Spoiler Alert: Do not read on if you haven't seen "Supernatural" Season 8, Episode 12, titled "As Time Goes By."
The latest episode of "Supernatural" set up some intriguing possibilities in terms of storylines, and earlier this week, executive producer Robert Singer spoke to a group of journalists about what Henry Winchester's Men of Letters group could add to the show's mythology from this point on.
Read on for highlights from Singer's Q&A with reporters to learn more about the fates of Castiel (Misha Collins), Benny (Ty Olsson) and Amelia (Liane Balaban), as well as a potential return for Jeffrey Dean Morgan and whether the creative team feel confident about a Season 9 renewal.
Note: The questions below are from multiple outlets. Some answers have been edited and condensed for grammar.
Q: Should we assume that at the end of the episode [Sam and Dean] will immediately go off and put the box in the hiding place and we’re not going to pick up with that the next episode?
Singer: The reveal of that place, which I believe is in the next episode, it’s a really stunning set. It’s full of mysteries, it’ll become kind of a home base for the boys. We’re really excited about it. After eight years of never having a home base, this will be home base for quite some time. I think you guys will really dig the set. It’s really cool.
What kind of storylines does that open up?
Well, these Men of Letters, which is a brand new concept for us, really -- if you took dad’s journal and you multiplied that times 100 [that's what this home base is like] ... it’s got every source of information that would be interesting to the boys. Of course when they get in there, Sam is totally immersed in the place and Dean’s just happy to have his own room. He’s put posters up. He says to Sam, “If you want to do this geek stuff, that’s fine with me. But I’m just digging this.”
Can you talk about the differences between Henry and his son, John?
Well, John was a product of the fact that he didn’t have a father growing up, as the first of many a bad luck for him. So, he sort of held a grudge against his father because he thought his father deserted them. Now we know different and in retrospect, it makes you sort of wonder what Dad would have been like, which I think the boys say at the end of the episode. We wanted to do it because we had spent time with the other side of the family and just to bring things full circle. Also, I don’t know if you guys remember the Cupid episode where they said this was ordained, that these two people should get together, and now we know who the grandfather on that side was and why John became who he was in terms of his relationship with his father. It was supposed to be something different. [He] was supposed to be a Man of Letters but became a hunter through necessity.
Were there challenges in going back into the Winchester mythology that you weren’t expecting? Did it open up a lot of new doors?
Well, look, we make this stuff up as we go along ... [Laughs.] But we try to use what we’ve done before and be able to spin out from there and tell interesting stories and get into backstory like this. Up until the time Adam [Glass] came up with the notion, we hadn’t really explored that side of the family, Grandpa Winchester. But we thought that the idea of it, of harkening back to what Cupid said and how this was all ordained and was top priority [for heaven], it just was a nice closing of that circle for us and also gives us this new home base that’s sort of chalk full of information and will certainly lead to other stories. So, you’ll see that open up next week and it’s cool.
How much of that idea for [hiding] the box [and walking away] might be foreshadowing for the tablets? Are we supposed to think maybe they’re better off not finding and decoding all of these tables?
You guys are always so ahead of us. [Laughs.] This all plays into the tablet business. Again, if Crowley got his hands on the angel tablet and could somehow decipher it, that would be kind of a bad thing. The information that’s contained in this Men of Letters bunker, if it fell into the wrong hands, would be quite a powerful weapon against the boys, so it has to remain a secret and guarded closely. As we go down the line into the rest of this year and hopefully next year, those sort of dramatic turns will take place because this is an important place.
Are there actually other members there?
No. They’re all gone. The Men of Letters are all gone, the last surviving one was the old guy in the home. He’s no more. A bit of a spoiler alert, when they go in there it’s pristine. It’s been hermetically sealed and everything was just as it was. I mean it’s perfectly neat. The only sign that somebody had to get out of there in a hurry was a chess game that was uncompleted and an ash tray full of cigarettes.
Henry talks a lot about their legacy and their lineage, does this get Sam and Dean thinking about their blood line? Like what happens after they die and there’s no one to carry on all of this?
