CS Interview: Supernatural cast & EPs talk final season at Comic-Con
Following a very emotional final Comic-Con panel, the Supernatural cast and executive producers made their way to the press room to share what they could about the 15th and final season of the series. ComingSoon.net had the opportunity to participate in this year’s SDCC round tables to discuss Season 15 with cast members Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester), Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester), and Alexander Calvert (Jack Kline) as well as executive producers Andrew Dabb, Bob Singer, Brad Buckner, Eugenie Ross-Leming, and Bob Berens. Unfortunately, we were unable to speak with Misha Collins (Castiel) due to time constraints. Beware a few spoilers for the upcoming season, which will premiere on October 10th on The CW!
In the Season 14 finale, Sam shot God (Rob Benedict) after he killed Jack and sent him to the Empty, where Death, aka Billie (Lisa Berry), was waiting for him. Angered by the rebellion, God decided to end the story of this particular universe by releasing a bunch of souls from hell, reanimating corpses and bringing back a few familiar monsters that the brothers have previously hunted and vanquished.
With Sam, Dean, and Castiel surrounded by the zombie-like creatures in the last shot of the season, a big question on everyone’s mind is how much that new apocalyptic problem will play into the final episodes of the series. According to the executive producers, the “animated corpse” issue will be addressed within the first three episodes of the season.
“Essentially, God basically stamped his foot and ripped a hole between our world and Hell,” said Berens. “That’s what we’ll be dealing with at the top of the season.”
Showrunner Dabb made it clear that the show will not be “ending with an apocalyptic problem” but the final season will be starting with one and it won’t be the whole season’s arc. Singer added that the 15th season will pick up mere moments following the end of the Season 14 finale. The EP feels that they’ve “come up with a fun way to deal with it” and went on to say that it would probably take about three episodes “to let the dust settle of what that ending was.”
As far as the old enemies the Winchesters will have to face once more, Berens thinks that revisiting some of the past monsters will be fun, but “it’s really only in the first couple episodes.” The EP explained that the emotional aspect of the season will come in the form of what the boys have learned about God and the aftermath of his actions as well as dealing with the death of Jack. The “adventure side” of the first part of the season will focus on cleaning up the mess God made.
Ackles spoke about the episode he is currently directing, which is the first one being shot but will serve as the fourth episode of the season. At the time of the interview, two days of the episode had been filmed with Benedict getting in some screen time. Ackles confirmed that the episode will feature Sam and Dean going on a hunt as he and Padalecki filmed their first scenes of the season on July 22.
“We’ve contained, at least to some degree, this issue, but it’s not going to last,” said Ackles. “But while that’s happening I’m like, ‘Hey, we gotta get out there, we gotta keep our skills sharp and we gotta do some stuff.’ So, Sam and Dean head out on a hunt.” As far as the plot for the “one-off” episode, the actor revealed that the hunt will be “just Jared and I, but then there’s some other storylines in the script as well that play into it.”
Besides dealing with the sudden resurrection of these souls, the struggle of free will is expected to play a large part of the final season. Padalecki told us that once the dust settles as well as it can, Sam will struggle with whether everything really is predetermined and if any of his choices actually matter. “I know Sam’s gonna struggle with, ‘Well, God kinda just told us that he already knows. He’s just been writing books and we’ve just been doing it.’ Which is kind of a funny parallel to Jared and Jensen playing Sam and Dean. ‘They’re just writing it and we’re just doing it.’ But can we make a difference in the process? I feel like Jared and Jensen feel like even though we’ve just been saying words on a page, we’ve still made an impact on others in the process. And I hope Sam and Dean find that as well. Even if it is predetermined, they’ve still helped others.”
Dabb teased that there’s also the question of where God is. Is he gone, or is he watching them and playing puppetmaster? The boys will find themselves having “agency in a way that they’ve never had agency before” but Sam and Dean will wonder if they actually do have free will. It’s going to be a “question they’re asking themselves throughout the entire season.”
