The "Supernatural" panel. That yearly monumental event at San Diego Comic Con in which the past season is remembered, and after a long hiatus it's usually the first hint of what's coming in this new season. We got hints alright. Everyone chose to be careful this year, especially about the opener.
I'll just do this now. If you want to read through this, please keep in mind, SPOILER ALERT!! Honest it's nothing major, but there's still enough teasers to get the imaginations flowing.
I was one of the lucky ones, having secured a special pass for the panel. I did feel heartbroken for the number of fans waiting outside Hall H to see this panel that didn't get in. Even 6500 seating wasn't big enough to hold all the "Supernatural" fans! To think, that Hall was ABCF at 1500 two years ago. I was fortunate to run into and sit with the wonderful Maureen Ryan of AOL TV, a dear friend that I keep bumping into at these events (she met my family at C2E2). I was most amused by how the person at the door wouldn't let us in, not sure what a reserved seating pass for the press was. After Mo lit into him, he meekly let us go in. That teaches him to mess with a red head!
First thing I noticed about Hall H, 6500 screaming "Supernatural" fans make a lot of noise. Holly Ollis of Warner Brothers TV Publicity kicked things off, reminding us under no uncertain terms how "Supernatural" made the cover of the first ever TV Guide fan favorites poll. The cheers got deafening when the presenter of the first clip was announced. Why it was the director of the episode himself, Mr. Jensen Ackles. Oh yeah, the crowd went nuts big time.
Jensen thanked us all for the cheers and then jokingly told us to shut up when the cheers wouldn't stop. He said he was astonished by all the fan support, proof coming from the fact that they were there in Hall H. He went on to introduce the clip. "There's really nothing special about this scene. The character is Sam. There's no Dean in which is kind of pointless."
The clip started with a decent "The Road So Far" summary of season six to Foreigner's "Long Long Way From Home." Easily one of the better ones I've seen in terms of editing. I always find it a shame that these openers are only reserved for the Comic Con, because they're so good.
Then came the clip, which was from episode 7.03, or the first one filmed and directed by Jensen. SPOILER ALERT, I'm about to describe the clip. Skip ahead if you don't want to know! It shows Sam holding a knife, confronting a blonde woman (played by Jewel Staite) about her killing something, again. She had fresh blood on her hands. She reminds Sam that he knows her, and Sam goes into a flashback with him in his younger years. It's Colin Ford! He's in a motel room talking to a girl that looks like the woman in the prior scene. The conversation is about how they both travel around a lot because of what their parents do, but the girl doesn't seem to mind it so much. She tells Sam sweetly that there's nothing wrong with being a freak. Young Sam smiles and kisses her. Back to current day Sam who waves the knife at her again, demanding to see what she is hiding. She slowly opens the door and... end clip. Yep, they're that evil. This is supposed to air in October sometime, so happy waiting!
Eric Goldman of IGN took on the moderator role and introduced all the panelists to a cheering crowd.
First question is for Jensen about directing this episode this time, his second time. "It was more difficult the second time - last year it was more ignorance is bliss." He had to be in this episode more than the previous one he directed, so that was a challenge as well. Jared was asked if he behaved. "Of course not." Before answering the question though, Jared first demanded some crowd noise, then decided to go off on a tangent (as he usually does). "It smells like Robert Pattinson up here. Was he in my seat?"
Jared did eventually get around to answering the question, and it was honest. "He was good to me so I figured I'd be good to him back." Jensen elaborated further. "I've been around on this show a little bit and I know it, he trusted me to tell him where to go and what to say, when to say it. Other than that I don't need to tell this guy how to be Sam. Not to mention we've been watching each other's backs for six years now." (Again, loud cheering).
(Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers)
Now to Misha, and more cheers. He was asked that since Castiel has been such a loveable character what was his reaction to what's happened to him. Misha didn't have an immediate reaction, so when asked again in a different way Jared jumped in. "Can you use smaller words for him?" Misha - "To be perfectly honest with you, I have been as an actor surprised that no one has written a God role for me yet in my career. It seems like such a natural fit and obviously in getting to know me Sera saw that and just rolled it into the story. It kind of fit. You can't see what I can see but it says please be aware that members of your audience may be under 18 years of age. I'm not going to say what I was about to say, but it was hilarious."
