For better or worse, Eric Kripke, the creator, Executive Producer and writer of CW’s popular series Supernatural has made the fans an important part of his show, and not just as ratings numbers. He has often stated that he has a roadmap for the series, a core story that he wants to tell, which he has never wavered from. “It’s the saga of the Winchester clan — who the brothers really are, who their parents really are, why Demons are so closely intertwined with them, and what their destiny really is. It’s an epic, emotional, family story at its heart.” Outside of that core story there are elements that come and go and his writing team is flexible enough to make those adjustments. He states that a decision to keep or discard a storyline combines elements of writers’ opinion, the realities of actors’ schedules, and even opinions of the fans on occasion. Fan response is valued such that when they overwhelmingly reject something across multiple online forums, it is given proper attention. “There’s always room to make the show better, and that means trying new things, keeping the things that work, losing the things that don’t.”
This humble admission truly elevates Eric Kripke to a unique position among showrunners. If the excellent writing, acting and directing were not enough to entice the viewer, then feeling like an integral part of the creative process certainly is. That and the fact that Eric appears to be a fan’s best friend — someone to sit down with, share a cup of coffee, and have an open exchange of ideas for story elements that are past, present and future.
Without a doubt, Supernatural is HIS baby. But unlike other parents who have no interest in anyone’s input regarding the development of their children, this is one parent who is willing to listen to input that might make the child-rearing process a bit smoother for all. And this is indeed rare. For fans of genre shows, who generally tend to obsess more than normal, such form of collaboration only serves to increase the obsession tenfold. This ultimately results in a form of over-protectiveness of the show and its main characters that easily puts all older brothers to shame and makes for a very vociferous fandom. For better or worse.
This final part of the Question & Answer session took place at the Salute to Supernatural Convention sponsored by Creation Entertainment and held in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. It will cover the analytical discussions about the mythology, what we can expect for Season Four, and just how painful this season’s finale will be for viewers to watch. Answers containing spoilers for the remainder of the third season, as well as the upcoming fourth season, have been labeled so that the reader can safely skip over those questions.
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Q: With the writer’s strike, it became necessary to switch the order of the last two episodes shown for the potentially shorter season in order to end on more of a finale-type episode. Do you prefer the new order?
EK: Actually, I think this is one of those things that was meant to be. I actually prefer the new order now [with Mystery Spot ahead of Jus In Bello]. The arc was going towards seeing Sam become more hard-core, thus seeing what life might be like without Dean helped to really make him more hard-core going into the precinct episode. Thus happy accidents happen all the time!
Q: After the introduction of Lilith, debate is happening online on whether she is based on biblical myth, Mesopotamian myth, whether she’s a mix, or none of that…
EK: Ya know, this just reinforces that we have the smartest fans in the world, super-smart fans… we really do! She’s going to be a combination of all myths concerning Lilith. We have done our homework. Digging into the biblical legend, the name was chosen because it’s an older myth. But like we do with everything at Supernatural, everything is sort of pan-myth.
Q: Where did your inspiration come from for Lilith because it appears that Lilith and Sam are the two opposites that are supposed to lead this demon army and she’s this little girl and he’s this big, tall man such that it looks like Mighty Mouse versus the Jolly Green Giant… EK: But she’s got skills!! …She’s this adorable little girl with the creepy white eyes….
[spoiler warning!] EK: Currently that’s just the meatsuit she’s wearing. The reason we were inspired by Lilith is that we’re moving up the demonic hierarchy. Lilith is higher than Azazel, Yellow-Eyes. She’s a pretty high echelon demon, you don’t get much higher than her until you start digging into Lucifer territory. So don’t be fooled by the little girl… she will leave the girl and go into somebody else and go into different characters. Because we actually have references – (pauses in thought)… actually I’m going to drop that because I would spoil too much. But she’s a demon whereas Sam is human. Heck, if I was a demon, I would follow the other demons! So Sam has his work cut out for him and he has some twists and turns about what his destiny might be and whether or not he achieves it.
