Lynn and I should be meeting this weekend, in Nashville. At the Salute to Supernatural Convention at the Grand Ol Opry Hotel/Resort. Instead, we are locked down. Quarantined. The convention has long been canceled. (Rescheduled for August and Chuck knows we are beyond excited at the thought of attending another convention!) Rather than sit and worry about the state of the country, the world… rather than be sad we don’t have a convention this weekend… we thought we should remember the good times we’ve had in Nashville over the years. So without further ado, here’s a quick look back at the Salute to Supernatural Conventions in Nashville!
[Kim] One of my favorite parts of these conventions is listening to the Rules and Regulations as presented by our host, Richard Speight, Jr. alongside Rob Benedict and Louden Swain. Do they discuss what they are going to do each time? Do they write it, plan it, rehearse it? I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care. Their version of the Rules and Regulations are different at each convention, usually laced with indirect or direct innuendo about the host city, and always laugh-‘til-my-cheeks-hurt funny. I may or may not have laughed ‘til I cried at more than one of these presentations.
[Lynn] I miss Rules & Regulations! I miss the theme song, and the fabulous showcase that it is for Rich and Rob’s hilarious sense of humor and mad improv skills. Just sayin’.
[Kim} This convention began on Friday with Richard bringing us yet another fresh, new version of the Rules and Regulations. In typical fashion, he managed to explain these to us all while making fun of southern sayings; he referenced so many that I could not possibly include them all – and yes, I reckon I laughed so hard I was fixin’ to cry.
(Ugh. Eww. Look at the ridiculous watermark. Look at the blurry photo. *sigh* I had so much to learn back then.)
Friday panels began with the dynamic duo of Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster.
They danced their way onto the stage, and immediately began to tell us about their conversation from the night before – one that included both periods and trying on underwear – because that’s how best friends roll. Listening to their panel, watching their interaction, I had no doubt they share an epic friendship, and it reminded me of my own real life best friend. (You really don’t want to read some of our texts either.) I don’t know if Wayward Daughters will ever be picked up as a spin off, but if it isn’t, can someone please give these two besties their own show already?
[Lynn] Ouch. That one’s hard to read now…
Gil McKinney had a solo panel on Friday. Always smooth and sexy, he talks effortlessly about his life on Supernatural and beyond. He also reminds us how much the show and the fandom have impacted his life. Oh, and he discovered and now loves Cracker Barrel… and y’all know you’re gonna eat there for breakfast every time there’s a con in town.
Osric Chau was the first to comment on the oddly shaped chairs, suggesting they are like massage chairs. He is so adorable, I’m sure someone would volunteer to give him that massage! He talks about the possibility of Kevin returning to the show, and suggests that anything can happen with our show. “You can always come back and still be dead.” He also thinks that Kevin has probably figured out how to break the veil.
[Lynn] Osric was prescient!
Ruth Connell is an absolute joy. She seemingly glides from one side of the stage to the other, graciously answering questions. She addresses each fan by asking, “what’s your name where ya from and what do ya want” and then she gives the fan a gift of a hotel toiletry or a bracelet for being brave enough to ask a question. The bracelets are representative of her charity, Hope Chest, because, as she says, “Boobs are important.” To quote Mark Sheppard, Ruth is truly “Magically Delicious.”
Friday panels began with Louden Swain playing “Start Me Up,” a fitting start to the weekend indeed. Before introducing the first guest, we were schooled on the Southern Language by Richard Speight, Jr. He explained to us that several words are pronounced differently in the South, such as the word pie, which is pronounced pah. He also took great pains to explain to us what it means when a Southerner tells you that you are just as welcome as the flowers in May… using a water bottle to represent the proverbial flower, Richard dramatically, emphatically, and hilariously explained that the return of the flowers in May are nothing sort of a miracle, having survived the harshest of winters with all of its two inches of snow… and yet, the flowers somehow manage to return year after year, and oh thank God. Or Chuck. Or Rob.
