And That’s a Wrap – On Supernatural the Series

It’s taken me two days, after Supernatural finished filming its last episode ever, to sit down and be calm enough to write about it. We knew the day was coming – in fact, we expected it to happen back on May 18. But then the pandemic pushed it back and I think I got lulled into a sense of complacency, as though now that it hadn’t ended in May, maybe it really wouldn’t end at all. All those years of saying “Supernatural will never end” felt prophetic – or maybe I just needed to stay in denial for a while to cope with everything else going on in the world.

Either way, ready or not (not), Supernatural filmed its last scenes on Thursday, September 10, 2020. As I’ve been doing for the past month, here’s a recap of that memorable day, and the few days before, so that we can always remember.

The cast and crew were wonderfully generous in sharing the end of their journey with us, so there were posts all week – often emotional ones, as they dealt with their own feelings of both loss and pride, in making something that became so important to so many. Fandom emotions also ran high, so there were eruptions of fear and sadness and anger spilling out in sometimes unexpected ways or at unsuspecting targets. It was an odd reminder that no community is a utopia – there are always disagreements, in groups and out groups, jockeying for power. Fandom is a group, after all, and that’s what happens in groups. But in the midst of those things, there was also celebration and support and the validation that comes only from someone else really “getting it”.

Michael Rosenbaum’s InsideOfYou podcast aired his chat with Jensen Ackles on Tuesday, taped during the start of his quarantine in Vancouver (when he still had that glorious quarantine hair!)  The podcast and youtube video were a breath of fresh air, as Jensen and Michael reminisced like old friends and Jensen talked about the end of Supernatural. We were all happily distracted from the looming ending for an afternoon, and I was grateful.

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In their chapters in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Jensen and Jared both talked about how the relationships they’ve made through Supernatural are the most important thing the show has given them. Jensen touched on that with Michael too.

Jensen: I’ve got my friendship with Misha. Jared’s got his friendship with Misha. And then Jared and I have our friendship. But then also we have this kind of triangular relationship as well that’s just works. It works in a public form and works in a private form.

And has been one of the main reasons this show has run for 15 seasons. Lightning in a bottle, and I can’t imagine it ever being duplicated.

EW

He laughed when Michael asked if he’d ever seen Jared cry.

Jensen: Like for real? Oh yeah.

He said they’d seen each other emotional, in fact, which isn’t at all surprising. My guess is there have been some very emotional moments on that set for the past few weeks.

But it wasn’t all serious.

Jensen: Because of the pandemic, there’s some things we can’t do…

Michael: Like you and Jared can’t make out…

Jensen: No no no, that’s happening regardless, we’re hanging our hat on that. Corona or no corona, we’re making out!

We all needed a little levity, that’s for sure.

Misha gave us some bright spots too, recording the video messages to fans that had been purchased as part of the online Creation con. Since they’re all playing it very close to the vest as to what episodes Castiel is part of at the very end, it just felt good to see Misha, especially when he was smiling.

Since he wasn’t there on the last day (we think), Misha also posted his thanks to Eric Kripke. He’s right, the show has changed all of us – but I replied that I hope Misha knows that he too, personally, has unequivocally changed the world. And I have a feeling he’s just getting started!

Some of the conversation between Jensen and Michael, on the other hand, did make me tear up. Michael asked if they thought about continuing the show, and Jensen said yes – something he touched on in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done too.

Jensen: There’s a possibility of, five years down the road, getting the call — hey let’s do a short order action for a streaming network and bring them back for six episodes! I feel like this isn’t the long goodbye right now. This is, “let’s hang this in a closet for now.”

His chapter in the book is called “I’m Proud Of Us”, and that comes through every time he talks about this show, from how hard he and Jared worked from the start to create a tone on the set that was welcoming and never toxic, to the friendships made in the fandom and among the cast. It helps, knowing how proud they all are of what they’ve created.

