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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Behind the Scenes of The Last Season of Supernatural with Director Richard Speight, Jr.

Richard Speight, Jr. has a birthday coming up, and that has me thinking about a) how long I’ve known him and b) the incredible impact he has had on Supernatural and on the SPNFamily. In our very first conversation, close to 12 years ago, I was impressed with how smart and thoughtful he was. It wasn’t long before he talked about wanting to direct in addition to acting, and I was not a bit surprised when he added that to his repertoire – and kicked ass at it. He’s come a long way from 2014, when producer Jim Michaels posted a photo of Richard shadowing director Tom Wright on the set of Supernatural, going on to direct eleven episodes and to shape the show in significant ways.

I also knew early on that Richard was an excellent writer, because he wrote a chapter for one of my first books, Fan Phenomena Supernatural. When it came time to write my last book on the show that captured my heart as it went into its very last season, I knew I wanted Richard’s voice in that book too. His chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done is, fittingly enough, a conversation between me and him. Like countless other conversations we’ve had over the past twelve years, in hotel restaurants or convention green rooms or in a taxi so he could show me where he’d filmed in San Francisco, his chapter is brimming with insights and a little bit of his trademark humor. In There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Richard also gets serious about this little show that has changed so many lives. The way he describes Supernatural’s legacy, and what makes it so special, makes me tear up a little every time I read it. He gets it. From Richard’s chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done:

The “Supernatural” take on family ain’t the Lifetime version. It’s dark, it’s rough, it’s painful, it’s broken. It may not be a perfect family, but it’s our family. It may not be a perfect world, but it’s our world. And I think the way Sam and Dean and Castiel choose to navigate that world and how they deal with each other along the way is inspirational to a lot of people and will continue to be an inspiration for a very long time.

Richard understands why the SPNFamily is so important, and why the show and its iconic characters will always be with us, which is what that book is all about. He also gets the show itself. That’s why I couldn’t wait to talk to him about the episodes of the show he directed for Season 15, three of which have already aired. In part 2 of my conversation with Richard, he takes us behind the scenes of those three episodes with so many fascinating insights. And maybe makes me a little emotional again as he talks about the upcoming end of this incredible show.

Part 1 of my epic interview with Richard shared insights into his new film Driven, his hilarious podcast with Rob Benedict, and some behind the scenes stories of directing his first episode of Season 15, Proverbs 17:3. I had a few more questions about that episode, because so much about it was SO good, so we pick up there…

L: Switching gears again, another scene I really liked in that episode was with the actress who played Lilith, who was so good – things very quickly go from all serious and horrifying to this poor traumatized girl falling on some antlers and being impaled, to her just getting up and brushing herself off! How challenging was that kind of split second progression?

R: Let me tell you, first off, Steve Yockey wrote a great script. So clever, the miscues were great. It was like my third or fourth Steve Yockey script, so we work together well. We connect on the material, he likes what I do, I like what he does. As we go through and adjust, we’re always on the same page. But I really really think, to pull that moment off, I give massive credit to Anna Grace Barlow. Finding her was finding Nate Torrence for Sully. I cast her off tape, I never met her. She turned in an audition that she shot in the garage during a short film she was doing that was so fantastic. And she came up and just knocked the leather off the walls. She was so good at every scene, from day one. Day one, her first day of shooting, she was confronting Sam and Dean in a parking lot as Lilith and taking the gun. She was already doing heavy hitting stuff right out of the gate. I thought she was incredibly talented. And she got the character. We discussed the character, she got the beats, and she played all that drama for real. Because you don’t get the joke, you don’t enjoy that moment, if you didn’t buy into everything that has happened before that.

L: Yes, and you really did.

R: You believed that she was in distress, you believed that she was a victim in this scenario, that she was in peril and incapable of doing anything to defend herself. And she’s completely distraught by what she’s witnessed and probably damaged for life, and then she stumbles and dies on those antlers and it’s a WTF moment of massive proportion.

L: Massive! She did a great job there and Jared and Jensen did too, with Sam and Dean’s WTF just happened expressions.

