Season 6 of The CW drama Supernatural marks not only a new chapter in the show’s story, but also a change in leadership, as executive producer Eric Kripke has handed over show runner duties to Sera Gamble. Having already been on staff as a producer and writer, it’s been a very smooth transition for all involved, and it has helped to invigorate and re-invent the series in a way that will keep it fresh for seasons to come.
During a recent interview to promote the show’s return, Eric Kripke and Sera Gamble talked about wiping the slate clean this season, getting to see how things have affected both Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) post-apocalypse and how they’re definitely up for more seasons, if there’s the demand for it. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: Eric, what was your original five-year plan? Since you never expected to bring angels into the story, how would you have done what you did without the involvement of angels?
Eric: That’s a really good question, and I don’t know. When you start a show, the plans are not set in stone. They’re really mutable, cocktail napkin sketches. I had a plan about demons. That was my plan when I began. When we were starting to figure out, somewhere around the pilot, that this was becoming a series, one of the producers and I were kicking around a game plan, and it was about demons. We started with this demon, and this demon worked for that demon, and that demon wanted to let the devil loose. It was all about working our way up the demon ladder. I’m not even sure we knew that, at that time, Yellow Eyes was working for Lilith. We just knew that there was a higher demon. And then, we decided to make her a woman because the first demon was a man. So, these things evolved.
We had a structure of a demon ladder that was ultimately about letting Lucifer loose and having him take over Sam (Jared Padalecki). The dark secret was always that Sam was going to be the vessel. Originally, it was just that Dean (Jensen Ackles) would then have to hunt down and kill his brother. But then, rightfully so, we brought in angels to bolster up the other side of the coin. And then, Michael came into the story. It evolved from just, “I have to hunt down and kill my brother,” to these two mirrored stories about two sets of brothers, the brothers in Heaven and the brothers on Earth, and how they compare and contrast. A lot of it was dumb luck, and a lot of it was noticing the opportunities that we had in front of us, at the time, and taking advantage. For the most part, it worked out.
Sera, how does it feel to be running things this season?
How does your promotion affect your scriptwriting? How many episodes will you actually write?
Sera: I’ve written four or five a season, until now. I imagine that I’ll write three or four this season. I end up rewriting a lot more heavily now. I’d like to say that I’ll write fewer because it will give me more time to do other things, but that probably won’t happen. I’ll probably write about the same.
Eric, what is your involvement this season?
Eric: I’m there, but I’m not running it, which is helping my spine straighten. So far, I’ve been in the room when every episode has broken and I’ve given notes on every script. Frankly, I think I’m in it a little more than Sera and Bob [Singer] would want me to be, but I’m definitely trying to make sure that it falls within these creative parameters, so that it feels like Supernatural. Outside of that, I’m really enthusiastic and encouraging of Sera to make it her own and have her own interpretation of it that I think will be invigorating for the fans. It’s a show that’s always reinvented itself, so it just felt like it was time again to reinvent itself.
Eric, what are you most excited about with this season?
Eric: Wiping the slate clean. I think that’s really exciting. Mythologies become exhausting burdens, from a writer’s perspective. If you look deep into The X-Files, which we bring up a lot in the room as something we’re just terrified of, or late in the game with Buffy, as much as I love that show, things get complicated and it’s hard. It becomes less about the fun of why you fell in love with that show, in the first place, and more about servicing all of these storylines.
So, the opportunity to say, “All right, the Supernatural movie, as you know it, is over. Let’s all tune in for the sequel. The new movie is starting. Here are the new characters. They’re at a different place in their lives, and they’re getting involved with a whole new conspiracy and mythology, and they can have fun and we can put them in new situations without having to be beholden to past mythology.” We don’t have to worry about it. It’s been a really invigorating, freeing time in the writer’s room.
Is it a new arc that’s starting?
Eric: Yes, but I don’t know how long this plan is. I know it’s at least a year. It may go beyond. As we did in the beginning of the show, somewhere around the middle of the season, we’ll get a really good sense about whether there’s going to be a year after this. We have different plans in place. I think it can go longer. It’s certainly designed to go longer, if it wants to, but it’s a different feel. It’s a whole new mythology. If up until now, it’s been Star Wars, Truck Stop America and The Lord of the Rings, now it’s L.A. Confidential and Chinatown. It’s noir, gritty, down to the earth, twisty and the mythology keeps taking left turns on you. It’s going to have a really different feel. It’s going to be the difference between Alien and Aliens, with the same subject matter and character, but different filmmakers bring a different style to it. Sera [Gamble] really has her own style. It’s going to be the characters you love, but in a really different tone, which I think is really exciting.