That’s interesting. I don’t think the boys think that far, to having children of their own. Maybe Sam thought of that earlier in the year before he tragically had to leave Amelia. It may come into play down the line somehow. I don’t think a full-time domestic Sam or a domestic Dean is something that the audience is particularly interested in.
Will we see characters that we saw a lot the first part of the season like Benny, Kevin? Could they be popping back up?
Kevin will be back, Benny will be back. Castiel is back. Maybe Amelia, maybe not. But I think pretty much every season we like to bring the season full circle and get a lot of questions answered of that season but then pose new questions for whatever the next season is going to be. So, I think all these people we introduced will have a payoff. One of my first bosses in the business said don’t introduce a character that you don’t pay off. That’s something I kind of live by.
Do you feel fairly confident that there will be another season?
I’ve been around this long enough to know you never feel confident about anything. I remember years ago I did a show and the head of an unnamed network said there’s not a stick big enough to keep this show off the air. Then they flew to New York for the meetings and somewhere over Denver through 33 thousand they found a stick because it didn’t get on. I think we’ve done really well this year. I think creatively it’s been good. I think by and large the network is happy with our numbers. So, if I were a betting man I would bet that we would be back.
We started off last week with the brothers kind of in this shaky truce. Have we completely moved past that [fight] or is that still in the back of their minds?
I don’t think it’s shaky. I think ... what happens in subsequent episodes is it’s another kind of conflict between them but it’s not necessarily the conflict of "do I want to do this?" or "what’s my plan beyond closing the gates of the Hell?" or any of that. It’s a new conflict. I won’t tell you any more than that but as always, there’s always something going on between them.
I’m going to ask about Dean’s hostility toward Henry. Of course, that’s because he left his family, or at least Dean thought he did. Is there anything in the back of his mind about just how bad things turned out with his grandfather on the other side of the family? His hesitancy to trust someone like that again?
No. I don’t think he relates those two things at all. I think this was strictly familial. Dean had probably a more complicated relationship than Sam did with John. It was pretty clear to Sam early on thought "I want to get out of this, I want to go to college." That didn’t quite work out but I think he had a clearer mindset. Dean, I think, was more conflicted about his dad. It’s been pretty consistent throughout the show that Dean is always in defense of dad and John made the ultimate sacrifice for Dean. I think he takes this stuff just a little more personally than Sam does. That’s kind of what you’ll see in this last episode that’s reflected there.
Did you guys ever think about keeping Henry alive just even if you sent him back just so he could come back or was it always decided that he would perish in the end?
No. I think we wanted to close it and I think it was kind of a nice, bittersweet moment. They got to make a connection with a grandfather they never knew. One of the themes I think that we’ve always played is that people they get close to, it doesn’t work out so well for them, and they’re kind of traditional loners and what they have is each other. I think we wanted to keep it that way. That was always the plan with Samuel as well, that that would not be something that would go on for a long time.
Now that you opened the Winchester can of worms, are there any plans to bring in that side of the family further like you did before with the Campbells?
Not at the moment. But pretty much every year we kind of block out, in very general terms at the beginning of the season, the theme of the season and what we want it to be. Sometimes early on we don’t exactly know where it ends, we just know where we’re going but not how we finish it. That would be a discussion for next year that comes up in the room. I mean basically what’s always happened, whether Eric was there or Sera was there and now Jeremy, is basically the two of us sit in a room for about a week and just kind of throw all kinds of stuff around and then come up with a very loose structure. Then we bring all the rest of the writers in and start filling in the pieces. But we always feel that we want to, like I said, bring that season’s story to a close but open up a new doorway for next year.
The information that they have in the room is obviously going to be pretty valuable. Are they going to share it with other hunters like Garth?
I think that’s probably on a need-to-know basis. I don’t think they’re going to have a hunter convention in there and welcome everybody in and have at it. That’s really not their style. I would be surprised if Garth didn’t show up and probably break an expensive globe.
What can you tease about Castiel’s return?
He’s really crucial to the tablet stories. He’s going through sort of a trial of his own that’s personal. Naomi is very unhappy with him, Crowley is very unhappy with him. He’s a confused angel right now.
