The third Supernatural convention of 2021 kicked off on the one year anniversary of the series finale, which means emotions were running even higher than usual as I was flying to New Orleans. Both Jared and Jensen posted a heartfelt remembrance, Jared including his last call sheet and tape mark from that day that is now in his office along with a panel from the bunker. Jensen sang along to Carry On Wayward Son on the radio as he and the family road tripped down to Nola, as emotional as we all were.
It did help to know that they were as emotional as we all were, as we all converged on New Orleans.
This was a challenging con for me physically because I injured my knee two weeks before, on my way home from Charlotte. How did I do that, you ask? Skiing? Jogging? New exercise routine? Alas, no. I got into a car. Just…. Sat down. That’s it. It’s doubly annoying that I wasn’t even doing anything worthy of an injury, but here we are. That made getting back and forth from hotel to convention center a lot harder than usual, though I was very very thankful that I was at the hotel that was closest to the ballroom!
When I got in on Friday morning, after submitting my Covid test and getting my wristbands, I caught some of David Haydn Jones and Adam Fergus’ panel – they have so much chemistry together and always have a lot fun onstage, which makes their panels a pleasure to watch. They both wrote chapters in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, giving a behind the scenes look at their experience on Supernatural and with the fandom.
A fan asked when Ketch decided not to be with the BMol.
David: When he got shot in the head?
That’ll do it.
Both agreed that they wished they’d had more scenes with each other. And on a less serious note, there was enough innuendo to amuse just about anyone, with the two planning a spa retreat, some wrestling in the snow, wearing chaps on the first date, eggplants (ahem) and a pillow fight, among other things. Similar to Jared and Jensen, Adam and David clearly enjoy each other’s company and make each other laugh, which inevitably gets me laughing too.
David told the story of the chupacabra gag reel bit again, which I adore. Just him saying that word makes me giggle at this point.
David: You know it’s a good day on set when the camera is shaking!
The best segment, though, was David overhearing an amorous couple last night in the hotel room next door.
I headed to Charlotte last weekend for the second Supernatural convention that Creation has put on in 2021 post pandemic. While the one before, in Denver, was a whole lot of everyone being overjoyed to see each other and simultaneously get accustomed to a lot of new rules, this one felt a bit like “the new normal”, at least the one we’ll have for a while. We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, so masks and Covid tests and social distancing (and the plexiglass photo ops) are here to stay for now.
It seems the altered schedule might also be here to stay – Jared and Jensen once again did some of their photo ops and both their meet and greets on Saturday instead of Sunday. When they were both working on Supernatural, it made sense that the production gave them Mondays off so they could be at conventions until late – now that both are working on different shows, no other production is going to be as accommodating. Doing some things on Saturday allowed them to finish up autographs on Sunday at a reasonable time so they could be back where they needed to be on Monday morning – in Jared’s case at least, on the Walker set! It also gave them a chance to hang out more now that they don’t get to see each other on a daily basis. I’m a creature of habit, so I pretty much loathe change, which means I miss the way Sundays at cons have been the same forever – but I’m also a realist, and the changes do make sense with the actors all working on other gigs. It made Sunday a bit less hectic at least!
Apparently at the next con, even autographs will be split between the two days, which I actually don’t like at all. If you don’t have a photo op for them to sign, you need to do autographs on Saturday now – but I’ll miss end of the con autographs as a nice way to wrap things up and say goodbye. Ah well.
Charlotte, for me, was different in other ways too. I got there late afternoon on Friday, which meant by the time I got the vendor table set up I missed pretty much everything, including some panels I really would have liked to see. There was once again no Richard Speight, Jr. to host and no Matt Cohen either, so I didn’t miss them -but I DID miss them! Rob Benedict stepped up the plate again as host and house band and generally kept things rolling like the pro that he is.
Friday night was the ‘Saturday Night Special’ concert, so at least I didn’t miss that – and it was a really good one. Louden Swain was on fire, and so were all the guest actors who joined them onstage that night.
Adam Fergus introduced everyone’s favorite photographer, Chris Schmelke, who played bass on Juliet. We missed out on an exhausted Chris at the SNS in Denver, so it was great to have him back onstage with the band!
Jake Abel joined in the fun to introduce her, Kim Rhodes sang ‘Be Me’ (no, it’s not actually called ‘Dimestore Refugee,’ who knew?) and made it clear why it was one of her favorite songs, and David Haydn-Jones channeled his inner rockstar (and George Michael) with ‘Faith’.
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.
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!
You know how they say you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone? Or that you don’t know how much you love something/someone until you don’t have them anymore?
Yeah. It’s true. I’ve known for fifteen years that I was madly in love with Dean Winchester, but even knowing that, I truly didn’t know how much I was going to miss him when he was gone. I took for granted that I’d always be able to “see” him, that I could keep discovering his character and his story, little by little as time went on. I underestimated how wonderful it was to be endlessly fascinated by a fictional character and have the privilege of learning who he was, in bits and pieces and often-covered-up glimpses of the ‘real’ Dean Winchester, over the course of years and years and years. There was a reality to that discovery, in that it played out gradually, just like it does with people in our actual lives. And thanks to Jensen Ackles’ brilliant portrayal, there was a reality to everything about Dean Winchester that made him real to many of us.
That made him very hard to lose.
I thought that 2020 would be the last time I wished Dean happy birthday; I knew that he wouldn’t exist in the present by 2021. But right now I find myself needing to write about him again. It’s part of grieving the loss of something/someone important, that we want to hang onto our memories of them and remember why they were so important to us. I don’t want to forget him, not ever. And since fictional characters never needed our real-life validation, it doesn’t make any difference whether Dean ‘exists’ in the present or not – remembering him is for me. I miss him, and reminding myself of all the reasons why I love him helps me feel just a little bit better.
