It’s a Good Day for Fandom – Jensen Ackles Soldier Boy Supersuit Reveal!

Today was a big day for fans of The Boys and Supernatural – and all fans of Jensen Ackles! After he teased that there would be a reveal of his new character Soldier Boy’s ‘supersuit’ today, just about everyone in the fandom was glued to their social media this morning. I had a dentist appointment, but I confess I kept my phone in my pocket on vibrate, knowing that if it started blowing up, I was missing the big reveal – it actually turned out to be a pretty good distraction for the dental work!

Shortly after I got home, the big reveal happened – and yes, my timeline exploded. And it felt SO GOOD! As a Supernatural fan for the past 15 years (and The Boys for two), I’ve really missed my timeline going nuts over some new information or new photos. There’s nothing that brings fandom together more than having something new to savor, and today was all about that. Fannish differences were put aside and everyone just squeed together over finally seeing Jensen suited up as Soldier Boy.

First we got one photo, with some backstory from articles in Variety and Entertainment Weekly. The suit was designed by Laura Jean “L.J.” Shannon and concept artist Greg Hopwood. Shannon called Soldier Boy the original bad-ass and said her goal was “to highlight a bygone era of overt masculinity and grit.” So they included “an all-American quality grounded in a military soldier’s practicality with a heavy dose of old school cowboy swagger.” Shannon also commented on the casting that they were counting on to do the suit and the character justice: “We knew that the actor had to have Steve McQueen looks and chops with a John Wayne attitude — luckily Jensen Ackles embodies all of that.”

Damn right he does!

LJ Supersuits, the suit designer, posted an additional close up on their Instagram and sent another wave of euphoria and excitement through the fandom, with this message:

“LJ Supersuits presents SOLDIER BOY. This suit was an incredible team effort that required hours and hours of research, planning, and detailed craftsmanship to get it right. We always start with the concept art, and Soldier Boy’s concept was created by @greghops, along with all of his hard surface sculpting. The concept then gets translated into a physical suit by our incredible team. We are so proud of how epic Soldier Boy is and couldn’t be more excited for @jensenackles to take on this character and The Boys Season 3!!  Suit sculpting by @cce_inc

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The Winchesters Look For ‘Salvation’ – Supernatural Rewatch

We’re almost at the end of Season 1 in our Supernatural rewatch from the start, which we began almost seven months ago when the series ended – and it has been a much more emotional experience than I expected it to be! So no surprise that we began watching ‘Salvation’ and I burst into tears when ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ started playing. Even after all these years, I’m never ready to hear that familiar song herald the end of a season of my favorite show, and now that the show is over, my tears were if anything even more free flowing. God, I love this show. I always will.

The episode opens in Blue Earth, Minnesota. Meg in a church lighting candles, telling the kindly priest she needs to talk, that she’s done some things. He tells her there’s forgiveness for everyone and she asks, ‘are you sure?’

Father: Salvation was created for sinners.

Meg: I’ve lied, stolen, lusted…. I slit a man’s throat and ripped his heart out through his chest.

She lets him see her black eyes, and he backs away in alarm.

Father: I know what you are. You can’t be here – this is hallowed ground!

Meg (laughing) Maybe that works in the minor leagues, but not with me.

He runs, into a secret room with an arsenal of guns, and we see that he’s a hunter. Meg breaks in, and easily catches the knife he throws at her, taunting him that he throws like a girl.

Father: What do you want?

Meg: The Winchesters.

Father: I’ll never tell you.

Meg (smirking): I know.

She slits his throat, and he gasps and gurgles and dies. I remember being so caught off guard by the graphic violence of that scene when I first saw it. Truly horrifying.

The show and the actors did such a good job making me care about Pastor Jim even in those few minutes we had with him, which helped us understand how John was going to feel when he found out.

In Manning, Colorado, John has weather reports taped to the wall, marked up, books strewn around, post it notes everywhere. He tells his sons, this is everything he knows, that he spent their whole lives searching for this demon, but there wasn’t a trace until a year ago, when he picked up its trail.

John: It came out of hibernation. It’s going after families just like us, on the night of the kid’s six month birthday.

Sam: I was six months old that night? It’s going after these kids like it came for me.

At that realization, Sam starts to feel even more responsible for all the tragedy that’s dogging him.