The audience went nuts and he told everyone to tone it down before finishing the answer. "It's incredibly daunting. Normally when you get a role you see "˜this guy walks with a limp' or "˜this guy talks with a lisp' usually, and this is "˜Wow, how do you play God?' Obviously I haven't figured that out but it's an interesting challenge to work on."
The evasive, circular non-answer of the day. Over to Sera. What is Castiel's role this upcoming season? "I've been getting that question every minute of everyday for the last year about the change and Castiel and the reality is that we want to tell you everything we can tell you about Misha because we love Misha as much as you do and we want to tell you everything we can about Castiel because we adore the character as you do. But, you saw the cliffhanger and it's very cliffhangery. We want you to tune in and be anticipatory and we can't say past what you know which is he's due to be in the first couple of episodes. So watch those and we can do it again and can tell you a little more.
"Well, that was really informative," Jensen joked.
Over to Jim Beaver, who got a question if everything is cool between Bobby and Sam since Sam tried to kill him. Jim said everything is cool between Bobby, Sam, and Dean, but wasn't so sure about Jim, Jared, and Jensen. "That's a very different question and one I don't really want to get into right now." (Yes he was joking). The answer, Bobby realizes that really bad things happen to people beyond their control and Sam didn't mean it.
Mark Sheppard's turn, and that got another huge crowd reaction. He definitely was a crowd favorite. What is Crowley going to do now that Castiel turned the tables on him and he's in hiding. "I'm in season seven?" Mark asked incredulously. He turned to the other panelists shocked. "Really, I'm in seven?" Once he got his confirmation, he pumped his fist in the air. "Yes!" So what would Mark like to see Crowley do next. "I think I should give up on "Supernatural" all together. I think a new spinoff half hour comedy called "˜Oh Crowley'." Sera Gamble jumped in and said we'll see Crowley early on. Mark tried to play dumb some more but gave up. "We went to Comic Con and she says "˜Don't tell anyone anything.'" Mark's looking forward to seeing where things are going.
Ben Edlund got the meta question and "The French Mistake" was mentioned. He doesn't really know how much more they can do. Breaking the fourth wall was pretty profound. He doesn't think they can top the use of the actual actors' names. They'll probably do more experiments like Ghostfacers. He does mention the spaceships idea, the same one he told us in the pressroom. Something tells me that once Mr. Edlund gets an idea, he'll work it through somehow.
Over to Jared, getting a question about Sam's missing year. Will they find out more about what he was involved in? "Yes, yes, yes, thank you." "There's a lot that Sam has seen and can see again now that the wall has fallen and I for my part am really excited about playing Sam that doesn't know which reality he's in. For those that haven't watched the show Sam had some hard times last season. Now we get to play with Sam's healing. I think the Winchester brothers have always reacted to things with courage and bravery and been strong about it. What excited me so far in the scripts that I've read is that Sam is way out of his league. It's kind of scary. I actually read it and I was getting chills and I was scared. What can scare the Winchester boys? And we can play with that."
Then Jared remembered something. "Misha shirtless scares the Winchester boys." Misha's answer? "I think you're confusing fear with jealousy." Fantastic comeback! The entire Hall H was howling.
Jensen got a question about Dean's state at the last season. He's dealing with Castiel and his sacrifice with Ben and Lisa. "I think that goodbye to Ben and Lisa, tough as it was on Dean, it was a necessity. He comes to the realization that's never going to be his life, no matter how much he dreams about it, no matter how much he'd love it to be, he's a hunter and he'll always be a hunter and that's the way it's going to be. That was a must and it happened and it was a tough scene to shoot for me as Dean. It was a sad goodbye but now we've got a bigger problem on our hands."
Speaking of Castiel as God, will Chuck appear? Sera answered pretty clearly. "Chuck does not appear early in the season, there are no plans for him to." She went on further to talk about Castiel. He's always felt strongly that his father (God) has abandoned him. "He (God) did the whole going out for cigarettes and never came back thing. One of the questions we asked ourselves is "˜You're God, what do you do?' You get to be your Dad. You thought your Dad did a crappy job what are you going to do differently?"