Q: In another interview you said that you would never tackle angels or the existence of God, so how does that…
[spoiler warning!] EK: how does it all work? What I had said is that we weren’t going to necessarily see positive, glowing, ethereal versions of Supernatural because for one it’s not necessarily scary and two we’re not like that Touched by an Angel stuff. But down and dirty versions of different factions are a possibility. I’ve also learned to never-say-never, just as long as we can find a cool, bada** sort of way to do something. There’s a debate on Lilith and whether she was in fact Adam’s first wife, but her two primary roles seem to be destroyer of children and seducer of men. We plan on exploring those two facets of her personality. But for now it’s just the destroyer of children since she is in a body of a ten-year-old. I’m in the middle of writing the finale — I’m actually in hell right now ‘cause writing sucks! — and she’s still a ten-year-old girl and we have great fun with the creepy stuff that she does. She’s a bada** character and she will give Fred Lane [the Yellow-Eyed Demon] a run for his money for sure.
Q: Dean always seems to struggle with religion and believing in God, whereas Sam seems more readily to do so. How can Dean struggle with that and yet use a rosary to create holy water, or use <christo>, or other religious tools?
EK: I think that is something very interesting about the core of the character. He is ultimately pragmatic and says that he only believes what he can see. He doesn’t really have faith, he doesn’t believe in destiny and he only has what he can see with his own eyes. But he tends to see all kinds of crazy stuff and he uses the religious tools because he has seen them work. He doesn’t think it’s the power of God making it work, for all he knows it might be some occult spell. All he knows is that it works. He’s practical, therefore uses it. He believes in demons because he has fought them and uses those tools against them. But because he has never seen angels or God, and has no direct experience with them, he just doesn’t believe in them. What makes the character so interesting — because in my mind HE’S the hero of the show in so many ways, so my apologies to the Sam lovers. Whereas Sam is that very classic Joseph Campbell with the prophecy and all that, Dean is the character who doesn’t believe in that stuff yet he keeps coming across it. So how he deals with it and how he reacts to it is interesting. At the end of the day, the soul of the show is about humanism, humanity, and making your own destiny. Basically Dean says f— all that prophecy crap, we’re brothers, and I love you. (loud cheers) And that’s basically the core of the character.
Q: I’m in the minority since I like the character of Bela and the majority of fans do not. I was wondering how you were going to address that and whether she will be in the fourth season.
[spoiler warning!] EK: Hey, that’s the question I was waiting for! (laughs from the audience) I’m glad you like the character and I DO want an honest response here… clap if you like Bela (mild applause). Clap if you don’t like Bela (loud applause and cheers). There’s some things I can’t say and a lot of that question that I can’t answer because there’s this bada** piece of information that ties her in to a lot of the season’s thematics, and then we cliffhang the hell out of her and leave her in dire straits. I can’t really talk about the future because of issues that are transpiring as we speak, but I can acknowledge two issues with Bela that I can look back and say were kind of mistakes — And I promise you, there are few showrunners that care as much as I do about what you guys think and look back on material and be as hard on [the material] as me. I have my story and I’m telling my story the way I want to tell it, but I’m open to always working to improve the material. And the two things are that she made the boys look stupid once or twice too many times, and she was never tied in to the mythology. She always just showed up [without good reason]. Whereas I like Ruby a lot, she’s working for me — and if you don’t like Ruby, tough, because she stays. (cheers from the audience with some yelling for a new actress). Ruby is tied into the central mysteries of the show and doesn’t have to explain why she shows up, whereas Bela is not and that is something that her character would need.
[spoiler warning!] We’ll bring Bela back once more this season and we’ll have a reveal that’s closer to the mythology. And the second thing, which I absolutely insisted on in the writer’s room, is that she NOT show up the boys, but that the boys show her up (resounding applause). I agree with you that she’s been an unpopular character this season — believe me I’m aware of it — but Lauren is a classy actress and very interesting. To be honest with you, even last season before the episode ever aired, I looked at the Jo character and wasn’t so sure that she was working. And when the fans seemed to agree, it just confirmed what I suspected. Even though Alona [Tal] was awesome, she was always more of a little sister than what her character was created to be, which was a love interest for Dean. But I have to say that you guys are entitled to your opinions — and bless you for them — but [Bela] took me by surprise. Because in the beginning I thought she was really bada**, cool, and slick, but obviously there has been a lot of fan resistance. But, you figure these things out as you go along.