R: They did, they played it like the audience should have been too. But Anna Grace did such a good job and when she makes that turn, she’s Lilith the rest of the time. We had such fun crafting that character. To really go into this episode, I started talking to Jerry Wanek about the episode two weeks before we went up there because he read it and he called me and said “Wes Anderson”.

L: Ohhhhh

R: And I said, you had me at Wes. Because he’s like, I’m trying to figure it out, tonally I don’t want you to hang your hat on the set here but if you’re into it, I’ll lean into it and let’s create that vibe of symmetrical sets and straight on angles. And I said, oh absolutely. Then Carrie at the costume center got on board and that’s why Anna Grace Barlow looks like she’s from Moonrise Kingdom.

L: Yesssss

R:  If you go back to the campsite scene, we used plaids and all these things ala that heightened style. I loved that episode so much, and every set was a meal. It was all stylized. The sheriff’s office, very stylized. We used angles that reflected that kind of style – I don’t wanna say an homage because every shot is an homage because you picked it up from somebody at some point – but nonetheless it was a consistent style thing through the whole episode and it was so fun to do. Anna Grace in her little beret and kerchief being super evil was just so phenomenal.

L: That really added to the character being memorable and full of personality.

R: Everything she does previous to that scene – when she did that hospital scene and expressed her fear to Dean and in the hotel room telling him she doesn’t know what she’ll do now because her friends are all dead? That scene rips your heart out.

L: Yes, you have no idea at the time.

R:  She was shaggin’ flies with every take. Everything was a great take by her, so she gave so many options and choices. And when she went dark, she went dark so well. She was a fantastic villainess. In many ways, I wish it was Season 5 instead of Season 15, because I think we would have seen her many more times.

L: My favorite moment was when she asks them to give her the gun, and Dean says, “the Equalizer?” and she just deadpans “I’m not gonna call it that.” I laughed out loud.

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Week Two of Supernatural’s Final Filming (or What Made Lynn Cry This Week)

It’s Monday, which means it’s time for my Supernatural’s Final Run weekly wrap up – week two of filming! In keeping with my resolve to document every week of Supernatural’s last few months on the air – and, who am I kidding, in an attempt to save my own sanity as I try to deal with the fact that it’s ending – here’s the latest installment of ‘The End of Road: What Made Lynn Cry This Week’.

A lot, it turns out. Which is a surprise to no one.

First up, that poster in the header – created by @OfflArjun. Breathtaking.

And the CW’s new poster that came out last week too. The final seven episodes….  #Tissues

Also breathtaking.

Jared and Jensen returned to the set a week ago to begin filming the final two episodes of the series. Fandom was overjoyed to see Sam and Dean back in the bunker but a bit devastated not to witness the ritual shaving of the hiatus beards and cutting of the long hair. We’ve been spoiled by often having Jared and Jensen take us along with them when they magically transformed back into Sam and Dean, but this time – whether due to COVID restrictions or the actors’ own strong emotions about this being their last time going through that transformation – we didn’t get to witness it. Mixed feelings were the order of the day. Excited to have them back to filming, which somehow made the world seem more right than it has in over five months, but sad that this means it really is almost over. And I confess to some grief about Jensen having to cut that long hair because mm mm mm.

Also RIP to Jared’s beard and his entire look just before getting a trim. Mm mm mm again. Fandom is confusing right now, to say the least.

We did, however, get to witness Jake Abel shaving his hiatus beard and turning back into Michael, or Adam, or both. Jake also gave the fandom the most amazing treat – a video series called ‘Jake And Quarantine’ that documented his fourteen day quarantine in Vancouver that was so scary in the beginning it could have been an actual episode of Supernatural! If you haven’t watched it, please do. You’re in for a treat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6MaM_3fnYA&feature=youtu.be

We also got a few spoilery photos from Jake, so skip this next little section if you’re spoiler free – though I think the entire fandom knows this one.