This could be a really long article if I tried to make an exhaustive list of what I love about Dean Winchester, so I’ll keep it short. Top five reasons why I will always love Dean Winchester.
One, I love his complexity. That’s due to Eric Kripke, who created him and wrote him for the first five seasons, and to Jensen Ackles’, who brought him to life in a way that was even more vivid than what was written on the page. It took me a whole season to fall for Dean Winchester; at first, I dismissed him a little as a stereotypical ‘bad boy’ type, a little too brash. Pretty on the surface but too stereotypical underneath. (Forgive me, I was only watching because a friend insisted, so clearly I wasn’t paying enough attention!) When Season 2 began, I suddenly realized that I had misjudged the show, and the brothers. I remember watching Dean, leaning against the Impala, break down and confide to Sam that he was not at all okay, tears glistening in his eyes, voice breaking. I let the papers I was grading slide to the floor and said out loud, “how did I not realize this show was amazing?” But it was also Dean, and Jensen’s willingness to show his character’s vulnerability, that made me fall head over heels for Supernatural.
We’re still all dealing with the final episodes of Supernatural as well as the reality of the show ending, which means a lot of sadness and loss, so I thought it would be a good time to start looking back and remembering all the things that made the show so special – and putting something happy on everyone’s timeline. So stay tuned for a month of new exclusive interviews, and join me as I return to the beginning of where it all started and begin a rewatch from the pilot – which means episode reviews with the benefit of hindsight now that the entire series has aired.
Supernatural wouldn’t have inspired so many strong emotions as it ended if it hadn’t been important to so many of us, and there’s a reason for that. A few reasons, actually.
Eric Kripke created some endlessly fascinating characters and cast some of the most talented actors around to portray them. The writing team has fluctuated through the years, but every season has had amazing episodes that are unforgettable. The crew became family with the cast since they all stayed with the show, many since the beginning, making its filming nearly seamless. And finally, the directing. Cast members like Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Richard Speight, Jr., Matt Cohen and Amanda Tapping took a turn at the helm with some wonderful episodes, and Supernatural also invited some other eminent directors to contribute to the show. One of those is Blair Witch director Eduardo Sanchez, who returned to direct the memorable episode “Last Holiday” in Season 15.
So, first up in our feel good Supernatural stuff leading up to 2021, my chat with Eduardo all about directing his last episode of the show.
(Below are some of the photos he posted to bring the fans with him on his last episode)
I first spoke to Sanchez a few years ago about the Supernatural episodes he’d already directed. I was fascinated by his insights about the show, so I was excited to know that he’d be back to direct Supernatural again in its final season. At the time, I was putting together a book of chapters from the show’s actors and fans with their feelings about what Supernatural’s legacy would be for them (There’ll BePeace When You Are Done). One of the fans who wrote a chapter, Tedra Ashley-Wannemuehler, wrote about an episode and characters that had a significant impact on her life – and it turned out to be Eduardo’s episode, The Chitters (also one of my favorites). Even more exciting, I had already asked the two actors who played the main characters in that episode, Cesar and Jesse (known as the “hunter husbands” in fandom), Hugo Ateo and Lee Rumohr, if they would like to write chapters for the book about their experience doing the show – and they both did. Their chapters and Tedra’s chapter bring so much insight into how that episode portrayed two gay characters and what that representation meant to each of them. I’m sure directors and actors don’t always know how influential, sometimes life changing, their work can be, but in this case I was thrilled to let Eduardo know. And yes, I sent him a copy of There’ll Be Peace When You AreDone after this chat so he could read those chapters himself.
We chatted this time over zoom in the midst of a pandemic, shortly after Eduardo’s last Supernatural episode, Last Holiday, had aired. Eduardo had some fascinating behind the scenes insights into the episode, directing in general, and doing it during a pandemic. (Included here are more of the photos he snapped to share his last episode with the fandom on twitter).
Before we delved into Supernatural, we both asked how each other how Covid was treating us.
Eduardo: I’m in New Orleans right now doing a tv show, the first one I’m doing since Covid started, and it’s so isolated. I went to visit a friend yesterday, and he’s part of the crew too, so we can’t really eat together. Part of the agreement we make is we won’t put ourselves in risky situations. He and I are both A level, which means if we go out, they have to shut down production and that costs money. But it’s the last season so we’re making the best of it.
We both agreed it was both scary and infuriating.
Lynn: We’re in a stressful time – which means we need art and media even more to get through! You’re doing a lot of last-season-of-a-series directing.
Eduardo: That’s true. The Supernatural episode was emotional for sure.
Lynn: It’s interesting that you ended up directing some episodes that were really important. The Chitters for sure, and this one was important too. It was a very emotional episode because everyone was aware that it was our last chance to see these brothers get all the things they didn’t get in their childhoods – holidays, birthdays, packed school lunches, grilled cheese sandwiches. When you got the script, were you thinking about that?
Eduardo: I didn’t think of it in that way when I read it at first, I thought it’s kinda like one of those episodes that could come at any time. Like The Chitters, there wasn’t much mythology or story arc in the episode. And I love those episodes because you can have a lot of fun and they’re not as heavy. I got the script right after I did a show called “Next” in Chicago, that [the weather] was really cold, and I read that it was all in the sound stage and I was so happy, because I thought, that’s gonna be sweet!