Q: Well, if she shoots Sam one more time, then even though I like her, that’s it for me too.
EK: No, but I will say this other thing about her. An idea, which is a misconception and everyone seems to be sweating, is that she is going to be redeemed somehow in a manner of <I learned my ways and now let’s just kiss>. And I can say this for the character, she’ll NEVER be redeemed… it’s impossible, how can you possibly redeem that character? (overwhelming cheers and applause) She shot Sam, she sent psycho-killer Gordon after them, threw them to Henriksen knowing that Dean has a death sentence, and stole the Colt. So at this point she can’t say ‘I’m sorry’ and have them say ‘Oh, that’s okay Bela’. You have to enjoy her as a bad guy, but obviously most of you do not.
Q: Well, I personally didn’t like Red Sky at Morning, but I did want to thank you for putting Jensen [Ackles] and Jared [Padalecki] in tuxedos.
EK: Yes, the tux part was the good part. You’re welcome!
Q: I love that in Supernatural everything has a backstory and there are many shades of gray and I was curious as to the whole parallel between demon-God and human-God. Did you have all that planned originally or was it something that was just a cool idea?
EK: I’ll be honest, probably more than I should for my own good as a showrunner… there are certain things we knew and certain things that evolve as the show goes on — that’s just the reality of telling a story. One of the things that evolved is that we’ve never seen Lucifer. Ever since season one we have this ‘show-Bible’, which is just a 15-page document about what the conflict with the demons will be, where it’s going to end up, what their ultimate plan is and what those demons have to be in order to get you to that place. And they had certain characteristics in that they possess people, and the color of the eyes, the black smoke, and all that. I also knew that we weren’t going to see Lucifer. There’s just this idea of a demon army without their King Demon. But we had a lot of discussions regarding the dialogue in [the episode] Sin City. I’m not so sure I would divulge so much if I did the episode again… the less you know about demons, the scarier they are, so I don’t know if it was the best thing to learn a ton about them. In that episode, we spent a lot of time talking about demons in that we tried to use metaphors for modern terrorism: they are hidden among us, they’re striking in terrorist acts, and look at what would motivate them. We decided what would motivate them was to be religiously fervent and we decided to give them a religion with some believing in Lucifer while others don’t. So ultimately that’s where the idea came from, trying to make it all run a little better.
Q: There are theories on the internet about the symbolism of colors, such as yellow or red. Do you do that on purpose or it that something that’s just been latched onto? Because there are some episodes that are sincerely color-heavy where everything is red (the hotel room, the covers, the curtains)…
EK: If there are theories about it, then my answer is…. =maybe=! (audience laughs) That should be my answer from now on… maybe!
Q: Are you ever going to throw us a bone about how it was that their mother Mary knew who the demon was?
EK: Yes, 100%. It was going to be included in this season, but the strike delayed it. But I promise it will be in next season. There’s going to be a big episode with all that mythology and how Mary knew the demon
Q: You’ve mentioned about losing out on some of the mythology this season. So are you going to go more mythic and get into less gore for next season?
EK: Um, no. I love that sh&#, what can I say! We have this episode coming up with the Doc Benton urban legend that is so gory and I just love that stuff!!
Q: Assuming that Dean will be saved at the end of this season, is there a significance to the fact that his life has been saved in every season?
EK: I would argue that that’s not entirely true. He had that moment with the Reaper, and then John made the deal to save him…. Q: Well, in Season 1 in Faith he was saved, then Season 2 he was saved by his father… so is he “special”… ? EK: In reality I guess we keep going to that place because it’s a show about intense emotions and the dangerous, hellacious life that these guys lead. But in a show about life, death and the after-life, sometimes these characters die because it gives you good material to talk about as long as it happens in a different way or as long as something comes out of it that you can twist into angst and drama. Allow me to be the pretentious pr–k guy for a second… there’s this thematic of the show that the Winchester family has turned against the rightful path of nature and fate. They keep presenting themselves as targets because they are so obsessed about saving each other; they take self-sacrifice to this pathological level. It actually serves as a character flaw. What they are willing to do for each other is both a strength and a character flaw. And with each occurrence they keep turning further and further against nature. The right thing would’ve been to let Dean die, but they couldn’t do it. Things are getting worse and worse for the guys because they just can’t let each other go and so it becomes this ongoing thematic of their weakness. And you’ll see in the season finale how it’s about that in a lot of ways. They have an Achilles’ heel and we’re exploring that. That’s why we go there… in a show about brothers who are willing to die for each other, sometimes in our show… they DO.
