Celebrating Supernatural: An Inspiring Chat with Director Matt Cohen

I’ve known Matt Cohen a long time. I was there for his first Supernatural convention a decade ago – I remember turning to my friend Kathy as we watched Matt try to hug every single fan he met and saying “this guy is a keeper.” I was thrilled when his reception at the cons ensured he would be invited back, eventually becoming one of the Karaoke Kings and an integral part of the Supernatural conventions all over the world. Matt was one of the first Supernatural actors I invited to write a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood, because I knew he would have something inspiring and moving to say. I was right. The chapter he wrote is candid, insightful and very personal – it describes the way being on Supernatural has changed his life and how his relationships with his fellow cast members has changed him as well. It’s one of the chapters that makes me smile and tear up simultaneously (like all the best Supernatural episodes).

I was thrilled when he returned to the show again to play John Winchester, and perhaps even more thrilled when he became part of the final season of the show – not as an actor this time, but as a director. By then he had already made his own short film, Mama Bear, which he had directed and proved just how talented he was behind the camera, not just in front of it. I loved that film, so I couldn’t wait to see what he did with Supernatural.

I waited until his episode, Gimme Shelter, had aired last month, then we caught up by phone.

Matt: It’s nice to hear your voice.

Lynn: It’s been a long time.

Matt: Too long as far as I’m concerned!

(I think the entire SPNFamily feels that way at this point – we all miss each other! We caught up with family stuff, and how his son Macklin is doing with online learning (great) and then dug into the episode.)

Lynn: I was super excited that you got to direct an episode before the show ends. It seems so right and so special.

Matt: It certainly was special and I feel lucky. This show has given me everything at this point, and for it to give me my first hour of prime time TV directorial debut? I agree with you, it felt right. I felt like I was at home because I knew these people were going to do everything they could to not have me fail.

Lynn: For sure. You’re family.

Matt:  And to me, that made me work harder than I’ve worked on anything my whole life, to make sure I could get them out on time and get everyone home and rested and then back to my set again and we could just knock this one out and keep on moving. And that’s exactly how it went. It was a special experience with the most remarkable crew I’ve ever worked with.  They were there for me and I was there for them and it was just beautiful. Every day was emotional for me. When I wrapped every single day, I felt that this was part of my eight day goodbye to the show. And it was difficult, you know? I tried not to cry every night.

Lynn:  I can’t even imagine how emotional it was for you, after all this time and this being such an incredible, life-changing journey. This was one of those quintessential Supernatural episodes that has a little bit of everything – humor, excitement, and emotion. All of them came together, but it was a complex episode. The emotional moments are probably my favorite things about the show – in this episode, like the scene when Castiel talks about his journey – finding a family, becoming a dad.

Lynn: It struck me that is so similar to what you wrote about in your chapter of Family Don’t End With Blood, about your own journey finding yourself and becoming a dad too. Misha [Collins] was so good in that scene. How did you feel about the episode’s story?

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In The Middle of Sociopolitical Turmoil: Here Comes Supernatural!

This has been a hell of a week. The US election happened on Tuesday and Americans (and most of the rest of the world) waited through constant anxiety attacks to find out who won as results trickled in. Everyone was on edge, tensions were high, and I really needed my number one comfort show, Supernatural. On Thursday, the third to last Supernatural episode ever aired in the midst of all this uncertainty and anxiety – an episode ominously titled ‘Despair’. True to Supernatural form, its third to last episode aired in the middle of unprecedented chaos and caused even more chaos, both in the fandom and more broadly in terms of anyone watching trending topics that night. In fact, #Supernatural not only trended, but #Destiel and #Putin trended – often in the same tweets. Who the hell had that one on their 2020 bingo card??

As Supernatural ends its run, it’s no longer the major player on Tumblr that it once was, but on Thursday all those 2012 Supernatural accounts rose from the dead en masse to comment on whether or not “Destiel Is Canon” with a mind blowing range of unironic celebration posts alongside an equally mind blowing array of shitposts and hilarious memes  making fun of the show for how that possibility played out. I admit I never thought that if Supernatural once again ruled Tumblr memes, it would be for making fun of a scene that was the opposite of intended to be funny.

But it’s been that kind of a week. I have mixed feelings all over the place that I still haven’t sorted out and the US Presidential election was just decided after 987 years, so I’m not likely to sort them out any time soon. Instead, I’ll try to dig into the entire episode, not just those three minutes, and see where it brought us, for better or worse.

The episode picks up right where 15.17 left off, Sam helping an injured Jack. Jack tells them all to leave him, for their own good.

Jack: I don’t wanna hurt you, don’t let me hurt you…

Alex Calvert is so good at making me feel for Jack, that plaintive ‘don’t let me hurt you’ going right to my heart. Dean has changed his tune completely, insisting passionately that they’re not gonna give up on him. Poor Dean must have whiplash with how the writers keep making him change his tune so often.