Calvert also touched on the theme, saying that the final season will wrestle with “the idea of what is free will.” He added that with God being “maybe a little bored right now, the boys finally have to reckon with the consequences of everything that [has] happened to them over the last 15 years.”
As far as Jack’s role in Season 15, Calvert said he doesn’t know what the Empty has in store for Jack, but he’s “definitely curious what kind of mission that will propel Jack [on] and how that’ll affect the Winchesters along the way.” Calvert hopes that Jack makes it back into the “physical world” instead of just being stuck in the Empty because filming in the Empty is a “logistical nightmare.”
“I was always wanting Jack to go full-blown evil,” Calvert continued. “I don’t know if that’ll happen or not. My thing has always just been I wanna be a catalyst to the Winchesters, and Jack brings out different sides of them. I have no doubt that in this next season that I’m gonna be pushing them towards the end.”
The beginning of the season also has “some housekeeping to do with the relationship between Dean and Cas which has been fractured,” Singer noted. Ackles added that from what he has seen four episodes in, there’s still friction between the two characters that has not yet been resolved.
Padalecki spoke about how he’s looking forward to “the boys doing what they’ve been doing for a long time” and said that “now their loyalty and their sacrifice is, ironically, almost even more meaningful” since God has essentially told them that “destiny is destiny” and they’ve been rats in a maze. “So now if the boys get up and keep fighting, even though God himself said, ‘There’s no point in you fighting. I’ve already written the books,’ they’re going up against even more infinitesimal odds or whatever. So, to me, it’s almost even more brave and courageous and that’s kind of cool.”
Of course, the biggest question is how the writers intend to close out a series that has been gathering loyal viewers for 15 years. Dabb revealed that they’ve known since last spring that the show would be ending, and “fairly quickly” after they determined what the final moment would be. “So everything else has been a journey towards that moment. And that path has changed, and I’m sure we’ll continue to change as we go through things, but we know how it ends and I think we’re all pretty happy with it.”
When asked about whether he was satisfied with the ending, Padalecki said: “I am satisfied with the current ending. In all fairness, I think every 14 seasons, the ending that was the idea episode one, is not what happened episode 22… I love the ending. I hope it is how we finish off this series. But it could change, you know, it hasn’t been written yet and we only have six episodes [written] out of 20.”
Singer added that he thinks they’re on the right track. While they don’t have the “specifics” on where the story is going, they know how it ends and that final episode will be a “well-kept secret.”
Berens mentioned that taking on a final season comes with a lot of conversations about where they want to leave the characters as well as what they owe the audience. “There’s kind of a road map that seems to be making sense for us as a collective that once we get closer to it we’ll be fighting again and, you know, hashing it out. But, I don’t think that this show is as hard to resolve as a show like Game of Thrones… I think at its core, making sure that we end powerfully and meaningfully the stories of Jack, Cas, Sam, and Dean and honor them and their characters and their emotions and the audience’s emotions for them, I think that’s our North Star in breaking the final season.”
Buckner feels that in the final season, “everybody deserves a win.” He noted that “a lot of that is gonna be bittersweet. You win some and you lose another thing, so you may be saying goodbye to somebody in service of the win.” The emotional arc of the series as a whole and especially the last season is ever-present on the writers’ minds as Buckner made it clear that emotionally closing up the series is a priority as well as the relationships between the characters.
The executive producer also addressed how many monster-of-the-week episodes fans can expect in the final season by revealing that within the first six episodes there are “two-ish” MOTW episodes. The mytharc is “so strong and so big this year, that there’s gotta be respect paid to that in every episode even if it’s a ‘standalone,'” he explained. While the main focus of the season will be geared towards the mytharc, Bucker did say there would be “a number of standoffs” as well.
Many fans have wondered whether Supernatural creator Eric Kripke would be returning in some way for the final season. Ross-Leming seemed doubtful that Kripke would return to write an episode for the final season, but did mention that he was apparently going to sit down with Singer and Dabb at dinner sometime soon. Ross-Leming explained that Kripke is simply so busy with other projects, including Amazon’s The Boys that premiered its first two episodes at SDCC, that a return seems unlikely at this point.
