In The Middle of Sociopolitical Turmoil: Here Comes Supernatural!

This has been a hell of a week. The US election happened on Tuesday and Americans (and most of the rest of the world) waited through constant anxiety attacks to find out who won as results trickled in. Everyone was on edge, tensions were high, and I really needed my number one comfort show, Supernatural. On Thursday, the third to last Supernatural episode ever aired in the midst of all this uncertainty and anxiety – an episode ominously titled ‘Despair’. True to Supernatural form, its third to last episode aired in the middle of unprecedented chaos and caused even more chaos, both in the fandom and more broadly in terms of anyone watching trending topics that night. In fact, #Supernatural not only trended, but #Destiel and #Putin trended – often in the same tweets. Who the hell had that one on their 2020 bingo card??

As Supernatural ends its run, it’s no longer the major player on Tumblr that it once was, but on Thursday all those 2012 Supernatural accounts rose from the dead en masse to comment on whether or not “Destiel Is Canon” with a mind blowing range of unironic celebration posts alongside an equally mind blowing array of shitposts and hilarious memes  making fun of the show for how that possibility played out. I admit I never thought that if Supernatural once again ruled Tumblr memes, it would be for making fun of a scene that was the opposite of intended to be funny.

But it’s been that kind of a week. I have mixed feelings all over the place that I still haven’t sorted out and the US Presidential election was just decided after 987 years, so I’m not likely to sort them out any time soon. Instead, I’ll try to dig into the entire episode, not just those three minutes, and see where it brought us, for better or worse.

The episode picks up right where 15.17 left off, Sam helping an injured Jack. Jack tells them all to leave him, for their own good.

Jack: I don’t wanna hurt you, don’t let me hurt you…

Alex Calvert is so good at making me feel for Jack, that plaintive ‘don’t let me hurt you’ going right to my heart. Dean has changed his tune completely, insisting passionately that they’re not gonna give up on him. Poor Dean must have whiplash with how the writers keep making him change his tune so often.

Billie appears, blaming them for her plan not working and then zapping Jack out of there to the Empty.

Which means we get to see Rachel Miner again, so yay. Jack promptly explodes, though, so boo. The explosion wakes everything up and makes a lot of noise and totally pisses it off. Enraged, the Empty attacks Jack, crushing his head.

Poor Jack, he’s been through a lot in the last two minutes.

Billie gives us some exposition about the Empty being pissed at her too for sending an explosive Jack there, and reminds us that the Empty can’t come to Earth unless it is summoned, which we already knew. And Sam reminds us what we figured out last week about Billie’s plan – that anyone who was resurrected will die, including Sam and Dean. Billie also is pissed that Sam took the God book and wants it back, refusing to return the maybe still alive Jack until Sam gives it to her. Sam finally goes to get it; instead of putting it in her outstretched hand, he drops it on the table instead. Sassy, Sam.

Billie underestimates the Winchesters for some reason and walks away to read the new portion of the God book, her scythe left behind and her back to the Winchesters. She zaps Jack back to them but insists he’s coming with her, since he’s still “useful”, and that’s when Dean has had enough. He grabs her scythe and attacks her, injuring her. She zaps herself out of there, leaving Jack (and her scythe) behind.

Lisa Berry can be very scary indeed and she proves it in this episode, telling the reapers in her library when she returns, clutching her shoulder, that “the plan has changed.”

Uh oh.

That night, neither of the Winchesters can sleep. Dean drinks in the dark, and Sam joins him.

Dean slides a glass and the bottle to his brother and they settle in, mirror images of each other. It’s a beautifully filmed scene from director Richard Speight, Jr. but melancholy as hell.

Dean: Sam, I’m sorry…about everything.

Sam: Dean, you don’t have to…

Dean: I pulled a gun on you! I couldn’t stop… we were so close to beating him… I couldn’t snap out of it.

Sam: Yeah, well, you did. And you’ve snapped me out of worse.

Dean: Mmm

Sam: You have.

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Sam is hanging onto hope for both of them, saying they’ll regroup. Somehow.

Dean raises his glass.

Dean: To somehow.

They clink glasses, drink together in the dark.

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Three To Go – All The Supernatural Happenings of the Past Two Weeks!