The next day was the penultimate day of filming, and the posts started to come in early, the crew sharing where they were filming. It was gorgeous, and somehow that felt both very fitting for the end of this beautiful show, and also made it even more emotional. It felt good to know that the actors would film their final scenes surrounded by the beauty of Vancouver, which has been their second home for so long – and which will always be the sights and sounds of the Winchesters’ home.

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As Supernatural Films Its Last Day Ever…

Today is the last day of filming for Supernatural, after fifteen seasons on the air. It took me a season to truly fall in love with the show, but once I did, I fell head over heels – and in fourteen years, I haven’t looked back. Others’ stories are different, but where we’ve ended up is the same. All over the world today, people whose lives have been touched by Supernatural are feeling the loss of something that is so much more than a television show. There’s a collective grieving, a sense of shared overwhelming emotion, that I’m grateful for – one of the most powerful things about fandom is its validation, and I feel that today. There are plenty of people in my everyday life who don’t really understand what a big loss this is, but there are plenty of people in the SPNFamily who do.

At the same time, there’s also a worldwide celebration of a little show that began on The WB and was an unlikely candidate for fifteen seasons and an incredible impact. The show itself and its brilliantly depicted fictional characters have been an inspiration to me, like they have been for so many other fans. For fifteen years, the Winchesters, and soon after, Castiel, have faced seemingly insurmountable odds – and have come out swinging again and again. The ‘monsters’ they’ve faced have been literal, but they have also been figurative: addiction, depression, PTSD, loneliness. Struggles with identity and purpose and finding one’s mission in life. The challenges of family, both by blood and chosen. The very things that we all struggle with are things these fictional characters have faced, again and again and again. And yet, no matter what the challenge, again and again they have persevered. Always Keep Fighting is a mantra for us all in real life, but it has also been the mantra of the show since the beginning. And that has made Sam, Dean and Cas incredibly important to many of us.

The final seven episodes of Supernatural won’t start airing until October and the series finale won’t happen until November 19. But for me, there’s a tremendous sense of loss knowing that today may be the last time that these fictional characters who are so real to me will exist in the world. No, I’m not delusional, but psychologically our attachment to fictional characters who become very familiar over time is significant. We have the same biochemical reactions in our brains when we watch our favorite television show with our most beloved fictional characters as we do when we sit down to dinner with our loved ones in real life. It’s powerful, and especially in stressful times like these, it helps us feel a sense of safety and satisfaction. I am going to miss them so, so much.

I fell in love with Sam and Dean Winchester watching one of the first episodes of Season 2, as Dean broke down and tearfully confided to his brother that he was not all right, and Sam’s anguish at his brother’s pain was equally palpable. I realized at that moment that this show was so much more than its monster-of-the-week episodes, and that these characters had a depth that pulled me right in, hook line and sinker. I realized too that these actors weren’t just pretty faces (though that was a bonus) – they were willing and able to portray that depth, expressing emotions that ran the gamut, just like real life. Their acting sold their portrayals of these characters, just as Jensen and Jared’s real life friendship sold their love as brothers.  I will never, I don’t think, feel this way about fictional characters again, as long as I live.

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When Misha Collins arrived – whether he expected this or not – Jared and Jensen pulled him into that norm of openness and vulnerability and he rose to the challenge, forging his own friendships in real life and crafting distinct and complex relationships for Castiel and each of the brothers.

Knowing that today those characters will say their last words to each other is hard for me to get my head around. I can’t even imagine how hard it will be for them. Yesterday, on the second to last day of filming, some of the crew tweeted photos of the beautiful Vancouver locations they were filming at, and Jim Michaels and Kevin Parks shared photos of the Impala. I began to tear up immediately, thinking of the actors looking out over the familiar Vancouver beauty. I felt a rush of gratitude that Baby was there with them. They’ll need her comfort, and she’ll comfort them and keep them safe, just like she has for the past fifteen years.

Her boys.

Our boys.

