Two Years Ago – Remembering the Day We Found Out Supernatural Was Ending

This is an odd anniversary to commemorate, but it’s an important one. It sounds melodramatic, but two years ago today my life changed significantly when I got the news that Supernatural was ending. If you haven’t ever been a passionate fan of a show or a film or a book series or a band, you may not understand. If you have, you probably do.

Two years ago today, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins told the SPN Family that Supernatural was coming to an end after fifteen seasons, with tears in their eyes and real emotion in their voices. I still have trouble watching that little video message, but I’m forever grateful that they cared enough to tell us themselves.

So on this March 22, two years later, I thought I’d share what I wrote in the Introduction to the book we put together to remember how special Supernatural will always be, with chapters from the actors and the fans about what Supernatural has meant to them, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done.

I’m just as emotional looking back on that day now as I was when I wrote this…

There are certain experiences that happen in our lives that we will never forget. Psychology even has a term for the memory created by this kind of experience: a flashbulb memory. When something happens that shakes our world especially profoundly, the brain encodes that moment differently, and more vividly, than it does our everyday memories.

Back in the day, a flashbulb was a cube that sat on top of your camera and went off to illuminate a scene you were capturing with a photo, freezing it in time forever (it’s now just a light on your smartphone). Our brain, when it records a flashbulb memory, does something similar: it freezes the important, sometimes upsetting moment in time forever. The sights, the sounds, the smells, and the emotions of that moment are all preserved deeply. The memory doesn’t fade like other memories, or lose its emotional intensity. Instead, it remains as clear and vivid as if it happened yesterday. We remember the clothes we were wearing, or exactly what we were doing or thinking, or who we were talking to. We remember our initial shock and then the moment when our emotions kicked in.

Most often, flashbulb memories are about world-changing events like September 11 or shocking personal news. But they can also be things you wouldn’t expect. Sometimes, something is so important to you that the news of its impending loss hits hard enough to freeze the moment in time. I think that’s what happened to me on Friday afternoon, March 22, 2019, the moment I found out that Supernatural would end after its fifteenth season. That might seem like an odd thing to be preserved forever as a flashbulb memory, and it’s certainly not equivalent to world-changing events, but that’s not how our brains work. When something is important, it’s important. And for many people, myself included, this little television show that lasted for fifteen seasons is personally and emotionally important.

When I first heard the show was ending, I was volunteering at the Project Fancare table at Lexington Comic-Con, surrounded by copies of Family Don’t End with Blood and fellow fans. Project Fancare is a nonprofit that gives fans a forum to talk openly about how television and film and books and all sorts of fandoms have helped them get through tough times, and why that’s a good thing. I had just finished talking to a woman who stopped by to tell me what Family Don’t End with Blood and Supernatural have meant to her.

As the woman walked away, my friend Kim leaned over and said softly in my ear, “You need to take a break. Take your phone and go to the bathroom and watch the video that Jensen just posted.”

That’s all she said, but instantly I knew. I knew from the genuine emotion in her voice, and the concern for me that I could hear there. I knew because there’s a part of me that had been waiting for that news and anticipating it and knew it was coming sooner rather than later. My stomach instantly fell and my brain kicked into survival mode, blocking all my emotions and making me feel oddly calm even though intellectually I knew I wasn’t. I can vividly see the table in front of me, the books spread out there, and the woman walking away. She was wearing one of the first Represent “Always Keep Fighting” T-shirts and she had bright red hair and a bag with the protection symbol on it. I can see it like it’s a photo frozen in time—as brightly as if lit by a flashbulb—and I can hear Kim’s voice and her words like she just finished talking, even though it’s now many months later.

I stood in the alcove by the bathroom in the giant convention center and pulled out my phone and found the video—and as soon as I saw their faces, before they even started speaking, there was no doubt in my mind. Jared, Jensen, and Misha are extraordinary in how open they have been with their fans, and I could see all the emotion they were struggling to contain before I ever hit play to listen to the message. I am forever grateful that I got to hear it from them.

