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Interview: Supernatural’s Samantha Smith Previews “General Mary Winchester”

Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester and Osric Chau as Kevin Tran in The CW's Supernatural

Last week’s Supernatural saw the return of Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) and Jack (Alexander Calver) in the apocalypse world, with not-so-great results for the wayward son of Satan and Mama Winchester. A prophet blew himself up (RIP Kevin (again)), the archangel Michael is on the move, and Jack got his first taste of loss and defeat. This week, things are still looking dicey, with the Winchesters, including Castiel and Gabriel, heading into the AU for a rescue mission. I chatted with Samantha Smith about what Mary’s thinking about life after death and jumping dimensions.

One of the best moments in last week’s jam-packed episode was when Jack protected Mary from Kevin’s (Osric Chau) angelic suicide bombing with his own wings. It was giffed on tumblr before the commercials even rolled, and Smith loved it as much as we did: “We felt it when we were filming it,” Smith says. “It was a moment of change in the trajectory of their characters.” And that relationship between Mary and Jack continues to be one of the most surprising and touching in a season of drama and familial strife.

With Jack, Mary has a new chance to be a different kind of mother, and it’s a great connection. “Her opportunity to parent Sam and Dean was taken from her,” Smith says of the relationship. “And I feel that she has embraced Castiel as one of her now-adult boys. But having this person, who she saw born, really, and has saved her, and now she has sort of adopted as her own, is giving her another chance to parent. Even though he’s an extremely powerful being, he’s still new and doesn’t understand things. He respects and cares for her as well. It has this nice symbiosis between them.” Supernatural has always been about found family, and it’s great to see this expanding to Mary and Jack. “He cares for her, not only on his own, but because he cares for Sam and Dean and I’m their mom. It’s all like a family, shared loved and respect.”

Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester and Alexander Calvert as Jack in The CW's Supernatural

Mary’s time in the AU has allowed her to embrace the other side of her nature, as a bad-ass hunter working to help the human resistance at Jack’s side. “Mary has adapted and accepted life in the AU,” says Smith. “And she’s once again morphed into a new type of Mary, which I have been calling ‘General Mary.’” Mary is leading the army of remaining humans along with Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), but they know they’re not the real force. “Jack is the one who really has all the power. We have the guns and the angel bullets and the strategy, but if we didn’t have Jack, we’d be losing. So he ultimately has the power.” It’s a tough spot for Mary, as a both a stand-in-mom and a commander. “Even though I’d like to be in charge [Jack] ultimately gets to make his decisions.” Still, Mary is committed, not just to jack but to helping the people of the apocalypse world. Mary’s thinking, according to Smith, is “I’m going to take my skills, and my determination, and save these people, because they need help.”

With Jack thinking along the same lines, that might sow some conflict when Mary’s boys finally do show up to rescue them. “Of course she wants to go back to be with her boys,” Smith says, but she “will be conflicted because she has committed herself to helping this people. She’s attached to them and invested in them, and to just sort of say ‘peace out!’ and leave everything behind unfinished? There will be conflict for her there.” One thing that won’t be causing conflict is Mary’s ex-lover, Arthur Ketch (David Haydn-Jones), who she last saw in the regular world with a bullet in his head, and who’s back from the dead and fighting on the resistance side in the AU. We won’t see the first reunion, and according to Smith, they have bigger things to deal with than their past. “There is just sort of a mutual agreement to just put that aside for the time being and we will deal with that later, because we’re both on the same side for the moment.”

Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester in The CW's Supernatural

And there are lots of problems to deal with, including more archangels than you can swing an angel blade at, including Gabriel (Richard Speight Jr.) who joins up with Mary’s boys to go through the rift; and Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) who starts out the next episode feeling pretty sorry for himself after striking out in heaven. Lucifer has become the ultimate abuser this season, having hurt and traumatized the entire main cast, so it’s about time for his comeuppance. The next episode, “Beat the Devil,” sees our heroes trying to do just that, with the help of Rowena (Ruth Connell). And who doesn’t want Rowena on their side?

We don’t know if Mary will meet our favorite witch (she’s busy enough getting to know Gabriel), but Smith, Connell, and many of the female stars of the show are on each other’s side off-screen. “Everyone calls the fandom the SPN Family,” Smith says, “but I truly believe that the SPN family starts with the cast and the crew of the show … it’s literally is a support system.” In a bit of almost supernatural magic, that Smith hasn’t seen on any other show and includes an on-going text thread with many of the female cast offering support and inspiration to each other. Earlier this year, Smith shared that same kind of inspiration with the fandom with a t-shirt campaign with Stands that benefitted the Chicago Foundation for Women. The theme of the campaign was “Rise,” and the art depicted a phoenix rising, much like Mary Winchester rose from her own fiery end. The enthusiastic fan support of the campaign has been incredibly moving for Smith, who describes the message as “being fearless and optimistic, and not taking defeat as a permanent condition.” The campaign did so well, there are plans to relaunch in the summer.

We might need something cozy to curl up in after the finale, but like Mary, we’ll need to be brave. While Mary wasn’t so happy with her resurrection in season twelve, Smith believes she overcame that and wants to live and fight on now. Mary is “committed to doing whatever it takes to survive and continue to do good,” says Smith. “While she knows what heaven is, she’s not in any rush to go back.” And, while she might not be in a rush to get back to our world either, sacrifice is what the family does for the greater good. Says Smith: “That’s sort of the Winchester, hunter motto: to you own detriment you will help those that need it.”

Watch Supernatural Thursdays at 8:00 PM on the CW app, or on The CW website the day after it airs.

Jessica Mason is a writer and lawyer living in Portland, Oregon passionate about corgis, fandom, and awesome girls. Follow her on Twitter at @FangirlingJess.

(images: Dean Buscher/The CW)

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