Supernatural’s San Diego Comic-Con 2019 Hall H Panel. If you’re in the #SPNFamily, you know all the emotions that were tied up in that last, momentous gathering of Supernatural’s cast, executive producers and fans of the longest running science fiction/fantasy show in America. From my research, I contend that Supernatural is the longest consecutively running science fiction/fantasy scripted hourly drama in the world. That’s way too many qualifiers to run off the tongue easily, though, so let’s just suffice it to say, Supernatural is a one-of-a-kind classic. So, there was no way I was going to miss Supernatural's last Hall H appearance. No. Way.
As determined as I was to get inside the coveted Hall H for Supernatural's farewell, I had no idea how I was going to get through the panel without embarrassing myself with ugly tears. I knew Jared would cry, that was a given, and when he breaks down, I break down. It’s an unavoidable tear duct to tear duct connection. Since I cried when Mufasa died, and I shed big tears when Brian Piccolo died (Brian’s Song- the original version), and I’ll never watch Love Story again because I cried for hours when Oliver died, tears for a TV show (or movie) aren’t exactly new for me. But the Hall H panel was going to be real people, sitting just feet away from me, breaking down in tears. Yes, they are actors, but they wouldn’t be acting when the waterworks started.
I'll spare you the details, but happily all my worries about missing the panel were unfounded. I got in as press, with the understanding that I would report on the day for fans all over the world who weren't able to be there in person. It is my pleasure, truly, my honor to do so. So tickets were managed. Now I just had to worry about managing myself.
"Supernatural Day" was the fifth day of my Comic-Con marathon. I woke up super early, power walked to the convention center (because I was already behind my self-imposed, overly zealous schedule), and paced forever in line, until finally the time arrived when the hall doors opened (back, right corner) and fans began streaming into Hall H!
First challenge: Get to a seat as close as possible, with a good view, close to center, without a tall (er) person sitting in front of me! Second challenge: Don't freak out with excitement and nerves waiting for everything to start! Luckily, waiting for the panel was mercifully filled with exciting distractions.
Once the polite (?) but scurried entry was navigated, I realized I had snagged a seat next to an acquaintance who works on the Supernatural set! We met at a con last year and have since corresponded on social media. She certainly remembered me but I wouldn’t be so presumptuous to call us friends. Maybe one day. She had whipped up a fabulous Supernatural dress for the occasion, which I admired. It was fun talking with her for a few minutes. She had just returned from doing some overseas production work, and shared a story or two about making the dress and her first days on the season 15 Supernatural set.
Sitting next to her turned out to be extremely lucky for another reason as well. A friend of hers from set joined her a few minutes after we all sat down. Would I mind making space for Osric Chau? He needed a seat. Really?! So I eagerly moved everyone over in our row to free up a spot for him! Remember that "managing myself" challenge? ("Be cool, girl, be cool.")
I had only met Osric in autograph lines at cons, and that was years ago, so it was SO FRIGGIN’ AWESOME to sit next to him! I tried to be nonchalant, of course. No need to geek out and embarrass the guy (or me!). After all, he was there for the same reason I was there: to see and support the cast – who he can legitimately call his friends – during their emotional, historical goodbye appearance. I did work up the courage to ask Osric for a selfie, but only by promising him that I wouldn’t share it online. It would be just for me, I said. I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable thinking he was sitting next to the paparazzi for the whole hour of the panel!
Since I arrived uber early to the panel, I had saved a seat (Don’t tell anyone! That’s not allowed!) for Alice, who was commuting in from a remote hotel. She arrived just a few minutes before the panel started (I would have been having a nervous breakdown if that had been me!). Imagine her surprise when she saw that we were sitting next to Osric! She didn’t make any promises to him about private photos, so I’ll share with you the selfie of all of us that she immediately posted online (click the tweet then click the photo to expand it large enough to see me in the frame):
Truthfully, Osric didn’t talk to me very much. Knowing how much he likes cosplay, I made the mistake of introducing him to a young lady sitting in front of us who in passing had mentioned to me that she is a high-end cosplayer. Well, the two of them hit it off, and talked all the way until the panel started. No good deed goes unpunished I guess! No, honestly, I was happy that an unsuspecting fan got to have a close encounter with Osric. My time with the cast would come later.
