Back to Chicago, Where It All Began! Supernatural 2019

The very first Supernatural convention I went to was in Chicago. Well, actually that’s not true. There was a fan-run and all-fan convention of about 30 people in Vancouver in 2007 a few months before the Creation one in Chicago, where I met people who also loved Supernatural and who I still call friends today, twelve years later. But Chicago was the first one with Jared and Jensen, along with a few other SPN guests and some folks from Buffy and Angel too (because Creation wasn’t sure this new little show could pull off a con on its own). My friends and I stalked the website for literally months, waiting for the tickets to go on sale so we could snag some. We had no idea what to expect really – would the actors be as nice as they seemed in the few interviews we’d seen? Would they be entertaining onstage? I want to laugh so hard now, knowing the answers to those questions – but I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how NICE they really are or just how entertaining they would be!

Through the years, I’ve been back to Chicago for a Supernatural convention many times. One of my good friends lives there – we met through a con, when I found myself stranded after the convention ended and a hurricane blew in, cancelling all flights and leaving me without a hotel. I was new to twitter, but I put out a plea – can anyone help? Up drove Laurena, rescuing me from a very bad part of town and taking me in, because SPNFamily. We’ve been friends ever since.

This year, Laurena and her lovely husband Rock helped me in the vendor room once again. There were many old friends at this con, some that I’ve known since the very first one twelve years ago, and many new friends too, some that I’ve met along the way and now call my good friends too. Knowing that the Show is coming to an end made the Chicago con even more emotional than usual, because I keep thinking of beginnings now that I’m constantly thinking about endings. There will be at least one more Chicago con, but this was the last one that will happen when the Show is still on the air. And that hurts.

The actors are also thinking a lot about endings now, and some of them about beginnings too. Richard Speight Jr. reminisced with Rob about his first convention, which was also right here in Chicago. We were writing ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ at the time, and there’s an entire chapter in that book on the first couple of Chicago conventions – it’s where we first met Richard and got to know him. None of us could imagine at the time how much our lives would change because of Supernatural.

So this year was bittersweet, but there was a whole lotta sweet! (Neither my camera nor my phone were at all happy so I got fewer photos than usual, but I’ve included some of the better ones here. At least that finally forced me to go out and get a new phone!)  Rachel Miner kicked off the con, as she often does – which is a lot like kicking off the day with a sparkly rainbow and lots of sunshine. And unicorns.

Rachel said she feels comfortable at conventions, like she’s with friends. She proved it by sharing her epic fail moments that would be on a gag reel.  That should tell you what sort of courageous – and hilarious – person Rachel is.

Rachel is an unabashed Cas girl.

Rachel: I’d like to think if Cas saw Meg in the The Empty, he’d have tried to rescue her.

She likes that both Meg and Cas didn’t fit traditional gender roles, and that they probably have both been male and female.

Read more

It’s the Last Supernatural Season Finale – And I’ve Got Feelings! (14.20, Moriah)

 

Last week was the Season 14 finale of my favorite show, Supernatural.  The last Supernatural season finale, ever; the next one will be the series finale. As season finales have done for over a decade, the ‘Road So Far’ was accompanied by the song that’s become the unofficial theme song for Supernatural, Kansas’ Carry On (Wayward Son). I immediately burst into tears, which isn’t the first time. I don’t even want to think about the state I’ll be in when Carry On starts to play a year from now and we all know it’s the last time.

Two days later, I’m still conflicted about the episode – and damn, do I have a lot of questions! I was not alone in my split opinions.  My timeline literally alternated between “Genius OMG!” and “Stupidest episode ever how dare you!”  I had whiplash just trying to skim through Twitter. The confusing thing is, I get it. I get both reactions. As often happens to me, I’m caught somewhere in the middle instead of being firmly all in with one group or the other. You can look at this episode from multiple perspectives, and each sends me to a different emotional space. One thing is for certain – I still care about this Show just as much as I always have, because it kept me awake half the night and was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning. That in itself is pretty amazing.

So let’s walk (or run, really, because this was a fast paced episode) through ‘Moriah’, and see what worked and on what level – and what didn’t.

