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'Supernatural' Season 7 Premiere Preview: Sam and Dean's Bond, Castiel's Fate & Crowley's Return

by Laura Prudom, posted Sep 22nd 2011 2:00PM
CastielThere's a reason why 'Supernatural' fans refer to the summer break between seasons as "hellatus" instead of "hiatus" -- since May's cliffhanger finale, viewers have been fretting over everything from the fate of Castiel to the fate of Dean's beloved Impala, and the producers have been content to tease for the past four months.

Thankfully, the wait is almost over; the show returns for its seventh season tomorrow night (Fri., Sept. 23 at 9PM) and it's a surprisingly satisfying premiere, managing to tie up many of the loose ends left in the season finale while simultaneously creating more problems for the long-suffering Winchesters to solve.

Hit the jump for our advanced review of the episode, plus highlights from the Q&A that executive producers Sera Gamble and Robert Singer conducted with press on Wednesday. Needless to say, there are light spoilers ahead.

Since his introduction in season four, Castiel (Misha Collins) has developed a fanbase every bit as passionate as Sam and Dean's, and it's been an especially long summer for those invested in the rogue angel's fate. Though I can't reveal too much for fear of a thorough smiting, Castiel's transformation is the driving force of the first episode, and Collins is given an excellent range of emotions to play. From infuriating arrogance to heartrending emotion, the episode showcases some of Collins' finest work to date, and will answer many of the questions that have been posed to the actor and the producers over the summer in regards to Castiel's arc this season.

Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are clearly still of the opinion that Castiel was wrong to absorb the souls in purgatory in the last episode, but will the angel come around to their point of view, or is he too far gone to reach, as Dean suspects?

"I think he totally bought into what he was doing at the end of last year," Robert Singer conceded. "Eric [Kripke] used to like to say, 'Every villain is a hero of his own story.' [Castiel] totally believed in what he was doing and believed that it was the right thing -- there was a certain amount of hubris and ego there that was probably misplaced, but I don't think he counted on what happened to him and I think there's just sort of that life lesson there of power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Sera Gamble agreed, "Cas realizes in this episode that he has more to prove than he thought. I think if you kind of look at this from his perspective, he had friends that he stuck up for and he gave up everything for, over and over again for a long time, and they didn't stand by him. So, some of his actions in this episode are kind of about proving them wrong. He digs himself in a bit deeper because of that."

At Comic-Con, Gamble gave us some insight into Dean's mindset this season, and that attitude is evident in the premiere: "Dean just feels like Cas is completely lost to them," she told us. "Sam is more likely to try and give someone another chance, in this instance, but for Dean this just comes from a place of despair that he's lost this person, 'cause he doesn't have that many people!

We see a Dean who is wholly focused on fixing his once-again wrecked car, because it's the one thing in his life he can control, but he'll also seldom be seen without a glass or bottle in his hand in the premiere, indicating a larger problem looming.

"Dean will have lots of issues this year that he's going to have to deal with," Singer admitted, "I think in the first 13 episodes, he probably will carry a rockier journey in how he feels emotionally and the things that he has to deal with, probably more then any other season. He's on a real rollercoaster and we don't want to give away too much, but Jensen has plenty to do."

DeanWe'll start to see a focus on those issues in episode four (which Singer directed), in which Dean is put on trial by the Egyptian god of the afterlife, Osiris. "[He] weighs your heavy heart against a feather and if your heart is heavier than the feather, then he does you in," Singer revealed. "It's all about carrying guilt and that sort of thing, not just 'do I feel bad?' but 'do I feel guilty?' That's kind of the big turning point episode for his arc this year ... kind of a kick off for a real kind of good run for Jensen. He's in a different place, I think, than he's been in previous seasons."

The episode will also see the return of Jo [Alona Tal], who is called as a witness to testify in Dean's case. "She's great in the episode," Singer enthused. "We put some flashbacks in the episode, back to episodes she was in years ago, and she has matured and grown incredibly as an actress. I was just blown away by what she did."

Sam, meanwhile, still has that pesky mental wall to deal with, and now that it's come crashing down, expect him to face some issues that Dean and Bobby can't help him with.

"It comes out pretty quickly that he is dealing with this awful wall-breaking, hallucinatory situation, which escalates really, really dramatically in the next episode, which Ben Edlund wrote," Gamble teased. "It becomes something that Dean is trying to deal with and Bobby is trying to deal with and it was an interesting thing to throw at him."