If only those people from the six empty seats in the front row had been there. They, too, would have been baptized and saved by those beautiful flowers in May.
Julian Richings was the first panel on Friday that year, and he talked about his character, Death. He said that playing this character is the “greatest acting of his career” because he is usually “twitchy and can’t sit still.” In preparing to play Death, he drew inspiration from old school monster movies. He thinks that Death will be back on Supernatural at some point; he thinks Death may be in Chicago, waiting for Dean to walk by so he can throw a hamburger at him.
Julian also talked about the idea that Death loves junk food, such as pizza. That led to a debate on if pineapple belongs on pizza… and the answer from the crowd was a resounding No. And I absolutely put the camera down long enough to vote in this survey, because Gross. No thank you.
Alaina Huffman also appeared in a panel on Friday in 2017. She shared with us this fun fact: The holy water used on the show is a mixture of half water and half lube, and they call it Holy O.
Jason Manns was the next panel that Friday back in 2017. He told us the story of meeting Jensen several years ago at a party where they played guitar together into the wee hours of the morning. He also talked about Rob Benedict, telling us that “he (Rob) is one of those dudes that’s good at everything and if he’s not good at it, then he works at it until he is… every time I hung out with him, I’d learn something else cool about him. I hated him for a while…” LOL
His panel ended with a little taste of the Station Breaks. Following that, he and Rob performed “Hallelujah,” with Billy Moran on guitar… and that’s the story of how I died on Friday. And I’m dying all over again as I remember this moment – so pure, so stunning, just gah.
Kathryn Newton was the final panel that Friday One of the highlights for me came when Kathryn gave a little piece of advice. She said, “Love yourself. Because once you love yourself, it’s really easy to love others.” Thank you, Kathryn, for reminding us to Love Ourselves First.
I don’t know why we didn’t write recaps that year, but alas, we did not. Please enjoy a few pics from 2018.
[Lynn] Probably because were were both totally and completely overwhelmed with LIFE?
As always, our Fridays began with the Greatest Host of All Time, Mr. Richard Speight, Jr.
I remember this was my first time watching a panel with David Haydn-Jones and Adam Fergus. No one prepared me for the hilarity of this panel. I laughed until I cried, until my face hurt. 12/10 would watch these two all day long.
Rachel Miner was the next panel.
Jason Manns followed Rachel’s panel. I do remember the lighting was off that year… and by ‘off’ I mean dark and shadowy; unless the person was standing in the exact middle of the stage, and under 6 feet tall, then the lighting was okay… so RIP my photos of Jason.
Kim Rhodes and Lisa Berry were the final panel on Friday that year. Little did I know what Lisa would bring to the show Saturday night!
Friday panels began with our most favorite unicorn, Rachel Miner. She talked about her time in Kim Rhodes’ closet, how her favorite scene was Meg’s death (written so beautifully by Robbie Thompson), and she laughed when a fan reminded her that she once wished for Meg and Cas to have little demon/angel babies. Rachel also spoke about MS and how she copes with it:
“My day is made or broken by simple kindnesses. I have everyday momentary heroes and many of them are women… I have the life I have because of you. It was your encouragement not to hide.”
Jason Manns was the next panel. He said, “I love conventions because everyone is like on vacation with a bunch of like minded folks.” And he’s right – this is like a vacation, with all of your friends… and as I write this, I hold on to the hope of many more vacations to come.
I actually wrote those words in the recap, “and as I write this, I hold on to the hope of many more vacations to come.” At the time, I wrote that because we had learned the Show was ending. But now… now, today, in 2020, with all that is happening in our country, in our world… I really am holding on to the hope of many more vacations to come.
The next panel was a convention first, a duo of Jeffery Vincent Parise and Gabriel Tigerman. Apparently, they literally met just before they walked on stage, but they were quickly friends and served up a hilarious panel – oh to go back there now and enjoy a few laughs with them.
Jake Abel was the next panel. He talked about being on the set of Supernatural. He said his favorite memory was having a beer with Jared and Jensen after his last scene on top of one of their trailers. He thought they wouldn’t remember him, but they just picked him up and hugged him.