The past two weeks haven’t been quite as full of constant new Supernatural content as the ones before – and many of us, especially here in the US, have a lot else on our minds — but it has still been a good time to be a Supernatural fan. I’m grateful for all the coverage we’re getting, with newly released photos and videos and articles just about every day, because we know we only have a few more weeks of the show being on the air and that happening. Most of the coverage has been about the show itself, but the Supernatural cast has also been very involved in the American elections. This is a group of people who take seriously the Supernatural mantra of ‘saving people’ and they are all  using their platforms to carry that out however they believe will be the most effective. Article and video links included below so you can check out more coverage details.

At the start of last week, the SPNFamily got some long hoped for and very welcome news — after years and years of pleading, Supernatural now has its very own Impala hashtag emoji! I will admit, I didn’t have on my 2020 bingo card sobbing with pride and joy and anticipation of loss over a Baby emoji, but here we are. I’m beside myself with pride for our little show – it may not seem significant to people outside the fandom, but it’s so significant to the SPNFamily. (It’s not a regular emoji, so it won’t appear forever, but I’m still very happy to have it for the show’s end run at least).

 

As we’re all preparing to grieve the loss of Supernatural, we’re also looking forward to the new projects that the cast and crew will be working on, which helps at least a little. TVLine kicked off last week with some good news about Jensen Ackles’ new project, The Boys.

TVLine reporated that Ackles’ Soldier Boy will play a pivotal role in Season 3.

Showrunner Eric Kripke: With him comes the big season mythology that he threads all the way through. The season is sort of about him.

Me: Yesssssssssssssssss!

They also had some news about the fate of Castiel, which many of us are trying to steel ourselves for right now as the pivotal Episode 18 airs tomorrow.

Castiel’s deal with The Empty has not been forgotten and will play into the show’s final episodes. Uh oh.

Andrew Dabb: It’s something we introduced last year, knowing to a degree where it was going. The story can always take twists and turns. But obviously, The Empty’s been a little bit more of a character this year, played by Rachel Miner, who’s done a great job. It has still got a grudge against Cas, and that will not go away.

To say we’re nervous about tomorrow’s episode is a gigantic understatement. Personally, I’m so anxious at this point, for multiple reasons, I can barely sit still long enough to type this.

https://tvline.com/2020/10/27/chicago-fire-season-9-spoilers-foster-leaving-annie-ilonzeh/

Last Tuesday, Jared started filming his new show, Walker, and the SPNFamily tweeted #GoodLuckJared to him all day to start him off with lots of love.

On Wednesday, EW had an article on Supernatural’s unofficial theme song, Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son. I swear, everything about our show is special – what other show has a theme song like that, 100% embraced by the band itself to the extent that they came to Comic Con a few years ago to kick off the Hall H Supernatural panel??

Supernatural creator Eric Kripke explained how the song came to be used in the show.

Kripke: Those weren’t just classic rock songs, those were the songs from my collection. At the end of season 1, we were cutting the first of the ‘Road So Far’ trailers. We wanted to do a recap to remind everyone what happened all season but we really wanted to do it in a way that wasn’t the same old avalanche of exposition. [Producer] Phil [Sgriccia] and I looked at ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ and set it to this long recap and it just came to life because the lyrics seemed to fit what the brothers were going through. What people don’t remember is that in season 1, that was the second-to-last episode that ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ played. And then we tried to do another ‘road so far’ for the finale set to Triumph’s ‘Fight the Good Fight’ and it was just obvious it just didn’t take the way that ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ took. You could just tell from fan response that people were not digging it.

Luckily, Kripke was really good at going with his instincts, and it’s the Kansas song that was retained over all these years. I still can’t sing along to it at the end of convention karaoke without tearing up. And I am 100% certain it will destroy me in the finale.

https://ew.com/tv/carry-on-my-wayward-son-supernaturals-unofficial-theme-song/

TVLine also ran a story and video about what Jared and Jensen will miss about working together, which I imagine is ALOT.

Jared: Acting opposite Ackles for 15 seasons has given me the confidence that I can push myself. I don’t want to say I baby it with other actors and actresses, but I pull my game back. If you’ve been playing tennis with somebody 15 years or basketball or doing jujitsu or something, you know how hard you can push. Whereas if you just walk in onto a court with somebody you’ve never played before, it’s like, ‘OK, well, I’ve got to feel them out, because I don’t want to just start dunking on the guy, and it’s not a game.’ And so with Jensen, I know I can push as hard as I possibly can — and harder — and that he’ll push back just as hard, and we’ll bring out different aspects of a scene, different facets of what the characters are going through.

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When Jared talked about how he tried to leave “Jared out of it” and let Sam have all the emotions during the last scene, Jensen laughed – clearly neither were able to leave their own emotions out of it at that point.

