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.

Read more

A Few Non-Spoilery Thoughts about Supernatural “Stranger In A Strange Land”

 

It seems like the usual suspects who got a screener of the Supernatural Season 14 premiere to review are posting their thoughts about the episode now, so let me add to the anticipation with a few thoughts of my own. How and where and with whom you watch an episode has a significant effect on the emotional impact of what you’re watching, so it’s possible the season premiere was even more powerful than it would have been otherwise for me – after all, I was watching with a couple hundred passionate fans and Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles themselves (at the EW screening in NYC a week ago).  If watching with the show’s stars doesn’t make you emotional, I don’t know what will!

The fact that Jared and Jensen also had emotional reactions to what they were seeing definitely increased my enjoyment. The day before, Jensen had told me that neither he nor Jared had seen the episode before, so they were experiencing it just like the rest of the fans. When the actors got to react to the fans’ reactions to their acting performances, that was icing on the cake (and kinda meta…)

I still won’t give actual spoilers for the episode here of course, but there are three things I can say in the spirit of anticipation, to whet your appetite even more for the Thursday premiere. (If you’re absolutely a totally spoiler phobe, these are very general spoilers at worst, but read at your own risk!)

First, Ackles embodies Michael in a way that leaves no doubt that Dean has left the building. I talked with him about this after seeing the episode clip at Comic Con, about how difficult it is to play an entirely different character when all the visual and relational cues around you are telling you to fall back into playing the familiar one – Dean Winchester. The set is the same, the crew is the same, the other cast is the same. Just traveling to Vancouver, at this point, is likely to pull Jared, Jensen or Misha to settle into their familiar characters.  Like I told Jensen, it’s particularly difficult because those cues are largely unconscious, which means we’re unaware that we’re responding to them. So he has to be aware of the unconscious pull to be Dean, and then go against it enough to be someone else, and then come up with some consistent characterization for Michael. No mean feat! (Yes, he loves it when I put my psychologist hat on. Okay, maybe not always – but this time I was slightly helpful).

Here’s how I know he did an amazing job of being Michael – I missed Dean like hell. It’s the first time there has been an episode that Dean Winchester wasn’t in (at least I think that’s true). Sure, before maybe it was Demon Dean in the episode, or Mark of Cain Dean, but it was still Dean. In this episode? Dean is not there. There’s no trace of him in the character that Ackles has created. And that both makes me in awe of his acting and his ability to thwart those unconscious cues and very very sad because I miss Dean Winchester like I lost a limb. When they let us know that Dean wouldn’t be gone too long, I thought oh that’s good, but I didn’t really grasp just how gone he would be. It’s not Supernatural for me without Dean Winchester, so I can’t wait to get him back!

Second, I knew I loved Sam Fucking Winchester being Sam Fucking Winchester, but maybe I didn’t know just how much I needed that on my screen. Jared talked about Sam stepping up to the plate and taking on a leadership role at Comic Con and I thought, oh that will be good, but once again, I underestimated the impact that would have – and how powerfully Padalecki would portray it. In the premiere, we get to see Sam desperate and sad and angry and all the things we knew he would be at losing his brother. But we also get to see him take charge and take no shit and effing take no prisoners and OMG did that do my heart good! Maybe it’s the feelings still left over from Season 13, from the time Sam bled out in that cave and had to give in to Lucifer. Maybe it’s from the season when Dean was lost to him and he hit a dog and gave up. Whatever it is, it just did my soul good to see Sam be the badass we know he is, and Jared killed it. The fact that Jensen burst into applause while watching that scene only made me all the more excited and joyful – apparently Jensen needed to see Sam Winchester (and Jared) kick ass too!

Third, there’s dramatic and exciting and kicking ass in the episode, but there’s also emotional beats that were subtle and nuanced and well played by everyone. Castiel’s desperation to find Dean and his devastation weren’t glossed over either, and there were moments I won’t spoil when I really felt for him. In a different way, he’s just as take-no-shit as Sam in this episode, and just as determined, and Misha Collins brings that through loud and clear. There were bits of that Cas and Sam bonding that we keep hearing about, and there were moments between Sam and his mother (Samantha Smith) that also tugged at my heartstrings. Alex Calvert and Jim Beaver as Alex and AU!Bobby also brought the emotional beats, which means we got a good balance of fighting and feeling in a single episode (and just a dash of humor and a pinch of surprise). Just the way I like it.

I don’t know where we’re going in Season 14, and I can’t promise that I’ll love every episode (though I can promise that I’m a fan of this show until the end). But the fact that the cast is bringing their A games so strongly in the first episode bodes well for what comes next. I can’t wait to do a proper review of the premiere on Thursday – and hear what everyone else thought of the episode!

What are you anticipating and what are you hoping does NOT happen in the premiere or the new season?

–Lynn

Stay tuned for more! And for more Supernatural,

check out all our books on the show with chapters

written by the cast, links on the home page!

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.