Jake: There are few guys out there as genuine.
[Kim: Writing this post is so much harder than I thought. So I’ll just remind you that Jake said if he had the power to unlock anything, it would be the cage, and if he could be any animal, he’d be a dragon. Dragons and unlocked cages and beers on top of the trailer and they really are genuine, good guys. My heart.]
Again, those are the actual words I wrote a year ago. And I say again today, writing this compilation article is so much harder than I thought. I miss these folks. I miss my friends. (insert ugly crying)
Friday panels ended with Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster. These two women never fail to punch me right in the feels.
Briana: “Whether you are overwhelmed because you’re busy, or overwhelmed because you’re sitting doing nothing – You are in control. It is your decision how to handle it. Live moment by moment. Take each thing on the list one at a time. And if things don’t get done, well guess what, the world will go on tomorrow.”
Kim: “Make time to do the one thing that you need to do to take care of You. You are allowed to take care of yourself. It should actually be a priority.”
I struggle, like Every Day, with my To-Do List… gotta get it all done, today, 2 hours ago… and every day, I fail. While I did do all the laundry and I had two appointments and I did the dishes and I did all the food prep for the week… but I didn’t get the list all done… those photos didn’t get edited and the beds didn’t get made and I didn’t have time to call my mom…
And no, “that thing to take care of Me” is never even on my To-Do List. I ain’t got time for that. I gotta do this and this and this, and this first. If I get it all done, then if I have time, maybe I’ll do some yoga, or take a long, hot bath, or whatever.
Update: I have tried very hard – very hard – to make time for myself. I forget, a lot, but I am trying.
And today, in 2020, in the face of this virus that has taken over our world and our lives, I hope everyone is out there, putting yourselves at the top of your lists, making the time to take care of yourselves.
This is a tough time for everyone. For fans of Supernatural, it’s also the countdown to the ending of the show that has gotten us through our toughest times for the past fifteen years. I’ve seen the fandom and the cast come together online to try and offer ways to help each other get through this, from posting adorable family home videos to organizing rewatch parties to Stage It shows to virtual cons. For our part, we’re really hoping that our new book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, that celebrates the legacy of Supernatural will also be a help to this SPNFamily we love.
We planned the book because we knew this would be a hard time for Supernatural fans and cast – hoping that a book to hang onto that celebrates the legacy of the show and its importance would be a help getting through. But we had no idea just how hard this time would truly be. Our hope is that getting There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done out in early May will be a bright spot for the SPNFamily both for the show’s ending and the painful position all of humanity is in right now. Preorder link is at the end – and you get some freebies right now to amuse you until the release date.
We’ll try to do our part here on the blog too, with more features from the new book and its authors – both cast and fans – in the coming weeks. Here’s our first offering of ‘bright spots’ to give Supernatural fans something positive to hang onto – our adventures at the last Supernatural convention for who knows how long, SPNVegas. And some pretty pictures.
Everyone knew that this year’s Vegas Supernatural con was going to be an emotional one. For one thing, there hadn’t been a con since November, so cast and fans and vendors were all missing each other a great deal. Even more impactful, this was the last convention during which Jared, Jensen and Misha were still filming Supernatural. The last con at which they still *were* Sam, Dean and Cas. (Or at least that was the plan – who knows what’s going to happen now!)
As I boarded my flight on Wednesday morning – more than two weeks ago as I write this – (clutching my hand sanitizer and incredibly thankful that there was no one sitting next to me), I kept thinking that this was the last convention that would be the same as all the ones before it. I’ve been going to these cons for 13 years, since 2007, and all this time, Jared and Jensen have been Sam and Dean. If you know me at all, you know that my questions are always show questions. I am always dying to know what they thought about their character’s emotional reaction to whatever was happening on the show, or what their head canon is about the latest episode. This would be the last convention where I could ask those sort of questions and still have ongoing canon to spool out before us. The last one in which the Winchesters’ and Castiel’s stories are not yet over; not yet fully told. At this point as I post this, we don’t know when they will actually be able to film the last two episodes, but it will certainly be different, and not something that happened organically, with the crew that has been family for fifteen years, in a continuous season of filming. There will never be a convention quite like this one ever again.