Sam: Mom’s death, Jessica, it was because of me…

Sam is distraught, and Dean rushes to reassure him.

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Introducing Jenny the Vampire – Supernatural Rewatch of Dead Man’s Blood

This was a good episode when I first saw it, but not an overly emotional one. That is all changed now, watching it post series finale – because this is the episode where we meet the vampire whose nest will take down Dean Winchester fifteen years later. It’s amazing to me that the show managed to do that – to have the same actress come back to portray a character we never thought of as at all important, all those years later, to do something so pivotal to the show’s eventual ending. It makes this episode hard to watch, knowing what will happen so many years later.

‘Dead Man’s Blood’ stands on its own as a well done episode, though, especially because it has all three Winchesters, something that feels like a treat now because we got precious little of that in other seasons. Its vampires are pretty memorably too, and not just because of what Jenny eventually does.

We open in Colorado. Daniel Elkins having a drink, well known to the bartender, who describes him as “a nice old man, just a nut.” He senses trouble coming as a group of people walk in the door, and Elkins stares. They talk about having “dinner plans” (because they’re vampires, get it?) and when the bartender turns to ask Elkins if he wants another, it’s just his glass still there on the bar.

Elkins gets to his cabin and hurries inside, scared, locking the door behind him – but the vampires are already there. He gets a gun from his safe, muttering ‘come on come on’, and frantically loads it as the vampires are breaking down the door and smashing windows. They knock him down before he can fire, and the female vampire picks up the gun, saying it wouldn’t do him much good.

Vampire lady: Boys, we’re eating in tonight…

Cut to a diner in small town America, Dean reading the newspaper and Sam on the computer, just another night with the Winchester brothers on the road, saving people, hunting things. Dean’s still trying to convince Sam to swing by where Sarah is and see her again.

Dean: Cool chick, man. Smoking. You two seemed pretty friendly.

Sam puts him off. Again.

Sam: We have alot of work to do, Dean, you know that.

He also has found that a Daniel Elkins was found mauled in his home in Colorado, and Dean pauses, saying he knows that name. He pulls out the journal and finds an entry on Elkins, and it’s a Colorado area code. So to Colorado they go.

They find the cabin, looking around by flashlight in the mess they vampires left behind.

Dean: Looks like the maid didn’t come today…

Sam: There’s salt over here.

Dean: Like protection against demons salt or oops I spilled the popcorn salt?

[This scene is included in some of the behind the scenes features on the Season 1 DVD which we watched as part of our rewatch – Jared and Jensen look like babies, but they’re already clearly having so much fun, joking with each other and with the crew, pelting the crew with snowballs and then running away. It seems like so long ago now, but I’m so grateful we have these little glimpses that we can hang onto forever.]

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Supernatural Rewatch – A Classic (and Scary) MotW Episode with Provenance

Provenance is a Phil Sgriccia directed episode, and it shows. It’s creepy and scary and memorable in multiple ways, starting out with a close shot of a decidedly creepy old painting in a giant antique frame. A young couple, for some inexplicable reason, just bought it – though the wife has the good sense to say it’s “kinda creepy”. The husband reassures her that he’ll keep her safe, so we’re fairly certain he’s about to die.

Wife: Maybe you’re the one I ought to be scared of…

He is actually kinda creepy and keeps pinching her, but she seems into it and heads upstairs. The old man in the painting turns his head and watches her go up the stairs and OMG that is super creepy!

The husband locks up, sets the alarm and turns out the lights while the wife lights some candles and gets into bed.

“Hurry up or I’m gonna start without you,” she teases, as someone makes their way up the stairs and slowly comes into her room. A gust of breeze blows out the candle and we see her husband just starting to climb the stairs and UH OH that’s not the husband in the room with her….   The clueless husband comes into the room telling her to get the lights, then pauses.

Husband: You smell something?

When the lights come on, his wife is dead on the bed, covered in blood. He falls to his knees, looks up at something we can’t see, and screams.