Q: The boys are SO good at hugging… can we have more of that?
(audience awwws) EK: See, now we can’t have them hug exactly because you guys want it! Because if they hug all the time then it becomes no big deal, they’re hugging again. But if they hug once every two years then everyone reacts to <yes! they did it! they hugged!> Q: But they haven’t mutually-hugged!! Both hugs so far have been one-sided! (laughs and cheers, Eric just laughs and shakes his head)
Q: I’ve read your interviews where you have stated you have the entire storyline and you anticipate ending in five seasons, so I was wondering if you would think a little harder about maybe ending in say, 7 or more seasons. There’s so much more to explore out there!
EK: Yes, there is certainly more to explore. But we sort of have this 5-year map. And Jared and Jensen like the idea of a 5-year map because we work them so hard. It’s possible, but I don’t know. I make the same joke in all the interviews that in Season 6 you can start expecting all the weddings, Raven Symone will show up, an episode will be in Hawaii, and Dean literally gets on a motorcycle and jumps the shark tank. But a lot of these issues are beyond my control at the corporate level with ratings, etcetera. But my personal feeling is that I still want to go out in year five (audience awws and disappointment), It’s better to go out strong and on top than to be 8 or 9 years into a piece of sh#&. You want conclusions… you want to end it. It’s an epic story and epic stories deserve a good ending.
Q: Please convey to your entire production crew and writers how much we really do appreciate them.
EK: I will, thank you!
Q: And thank you for writing a show that really brings people together, like in this weekend.
EK: You’re welcome!
Q: Since you have all been given an early pick-up for Season 4, just how bad of a season cliffhanger will you be giving us?
EK: (very gleeful) It’s going to be a real bit#&! You guys will hopefully be biting your nails. Sorry, it won’t be a restful summer. But for the record, I was going to give you this cliffhanger even when we =didn’t= know we were coming back and you guys would be saying (multiple expletives). But now we all know we’ll be back and it will all be resolved, so you’ll see.
Guys, thank you all so much. Thank you for watching and supporting the show. God bless you all, you guys are great, thank you!! (exits to resounding cheers and applauds as the unofficial theme song plays in the background, Carry on My Wayward Son by Kansas.)
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The highlight of the Convention was not only meeting and seeing Eric Kripke in person, but truly enjoying how open and candid he was in answering the questions posed by fans. Only one burning question remains now and it has nothing to do with how Dean will be saved. Fans that receive tremendous enjoyment from reading spoilers or whose curiosity is at a level higher than ten cats combined, simply want to know who they need to kidnap and/or bribe in order to obtain a copy of that simple, yet crucial, 15-page tell-all document referred to as the Show-Bible! Too bad Tony Soprano is no longer available!
Don’t miss the continuing adventures of the Winchester brothers on Supernatural every Thursday at 9:00 pm on The CW network. As the shortened season crescendos towards its finale, the last three episodes are guaranteed to be overflowing with emotions of fear, horror, angst, and that trademark brotherly bond that has become the heart and soul of the show. Watch, and if possible, DVR the program as well. The numbers for DVRs are ultimately factored into the show’s ratings and this is one gem that should not become lost in what is quickly becoming a teeny-bopper landscape on The CW. Supernatural is truly in a class of its own, taking the <X-Files meets Route 66> concept to new levels of quality and it deserves to be noticed. And if you are one of those fans that enjoys all that Supernatural has to offer, do not hesitate to follow the pleading of Eric Kripke and <Tell a Friend to Tell a Friend.>
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