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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Lynn

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Supernatural Celebrates 100th Creation Convention in New Jersey!

 

Happy 100th Con Supernatural! Part Two of my NJ/NYC adventures (you can also read about EW’s sneak peek Season 14 premiere party and Jensen and Jared on Live with Kelly and Ryan in Part One here)

EW Supernatural Season 14 Sneak Peek and Jared and Jensen on Live!

The Supernatural New Jersey con is the closest I get to a “home” con – a less than two hour drive from Philly. The key word there being “drive” – as in, no airfare! Woohoo!! I packed up my car with many boxes of books and headed out on Thursday up the NJ Turnpike to scenic Secaucus, happy not to have to deal with airport and parking and TSA. Apparently I got a bit too cocky though, because no sooner had I arrived at the vendor section of the gigantic Meadowlands convention center than I realized that I hadn’t brought my usual backpack for flights to cons – so I had only part of what I needed for my vendor table!

NOOOOO! Luckily the convention center is adjacent to a giant Walmart, so I trekked over and had my promo pics reprinted, then trekked back to finish setting up. (My friends and I returned to Walmart later that night to stock up on supplies for the con weekend, which included an alarming amount of Beefaroni and ramen noodles,  bags of chips and possibly some Lunchables but hey, con weekend!)  We love Embassy Suites with their mini kitchens in the room and free breakfast buffet every morning – between that and the Walmart, we were set. And it’s a good thing, since I was on my own in the vendor room – luckily fandom is always wonderful and generous, with fellow fans offering to grab me drinks and pretzels or time for a bathroom break.

This con was special because it was the 100th Creation Supernatural convention – also christened Schmelke Con for the one person who has been at all 100 and taken over 250,000 photo ops to prove it — the one and only Chris Schmelke! There’s no overestimating the difference Chris has made to these conventions – photo ops are a special thing and nobody knows how to make them more special than Chris. We interviewed Chris for one of our first books, Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls, and it was immediately obvious that he truly cares about fans’ experience – he gets it. And so he does everything necessary to make sure those few moments allow a genuine connection. Chris will be the first one to say that Supernatural conventions are unlike any other, and in part that’s because these actors also go out of their way to make the photo ops special.

There were all sorts of special decorations celebrating the 100th con and Creation even handed out bracelets to commemorate the occasion, so it was very cool to be there!

Nothing says happy 100th like this!

Richard introduced Friday’s first guest panelist, Rachel Miner, by giving her well deserved props for her work with Random Acts. She was asked about her initial reaction to her character Meg, and said that she got to read her audition scene with Jared and Jensen. Eric Kripke was there too, and they both ended up laughing; she knew right away that she loved the character.

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ALL the Scoop on Supernatural at Comic Con 2018 – Part Two with Exclusive Video Interviews!

 

After thoroughly enjoying the Supernatural panel in Hall H (see part one of my epic Comic Con report here – Part One) we had an hour to rush to the press area and download some photos and eat a hot dog (you eat WAY too many hot dogs at Comic Con, just saying…). Then it was off to the Hilton Bayfront for the Supernatural press room. This is my second year in the press room, so I wasn’t quite as nervous about my technology failing me (though it did…) and more able to just enjoy the chance to chat with everyone. We had a great table of press, some of whom I already knew, and everyone had great questions. Press rooms can be stressful things, since there’s a very limited amount of time and no guarantee that every cast member will get to your table – which means I actually did get anxious anyway. But big kudos to Warner Brothers’ Holly Ollis and Nikki Calderon, who managed to make sure that every single table got some time with every single one of the cast and producers. Phew!

Executive producer and showrunner Bob Singer was the first to come to our table – which is why I was so nervous I didn’t even manage to take a picture of him!

Our table asked what he could tease about Season 14?

Bob: Oh nothing, we have strict instructions…

We laughed, but he relented.

Bob:  I think Season 14 is gonna be a little less broad in scope and a little more emotional, with more personal stories about the guys. We’ll look at what Jack’s going through with losing his powers, and if and when Dean comes back from Michael, what it will be like with his relationship with Sam. We also have a lot of fan favorites who will be back – Bobby, Charlie.  I think it will be a little more low key but it will still be Supernatural, just more personal and emotional.