I love ‘The Road So Far’ in every season finale. This one recapped pretty much all of Season 14, from Michael to the return of John and the epic family reunion in the 300th episode. There was some epic VFX and some emotional moments, and then we pick up right where we left off – with Jack having blown up the Ma’lak box and escaped.

He confronts Sam, Dean and Cas, eyes glowing ominously.

Jack: You lied to me!

He throws them across the room, but at least he didn’t incinerate them. And then he’s gone.

Dean and Castiel are still very much at odds in this episode, Dean arguing that Jack is dangerous and needs to be stopped.

Dean: Now he’s just another monster.

Cas: (shocked) You don’t mean that.

Dean: The hell I don’t.

Fandom was still split about Jack and whether he’s still a misunderstood nougat loving boy trying to do the right thing or a soulless dangerously powerful being who’s killed people. Logically I think it’s pretty clear the latter is true, but emotionally the Show keeps making sure we remember the former version of Jack and thus feel for him. So Dean still comes off as pretty harsh, and very very angry.

Director Phil Sgriccia makes the emotional scene between Dean and Cas jump off the screen with its intensity, and Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins both bring it. They are both angry, both convinced they are right and the other is wrong – and that the stakes are high because someone (Jack or other people) will die if they don’t do what they feel they need to. Sam is the emotional core of the audience in much of this episode, cringing as the two people he’s so close to have it out but unable to intervene.

One of the things I haven’t liked in Season 14 is the lack of interaction between Dean and Sam, which is why I started watching the Show in the first place. In this episode, they actually get to talk, so that goes in the win column (though their conversation is uncharacteristically awkward). Dean wants Sam to know that he realizes how hard this is for Sam and what Jack meant to him.

Dean: Hell, he meant a lot to me too, he was family. But this is not Jack anymore. We have to do the hard thing, the ugly thing. Not like it’s the first time though, right?

At the time I thought that was an odd thing to say. In retrospect, I see that Andrew Dabb (who is both the showrunner and the writer of this episode) was trying to foreshadow the eventual reveal that the Winchesters have been manipulated their whole lives into doing all kinds of hard and ugly things – for the amusement of God. I mean, Chuck.

It was interesting that Dean continued to refer to Jack as “the kid” throughout this conversation with his brother, even as he’s trying to convince Sam that he needs to be killed. I saw this as evidence of Dean’s ambivalence. I said in my last review, Dean is not as certain about this course of action as he seems. It’s there in little tells like that. He likes to bluster and present his decision as something he’s absolutely certain about, but Dean is a much deeper thinker than that – and he feels things more deeply than he lets on too.

Meanwhile, Jack is hurt that he was lied to by the father figures he trusted, and hypervigilant for all the lying that humans do all the time – which of course he finds evidence of everywhere. Jack’s temper gets the better of him again, and he orders everyone to “Stop lying!”

Which they do.

Sam and Dean put on their fed suits (momentary detour to say that yes, the boys do look damn good in their fed suits) and head out in the Impala to look for Jack. They drive to a company called Mirror Universe which looks like it must be in California (and seems like some sort of call out to every science fiction episode ever that had one, including arguably Supernatural’s own AU). Either that or it’s a hint about what eventually happens in this episode.

Dean scoffs at the “nerds” but Sam isn’t having it. (Because Sam Winchester as we head into the last season has had it up to here with not speaking his mind, and he’s doing it – and I am here for it!)

Sam: Takes one to know one.

He proceeds to prove it by rattling off all the totally nerdy things that fanboy Dean does, including watching Jeopardy every night just like me; Dean doesn’t deny any of them. Jared and Jensen were gold in this entire scene, their expressions on point and their brotherly chemistry lighting up the screen.

Dean beelines for the attractive woman at the desk, assuming he can charm her (not a bad assumption).

Dean (flashing his badge per usual): I’m Dean Winchester and I’m looking for the Devil’s son.

Receptionist: What?

Dean: What?

He tries to correct himself and blurts it out again, ending with “And this badge is fake.”  Ackles and comedy never cease to amaze me.

The formerly peaceful employees of Mirror Universe are also suddenly unable to lie, which results in confessions of affairs (and unexpected voyeurism), accusations of yogurt theft with resulting violence, and someone walking around exclaiming “I hate everyone!”

