Post Writer's Strike, season four returned to the standard 22-episode schedule---and along with that special features like deleted scenes and commentaries came back, too. There's also an extra titled “The Mythologies of Supernatural: Heaven to Hell---3 Section Featurette Gallery Bridging Heaven, Purgatory and Hell to Examine Key Mythological Precepts”. While season three's sparse extras tackled a lot of the special effects, season four focuses in on writing in big ways---each commentary is done by a writer or a writer and director. As such, they add richness to the season, giving us new understandings of television writing while the mythologies Supernatural relies upon to tell its unique story are explored in-depth in the featurette. Whether we're seeing a deleted scene show us new layers of character or hearing a commentary about directing and writing, we're left with a deeper appreciation for all the hard work that goes into making this show each week.

Let's start with my highlights of the deleted scenes first.

Season four broke down these scenes between deleted and extended. Each gives us a new look on either a well known scene or a deeper look at something we didn't see previously.

All screencaps by @Valerie613 

The first scene we see comes from “Lazarus Rising.” It's certainly a memorable moment---the introduction of Castiel at the barn. This scene is an extended version that runs rather close to the one we currently know from the episode. There's a few extra lines---Castiel expands somewhat on the concept of vessels for instance. Over all, this particular scene felt more like it was taken from different angles and that the actors used a few different expressions. These added something to the look and feel of the well known episode counterpart. It might not have changed anything in the overall story that much, but it did add some more insight and focus on some issues that we see addressed for the rest of the series---particularly that of angelic vessels.

The second scene was taken from “In the Beginning.” Here, we see Dean pull up to the Campbell family home hot on the heels of his father in the newly purchased Impala only to watch his mother do something rather extraordinary and mundane all at once: climbing out of her bedroom window to sneak off with her boyfriend. Mary is very agile and deft as she makes her way down the roof and down the trellis. It's that hint of the hunter she is exposed to be later on in the episode.

And yet, we can't help but be struck by how mundane this moment is, too. After all, Mary isn't the first and she won't be the last girl to sneak out the bedroom window to flee into the night. It's normal in its presentation. Mary's simply doing what any other teen girl would do to spend time with her boyfriend while keeping it secret from her disapproving parents. In some ways, this little slice shows us the tragedy of Mary: wanting normal while never quite being normal.

As soon as Mary sees the Impala, we see the familiar confused expression. She asks, “What's this?” John gets animated explaining the engine only to be told flat out by Mary, “I hate it.” It's something we never see in the actual episode. Mary seems displeased by the car choice there, but there's no voiced hatred for the beloved family vehicle of the Winchesters. This, too, adds to Mary's tragedy. She wants normal. She wants to be out of the life. In her world, she has to see this car for what it will become: a hunter's vehicle.

The Impala is dark, black, and all muscle, after all. She's meant to intimidate. This is not the family vehicle Mary dreamed of---the one she sees her family growing up safely outside the life in at all. We also see Dean from the background see his mother's reaction, and it's one of the first times we get to see him learn something that he did not know about his mother.

“Monster Movie” gets a couple more scenes, both deleted from the finalized episode. In the first one, we see Sam and Dean walking down the street discussing the case. They're theorizing that the police might be right this time---that it's nothing more than a human psycho. Along the way, they pass a bar and Dean is eager to go inside. He thinks it'd be “fun” and Sam quickly steers him further down the street, telling him “Maybe later.”

In the second short snippet, we see the brothers watching the footage from the attack at the museum as the guard shoots the mummy. Dean turns to Sam, asking him if he's got things right---that they've had a vampire, a werewolf, and now a mummy. He just wants to make sure he's “keeping track.” Each moment added great brotherly humor allowing us to see the lighter side of Sam and Dean in the midst of this particularly bizarre case. Short and sweet, they certainly made me smile. 

To turn serious, however, in the extended scene from “Yellow Fever,” we see everything that Dean experiences while hallucinating under the ghost sickness amplified. The clock ticks much much louder. The text Dean hallucinates isn't just there---it's read aloud by a voice that taunts him. The pictures seem that more graphic. Dean is catapulted into a moment where he feels the walls are closing in quickly for him---that time is literally running through his fingers the longer he sits listening to its dull ticking.

We're afforded a moment of hearing his heartbeat that much louder, too. There's an unease in the extended version that's heightened. We're pulled a tad more deeper into the moment that leads up to Dean destroying the clock and leaving its smashed remains on the floor. It brought some of the drama we know comes at the end of the episode a bit sooner, too. This is a big glimpse into Dean's psyche as he struggles with the knowledge that the ghost sickness is going to kill him---and that he'll be returning back to Hell.

