Fans of "Supernatural" have been given a rare treat in network television this season. Very few shows make it to its sixth season, but “Supernatural” has gotten to do more than that. It's been able to run the planned five year mytharc to conclusion and go from there with something exciting and different. A reboot. “Supernatural – The Sequel.”
“Supernatural” returns from a seven week winter “Hellatus” this Friday January 28th (9 pm on The CW) ready to take on the second half of what’s been an inventive new season. With a new showrunner, longtime writer/producer Sera Gamble, “Supernatural” has not taken the safe route by any means in season six. The powers that be in the first five seasons have not been afraid to attempt daring new ideas and take their characters to inconceivable places. With the first half of season six now played out, they’ve gone outright fearless.
After all, just look what's happened since the premiere in September. Each episode has been layered with complex story lines involving Heaven, Hell, humans, and monsters, characters have been embroiled in hidden agendas, suspicion and mistrust (including Sam and Dean's mistrust of each other), and the world is even more off kilter than before. Sam has mysteriously returned from Hell without his soul and Dean has been forced to deal with this unrecognizable monster that looks like his brother but is far more dangerous. One that didn't hestitate to put him in harms way and watch him be turned into a vampire. Dean’s also seen his dream of having a family with Lisa and Ben fall apart. Angel friend Castiel is losing his civil war in Heaven, one that Sam and Dean caused by stopping the apocalypse. Monsters have returned acting stranger than ever and Sam and Dean's grandfather, Samuel Campbell, is mysteriously back from the dead, although he's not exactly on their side. The once strong brotherly relationship has been shattered and nothing seems right anymore.
Who better to take our pressing questions about the first half of season six and what's to come for the second half than the lady in charge herself? For the third year in a row, we here at the Winchester Family Business are most honored to have our burning mid-season questions answered by Sera Gamble.
With half a season as showrunner under her belt, Sera takes the opportunity to explain why she and the other producers decided to give this season a noir feel, why they ran with the soulless Sam story line, what went into reconstructing Sam's character, what’s coming up for the brothers in terms of their relationship, what it’s been like creating the character Death, what’s coming for Castiel, Samuel, monsters and others, why a civil war in Hell is just another day at the office for demons, and how there’s another exotic trip coming in Sam and Dean’s future (with a fun twist of course). She also answers some general questions about how she’s handling her new role and how amazing the fans have been in the success of this show.
Before we begin, there are disclaimers. Please do not repost this interview in its entirety on your blog/website. Share the link to this site and give credit where credit is due.
Also, we’d be remiss if we didn’t issue the following warning. SPOILER ALERT!!!!
WFB: First off, congratulations on the bold direction with season six so far. We have really loved the noir feel with all the twisting plots and the right turns and never knowing what to expect. The noir aspect seems to have seeped into the look of the show too. Was that something you and the production team talked out and planned or did it just happen organically as a result of the noir inspired scripts? How has everyone on staff taken this new challenge?
SG: Once we’d zeroed in on the major storylines for the season, we searched for a way to make the storytelling cohesive and different from last season. We came to noir almost immediately. I’m a fan of noir and neo-noir film, as are the other producers. Talking about those movies sparked a lot of ideas and excitement—that’s how we knew we were on the right track, and that it was worth taking the risk of departing from our usual seasonal arc structure.
We mentioned that we were taking a cue from noir to Phil and the rest of the production team, and that generated a lot of ideas on the visual end. The touches are subtle, but they’re deliberate.
WFB: How did the idea of soulless Sam come up?
SG: Bob Singer pitched the idea. It was one of the first big ideas pitched for Season Six. Eric and I flipped out as soon as we heard it—we love it. It’s such a rich concept. And so different both from Dean’s experience returning from Hell and also from some of the previous dark alleys we’ve taken Sam down.
WFB: Sam’s soullessness often times came with emotional responses, yet his existence was rooted with pure unfeeling survival instincts. How challenging has it been to write this concept of a human without a soul? Was there a particular model or inspiration followed when writing Sam’s character for this season?
SG: We discussed Sam’s soullessness at great length before we ever wrote a word of dialogue. Ben Edlund had a lot of ideas about what soullessness could mean, and he was especially ruthless with the metaphysical logic, which was very helpful. We came to view Sam’s soul in part as his moral compass; without it he was driven much more by pure survival instinct and self-interest. He became a kind of sociopath—we read a lot about those. When you think of who Sam’s been—the essential “Sammyness” is all about empathy. Without his soul, Sam has no real empathy; he’s faking it. It turned out to be quite chilling, and Jared played it very effectively.
WFB: A lot of fans have been surprised with the creative choice in season six to alter the usually tight brotherly relationship. Sure, that can be attributed to the fact that Sam wasn’t really Sam, but it has been quite jarring to many fans. It’s also opened up a world of exciting possibilities. Was there a concern when constructing this story line that it would alienate fans or was it a case of creating a morally complex situation that was too intriguing to pass up?
SG: Well, sometimes Sam and Dean have a close relationship and sometimes they don’t. But yes, we really went there with Sam’s soullessness story. We were excited to.
It’s always risky to do something extreme, and it’s never our intention to deliberately alienate anyone. But it’s also our responsibility to follow through on the stories we set up for ourselves, and to take these characters in unexpected directions. End of the day, we want you to enjoy and discuss and anticipate the next installment. We know we can’t please all of you all the time. Believe me, we can’t even please ourselves. So what we aim for is telling a story we believe in. The story we’ve been telling about Sam’s soul is one that we’ve been excited about from day one.
WFB: Is the brotherly relationship ready to go back to the path of healing, or does that road still have a lot of bumps ahead?
SG: There are always bumps. It’s Supernatural. But they’re not feed-you-to-vampire sized bumps.