(That literally had me bouncing with happiness because yay for more personal and emotional! Okay, maybe not literally bouncing, but it was a near thing)

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Supernatural ‘Exodus’ – Back From the AU and On to the Season Finale!

 

After my epic review of last week’s episode, I’ll try to make this one more concise – which I realize isn’t saying much with the bar that low. Exodus, the penultimate episode of Season 13, began with a lengthy recap, which caused me to start encouraging my television to “come on, get to it, we know what happened last week!”

I suppose it’s possible that someone forgot that Sam Winchester died in the last episode and that Lucifer brought him back and that he has just now walked into the rebel camp – where Sam sees Mary alive and Dean sees Sam alive. But I don’t know that person.

I do love that they pick up right where they left off, which doesn’t happen often enough and which gives the episode an extra sense of urgency and immediacy. Sam hugs Mary, who he’s been trying desperately to get to all season, and Dean stares at Sam over Mary’s shoulder like he almost can’t believe it, with a soft “Sam?”

As soon as Sam and Dean have a moment alone, they both need to reconnect after the intense emotions each has experienced – Dean’s devastation at losing Sam and Sam’s shame and guilt at being brought back by Lucifer and bringing him to the camp.

Sam: I’m sorry about all this.

I held my breath, waiting to see what Dean would say and my heart breaking for Sam – who has absolutely nothing to be sorry about but is always ALWAYS worried about disappointing his big brother.

Dean: Are you good?

Sam: I’m alive, yeah.

Dean: Well then you’ve got nothin’ to apologize for.

Me: OMG YES!

Dean pulls Sam into a hug, wraps him up so very tight, and you can see the moment when Sam lets go of that guilt and self-blame and just leans into it, letting his brother hold him. Realizing that it’s okay, that all Dean cares about is that Sam is alive and well and that’s all that matters.

Dean: I thought I lost you, man.

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Supernatural ‘Beat The Devil’ – Yes, I’m Still Emotional!

 

This week’s Supernatural episode was one of those episodes that everyone had a strong opinion about – but, as often happens in this fandom, not necessarily the same strong opinion. The one thing that everyone did agree on was that the acting was off the charts incredible – and nobody was left unemotional, that’s for sure.

For me, I think the emotions were especially complex because I was fortunate to be able to watch some of the episode be filmed, including some of the most intense moments. I thought that maybe, since I had already watched those horrific moments when Sam dies and Dean has to watch it, maybe it wouldn’t hit me so hard when I saw it onscreen. But no. It just meant that I got all emotional watching them film it, and then got emotional all over again watching the final product. I knew that Jensen and Jared had killed it in those scenes, but I don’t even have words for how much they broke my heart now that I’ve seen the episode.

So I agree with everyone else – the acting was off the charts. There was plenty to love about this episode, but there were also some things that bothered me, so here’s a bit of both along with a few behind the scenes tidbits.

The opening scene starts right in with the heartstring tugs – a scene of domestic family bliss, Cas and Jack and Mary and Sam around the table and teasing Dean about eating too much pizza, Mary saying she and John called him “our little piglet”. (This is Sam’s perspective, so it makes sense, but I’m pretty sure Dean’s love of food is a result of the deprivation that came after Mary died). Then Sam and Mary having the heart to heart that Sam has longed for, finally hearing Mary express her faith in her sons, how she knew they’d save her and they did. It’s Sam’s most wished for fantasy come to life – and of course it’s a dream.

Break my heart right at the outset, why don’t you? I sort of wanted to employ my dream interpretation skills, because that’s what psychologists do sometimes, but I’ll try to stop myself (would I just be psychoanalyzing writer Robert Berens? Hmmm. Tempting, Bobo…). I did love that in Sam’s fantasy, everyone is teasing Dean – it’s such a little brother fantasy. And everyone is together, family by blood, family by choice. Everyone is safe and happy. Oh Sam.

First quibble though – does Sam really sleep fully clothed in a long sleeve shirt even?? Really??

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