Hellatus Is Over! Supernatural Returns with Stranger In A Strange Land

 

Full disclosure: I saw the season premiere episode for the first time two weeks ago at the Entertainment Weekly sneak peek screening in New York City. But somehow I was still entirely caught up in the excitement of Thursday as premiere day – there’s something energizing about an entire fandom all over the world all online and watching in some way, shape or form and all bouncing from anticipation! At the EW event, I got to watch the episode with Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Danneel Ackles, which was an amazing experience. None of them had seen the episode either, so I got to see them react at the same time as I was reacting – and at times got to see them react to the fans in the room reacting to them. It’s French Mistake levels of meta!

(You can read all about that experience here – Sneak Peek at Supernatural Season 14 in NYC)

That experience colored my rewatch when the episode aired live on Thursday night, and only made it better. There were things that didn’t 100% work for me in the episode, but those were largely overshadowed by the things that very much did. I’ve been waiting two weeks to be able to talk about the episode, so here goes!

The recap reminds us that last season saw Dean Winchester expressing a rare optimism about being able to actually rid the world of bad stuff – a tiny bit of hope that maybe they really could create a better world. That idea of “a better world” gets an entirely different spin in Season 14, beginning with the premiere. Meanwhile, recap music is blasting as we review all the incredible things that happened last season.

Me as the recap of the Road So Far plays: MY SHOW IS SO EFFING BADASS!!!

Supernatural is also creative; the opening music bleeds into an AC/DC song on the Impala’s radio, and a bearded stern-faced Sam Winchester turns it off. Nice touch, and it immediately lets us know that Sam Winchester is not in fact okay. That’s Dean’s music, and it must be incredibly painful to be driving his brother’s car and listening to his brother’s music when Dean himself is not there. Jared’s face also lets us know that Sam is very far from okay – the actor doesn’t need any dialogue to show us just how upset and how driven Sam Winchester is right now. (Make no mistake, I’d LOVE for him to have more dialogue that also shows us that though!)

Just the fact that Sam is alone driving the Impala was incredibly painful to see – I miss Dean Winchester like a missing limb.

We jump from Jared to Jensen, but not to Dean from Sam. Instead it’s Michael, interrupting a holy man’s prayers. This is the scene we saw at Comic Con many months ago, so it’s a familiar one, but no less chilling for its familiarity. Ackles invests Michael with so much quiet, understated menace, it gives you goosebumps. He’s soft spoken, the cadence of his speech slower than Dean’s, more deliberate. He pronounces every consonant because he’s in no hurry; he’s an all powerful being so he has all the time in the world. All those conscious choices make Michael an entirely new character even as he’s played by one of the lead actors we know and love.

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Supernatural Celebrates 100th Creation Convention in New Jersey!

 

Happy 100th Con Supernatural! Part Two of my NJ/NYC adventures (you can also read about EW’s sneak peek Season 14 premiere party and Jensen and Jared on Live with Kelly and Ryan in Part One here)

EW Supernatural Season 14 Sneak Peek and Jared and Jensen on Live!

The Supernatural New Jersey con is the closest I get to a “home” con – a less than two hour drive from Philly. The key word there being “drive” – as in, no airfare! Woohoo!! I packed up my car with many boxes of books and headed out on Thursday up the NJ Turnpike to scenic Secaucus, happy not to have to deal with airport and parking and TSA. Apparently I got a bit too cocky though, because no sooner had I arrived at the vendor section of the gigantic Meadowlands convention center than I realized that I hadn’t brought my usual backpack for flights to cons – so I had only part of what I needed for my vendor table!

NOOOOO! Luckily the convention center is adjacent to a giant Walmart, so I trekked over and had my promo pics reprinted, then trekked back to finish setting up. (My friends and I returned to Walmart later that night to stock up on supplies for the con weekend, which included an alarming amount of Beefaroni and ramen noodles,  bags of chips and possibly some Lunchables but hey, con weekend!)  We love Embassy Suites with their mini kitchens in the room and free breakfast buffet every morning – between that and the Walmart, we were set. And it’s a good thing, since I was on my own in the vendor room – luckily fandom is always wonderful and generous, with fellow fans offering to grab me drinks and pretzels or time for a bathroom break.

This con was special because it was the 100th Creation Supernatural convention – also christened Schmelke Con for the one person who has been at all 100 and taken over 250,000 photo ops to prove it — the one and only Chris Schmelke! There’s no overestimating the difference Chris has made to these conventions – photo ops are a special thing and nobody knows how to make them more special than Chris. We interviewed Chris for one of our first books, Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls, and it was immediately obvious that he truly cares about fans’ experience – he gets it. And so he does everything necessary to make sure those few moments allow a genuine connection. Chris will be the first one to say that Supernatural conventions are unlike any other, and in part that’s because these actors also go out of their way to make the photo ops special.