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Jensen talked about the shorthand that he and Jared have constructed over the years, which I’ve heard him mention many times before, saying that it helped them really flesh out the bond between the brothers.

Jensen: There’s a nuance, I think, that he and I are able to tap into, not only with our characters, but with the relationship that these characters have with each other in every scene. A lot of times, those nuances are not written on the page, and that is, I think, something that we pride ourselves in being able to bring to the character, to the story and to the show. And that’s something that he and I don’t really even need to talk about. It’s stuff that presents itself to us, almost in the middle of a scene. We’re so comfortable and available to each other for letting those kinds of moments happen that they happen all the time. I’m going to miss having that confidence with somebody that I can just allow those moments to happen and you can seize them.

I’m going to miss those moments too, Mr. Ackles. More than I can even put into words.

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Supernatural ‘Unity’ Brings The Team Together – For The End!

Three more episodes of Supernatural to go before the show comes to an end, so my highly emotional investment in every episode continues. Everyone is different in their way of coping with the show ending – some are pulling away, trying to protect themselves from the impending loss. Some are more invested than ever, determined to savor every last moment with their favorite characters. Some are just trying to hang on until the end. I’m clearly doing a terrible job of protecting myself or pulling away, since near the end of this episode I ended up bursting into tears and simultaneously screaming at fictional characters on my television as though they were standing in my living room. With gun drawn.

I’ve never loved a show that I knew so well that I had different expectations for an episode depending on who its writers were – until Supernatural. I like Meredith Glynn’s writing a lot, so I was already emotional knowing this was her swan song episode for Supernatural (though I’m excited she’s joining the SPNFamily who are over at The Boys next season!) Of course it’s not the writer who decides where the story arc goes, though, especially at this point in the series. I guess all that is to say I went into this episode with both anticipation and trepidation – and came out with a lot of feelings (and also profoundly emotionally exhausted). Mostly the episode worked for me, even if I had to do a fair amount of thinking about it to be okay with all of it. But I used up a lot of tissues in the process.

The episode title (“Unity”) tells us what will happen in it, which was inevitable considering there are only three episodes left. On each side, those who were ostensibly on the same team but at odds needed to come together so we could go into those final episodes with the battle lines clearly drawn. Sometimes that means plot comes before character in order to get from Point A to Point B, and that never makes me the happiest, especially with a show that I watch for the characters more than for the plot. Ideally the two goals aren’t antithetical. So with the title, we already knew where we were headed – it was just a matter of how to get there and would I enjoy the ride?

The first scene was very pretty. Amara in a pool in Iceland (which according to Emily Swallow was filmed in frigid weather, so argh poor Emily). Shooting stars fill the sky, reflected in her eyes as she looks up, and she says softly, “Welcome home, brother.”

Supernatural really is a sibling story, and Amara’s feelings for Chuck are as deep and complicated as Sam and Dean’s for each other. She’s a sympathetic character in this episode, which made me feel very bad for her throughout.

Much of the episode unfolds simultaneously, so they used chapter title cards of ‘Dean’ ‘Sam’ and ‘Amara’ to let us know that – which hasn’t been done before, so it pulled me out of the story momentarily. I don’t think we needed them, but I guess I see what they were going for.

At the bunker, Sam calls Cas, both of them frustrated at running into dead ends as they desperately try to ‘find another way’. Sam gives Dean the cold shoulder, things between the brothers strained and chilly after their car argument last episode.

Dean: So this is how it’s gonna be, you giving me the silent treatment?

They fall right into another argument, Dean insisting that “this is the only way” and Sam snapping back, “Don’t you ever get tired of saying stuff like that? Our last chance, our one shot…”

He’s so angry he’s ridiculing Dean, making fun of him for his sincerity and insistence.

Although both have a point here,  really, since other times when they’ve let themselves be talked out of making a sacrifice, there have certainly been consequences, whether AU hunters being slaughtered by Michael or releasing the Darkness or Billie becoming Death or whatever. There are no simple answers on Supernatural.

Dean insists that they don’t have to like it – and he clearly doesn’t like it –  but “you and me, we gotta get it done.”

The “you and me” theme runs through the episode, for both pairs of siblings, as they struggle to get back on the same page. I really like Meredith’s examination of the bond between siblings and how deep it runs, and how complex it can be – something the show has always had as an underlying theme.

Amara interrupts their argument to let them know Chuck is back, and to ask how they’re planning to cage him (which of course, they aren’t.)

