[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from the Season 13 premiere, titled “Lost and Found.”]
For “Supernatural,” 13 is a lucky number considering The CW series has lasted this long. After watching the premiere of the 13th season, its new, more poignant approach to the Winchesters’ story could be exactly what the show needs to keep on going for another 13 more years.
The premiere picks up with Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) still reeling from the loss of so many: their mother Mary (Samantha Smith) whom Lucifer (Pellegrino) took care of, Castiel (Misha Collins), and Crowley (Mark Sheppard). Even for a show with a high body count, those deaths have to sting and make a difference to our heroes. And they do. Despite what viewers know – that Castiel will be back in some form, and that Mary is in the alternate world with Lucifer – there’s a mournful yet resigned tone to the episode. This is the reality when you hunt monsters, and maybe too, when you get older.
After a dozen years of this, Sam and Dean are no longer the hot-headed upstarts. They’re the old guard, or at least it feels that way now that they’re in charge of Lucifer’s half-human grown son Jack (the appropriately brooding Alexander Calvert). After a misunderstanding in which Dean shoots first, as is his wont, the elder Winchester is now willing to wait it out and be ready for the kid’s evil side to appear, along with his mysterious powers. That could be a very dangerous mistake.
“We find out that the nephilim lore is that the nephilim becomes more powerful than the angel who sired it,” Padalecki said in an interview with press for a screening of the premiere. “In this case that angel is an archangel, Lucifer, and it’s another playing with Joseph Campbell’s archetpyes, the ultimately powerful being who doesn’t really know how to – going back to Yoda and Luke Skywalker – just trying to figure out how to even access [the powers] much less hone them. And in his particular instance, it’s almost a knee-jerk reaction. Early on, Sam and Dean are leading the charge because they also don’t want to walk down the street and go ‘Hey, be nice to this kid. He’s the son of Satan. Don’t piss him off.’ So the situation requires some tact and some covert ops but we will obviously see him be influenced by other factions.”
Executive producer Brad Buckner added, “It gives us a chance to do some really charming scenes with Sam trying to feel his way along and trying to deal with this kid as a son and give him lessons and slowly give him little exercises to try to control this stuff. It’s a learning situation for everybody.”
Below, Padalecki, Buckner and executive producer Eugenie Ross-Leming dig into the episode and give an idea of what’s in store for Sam and Dean this season.
Jack’s Two Foster Dads
As seen in the episode, Sam is far more willing to see Jack as an innocent, despite his evil parentage. Dean doesn’t, given their track record with Lucifer. Besides, he’s also dealing with a crisis of faith now that his prayers have seemingly been ignored by God/Chuck.
“I’m trying to play Sam as if he feels like a bit of a connection,” said Padalecki. “We explore that a bit more, and I really enjoy the way it kind of ramps up a little bit as the season carries on, where Sam doesn’t want to be wrong, but he doesn’t want to be careless if this kid, if this nephilim being is going to be evil. He doesn’t want to just be blind to it, but he certainly does see a bit of a chance for redemption. He wants Jack to be good to see the same redemption that I think Sam seeks himself.”
In contrast, Dean isn’t so easily won over. “Dean operates off of his gut, and what his gut is telling him is this is the spawn of Satan,” said Buckner. “I don’t know if that kind of character has ever been presented in a favorable light. So we’re conditioned to that ‘Omen’ kind of thing. This kid has got qualities that while he’s obviously can be potentially dangerous, he is curious and inquisitive and willing to believe, and that Sam takes as adding up those positives.”
Ross Leming added, “Yes, he’s the son of Satan, but he’s also the son of humanity. And so we don’t actually know ourselves… where he’s going to go in terms of what his destiny is. But what has led us as writers to do is to start redefining what is good and evil anyway. I think this season will be a little more nuanced. Yes Crowley was evil, but playful. But I think now we’re going to have the ultimate evil, may be not so ultimate. They’ll be shades of what really evil means in mankind terms.”