“It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” gets an extension of Uriel and Castiel talking at the park bench. The variance here is a Biblical line, “Let us make man in our likeness and our image,” delivered by Castiel before he accuses Uriel of nearing blasphemy. It gives us a slight insight into precisely why God would have favored humanity over his angelic creation---and gives us the impression that Uriel leans towards Lucifer's viewpoint even more than we already sensed. It's clear that this was cut to avoid tipping that hand towards Uriel's deceit throughout the season. He was actively working to open Lucifer's Cage, after all.

“On the Head of the Pin” gives us an extended version of Dean arguing about why he shouldn't be forced to torture Alastair. He walks to the door and peers in to see Alastair strapped in, ready for torture. He demands to talk to Castiel alone, telling Uriel that if he wants a “snowballs chance in Hell” of him going in there, the angel had better leave. He also demands jelly donuts to make things a bit more sarcastic. Castiel then pulls on Dean's guilt by reminding him that they've lost Pamela in this---that they need Dean's help now in order for her death to have not been in vain. It gives the scene even more tension, particularly in the way Ackles and Collins deliver their lines and the close ups done on Ackles as we see him fight the emotions roiling inside Dean as he's given a chance to inflict pain on his torturer.

“The Rapture” gives us a glimpse of the brothers in their hotel room. Dean has woken up and turns to wake his brother up. Sam wakes up a bit groggy---and then seems almost hungover. It doesn't escape Dean. It's a glimpse at how badly the demon blood withdrawals truly hit Sam as he was craving it so badly by this stage. Padalecki sells us on this brief moment by how utterly drained and tired he looks. There's a fazed glaze to his eyes and it's clear that if Sam were to stand he'd only fall back down again.

To wrap the season's deleted and extended scenes, we turn to the season finale, “Lucifer Rising.” Here, we see Chuck and Castiel in the writer's home. Castiel has come to the Prophet because he is following Dean's example of “What the hell,” as he knows they have little left to lose at this stage. He wants to throw the course off track if possible. Chuck is stunned, and asks the angel when he grew a pair---which of course Castiel didn't grasp.

Each of these scenes expanded upon either a character, story arc, or moments we've come to know throughout the years. They added extra angles or variations on the way lines were delivered---or they gave us glimpses into a richer version of a scene. Having these back after having none in season three showed how much they were truly missed---and just how valuable they can be for the stuff that just gets cut for budget, time, or story reasons.

The next feature I explored was the Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory featurette. Appropriately, each section was divided into Dante's Divine Comedy divisions: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. I started, naturally, with the Inferno.

The Inferno was divided further into three segments itself. The first was “The Price of Free Will,” the second, “The Song of Death,” and the third “The Destroyer of Children.”

Under the “Price of Free Will,” we see a deep discussion on angels and how they differ from humanity. They are creatures designed to obey. It is one reason that Anna's storyline followed the arc of disobedience. To disobey was the worst thing they could do. To further this situation, humanity is seen as an enemy to angels. Given free will and choice, they are able to do what angels can't. We're also told that not only did Lucifer disobey in part because of humanity's favored status, but that others went with him.

One of these was Azazel. In lore, he's sometimes seen as an angel himself---as opposed to the demonic force we see on Supernatural. In many lores, he's the one that teaches humanity the skill of metal work and then creates chaos in his wake. Metal work, after all, leads to weaponry and war.

Angels and demons, therefore, give us a face to identify some of the overarching concepts that have consumed Supernatural from the beginning. We're seeing the forces of the world, of heaven, and of hell personified in ways that allow us to see the story in a new way. It allows us to also examine what exactly makes Free Will something we humans have and why that's fundamentally important.

The second segment, “Sweet Song of Death,” explores the rich mythology of the siren.

The siren we see in “Sex and Violence” finds its origins in Greek myth. In ancient Greece, sirens were seen as a creature that was often depicted as being half bird and half woman. They would lure men to their deaths---often while at sea---by their song. Often, these sailors would dash their ships onto the rocks and sink to never be heard from again. These myths typically captured all the danger and fear of sea travel.

That made the siren a bit of a challenge for Supernatural---the Winchesters aren't at sea, after all. Even so, Kripke wanted this myth to be the foundation for the story. It grounds it. For Kripke, the Odyssey pulled heavily into this story, forming and shaping it. There were also elements of the Golden Fleece story with Orpheus countering the pull of the sirens. His music would keep the sailors from falling under the siren spell---and thus let them pass freely through the Mediterranean. In many ways, it also tied into Supernatural's traveling element. The men threatened by the siren in Greek myth were sailors traveling the seas---while the Winchesters traverse the open road in the Impala.