Like so many things I’m emotional about that have to do with my favorite show ending, it sounds silly to be so worked up about this kind of ‘never again’ – but it’s not. This show, these conventions, these actors, have been a big part of my life and the lives of most Supernatural fans – whether you’re there in person or not, everyone enjoys the panels and getting to know the cast of our favorite show better. And while some things won’t entirely change going forward, some most definitely will. There are cons planned throughout 2020 (assuming COVID19 allows any), but they will still be different. And now that the entire world is on the brink of apocalypse, I need the healthy escape and inspiration of my favorite fictional characters more than ever!
So let’s just say I arrived in Vegas already a bit teary eyed. It seems weird to write this now, only two weeks later, but at the time we didn’t know just how serious and widespread COVID19 would be. Nevertheless, I followed an air hugs only rule at the con, washed my hands constantly, and kept a bottle of hand sanitizer at my vendor table throughout the con. I’m now very glad I did!
Luckily my good friend Laurena met me at the airport so we could share this entire experience, and ensure that neither of us totally decompensated from being emotionally overwhelmed at some point. We caught an Uber and consoled each other with a plan of an afternoon lounging in the sun beneath the palm trees at the Rio’s beautiful pool. Ahhh, just what two people escaping from Philly and Chicago needed in early March!
I have a love/hate relationship with the Rio. It’s always where the Vegas con is, and that makes me fond of it in that nostalgic way I have of being fond of everything that’s familiar in my life and can anchor me to the good stuff. On the other hand, there was that year the entire bathroom overflowed with sewage in the middle of the night – literally bubbling up out of our sink and tub and toilet – that sent me and my roommates out onto the casino floor in our PJ’s with a luggage cart of all our hurriedly stacked up belongings to move rooms at 3 am. Not one of my best memories.
So when Laurena and I arrived and were informed that the pool was CLOSED, it was like a flashback to that earlier trauma. Closed??? For the entire time we’d be here? What’s worse, it wasn’t just the pool – it was the entire outside area. There was literally nowhere to sit outside and enjoy the Vegas warmth. We ended up sitting at the shuttle stop on a metal bench, feeling pretty forlorn, just to get some fresh air for a little while.
First it was the announcement that this would be a “no-touch” con, thanks to COVID19, which was upsetting to many fans who were looking forward to hugging their faves in a photo op, even if everyone was starting to understand that it was probably very necessary. Then no pool??
Late lunch at Hash House, which is always a treat, made us feel a bit better. Then it was time to open our table in the vendor room, and to reunite with all the awesome vendor squad people I hadn’t seen in way too long. I was so exhausted from the time change and travel that I almost crashed right after, but luckily I decided to join my friend Lisa and a bunch of her friends – all of them writers – for a late dinner. Well, really for some delicious milkshakes. YUM! And writing talk, which I always enjoy.
Thursday the convention itself kicked off. Vegas is four days long (five if you count Wednesday evening vending and events), so it’s really more like an endurance marathon. The walk to the convention area of the Rio is approximately ten miles long, so endurance really is the right word. My knees have still not recovered.
There were SO many friends at this con, and I’m so grateful I had the chance to catch up with so many people since I have no clue when we’ll all be together again. HR was there with his newest awesome sculptures – I’m always blown away by the talent in this fandom!
Can’t you just hear Jack saying “Hello…”?
Thursday kicked off the con itself. After an intro by Rob and the band, first up was a panel by DJ Qualls, who hasn’t been to a con in a while. It was wonderful to see him, and heartwarming to hear the SPNFamily’s enthusiastic support of DJ, who had recently come out as gay.
DJ: Everyone knows I came out, right? I really was never in to anyone who knew me. But I learned at the time I started in this business that Hollywood wanted you to be quiet about it.