Today will be the last Quote of the Day, the last song, the last whiteboard that Jason Fischer shared with us every day, making us feel like truly part of the family.

Nobody knows how life will go for any of the actors or where each of their roads will take them. There may be a Netflix limited series someday or maybe even a film, but whatever there is, it won’t be exactly this. These actors who have worked together so closely have become brothers in real life. This crew, many of whom have been there since season one, who work together like a well oiled machine and who have been there for each other through births and deaths and marriages and divorces, are family. They have all loved this little show so much, so tangibly, turning down other opportunities to stay loyal to what they built together with Supernatural.

That love and loyalty and care have made all the difference; have made the show what it is.

We put together two books to make sure that we would always remember how special Supernatural is, both to its cast and crew and to its fans. Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done have chapter after chapter that attest to the importance of this show, and its ability to change – and even save – lives. More than thirty Supernatural actors and fans wrote from their hearts about what Supernatural and the SPNFamily has meant to them; hopefully the book and its photos and art and personal stories will be a comfort as the show reaches its end.

In their chapters in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Jared and Jensen both express their deep love for Sam and Dean, and their reluctance to make this a goodbye. I’ve talked to them from time to time over the past year about their feelings on the end of the show, witnessing them go from protective denial and ‘let’s just throw ourselves into this last season’ to a gradual breakdown of that denial and starting to feel the strong emotions that come with that. I know they’re feeling it now, and that there will be tears today.  Saying goodbye to their own characters, as well as saying goodbye to each other’s, is going to be very hard. Incredible actors that they are, they’ll channel all those real life feelings into their characters, and that will make the ending every bit as genuine as all those other scenes they’ve done that have broken my heart in two.

I’m proud of us…

It’s the title of Jensen’s chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done. It’s about Sam and Dean, but it’s about Jared and Jensen and Misha and the entire SPNFamily too.

It helps somehow, knowing they’ve been as affected and changed by this show as we have. Jensen went back to the Men of Letters bunker as they tore down what apparently had been Dean’s room a day before, taking us along with him and letting us see his emotional reaction. I’m so grateful to have been along for this wild ride and that even now, at the end, they want to take us along on their journey.

Jensen: Goodbye, men of letters…

I also keep re-watching Jensen’s chat with Michael Rosenbaum, listening to him talk so genuinely about his friendships with Jared and Misha and how he thinks of this not as an ending of Supernatural, but as “let’s hang this in the closet for now, and we’ll dust her off down the road a bit.”

God, I hope so.

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I don’t want to think that Sam and Dean and Cas aren’t out there somewhere, fighting insurmountable odds and trying to save the world — and each other. I don’t want to think they’ll never be on my screen again, that their stories won’t continue.

The loss is too big, if I think of it as forever.

For today, I’m sending all good thoughts northward towards Vancouver, and hoping Jared and Jensen  (and anyone else who’s there on this last day) can feel it. I know I’ve told them many times, but I hope they really believe it – that these characters, this show, this SPN Family, have changed the world. We’ve made forever friends, discovered creativity we never knew we had, made the world a better place through all kinds of charitable endeavors from GISH to making sure an SPNFamily member had a safe place to live. We’ve been part of a worldwide community that makes us all feel less alone, all sparked by sharing a passion for a little TV show on The CW. We’ve been inspired by the Winchesters, and Castiel, and Jody and Charlie and Bobby and Donna and Ash and Jo and Ellen and Rowena and Jack and so many others to keep on fighting even when we felt like giving up – because that’s what they do.

I can never express my gratitude enough for all that Supernatural has given me.

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As they film their last scenes and the words “that’s a wrap on Jared and Jensen” are called out, with a hitch in the voice no doubt, I hope the words of Kim Manners are ringing in their ears today. I hope they know they made him proud a thousand times over.

Kick it in the ass!

And take those boys home.

— Lynn

You can find the books written by the

Supernatural actors and fans at the pinned

article or at peacewhenyouaredone.com

Happy Birthday Richard Speight, Jr.!