The way they adapted this myth to fit Supernatural more surrounded the allure that sirens use on men. This part of the myth didn't originate in the Greek mythology nearly as much. Instead, this element would have emerged in the medieval period. During this era, sexual appetites and temptations would have been seen as more dangerous. It would have been the lure of sin and fleshly appetites on a new level. These sailors would often bash themselves on the rocks because these sirens would sing seductive songs---tugging on the male arousal and lusts. In the modern era, that translated into the setting of the strip club. What better place than that to attract and feast upon your victims?

The final Inferno section, “The Destroyer of Children,” tackled the big bad of season four: Lilith.

In this segment, we are given a historical and mythological up close look at the first creation of Lucifer. We see the adaptations that Supernatural made to the Biblical and folklore myths that surrounded this mysterious figure. Lilith appears as the first woman in the Bible---particularly in the Jewish Torah. She was created in the same manner as Adam---and was fiercely independent. She made the demand that she be considered Adam's equal and not his inferior. Lilith is seen as domineering and she refused to submit to Adam in any realm. This displeased Adam, and so Lilith was replaced by Eve, the woman created from Adam's rib. After that, Lilith seems to fall away from the Bible, never to be mentioned explicitly again.

In Jewish folklore, however, Lilith becomes a terrifying figure that torments little boys in particular. She is seen as a seducer of men and a destroyer of children. Lilith lurks out in the darkness, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting boy. To protect their young boys from her attacks, it was tradition that little boys would be protected especially in the period from birth to their eighth day---when they would have customarily been circumcised. This period would leave them vulnerable to Lilith. They were not out of her reach, however, after this. Up until their third year of life, little boys would never have their hair cut. It was believed that if their hair was left long and Lilith came to visit the cradle she would think the child it contained would be a girl and not a boy. This belief lived on through the various ages and was practiced while not being openly acknowledged or discussed. Lilith was such a terrifying figure they sought any protection from her---even going so far as not even speak of her. To do so might bring her attention to your children.

Even other myths that seem removed from Lilith can find some of their roots traced back to her. Bloody Mary---a myth we saw brought to life as an urban legend in season one---is thought to be tangled up in Lilith. It was believed that she could infect and corrupt others to become like her and a mirror could be a weapon she could use to make that happen.

Lilith's mythology may be awash with fear and horror, but in the modern era, her history has found some traction within feminist movements. Lilith Fair is a prime example of adopting this figure as a champion for women's rights. Eve is often seen as the woman created in order to serve man and that she was punished for her transgression with the Tree of Knowledge. Lilith, on the other hand, is seen as a strong figure that stands for independence and equality. Lilith's demand, after all, was that she been seen as Adam's equal---not as his inferior. In this manner, Lilith has become a much more positive figure and more people are willing to buck some of the fear and superstition by naming their girls Lilith.

Lilith is a remarkable figure because she's survived throughout all this time---all while being skirted around and never truly taught in the religious teachings.

The second section of the Dante breakdown addressed Purgatory. Purgatorio didn't delve into the Purgatory we see the show explore in later seasons. Instead, it explores the classical concept of limbo. This emerged from a religious dilemma in the Catholic Church. They needed a way to reconcile what would happen to innocents who died before baptism or for those who died in the era before Christ that were holy. Young children who died before baptism couldn't be sent to Hell, surely---and those that were alive before Christ couldn't be faulted for not believing in him. So, Purgatory was concocted as a place for souls to go to purge their sins and to prepare for the glory of Heaven.

Dante is one of the only resources we have for what Purgatory might be like---and his is a fictional account. Dante travels up the mountain that forms Purgatory---after climbing out of the Inferno past Lucifer himself. Along the road, he encounters souls that are in the process of purging their sins. These sins were enough to keep them from Heaven, but not bad enough to send them straight to Hell. Dante describes some horrific punishments nonetheless in Purgatorio. Some souls are seen with their eyes sewn shut for instance.

Ghosts were also explained in many ways by the existence of Purgatory. They were souls crying out from it to others in the living realm---begging for prayers that would cleanse them and release them to Heaven.

The extra delves past the Christian concept of Purgatory and examines what Hinduism sees as purgatory---meaning life on earth. Due to their belief in reincarnation, you are here to be cleansed and it will take as many lives as it takes to reach that.