SPOILERY PARAGRAPH: Jake posted photos of his trailer and the one next door, both marked  ‘Choose your fighter – Michael or Lucifer’. There was mixed reaction – let’s just say that Lucifer is not the character many fans were hoping to see again. Fingers crossed that it’s to finally defeat him once and for all (which I thought had already happened. But this is Supernatural…)

We also got a new promo still from an upcoming episode which made its way around the internet. I relish that too, realizing how spoiled I am with the constant new content we have gotten about this show for such a long time. The internet will be quieter – and a lot less exciting – once Supernatural no longer graces all my timelines constantly.

#Tissues

From the upcoming episode Gimme Shelter

Misha Collins, whose presence online has been blessedly consistent during these past five months, did an Instagram live with former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang earlier in the week, which I was able to tune into. Once again, I was struck by the fact that so many unexpected people are Supernatural fans. While Misha reassured Andrew that you “couldn’t be too big a geek” when talking to people from Supernatural, Andrew excitedly referred to Misha as “a real life superhero”.  They clearly got along well, and it was a lively and informative discussion, reinforcing the importance of having a voice and using it to vote. Jensen Ackles hopped online to watch during a break from filming, after he and Jared Padalecki joined Misha for a conversation with another former Presidential candidate, Cory Booker, the week before.

Misha and Andrew Yang

Meanwhile, filming resumed. For this small amount of time, it’s almost felt like things in the Supernatural fandom went back to “normal”. Every day there are little things that remind me that they have only a few more weeks of filming, though, and that reminder makes my breath catch every time, brings a fresh pang of pain. At the same time, it always brings a profound gratitude too, for all these talented people who have cared so much about this little show and helped to make it so wonderful. I asked Jensen a little while ago if the crew that is so much a part of making the show what it is were able to come back and he said that luckily yes, most of them could. I imagine that means so much to the actors who trust their talented crew completely, and value being surrounded by professionals who care about the show as much as they do and know it just as well.

Because filming has resumed, the crew and producers are also coming to terms with the reality that this is the beginning of the end. Many of them have been with the show since the beginning, and it has been as much a part of their lives as it has been for the actors. I’ve been acquainted with some of them for over a decade, so every time I see someone post about their gratitude to the show or fandom, or document a ‘last time’, my emotions are in overdrive. Yes, this goes under the category of ‘things that made Lynn cry’.

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One More Time While Still Castiel – Happy Birthday Misha Collins!

In the midst of the Supernatural cast returning to film the last two episodes of the series, it’s also a special day for Misha Collins – it’s his birthday! What better way to celebrate than to trip down memory lane a little, look forward to what may be next for Misha, and share some pretty pretty pictures?

I can’t help but feel nostalgic now that the show I love more than any other is ending. I reminisced about some of my favorite moments with Jared and Jensen when it was their last birthday while still their characters, and today that’s the case for Misha. This will be the last birthday that he’s still Castiel, and the last birthday that Supernatural is still on the air, and that’s a big thing. His character has been an inspiration to so many, and in real life Misha himself has been just as much an inspiration. So many of the fans who wrote chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood or There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done bear witness to Misha and Castiel’s impact on their lives, from inspiring them to change the world to validating their personal journey to being an incredible support through the gender transition process. Whether he has met someone in person or not, Misha has had an impact on people all over the world.

Including me.

In keeping with my immersion in nostalgia now that Supernatural is ending for real, I’ve been thinking about the first time I met Misha. Kathy and I were writing Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls and we were set to do an interview with “the new guy”, Misha Collins. We had been to the set to do some interviews with others for the book, and then headed back to our hotel to be introduced to Misha. On the way back to our hotel, another set transport van was in front of ours. It stopped, and out jumped Misha. I remember just sort of pausing and going OH.

We had never met him in person – he had only been on the show a short time and we had only seen him as Castiel on our tv screens, in his trademark trench coat. So when Misha hopped out of the van, wearing a tee shirt and faded bluejeans that looked like they were straight out of the 70s – flared and nicely fitted – I was entirely unprepared for just how attractive he is.

