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Once you’ve averted the apocalypse, where do you go next? If you’re Supernatural, there’s still plenty of territory left to explore, from sinister fairies and killer mannequins to virgin-abducting dragons and the sparkling mystique of Twilight.
These seemingly disparate elements and more fit comfortably, if creepily, into the shadowy world of The CW series, which follows the often-frightening, and frequently funny, adventures of demon-hunting brothers Sam and Winchester as they protect humanity from the things that go bump in the night.
The cast and creators of Supernatural, now well into its sixth season, gathered Sunday in Beverly Hills for a PaleyFest tribute moderated by television critic Maureen Ryan.
A Supernatural super-fan, Ryan kicked off the panel by introducing Executive Producer Sera Gamble, who in turn set up a video clip that featured extended footage from this season’s hilarious meta episode “The French Mistake,” in which Sam and Dean (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) are thrust into an alternate world in which they’re the stars of a TV show called … Supernatural.
Gamble also provided an enticing sneak peek at the April 15 episode “Frontierland,” which send the Winchester brothers back in time to the Old West in search of the show’s powerful MacGuffin, the Colt — a supernatural pistol crafted by Samuel Colt himself to kill virtually any entity (save for Lucifer and the Four Horsemen). The episode’s opening sequence tips its Stetson to the classic TV Western Bonanza, and in a rather brilliant wardrobe decision, fans get to see Dean in a poncho and cowboy hat, a la The Man With No Name.
Ryan wasted no time in asking about the rule-breaking, fourth wall-destroying “French Mistake,” and wondered whether the cast and crew worried they were giving fans too much of a peek behind the curtain. Series creator Eric Kripke confirmed there had been a great deal of concern, especially from The CW legal department, which said, “We’re not sure — we’re checking right now, but we’re not sure you’re allowed to depict the ‘behind the scenes’ of a CW show.”
Initially, stars Ackles and Padalecki weren’t too excited about playing themselves. When Ryan pressed Ackles about his initial reaction to the idea, the actor replied, “Wait — What? You want to do what?”
Misha Collins, who plays the gravelly voiced angel Castiel, had just one request for producers: “Can we please make the Misha character a total douche-bag?”
When it comes to how much notice the cast receives about major character arc changes, Jim Beaver, who plays the Winchesters’ crusty father-figure Bobby Singer, explained, “Well, with the wheelchair thing, I showed up on set and they said, ‘Sit down.’ Next season they said, ‘Stand up.’ I’m a pretty good actor, so I did it.”
When Ryan asked whether fan-favorite Castiel would receive help in his brutal war in Heaven against the forces of the archangel Raphael, Gamble revealed that a trusted lieutenant named Rachel will soon be introduced.
Executive Producer Ben Edlund spoke a bit about his first Supernatural directing assignment, and announced that the episode in question would actually be centered on the enigmatic Castiel. In a nod to the infamous “Smile Time” episode of Angel that Edlund wrote and directed, Ryan wondered whether there would be any puppets.
“No puppets,” Edlund laughed.
Kripke and Gamble clearly appreciate Edlund’s creative ideas. “He comes in and he says, ‘leprechauns,’ and I think there’s a lot more trust. We say, ‘All right, let’s do it,’ because he delivers every time … until the day he won’t,” Kripke joked.
Speaking of writing, Kripke announced he had just turned in the script for the two-hour season finale, which will begin shooting next week.
When the conversation turned to regrets, it was clear there had been a few. Kripke said he recently cringed through a repeat viewing of the show’s 2005 pilot episode, in which the Winchester brothers spout an inordinate amount of exposition.
“They’re talking about nothing that two human beings would ever talk about,” he said, adding, “It’s six years later and you can tell I’m not over it.”
Collins said he had come to regret his choice to give Castiel such an unnaturally low voice. “I may be running into medical problems,” he joked.
Padalecki and Ackles seized the opportunity to make fun of their co-star, with Ackles joking that his first reaction to Collins was to ask the crew, “Did he audition?”
Since the Winchesters have already faced both Lucifer and the apocalypse at the end of Season 5, one audience member brought the panel to a close by wondering what the series finale might entail. “There’s a very specific coda that we have in mind,” Kripke said, adding, “We didn’t use that [in the Season 5 finale]. We didn’t go near it.”
Supernatural airs Fridays on The CW. New episodes resume on April 15 with “Frontierland.”