This section gave us a rich and deep look at Purgatory in the classical sense, allowing us to see how some of these concepts have infiltrated Supernatural in different ways. While the show may have changed the actual dimensions of Purgatory in season six and beyond, we can see how the medieval Catholic concept permeates a lot of their story. Ghosts are trapped in this form of limbo, looking to be cleansed and released for instance.

The last Dante segment shows us a closer look at Paradiso---or Heaven.

The first section delved into the “Ageless and Unseen War.” This would be the war taking place between angels and demons. In Zoroastrian lore, there is a good god and a bad god. The bad god would have been considered the Father of Lies---and could possibly be one root for the concept of Lucifer. They believed that the good god and the bad god were battling for souls. Each person would have to ultimately choose their own god---good or bad. The concept of the End of Days---aka the Apocalypse---is the cessation of humanity and not the world. Along with this Zoroastrian concept, Supernatural used the Book of Revelations as a source to expand the lore and mythology, then.

In ways, then, when we see angels and demons fight in stories---books, television shows, or movies---we're seeing a face for the daily struggle humans face every day. They address the concept that God wanted Lucifer to fall. There can be no free will if there is no choice for humans to make. Free will has to mean something---and for it to mean something they must face good and evil.

For Supernatural, then, they took the concept that humanity sees this as their planet---everything else can get off of it.

The second section explored “Angels and Miracles.”

To touch on miracles, any near death experience would have been seen as one. Often, Biblical times are seen as having way more miracles than today. Supernatural took this concept of miracles and shaped it to fit their story. We may not think about it, but Castiel's angelic healing of his vessel or a Winchester is a minor miracle. That being said, miracles don't just happen for free. The angels may have caused miracles---rescuing Dean from Hell or healing wounds---but these miracles came with a price. This really fit the show well, allowing for the angels to have these powers while it being balanced out. They were seen as a blessing and a curse all at once.

The last segment, “Angels and Archangels” examined the various angels we see in season four. We're told that the angels were seen as warriors and that they are to mirror in some ways the empires we see on earth. It is the job of the angels to transmit the Word to prophets---they are messengers of God. The Qu'aran is seen as one example of this Word being given to man by an angel of the Lord---in this case Gabriel. In Hinduism, we're told that God himself is the one to transmit the word. For Supernatural, they saw the angels we see on the show as stationed on earth in a garrison.

Supernatural used a lot more Old Testament versions of angels for their make up. Uriel, for instance, is the angel cited for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. Angels are violent, then, at heart. They are built to destroy and to fight---and so far, that's precisely what angels on the show have and continue to mostly do.

Commentaries roared back in a big way on the season four set. There were three tackling significant episodes: “In the Beginning,” “When the Levee Breaks,” and “Lucifer Rising.” Each commentary gave us great in-depth insights not only on the season story specifics, but also gave us peeks behind the curtain of television making. Each one gave us great tidbits that either enhanced the storyline or revealed some aspect of the episode's logistics.

I'll give you my highlights. For “In the Beginning,” we had Eric Kripke and Jeremy Carver breaking it all down. It was a big deal that we see Sam leaving at the beginning of the episode. We needed to see Dean do this alone and learn this alone---and yet, Kripke admits that while Sam is taken off screen to go off with Ruby here, this entire episode is largely about Sam. It's about what Azazel did to Sam and sets up some of the groundwork that will be revealed as to exactly why in the season finale. Kripke also had wanted to tell Mary's story almost for the very beginning, but this was the first time they had a chance to do it. It had been slated for season three originally, but the Writer's Strike limited the story scope and episode count.

It was interesting to hear how Carver tackled the concept of time paradoxes. Kripke found it to be a closed loop---that Dean is forever going back and that the incidents that lead to Mary's death and Sam's blood infection are going to happen over and over no matter what. One way to lighten some of these deep concepts, however, was to pepper the script with tons of Back to the Future references. All of these were inserted by Carver through dialog and scene set up.

Kripke talked a lot about how they couldn't disturb the timeline of the show. It wasn't simply the issue with time paradoxes. He knew that they had to make this episode fit the logistics of three years of mythology in a way that wouldn't disrupt what we've seen so far too much. They wondered if Dean would have known about his grandparents and instead plugged those holes with dialog that would keep things flowing well together while unveiling this story. They also wanted to make sure Dean couldn't tip his hand to Mary as to why she shouldn't go into the nursery in 1983. She has to go in there and she has to die in order for the show to start. Kripke admitted that he went back and watched the teaser from the “Pilot” to make sure this matched. The Colt was given to Dean in this episode in order to give him a chance and to make him a much more formidable foe to Azazel---but they knew that Dean wouldn't be able to kill him here, either.

