The CW drama series Supernatural has returned for an eighth season, with Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) seemingly impossible escape from Purgatory and Castiel (Misha Collins) nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Sam (Jared Padalecki) finds himself trying to reconcile the life he discovered while Dean was gone with Dean’s sudden reappearance and, as the boys struggle with their unexpected reunion, they make a shocking discovery that will definitely shake things up.
During this recent interview to promote the show’s return, showrunner/executive producer Jeremy Carver talked about the decision to reveal that Sam had not looked for Dean while he was in Purgatory, how much Dean will be dealing with post-traumatic stress from what he went through, the use of flashbacks this season, which characters will be recurring, and the special episodes they have planned. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
JEREMY CARVER: When I came back to the show, I was staring at a landscape, which had been laid out from Bob [Singer] and Sera [Gamble]. So, we really went into the idea of what it means to be truly alone, what kind of impact does that have on somebody, and how might that affect your mind-set, after so many years. In Episode 1, Dean talks about, “We always ignored the advice we gave to each other.” So, what happens, if someone actually takes it?
How long will Sam have to pay for not looking for Dean?
CARVER: One of the things we really like about the first 13 is the way we’re playing with perception. Dean is piling on Sam, somewhat, for this. What happens is that these brothers start to discover more about what they’ve done, in the past year, and those tables might turn, in terms of who has to answer for what. I think everybody will get their licks in. No one is going to be a beaten dog for too long.
Has Sam (Jared Padalecki) really moved on from this woman in his life, or does he just not want anyone to know about that, for now?
CARVER: For now, Sam is keeping thoughts of this woman and this relationship to himself because it’s the type of thing that greatly informs where he is now, at the beginning of the season. It represents something to him. It essentially represents another way and another life, and that’s very much where he’s coming into this season, right now. So, it’s something that he’d rather keep to himself than share.
How much will Dean (Jensen Ackles) be dealing with post-traumatic stress, when it comes to readjusting?
CARVER: We’ll see more of that. It’s not overwhelming, but there are elements of that.
How long will you be using flashbacks? Will that be a season-long thing, or just for a few episodes?
CARVER: The flashbacks play heaviest in the first 13 episodes, and I say that with the small caveat that we’re working our way through the second half now. But, it feels like they’ll probably play heaviest in the first 13. They’re not in every episode, but where appropriate.
What have the flashbacks opened open up for you, in the writers’ room?
CARVER: It’s allowed us to tell slightly different kinds of stories, in that we’re talking about a relationship that Sam has had. Supernatural hasn’t spent a lot of time on relationship stories, and this is a really nice mechanism to do that without imposing that on the forward momentum of these other stories that we’re telling. In the writers’ room we tend to say, “We’re never going to be able to give a hell or Purgatory as good as people’s imaginations,” so the instinct is normally not to go there. But, we went the other way this year and said, “We are going to go there,” because there’s a really, really strong character thing going on down there. The look of it is super cool, so it’s turned out really successfully for us, I think. In terms of the writers opening up, it’s given us different levers to pull.
How much will Benny (Ty Olssen) play into the present-day storyline, as opposed to just the flashbacks?
CARVER: You’ll see Benny playing a pretty important role, both in his physical presence and psychological presence. The idea of Benny hangs over our brothers, pretty heavily, certainly as the year goes along. He’s a guy who has a tremendous bearing, and he’s really working out wonderfully. It’s a really complex character, and adds a really interesting wrinkle into the brothers’ relationship this year while they deal with something like this.
Will the fact that Dean has let Benny go be dealt with, especially after killing Sam’s old friend last season?
CARVER: Absolutely! The question that comes front and center, when you see Benny, is that it’s something that’s got to be confronted, at some point. That’s something that will arc out, through the course of the season.
When will viewers learn about what’s happened to Castiel (Misha Collins)?
CARVER: Well, we’ll be telling the story of Purgatory pretty steadily through the first seven or eight episodes. By then, you’ll start to get a real good understanding of what happened in Purgatory to Cas.
Will Cas be returning this season?
CARVER: I wasn’t even going to say yes, but okay.
Who else will viewers see recurring, this season?
CARVER: You’ll be seeing a healthy dose of Kevin (Osric Chau). Of course, Crowley (Mark Sheppard) is set up now to be the boys’ main antagonist this season, somewhat. Obviously, there are some new characters. There’s Benny. There’s Amelia. There are some new angels that we’re introducing. Amanda Tapping is playing a fairly mysterious angel named Naomi.
Will Meg (Rachel Miner) come back?
Is there any chance that Bobby (Jim Beaver) will be back?
CARVER: I can’t say right now. But, at the most basic level, he’s one of the most beloved characters and actors on the show.
What can you say about how DJ Qualls will re-enter the picture?
Is closing the gate to Hell a season-long arc, or something you’re setting up more long-term?
CARVER: Closing the gate is meant to be a season-long arc, but the questions that come up in the quest, and the series of reveals and discoveries, are meant to start being the under-pinings for questions, secrets and things that will be explored in future seasons.
Does closing the gate mean that it’s closed off to human souls, as well?
CARVER: That will be clarified or dealt with, later on.
Dean seems to be a bit worse for wear mentally now, as opposed to when he got out of Hell. Will you be showing what Purgatory did to him?
CARVER: Well, he is not great for the wear, but I think Dean came out of Purgatory with a bit of a surprising reaction to it that we talk about in the first episode. It was pure down there. One of the last things that you might expect, going to a place that’s so horrible, is that someone might have actually considered it something of a happy experience. You have to ask yourself, “Why is it happy, and what is this primal side of himself that he connected to?” For how he will deal with that topside, we use Benny as that thing that is representative of Dean in Purgatory.
CARVER: Yeah, by virtue of seeing Kevin more, we’ll learn more about how he personally feels about being a prophet, being a part of the mission of the brothers and the personal cost it has for him. You will see how his willingness and desire to do the job rubs off on the boys. They’re all playing off of each other, and they’re inextricably linked here. Absolutely, you’ll see more of what powers Kevin, as it were.
Do you have any special episodes planned, this season?
CARVER: We’re doing an episode, a little bit later, that is dealing with what happens when you find yourself living in a cartoon universe. That’s a lot of fun. It will not be animated. It deals more with cartoon physics, in a real world. We will be doing an episode that deals pretty heavily with the LARP-ing universe. That’s another real fun one that’s coming up. And the found footage episode is pretty unlike any episode the show has ever done before. It’s about college kids dealing with a situation that goes pretty horribly awry. It’s a stand-alone episode.
Any chance of ever doing a musical episode?
CARVER: One can hope, but there are no immediate hopes.
Supernatural airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.