Yesterday, perhaps so we can all celebrate his birthday today in style, Richard Speight, Jr. released his first music video from his first CD with his band Dick Jr. and the Volunteers. The song, ‘Goin’ Straight’, will get stuck in your head in the most enjoyable way possible, and the video itself is brilliant!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMdsL-oQatw&feature=emb_logo

Leave it to Richard to give us a toe-tappin’ way to celebrate with him.

As Supernatural comes to an end, I’m more nostalgic than usual and feeling incredibly grateful to the people who have made the show the phenomenon that it is. Richard is one of those people.

He joined the show early on to play The Trickster and captured the fandom’s hearts. Over the years, the character returned, eventually revealed as Gabriel.

Richard went from acting on the show to directing, even proving his versatility by directing himself as both Gabriel and Loki! I’ve chatted with Richard over a dozen times over the past thirteen years about acting and directing Supernatural, and his insights never cease to amaze me. He’s been an integral part of the show since almost the beginning.

He’s come a long way from our very first chat back in 2007!

Photo: Lizz Sisson

In fact, Richard has developed his own distinctive style as a director, and has brought his vision to some of our favorite episodes. He collaborated with writer Jenny Klein to direct ‘Just My Imagination’ which is still one of the episodes I go back to watch again and again. He then went on to direct many more, including four episodes in Supernatural’s final season.

Photo: Chris Schmelke

Here’s our most recent chat, in which Richard shares fascinating insights and behind the scenes looks at directing Supernatural Season 15, and what it felt like to finish that final episode.

Behind the Scenes with Director Dick

But that’s not all.

Richard came to a Supernatural convention early on, rather reluctantly and not knowing what to expect, and ended up becoming the host of the whole damn thing – as well as joining Rob and Matt for countless hilarious R2M panels and joining Louden Swain onstage to rock out at countless Saturday Night Specials. He took the sparsely attended Friday night karaoke and turned it into a free event that everyone could enjoy. He helped make Louden Swain the house band. Perhaps more than anyone else, Richard turned Supernatural conventions into something special – which has helped keep them going for almost fourteen years!

Richard wrote a chapter for Fan Phenomena Supernatural with all his trademark wit and humor but also a lot of serious appreciation for the Supernatural fandom. I’m so grateful that he also contributed a chapter to There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done: Actors and Fans Celebrate the Legacy of Supernatural – in it, he puts his finger squarely on what makes this show so special, and why its legacy will live on. He also expresses his appreciation for the show and the fandom that changed his life. He’s eloquent, and I think what he has to say in his chapter will be a comfort and an inspiration to fans grieving the end of the show.

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We’re SuperNotOkay – Supernatural Begins Filming Its Last Episode!

It’s the weekend, so I’m sitting down to process everything that happened last week on Supernatural and in the Supernatural fandom (before the next promo trailer hits us and renders all of is incapable of coherent thought for a while). This is installment 3 of my series of articles designed to try to experience fully (and document) every bit of this show’s final filming and airing. I’ve watched Supernatural for fifteen years, and been madly in love with it for fourteen of those years (it took me a while to fall, but when I did, I fell hard!)  I’ve documented that love and the show itself in six books and countless interviews and articles – but these articles are a little bit different. These are the last months in which Supernatural and its iconic characters still exist – and the last months in which the SPNFamily interacts in the way it has for fifteen years. I want to remember – and celebrate – the way it is now, and I want to cherish every single moment.

Spoilers ahead but only to the extent that’s been on social media already. I’m keeping speculation to a minimum so far!

Last week Supernatural filmed the rest of its penultimate episode (Inherit the Earth, 15.19) and on Friday they began filming the first day of the LAST episode – the series finale, Carry On.  The cast and crew, hard at work in Vancouver filming the final two episodes, have been wonderfully generous in sharing some of their experience with us, so it’s been another week of almost constant Supernatural content. Which is glorious! That’s one of the things I’m going to miss the most – being able to hop on twitter and see post and post after post about the show I love.