Billie appears, blaming them for her plan not working and then zapping Jack out of there to the Empty.

Which means we get to see Rachel Miner again, so yay. Jack promptly explodes, though, so boo. The explosion wakes everything up and makes a lot of noise and totally pisses it off. Enraged, the Empty attacks Jack, crushing his head.

Poor Jack, he’s been through a lot in the last two minutes.

Billie gives us some exposition about the Empty being pissed at her too for sending an explosive Jack there, and reminds us that the Empty can’t come to Earth unless it is summoned, which we already knew. And Sam reminds us what we figured out last week about Billie’s plan – that anyone who was resurrected will die, including Sam and Dean. Billie also is pissed that Sam took the God book and wants it back, refusing to return the maybe still alive Jack until Sam gives it to her. Sam finally goes to get it; instead of putting it in her outstretched hand, he drops it on the table instead. Sassy, Sam.

Billie underestimates the Winchesters for some reason and walks away to read the new portion of the God book, her scythe left behind and her back to the Winchesters. She zaps Jack back to them but insists he’s coming with her, since he’s still “useful”, and that’s when Dean has had enough. He grabs her scythe and attacks her, injuring her. She zaps herself out of there, leaving Jack (and her scythe) behind.

Lisa Berry can be very scary indeed and she proves it in this episode, telling the reapers in her library when she returns, clutching her shoulder, that “the plan has changed.”

Uh oh.

That night, neither of the Winchesters can sleep. Dean drinks in the dark, and Sam joins him.

Dean slides a glass and the bottle to his brother and they settle in, mirror images of each other. It’s a beautifully filmed scene from director Richard Speight, Jr. but melancholy as hell.

Dean: Sam, I’m sorry…about everything.

Sam: Dean, you don’t have to…

Dean: I pulled a gun on you! I couldn’t stop… we were so close to beating him… I couldn’t snap out of it.

Sam: Yeah, well, you did. And you’ve snapped me out of worse.

Dean: Mmm

Sam: You have.

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Sam is hanging onto hope for both of them, saying they’ll regroup. Somehow.

Dean raises his glass.

Dean: To somehow.

They clink glasses, drink together in the dark.

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Three To Go – All The Supernatural Happenings of the Past Two Weeks!

The past two weeks haven’t been quite as full of constant new Supernatural content as the ones before – and many of us, especially here in the US, have a lot else on our minds — but it has still been a good time to be a Supernatural fan. I’m grateful for all the coverage we’re getting, with newly released photos and videos and articles just about every day, because we know we only have a few more weeks of the show being on the air and that happening. Most of the coverage has been about the show itself, but the Supernatural cast has also been very involved in the American elections. This is a group of people who take seriously the Supernatural mantra of ‘saving people’ and they are all  using their platforms to carry that out however they believe will be the most effective. Article and video links included below so you can check out more coverage details.

At the start of last week, the SPNFamily got some long hoped for and very welcome news — after years and years of pleading, Supernatural now has its very own Impala hashtag emoji! I will admit, I didn’t have on my 2020 bingo card sobbing with pride and joy and anticipation of loss over a Baby emoji, but here we are. I’m beside myself with pride for our little show – it may not seem significant to people outside the fandom, but it’s so significant to the SPNFamily. (It’s not a regular emoji, so it won’t appear forever, but I’m still very happy to have it for the show’s end run at least).

 

As we’re all preparing to grieve the loss of Supernatural, we’re also looking forward to the new projects that the cast and crew will be working on, which helps at least a little. TVLine kicked off last week with some good news about Jensen Ackles’ new project, The Boys.

TVLine reporated that Ackles’ Soldier Boy will play a pivotal role in Season 3.

Showrunner Eric Kripke: With him comes the big season mythology that he threads all the way through. The season is sort of about him.

Me: Yesssssssssssssssss!

They also had some news about the fate of Castiel, which many of us are trying to steel ourselves for right now as the pivotal Episode 18 airs tomorrow.

Castiel’s deal with The Empty has not been forgotten and will play into the show’s final episodes. Uh oh.

Andrew Dabb: It’s something we introduced last year, knowing to a degree where it was going. The story can always take twists and turns. But obviously, The Empty’s been a little bit more of a character this year, played by Rachel Miner, who’s done a great job. It has still got a grudge against Cas, and that will not go away.

To say we’re nervous about tomorrow’s episode is a gigantic understatement. Personally, I’m so anxious at this point, for multiple reasons, I can barely sit still long enough to type this.

https://tvline.com/2020/10/27/chicago-fire-season-9-spoilers-foster-leaving-annie-ilonzeh/

Last Tuesday, Jared started filming his new show, Walker, and the SPNFamily tweeted #GoodLuckJared to him all day to start him off with lots of love.