Oblivious to my being flustered, we had a quick introduction and then went to the hotel bar to chat (which was a terrible idea because hotel bars are very noisy and that means your audio recorder will be a nightmare to transcribe later).

Kathy and I had questions, but Misha managed to turn the interview around within about ten minutes and start asking us questions instead. We were both utterly charmed by how genuine he was and how eager to understand the very thing that Kathy and I were studying – fandom. Before we could ask about shipping, he asked us! It took me a good ten minutes more to say hey, we’re supposed to be asking the questions! That conversation was so enjoyable that we went way over the allotted time; Misha eventually got a phone call saying where the hell are you, you had another interview that you’re missing! Oops.

That’s still probably my favorite memory with Misha, all these years later.  What an introduction!

I’m also grateful to Misha for being the first member of the Supernatural cast to say yes to writing a chapter for one of our books – by being so generous with his time and effort, he changed the trajectory of my professional life and the books I’d write. The first two books Kathy and I published, we did the writing, including anecdotes and interviews from the actors but not actual chapters. When we decided to do Fan Phenomena Supernatural, the publisher wanted an edited collection – but instead of chapters by fans and scholars, we wanted the voices of some of the actors to be included. We knew how smart and thoughtful Misha was, so of course he was the first person we asked – and we were thrilled when he said yes! When he sent the draft to me, it came with the tongue in cheek caveat that I wasn’t allowed to change anything – which explains why that chapter starts off with:

When Lynn and Kathy first asked me to contribute a chapter to this book, I said, “No way! Leave me alone!” and threatened to take out a restraining order against them. But when I learned that they were willing to pay me more money than most people make in a lifetime to jot down a couple of pages, I said, “yes!” and then qualified that with, “but it isn’t about the money, I’m writing from the heart for the love of the fans.”

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More Scoop from the Cast – on Season 2 of ‘The Boys’

If you haven’t been watching Amazon’s “The Boys,” what are you waiting for? (For some in the SPN Family, maybe the announcement that Jensen Ackles was joining the show in Season 3?) Ackles will play Soldier Boy, the ‘original superhero’.

In the comic, Soldier Boy is described as relatively innocent and naive, avoiding the cursing that The Boys is known for (though Kripke seems to be promising we’ll have an R rated Jensen Ackles at last). He’s a member of a team called Payback, but desperately wants to be part of The Seven (the most powerful supes). Soldier Boy is also a coward and not the sharpest tack in the box and is so weirdly patriotic he yells out the names of states in the middle of fights! There’s also a frame of him wetting himself.

Ouch

I can see Ackles playing to his comedic talents with some of that, but Kripke has also promised Ackles will bring some pathos to the role, which just might break my heart. A parody of Captain America, Soldier Boy has enhanced strength and agility, but apparently he’s not as strong as some of the other supes and capable of being bested by the likes of Billy Butcher.

Oh, and Soldier Boy’s costume? Shorts and short sleeves. I approve.

Fan art of Ackles as Soldier Boy has already begun to appear, which so far looks alot more attractive than the comics version. Time will tell whether Kripke and company are going to take into account fannish hopes and dreams when the time comes for costuming.

Are you listening, Eric?

Graphic by @OfflArjun

Thanks to Ackles’ casting, alot of Supernatural fans are discovering the show for the first time – it’s a rollercoaster of a ride that’s both fun and disturbing — and strikingly irreverent. “The Boys” follows what happens when superheroes (who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and worshipped like gods) abuse their superpowers instead of using them for good. That sends “the boys”, everyday people who realize what’s going on, on a quest to expose the truth about the superheroes known as “The Seven” and the multi billion dollar corporation that “manages” and covers up for them, Vought.

The Boys is based on the best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson and was developed by Ennis fan Eric Kripke, who’s showrunner, writer and executive producer. (Kripke is also responsible for my favorite show of all time, Supernatural, which explains how I discovered The Boys in the first place and why I’m beyond excited that Ackles is joining up). Long time Supernatural director and producer Phil Sgriccia is also along for the wild ride. I binge watched Season 1 of The Boys and was thrilled when Season 2 was announced. The first three episodes of Season 2 premiere Friday, September 4, on Prime Video and then new episodes will drop each Friday with the season finale airing on October 9.