There have been times when Alice has gotten into Hall H and I have not, and conversely, when I have attended the panel and she has not. The years when I was alone, I listened, took pictures, live tweeted and tried to take in the experience as a fan all at the same time! Let me tell you, that is HARD! You end up feeling like you don’t do any of those jobs very well! With both us there this year, though, I preemptively asked her to live tweet the panel. I committed to live tweeting a bit, but volunteered to primarily snap pictures. I knew I was going to want to take in every second of the panel, and I wasn’t at all sure how long my composure would last, so let’s divide and conquer, shall we?
With the "killing-time-waiting-for-it-to-finally-start-already" activities over, an intro SDCC announcer (actually, I think he was the director of all of SDCC) introduced the intro WB announcer (Holly Ollis, the manager of Supernatural’s WB PR department), who introduced Rich and Rob. Dear Heaven, my heart was beating through my chest! Then this happened…
and this happened!
Just rewatching those three people walk on stage again is choking me up. When is all this emotional upheaval going to stop???? Why can't I get used to this??
The panel began with a really nostalgic video of scenes from every episode in every season of Supernatural! ("OMG. I am not going to make it through this panel!!") It was so phenomenal to see all 307 episodes clipped in fast forward! It was such a wonderful tribute to this incredible show, and an emotional little time capsule of the last 14 years of fans', and the boys', lives.
The montage ended with what is becoming a familiar plea:
The panel began in earnest with Rob and Rich asking questions of everyone. I hung on every word.
I wanted to absorb every thought, nuance and feeling on stage. How was Misha coping? How nervous was Alex? Would anyone reveal anything big about season 15? But mostly, how were Jared and Jensen? Would they “go there” and feel what I, what fans everywhere, were feeling?
Rob and Rich had no mercy and started the panel with the most obvious, yet loaded, question of all: How were they feeling now that the show was ending? The boys did a really good job deflecting that question with sincerity but humor - Jared’s beanie striptease was the highlight of their answer!
Not being distracted so easily, Rich took another run at them: What was their takeaway from the past 15 years? Again, reflections on the past, but humor – lots of humor. You could see them working it: “Keep it light, man. Don’t fall down that rabbit hole just yet.”
Rob then turned the focus on Misha. What are you feeling about your journey?
Misha answered with more introspection than I expected, given it was Misha! We didn’t have to wait long, though, before he also turned to humor as an escape: “I consider these guys life-long friends, and you life-long friends. I know none of you like me…”
Nice job getting back on track, Mish! His answer soon involved 6-pack abs, which devolved into a hilarious opening for Alex.
That took all the pressure off J2M… for a while.
For 15 minutes or so, we got a breather as the writers and showrunners took turns answering less provocative question. Then it was time for fans to step up to the microphone.
There were a few soft ball questions before a zinger: After 15 years on Supernatural, what do you want your legacy to be?
Misha handed tissues to Jensen,
...who handed some to Jared.
Ha! They both made jokes and held it together, but still gave beautiful answers.
Jared, in his endless humility, wonders why so many people love them so much. He feels really lucky, and Sam Winchester will never go away for him. Jensen is so proud of what they have all accomplished together.
Fan questions wrapped up, but then Rob and Rich announced that there was “a little video” prepared for us. I expected a hugely emotional goodbye montage, but instead the video started with a Jim Beaver voice over about a beat up Impala. My internal dialogue: "Am I the only one who has no idea what's going on?"
Honestly, the audience was truly baffled. There was a brief scene or two then a blacked out screen with words about that sequence being redacted by Warner Bros. Again, I'm confused. "What?? Isn't this their film?" (Now, after-the-fact, you can see the full, un-redacted video in our Reports on the Final SDCC Panel.)
Then there was a sequence of shots about restoring an Impala. I recognized the fan and the work as being very real (i.e., not filmed as part of the show). Alice had mentioned the guy featured in the video to me before.
So now I was really confused. Jim Beaver, a “Swan Song” type tribute to Baby, and a documentary about restoring Impalas. If I had been quicker, I might have quoted Kevin’s famously screamed line, “What’s happening???” back to Osric!
The big reveal was that they were giving away an authentic Baby replica! "What? What??" Shock set in as the audience grasped at various speeds what was happening. One of the fans who asked a question would get their number pulled randomly out of a bag by Jensen and win an Impala! If you listen to the video, you’ll notice it got weirdly, uneasily quiet for a while. Jensen: “you can’t see this, but the amount of stunned faces in the audience is incredible.”