I’m assuming the actors who are there took last weekend for themselves, to prioritize their emotional and physical health – and no doubt supported each other in dealing with the upcoming end of the show – as they’re hopefully doing right now as well. As they returned to filming last Monday, Donald Painchaud from the Sound Department shared a photo of a small group of fans showing their appreciation for 15 years of the show. (Due to pandemic concerns, fans were asked to stay well away from filming, and from all accounts it seems like most did that).

They filmed some of the penultimate episode (15.19) in Cloverdale, at an iconic looking gas station that Jerry Wanek and his brilliant team constructed just for Supernatural. Its name is a shout out to director John Showalter, as the show pays homage to those who have made it special in its last few opportunities to do so. Paul Orazietti, of the Cloverdale Business Association, posted some beautiful photos of the construction – and deconstruction – of the gas station, along with Baby waiting for her close up. I’ve been privileged to watch the ingenious crew of Supernatural at work as they put up sets and take them down, amazed every time at how they work like a well oiled machine and all get along so well. I swear there will never be a cast and crew like this one ever again, together 15 years and like family.

Photos @Paradeguy

Alex Calvert posted a photo from that location with the message “the end has no end,” leaving fans both perplexed and hopeful.

I desperately want to believe you, Alex!

Jared Padalecki’s tweet that day was not quite as optimistic – and turned out to be prescient, because by the end of last week there were MANY tears as the show wrapped its penultimate episode and began filming of its final episode ever, the series finale of Supernatural.

Excuse me as I go grab a tissue from my very depleted box.

Also last week, Misha, Jared and Jensen joined most of their fellow cast members in posting their support of Samantha Smith in her fight against breast cancer, modeling the Rise tee shirts from Stands charity campaign.  We’re all sending so many good wishes your way, Samantha!

Misha’s was fancy – angel wings and all! You can buy a T shirt and donate at shopstands.com.

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Behind the Scenes of The Last Season of Supernatural with Director Richard Speight, Jr.

Richard Speight, Jr. has a birthday coming up, and that has me thinking about a) how long I’ve known him and b) the incredible impact he has had on Supernatural and on the SPNFamily. In our very first conversation, close to 12 years ago, I was impressed with how smart and thoughtful he was. It wasn’t long before he talked about wanting to direct in addition to acting, and I was not a bit surprised when he added that to his repertoire – and kicked ass at it. He’s come a long way from 2014, when producer Jim Michaels posted a photo of Richard shadowing director Tom Wright on the set of Supernatural, going on to direct eleven episodes and to shape the show in significant ways.

I also knew early on that Richard was an excellent writer, because he wrote a chapter for one of my first books, Fan Phenomena Supernatural. When it came time to write my last book on the show that captured my heart as it went into its very last season, I knew I wanted Richard’s voice in that book too. His chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done is, fittingly enough, a conversation between me and him. Like countless other conversations we’ve had over the past twelve years, in hotel restaurants or convention green rooms or in a taxi so he could show me where he’d filmed in San Francisco, his chapter is brimming with insights and a little bit of his trademark humor. In There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Richard also gets serious about this little show that has changed so many lives. The way he describes Supernatural’s legacy, and what makes it so special, makes me tear up a little every time I read it. He gets it. From Richard’s chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done:

The “Supernatural” take on family ain’t the Lifetime version. It’s dark, it’s rough, it’s painful, it’s broken. It may not be a perfect family, but it’s our family. It may not be a perfect world, but it’s our world. And I think the way Sam and Dean and Castiel choose to navigate that world and how they deal with each other along the way is inspirational to a lot of people and will continue to be an inspiration for a very long time.

Richard understands why the SPNFamily is so important, and why the show and its iconic characters will always be with us, which is what that book is all about. He also gets the show itself. That’s why I couldn’t wait to talk to him about the episodes of the show he directed for Season 15, three of which have already aired. In part 2 of my conversation with Richard, he takes us behind the scenes of those three episodes with so many fascinating insights. And maybe makes me a little emotional again as he talks about the upcoming end of this incredible show.