There were all sorts of special decorations celebrating the 100th con and Creation even handed out bracelets to commemorate the occasion, so it was very cool to be there!

Nothing says happy 100th like this!

Richard introduced Friday’s first guest panelist, Rachel Miner, by giving her well deserved props for her work with Random Acts. She was asked about her initial reaction to her character Meg, and said that she got to read her audition scene with Jared and Jensen. Eric Kripke was there too, and they both ended up laughing; she knew right away that she loved the character.

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Supernatural Fun Times in Charlotte 2018!

 

I don’t usually do conventions back to back, which explains why I wasn’t going to do the Supernatural Denver con – because there was a Supernatural con in Charlotte the very next weekend and I already had tickets. But some of my friends (you know who you are…) are filthy enablers, and I ended up going to Denver after all. That turned out to be a wild and wonderful weekend, but let’s just say that I arrived in Charlotte already pretty tired – and that’s before the con had even started! Luckily I was too busy having fun to really feel the exhaustion until Sunday rolled around and the adrenaline rush that always happens at a Supernatural con was over. (Then I pretty much slept for 12 hours in an attempt to avoid con crud – so far, successful!)

Thursday I flew in and got to meet a friend and fellow fangirl (and fellow writer) who I had only known online – which is always such a treat! Gail Martin is a talented writer whose fantasy genre novels are very popular with the Supernatural fandom, so I couldn’t wait to talk writing and SPN with her. She’s also a Charlotte local, and that means we had delicious barbeque for lunch – and hush puppies! YUM! If you know something better than sharing your mutual love of Supernatural with a new friend over great food, I’m listening.

YUM

Gail dropped me off at the con hotel and I had time for a quick dip in the pool, then it was time to set up my vendor table. My friend and partner in crime (and brilliant photographer) Kim Prior and her bestie arrived by car (which means Kim also brought a car full of food and a cooler full of drinks, so yay!)  This con was at the Embassy Suites in Charlotte.  I think every Supernatural con should be at an Embassy Suites – not only do you get a little mini kitchen in your room and a separate bedroom and living area with sleeper sofa, but you get FREE breakfast and dinner time snacks every day!!! Not one to ever turn down free food, I set my alarm to get up early enough to partake of the buffet breakfast every morning – they even had an omelet bar and a waffle station! Friends, fangirls, free food – I was in heaven. Oh, and the Supernatural cast too…

Thursday night in the vendor room I got to meet lots of people who had read Family Don’t End With Blood and been touched by it. Over the course of the weekend, dozens of people confided to me that the book had changed them in some way, or had even inspired them to keep living. I hope that I somehow convey how much that means when someone says that – that is what we hoped the book would do, that it would inspire people to “always keep fighting”. That’s why the fans who wrote chapters and all the actors who wrote chapters were brave enough to share their own struggles with depression and anxiety and addiction and so many other things – to validate others’ struggles and inspire them to keep fighting. I know it takes courage to walk up and say that to me, a stranger – but I am so honored by it, every single time. So thank you.

Friday morning, after the free buffet of course, the con kicked off with Rich and Rob, who showed off the traditional new Borja shirt for the con. Charlotte, get it?

The man himself… Mike Borja

And then we had a panel with the adorable Rachel Miner.

I will never get over how Rachel’s face lights up when she comes onstage and hears the roar of applause. She has become one of our favorite guests, and has inspired so many people to look at life in a positive way and to keep going no matter what the obstacles.  I am so so glad she wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood — she’s a role model to many in the fandom, and she understands the importance of representation. At Charlotte, Rachel reiterated something she’d talked about the weekend before in Denver.

Rachel: If I was back on the show, I’d want to be in the chair. Representation is important.

Rachel, in turn, is inspired by the fandom.

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Supernatural Convention Comes to Denver!

 

 

I had no intention of going to the Supernatural convention in Denver, but somehow I ended up there anyway. I’d missed the previous Denver convention so had never had a chance to bring Family Don’t End With Blood to Colorado, and that alone was enough to convince me to go. Add to that the fact that I love Colorado, where my aunt and uncle lived for much of my childhood, so I have wonderful memories from all over the state. And I wanted to meet new SPNFamily member and friend Kaci Marie Lister, who I ‘met’ virtually when I was in Austin for Supernatural Day. So off I went to beautiful Colorado!