On Wednesday, EW had an article on Supernatural’s unofficial theme song, Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son. I swear, everything about our show is special – what other show has a theme song like that, 100% embraced by the band itself to the extent that they came to Comic Con a few years ago to kick off the Hall H Supernatural panel??

Supernatural creator Eric Kripke explained how the song came to be used in the show.

Kripke: Those weren’t just classic rock songs, those were the songs from my collection. At the end of season 1, we were cutting the first of the ‘Road So Far’ trailers. We wanted to do a recap to remind everyone what happened all season but we really wanted to do it in a way that wasn’t the same old avalanche of exposition. [Producer] Phil [Sgriccia] and I looked at ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ and set it to this long recap and it just came to life because the lyrics seemed to fit what the brothers were going through. What people don’t remember is that in season 1, that was the second-to-last episode that ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ played. And then we tried to do another ‘road so far’ for the finale set to Triumph’s ‘Fight the Good Fight’ and it was just obvious it just didn’t take the way that ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ took. You could just tell from fan response that people were not digging it.

Luckily, Kripke was really good at going with his instincts, and it’s the Kansas song that was retained over all these years. I still can’t sing along to it at the end of convention karaoke without tearing up. And I am 100% certain it will destroy me in the finale.

https://ew.com/tv/carry-on-my-wayward-son-supernaturals-unofficial-theme-song/

TVLine also ran a story and video about what Jared and Jensen will miss about working together, which I imagine is ALOT.

Jared: Acting opposite Ackles for 15 seasons has given me the confidence that I can push myself. I don’t want to say I baby it with other actors and actresses, but I pull my game back. If you’ve been playing tennis with somebody 15 years or basketball or doing jujitsu or something, you know how hard you can push. Whereas if you just walk in onto a court with somebody you’ve never played before, it’s like, ‘OK, well, I’ve got to feel them out, because I don’t want to just start dunking on the guy, and it’s not a game.’ And so with Jensen, I know I can push as hard as I possibly can — and harder — and that he’ll push back just as hard, and we’ll bring out different aspects of a scene, different facets of what the characters are going through.

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When Jared talked about how he tried to leave “Jared out of it” and let Sam have all the emotions during the last scene, Jensen laughed – clearly neither were able to leave their own emotions out of it at that point.

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Jensen talked about the shorthand that he and Jared have constructed over the years, which I’ve heard him mention many times before, saying that it helped them really flesh out the bond between the brothers.

Jensen: There’s a nuance, I think, that he and I are able to tap into, not only with our characters, but with the relationship that these characters have with each other in every scene. A lot of times, those nuances are not written on the page, and that is, I think, something that we pride ourselves in being able to bring to the character, to the story and to the show. And that’s something that he and I don’t really even need to talk about. It’s stuff that presents itself to us, almost in the middle of a scene. We’re so comfortable and available to each other for letting those kinds of moments happen that they happen all the time. I’m going to miss having that confidence with somebody that I can just allow those moments to happen and you can seize them.

I’m going to miss those moments too, Mr. Ackles. More than I can even put into words.

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Supernatural Is Back – With A Media Blitz Bang!

When I said I was going to try to document everything Supernatural related in the weeks before the show returns to the air for the last time, I had no idea just what that would mean. I’ve watched this show since the beginning, and I remember wishing for more media coverage, trying to get people interested in the show, telling anyone who would listen that Supernatural was the best show ever. Fifteen years later, the world has figured that out. That was never more obvious than in the couple of days leading up to the show’s return, when it seemed like every major outlet from Variety to TVGuide to CNN had an interview with Jared and Jensen and an article about the show, and every CW local outlet had their 10 minutes of questions with the boys. It was incredibly overwhelming trying to keep up with the constant onslaught of coverage, and I was constantly emotional – so proud of the little show that could which, now that it’s coming to an end, is recognized for how special it is and what it has created.

There were also bits of news every day, all of it exciting. Jensen and Danneel struck a deal to form a production company under the Warner Bros. umbrella called Chaos Machine Productions. Not gonna lie, I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that they’ll helm the next Supernatural project. Come on, Ackles, it’s a no brainer!

Jared got a hair cut, which left fandom in a collective panic about how short Walker’s hair was going to be.

Turned out to be a fruitless worry, because – in my humble opinion anyway – the new haircut is every bit as hot as the previous one! Fandom then turned its considerable attention to wondering what the new tattoo is that Jared’s sporting and what it might mean. Hmmm.

Jared started a new AKF campaign with Stands that included a plaid AKF charm and a stuffed AKF moose, which is seriously adorable. He did a facebook live about the campaign, which he hasn’t done in one million years, and posted a gorgeous photo in the You Define You hoodie and with his new Walker haircut. Mmm.