The scene with Azazel monologuing to Dean was the most rewritten moment in the episode to make sure that it would convey everything that we knew and would reveal a little bit about what we didn't in order to set up the secret reveal of the season finale. Kripke admitted that he and Ben Edlund sat down to write this scene together, giving us what we finally see there.

For the 1970s feel, Carver originally wrote the diner scene a little overboard. Everyone was going to be dressed almost like a Saturday Night Fever look. In the end, the only one that remained that over the top was the diner owner. His outfit was put in as a set up for a joke about Sonny and Cher.

Kripke described the genesis of Castiel by talking about how Hellblazer and Constantine are huge influences for the angel. At this point, Carver was writing for the character without having seen him or Misha in the role. This was the third script of the season, so they were still working on casting at that point.

Carver discussed that the first daily he saw from the shooting of this episode was Mary coming out of the house. This was also the cut scene we now see in the deleted scenes. He revealed that Amy Gumenick is a ballet dancer and so she really went all out for her fight scenes with Dean. There were no stunt doubles used in that moment.

It was fascinating to hear---especially in light of Mary saying “I'm sorry” to Sam and recognizing Azazel when Sam's shown what happened the night she died---that the genesis of Azazel's interest in Mary and eventually in Sam was largely an accident. They had ideas of family running through out, but originally this script was conceived to focus on John. Carver had really wanted to tackle John's story prior to becoming a hunter---and for Dean to see him this way, but the script just didn't fit that way. Instead, it ended up centering on Mary and the Campbell clan with John largely being on the periphery of the story.

Samuel and Deanna Campbell aren't necessarily shout outs to Sam and Dean. Rather, Kripke was getting a lot of grief from his wife---named Deanna---for not having any characters named for her. She wanted to be named for one in the show for a long time, so Kripke decided to name Mrs. Campbell for her. It was one of those personal touch moments that somehow make the show all the more special.

It was intriguing to hear that Mitch Pileggi was sought after as far back as “Bad Day at Black Rock.” He was going to be a hunter after Sam and Dean, but schedules fell through. They were ecstatic to have him come in as Samuel and felt that he really shone most opposite Ackles. This became most obvious in the scenes when Samuel was possessed by Azazel. Kripke felt that Pileggi really took that role and ran with it. In fact, he felt that Pileggi was the best Azazel next to Fredric Lehne.

Logistically, this episode ran much too long. They had to go back and cut things such as Mary's climb from the bedroom window and other quirky elements such as Deanna cutting up fruit for a salad.

As with other commentaries from other seasons, both Kripke and Carver praised the crew as being passionate about the show. Serge Ladouceur was called out for lighting this episode as more dreamlike to reflect the 1970s feel. They both stated that everything is signed off of on---every single detail has to be approved. They explained that the way this and all episodes were sold to the network was done in a paragraph form that sums up the story and gives them an indication of what would happen. Kripke and Carver discussed that TV writing is a team sport. They all work on each script regardless of who ends up named as the episode writer. A little bit here and a little bit there may come from another writer on staff.

There were some issues that they had to get around the network with---in particular Mary and Azazel's kiss. This portion of the script got discussed in terms of Mary's culpability for the deal, her desperation, and that they needed the consequence of her deal to be vague enough for her while the viewers know what she's signed on for. Carver pitched this idea and concept as the script developed. When it came time to seal this deal, however, the networks balked at the idea that a father and daughter would be kissing. They had to talk fast to tell them this was supposed to happen. After all, technically the two characters involved weren't actually related---despite physical appearances!

They also had great praise for Misha Collins and how he has taken over the role making him such a powerful force on screen. He liked that Collins gave Castiel a complexity and an innocence that fit the character right from the audition. He liked that Collins was a gentleman.

The second commentary tackled the episode “When the Levee Breaks.” Robert Singer and Sera Gamble discuss the logistics of directing and writing this particular episode, giving us some great insider information on how this particular episode came together.

Singer was worried about the small space of the Panic Room. This would make it tricky for him to keep the story active and moving for the audience. The rooms that make up the Panic Room, however, are removable so they could then set up particular shots with cameras to get the angles they needed. The particular crane used was the techno-crane. It was used often to capture Sam stretched out on the cot for instance.

Where this episode begins, with Dean tricking Sam into the Panic Room in order to detox him was originally supposed to be at the end of “The Rapture.” There was discussions on how they wanted to place this moment and they felt it'd be a much better opening than an ending. The lighting we see---Dean in blue and Sam in red was a touch added by Singer to convey just where the brothers were emotionally within the story.