The west coast fires had created so much ash in the atmosphere that it mostly obscured my view of the mountains, which was a shame. But the weather was beautiful and I was amongst my SPNFamily, so that more than made up for the lack of mountain views. I met up with Kaci and her friend for dinner and to do a little vlogging, since she was doing a vlog of their exploits at the con, and I caught up with my on-the-road buddies Liz and Kristen for pizza, who I miss tons when we don’t get to hang out for a period of time. It was wonderful to be able to spread the word about Family Don’t End With Blood to so many people who hadn’t heard about it too. This was a repeated conversation.

Me to someone perusing the table with a quizzical expression: Have you heard about the book? This is the one that the Supernatural actors wrote chapters for…

Person: The Supernatural actors wrote a book??????!!!!!

Thanks to everyone who came back to the table the next day to tell me that I ruined their sleep because they couldn’t stop reading it. Blame all those actors and fans who wrote the compelling chapters!

Friday kicked off with Rich and Rob and Louden Swain, and a bunch of non G rated banter, including a song about Misha, Rob’s b-hole and you, and something about microphone condoms, which prompted me to tweet with #OffTheRailsAlready. And it was only Friday!

I really loved the ballroom for Denver, which was smaller than the giant rooms I’m used to – it brought back memories of the early cons and felt cozy and a little more intimate (as intimate as you can get in a ballroom full of people…)  Richard looked around at the giant stage banners that are always in the room – this room was smaller, so the banners were closer.

Richard: Why are the stage banners staring at us? Jared is undressing us all with his eyes, and Jensen is like, why are you all undressing??

Richard puts his foot on the thing

Denver was also notable for being the first (of many?) cons during which a fan asked pretty much every guest to take part in a giant game of Mad Libs that spanned the whole con. I got a kick out of watching people’s faces when they got the dreaded “adverb”. lol

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Ten Things The Hillywood Show Got Right with Supernatural Parody 2!

I’ve been a fan of the Hillywood Show since I discovered their parody videos with their first Supernatural video several years ago. Hannah and Hilly Hindi, the sisters behind The Hillywood Show, were kind enough to chat with me about that video and to also contribute some insights to the documentary film on fandom I co-wrote, Squee! I’ve been eagerly awaiting their second Supernatural parody with high expectations, but the reality surpassed them when it was released last week – Supernatural Parody 2 is a loving tribute to the show, its amazing cast, and its incredible fandom. As I took some notes on why I was enjoying it so much, I realized it’s because once again, they totally got it right – even for someone like me, who adores Supernatural and has written five books on the show and the fandom!

I was at the Supernatural convention in Denver last weekend, and there was quite a bit of talk about the new parody, which both fans and Supernatural stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles had high praise for. Jensen in particular was impressed with the production value and the professionalism of the set and the shoot, and especially with the realistic proton packs that he and Jared got to wear – they sometimes had to take them off between takes because Jared kept bumping into the door and other things. Jensen seemed excited that the blasters really worked too, which I think means they were having a lot of fun playing with them! I shared those reactions with Hannah and Hilly when we chatted.

Hilly: He did keep bumping into the door, we can confirm that one. Hannah: I just know that Jared really likes to push buttons!

Lynn: Boys…

Hilly: The pack, though, really was the coolest toy. They were like the real deal, so it’s the ultimate toy and Jared was like, yes! I could just see his eyes light up.

[There’s a great moment on the behind the scenes feature where Osric shows Jensen how to pull out his blaster, and he does. Then Jared pulls out his, with significantly more flourish, and Osric grins and whispers to the camera.

Osric: The gentle giant…

Jared makes the blaster light up and then asks, with his eyes all hopefully lit up, “do you want this on?”

Hilly: No, cuz that means you’re killing us…]

I laughed out loud at that.

Cap sabalovesdean

Hilly: We haven’t been able to talk about it or hear from them since the shoot. They asked, “When can we mention it?” I told them you can’t until the video is out. So, weeks down the road now, it’s really cool to hear them talk about it.

Lynn: They definitely enjoyed it. So, after thinking about this a bit, I’ve identified ten things you got very right. I’m gonna go through them one by one, and you can comment, okay?

Number 1. One of the things that makes your parodies so brilliant and so loved by fans is that you really GET the show you’re parodying, maybe Supernatural more than even the other shows you’ve parodied. You were able to reproduce the show itself with the level of detail that fandom relishes – the kitchen set from Changing Channels, the library in the Men of Letters bunker, the proton packs with Dean’s little army man and the Colt and Sam’s with Ruby’s knife. Some of the scenes looked so eerily similar, like that iconic moment when Dean fires the Colt and kills Azazel in slow motion. How do you decide what scenes and what details to include and how much detail to put into it? It must take so much time!

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