But fans who are expecting a quick fix should think again -- Gamble suggests that there might not be a fix at all: "We didn't want to wrap this up in one episode; we didn't want it to be like, his wall broke, and then he was in a really bad place and then he was fine by the end of the episode and they drank a beer and talked about it. The [next] episode kind of discusses how this is Sam facing that moment as a hunter where he's just been through so much he might just be losing his marbles for good and there's no amulet he can wear for that. He could try Prozac maybe, and that doesn't sound so good to him. It's just this intersection between the real world of what happens when somebody is in an awful job for a long time, and the supernatural, which was interesting to us."

As Gamble pointed out, it's not exactly possible for Sam to keep his hallucinations quiet for long, and though Dean has never been a fan of Sam's penchant for secret-keeping, the producers promised that we won't see a fractured relationship between the brothers this season.

"I think at this point, having gone through so much of the same
stuff, it's hard -- especially for Dean this season -- that they're dealing with it in such different ways. It's really important to both of them to try and stay together because they don't have very many people and because they're clearly better working together and they need each other in so many ways," Gamble pointed out. "We explore how, over the seven years that we've just been watching them, they've developed in really different ways and they deal with things in really different ways. They've gotten past different things and they've held onto different things and there's a lot of material just from the stuff we've all seen them go through on screen."

Singer agreed, but clarified that they won't be gluing Sam and Dean together every episode when the narrative demands otherwise. "There's some episodes where we separate them, not necessarily emotionally, but just kind of the way the story takes you," he reasoned. "We're always guided by where the stories take us and if they naturally take us where they all split apart and come together, that's where we go, or if the idea is one that requires them to be locked at the hip, we do that. But we try to mix it up and let them have their own adventures on some episodes."

What Else To Expect:

-- More time-travel: (Although the boys won't be flying Angel Air this time around.) "We're breaking an episode right now that's pretty cool, where one of the guys ends up stuck in 1944, which is very different then getting stuck in the wild west ... it's a darker time period," Gamble hinted. "It turns out that a case that they were trying to solve back than is the same as a case that Sam and Dean are trying to solve now. All of the tropes at that time period are really fun; in its own way, it's as iconic and fun as the western."

-- New allies: As previewed at Comic-Con, we'll be introduced to Frank, an old acquaintance of Bobby's who is "a bit off the grid" and "a really difficult guy to deal with." We'll also meet Garth, who is "very quirky" according to Gamble. "Dean is stuck in an emergency situation and can't be with Bobby and can't be with Sam and needs a hunter and Bobby sends him this guy named Garth, who's going to be played by DJ Qualls," she revealed.

Death-- The devil you know: As the previews have indicated, Crowley is back -- and the demon is harder to kill than a cockroach. Expect to see more of him, according to Gamble. "Crowley is sort of the ultimate, self-interested character; he always finds a way to bend whatever's happening to his own best uses," she said. "I mean, there's a reason he's lived this long; there's a reason he always finds the parachute under his seat. So, as things evolve this season, we'll see him try and adapt. He's always fun -- we keep throwing stuff at him."

-- More Meg: Singer predicted that Meg (Rachel Miner) would "rear her lovely and evil head again" sometime soon, but didn't specify any precise plans.

-- Title card: Fans always relish the title card change at the start of a new season, and this year's card is certainly ... messier than before. "It's just monstery and disgusting and connects to purgatory, and also, there's sort of like a B-movie vibe of grossness coming at you from your screen that we really have wholeheartedly embraced in the writer's room," Gamble laughed.

The premiere itself: I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't too fond of season six on the whole; episodes often felt tonally uneven in terms of direction or editing, or badly paced in terms of writing, with some storylines rushed through too fast (hello and goodbye, Eve!) or character potential squandered because of indecisive plotting (hello and goodbye, Campbells!).

That being said, even though episode 701 is more dialogue-heavy than action-heavy, I found it well-paced and well-edited, with amusing musical cues and a compelling narrative. Scenes didn't drag or cut off too abruptly; there was a well-tempered balance of drama and humor; all the actors were delivering strong, nuanced performances, and the episode contained a couple of surprising twists that I don't think the audience will see coming.

As a fan of Castiel's character and the new dynamic he brought to the show in season four, I was admittedly pensive about the premiere given the way last season ended, but without giving anything away, I found myself generally satisfied with the direction he took, although a lot hinges on what happens in the next episode. Being active on Twitter, I'm also well aware of the concerns some Dean fans have in regards to his arc, but I will say that the producers seem aware of those worries, as well as those relating to Castiel, and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in handling the characters respectfully, because they seem to have a much clearer direction for the season as a whole in mind than they demonstrated at the beginning of last year.