Dean proves that they can’t lie either by demanding that Sam tell him who his favorite singer is, because he knows Sam is lying when he says Elvis. (In fact, I’m pretty sure he knows what the real answer is, he just wants to hear Sam say it).

Sam says Celine Dion every time he tries to say Elvis, which I admit annoyed me. Celine Dion? Oh come on, really, Show?

Read more

Supernatural Vegas 2019 Part Two!

Part One was Thursday, Friday and Saturday, because Vegas is the four day con. We left off, after Misha and Mike Borja’s charity haircutting, with Saturday evening.

The Saturday Night Special at Vegas was special for several reasons – first, it was extra emotional because we know that we won’t have the SNS and cons forever, and second, because Jensen Ackles sang.

But honestly, everyone rocked it. Louden Swain and Rob Benedict, of course. Matt Cohen, LIsa Berry, Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, Ruth Connell – I’ve said this before, but how did we get so lucky to have so many incredible performers grace our con weekend stage?

Read more

Supernatural Vegas 2019! Part One

This year’s Vegas con was special. I know I say that about pretty much every con, because they’re all special in their own way – but no convention had ever been like this. This was the first convention after we found out that Supernatural is ending after next season. When I heard the news, I couldn’t wait to be with a bunch of people who truly “get it”. Fellow fans who are just as devastated by the news as I was, and who love the actors and the Show enough to support the decision anyway. I just wanted to talk to people who understand, and get lots of hugs too. And that’s pretty much what I got.

My friend Laurena from Winchester Family Business and I roomed together at the Rio, where I’ve had all sorts of misadventures before including the traumatic experience of having our bathroom explode in the middle of the night and our room be overtaken with sewage (literally) like something out of a horror movie. The Rio always brings adventures of some kind, even if it’s only the adventure of walking five miles each way from the hotel through the casino to the convention center which is more or less in the next state over. Maybe an exaggeration, but maybe not. There’s also the drama of the Starbucks which insists on closing at 3 pm every day and the serious lack of fast and easy takeout. And the smoke-filled casino.

But actually, I have as many fond memories of the Rio as traumatic ones. This year, like every year, was a time to catch up with friends old and new. I got to see HR’s brand new Richard sculpture along with the rest of the gang. This fandom is so damn talented!

This year, I just wanted to immerse myself in the arms of the SPNFamily, both cast and fans. So that’s what I did.

My friend Alana and I spent a lot of time talking about how many fans were confronted with derision in their non-fannish lives and being judged for grieving the loss of a television show. So we sat down and filmed a video for her channel, which you can watch on her channel (link below). We hope it helps a little bit as we all help each other get through this. And try to look forward to the next year of Supernatural!

Why It’s Okay to Be Sad About Supernatural Ending

I’ve grown to love being part of the “vendor squad” at the Supernatural cons. We’re like a traveling band of wanderers, but we all look out for each other and support each other. There’s always someone to watch your table while you run to the bathroom or pat you on the back when you’re tired or lend you some packing tape or just share a laugh. I was right next to the lovely Jason Manns’ table manned by the equally lovely Misty when he wasn’t there. It was nice to catch up with Jason again and to reminisce a little about the early days of the fandom and some of his first concerts, including in my hometown many years ago! Jason contributed a free digital download of ‘Soul’ to one of our first books, Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls, and a Station Breaks free song to Family Don’t End With Blood too, so he’s part of the FDEWB family.

I flew in on Wednesday night and arrived at about 1 am after flying for 9 hours including layovers, so needless to say I was absolutely knackered. I checked in and started dragging my suitcases across the casino floor when I heard someone call out “hey, are you Fangasm?”

A young woman in a Supernatural tee shirt who looked very distraught was asking, so I said yes. Nearly in tears, she asked if I could help her, because her roommate wasn’t getting in until tomorrow and the hotel was not letting her check in because she was under 21. As though stranding her in the middle of a casino was a better idea! I got back in the check in line and gave them a guarantee for her so they’d give her a room – so for the rest of the weekend whenever I saw her, she’d joke that I was her savoir. Hey, we’re all SPNFamily.

Thursday was kicked off by our host Richard Speight Jr., as always, and Louden Swain.

