San Diego Comic-Con 2011: Supernatural Roundtable Coverage with Jim Beaver, Ben Edlund, Jared Padalecki, and Sera Gamble
While even the best TV shows lose steam over time, "Supernatural" has been enjoying a long, healthy stride and shows no signs of slowing down. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, series stars Jared Padalecki and Jim Beaver, along with writers Sera Gamble and Ben Edlund, sat down with Dread Central to talk up Season 7, which just started filming this month.
When we last saw the Winchester boys, they were left completely fucked over by the forces of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory and experienced a huge betrayal from long-time pal Castiel, which has put them in dire straits. “This season Sam and Dean are going all ‘Thelma & Louise’,” says Padalecki before stopping himself. “Erm, I mean ‘Butch & Sundance.’ [laughs] So we’re kind of off on our own again.”
“There’s gonna be some interesting infrastructure and geographical shifts on the show,” says Beaver, “A lot of things that Sam and Dean and Bobby have counted on ... aren’t going to work.”
“This season is kind of about challenging them as hunters,” adds Edlund. “Previous seasons have often been about challenging them as brothers, as humans, as men. In this one they’re going to have professional difficulties because the world is going to try and eat them again.”
But first Season 7 has to tackle the 800-lb. God in the room: our new ‘lord and savior’ Castiel, who declared himself master of the universe at the end of last season. “You pick up seconds after the cliffhanger,” says Gamble. “I wrote it, and this was one of the most fun collaborative processes we’ve had in a long time, actually. To open the floor to all the writers and actually say: ‘Okay, so you’re God. What do you wanna do?’ Before things go horribly awry, we have some fun with the things [Cas] might do with unlimited power.”
“His story is about stabilizing his God complex,” says Edlund. “His is one of those stories of absolute power and also one of those basic pivotal concepts in the Bible which is the issue of pride. I imagine redemption will be part of it, but redemption on 'Supernatural' is a difficult, tarnished road. So he starts right in the fall of pride, and we go from there.”
Beaver chimes in: “What’s happening with Castiel is so different from what the audience may expect.”
Naturally, the writers also have plenty of additional torment for poor ol’ Sammy, whose mental wall came crashing down at the end of last season. “We will start to see what it really means when the wall is down,” Gamble teases. “We’re not gonna let him off scott-free. Something that Dean points out when this starts to happen is that this is not like being hexed by a witch or something. This is a true break in Sam’s psyche. This is something that can never be fixed. So it’s kind of a different problem than the boys have faced before.” As for Dean, “We find him in a place where he has a lot of soul-searching to do, and he has to ask himself why he does what he does in the face of everything that’s happened to him.”
When it comes to the more twisted and offbeat side of "Supernatural", Ben Edlund (who also returns to direct this season) has consistently delivered the best episodes of the series. Last year at Comic-Con he teased the crowd with the promise of killer fairies, which turned into one of the best episodes of Season Six, and while nothing is set in stone for next season, Edlund mentions he has plenty of ideas kicking around: “I like to start [rumors] of one here so people hear about it and then I go, ‘Yeah, I said that and I think we should do it.’ Mine is: We gotta put them on a spaceship this year! Something like Buck Rodgers! We also talk about the possibility of animation. It’s possible, because there’s the anime, we might be able connect with it somehow. I want to make sure we do bizarre things for the tent pole audience that makes the show worthy of discussion.”
In regard to returning characters (the handful that are still alive anyway), Gamble says we will see some familiar faces this year: “Colin Ford is returning as young Sam. Jensen directed the episode; it will air third. It deals with a case where Sam was helping his brother and his father work in a nearby town and they sort of dropped him in a motel…and wouldn’t stop calling him for information… and it’s about a girl he met when he was fourteen.”
“Sheriff Mills is coming back for an episode, maybe two,” adds Beaver, “The new big bad for this season is really gonna show its face in the second episode and sort of by coincidence, Sheriff Mills is going to get caught up in that, and I think she’s gonna rely on Bobby a little bit to help her out of that situation.” In addition, we’ll meet plenty of new characters, too: “New characters will come,” Edlund says with a grin, “We need to repopulate so we can kill more people”
Gamble elaborates: “You will meet an old friend of Bobby’s who is a guy who helps him from time to time. He is hip to the supernatural, but he’s kind of a conspiracy theorist about it, like he’s watched way too much 'X-Files'. A typical statement for him would be 'Yeah, there’s shapeshifters, but did you know the government created them?’ He has his own take on things. Sam and Dean go seek some help from him and end up getting caught in a booby trap in his house cause he doesn’t trust anyone. He’s a little off his rocker. So he’s a fun one.”
It’s no surprise that Sam and Dean’s journey was supposed to end at Season 5's apocalyptic battle with Lucifer. Since then fans have been anxious to know if the show’s creators have a new endgame in mind should further seasons prove to be the last. “There was every chance that Season 6 would be the last season when we started it,” Edlund observes, “so you run two possible endgames. You just have to feel it out. We have a general shape of an end, but it can kind of float forward and we can put more stuff in front of it. But those things might change to. We had a real plan through Eric up to 5 and it’s almost like the lesson of life is ‘plans don’t work.’ [laughs]"
“I think there’s something thematically sound in the way that the story does not end, oddly enough,” continues Edlund, “These guys cannot die. They’ve died so many times. Their torment is not terminable and there’s something interesting about that.” Nevertheless, he drops a tiny bombshell regarding Season 8: “At the end of this season, we’re already discussing how it can dovetail into a piece that ends.”
And as easy as it would be to bust Lucifer out of his cage for The Apocalypse 2.0, the cast and crew of "Supernatural" stand firm on taking the show down uncharted territory.
“We told that story,” says Padalecki, “Short of going ‘He’s back again! That damn Lucifer keeps getting us!’ we have to go somewhere else. We have to continue going in another direction. So our bread and butter has been the monster-of-the-week cause that’s what we originally set out to do."
“There are visits to Heaven already planned to tell various parts of the story, and I imagine further in the season we will play more with it,” says Edlund, “Now we have various provinces to play with: We have Heaven, we have Hell, Purgatory we’ve carved out. We have the veil, which is where ghosts live. We have Earth itself. Technically, we have the fairy dimension, which I’m not sure how that wires in fully, but I’m working on it. And alternate timelines. We have a lot of territory to play with so all those things we’re going to use all the way through. We’re gonna milk it!”
“We’re not even close to running out of steam,” Gamble adds. “I’m really proud of the work that’s happening this season. I think it’s fresh and non-redundant, and I think it’ll be fun.”
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