Sera, what are your ideas for this new season? Is there an over-arching storyline?
Sera: There is an over-arching storyline. Eric, Bob and I, and also Ben Edlund started talking about Season 6, very early in Season 5, and we talked about how to lay all the ideas in that we had. Season 5 is the apocalypse, so Season 6 deals with the post-apocalypse. We were very aware that we had gone as big and epic as we could go, so we didn’t want to just slot in another big bad. We didn’t want to deal with a new story in that way because it would feel like a cheat. I don’t think you can go bigger than Lucifer and excite people.
Seasons 6 starts with an on-going mystery about monsters. Monsters are, for the first time, very much a part of the mythology, in why they’re acting the way they are in the post-apocalypse. There’s a lot more of Sam and Dean shooting monsters in the face, like the good, old days, but these mysteries continue to twist and turn. The show feels a little bit more gritty and down to earth, and they really feel like a couple of hard-boiled supernatural investigators at times, as opposed to pawns in an epic battle. That was something that we played to its conclusion, in the last couple of seasons.
How noir will the show get?
Eric: It isn’t so much shadows and trench coats, but no one is who they seem, everyone has ulterior motives, and there are a lot of twists and double-crosses.
How will the dynamic between Sam and Dean be different in Season 6?
Sera: Very consciously, we referenced Season 1 at the beginning of this season because we were aware of the fact that we had set things up to be a little bit similar, with Sam returning to Dean’s life and Dean having left hunting. On the surface, it seems like that, but we subvert that fairly quickly. Underneath the surface, things are not exactly as they seem.
Will Dean’s new family be in the whole season?
Sera: I don’t know about the whole season, but you’ll see them a bit, at least at the beginning.
How long was Sam in Hell?
Sera: That’s a question we answer a little way into the season, so you have to tune in to find out about that.
Towards the end of the season, Dean’s importance in stopping the apocalypse seemed to have been dropped in favor of Sam. What would you say to that? Did viewers interpret that wrong?
Eric: Everything is open to interpretation. Far be it from me to tell fans what they think the show is. It’s for them. I can just tell you what it meant to me, which is that the show is and always has been about family, from page one to page 5,000. It’s never been about one brother or the other. It’s been about the relationship between the both of them. For me, it’s a yin-yang thing.
Salvation of the planet depended on both of them acting equally, and had Dean not decided to sacrifice himself and go to be with his brother because the love of family and the relationship between them trumped all, and had he not learned to forgive his brother and love him over years of experience on the show, then he never would have gone out there, Sam would have never seen him, he never would have seen the car, and he never would have had the strength to take over his body and save the world. That was a two-man job.
Eric: Yeah, and it was one that he never would have done in the pilot, but learned to do in the finale. To me, that’s what it’s all about. But, as long as they’re watching, people can think whatever the hell they want.
Will the Ghostfacers return this season?
Sera: They might. We haven’t slotted them into a story yet, and the Ghostfacers are giant mega-stars on the Internet. But, every now and then, we’ll have a story idea and we’ll be like, “Who could do that? The Ghostfacers could do that!” So, it’s just a matter of time before they show up. It’s just about story.
With Mitch Pileggi returning in a recurring role, how will the Campbell family’s history and where the boys’ mother came from play into the story this season?
Sera: Ever since we discovered that Sam and Dean’s mother was a hunter, and she was from a long line of hunters, this was something that stuck in the writer’s room that we talked about a lot. There could be these hunters out there that Sam and Dean didn’t know about, that were these family members that they had never met or heard of. They’re really good hunters, but they only work with each other. They’re monster specialists and they’ve been around for a really, really long time. We wanted to do a story about the Campbell’s for a long time, and the fact that there is such a monster problem in the mythology, it was a good reason to bring them in. There are a lot of stories about origins this season – the origins of Sam and Dean, and the origins of monsters.
Are we going to see young John and Mary again?
Sera: We want to. We’re just working on the first batch of episodes. They’re definitely up on the board. We love them. Those actors are fantastic and, if we can flashback to them again, we will. As soon as the right story comes out, we’ll bring them back.
Sera, are you up for doing more seasons, if this goes well?
Sera: Yeah, sure, of course.
Did you lose co-producer/writer Jeremy Carver for this season?
Sera: Yeah, we’ve lost Jeremy to his own success. He and his wife are running the American version of Being Human. But, we love him.