The video that still makes me tear up:

Jared, Jensen and Misha Announce The Series Ending

Things are different in the Supernatural fandom than they were two years ago. I’ve been dismayed at the animosity and bullying toward other fans that sometimes seem worse now than when the show was actually airing, something I have to admit I didn’t expect. But I’ve also been encouraged by the kindness and support that most fans continue to show for each other. And I love that the Supernatural cast have made it clear that their love for the show and for their characters and for the fandom is not going anywhere.

While a global pandemic has made it impossible for most of us to see our fellow fans or the actors, with conventions and concerts all on hold, I’m grateful for all the zoom panels and Instagram lives and interviews and every other piece of content we’ve gotten from the cast that I miss so much. It eases the loss and makes me feel like we’re all in this together. I’m grateful for all the myriad fanworks that this incredibly creative fandom puts out there to share, from the prettiest gifs to the most heartbreaking youtube videos to fanart and fanfic that can make me cry or smile all day. I’m grateful for every playful bit of fun I run across and every supportive bit of conversation. It reminds me what fandom – especially this fandom – is all about.

I’m grateful for everything and everyone that keeps the SPNFamily alive. And I’m still hopeful that we haven’t seen the last of Supernatural.

Fingers crossed.

#SPNFamilyForever

— Lynn

You can remember Supernatural forever with

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done and

Family Don’t End With Blood. Info and links

on the home page or at peacewhenyouaredone.com

 

A Chat with Supernatural’s ‘Dracula’ – Todd Stashwick!

Next up in our Supernatural Spring Break celebration week, another chat with one of the Supernatural actors who made their way into our hearts – this time while dressed as Dracula. Todd Stashwick is a genre favorite actor from so many of my favorite shows, as well as a bona fide fan himself. We met over a decade ago at an early Supernatural convention, and I was so taken by his understanding of fandom and passion for all things geeky that we included that chat in our first two books. When I put together a book to celebrate the legacy of Supernatural as it was ending, I knew I wanted to ask Todd to write a chapter – and I’m glad he did!

At the end of last year, the online There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done book club for that book invited him to drop in and answer some questions about his chapter and the show, and I’m glad he did that too. Here are some excerpts from that discussion, that I was happy to join in on also.

BC: So glad you could join us. Can you talk a little bit about how you decided on what would be in your chapter?

TS:  Kind of you to say (smile).  Thinking about the long road you all traveled down, and looking back at the fact that you all found commonality of experience through the show got me thinking about fandom as a whole and what that means to me.  So I reflected back to what I believe lit the fuse of being “fan” in myself.  How we don’t “become” fans, we notice that we are, we find ourselves innately drawn to certain stories, characters, and franchises because it answers some need inside of us.  It connects us to other people.  It gives us a tribe.

BC: I adore that you have a long history of being a fan of so many things!  My husband is a huge Star Wars fan, but I never experienced that kind of community until SPN.

TS: It’s also not restricted to sci-fi/horror/fantasy.  My mother in her 70’s attended Downton Abbey parties.  We seek like-minded souls.

BC:  When you wrote in your chapter that “We are tribal creatures who use mythology to come together and understand ourselves” – that really resonated.  So true!

Lynn: Yes, that is so much what fandom – ANY fandom – is about.  We seek like-minded souls, and finding them validates us and feels incredibly satisfying.  It’s like a primal need, for belongingness.

TS: Mythology is a way to analyze ourselves, our culture, explain the unexplained, wrestle with death.  It gives us a metaphor to understand ourselves.  Mythology gives us an escape.  It’s really fun.  And horror allows us to field-test fear without consequences.  Like a roller coaster, we tempt fate, death, and come out okay.

Photo: troubledgirl, from There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done

Lynn: Yes – and Supernatural has both mythology and horror.  No wonder it’s so compelling. People always ask me, how did you choose who would write chapters in the book?  A decade ago, I sat down with Todd in the green room at a convention, and was so taken with how deeply he understood fandom that I never forgot it – something he said, “television is our campfire” resonated with me so much I couldn’t get it out of my head.  So I knew I was going to ask him to write a chapter in the last book about Supernatural and its legacy.

TS: It’s (TV is) just an extenuation of our oral traditions.

