen and Jared both talked about how the relationships they’ve made through Supernatural are the most important thing the show has given them. Jensen touched on that with Michael too.

Jensen: I’ve got my friendship with Misha. Jared’s got his friendship with Misha. And then Jared and I have our friendship. But then also we have this kind of triangular relationship as well that’s just works. It works in a public form and works in a private form.

And has been one of the main reasons this show has run for 15 seasons. Lightning in a bottle, and I can’t imagine it ever being duplicated.

EW

He laughed when Michael asked if he’d ever seen Jared cry.

Jensen: Like for real? Oh yeah.

He said they’d seen each other emotional, in fact, which isn’t at all surprising. My guess is there have been some very emotional moments on that set for the past few weeks.

But it wasn’t all serious.

Jensen: Because of the pandemic, there’s some things we can’t do…

Michael: Like you and Jared can’t make out…

Jensen: No no no, that’s happening regardless, we’re hanging our hat on that. Corona or no corona, we’re making out!

We all needed a little levity, that’s for sure.

Misha gave us some bright spots too, recording the video messages to fans that had been purchased as part of the online Creation con. Since they’re all playing it very close to the vest as to what episodes Castiel is part of at the very end, it just felt good to see Misha, especially when he was smiling.

Since he wasn’t there on the last day (we think), Misha also posted his thanks to Eric Kripke. He’s right, the show has changed all of us – but I replied that I hope Misha knows that he too, personally, has unequivocally changed the world. And I have a feeling he’s just getting started!

Some of the conversation between Jensen and Michael, on the other hand, did make me tear up. Michael asked if they thought about continuing the show, and Jensen said yes – something he touched on in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done too.

Jensen: There’s a possibility of, five years down the road, getting the call — hey let’s do a short order action for a streaming network and bring them back for six episodes! I feel like this isn’t the long goodbye right now. This is, “let’s hang this in a closet for now.”

His chapter in the book is called “I’m Proud Of Us”, and that comes through every time he talks about this show, from how hard he and Jared worked from the start to create a tone on the set that was welcoming and never toxic, to the friendships made in the fandom and among the cast. It helps, knowing how proud they all are of what they’ve created.

The next day was the penultimate day of filming, and the posts started to come in early, the crew sharing where they were filming. It was gorgeous, and somehow that felt both very fitting for the end of this beautiful show, and also made it even more emotional. It felt good to know that the actors would film their final scenes surrounded by the beauty of Vancouver, which has been their second home for so long – and which will always be the sights and sounds of the Winchesters’ home.

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We’re SuperNotOkay – Supernatural Begins Filming Its Last Episode!

It’s the weekend, so I’m sitting down to process everything that happened last week on Supernatural and in the Supernatural fandom (before the next promo trailer hits us and renders all of is incapable of coherent thought for a while). This is installment 3 of my series of articles designed to try to experience fully (and document) every bit of this show’s final filming and airing. I’ve watched Supernatural for fifteen years, and been madly in love with it for fourteen of those years (it took me a while to fall, but when I did, I fell hard!)  I’ve documented that love and the show itself in six books and countless interviews and articles – but these articles are a little bit different. These are the last months in which Supernatural and its iconic characters still exist – and the last months in which the SPNFamily interacts in the way it has for fifteen years. I want to remember – and celebrate – the way it is now, and I want to cherish every single moment.

Spoilers ahead but only to the extent that’s been on social media already. I’m keeping speculation to a minimum so far!

Last week Supernatural filmed the rest of its penultimate episode (Inherit the Earth, 15.19) and on Friday they began filming the first day of the LAST episode – the series finale, Carry On.  The cast and crew, hard at work in Vancouver filming the final two episodes, have been wonderfully generous in sharing some of their experience with us, so it’s been another week of almost constant Supernatural content. Which is glorious! That’s one of the things I’m going to miss the most – being able to hop on twitter and see post and post after post about the show I love.

I’m assuming the actors who are there took last weekend for themselves, to prioritize their emotional and physical health – and no doubt supported each other in dealing with the upcoming end of the show – as they’re hopefully doing right now as well. As they returned to filming last Monday, Donald Painchaud from the Sound Department shared a photo of a small group of fans showing their appreciation for 15 years of the show. (Due to pandemic concerns, fans were asked to stay well away from filming, and from all accounts it seems like most did that).

They filmed some of the penultimate episode (15.19) in Cloverdale, at an iconic looking gas station that Jerry Wanek and his brilliant team constructed just for Supernatural. Its name is a shout out to director John Showalter, as the show pays homage to those who have made it special in its last few opportunities to do so. Paul Orazietti, of the Cloverdale Business Association, posted some beautiful photos of the construction – and deconstruction – of the gas station, along with Baby waiting for her close up. I’ve been privileged to watch the ingenious crew of Supernatural at work as they put up sets and take them down, amazed every time at how they work like a well oiled machine and all get along so well. I swear there will never be a cast and crew like this one ever again, together 15 years and like family.

Photos @Paradeguy

Alex Calvert posted a photo from that location with the message “the end has no end,” leaving fans both perplexed and hopeful.

I desperately want to believe you, Alex!

Jared Padalecki’s tweet that day was not quite as optimistic – and turned out to be prescient, because by the end of last week there were MANY tears as the show wrapped its penultimate episode and began filming of its final episode ever, the series finale of Supernatural.

Excuse me as I go grab a tissue from my very depleted box.

Also last week, Misha, Jared and Jensen joined most of their fellow cast members in posting their support of Samantha Smith in her fight against breast cancer, modeling the Rise tee shirts from Stands charity campaign.  We’re all sending so many good wishes your way, Samantha!

Misha’s was fancy – angel wings and all! You can buy a T shirt and donate at shopstands.com.

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