WFB: Oh, poor Dean. You’ve shown how capable he can be as a family man (“Two and a Half Men” is particularly swooning) yet the universe still drags him into the horrors of hunting (his confession in “You Can’t Handle The Truth” is particularly heart breaking). On top of that, his own brother hasn’t been there for support and even put him in harms way. Will he continue to carry on as reluctant hero or will he gravitate more toward that fighting spirit and purpose he had in earlier seasons?
SG: I think there’s always been a bit of the reluctant hero in Dean, and there’s also always been a true free spirit in him. It’s part of what makes him such a complex and interesting character—that duality.
WFB: Will Ben and Lisa be back in Dean’s life?
SG: You’ll see Lisa and Ben again. They’re in episode 14.
WFB: You’ve gotten to write for the character of Death twice now and he’s been amazing both times. We love how he doesn’t have to sweat over a high cholesterol diet! Are there any particular influences you’ve been drawing from when mapping out his character?
SG: Death is one of my favorite characters. He’s a bit “big” for our show—meaning more powerful and grand than our creatures usually are. But he’s tempered by his personality. There are a few unexpected things he takes personally, and he’s occasionally intriguingly interested in the affairs of the “bacteria” down here on Earth. We talked about various representations of Death in literature and popular culture when we were conceiving him last season. This has since gotten buried in many layers of other references, but—I remember thinking of Dr. Manhattan from The Watchmen early on; he’s inordinately powerful and watches people with an eerie remove, but there’s a certain underlying emotionality to his actions.
WFB: Misha Collins recently said in an interview there would be more Castiel in the second half of the season. Does this mean that we’ll be getting a deeper look into the civil war in Heaven?
SG: Yes, there’s more Castiel coming. And yes, you’ll be learning more about what’s happening in Heaven.
WFB: Is Samuel Campbell going to be a major player in the second half of the season?
SG: You’ll see him again. How could you not, after that threat Dean made?
WFB: We all were pretty stunned with the twist that Crowley wasn’t the overwhelming big bad in Hell after all (we will definitely miss Mark Sheppard’s talents). Between the monsters and civil war in Heaven, will Hell be plunged into civil war as well?
SG: Funny thing—Hell’s in better shape than Heaven. It’s used to leaders getting killed and the next guy stepping up. That’s how Lilith got the job. That’s how Crowley got the job. And so on…
WFB: What sort of monsters are planned for the rest of the season and will the “Monster of The Week” format still be prominent?
SG: We start back with a monster we’ve never done before—dragons, offered up with our typical Supernatural twist and a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek, of course. From there, you’ll see some monsters you’re familiar with, and also some newbies. We’re following our typical formula—some closed-enders, some more mythology-heavy.
WFB: Will we get to hear Bobby's side of the Sam-story – meaning: he has known Sam for almost the whole year. We will find out how Bobby came to accept the changed Sam and live with knowing that Sam came back and not telling Dean?
SG: In our minds, Bobby and Sam didn’t have a great deal of contact over that year. Not enough that Bobby would have been able to deeply observe the changes in Sam. Sam wouldn’t have gone to Bobby very often.
WFB: Adam was mentioned in “Appointment In Samarra.” Is this the last we’ll hear about him or will there be some further resolution for him eventually?
SG: You’ll hear about him again.
WFB: Sam and Dean went international this year! It’s really thrilling as a fan to finally see them leave the country and we thank you for going there. Any chance of more international journeys like that happening? Perhaps Alaska or Hawaii? Okay, how about any hopes Dean that finally sees the Grand Canyon?
SG: As of the current draft of the episode we’re rewriting now… Alaska and Russia. Actually, in the same scene. Make whatever Palin joke you wish.
WFB: What has been the most surprising or unexpected aspect of taking over as showrunner?
SG: I don’t mean to insult parents with this comment—I realize their job is inordinately more serious and complicated than mine. But this question is a little like asking “what’s the most surprising aspect of parenthood?” Depends which hour of the day you’re askin’.
WFB: Now that you have half a season as showrunner under your belt do you think there is anything you would do different? On the flip side, is there anything you are extremely proud of?
SG: I’d do something different in every single episode. That hasn’t changed since the first script I wrote as a staff writer. It’s the way of the job, I think.
As for what I’m proud of—we have an amazing production team and crew. They made the transition seamless and easy. They make this job a pleasure, and I couldn’t be more proud to work with them every day. And, while I can’t actually take credit for it, I can say I’m proud of the typically fantastic and considered work by our actors this season. They do the work of an ensemble cast. A large ensemble cast.
WFB: What sort of open plot threads/possible character returns are sitting on the writer’s room white board right now? Any hopes that the Ghostfacers will return? Gabriel/The Trickster?
SG: We’d love to bring them back, should we find the right way.
WFB: “Supernatural” has been getting some pretty big attention lately thanks to its passionate fan base. Are you still amazed over how enthusiastic the fans are about the show even halfway through season six?
SG: We’re touched and amazed and we will never get used to our fans’ loyalty and attention. We all blush and get squirmy at the mere thought of being popular on any level.
WFB: Thank you so much for your time in answering our questions. We appreciate all the work that has gone into this season and here’s not only to a successful rest of season six, but plenty more twists for the brothers in a possible season seven. Good luck!
Again a HUGE thanks to Sera Gamble, who has certain gotten us excited about what's coming. This interview has given us a new found understanding and appreciation of season six and we can't wait for Friday to get here. Every episode coming up seems to be a must see. For those that haven’t seen the summary for the next episode, “Like A Virgin,” or want to see the preview clips, all that can be found on our Spoiler Page. Here's a small teaser, Castiel is in it. Come back here on Friday and tell us what you think!
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