“It takes a long time for him to get to a point where he actually has full control,” said Buckner. “Right now he is at the mercy of impulse, he senses something or feels something and wham, a power that he didn’t even know he had emerges. He’s this tremendously powerful figure… and all that stuff is bottled up, he just doesn’t know how to access it on a conscious level.
Ross-Leming added, “As his psychology starts to catch up, he will then be faced with his own moral crossroads of, ‘How will I use this? Will this please me? Will I be motivated by pleasure, greed, power or selflessness?’ He’s got so much in his mental mixture that may surprise us.”
Castiel the Absentee Dad and His Problematic Return
Losing Castiel hits Dean particularly hard this season. “It’s another nail in the coffin about the loss of hope,” said Buckner.”He has to come up with a reason to have purpose; every battle, he feels like he’s swimming backwards. When I was watching the show this time again, you just feel that there’s a growing hopelessness and futility to his existence, and could lead to a certain kind of nihilism. For him it’s a personal loss, but it’s also a cosmic loss of what’s the point of being here when you scream at the wilderness and get nothing back.”
It’s also a loss for Jack, whose mother taught him to look to Castiel as a father figure while Jack was still in utero.
“He learned English by hearing Kelly (Courtney Ford), Kelly spoke to him all the time,” said Buckner. “One of the messages that she gave him was that Castiel will be your guardian, because Castiel really took over their defense and got them away from bad situations and Castiel was really there for them, and he promised Kelly that he would make sure no harm came to Jack. So somehow all of this got transmitted into Jack’s DNA and he’s left with the imprint that Castiel is his de facto father.”
Ross-Leming said, “He’s socially and chronologically naïve and new to our world, but he also has this ancient wisdom that I don’t think even he knows he has. He has a knowledge that’s sort of imprinted in his essence, which starts to unfold for him.”
Fans already know that Castiel will return to the show somehow though, and this will predictably do a number on the Winchesters when they realize he’s alive.
“There’s obviously great relief. But there’s also there’s also great concern about, ‘Wait a second.’ You saw us burn him. I don’t know if we’ve had somebody come back after they’ve been burned, salted and burned. There’s some genuine concern about what could have made this happen, who made this happen, why they made it happen. Can you trust it? Can you trust this version? When I came back, I was soulless. Is this different? There are a lot of questions in the air. Obviously, the major emotion is relief and happiness. But as is the case with all Supernatural, the other shoe might drop. There’s a little asterisk. Castiel comes back – asterisk.”
Jack and his powers are in demand this season, and it appears that a little intimidation and bloodshed are not going to stand in anyone’s way.
“Lots of entities are after Jack, for their own reasons,” said Buckner. “Everyone, obviously, could use that kind of power in their hip pocket. The angels because he has the most direct connection to them, they want to see what’s ticking with this. They certainly were relieved when Lucifer was bottled up, and now here’s a new version of Lucifer who is the most wanted guy in Heaven. So, they’re the first to get into the act, but they aren’t the only ones.”
“There are a lot of new bad players on the scene,” Ross-Leming confirmed.
In the episode’s closing scene, it’s confirmed that Lucifer and Mary are in the alternate world, and for some reason, he decides not to kill her.
“She’s a pawn in his big-picture game,” said Ross-Leming. “The angels generally are middle management. They sort of do what they’ve been told; they’re not policy makers, but Lucifer is a big picture guy, so he always has a plan. Sometimes when he’s locked in a cage he can’t do anything with it, but he’s been loose now, and Mary’s a piece of his puzzle.”
The “Wayward Sisters” Spinoff
A spinoff to “Supernatural” was announced earlier this year, featuring fan favorite character Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) providing the guiding presence for several young female hunters who’ve been orphaned by supernatural tragedy. Briana Buckmaster’s Donna Hanscum, Kathryn Newton’s Claire Novak and Katherine Ramdeen’s Alex Jones will also appear in the series, which will be introduced as a backdoor pilot.
“Its DNA will absolutely be recognizable as the child of as opposed to an entirely separate looking thing,” said Buckner.
“It’ll be born out of our context,” said Ross-Leming. “I think it’ll have the flavor of our show, with a more, as I say, estrogen-heavy slant.”
“Supernatural” airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.