BC:  I also think it’s so wonderful that someone who is such a fan themselves, and who has such an appreciation for fandom itself, played the shapeshifter enamored of classic monster movies, and with such pathos.  We very rarely see a villain on SPN, especially those with a humorous bent, evoke such a sympathetic response.  I think that moment is one of the reasons it has endured as a fan favorite (for me at least).

TS: It’s what drew me to the role, the high melodrama and the quiet fragility.

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Supernatural Spring Break – Photo Post No. 3 of Kim’s Favorites!

For our final photo retrospective for Supernatural Spring Break week, Kim has put together her thirty favorite photos from Supernatural cons over the years. I have no idea how she was able to do this, because narrowing it down to 30 from so much incredible beauty? I would give up. If you’ve ever stood behind her and looked over her shoulder in a convention hotel room at 2 am and watched while Kim edits her shots and tries to decide which of the hundreds (from one con) to post, then you get what I mean.

Most of the time, my contribution on those late night editing sessions is to periodically distract her by exclaiming OMG GUH!!! when she gets to a particularly gorgeous one. Kim, for some reason, does not appreciate this.

So I’m paying her back by NOT rearranging these photos before this posts. You’re the photographer, Kim, so you get the final say on which of your photos bring you the most joy. I’m just grateful for every single photo you’ve taken, and that you put together the color photo spreads for both Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done. The books would not be nearly as pretty if it wasn’t for your contributions, and the photo and art contributions of other talented fans you coordinated too. (Also you wrote a powerful chapter!)

So here, in order of ability to spark joy, are Kim’s Supernatural cast faves – along with her commentary below and some of mine I couldn’t resist adding. Enjoy!

#30 – Misha at the convention in Jacksonville 2016.

Lynn: And Misha Collin’s blue blue blue eyes too!

#29 – Nashville 2019. I love their riffs.

Lynn: Me too. And their smiles. Jensen Ackles and Rob Benedict aka Robsen definitely sparks joy.

#28 – Louden Swain concert in Austin, Texas, 2020. I’m pretty sure this is “Rock Song.”

Lynn: The Swain show in Austin as 2020 began was one of the last times we got to see them play and be with our fellow SPNFamily. It was a charmed trip in so many ways, and the Swain show on my birthday was the perfect way to celebrate. And, I’m in my feelings already…

 

#27 – Saturday Night Special, Nashville 2019. She just has so much fun at these concerts, and it shows.

Lynn: Kim Rhodes putting her inner rock star out there at the Saturday Night Specials is one of the best things to come from Supernatural conventions.

#26 – Literally the best emcee Ever. Dallas, 2019.

Lynn: Hands down. I remember Richard Speight, Jr.’s very first con and how his personality came through loud and clear. When Creation had an actor cancel for their next con and were wondering who could replace him, I said they should call that Richard Speight guy (who we’d interviewed for our first book) because he was a natural for the convention stage. They did, and the rest is history. And the conventions became something they might not have without Richard’s guidance and incredible ability to improvise onstage at the drop of a hat.

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Supernatural Spring Break – Photo Retrospective Part 2

Continuing our week long spring break celebration of that little show we miss, here are some memories of the Supernatural cast over the years, seen through the lens of Kim Prior’s trusty camera – and her photographer instincts!

First up, some pics from Vegas Con 2015. I remember the first time Gil McKinney stepped onstage and started singing and everyone kind of stopped and went WHAT? Because damn, can he sing! The song he wrote for his dad is a favorite of mine – if you haven’t heard it, check out his album with that beautiful song and more.

Rob with the perfect tee shirt and almost clean shaven at that con!

I can hear the harmonies on Seven Bridges Road just looking at this photo…

“Seven Bridges Road” with Louden Swain, featuring Richard Speight, Jr. and Jensen Ackles.

Jensen looks as excited as all of us were to have both Winchester parents onstage at the same time with him!

Here are a few from Jacksonville 2016 – Ruth Connell and Kim Rhodes with smiles that light up the room, and Mark Sheppard doing one of the things that clearly makes him happiest – playing drums.