Gamble found capturing what demon blood detox would be like a bit daunting. She started originally with the idea of what a typical drug withdrawal would be like---fever for instance---and thought about how that would change in a supernatural setting. For her, that meant hallucinations. Gamble also had to make the escalation of this subtle and hit certain beats in order to convey the story and for Padalecki to really build it up within his acting. She knew that the story needed to reach a climax, so this couldn't happen too fast.

That meant that they threw things like a young Sam accusing Sam of throwing normal away. Both Singer and Gamble were way impressed with how Colin Ford came in and captured the young Sam. While the detail doesn't make the actual episode---due to time---Gamble reveals that the shirt young Sam wears is supposed to be the same one he would have worn in a school picture---this bit of dialog was cut. It's one way the adult Sam can recognize his younger self and when this would have been in his life.

Along with facing a hallucination of his younger self, Gamble wanted Sam to be confronted by his mother. Originally, she had seen the scene as Mary berating Sam for what he's done, but in the scheme of understanding that most of these hallucinations would be due to the demon blood pushing Sam to get more, she thought it'd be more powerful if Mary wanted Sam to get out---to give in to the blood and that to embrace how it made him stronger than his brother. He has to be proud. Kripke also pushed this thought, too, saying that it'd be imperative for “mother to say it's okay.”

Gamble really enjoyed how Padalecki seemed to turn up the nobility in Sam while we're watching him struggle with such a dark component and moment of time in his character's story. Padalecki makes us understand and sympathize with Sam. We know why he did what he did and that makes us empathize with Sam even if we also understand why it was wrong.

In the scripts that are written for the show, the writers will put in specific directions. This isn't typical in most scripts done for movies for instance, but because they sometimes have directors guesting they need to make sure this guest director matches the tone and visual appeal of the show. In that way, they will add in little touches to cue certain things for a particular script so the director can know the show parameters they're working with.

The veins we see in Sam's face as he stares into the mirror were all inserted by the special effects team---and Gamble couldn't remember if that element had been that specific in the script. That being said, she took full credit for making Dean Winchester into a Trekkie---inserting the “politicians from Vulcan line” to build on another Star Trek reference she'd put in another script---and also said by Dean.

When it came time to explore just how bad the demon blood detox would get, Gamble received some advice from Edlund. He had the concept that it would throw him around---but he wanted it to be more graphic than we see it. He wanted him to bleed, puke, and do more “gnarly” things that emphasized how terrible this ordeal would be.

When we see the hallucination of Dean circling Sam, that was more of the techno-crane with the cot Sam was on being where the crane was placed to capture the 360 degree shot. Ackles would have walked around that, delivering his lines while Padalecki would have lain on the cot as it circled. It really gave me a peek at how this scene would have looked filming, which was really revealing.

This commentary dug even deeper into the writer's room, telling us a bit about how that works. Everyone gets together in the room, tosses out ideas and then break away to do outlines. They will pitch these and send them in to one another or the head writer---in this case for season four, Eric Kripke---and get notes. Finally, then, they can truly start to write and send in for more notes from production.

When it came time to shoot the scene between Jared Padalecki and Jim Beaver as Sam makes his escape, Singer thinks that it was Padalecki that added the emotional gesture with Sam moving the shotgun up to his heart. He thought this enhanced this scene all the more, making it a stronger and more heartbreaking moment.

The climatic moment we see at the end with Sam and Dean coming to actual fist fighting was a difficult scene to write. Gamble approached it with the idea that the brothers don't want to be estranged and that it is torture for the both of them---and yet they're being torn apart. There were a lot of lines cut from this as the script was way overwritten---there were much more explanations and monologuing from each brother that just didn't fit for time or for emotional beats or subtly.

When it came time for the filming, Singer directed it to make the confrontation reflect that sentiment that the brothers don't like to be on opposite sides. He used a lot of camera work to show that while they were distant and angry they were also in many ways still together until that heartbreaking ending. The wider angles were used to demonstrate how they were drifting further and further apart the longer the fight went on---all subtle visual cues that told the story alongside the acting and dialog. Along with that, both Padalecki and Ackles did their own stunts for this particular fight.

To continue the discussion, we were also given a great commentary on “Lucifer Rising” with Eric Kripke.