The show just confirmed the angel tablet [two weeks ago]. Can we expect more tablets to be brought up?
Not this year. I mean we have the demon tablet, the angel tablet and then the leviathan tablet. That’s about all the tablets we could handle.
Do the guys have any serious questions about actually keeping a home base? I imagine it’s really great to have one solid set but considering [what they're facing] on a weekly basis, is there any concern like "we’re hiding from something super, super dangerous and we’re stating exactly where that is"?
Well, they’re not saying it. They’ll go to great pains to keep that hidden. You know, also it’s kind of impenetrable. We’ve had places before -- we had Rufus’ cabin -- they need a place not just for us to be able to have a set to shoot on, but I think the boys actually need a place where they can decompress, have their bromance moments. The other sets we’ve had, they’re not the biggest. When you see this set, you realize they have lots of room to move around and there’s lots of really cool things in there. So Adam [Glass] came up with this idea and we really latched onto it immediately. It’s a very expensive set, so we’re going to be using it.
Speaking of permanency, the women on the show don’t last. Do you feel like you’re getting closer to finding the type of girl that could maybe last?
Felicia [Day] is going to be coming back in an episode. We love Felicia. I don’t think there’s ever going to be a third wheel. I don’t think we’re going to have Catwoman. It’s been sort of the feedback that we get that that’s not something that the fanbase particularly likes. We keep trying. I personally really thought the Amelia character was great. I thought it opened up a side of Sam that was really interesting. I thought Liane did a terrific job. I don’t think it’s ever going to be a three-hander. Listen, part of the appeal is they're the last men standing. That’s who they are.
Is there anything you can say about Felicia’s episode?
The one that will be coming out? We know she’s going to be in it, we’re just breaking the story now. I know that she basically brings them a case, but beyond that I can’t tell you a whole lot.
You said we’re going to see Benny again. Can you tell us anything about the issues that he was having the last time we saw him?
Well, he was really fighting the good fight of trying to not give in to his blood-lust. I think Dean having to basically cut the tie was a hard thing for him. So, we will explore that idea of what he’s been going through in a while. But we didn’t feel that and never felt that that story was totally ended. You know, it’s probably not great drama to end the whole arc on a phone call. [Laughs.]
But are we completely done with the flashbacks for both Dean and Sam?
Do you guys consider the Amelia arc pretty wrapped up now? You said she might come back down the line but in terms of that storyline being finished?
We think she’s a really valuable character. We liked her a lot and certainly it creates a good complication in Sam’s life. Again, we’re just kind of doing the end of the season now in the room. I know that we’ve talked about bringing her back. We don’t have anything specific.
Are you planning on ending the season on a cliffhanger?
I’m sure we will. It’s worked for seven years. [Laughs.] I always think about what you guys want to know. There’s an old show business saying, leave them wanting more. I think for pretty much eight plus seasons now we’ve done that. So, I suspect there’ll be some hanging chad, yeah.
Can you just tell us a little bit about what you think about Dean's feelings about time travel?
Time travel sucks, man ... He loves it when he’s a cowboy or he gets to work with Eliot Ness. I think he was talking specifically about "do I really need this guy popping out of my closet and bringing up the whole dad thing and now I’ve got to have a mixed emotion about this guy?" The guy was not the nicest guy to them. It was almost like he was tolerating them. Then when he wants to go back, which could basically, possibly cancel their existence, Dean thought that time travel was not so much fun.
This new set, where are Sam and Dean going to hide the car?
That’s a good question because we don’t have a Batcave but I’ll bring that up. That’s a good question.
Sam has kind of been wavering all season long about whether this was something he wanted to do. But he kind of said at the end of the episode that now he understands he sees why it’s all necessary and mythically destined. Would you say that this episode solidifies why he feels that what they’re doing is necessary?
Well, when we get into this whole idea of closing the gates of hell, that becomes a real raison d'etre for Sam. I think ... it’s really revenge motivated. It’s about everything that ... it’s what killed their mom, killed all their friends, all that. I think Sam would say that there’s a certain amount of closure if they could actually pull this off. I think still, he in the back of his mind thinks there’s a normal life out there for him. In a way, Dean’s onboard with that. He’d like to see [Sam] happy but they have this one thing to do. Now, television being television, they’ll have something else "one thing to do" down the line.