While we all speculate what’s ahead in the final episodes, fans can expect to see a few famIliar faces pop up in the last season. Dabb confirmed that Rowena MacLeod (Ruth Connell), Eileen Leahy (Shoshannah Stern), and the Winchester’s half brother Adam Milligan (Jake Abel) will appear in Season 15. It sounds like there are more reunions in-store with old friends and old enemies, but don’t expect a “clip show” of characters.
“Part of what we’re doing this season is resurrecting so much of what came before because I think we all feel an obligation to pay honor to what came before, the tremendous foundation that Eric [Kripke] laid and to bring back a lot of that. Some of those things that we haven’t revisited since season four or season five. Some of the characters we haven’t seen since that era,” said Buckner.
Speaking of resurrecting characters, when asked about the possibility of Mark Sheppard returning to the series as the demon Crowley, Buckner said, “Never say never… If it came down to it, and there’s a really good reason to use Mark, I can’t believe he would not get on board, ’cause this is it.”
“You have to pick and choose,” he continued, “otherwise it’s gonna start feeling like a clip show. It’s wonderful to bring back people and situations and things. But that can get old if it’s not moving the ball down the field. You only want to bring people back who have [an] emotional stake with the Winchesters, somebody who’s worked really well, somebody you haven’t seen for a long time but was kind of a fan favorite you wanna kind of work in.”
As far as the cast of the Wayward Sisters, Berens confirmed that nothing has been made official, but he hopes that they will be able to tie up the loose ends of those characters’ stories in the final season, particularly the back half. “We have a responsibility to see them again as individuals, and then there’s the narrative responsibility of a few pieces of story that sort of need to be closed out.”
Besides the details of Season 15, there was plenty of discussion regarding the legacy of Supernatural itself. Ackles spoke about the impact the show has had on people’s lives, noting not just the charity work the vocal fandom has been involved with, but how the series has brought so many friends together who bonded over the show and created a family.
Ackles also talked about how proud he is of the cast and crew’s hard work over the years, especially in establishing a positive set environment that guest stars always compliment the boys with when they get to play in the Supernatural world.
“Jared and I, we know that when we walk on that set we’re setting a tone,” Ackles said. “And I’m proud that he and I have put in the effort to make our home a place that everybody’s welcome.”
Padalecki added that he hopes anyone who watches the show is able to take away the lesson that no matter how painful life can be, you have “to try and get up” and keep moving forward. “You’re gonna go through some s**t,” and it is better to acknowledge that there is “going to be some pain in your life” and work to “always keep fighting.”
Padalecki also said that even though you make mistakes, you keep going. “You’re never really standing still in life. You’re either moving forward or backward, in my opinion. And I think Sam figured out that same thing.” The actor noted that the biggest mistake doesn’t mean you can’t be redeemed, and how, for example, even when Sam is sometimes unable to forgive himself, the character has still been “generous and kind and sacrificial and loyal.”
Calvert is a more recent addition to the cast but recognizes the impact the show has made: “Fifteen years of these guys’ lives has been dedicated to this show and they’ve been on this crazy journey with all these fans. I keep saying that I got on the last stop before the train got there, but I’m happy to be on the train.” The actor acknowledged that the show has been a really cool part of his life and to see Supernatural end will be sad, though he is mostly thinking of “the boys” and everyone else who has been on the show for so long.
Singer told us that one of the keys to why Supernatural has lasted for so long is that they have kept the characters human. They are flawed and make mistakes and have to live with them, but they are also heroes and they always keep going.
“I think the legacy of the show will be that we’ve worked hard for 15 years, that our audience has always been apparently satisfied with the work we’ve done even with the shifting tides of what the story has become,” Singer said. “I think the idea that we know where we’re going, we’re gonna tell an end to this 15-year drama and doing that at our choice… I wouldn’t say going out on top because we don’t have the biggest audience in the world, but we have probably the most faithful audience and just, you know, that they’ll be happy. We hope that we satisfy those people that have stuck with us all these years.”