TV Source has a special treat for fans that can’t get enough of the CW drama, “Supernatural.” We’ve got your first look at the new at the official Season 7 companion book.
“Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 7” by Nicholas Knight will be available beginning Tuesday, Nov. 27 and is packed with exclusive interviews, photos, behind-the-scenes secrets, a complete episode guide, plus a color portrait gallery of the stars. Check out the exclusive excerpts below.
“Supernatural” airs Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. EST on The CW.
In ‘Meet the New Boss’, Castiel uses his God-like powers, gained from Purgatory’s monster souls, to punish those he deems wicked. However, Sam probably would have responded differently, especially considering his history of demon-induced powers. “I don’t know if Sam would have done the same as Castiel,” says Jared Padalecki. “He’s always been the one who didn’t use power just because he had it. Sam’s always been the one to say, ‘There are two sides to every coin. There are three sides to a story: yours, mine and the truth.’ Sam is always more thoughtful. Who knows what that power would have done to him, though? The whole point of that storyline is that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We got to see it with Castiel, who was a force for justice for the last several seasons, doing the right thing or what he thought was right. You saw what he became like, and really quickly, so I shudder to think what Sam would have done. I’m glad we didn’t have to go down that road.”
Unfortunately, that road led to Castiel’s demise early in the season (or so it seemed) and Misha Collins’ temporary departure from the show. “It’s tough and it sucks, but it’s like life,” Padalecki says philosophically, “you can’t keep things going on forever, you gotta wrap up the storyline, because the fans deserve better than to be strung along.”
The fans might have revolted if Castiel had become the season’s big bad. Instead, the show delivered the Leviathan. “Season seven started out true to Supernatural form, in that every year we’ve gotten bigger and scarier and fought something more powerful, more evil than we had dealt with prior,” notes Padalecki. “I was at a meeting with Sera Gamble in the summer and we were talking about what was going to happen and what the big bad was. She talked about this Leviathan character that we didn’t know a whole lot about, that was released from Purgatory when Castiel swallowed all of it and wasn’t powerful enough to keep it all in. From the get-go it was difficult to imagine what it was going to be, but I was excited about the breadth of opportunities of what Leviathan could be and what it could do – especially knowing that it could duplicate a person’s body. We didn’t know how to kill it, we didn’t know how to slow it down, so I was pretty excited to have a big bad guy, or several, to go up against.
“One of the things that we were able to do,” Padalecki continues, “[with regards to] Supernatural getting bigger and better and scarier, was how the show began where we were going from town to town, with this monster haunting this town, this zombie over here, this ghost stuck in this house… It was scary, but it was scary to a limited degree. Now, with the Leviathan, it’s not just, ‘Oh, you see some demons in the moat?’ They could end up anywhere, anytime, and that puts the boys at a disadvantage that they haven’t been at up until now.”
Not only could the Leviathan be anywhere, anytime, they could also be anyone – including the Winchester brothers. Padalecki certainly found it interesting to play the Sam clone in ‘Slash Fiction’. “Leviathan Sam doesn’t know how to be afraid,” he says. “So, to play a Leviathan, I just had to consider, what would an all-powerful being feel like if he was surrounded by other all-powerful beings? It’s like a team of Navy SEALs (for lack of a better analogy) who are just so confident they can’t be messed with. They have the upper hand and they know something that you don’t know. Thinking of the character like that helps it come across on screen.”
In that episode, Sam learns from Leviathan Dean that the real Dean went behind his brother’s back and killed Sam’s childhood sweetheart, Amy, who happened to be a kitsune. By the end of the season, Sam seems to have forgiven Dean, but “Forgiven is not the word I would use,” Padalecki says. “He’s moved past it. However, we got into a very similar situation [in ‘The Slice Girls’], where Dean’s the one who doesn’t want to pull the trigger and I rip on him. Not about the whole Amy thing, necessarily, but about honesty and hypocrisy. Sam’s like, ‘Hey man, listen, if the rules we set for ourselves are to kill the monster, then that applies to you, too. You can’t just preach it.’ It was really important to me, and I know to Jensen as well, that we clarified why Sam was upset about Dean killing Amy – it was more about Dean lying to Sam than it was about him killing a monster. We wanted to clarify the characters’ drives.”
Apart from protecting humanity, one of the Winchesters’ primary personal drives is payback, from killing the Yellow-Eyed Demon because of John and Mary Winchester’s deaths, to exterminating the Leviathan because of Castiel and Bobby’s untimely demises. “I found out about Bobby’s death partway through doing the wedding episode, and obviously I was really sad,” Padalecki recalls. “I was feeling crushed; it felt like I was losing a friend, which is really strange to say. I’m still friends with Jim Beaver, we still tweet to each other and joke, and we’ll see each other at conventions if we’re in the same town, but it felt like the loss of a friend and it was captured beautifully on camera.”
Then Bobby died a second, more permanent, time when Sam and Dean burned the flask his ghost was tethered to. “I’m horrified to think that he’s not going to be around for if the show goes thirty years,” Padalecki adds, “but that’s good TV, that’s good story-telling. In season seven we’re trying to notch up the stakes as high as we can.
“I enjoyed making this season as much as ever,” Padalecki says. “I feel like we build relationships with each other both on camera and off camera, and we build relationships with [the fans] too. We’re growing and we’re developing and we’re getting better and better. It feels like home, like we’ve gone to high school with somebody and now we’re juniors in college. It’s really nice.”