Amara: When God caged me, he had four archangels. Do you have four archangels?

Dean: No. We’ve got one Jack.

It was possibly the only humorous beat in the episode that made me snicker – much of the episode was more about reaching for the tissues than laughing. Emily Swallow can pull off both the snarky and the sad, and she does both in this episode.

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Ready for Tonight’s New Supernatural? Here’s All The News From Last Week!

Week two of Supernatural’s return was not as frenetic as the week before, but we still got some great new coverage of the show and interviews with the cast. Only one more month of Supernatural actually airing – ONE MONTH! I’m not sure I have my head around it yet, but ready or not, one month it is.

Here’s my wrap up of all the Supernatural happenings from last week, including a few favorite moments from some of the interviews the cast did this week, many of which were the second or third parts of interviews we saw last week. That included Jared and Jensen’s chat with TVLine.

Interviewer: Were there tears after the director yelled cut?

Jensen: No, we shotgunned beers! (laughing) Yes, there was crying.  The final moments on set were weighty, because we knew it was coming, and we had a long time to see it on the horizon.  And when it came, and it was there… I know I certainly broke character, I’ll tell you that much.

Jared: (softly) We both did.

I don’t know why, but that little exchange made me tear up instantly as I was watching. Knowing how much it got to them, how much finishing their time as Sam and Dean meant to them, really got to me too. I’m looking forward to that scene, but I also think it’s going to leave me in a puddle on the floor. They won’t be the only ones crying, that’s for sure.

Jensen: I felt like if you could take, like, happiness and satisfaction and being proud and just wrapped it up in emotion, then that’s the pill that we swallowed that day.

Jared: It was a good pill, though. I would take it again if I get the chance.

I so hope they do get that chance, because I cannot conceive of a world in which we never get to see the Winchesters again.

https://tvline.com/2020/10/15/supernatural-video-jensen-ackles-jared-padalecki-final-last-day-filming/

Jensen also did a wonderful video interview with Rolling Stone, which I was thrilled to see cover the show. I feel like the whole world has finally discovered just how unique and special Supernatural is – and I keep wanting to say hey, it’s been this special for fifteen years, glad you finally realized!

Jensen on the show’s premise: The long lead story was the relationship between these two brothers and how they bond together and get torn apart.

He told a story that I’ve heard before, about his very first multi-fandom convention and how he was surprised to realize that Supernatural already had a passionate fandom.

Jensen: I was the lone Supernatural representative – and I got over to London and it was me and 12 actors from various shows, and the crowd response when I came out for the show was like jaw dropping!  People were super hyped about Supernatural. I immediately called Jared and said dude, I think people are watching this!

There’s a whole chapter about that convention in one of our first books, Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls, which includes the incident of the “Flying Fangirl” too – a young woman who was overcome with excitement at seeing Ackles at that convention and leapt right onto him like a spider monkey! Clearly that con made a big impression on him.

He also reminisced about some of his favorite moments filming the show, and I teared up again (with a smile on my face this time) when Jensen talked about how much fun they had filming the brilliant Robbie Thompson episode, ‘Baby’, told entirely from the car’s perspective.

Jensen: Jared hopped in and we took off down the road…  At one moment I took a terry cloth towel and dabbed the sweat off Jared’s face. We were doing everything ourselves, out on the road, out on the highway.

It’s so clear how much he enjoyed that episode, and that those will be some of the moments he hangs onto.

Jensen: They outfitted eight cameras in and around and on the car and they just sent us off. There was no camera operator, no grips, no DP, no director, no script supervisor, no makeup, no nothin’. … Jared had the audio deck between his legs. We were doing everything ourselves. …

The Impala has always been important to him, just like it is to his character.

Jensen: One of my other favorite moments happened the other day when I drove the car — and put it in my garage.

He’s talked before about trying to stay in denial for as long as he could as the end of the show approached.

Jensen: I tried to keep my eye on the prize and keep steering us toward the finish line. So I think it was less a ‘long goodbye’ and more of the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl game. I didn’t want to put too much emotion into this final season because I didn’t want it to change what we’d been doing these past 15 years or foreshadow what was coming ahead. I wanted to keep it kinda business as usual, keep doing the work I’ve always done. I don’t know if that was my way of dealing with it, just suppressing it and sweeping it under the rug. Maybe I took a page out of Dean’s book.

Me: It was definitely his way of dealing with it – and he has been playing Dean for 15 years, after all.

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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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