Then it was time for Adam Rose, who I haven’t seen in a long time and really enjoy. Adam immediately acknowledged the elephant in the room.

Adam: I heard the news…I’m really excited to see how they wrap things up. It’s great they get a year to do that.

What are Aaron and his Gollum up to?

Adam: Last time we saw Aaron and his Gollum they were at a disco in Germany so I feel like they’re having fun.

He’s also up on his Supernatural memes, including the one he stars in from his episode.

Adam: Oh my god these guys are psychopaths… I love that meme!

Adam was not spared some J2 pranking on set.

Adam: I’m doing this intense scene with Jensen and I see Jared pop up (off camera of course) holding this paper with a phallic object on it. I cracked up. So then, 13 takes later…

Read more

Sunday at Supernatural Nashville – The Last Con “Before We Knew”

 

My partner in crime, Kim Prior, wrote the Friday and Saturday wrap ups of Nashcon since I’ve done nothing but fly back and forth across the country, so this is the first time I’m sitting down to do my own write up, and finding that my perspective is different than it would have been, had I written this up as soon as I got home.

Nashville will forever, for me, be the last con before we “knew”. Before we had to recognize what we’d known all along, that this is finite — and that the Show will end after Season 15. Everyone, including the actors, has assured us that the conventions will continue at least for a while, but there’s no doubt it will be different. We won’t have current canon to argue about, for one thing. Jared and Jensen may be working on different and exciting projects, but most likely they won’t be co-leads of another show, so they won’t be working together. Misha will be off saving the world (or possibly being President) and the three of them won’t have any “let us tell you what happened during filming yesterday” tales. Of course they’ve accumulated a lot of those over fifteen seasons, but still, not the same.

At Nashville, I didn’t have that knowledge that things would be changing in a year. All I knew was that we were finally getting to see the best cast ever again after what felt like a long gap – since 2018, in fact. Seattle didn’t happen, so it felt like it had been a very long time since we’d had the actors onstage ‘touching base’ with the fandom, either in person or on video. A long time since we’d been able to ask them questions and see them laugh and enjoy their camaraderie. Maybe that’s why Nashville had an energy to it that took your breath away.

That energy was very evident on Sunday. It was so clear that the J’s had missed doing conventions almost as much as we’d missed them. In Jensen’s chapter of Family Don’t End With Blood, he writes about all he gets from being with the fans – that it’s energy to fuel them. They had been a long time away from their fandom fuel with Seattle con cancelled, and they were almost giddy to be back in the welcoming arms of fandom again. And damn, did that feel good.

March 2019, before we got The News, was a very good month for Supernatural fandom indeed. We’d had tons of photos and videos and tweets from J2M, including a glorious day of Jensen reigning as King Bacchus at Mardi Gras with news coverage and videos from the parade and the charity visits the day before. I don’t think any of us will ever forget King Ackles in full regalia (including white tights and boots!) regally tossing doubloons and beads to his loyal followers. Local New Orleans news teams were like “who the hell is this guy?” but we already knew. It felt like the world was discovering what we already knew is incredibly special, and we really were the fandom on top of the world. That’s where we were when Nashville con kicked off.

[Gorgeous photos ahead by Kim Prior. You’ve been warned.]

The morning began with the Gold panel; the stage and mics were decorated with Mardi Gras beads in honor of Jensen’s recent reign as King Bacchus, and most fans wore gold crowns as we sat in the audience. Jensen got right into the spirit of things, donning one of the crowns backstage and then walking out and doing a little Kingly wave for the fans.

Jared: Ladies and gentlemen, appearing for the first time, King Ackles! All hail.

Jensen rocked his crown and his kingly wave. Jared dropped the crown Jensen gave him then wore it like a belt for a hot second.

A fan asked about Jensen’s experience being Bacchus and we immediately knew this was going to be a day to remember and panels that would be some of my favorites of this entire wild crazy ride.

Jensen: I must say I was expecting more of a skin show than I got.

Jared: I would’ve shown you my chest.

Jensen: I know you would. He does it all the time.

Jensen to Jared: I must say you look fetching today (his luggage didn’t come with him)

Jared: I showered Tuesday.

Read more