Kripke broke down how Azazel's scene in the 1972 convent came to be and how significant it really was. This would be the culmination of four years of mythology jam packed into this one moment. They would be putting all their cards on the table here, giving us the truth about Azazel's plans and just who he was working for all along. This would be the moment we see Azazel get the orders from Lucifer directly to start picking special children that would end up with one being his vessel. Kripke and Edlund tackled this one together, making this conspiracy unwind in this gruesome moment as Azazel talks to Lucifer through a dead nun planted on the altar.

This violence with nuns was one of the last horror frontiers for the show. Kripke originally wanted the opening teaser to be much bloodier with more graphic violence done to the nuns. It took Singer to tell him he couldn't go that far with the violence. Kripke remarked that this did make a lot of the crew uncomfortable---with Serge Ladouceur actually commenting that they might go to Hell after this. This amused Kripke.

On a serious note, Kripke explained about how he went about directing this episode. This was his second episode directing, but as this was the season finale he wanted to make it an homage to Kim Manners. In seasons past, Manners had directed all the finales, so this was the first one they'd have without him at the rudder. Kripke remarked that they had to “kick it in the ass” for him, and so he went about trying to emulate some of Manners' style. He emphasized close ups and camera angles that he thought Manners would have used.

Kripke finds that he enjoys directing much more than he does writing. When writing, he finds that he's much more isolated. They may be in constant contact through phone or email or in meetings, but the writing is done largely in a small room alone. Directing is a lot more hands on. It makes him a ball of nervous energy full of anxiety and his brain goes much too fast, but he likes that he gets to put out fires and work creatively with a group on set.

He particularly enjoyed directing Kurt Fuller. He liked that Fuller was a big guy that was imposing and menacing in these scenes. While they reveal the demonic storyline through Azazel's cameo, Zachariah gets to sum up in a exposition speech all the angelic plans. They wanted the Apocalypse to happen for instance and Zachariah gets to reveal why. Kripke stated that this would be the plan from the jump at the beginning of season four. The angels were always to be this type of force in the story. Having Fuller be the one that gets to deliver this speech made Kripke less nervous. He loved his acting and presence to make this moment tense and alive rather than boring.

Along with that, he also loved Padalecki's acting in this episode. He felt that Padalecki captured all of Sam's self-hatred and pain. A lot of the lines and scenes were delivered in one take. Often, as a director, Kripke says that its expected to watch a performance, give some feedback and notes to change it up for what they need and then re-shoot the scene. For most of the episode, Kripke really didn't have notes for Padalecki and felt that he had nailed the scene first take so they could move on. He feels that both Padalecki and Ackles both have great technical ability to do that in their acting---they know how to reposition their bodies or what camera to face towards or where their marks are without having to be really told. It makes things so much easier.

On the other side, Kripke felt that Ackles totally captured all of Dean's vulnerability in this episode. He felt that we saw that best in the green room when Dean had to face both Castiel and Zachariah in turn. This could have been a much less emotional moment, but Ackles managed to pull on layers that explored a lot of Dean's emotional mind here. In it, Kripke felt that it showed that Dean was desperate for redemption and wanted the faults rather to be perfect or to wash Hell away as he might have earlier in the season. It gives the show and Dean a humanistic view that they explore.

Most of all, Kripke was most impressed with Genevieve Cortese (Padalecki). Her portrayal of Ruby was a difficult role to undertake---especially after another actress had played it so well in the previous season. He felt that she truly captured all of the loneliness and humanity in Ruby and brought a lot of subtly to the character. This was clearly needed in this season considering Ruby's ultimate role in the story. His favorite scene for Ruby was the final one. Kripke reveled that Padalecki and Cortese worked all weekend together on the scene to get it right. His direction to her was that Ruby saw herself as the hero here. She was careful with Sam and in some ways she cared about him. He told her to be gentle and tender here---all while revealing the ultimate truth about her deceit. While she was to be gentle, she was also supposed to be freed by finally being able to show her real self. He felt that Cortese truly captured that aspect of Ruby best and that this final scene was all hers.

Season four covered a lot of special features---and after the drought of season three entangled with the Writer's Strike it was nice to see the deep insights again. Deleted and extended scenes revealed new layers of the season. The Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory feature explored a rich mythological foundation that Supernatural continues to mine well into season ten. And the return of the commentaries means that we once again get to learn about the behind the scenes nature of television making that we might not even consider. It gives us a richness and depth that not only enhances Supernatural---it enhances television viewing all together.

Next time we'll examine all the special features season five has to offer.


# Lilah_Kane 2014-08-17 06:30
Nice take again.
I loved the extras and it was so sad that season three actually lacked them a little.
Like this time they gave a lot of information about the episodes and characters.