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For the second season in a row, Jensen Ackles took a turn behind the camera, this time for ‘The Girl Next Door’. Unsurprisingly, it was a highlight of the season for him, yet in some ways it wasn’t at all what he had expected. “I assumed the second time around it would be a little easier, and it proved to be just the opposite,” Ackles says. “I think what happened was that while shooting ‘Weekend at Bobby’s’ last season it was a slight case of ‘ignorance is bliss’ as the director. What I learned and the things I adjusted to on the fly during that production, I then had in my head when the second time directing came around, so there was more to think about, and more to do.
“During pre-production,” Ackles explains, “you’re going on tech scouts and you’re getting the production designer’s blueprints of the sets and you’re mapping out where you want the actors to go and where you want to hide the cameras and how you want to design the scene. There are times when you’re preparing everything, and you get it all laid out – I had it all laid out on my dining room table; it looked like a disaster zone – and you’re looking at it, and you take a breath and think, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ There were times when I would call my wife and say, ‘I think I bit off more than I can chew.’ Obviously she gave words of encouragement, like, ‘No, you didn’t. You can do it!’ I hope that [feeling of doubt] never goes away, because I think that’s the challenge that we humans look for and find pride in once we’ve completed those challenges. It’s very rewarding.
“The script was also much more difficult, technically,” Ackles continues. “We were dealing with flashbacks and lots of transition pieces. Plus, I was in it more, which also proved to be a lot more challenging than anticipated. My level of respect for actors who also direct, like Clint Eastwood or Mel Gibson or Kevin Costner, has increased – they make it look a lot easier than it really is, that’s for sure. For me, it was a psychological nightmare. I never realized until directing this episode how clear my mind is when I’m acting and how relaxed my thought process is. I’m not thinking about other things, just relaxing into that character and that scene, listening to the people I’m working with and reacting accordingly. There’s a sense of calm that comes with it. When I’m working as a director, it’s the complete opposite. In fact, at one point I was sitting there and my head was spinning; I was thinking, ‘I’ve got this shot and then we’re gonna do a wide shot and then a steadicam shot,’ and my dolly grip Dave [Riopel] said, ‘I can hear you thinking,’ and I was like, ‘Don’t talk to me!’”
Ackles came up with a clever solution to the problem: he had first assistant director Kevin Parks call action for him on scenes when he had to act and direct. “I pulled Kevin Parks aside and I said, ‘It might take me a couple of takes to get there, but keep an eye out and make sure that I’m in it, that I’m back to Dean and not still crazy director Jensen,’” Ackles says. “So he did, and a couple of times he was like, ‘You’re not there yet,’ and I was like, ‘You’re right!’ It would take a few extra takes just to get my brain cleared and relax, which was a challenge.”
It’s a good thing he didn’t have to direct ‘Slash Fiction’, otherwise Ackles would have had to be three totally different people: director Jensen Ackles, Dean Winchester and Leviathan Dean. Though two Deans presented a different kind of challenge for the actor anyway. “When we were doing those ‘doubles’ scenes, it was interesting because we had to go into the bank and make the audience feel like it was really Sam and Dean, but we knew that it obviously wasn’t. So playing that was a little tricky. But it was fun.”
Another fun challenge from that episode was when Ackles had to chop his own head off, for which he had to do something that went against his nature. “I had to go southpaw on that one and swing left, and I’m right-handed,” Ackles explains. “I didn’t have to do it that way, but I did it so Jared wouldn’t be doused with a bunch of black goo,” as a result of the way the shot was set up.
Also in ‘Slash Fiction’, Sam finds out that Dean killed his kitsune friend Amy (at the end of ‘The Girl Next Door’). “This affects their relationship for a couple episodes, but it gets resolved,” notes Ackles. “I think Sam understands that it was a necessity, as opposed to being a stab in the back.”
Something else that affects the Winchester brothers’ relationship is the devil in Sam’s mind. “Dean understands that Sam is dealing with a very unique situation, so he keeps an eye on him,” says Ackles of Sam’s Lucifer hallucinations, “but I believe that Dean does think that Sam’s heart is in the right place even though his head is messed up.” In fact, during season seven, their relationship seems stronger that it’s been in a long time. “With Castiel gone, what it’s done is force the brothers to get back together and rely on each other,” Ackles observes.
“That’s one of the themes this season,” he continues. “They’re backing us into a corner together and stripping away all of our tools. From the lore – because there’s no lore on the Leviathan – to the car, they’re taking away everything that we’ve depended on. It’s backing us into a corner together, which means that we have to rely on each other, but in a different way. We’re relying on instinct without the tools, so it’s: ‘I’m gonna need you to watch my back and I’ll watch yours.’ It gets back to the original format of the show, a bit like going back to season one. It’s the two brothers against the world, and I like that.”
There was so much Ackles liked about season seven that he couldn’t single out one favorite episode, though he could say, “I like telling good stories; stories that affect people, whether it makes them cry, whether it makes them laugh, whether it makes them fall in love, whether it makes them feel something. I think that’s why people enjoy entertainment. We like to go to the movies and watch television because it makes us feel something. For me, whether as an actor or director or just living my life, if I can make people feel something and get to tell them stories that make them feel something, then that’s what I want to do.”
“I’d like to see where [the future] takes me and enjoy the ride,” Ackles concludes, looking forward to season eight. “If you start expecting things of yourself, then you just set yourself up for failure. I enjoy it as it comes along and make the most of it. That’s the way I like to do it.”