Episode two of the fifteenth and final season of Supernatural was called ‘Raising Hell’. I’m not sure why it was called that, since Hell was ostensibly already “raised” in the first episode, but it turned out to be sort of fitting anyway, since the episode raised a fair amount of disagreement and infighting amongst the stressed-out-because-we’re-about-to-lose-this-show fandom. As a fan, I sometimes agree with all the sides. I understand the fans who don’t want to hear any complaints or criticisms, who desperately want their last 19 episodes of the show to be something that feels good, a celebration without critique that brings only joy and lots of good memories. I understand that feeling; I tend to be good at forgiving, handwaving and even ignoring in order to appreciate the good parts of what I love. On the other hand, I also understand the fans who are critical of an episode. When you only have 19…18….episodes left, having one of those feel unsatisfying is tough to swallow. I’m somewhere in between the extremes.
The writers of this episode are not always my favorites, as I’ve said before. They have written some good episodes, but there are quite a few that haven’t worked well for me. Whether it’s because they’re seasoned television writers or because they just enjoy juggling, these are the writers who often are given the episodes that include everything but the kitchen sink (which I’m sure, in all fairness, is challenging). Some people like that and are happy to greet each new revelation with a more is better attitude. That’s not me. I like to savor each little bit of this show. I like the show to spool itself out without too much rushing, and for every moment to be invested with depth and a meaning I have to work a bit to figure out. I’m not just here for the action; I expect the show to give me insight into the characters that are why I love it. I start to get a headache when there’s too much going on that isn’t well connected to the main characters or when there are too many characters jammed into one episode.
We’ve been told that lots of ‘fan favorite’ characters will be coming back this season, which makes sense. It’s the last season, our last chance to see some of our favorites and perhaps to give them a proper send off. I’ve been on board with that revelation, and at the same time concerned that it would be overdone, so that each return wouldn’t have the gravity it’s due. For me, that happened in this episode. Rowena and Chuck were back, which was expected, so I won’t consider those a “return” as much as a they’re-part-of-the-current-storyline. But in addition to Rowena and Chuck (and new character Belphegor) in this episode, we had three other returns: Amara, Ketch and Kevin. That’s a lot of returns in one episode!
I like all three of the returning characters, and the actors did a wonderful job with their portrayals. While I initially wasn’t a Ketch fan, I’ve warmed up to the character over the seasons, partly I suspect because David Haydn-Jones is an awesome human being and a talented enough actor that he brings a vulnerability to Ketch that’s unexpected and interesting. Most of fandom was spoiled for all three returns, which also dilutes the impact considerably, and while I don’t entirely know if it made sense for Ketch to turn up there in the nick of time, I could go with it.
Then we had the return of Amara, something fandom also knew about. I loved Emily Swallow showing us Amara’s evolution (and her snazzy new wardrobe) but by the time we saw her and Chuck, the episode was already feeling a bit crowded.
And then we got the most emotional return of all – Kevin Tran. Again, most of us knew he’d be back, which diminished the impact, unfortunately. I was happy he was coming back; It’s no secret that I love Osric Chau to bits and that I adored his character. But by the time Kevin appeared, I think I actually exclaimed “Kevin too??”
To say that the final Supernatural panel in Hall H was emotional would be a serious understatement. Supernatural fans, myself included, alternated between trying to stay in denial about the upcoming ending and getting unexpectedly overcome with feelings at other panels for soon-to-be-ending shows. By the time Sunday morning came around, most of us had packed extra tissues as we filed into the giant Hall H.
We waited for the panel with mixed emotions, staring at the familiar name placards that have been there every year at Comic Con. I still remember the very first panel we were at, in the much smaller 6BCD room.
Excitement ran high as it always does. Fans who sacrificed sleep to wait in line and get their Hall H admission wristbands were nevertheless filled with energy as soon as those doors opened. Several cast members had come through the lines like they always do, including Misha Collins, Rachel Miner, Alaina Huffman and Osric Chau. Jared and Jensen stood out on the landing to greet the fans before the panel. Coffeed up or not, everyone was wide awake as they filed in and hurried toward the front to get the best seat possible.