Misha was asked if he was ready to take on this role. He admitted to taking a lot from his personal life and moving it over. "Getting him to take it off is the hard part," Jim said. "I'm very method," Misha answered. "Smiting," Jared added with laughter. "I'm smiting far more than usual up in Vancouver, you may have seen it on the news," joked Misha. "It's definitely a daunting challenge. It's funny, it's one of those things that I actually I got nervous about. It's a big challenge. (Turns to Jared), I mean, you had to be Satan, right?" "Yes," Jared answered simply. Misha (after giving Jared crap for short answers) finished by saying it's an unusual treat and an unusual challenge. Jared then picked on him for being so earnest. "Ladies and gentlemen, Misha Collins."
It was mentioned that everyone has had at least one death scene. "A death scene?" Jared asks incredulously. He mentions he's had one six times. Jensen buts in with the perfect answer. "I died 40 times in one episode." Sera went on to explain how death doesn't mean the same thing on "Supernatural". It doesn't mean they're off the show. "Like Glee," Misha quipped. "Was that out loud?" Jared joked. Sera said that Jared and Jensen don't worry about it, but Jared had a smart answer for that. "You know how many times Jensen has cried in my arms? You're not gonna die, you're not gonna die, it's okay, we can't do it without you."
The next question was about Sam and Dean fighting all the time, what do they do to prepare. Jensen had a good answer. "I think the brother bickering has always been part of the show that he and I play it easily. It's when like last year when soulless Sam was around and he wasn't playing Sam, that was a real challenge for me as an actor because it wasn't Sam. I wasn't able to play Dean with Sam like I had been for the past five season. That was was definitely a challenge. But no, we have no problem fighting each other."
Here's the patented Jared Padalecki incoherent run on answer (must happen every Q & A session). Strap in. "That is one of my favorite parts, the brothers bickering, the brother's fighting. I can remember certain times, I don't know what the episode was or what it was called, but I remember we shot one scene, I want to say either Bob or Ken directed it season one or two, we're fighting in a motel room, like snap out of it, and I feel like after each and every one of those scenes I feel like Sam grew kind of by accident, in spite himself, in spite of myself. I enjoy those scenes because inevitably, when you work with somebody so long as an actor and know them as so well a human being you're able to get more out of each other. If a guest star comes on, no matter how talented they are and they're often very talented, they can't quite pull out of you what somebody that you know. It's like you always hurt the ones you love, you always hurt them the most and they always hurt you the most. The better you know somebody the more you can push their buttons and the more your buttons can be pushed. So I feel like as Jared I feel like my character grows when I have these intense scenes with Jensen. And that was tough for me I was soulless, because there would parts would be, I assume death, I don't know what I looked like, but I was trying that eye swipe (blank stare). Then I felt so bad because I couldn't react or respond to Jensen, to Dean, but now we get to fight again."
Jim was asked about Bobby and his unlucky romances. Jim mentioned that Sheriff Mills would be around for a bit, but that was just a hunch, he doesn't have any knowledge about that.
Sera was asked if any characters are coming back. "Yeah, Jo is coming back." Jared acted all surprised. "Really?" Jensen - "We find out when you find out." Sheriff Mills is returning. She couldn't remember who else as Mark Sheppard waved his hand frantically. Death is coming back too. They have a few more in the works, and we'll meet new guys too.
Before getting to questions, someone in the back shouted "I love you Misha!" "Good question," he answered.
Finally, questioning was opened up to the audience. If I had one criticism of this panel, not enough time was given for audience/fan questions. Someone noticed that Sam/Dean's facial expressions and gesturing is similar to sign language. They could learn those skills and use them in every scene. Ben Edlund decided to on that one, humorously trying to grasp the notion of how to write scenes with no words. Jensen - "I think that Ben and Sera might disagree with me, but you can say a lot without saying words. Thank you for picking up on that because I think that's something a lot of us pride ourselves in bringing to our characters the things we that we say in between the lines. Yeah, wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to say words at all...You could probably cut together an entire episode of just Sam looking at Dean and Dean looking at Sam." Oh yeah, the crowd loved that idea!