There was a point early last season where I wondered if 'Supernatural' could ever recapture that giddy sense of anticipation I felt in earlier years, where waiting a week for answers seemed impossible, but I can honestly say that I'm genuinely looking forward to episode 702. I'm hoping it addresses a few of the questions posed by the cliffhanger ending of 701, but on the whole, I'm feeling a lot more optimistic than I was feeling after last season's premiere, and that's a very good sign.

The 'Supernatural' premiere airs Fri., Sept. 23 at 9PM ET on The CW.

Come back to AOL TV after the episode airs on Friday night (10PM ET) for more from our chat with Sera Gamble and Robert Singer -- you'll have questions, and we'll have (some) answers! And while you're at it, don't forget to check out Mo Ryan's weekly 'Supernatural' recaps here.

Are you looking forward to the episode? Feeling reassured by the producers' responses, or more nervous than ever? Share your thoughts below!

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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CASTIEL!!!! Come back!!!!
PS: Don't you think jim (beaver) and misha have earned cast billing by now? Three dimenensional is much better than two dimensional. Keep a cast!

October 03 2011 at 7:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Supernatural rocked! Best show in years!!

September 25 2011 at 10:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
B. LeAnn

I've seen the premiere now. Always comforting to see they're still butchering characterization.

.... Not.

September 24 2011 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've seen the premiere now, and I loved the scenes with Death and Crowley, and cheered the music, especially "These Boots were Made for Walking.

But I was horrified by Sera's characterization of Dean. It wasn't just the questioning and depression of the spoilers, it was some disturbing out of character writing. It left me lost and unhappy as a Dean fan. My trust is pretty beaten down.

I still have some hope for future episodes to reverse this awful feeling that a character I loved has been slaughtered. I will say this, the show kept me riveted tonight.

September 24 2011 at 1:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carrie Neal

I loved your review. We need Castiel!

September 23 2011 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So now Dean is an alcoholic? Well that's just great, the man wasn't affected by Hunger and everybody in this show drink like they're breathing it, but Dean is the one that is addicted... and talking about addictions what happend with Sera saying she didn't want to be redundant?

I think I'm going to be missing Cas this season

September 23 2011 at 4:07 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Thanks so much for the review and the interview, Laura! I wish I could say it makes me feel better about this season, or excites me, but it doesn't (through NO fault of your own, though!). I'd like to believe that they are going to focus equally on Dean, but Singer isn't very convincing (and funny how Sera had NOTHING to say about Dean, again). Telling us that it's going to rely on Jensen's facial expressions, is as good as saying that they aren't going to write it, it's just going to be something Jensen throws in there in the background. And telling us that the fourth episode is a turning point for Dean and then saying that Dean's self doubt and emotional issues (redundant much? That's all Dean is ever allowed, and he's never allowed to move past it) lasts for 13 episodes are contradictory statements.

The real kicker for me is them saying that the fourth episode focuses on Dean, and then finding out that it's really a vehicle for Sam's character to be a lawyer and go up against Osiris. How is that about Dean, when all he does is sit around while his brother defends him, goes up against the "villain" of the episode, and saves Dean? I want Dean to be an active player with his own active role focusing on himself, the same as Sam has. The fact that they don't seem to think that Dean deserves that is very disheartening.

I'm really nervous about your implications that they are going to turn Dean into an alcoholic too. Sam's addiction ended up helping him save the world and was written as a positive thing that everyone (but Dean, who was made out to be wrong) praised him for, but I can't see them doing that for Dean. The last thing I need is more "loser Dean" from the show, for Sera to continue to tear Dean down and take away everything that he has, and replace it with nothing.

I just wish the show would treat Dean as an equal player to Sam, of equal importance and who is just as valid as Sam. It's not too much to ask for. Instead, Dean gets less than a recurring guest star like Bobby does, and that just makes no sense.