Nashville 2016 Matt Cohen when his hair was really long, which I’d almost forgotten. Matt can pull off any look, and I love how much he’s bringing to Entertainment Tonight these days – all his experience helping host cons with Rich and Rob have been put to very good use!

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Celebrating Supernatural – A Chat with Director Guy Bee

Guy Bee has always been one of my favorite directors on Supernatural, directing some of the pivotal episodes, starting with ‘Asylum’ in the first season. I met him a long time ago (which he for sure does not remember) in the green room at an early Supernatural convention. I was waiting to do an interview and he was chatting with some of the actors and I remember wanting to compliment his directing but feeling too shy to do that. This was also the time I was so nervous that I poured myself a very large glass of what I thought was wine from the carafe in the back of the room – except it was very expensive bourbon and that much would likely have left me on the floor. Luckily Kathy intervened. With an eyeroll.

That’s our storied history, Guy Bee! I’m grateful I didn’t embarrass myself, at least. Since then we’ve shared some zoom hello’s and some less fraught convention hello’s, but that first “meeting” will always stick with me.

Fast forward to the present. There’s an online book club that some fans started to discuss the two books that I edited that have chapters by the cast and the fans of Supernatural – Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done. They often invite the actors and fans who wrote chapters to drop into the book club on Discord and answer some questions about their chapters, and I drop in too when I can.  And because the Supernatural cast and crew is like no other, they actually do drop into the book club and join in the discussion of their book chapters and the show!

Rick Worthy (the Alpha Vamp on Supernatural) dropped in a few months ago to discuss the chapter he wrote in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, and the conversation turned to Rick’s collaboration with director Guy Bee in creating the memorable character. Rick mentions working with Guy and becoming good friends in his chapter also. The book club was so intrigued, they invited Guy to come chat with them the next time they met. I was excited to join in too, because directors always have some fascinating insights and I will never ever get tired of hearing about Supernatural. Maybe especially now that it’s ended – having some new insights feels like an incredible treat!

Here’s the Book Club conversation, with some wonderful memories of Supernatural and some interesting thoughts on directing too.

Book Club: Rick Worthy was here at our last meeting and talked about the two of you collaborating to create the Alpha Vamp character. You seemed to work very well together. Is this kind of collaboration common between an actor and a director to flesh out a character? What made Rick great to work with?

Guy: I remember having some suggestions for the part (Brad Dourif) and we auditioned my pal Nick Lea [SIDEBAR – Nick Lea played Alex Krycek on the X-Files and was eventually on Supernatural in the ‘Time After Time’ episode]  who lives in Vancouver, but when I saw Rick’s audition tape I knew he was the only guy to play the Vamp! That Voice!  One of the joys of directing is working on subtext and a motif, (collaborating) with the actors and finding subtleties that aren’t necessarily “on the page”. Rick is a consummate actor who thrives on that kinda stuff. He’s a director’s dream because he ALWAYS elevates the script from just ink on a page to a fully realized, believable character!

[SIDEBAR – Rick Worthy enjoyed filming that episode as much as Guy did, and it sounds like Jared and Jensen did too. Here’s what Rick Worthy had to say about the episode: When Sam and Dean come to his house there is this big long Citizen Kane table where the Alpha Vamp presides, and it was just awesome, a beautiful set design, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. And then Dean attacks and comes after me and I have to hurl him, just toss him over the table like he’s paper! It was one of those really cool stunt scenes and I love to do those. I remember Jared got very excited and came up to me and said dude, you should totally record this on your iPhone! So I gave him my iPhone and he said I’ll record it for you. When the director Guy Bee called ‘Action’, we do the stunt and then I just toss Dean (I believe it was his stunt double) over the table. I think we did it in two takes, and I remember looking back at Jared and he gave me the thumbs up like, yeah that was really cool! I love working with actors who enjoy what they’re doing and have respect for the process. How many times has he done this kind of shot? Dozens and dozens and dozens of times, maybe hundreds since the pilot. I really loved that.]

[And on his friend Guy Bee:  He’s a great guy. He’s like the one director who goes to conventions and does karaoke. He does “Dirty Deeds and They’re Done Dirt Cheap” and sings his ass off. He’s a fun guy to hang out with.]

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