I had noticed that Osric was filming the entire panel (he was sitting right next to me, so I couldn’t help but see his production activities!). I thought it was for his own archives, but it turns out he meant to post it on YouTube as soon as possible. I was purposely trying not to say anything out loud lest I get recorded on his film for all time, but when it finally dawned on me what was happening with the Impala, I turned to him and half asked/half stated, “They’re giving away a car?!” You can partially hear him answer me in his video. When Rob and Rich explained that Rick Blevins (the guy I recognized in the video) had completely assembled a Baby-replica from parts of the set’s cars, Osric turned the camera onto Rick – who happened to be sitting in the seat next to Alice! I’ll let her tell you about that! My brain was in overdrive trying to work out how I had been so lucky as to choose seats between Osric Chau, who was filming all this, and Rick, who was obviously in on the biggest, best kept secret of the panel!
I've written many times* about the miracles that surround this show. The woman who won the Baby replica was in some kind of assisted mobility device (wheelchair, motorized chair, etc. I couldn't see her well enough to make it out but she can be seen on the panel video.) Out of 6000+ people in Hall H, here's her story, as written on the Facebook page of the WB PR Manager:
Serendipity: WB gave away a car at the Supernatural panel. Got this message from Holly: “When Nikki was getting the winner’s paperwork done, she asked her if the car actually ran. Nikki told her yes and she started crying. Turns out that about four mos. ago her car broke down and she was forced to choose between getting it repaired or having chemo. She chose the chemo so has been without a car all this time, and now “Baby” will be her daily ride. Thought you would appreciate that the car is going to someone who actually needs it.
Now you're crying too, right?
The panel was obviously running out of time now, so Rich quite suddenly turned the attention back to the cast and producers, asking the question that I simultaneously wanted and dreaded:
“Final thoughts as we say goodbye to Hall H?”
Oh, God. Here it comes.
Bob Singer: “Thank you for 15 years and making a dream come true.”
Andrew Dabb: “We’ll never experience this again, and we thank you for making it all possible.”
Misha: “We promised each other we wouldn’t cry and we all knew we were lying to each other. Love you guys (to fans). Love you guys (to the panel).”
Hugs and tears. It’s starting.
Now it’s Jensen and Jared’s turn. Jared’s bawling. He’s wiping away tears and hiding under his beanie. I’m starting to lose it. Then Jensen, the guy who is the rock of the group, whose wife said rarely sheds a tear, lost it, and that was it for all of us.
Jensen: “We love you guys very much. Thank you.”
Jared: “I’m the luckiest guy on the planet. My cup floweth over. Thank you guys very much. I’m going to miss you.”
Excuse me for a minute because I’m crying all over again rewatching the video and writing their words down for you. Sorry that the last 2 names, the most important names, were cut off in my video. Tears were streaming and I needed to stand as part of the standing ovation to show the cast how much we love and support them.
With those answers, the panel was over. Rich wrapped it up. After the standing ovation, both from the cast for fans, and from fans for the creative talent behind this show, there were waves goodbye,
...poses for pictures,
...selfies to capture the moment, and give-aways to fans...
How can we all love each other so much? I completely believe them when they say how much they love us, because that’s how much I love them, and I know you all do too. Having to say goodbye to all of this – I don’t know if I am incredibly grateful I found it, or wish I never became a part of Sam and Dean’s journey in the first place because now I have to find a way to let it all go. Is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all? We have 10 more months to figure out an answer to that existential question.
For now, I know am immensely grateful for having been a part of their goodbye panel.
Oh yeah, and right back at you with the love, boys. I’m going to miss you too, more than I can say. Thanks for the memories.
If you wish to continue with me on my journey with the Supernatural cast on the Sunday of Comic-Con, their panel was followed immediately by interviews in the press room. Imagine yourself leaving Hall H, walking across the street to the press venue, and walking "Inside the Supernatural Press Room"! Let the tears continue!
Then don't miss seeing our interviews with the Supernatural cast and producers, or reading all our other coverage of Supernatural at SDCC 2019!
Pictures taken by me or @Paleonut, a true photographer who was gracious enough to share her pictures with me for this article. Picture copying or reproduction without watermarks or credit is not allowed.
*My commentaries about the miracles that surround Supernatural include my chapter in Family Don't End With Blood; and "The Miracle of Supernatural", a thank you letter to its cast, creative team and fandom.
Please leave comments, reactions and questions below!