September 23 2011 at 2:18 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Fates's comment
Miss Suzanne

I really wish people - not just you, but a lot of people - would just wait and see what happens before getting angry and/or all stressed over Dean, or Castiel, or whomever they're into.
Give the story a chance to unfold, then decide if you're going to continue being a fan. I know Season 6 was kinda hard to swallow for all of us, but it sounds like Sera & Robert heard what we had to say, and are trying to turn it all around. I think they're off to a pretty good start, judging by the premier... In my opinion, Season 7 had the best premier yet! =)

September 25 2011 at 2:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So they're bringing in a couple of new hunters? What's the point. They've killed off everyone else, Rufus, the Campbells, Jo and Ellen. How about keeping and developing characters instead of just introducing them and killing them off?
I'm sorry but I've just gotten too cynical about the show. I've watched since the first episode but what they've done to Cas is the last straw. If he goes, so do I.

September 22 2011 at 9:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
St.Jon Clark

Thanks for such a fantastic review! Thoughtful, interesting and full of information that might help with the grief about possibly saying goodbye to Cas.

September 22 2011 at 8:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aneliya Tr. Hristova

Don't want to sound rude, but Supernatural is about the Winchesters, not about an angel! Where were you all Cas fans the first three seasons of Supernatural?! Don't get me wrong, I like Cas and will miss him, but this words, that you won't watch Supernatural without him are too much! If so, you are not a true fan of the show! And if you really watched the previews for the first episode, you would see, that Dean asked Cas very politely to free all the souls, he got from the prugatory! It was so obviously, Dean was giving him a chance to set things right! And will be so refreshing the Winchesters to fight against new evil creatures and to make new alliences! It sounds so fascinating to me, that the boys should forget about their old methods of fighting against the evil and should try to find another way to save the world from the new big bad! The new season sounds great! I can't wait to enjoy it! And all the seasons so far are amazing and unique! I love them all the same way and I love to watch every single episode of them over and over again...and will continue to do it! I am a true fan of Supernatural and value truly the great work of everyone on Supernatural!

September 22 2011 at 6:52 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Aneliya Tr. Hristova's comment
St.Jon Clark

It's odd that you attack Cas fans for being "new" to the show, when as a fan you'd think you would WANT more people to watch so that the ratings will support additional seasons. Also disheartening to hear a fan bash other fans and claim that there are "true" fans. Over 22% of viewers list Castiel as their favorite character. What is going to happen to SPN if they lose interest without him? Will you say Good Riddance, knowing that it will in effect, kill the show in the ratings if they leave? How about a little compassion? How would you feel if people were saying good riddance to Dean after he died and went to hell? If you are emotionally invested in him as a character you would be hurt by that kind of talk. I love the fandom, and I abhor the "brother wars" and Cas bashing. Why attack the people who share your love for the show? Save your venom for our competitors in our timeslot....Grimm, CSI:NY and Fringe.

September 22 2011 at 8:03 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to St.Jon Clark's comment
No Name

Well more people list Dean as their favorite character and it hasn't helped them--they don't care about what characters people love(as I recall, despite not being a Winchester, Castiel's percent was only slightly lower than Sam's), they don't care about what stories people would actually be interested in with those characters. If it's not Sam, they refuse to write it and try to retcon it out of existence. Dean still has no storyline(except possibly for more mundane soap opera "let's emasculate Dean some more" garbage that Sera LOVES to saddle Dean, treat with no respect and then claim he had a storyline because they mentioned it twice--which I guess is better than if they did waste time focusing on the boring, character assassinating tripe).

The one storyline Dean was finally given, in Season 4, was a massive success, introduced breakout character #2(Castiel), finally got Supernatural some genuine notice from the critics and for the only time in the show's history the ratings average GREW from the previous season - so naturally as soon as they had the chance, the writers did everything they could to dismantle it , trying to put a wedge between Dean and Castiel and finally cutting Dean out of what started out as his storyline completely.

Other shows would kill to have breakout characters like first Dean and then later on Castiel but for some reason Supernatural's writers, or more likely it's showrunners directing many of the writers, couldn't wait to get the chance to try to take or destroy the exact aspects which made them break out characters. Two break out characters who have essentially become iconic.

You can't force that, either it happens or it doesn't and by definition it needs to happen right away. It doesn't matter how much they destroy Castiel and how much they neuter Dean, at best it'll only make Sam seem "more" popular by virtue of the other fans being so disheartened they'll leave.

September 22 2011 at 9:25 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down
B. LeAnn

Supernatural is about whatever each individual fan wants to interpret it to be about. Should I go ahead and bring up the fact that Kripke himself has stated numerous times that the show is about family (which, gasp, includes Bobby and Cas!)? Also, I always find it kind of hilarious when people try to pull the 'true fan' card. If you have to resort to knocking other fans, chances are you're the problem.

September 22 2011 at 9:05 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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