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Supernatural Preview: Grandpa Winchester's Arrival Brings the Family Mythology 'Full Circle'

Supernatural explores its roots this Wednesday (The CW, 9/8c) when Gil McKinney guest stars as Dean and Sam’s paternal grandpa, Henry.

Rather than seeking an actor who was similar to stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, the producers sought “a contrast” for the role, says EP Bob Singer. “[Henry] is a guy who was more elegant and more learned and more educated.”

TVLine was lucky enough to screen “As Time Goes By” and get some scoop from Singer during a recent press Q&A. Here’s what you need to know about the can’t-miss outing:

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MYTH POTENTIAL | Although the episode really alters what fans have come to know about John’s background and the Winchester family line, the writers weren’t skittish about playing with the lineage. “We really kind of go where the story takes us,” says Singer. “We’re not afraid to try new things. We honor the mythology. We don’t make arbitrary left turns for the sake of ‘That would be a good story beat.’ But it’s ever-evolving. We… are really trying to keep the stories fresh.”

COMING FULL CIRCLE | After exploring mom Mary Campbell’s clan in Season 4′s “In the Beginning” and hinting that there was more to her union with John, this week’s installment will bring everything “full circle.” As Singer reminds us, “[Cupid] said this was ordained that these two people should get together,” and we’ll find out why when Dean and Sam uncover their grandpa’s history.

DADDY ISSUES GALORE | The brothers aren’t the only ones with some strong feelings about their dad. “John is a product of the fact that he didn’t have a father growing up,” which kicked off a string of bad luck, explains Singer. “So he sort of held a grudge against his father because he thought [his dad] deserted them.” Without giving too much away, let’s just say the reality of what actually went down with Henry is much different than what his son believed. “In retrospect, it makes you sort of wonder what [John] would have been like.”

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NOT-SO-WELCOME HOMECOMING | When Henry, needing John’s assistance to kill a demon, uses a spell to transport himself to 2013 – as a kind of Middleman-esque ’50s gent, his shock and confused wonder at the fancy cars, kid-toting dads and technology is one of the episode’s highlights – his grandchildren don’t immediately embrace him. (That’s not too shocking when you consider that he mysteriously falls out of their motel closet!) Still, even after finding out that the stranger is family, Dean, muttering, “Time travel sucks, man,” has a hard time accepting Henry. “He loves it when he’s a cowboy or when he gets to work with Elliot Ness,” explains Singer. “He was talking specifically about this: Do I really need this guy popping out of my closet and bringing up the whole dad thing, and now I’ve got to have a mixed emotion about this guy?”

GROWING THE FAMILY | Henry’s introduction allows the series to flesh out the Winchester clan, so will any other members make an appearance? Unfortunately, there are no plans at the moment, according to Singer. As for a guest spot from Jeffrey Dean Morgan (aka John), who’s currently starring in Starz’ Magic City, the EP admits “we’ve talked about that on occasion, but since he’s really sort of not available and God knows he had a great send-off, that doesn’t get a whole lot of talk in the [writers'] room.”

KEEPING THE PEACE | Yes, Dean and Sam are playing nice this week and even share some touching scenes that solidify the brothers’ bond. But as usual, there’s trouble ahead – from a different source. “In subsequent episodes, it’s another type of conflict between them,” previews Singer. “But it’s not necessarily the conflict of, ‘Do I want to do this?’ Or ‘What’s my plans beyond closing the gates of hell?’ or any of that. It’s a new conflict.”


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