Cut to a bar and a band playing Steve Carlson’s “Nighttime”, which I wrote about in my recent look back article on some of my early chats with Mr. Carlson, so check those articles out here if you missed them.  Here’s what Steve had to say about how that song came to be in this episode:

I had seen my friend Chris, who co-wrote the song, one night at a birthday party and he was dancing using the drink as his prop and I was like, that would be a great beer commercial! We put the song together and I got back and played it for Jensen and he asked me to burn him a copy. He was playing it in his trailer one day and a producer was like oh, who’s that? He said it’s my roommate, Steve, and the producer said, that would be perfect for the bar scene in our next episode. Their people called my people and negotiated it and worked fast to get it in and sign a contract, and the next thing I know I was flying to Boston and it aired. I was on the phone with someone because I couldn’t watch it live and he was watching and telling me oh, it was loud (on the show) – I was going through security and the guy was like, you have to get off the phone, so I threw it in the Xray machine and then grabbed it back and was like, so it was loud? And he was like yeah, and it’s still on! I had it on Tivo but it sucked because I was in Boston and no one I knew had Tivo so I had to wait a week to watch it when I got home – that was the first thing I did!

You can read that full article here fyi:

Radio Company Vol 2! A Look Back at Steve Carlson and Jensen Ackles’ Musical History

Anyway, Dean’s flirting with a young woman (Brandy with a y or an ‘i’?) while Sam’s reading in the newspaper about a couple’s throats being slashed. Sam tries to call Dean over and he keeps ignoring him until Sam in exasperation says ‘Come ON’

Dean: I gotta go, be right back…

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The Music of Supernatural – Composer Jay Gruska on Scoring the Emotional Series Finale and More

I have long said that the music of Supernatural has had a significant impact on the show – making it memorable and especially giving it the emotional resonance that it had for all fifteen seasons. That’s not something that every genre “horror show” can say, and I’m not sure any can say it with as much pride as Supernatural. The music added so much to the emotional impact of the series finale, so I was excited to talk to composer Jay Gruska about scoring that episode and the emotional episode ‘Despair’, as well as his fifteen years working on my favorite show.

As with many of the  people working on SPN (and another thing that made it so unique and wonderful), the same two composers worked on the show for its entire run – Christopher Lennertz (now working with Eric Kripke on ‘The Boys’) and Jay Gruska. I’ve talked to Jay several times over the course of the show – he contributed to ‘Supernatural Psychology’ for the chapter on music in the show – so I know how insightful he is about how music is used on the show. Chris and Jay tend to alternate episodes, so Jay scored all the even numbered episodes of Season 15, including the final episode, ‘Carry On’, and episode 15.18, Castiel’s goodbye episode, ‘Despair’.

The week before we spoke, I had done a Supernatural music panel at the Southwest Popular Culture Association conference with two friends and colleagues devoted to the most recognizable musical theme in the show, ‘Americana’, which Jay composed. We had invited him to do the panel with us, but he was unable to make it due to a family party. Luckily he and I were able to coordinate our schedules for a phone chat afterwards though.

Jay: That’s amazing about the panel, and kinda flattering and sweet. I’m so bummed that I missed it, I would have loved to share my experience from my end.

Lynn: I don’t think that many composers get an entire panel devoted to one single piece of music at an academic conference – but that’s how important ‘Americana’ is to Supernatural fans.

The Emotional Rollercoaster of ‘Carry On’

Lynn: I know you read my review of the series finale so you know that I loved the barn scene even though it was incredibly painful to watch, but it was such a masterful scene. I was talking to Jensen about it recently and said that he and Jared killed it, and also that the music makes it so much more emotional. That whole piece, the piano then the strings, and then the most familiar part of Americana in the middle…

Jay: Right. As you know more than anyone, I try my best to not use Americana just at the drop of a hat. I try to really respond to when a scene is asking for it. I’ve probably made a misstep or two along the way as far as some fans are concerned – I used it once with Jack, but boy, I heard from people right away like hey, he’s not family! And I was like well yes he is to me! But don’t mess with the Supernatural fandom.

Lynn:  So true. We’re passionate, that’s for sure. And some people would definitely agree with that and some wouldn’t.

Jay: But let’s start with those performances (Jensen and Jared). Because I’m gonna be crude right now and say that without performances like that, which don’t come along often, if there’s a scene where someone is not pulling it off? You’re basically polishing a turd with the music.

Lynn: lol

Jay: My job and particularly that scene, which I count as in the top two or three if not the most emotional, well acted, just hearts-on-their-sleeves as actors and as humans moments in the whole run of the show…

Lynn: I agree!

It’s okay, Dean, you can go now.

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