A young girl came up just gushing over everyone, telling them how much she loves them. The question was for Jensen, What similarities does he share with his character? "We like the same kind of music. We like vintage cars, and that's about it." Jared had an answer too. "They both air guitar all the time whenever "Eye of the Tiger" comes on."
COMPLETELY OFF THE WALL, "WTF?" QUESTION OF THE DAY. It's for Misha. "Since you're the Antichrist and all that, has that influenced you in playing God." Misha had no idea how to answer that and went into his usual joking tone. "You think I'm actually the Antichrist? I'm not sure I like this question." Jim - "You'll get a variety of answers from us." Misha continued. "Yeah, well since I'm a Satanist, um..." He was still obviously confused by the question so Jensen just plain asked what was the question. Apparently on his Twitter a church group claimed he was the Antichrist. Now he remembers. "Oh yeah, that's right, I don't know how they figured that out. Because I was trying to keep it totally under wraps but I obviously slipped up a couple of times and the cat's out of the bag. I bet I've just got to embrace it now." Jim - "Maybe you should smite them." Misha - "That's kind of ironic. You'll understand why when you see the first episode of the season."
The next person comes from Guadalajara Jim - "Really, is that in Oregon?" The question was about going on after the original five season arc. Jensen had praise for Kripke ending his original idea after five years and not stretching it out. "The story of these two brothers just continues to evolve I think the stories are kind of endless. I have faith in these guys and as long as they keep picking up stories we'll keep telling them." The girl tells Jensen she loves him. "Thank you, Jared's right here too." Jared gives a smile and a goofy wave. "I love you too."
Eric Goldman asked a follow up if they have discussions about when the show might end. Sera took on that answer. "We hope it goes on for a long time. Eric did create a perfect franchise to keep going and we have fresh blood in the room here and it's amazing how much fresh energy there is. We have plan in place if it is the last year and we have a firm plan if it isn't." Jensen to the audience - "That'll be up to you guys."
The last question and it's for Ben Edlund. Every time they open that trunk they have the ninja stars. Jensen - "I want to use those so bad. That and the grenade launcher. Why can't we use the grenade launcher and the ninja stars?" Sera revealed that Ben just pitched a ninja story. Ben asked the audience. "You think that they should fight the ninjas also?" Huge applause. "I think if we use things like grenade launchers then the stories tend to end two acts early. You know, it just blows up and I'm done." Jensen pleads for the Ninja stars. Ben encouraged them to practice with the ninja stars, because he knows from experience they fly all over the place. That inspired Jensen to tell a great story. "I remember when you guys wrote that Dean was throwing knives in one episode a couple seasons ago and my trailer looked like swiss cheese. I kid you not, they set up a board and I started chucking knives in my trailer." Alas, Ben brought up a great point. "Also it turns out ninjas don't use those historically speaking. Now I'm using history to bring everyone down."
The questions ended and it was time for the final clips. The first clip was from the anime series, a recreation of the opening of the Devil's gate and Sam killing Jake. What was it like for Jared to do the voice of Sam for the entire series? "Unfortunately they came to us when I was also playing three Sams. I was playing Hell Sam, soulless Sam, and Sam Sam, and then going to the sound truck and playing season one Sam. So it's like "˜Sam you better get up' and I went back to the trailer and it's "˜I want to go to law school.' It was definitely a juggling act."
After the Anime clip was done and it was shown that the DVD set would be available July 26th, it was time for the season six gag reel! As far as gag reels go from previous seasons, this one looked really good. Granted it was only a sampling, but I loved it. Lots of goofing around by Jared, Jensen, and Misha. My favorite clip involved some dancing by Jared, Jensen, and Misha in the forest during the filming of "My Heart Will Go On."
With that, the panel ended and that ended my time at Comic Con 2011. As usual, it was fun but way too short. Let's hope for Hall H again next year, when we're getting ready for season 8!