Read more

Happy Ten Years on Supernatural, Misha Collins!

 

It was ten years ago that the character of Castiel was introduced on Supernatural, in one of the most dramatic and powerful entrances of any fictional character ever. We were writing Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls at the time, and sat down with brand new guest actor Misha Collins shortly after Lazarus Rising aired, so I thought I’d share a few excerpts form that chat in honor of the 10th anniversary.

Misha had just finished filming and changed into faded vintage jeans and a tee shirt, catching us off guard because he didn’t look much like the trench-coated angel we’d seen onscreen! He was so new to the show and the whole idea of fandom that he didn’t really know what fan reaction to his character was, so asked us.

Lynn and Kathy: Fans don’t always take well to new characters on the show, but they did to your character.

Misha: Oh I see. You hated the character.

Lynn: Did I say that??

Clearly Misha’s personality shone through even in the first ten minutes of chatting with him. Luckily.

Misha: (laughing) I think part of it is that it was such an interesting scene. The character is a super cool character and it was a super cool introduction to the character.

Lynn: Talk about dramatic!

Misha: Just the way it was built up, I think that made people receptive to Castiel.

Lynn: I always wonder if you can feel in the moment when some of your scenes are going to be very good and some of your interactions very powerful.

Misha: No, never. I’m not very good at telling. I think the things that are horrible actually turn out to be the best.

Lynn: Luckily you’re not editing the show.

Misha: You’re right.

Kathy: The first online community dedicated to Castiel was set up 42 minutes after the episode aired.

Misha: Why do you think it took so long? Maybe the servers were down or something…

I’m not sure we ever laughed so much in an interview as we did that first chat with Misha. We talked about his previous roles on Nip/Tuck and 24 and Charmed, about his childhood and how that led him to acting, about his own lack of experience with being a fan. And he asked us as many questions as we asked him – about conventions (he was about to do his first one), about fandom, about shipping, you name it! This was an entirely new experience for Misha, and he was in the very beginning stages of processing it and figuring out what it all meant.

Misha: I had no idea what I was walking into when I went in to audition for this show.

Lynn: What did make you audition?

Misha: The desire for a job. I think I didn’t even realize until after the audition that it was for a regular, I thought it was a guest star.   My manager told me I wasn’t paying attention.  It was a demon that I was auditioning  for – Kripke didn’t want that to get out to fandom.

Lynn: I love Eric, he’s always messing with the names.

Misha: He gave me a little direction, after I did the demon version once, he gave me a little direction to change it to be an angel, and he told me they hadn’t been down on earth for two thousand years  so there would be a quality of just looking at humans as though they were strange alien beings.

Lynn: You do that so well. I’m a psychologist, I tend to read people’s non verbals. And there’s this subtle sort of little twist you do, like regarding someone a little too long and sort of speaking a little more slowly, because you’re not sure of your footing. It’s subtle, but it’s very there.

Misha: Cool. It’s fun to play with that.

The origin story of the famous Cas head tilt!  And the rest is history.

A lot of our first chat with Misha is the last chapter in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls – he was pleased when we told him he has “the last word” in the book. A few years later, when we were putting together our next book, this one of contributed essays on Supernatural in Fan Phenomena Supernatural, we asked Misha if he wanted to write a chapter. He did – and it’s still one of my favorite essays ever. It’s surprisingly sincere and personal, but it’s also funny as hell. Maybe none of that is surprising, actually.

From Fan Phenomena Supernatural, here’s what Misha had to say about being cast on Supernatural, including his experience watching his very first episode, Lazarus Rising, air ten years ago:

Fandom and its many fascinating aspects have, for the most part, blindsided me. Not only did I not see it coming, but previously, I was only peripherally aware of its existence. For me, discovering this fandom was pretty much like getting kidnapped by a dragon. I didn’t expect being inducted into this world to be anywhere near as strange, wonderful or overwhelming as it has been. I didn’t expect any of it. I remember watching the season premiere of Supernatural Season 4 – the episode in which my character was introduced – with the producers and writers at a little screening party at producer McG’s offices in West Hollywood. Sera Gamble, a writer and producer on the show, was standing next to me as we watched. When my character came on-screen, she leaned over and whispered to me, ‘Your life is about to change.’ I thought, ‘That is a truly arrogant thing for a producer of a CW television show to say. I’ve been on plenty of television shows. My life is going to stay exactly the same, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Well, Sera,  I think I owe you an apology for that thought.

I’m sure Sera understood – but she was totally right!

Misha also wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood, from his perspective almost a decade later. A portion of the proceeds from every sale benefits Random Acts, the charity he founded shortly after this amazing journey began – and one of the ways in which Misha has been changing the world ever since he realized he had a platform that allowed him to do so, thanks to playing Castiel on this little but long-lasting television show.

Happy 10 years on Supernatural, Misha!

–Lynn

You can check out Misha’s chapters and all

our books on Supernatural at the links on

the home page!

 

 

 

 

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.

Read more