- Lilah
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-08-17 11:33

I'm so glad you enjoyed my breakdown of this season's features. It was so nice to see them all come back in big ways on this one. And yes, it totally enhances the show for me every step of the way so far. I look forward to exploring season 5 next.

Thanks again.
# Prix68 2014-08-17 09:15
Thank you for your time and effort on this article. I really enjoy the DVD special features and these articles double the pleasure for me.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-08-17 11:34
Thanks so much for the comment.

I'm glad you like how these breakdown and that they make the extras even better. I'm really loving how some of these commentaries especially add in so many layers and depths that I wouldn't have thought about before. Writing these pieces have really made them that much cooler, too.

Thanks again!
# njspnfan 2014-08-17 12:47
Went back and re-watched the Season 4 extras a few weeks ago; this was my favorite season and I think they definitely made up for a lack of extras on the Season 3 DVDs. My favorite part is the episode commentaries - some really great insights by Kripke, Singer, etc.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-08-17 13:03
Thanks for the comment.

I was really missing the commentaries on the season 3 set. It was really intriguing to see just how they went about putting the show together in the fabric of these commentaries. I think it totally takes the show to a whole new level to delve into these extras. Things I don't think I'd even consider or be aware of suddenly come to light and I now try to think differently when watching this show and all my shows. TV making is so cool!

I'm glad you liked this take and absolutely they knocked season 4 extras out of the park after such a drought in season 3. I'm excited to see season 5 extras when I get home from VanCon.

Thanks again.
# Lilah_Kane 2014-08-17 15:24
Oh, your going to VanCon. Lucky you!
I live so far away that it is only a dream. I wish I could go too. :)

Anyway, hopefully everything goes well there. Shall we get a VanCon overview? :D

- Lilah
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-08-17 16:18
Yes. I will be in Vancouver for Van Con. There's several WFB people going this year, so I don't know how many individual reports we'll end up doing, but I'm sure I'll do some write ups on the flip side. I fly out early tomorrow morning.
# LEAH 2014-08-17 15:23
Hi Far Away Eyes:)! Really enjoying your look back at the special features. I am sure I watched most of them at the time but love revisiting and getting your take. I have to say for pure enjoyment I liked S1's- Day in the Life of Jared and Jensen! I am sure there are financial considerations but I wish they would follow around some of the other members of the team for a day. I find that fascinating. They did a little piece when Jensen directed (sure that will be upcoming) but I would love to see more of those BTS bits. Following the DP or the stunt coordinator or even the props guys! Thanks again and looking forward to the next one.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-08-17 16:20
Thanks for the comment.

I would love to follow the crew around for a day just to see what they do in a feature like Jared and Jensen's. It'd be really neat. I'd also love to see another new J2 Day in the life bit. I'm glad you're enjoying my look at these extras. Some I've watched before, but most are new to me. It's really neat to learn so much about my favorite show while I watch these. I hope you'll like the rest of them as much!

Thanks again.
# cheryl42 2014-08-17 19:27
So much information for this season. I think many consider it the best season for the show. I think I remember hearing Jared or EK saying that they put everything they had into S4 because they assumed it would be their last. I knew some of the BTS information but a lot of what you wrote was new to me. Your articles are always so fun to read, thank you so much for taking the time.
Have fun at Van Con. Hope you come back with lots of fun stories.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-08-17 20:26
Thanks for the comment.

I was really impressed with how much information was there for season four. There's almost too much to cover! I actually cut a little bit on this one cause it was just soooo much to talk about and so I trimmed to what really stood out to me the most. It really makes me want to learn way more about TV the more I do these.

I'm glad you like these looks. I wasn't sure people would enjoy these behind the scenes articles, but I am so glad people do! I will enjoy digging into season five when I return from VanCon. And yes, I hope to have a ton of great stories to share!

Thanks again.
# Sylvie 2014-08-20 14:44
Thanks Far Away Eyes. Season four is one of my favourites (I have a soft spot for season one ;)) and the extras were so interesting. I think it might be the only time I watched them all! Especially this one: Quote:
The Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory feature explored a rich mythological foundation that Supernatural continues to mine well into season ten.
I love Dante's Inferno and this extra was so well done, with explanations from different religions. I think I will go back and watch it. Thanks again for doing these write ups on the extras.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-09-01 17:14
Thanks for the comment.

Now that I'm home I can actually get to this one.

I love Dante, too, so I was really excited to see this one myself. I hope you enjoy your rewatch of these extras!

Thanks again