USA Weekend interview with Sera Gamble (Showrunner, Writer, Executive Producer).
Sera talks about Season 6 plot, the relationship between the brothers and more.
Eric had his big five-season arc that ended with an apocalypse. Are your plans that grand?
We always have a plan in place should this be our last season and also should it not. But one thing I’ve learned, because people mention the five-year plan so much, is not to be quite that specific. [Laughs] Everyone will mention it if you go beyond that number, so I don’t want to be that specific.
That must be hard, to be fighting for ratings every year and never knowing when the show will cease to exist — maybe in the middle of a storyline. Now with a move from Thursday to Friday, but with a fervent fan base, is it hard to determine when to start planning one way or another?
We start planning very early. We’re a fairly anxious lot, and none of us sleep particularly well. We were working on Season 6 very early in Season 5. We sometimes get the heads up early – usually we don’t – about getting another season. Time will tell in terms of this season with the move. We’re excited about being back with Smallville. We like them as our neighbors. We liked The Vampire Diaries but we really like being back with Smallville, so I think it’s going to be fine.
Speaking of vampires, the “Live Free or Twi-Hard” episode airs fifth in the season. Is that going to be tongue-in-cheek or will it play a little more serious?
There are a few moments that, on a character level, are very important for Sam and Dean, but we also really enjoyed doing vampires again. The cultural zeitgeist around vampires has changed tremendously in the five years our show has been on. When we started Supernatural and we did our first vampire episode in Season 1, it was before Twilight happened and before True Blood and before Vampire Diaries. Doing evil, ugly, aggressive vampires was fine. They were just like any other monsters. Since then, they have re-entered the consciousness as this protector monster – very attractive, even sometimes sparkly – and it occurred to us that that was very dangerous. It was something a canny monster in our world would use to their advantage. It’s meta in a different way than we’ve done before in that we’re winking and nodding at popular culture. We had a really, really good time with it, and we’re very consciously riffing — lovingly — on other popular vampire shows.
What can you say about the Sam/Dean relationship in the first half of the season?
You’ll see a lot of evolution in their relationship. We slowly unfold what’s happening over the first few episodes, but we have some pretty serious bombshells for them. It was good for us on a creative level to have them apart for a year. It gave us a lot of stuff to play with for both of them because the stuff they’ve been through in that year informs their characters tremendously. The first episode is a little more from Dean’s point of view because he retired from hunting and he’s pulled back in by the events of episode one. We thought of it a little bit as the sequel pilot. It’s a conscious riff on the original pilot in certain ways – there are ways in which it’s similar and ways in which it peels apart from the Season 1 premise. And then we start to unfold what’s going on with Sam over the first few episodes.
Other than the bromance between Castiel and Dean, there have been hints of romantic relationships but no one ever stays together for any amount of time. Sam and the demon Ruby had a co-dependent fling of sorts, and Dean has a family now but that may not last. Have there ever been plans for the guys to have a girlfriend for an extended period of time, or would that be antithetical to the nomadic nature of the show?
We never had an agenda about Sam and Dean having girlfriends. The show is built to be very nomadic: They’re never in one place for very long, so they’re not in a good position. And their jobs are not acceptable to most women. [Laughs] They’re just not that kind of guys, they’re not living that kind of life. We for the most part haven’t really been interested in putting them in romantic relationship. It just so happened that the story went this direction at the beginning of the season. It’s been really interesting to put Dean in this situation. The romantic aspect of the relationship is less important to us than the fact that, when you meet Dean again, he has a whole family. He lives with a woman and her child for a year. Much more important to Dean than just having a woman in his life is having a family unit. We wanted to explore that.
So will he keep that family unit over a number of episodes? Will he check in on the homefront often or is he all, “See ya. I’ll be back sometime”?
I can tell you that they don’t just fall off the face of the earth after episode one, but it’s not what you would call a blissful place of sanctuary for him throughout the season. [Laughs]
Last year, it was Lucifer coming to Earth. Is there an overarching conflict for this season?