WB gave out special edition Impala models, which are awesome. (In the press room that afternoon, Jared was wishing he had one too). As we settled in to wait, I chatted with some Supernatural crew and with Osric Chau, one of my favorite people in the universe. I love that he was as excited as we all were!
It was a good thing that the woman next to me brought an entire BOX of tissues because just the very start of the panel made me tear up. Warner Bros publicity person Holly Ollis, who has kicked off every Supernatural panel I’ve been at since way back in 2007, took the mic to talk about how special this little show and this incredible fandom have been. Her voice broke for the first time and I had to choke back tears. I didn’t even get through her intro, folks!
Holly has been a champion of this show from the start and it’s been a long and winding journey, with lots of ups and downs for the show — and for me. I’ve written thousands of articles and episode reviews, and published 6 books on Supernatural. Knowing this was the last time I would sit here and listen to her introduction, after 12 years here at Comic Con…it was a lot. It’s been a lot to be privileged to experience, and it will be a lot to give up.
Whether you’ve been on this wild ride from the very first Supernatural appearance prior to its airing in 2005 (as were several fans I spoke to) or you discovered the show in Season 14 and binged to catch up, every fan has their own shared story with Supernatural. Everyone has a reason why the show is special, their own history with Sam and Dean and Cas and company. We each know what the show and the cast and the fandom have done for us. And as we start the journey through the “last year”, that makes it an emotional journey indeed.
The panel kicked off, as it usually does, with a filmed compilation. I’ll never forget the epic year that WB installed surround screens ALL OVER Hall H and it was Sam and Dean in the Impala racing around them, followed by Kansas performing Carry On Wayward Son LIVE.
But this compilation was also special – because it was a look back at the ENTIRE series. And it began with this sign.
And yes, it made me cry.
The montage then began with those iconic scenes from the pilot, “We got work to do” and then took us on a wild ride through the seasons, each one introduced with its number. FOURTEEN seasons, countless special moments flashed before our eyes, a visceral reminder of how incredible this show and its cast and crew have been.
The audience cheered our favorite scenes and our favorite characters, and if we were filled with emotion before, it was overflowing now.
And the video ended with this.
Which made me cry even more.
And then the last Hall H panel began – moderated by the only two people who could possibly do it justice: Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict. I feel like we are the luckiest fandom ever to have two actors from the show, who play iconic characters, and who happen to be super talented at improv and at emceeing panels (which they do constantly at Supernatural conventions). They came out wearing trench coats, then quipped, “We’re cosplaying…. Sam and Dean in the rain…”
They got us to laugh so we could temporarily put down the tissues.
Rich and Rob were also emotional though – not only have they been on the show since its early seasons, but it has changed their lives in countless ways. Rob and Louden Swain have their own passionate fan base. Rich is now an accomplished director who’s directing three episodes in Season 15. It was so much more meaningful having them anchoring the panel; they’re part of the family. They get it.
Rob and Rich introduced the panel – showrunners Bob Singer and Andrew Dabb, writers and exec producers Eugenie Ross-Leming, Brad Buckner and Robert Berens, and Alex Calvert, Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. The actors were all clearly moved as they took the stage, trying to take it all in and remember this unique experience of being applauded by a room full of 7,000 some people. Jared and Jensen stood side by side and paused for a few photos, physically anchoring each other through all the emotion.
Misha sat down and just smiled, looking out over the crowd. Alex was clearly trying to take it all in.
Rich and Rob kicked off the panel by asking the first question – where are your heads at? You grew up with the show, and now it comes to an end, how are you feeling about it all? What’s your grand take away from this?
Jared: That’s so mean to start with, I’m trying not to cry, can we all just start crying?
Most of us: We’re way ahead of you!
Jensen said that what he’s gotten from the show are lifelong friends, experiences of a lifetime, and this (gestures to crowd).
He paused, looking out at the sea of adoring fans.