A seven week hiatus can be rather maddening. Given Supernatural's explosive season four and the mind boggling material that's been presented for ten episodes, this time to reflect has left me with more questions than answers. I'm sure I'm not alone.
Thankfully, Sera Gamble, Supervising Producer and Writer for Supernatural, an instrumental player in developing the show's story lines, was generous enough to answer some questions during this long break about season four as well as address a few of my other curiosities. She even opted to tackle a few fan questions I sent her way.
Below is part one of my two part interview in which Sera gives her thoughts on the introduction of angels to the mythology, the introduction of Castiel, Dean's faith issues and some tidbits about Sam and Ruby. Heck, she even talks about the life sized teddy bear.
This is where I must offer the standard spoiler warning, but I wouldn't call them heavy spoilers, more like teasers. If you don't even want hints though, stop right here.
First, congratulations on season four so far. It's been generating some big buzz and the increased ratings are proving that. How happy is everyone about that?
We're happy. Also surprised. Eric (Kripke) emailed us the day after the premiere and I marched into his office holding my bowl of cheerios like, "You're lying. We did not pick up a million viewers." He just shrugged and said he was a shocked as I was.
You guys went there! Just when everyone had written off the idea of angels appearing, we get not only one but two badass angels in the most spectacular way. When it was pitched in the writers room that angels would drive story line this season, was it obvious from the start that they would be wrathful, unfeeling and flawed in their blind obedience, or did that evolve over several episodes?
Angels weren't pitched in the writers' room. Eric started talking to me about them just before hiatus. They'd sorta been in our hip pocket, but I don't think the show was ready for them before now. I've discovered, working on Supernatural, that a lot of good ideas don't work at all until the time is right. And then they just slot magically into place. This was like that.
Our notion of the angels has evolved a bit, yes. Less that they're different in their construction, more that we've become more thorough and creative in developing them as individuals and weaving them into the story. There's an episode coming up that opens in Castiel's point of view. That's a strong indication of how central the character has become this season. It was an organic evolution; we discovered that we were just unexpectedly inspired by these creatures. It was clear to us that when they were in the sandbox, cool stuff happened on the playground. And it's interesting to me, by the way, that you call the angels "unfeeling" and "wrathful," because I don't see them that way. Castiel wrestles hard with his obedience. Turns out it's really hard for angels to walk among humans and not get kinda... involved.
The best horror I’ve ever seen were psychological thrillers, where some twisted bastard skillfully freaked me out with mind bending twists as opposed to a hockey mask and a chainsaw. So, I had to admit the idea of Supernatural tackling such a concept in “Dream A Little Dream of Me” was pretty intriguing. How could I not embrace a story that involved the Winchester boys doing a little mind screwing of their own? The show didn’t disappoint me, delivering a thriller with a strange combination of vivid imagery, a very creepy yet believable villain, shaman folklore involving Silene Capensis, big character development, a shocking look into Bobby and Dean’s heads, and a scarier glimpse of what Sam can do if in one’s head.
So, yesterday I'm doing the usual rounds, checking out BuddyTV to see if anything is new. I click on a link for an Eric Kripke interview done by CW Connect in the videos section, thinking it was new. I soon discover the interview is from September, right around premiere time. I'm scratching my head, wondering how in the world I missed this. Then it all made sense, it was premiere week, I was blogging, actively doing my bit to promote the show, so somehow this got lost.
I settled in to hear the wise yet probably dated answers from the master himself, and around the 58 second mark my jaw hit the floor. The question, "Which role do you prefer, Executive Producer, Director, Writer or Show Runner? Are there some days you wish you were one over the other?" Great question I thought. Then I saw the screen name of the person asking the question. Jesterznet. That's me!!! I don't exactly remember when I typed that question on a thread somewhere on the CW boards, but it was so long ago I forgot about it. That thread has hundreds of questions on it, and there were 4 answered in this clip (which is part 2). Mine was one of them???
Wow, wow, wow. Eric Kripke, my dream interview, actually answered a question I'd been dying to ask him since I started blogging for this show. The answer is awesome too. Check it out! He likes Director best. I so love this show.
Sorry to leave everyone hanging! As promised, numbers 1-6 of the Top Ten Brotherly Moments.
#6 - Sam hugs Dean - "Mystery Spot"
There are three brotherly hugs in the series. The first is when Dean hugs Sam after he's resurrected in "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II". "Mystery Spot" is the second, and the third is the mutual hug while reunited after Dean is sprung from Hell in "Lazarus Rising". All three are great, but the one in "Mystery Spot" delivers the most impact.