When you come in, the overarching conflict is it’s a post-apocalyptic landscape and monsters are behaving differently. They seem to have a new agenda and they’ve kind of gone wonky, basically. Some of them are more organized, and we’ll have episodes with creatures we’ve never done before. We have monsters that were considered to be extinct and there’s an overall question of why monsters are behaving the way that they are, and is it tied into the post-apocalypse. That’s where we start the story.
I’ve always appreciated the show’s mythologies and how it explains the bigger things that are going on, such as the story behind angels, heaven and Lucifer. With monsters playing a significant role this season, will there be a similar mythology in place?
Yeah, we actually get into that early. It’s one of the things we’ve been most inspired and excited by this season. For the first time, monsters are quite central to the mythology of the season. We have episodes that have sort of dual functions: They have a beginning, middle and end like our monster-of-the-week episodes – they are literally monster-of-the-week episodes. We do delve into the backstory of monsters, the food chain of monsters, where do they come from, what’s their story. When you get to talking about it, it’s pretty interesting. We know where demons came from and we know the story on angels, and we hadn’t looked at monsters under that level of magnification before.
Do you have it in place where there is an all-ruling monster or something that is the top of the food chain that will reveal itself later on? Or am I making things up?
Well, as of right now you’re making things up. [Laughs]
Any favorite monster you’ve seen in a recent script that you can’t wait to see filmed?
“Favorite” is a terrible word, because I approach all of them with equal trepidation. [Laughs] I will say that the second episode of the season is really funny. It’s shot and we’re in the middle of cutting it now, and Sam and Dean end up saddled with a baby for part of the episode because the monster is chasing after this baby. It’s one of the funnier things I’ve personally seen on the show in a while. There are few things more foreign to the guys than having to deal with small human infants.
Will Castiel still play a big role in the brothers’ lives?
The first episode where we see him is a story that he’s pretty heavily involved in. We get the sense with him that he is torn between what he has to do in heaven and what he wants to do on earth, which is to help Sam and Dean. It’s a different situation than he was in last season, where he pretty much had no choice but to be with the boys because he was essentially a fugitive for a while. He’s a full-powered angel, and he has a lot of new responsibility and a lot of new headaches this season. We’re exploring what that’s like for him. I wouldn’t say we have a lot of episodes where we just stay with Cas and explore him, certainly not in the first half of the season, but he’s around and he pops in and out, and as the season progresses, he ties in more and more with the story.
Grandpa comes back this season. Will there be newer characters introduced who aren’t monsters or angels but simply normal people who get involved with what San and Dean are doing?
With “normal” in quotes, yeah. [Laughs] There are new hunters we introduce. We’ll meet other members of Sam and Dean’s extended family, the Campbells, their mother’s side of the family. They’ll be working with a couple of their distant cousins: Christian, who’s played by Corin Nemec, and another female cousin named Gwen. We have a couple of recurring characters later in the season, and a lot of them are not quite normal. They don’t even fall into normal under quotations.
Will they be on Sam and Dean’s side, or will they remember the whole Lucifer debacle?
They’re family and there’s something compelling and interesting about the fact that they come from Sam and Dean’s mom’s side of the family, and Sam and Dean have been very alone for a long time. There’s a tension there. Sam and Dean long for a connection and long for family, but also have an inherent distrust of pretty much anyone who is not each other.
You announced there was going to be a fairies episode at Comic-Con. Can you spill any details on that?
We have a script for it, we haven’t shot it yet, but it’s pretty hilarious. It’s a lighter episode – it’s still plenty gory and disgusting, and it’s definitely the Supernatural version of that whole thing. Ben Edlund wrote it – he’s a specialist in handling that kind of crazy stuff. We deal with a lot of creatures that fall under the general umbrella of the fairy realm, like elves and garden gnomes and leprechauns – anything a little girl might have a collectible figurine of.
There were a lot of really dark episodes last season, due to the apocalyptic subject matter. Will there be some of those this season, or will they mostly veer toward light to medium dark?
[Laughs] I think your mileage may vary. The season is a mix. Supernatural has a lot of gallows humor and this dry Dean Winchester wit about it. But at the same time, there is a lot of deep, emotional stuff that happens between the boys. They have serious problems and serious stuff going on, pretty much from the jump. We don’t really let you rest in lightheartedness exclusively this season.