When last we left Supernatural's Winchester brothers, Dean (Jensen Ackles) had just slaughtered a whole house full of men. To be fair, most of them did have something coming — but perhaps they just deserved beat downs, not brutal deaths? Under the influence of the Mark of Cain, though, Dean could not help himself, and Sam (Jared Padalecki) arrived too late to even try to talk him down.
After weeks of random cases that took the boys back on the road, this was a turning point in the season 10 myth arc, and when the CW show returns with new episodes for the new year, it will build off the momentum of the midseason finale's emotional end before switching gears back to the cases of the week for at least a few weeks.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Supernatural showrunner Jeremy Carver to talk about still using that structure all these years in as well as what's to come for all of the characters.
Supernatural started out as a "monster movie of the week" show, and it has continued paying homage to its beginnings with those types of episodes throughout each season, even when there is also intense mythology to unravel. Now the boys know just how serious things are with Dean, so how do you approach some of the stand-alone episodes when still looming is this bigger issue that they should be going full-court to fix?
The very best of [the stand-alone episodes] is reflecting what's going on internally with our boys. It's always that you're using a different story to tell a bigger truth for our boys. Figuring out how to get rid of this Mark, and then in lieu of that, figuring out how to deal or live with this Mark, becomes something of an obsession for the brothers over the second half of the season — something they won't always see eye to eye on. It's of utmost priority, and I think each may have a different view of what needs to be done at different points, and it may lead to some strange associations, some Hail Mary chances each brother is taking. It's very much the center of their wants as we drive toward the end of the season.
This season, Sam and Dean's arcs do seem more emotional and internal. Does that lend itself to the balance of episodes?
I think that's more interesting for the writers to write many times than just a straight-up fight. We said from the very beginning of the season this is a much more personal [conflict] that we're going after, and the building blocks have been there from what's going on with the boys, what's going on with Castiel (Misha Collins), and certainly with Claire (Kathryn Love Newton), and Crowley (Mark Sheppard), and Rowena (Ruth Connell), and that's going to continue. It's not without action or magic or monsters because it's Supernatural, but in many ways it feels like there's more weight to it, which everyone is pretty excited about.
From the trailer The CW released it's obvious what Dean did in "The Things We Left Behind" is not only weighing on him heavily but also in danger of happening again. Is Dean finally letting Sam in on what's going on with him more so he has kind of a checks-and-balances system in place?
Dean being Dean, he's not going to state every worry to Sam, but Sam is astute enough to know what is going on, and so it's an unspoken thing that both are very aware of. And then there are moments where Dean is going to be very, very honest with Sam in terms of what he thinks needs to be done.
Is Dean a greater danger to others or to himself at this point?
The threat of the Mark is that he is a great danger to others, but I think that then begs the question to someone like Dean, "What does that mean I have to do with myself?" So they're one and the same. Being Dean Winchester, of course the greater danger is going to be to himself because he's not going to want to hurt others. That very much hits on the central concern for Dean as we run into the back half here.
Sam went to extreme methods to find Dean at the start of the season; what actions will he take to remove the Mark from Dean?
You know, in just a couple of years Sam has gone through some pretty seismic changes in terms of how he views himself in the world. At the end of season eight, he was at a point where his life was not worth losing the life of others; at the end of [season nine], he went as far to agree that Dean's life was worth sacrificing for a greater good [too]. And we're going to see Sam confront these very questions anew as he sees Dean staring down the Mark. And so, you're going to see Sam questioning all over again how far he's willing to go on behalf of his brother.
Misha called Castiel "instrumental" when it comes to saving Dean, but to what degree?
Castiel certainly is instrumental in the hunt to save Dean from the Mark. I think Castiel is going to find himself — like Sam — in certain uncomfortable situations where he's going to be questioning just what it is he's doing on behalf of quote-unquote "saving Dean." There's going to be a lot of bargains made that people might wish they didn't make by season's end on behalf of what they consider to be the greater good.
Crowley has always been almost untouchable, but bringing his mother Rowena into the picture certainly changes that. Why did you want to shift the dynamic at this point, and how aware is he of just how much she is manipulating things?
Crowley is one of the characters that has gone through a really interesting metamorphosis in the last season and a half, and we all felt that bringing in his mother was again another way of going back to a character's roots of "Who am I?" It's the very question his mother's asking him. In terms of her manipulating him, Crowley first of all at this moment in the season is still trying to figure out exactly what she's up to. I don't think he's blind to her manipulation or her ability to manipulate, [but] I don't think he necessarily has the proof of what she's doing. Tying that with the fact that this is a very, very personal story for him — even though he's the King of Hell, he has a hard time shaking the fact that the person standing in front of him is his mother — that's something that rocks him to his core. And their relationship — which is really, really delicious and fun and complex — is going to take a lot of really neat twists as we go toward the end of the season.
You have talked a lot about your "three-year" arc for Supernatural, but The CW did just renew the show for season 11. Are you altering your plans now?
To be perfectly honest, I think that started to alter or change even last season when I realized we were probably going further. So basically the notion of that arc, some of it's been accordioned out in certain moments, and other things have been dropped in. We spread our wings more knowing we have many more seasons.
Supernatural returns to The CW on Jan. 20. The show will air on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. until March 18, when it moves to Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Do you think Dean can truly be saved, and if so, who do you want to see do the job? Sound off in the comments below.