Jensen bought a new car, which does not do a damn thing for me but which he was clearly very excited about.

The company he bought it from was equally excited. And clearly Supernatural fans!

Not gonna lie, I’m laughing at the Ackles family tooling around Austin in either their ’67 Impala (they took it to Starbucks the other day) or this new ‘beast’ of a car.

Misha went naked to get out the vote, to fandom’s sincere appreciation, used his text line to help get the vote out, and made sure water and snacks were handed out to voters in Georgia standing in insanely long lines to vote, and generally kept on working to save the world. And look adorable doing it.

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Supernatural Returns in Four Days – And I’m Not Ready!

Supernatural returns for its final seven episode run in four days. Less than a week. The countdown has been in my head every day, especially over the past week as it draws closer. In keeping with my determination to record what happens with the show and in the fandom in these last months of the show airing, here’s my wrap up of the last full week before Supernatural returns. With all the requisite feelings.

The week started out with another Kings of Con podcast featuring a Supernatural guest star, this time the delightful Jake Abel, filmed when Jake and Rob were in quarantine in Vancouver about to go back to filming. Richard asked when they were ‘free’ and Jake laughed.

Jake: I told Jared, Jensen and Rob yesterday, hey guys I think we’re free on Sunday, and Jared called me a saboteur!

Rich: That is so the pot calling the kettle black – didn’t you tell me they had to chain him to the apartment, Rob?

Somehow this is not hard to believe.

I loved hearing Jake talk about the short film he made (Jake And Quarantine) and how many people thought he really was in a haunted apartment – including me for the first day! If you haven’t seen it, check it out on Jake’s youtube – Jake is an incredible storyteller.

Also, Rob and Jake were quarantined right above each other, and apparently figured out a way to use a rope to transfer things between apartments via kitchen twine!

Jake on Kings of Con

They were also doing lots of zoom calls with Jared and Jensen.

Rob: Jensen and Jared have been doing this show for fifteen years, so they deserve it, but Jake and I are in these identical studio apartments. Then we do these zooms with them and they’re in apartments that are very nice, right on the water, great views…

Jake: Jensen’s sending us pictures of him literally basking in the sun the other day.

Rob: Yeah he’s like, how about this sunset? I’m like, I’ve got buildings around me…

Rich and Rob always make me laugh, but they got serious near the end and made me tear up.

Richard gave Jake props for his awesome performance in the episode that Richard directed, and Jake gave him props right back for the vibe he creates on set when he directs.

Richard: It was a pleasure directing both of you, and I’m sorry to see the show come to an end but it certainly has chalked up a lot of great experiences for all of us.

Me: tissues!

Richard has a beautiful, emotional chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done that traces Supernatural’s impact on his own career and personal life, as well as what he feels the legacy of the show will be. I think he pretty much hits the nail on the head.

We also got some beautiful photos of Jensen on horseback (on a 19 hand giant of a horse!) taking JJ on her first trail ride. She’s hooked – how could she not be? It runs in the family. I can relate, remembering my first forays into riding when I was about her age. I still think horses are one of the most beautiful animals, and there’s few things that compare to the feeling of galloping across a field with the wind whipping your hair back. I’m once again so appreciative when the actors share a peek into their lives. Jensen and horses? Lots of beautiful.

More beautiful came from Misha Collins, who shared some photos from his trip with son West and the gorgeous scenery they enjoyed in this beautiful country.

When did West get so grown up??

A video interview that Jensen and Jared did before they went back to Vancouver to film (from Warner Bros. Japan I believe) was shared on youtube mid week – which meant we got to have yet another glimpse of quarantine hair!!! It’s like the gift that just keeps on giving, and I’m very grateful.

The boys were already feeling pretty emotional about getting ready to film the end, so it was an emotional interview. Here are a few excerpts that made me emotional too. The interviewer, a fan, must have said that the show has changed her life, though we don’t hear that part on the video.

Jared: Being a part of Supernatural has taught me a lot. I’ve had some time selfishly to reflect on just how massive it’s been. I just had my 38th birthday, and I think when we did the pilot, I was 22. So that’s a long time to be on one TV show. I don’t know many that have done 15 years with the same two characters all along, so I’m really grateful for it. And I’m going to be proud of it until the day I breathe my last breath. I’m grateful it’s having an impact on other people all over the world as well.

Jensen: You say it’s changed your life – it’s certainly changed our lives in so many ways. It means the world to us. We’ve been through so much during these last 15 years, both on and off set, but there’s always been a real constant, and that’s been this show and the love we have for it and the effort we put into it. It’s a blessing to know it means something to you and all of that wasn’t for nothing, but know that we truly do cherish our experience and these characters and this show–  which is why we always wanna do it the best we can.

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