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Supernatural showrunner Andrew Dabb teases series finale cameos, 'emotional health,' and a 'true ending'
After 15 seasons of demons, monsters, and ghouls, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester’s hunting escapades are coming to an end. Supernatural's juggernaut run was originally slated to wrap back in May, but the novel coronavirus pandemic hit and threw a wrench into production. Now, the last block of episodes will resume on Oct. 8, with the series finale airing on Nov. 19.
Before that happens, it’s the Winchesters vs. God (Rob Benedict). The brothers must somehow take down the almighty being, who has been destroying the multiple universes he created, and prevent this Earth’s apocalypse... or die trying. Showrunner Andrew Dabb recently spoke with SYFY WIRE about the Winchesters’ war against God, Castiel’s (Misha Collins) destiny, and crafting a memorable series finale.
Due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, Supernatural halted production back in March. In what ways did that extra time allow you to fine-tune the remaining block of episodes, if at all?
It’s weird because we did rewriting, but we didn’t do a lot of what I would call “big rewriting.” Because of COVID, we knew early on we were going to try and shoot things outside. We adjusted the scripts with an eye toward that.
As far as big moves and things like that, we didn’t really change them. We changed the path it took us to get there. The final scenes, obviously those are big pivotal scenes, so Jared and Jensen weighed in, along with director Bob Singer. We made some tweaks there based on what everyone was feeling emotionally at that point. But, as far as big crazy things, we didn’t do any.
The Winchesters have a lot of work to do. God is still out there. What are their options at this point?
At this point, their options aren’t that great. They are fighting God. That’s a tall order. The allies they do have, I would argue, are not super trustworthy. The brothers are a bit at their wits’ end when things pick back up. We go back in at a stand-alone episode that I think will be a good reset button, a good palette cleanser. Then, very quickly, we dive into some of the bigger stuff we have been working toward not only for this season, but, in some ways, for 15 years.
What kind of conversations did you have over what it means to actually defeat God and the repercussions of such an act?
We talked about it a lot. We talked about it for the first time back in Season 11, where we introduced Chuck as God and Amara [(Emily Swallow)] as the Darkness. For us, the question we always asked was: “What would the world look like if God wasn’t there, if he was defeated or caged or killed or nullified in some way?” I don’t know if there would be that much difference for you or me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel I’m essential to God’s story on Earth, whereas Sam and Dean very much are.
God is clearly an antagonist. He’s very clearly taken an interest in their lives, with deeply traumatic results. For Sam and Dean, taking God off the table means that for the first time in their lives, they are finally free to make their own choices. That’s been what the show has really been about from day one. These two guys have reclaimed their power and are making their own choices. They want to live life on their own terms and they haven’t had the opportunity to do that very often.
At the same time, Sam and Dean have discussed maintaining the cosmic balance. Where does God’s sister, Amara, fit into that bigger picture?
Amara is the other side of the scale, if you want to think of it that way. That’s one of the reasons why that even if they had a way to kill God, they can’t just walk in and kill him and walk away. The scales would become unbalanced. The question is, “Well, do you find a way to cage him?” That’s what God did to Amara years and years ago. Then, they are still bound. Do you find a way to bind him, in one way, shape, or form? Or do you find a way to pit Chuck and Amara against each other and let them sort it out?
By the way, none of these are good options, because our guys have no way to do any of them.
Sam and Dean’s destiny has always revolved around demon hunting. What can you tease about Castiel’s final fate?
Castiel has been on a journey of his own. If you look at the character that he was in Season 4 and the character he is now... Sam and Dean have changed a lot. Castiel has changed just as much or arguably more. He’s gone from this very naïve alien character he was, when he crash-landed from Heaven, to the person he is now. He’s a much more vulnerable, very human angel. As we are telling his story, it’s about continuing that. Cas has had a very long evolution on this show, but an evolution to an emotionally healthy place, which is generally speaking not something we do a ton. It means someone is at least emotionally healthy on this show.
The series has also been building Jack (Alexander Calvert) up since his first appearance. What kind of payoff can viewers expect with him, especially now that he has his soul back?
The question with Jack has always been whether he is good or is he bad? By following the example of the Winchesters and Castiel, he’s trying really hard to be good. It doesn’t always work out. He’s made a lot of mistakes. Now that he has his soul back, those mistakes are hitting him full force, particularly when he killed Mary, Sam and Dean’s mother. Jack wants to do penance for that. He wants to make up for it. Everything is hitting him really hard when we pick up our story.
You’ve stated that you wanted to pen a “true ending” for the show. What does that mean?
What that means is that it’s not something where an hour or so is over and the last shot will be Dean turning toward the camera and winking. It’s not something where we’ll be back in a year and a half for a movie. This is the end of these characters’ journey.
Supernatural viewers love cameos. Are you a fan of bringing back guest stars to say goodbye?
It depends. Our show is very weird. Every show has a nostalgia cycle. It airs, it goes off the air for five or six years. What they are doing with Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars right now, they are remaking them within five years of them being off the air. Supernatural is weird because we are our own nostalgia cycle. We’ve caught up with it. We’ve been around for so long. The idea of going back to old characters and things like that is a tool in our toolbox, but we always want to do it with a purpose.
Finally, which character’s death caused the biggest ripple in the Supernatural fandom?
I would think probably Bobby Singer [(Jim Beaver)]. It’s interesting because Bobby died a little bit before Twitter and social media took over the discourse for television. Different deaths that came later, [like] Charlie [(Felicia Day)] or Mary [(Samantha Smith)] made a bigger noise on social media, but I don’t know if any death was more surprising and more affecting than Bobby Singer’s death. That is the death that had the biggest repercussion.