SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 22: Misha Collins (L) and Jared Padalecki attend the "Supernatural" press line during Comic-Con International 2018 at Hilton Bayfront on July 22, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

Interview: Supernatural Cast and Writers Give the Inside Scoop on What’s Next at San Diego Comic-Con

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It’s not easy for a television show to make it to air in the first place, or get to a second season. It’s certainly hard to get to 100 episodes, but 300? That’s a number that’s almost unthinkable, but for Supernatural, it almost seems inevitable.

The longest-running genre show on American television returned to San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H to show off a teaser for record-setting fourteenth season, as well as their famous gag reel, and credit their passionate fans for the continued longevity of the show. After the panel, The Mary Sue sat down with the producers and stars of the show to talk about that 300th episode, how Team Free Will 2.0 is doing, and of course, cats.

In the aforementioned teaser, we saw the archangel Michael (Jensen Ackles), who is now in possession of his perfect vessel, Dean Winchester, confronting a Muslim man in his ongoing quest to find out what humanity wants and, possibly, how he can destroy them. It was a great scene, where Ackles really got to flex his acting muscles, but it wasn’t easy, according to the actor.

“There are subtleties I’m attempting to do different,” Ackles said of playing a new character. “It’s been challenging in that I’m playing this character who’s totally different, but I’m doing it in the environment that I’ve been playing another character in for so long; so it’s like coming home and trying to be somebody different … to walk on that set and not instantly transform into Dean was more challenging than anticipated.”

In the scene we saw at the panel, Michael quotes the Koran in Arabic, which was a daunting challenge as well. “That was hard. I did not want to mess that up,” Ackles said, noting he worked carefully with a language coach on set to get it right. Michael wants “to build his forces,” according the writer Brad Buckner, and “build his strategy, and find a way to do what he did masterfully in the other world in this one.”

In this world, he doesn’t have an army of angels, since there are only a hand full left trying to keep heaven running. One of those angels is of course Anael, played by Danneel Ackles, who will see return this season. The heaven issues will play out further down the line according to co-show runner Bob Singer, but the focus now is on Michael.

As for when we’ll see Dean himself return? The cast and producers were tight-lipped, with Misha Collins (Castiel) joking that “definitely, this season, Dean is not going not be a central character … Jensen is only working one day a week this year.” Collins added with a grin, “This is like a White House press briefing; it’s all misinformation.”

We do know that the search for Dean and Michael is the biggest hurdle at the start of the season. Writer Eugenie Ross-Leming explained that “getting Dean back is their mission” at the start of the season.

Buckner said, “That core team looking for Dean is Mary, Sam, and Bobby,” with Sam at the helm.

“Sam has really stepped into a leadership role,” added showrunner Andrew Dabb, as Sam is stepping up to the head of a small army of refugee hunters from the apocalypse world—hunters whose goals might not mesh with Sam’s.

“I think Sam understands that these apocalypse world hunters have also dealt with Michael,” Jared Padalecki added, “because Michael came over from apocalypse world,” which means, unfortunately, that Sam’s army “wants to kill Michael, not save Dean.”

Castiel is, of course, very focused on saving Dean, as well. According to Collins, the way this season starts is “rare for Cas … he’s starting the season in good health, and at a pretty close to full power and a mission that he cares about,” which is rescuing Dean. However, he has another important task, which is to care for and mentor Jack (Alexander Calvert), Lucifer’s son, who lost all his powers at the end of last season.

“Jack has had zero human experience,” because he was one of the most powerful beings on Earth last season, but now, according the Buckner, “All that’s been taken away. He’s not the biggest badass in the room anymore, and “that’s a huge shift.”

Calvert further explained, since Castiel has also lost his powers in the past, “Jack and Cas definitely have a very special connection … We’re going to see that relationship explored a lot more—push it a little more this season than we did last year.” One thing we’ll sadly not see onscreen this year is a cameo from last season’s breakout star, Lord Tyrion, Calvert’s cat whose Instagram has become a sensation among fans. “He doesn’t really leave the apartment,” Calvert laments, since The Lord hates car rides, but Calvert would be happy to have him visit the set. “He’s a bit of an asshole; he’s very demanding.”

What we will see this season is Supernatural’s milestone 300th episode, which will be directed by Singer and written by Dabb. “It’s interesting, because episode 100 was really just a normal episode of Supernatural. It was a myth episode, and there was nothing very meta about it. 200 went very much the opposite direction, where it was all kind of meta,” Dabb reflected. “I think 300 occupies a little bit a middle ground.”

The idea is focused on an aspect of the Winchesters’ life we haven’t seen: the town of Lebanon, Kansas (where the boys have lived in the hidden Men of Letters bunker since season eight). “We’ve actually never gone into Lebanon and seen what the people of Lebanon think about these guys who drive this muscle car, come in like, covered in blood to the dry cleaner.” According to Dabb, 300 will showcase “a way to kind of look at our guys through a different lens and the life they lead,” in a way that will hopefully be “a love letter to the show and a  love letter to you guys, hopefully through some different point of views.”

As for other meta episodes, last season saw the show swing for the fences (and hit a homerun) in terms of crossovers with “Scoobynatural,” but this season won’t see anything quite like that. However, according to Dabb, “We have an episode that’s not a straight crossover, but it very much explores one of Dean’s … childhood passions,” and “brings in some pop culture things we haven’t seen before.”

This season will also see more of fan-favorite characters like Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and Rowena (Ruth Connell), who will be back in a big way in episode 7, according to Ross-Leming. We’ll also see more of Apocalypse World Charlie (Felicia Day), which might lead to some conflict for the guys. “It’s strange for the guys,” said Buckner, “because, to look at her, they can’t help falling back into old patterns, and treating her like this kid sister that they’re still grieving,” but this person is her own person, “which she aggressively points out.”

This season will also be a bit shorter than previous years, with 20 episodes instead of 23. This was done to give the actors a little more time with their families, and not at the behest of the studio, and the writers are looking at it as an opportunity, not a burden. “Now that it’s a bit more a concentrated season, I think that the episodes and the storylines will be a little bit more intense and concentrated,” said Ackles.

And Padaecki is happy with “however long the season needs to be to tell a proper season’s storyline.” We’ll see that story begin this fall, with the season premiere on October 11. Until then, keep your salt close and your Netflix closer.

(image: Jerod Harris/Getty Images))

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