Part 1 of my epic interview with Richard shared insights into his new film Driven, his hilarious podcast with Rob Benedict, and some behind the scenes stories of directing his first episode of Season 15, Proverbs 17:3. I had a few more questions about that episode, because so much about it was SO good, so we pick up there…

L: Switching gears again, another scene I really liked in that episode was with the actress who played Lilith, who was so good – things very quickly go from all serious and horrifying to this poor traumatized girl falling on some antlers and being impaled, to her just getting up and brushing herself off! How challenging was that kind of split second progression?

R: Let me tell you, first off, Steve Yockey wrote a great script. So clever, the miscues were great. It was like my third or fourth Steve Yockey script, so we work together well. We connect on the material, he likes what I do, I like what he does. As we go through and adjust, we’re always on the same page. But I really really think, to pull that moment off, I give massive credit to Anna Grace Barlow. Finding her was finding Nate Torrence for Sully. I cast her off tape, I never met her. She turned in an audition that she shot in the garage during a short film she was doing that was so fantastic. And she came up and just knocked the leather off the walls. She was so good at every scene, from day one. Day one, her first day of shooting, she was confronting Sam and Dean in a parking lot as Lilith and taking the gun. She was already doing heavy hitting stuff right out of the gate. I thought she was incredibly talented. And she got the character. We discussed the character, she got the beats, and she played all that drama for real. Because you don’t get the joke, you don’t enjoy that moment, if you didn’t buy into everything that has happened before that.

L: Yes, and you really did.

R: You believed that she was in distress, you believed that she was a victim in this scenario, that she was in peril and incapable of doing anything to defend herself. And she’s completely distraught by what she’s witnessed and probably damaged for life, and then she stumbles and dies on those antlers and it’s a WTF moment of massive proportion.

L: Massive! She did a great job there and Jared and Jensen did too, with Sam and Dean’s WTF just happened expressions.

R: They did, they played it like the audience should have been too. But Anna Grace did such a good job and when she makes that turn, she’s Lilith the rest of the time. We had such fun crafting that character. To really go into this episode, I started talking to Jerry Wanek about the episode two weeks before we went up there because he read it and he called me and said “Wes Anderson”.

L: Ohhhhh

R: And I said, you had me at Wes. Because he’s like, I’m trying to figure it out, tonally I don’t want you to hang your hat on the set here but if you’re into it, I’ll lean into it and let’s create that vibe of symmetrical sets and straight on angles. And I said, oh absolutely. Then Carrie at the costume center got on board and that’s why Anna Grace Barlow looks like she’s from Moonrise Kingdom.

L: Yesssss

R:  If you go back to the campsite scene, we used plaids and all these things ala that heightened style. I loved that episode so much, and every set was a meal. It was all stylized. The sheriff’s office, very stylized. We used angles that reflected that kind of style – I don’t wanna say an homage because every shot is an homage because you picked it up from somebody at some point – but nonetheless it was a consistent style thing through the whole episode and it was so fun to do. Anna Grace in her little beret and kerchief being super evil was just so phenomenal.

L: That really added to the character being memorable and full of personality.

R: Everything she does previous to that scene – when she did that hospital scene and expressed her fear to Dean and in the hotel room telling him she doesn’t know what she’ll do now because her friends are all dead? That scene rips your heart out.

L: Yes, you have no idea at the time.

R:  She was shaggin’ flies with every take. Everything was a great take by her, so she gave so many options and choices. And when she went dark, she went dark so well. She was a fantastic villainess. In many ways, I wish it was Season 5 instead of Season 15, because I think we would have seen her many more times.

L: My favorite moment was when she asks them to give her the gun, and Dean says, “the Equalizer?” and she just deadpans “I’m not gonna call it that.” I laughed out loud.

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