I sat down today all ready to write down my New Year's resolutions, yet somehow my drifting mind and wandering fingertips came up with a Top Ten Supernatural Brotherly Moments list instead. Maybe because yesterday was our season one episode marathon and I realized all the really cool brotherly stuff was in the other three seasons. Needless to say, nothing from season one made this list.
As I usually have done in the past with these lists, I couldn't come up with a solid list without creating a set of rules, disclaimers, quid pro quos and all that jazz. So, before I display this completely arbitrary, subjective, and one person's warped opinion list, below are the limitations.
Rule #1 "“ The scene in question must involve a conscious and alive Sam and Dean. While the exorcism scene in "Born Under a Bad Sign" was all kinds of awesome, it was Meg not Sam, so its disqualified. Same with Dean's meltdown in "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II." Sam was a corpse. Ditto with Sam crying over Dean's corpse in "No Rest For The Wicked". Did you love the really cool fight scene in "Skin"? I did too, but since that was shapeshifter Dean, it doesn't count. Same for one of my favorite bits, an hallucinated yellow-eyed Sam choking Dean in "Yellow Fever".
Rule #2 "“ Dean breakdown scenes in "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things," "Wishful Thinking," and "Heaven and Hell" are awesome, but a glassy-eyed Sam playing the role of pretty wallpaper behind Dean's speeches of woe doesn't give strength to a "brotherly" moment. The reverse holds true for Sam pouring his heart out in "Houses of the Holy" or crying like a girl at the end of "Heart". I'm looking for something where BOTH brothers either make me laugh or cry.
Rule #3 "“ This is the strongest scenes, not the strongest episodes. For example, "Hell House" has a fantastic string of brotherly moments, but not one prank scene trumps the other, so nothing is listed from that one.
Okay, I know, get on with it. This post shows an honorable mention and numbers 7-10. On Sunday, I'll unveil the rest.
Previously on Supernatural: Sam's dead! As in not breathing, stiff as a board, Smurf blue dead. Dean wasn't too happy about that.
Kripke goes for ripping our hearts out from the word go. The entire season's summed up by the traditional "Carry On Wayward Son", and Sam's death is more gripping to music. It's strange to hear "don't you cry no more" when Dean is weeping, but I digress because of the way Jensen rocked that scene.
The camera hovers over a very much dead Sam stretched out on a mattress in a dank room, with one completely devastated Dean leaning in the doorway, his wounded eyes fixed on his fallen brother. Judging by the amount of uneaten food lying around and Dean's five o'clock shadow, he's been holding his somber vigil for a while. The impression is made, Dean's a mess.
Okay, all that virtual arm twisting has paid off. Upon request, I pulled out the season two DVDs (okay, I picked them up from their reserved spot next to the TV) and took on two of the most gut-wrenching episodes done on this show. "All Hell Breaks Loose" is right.
These episodes made their significant mark, escalating the mytharc to a whole new level. Part I was all about Sam and his test, Part II put Dean through his. Sam faced his evil destiny, and Dean, oh poor Dean, faced his worst nightmare. In the end, Dean came out as the most broken. Considering Sam's ordeal resulted in death, Dean sank pretty low.
I told everyone this would be a surprise. The question is, why review this one? There are two reasons. First, there isn't an episode other than "Ghostfacers" more polarizing among fans, thus that makes it worthy of a critical review. Second, I felt like it.
"Heart" instantly commanded attention since it combined the writing of Sera Gamble with the direction of Kim Manners, which usually guarantees a memorable episode to come. However, many fans didn't like it because they thought it went overboard with the Sam strife and broke out all the anvils. Was the overwrought emotion in this one heavy handed? Yes. Was it compelling to watch? Yes.
Upon deeper examination, I found "Heart" is far more complex that what appears on the surface. The episode isn't just about Sam. Dean is forced to face some realities as well, and in the end, it hits them both hard. Sure, it took an implausible setup to do it, but whatever, drama is drama.
Recently I've been working on a retrospective of Season One, a season I've largely ignored from a critical viewpoint due to lack of time. Also recently, I've been on the fan forums seeking lively discussion and have mostly come across griping about character direction and Season Four in general, even though this is by far this best season of the series. So, put those two together, and I've easily got a way to change everyone's perspective.
I'm going to show everyone what a bad episode is all about. I'm going to point out what happens when a horrible script, bad acting, crappy special effects and editing, substandard directing and even poor song choices collide.
It's time to take a gut turning look back at "Bugs."