At last year’s Comic Con in San Diego, I was able to chat with Kripke and some of the cast – this year, in the middle of a pandemic, Amazon put together a virtual press junket so we could hear more about the upcoming Season 2. Kudos to the organizers for coordinating a million zoom calls and ensuring that we all got to spend time with Kripke and the cast – it was an enjoyable afternoon even if we were all juggling curious pets or kids or dealing with technology challenges! We also got to see the first three episodes, and while I’m going to keep this article free of specific spoilers, let me just say that they were pretty mindblowing! When they say that Season 2 is more intense and more insane than Season 1, they are not kidding.

As we begin Season 2, the Boys are on the run, hunted by the Supes and trying to regroup. In hiding, Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) try to adjust to a new normal with Butcher, the father figure of the group, (Karl Urban) nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) must navigate her place in The Seven as Homelander (Antony Starr) sets his sights on taking complete control. His power is threatened with the addition of Stormfront (Aya Cash), a social media savvy new Supe, who has an agenda of her own.  On top of that, the Supervillain threat takes center stage and makes waves as Vought seeks to capitalize on the nation’s paranoia. The Supes of The Seven also include Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), The Deep (Chace Crawford) and Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell). Recurring stars include Claudia Doumit, Goran Visnijc, Malcolm Barrett, Colby Minifie, Shantel VanSanten, Cameron Crovetti, Laila Robbins and Giancarlo Esposito returning as Vought boss Stan Edgar.

With that introduction, here are a few excerpts from each of our roundtable chats with the cast to whet your appetite for more of The Boys. I’ve purposely kept any spoilers for Season 2 out of my coverage, so you can be as gobsmacked as I was by those first three episodes. I posted our conversation with Eric Kripke in yesterday’s article, so check that out too since he had alot to say about The Boys, and some  Supernatural insights too. If you’re considering beginning The Boys, I think what the actors have to say about the show and their characters will give you a glimpse into just how complicated this show is and how deep the characterization goes. That said, the themes of the show are dark and disturbing and right there in your face, so be prepared.

I’m a psychologist by profession, so I was fascinated by what The Deep and A Train, two of the supes, had to deal with in Season 1 – for A Train, a struggle with addiction to both the enhancing drug Compound V and with the lure of fame and fortune. The Deep, meanwhile, had to deal with his discomfort with his own body — the gills which allow him to be a superhero but also set him apart from “normal” people. After a rather traumatic sexual encounter and being called to task for his assault of Starlight, The Deep ends Season 1 with some self loathing starting to be evident.  Their struggles made their characters complex and pulled for some empathy even as those two supes did some awful things in the first season. So I was excited to chat with Chace Crawford (The Deep) and Jessie T. Usher (A Train). How did their characters move on from some of those things they’ve done in the past?

Jessie: They both have to deal with it, they’re not at a place in their lives when they can just move past things anymore. They both – excuse my language – they fucked up to the point where things can’t be covered up by Vought anymore or swept under the rug. A Train is figuring it out as he goes. It’s too much for him, because he’s kinda turned his back on everyone who had his back, so he’s got to do it alone. You’ll see him figure that out in Season 2.

Chace: I think he’s genuinely close to rock bottom. He doesn’t know who he is, and never really has known who he is. I think he’s broken open enough to have to at least try some self exploration.

Chace said he had really enjoyed seeing all the episodes and seeing everyone else’s work.

Chace: I like doing these crazy scenes.

[All I’m gonna say is Lucy the whale, someone said]

Jessie: (laughing) I have never seen a good idea go bad so fast…

Chace: And it turned out so well! I was like, how is this gonna turn out, this is crazy…

Jessie: That’s the thing about filming this show, you’re like, I don’t know how this is gonna turn out, then you see it and it’s like wow that was freaking amazing! Clearly they saw something that I had yet to see. I’ve been pleasantly surprised throughout this entire Season 2 and I know everyone else will be as well.

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