I think it’s a good separation of character for the two of them that one has one set of dreams and actually allows himself to dream while the other one is much more fatalistic and sort of accepts that. I would hope whenever we bring the curtain down that Dean would find some peace, and probably if I have anything to say about it he will.
But Dean’s still very committed to hunting?
Yeah. He would like to finish this particular job and then he would go off and do what he does, [find something else to hunt].
Mythology-wise this episode really changed what we knew about the Winchesters. I think it’s safe to say your fans are very protective of the mythology. Was there anything you wanted to avoid?
No, not really. I mean we really go where the story takes us. We’re not afraid to try new things. We honor the mythology, we don’t make arbitrary left turns just for the sake of "that would be a good story beat," but it’s ever evolving. We always feel that and are really trying to keep the stories fresh. So new things happen and we embrace them. That’s why I think we end up doing "LARP and the Real Girl" and living in cartoons and all that. We’re not afraid to really bend any sort of reality. If it works in our reality then it works. We’ve done some crazy stuff. In this episode, I’m always the jaundiced eye in the room when these things come up. I’m like the official "Supernatural" bullshit meter. But Jeremy and Guy say, “Oh no, this’ll be good.” I go, “Really?” Then I see "LARP and the Real Girl" and I go, “Wow. That’s really a good episode.” I’m the oldest whore on the block but I’m learning day by day as well.
[It seems like] you wanted Henry to be a good guy. I mean you could have gone back and told a story of how he went out for milk and ran off with another woman ...
Yeah. That felt really right to us. Again, this idea of them meeting their grandfather and understanding all this knowledge that they’ve carried all their lives [about John], that his dad left him and sort of became then this guy that he was, was all untrue. Then the idea if you could actually speak to John and say "this is what happened ... All that anger you carried: not real." I mean that has a certain amount of pathos to it.
In addition to everything else we do, I think one of the reasons we’ve lasted as long as we have is because we tell these personal stories. Really, whatever the plot of the week is, ultimately it comes down to "how are the brothers feeling about it, how does it affect their relationship, what’s underneath the surface of the story?" The subtext and the character developments are always ... I mean, after we get the basic "let’s tell a story about ..." we go "what’s the emotional story here?" We thought this was a good emotional story.
A minute ago, you were talking about Sam kind of adding to the geeky aspects of his legacy and obviously he's getting involved in the trials and everything. Where does that leave Dean?
Well, if you boil it down simply you’d say Sam is more the brains and Dean is more the brawn. I can’t remember which episode ... where Sam makes a speech and he says, “You’re the greatest hunter I’ve ever seen. You’re better than Dad.” That’s Dean. He’s probably much more internal than Sam in a way. I think that when they get into these emotional areas the catalyst is more Sam. So, those are the characters we developed. Dean loves the information if he can act on it. “Oh great, what do we need?” “You need the cimetar from the 13th century to chop the guy’s head off.” “Great. Let’s go find it and do it.” That’s Dean.
The guys have said some crappy things to each other and they’ve had this friction that’s been boiling over all season. From your perspective in the writers’ room, has that all been resolved now? Are they going to have a big emotional talk again?
I think you can count on a big emotional talk, yeah. [Laughs.] Yeah, without giving it away, for kind of a different reason, for something that they didn’t see coming ... Starting next week, that thing will carry through to the end of the year.
Can we assume Grandma was just a normal person or does she have some kind of secret story too?
Wow. I don’t know. Maybe in year 10 we’ll meet Grandma.
The more you tap into the Winchester history, are there ever still temptations to find a way to bring back Jeffrey Dean Morgan? I know he’s obviously busy with "Magic City."
You know, we’ve talked about that on occasion but since he’s really sort of not available and God knows he had a great sendoff. It doesn’t get a whole lot talk in the room, no.
"Supernatural" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on The CW.
What do you think of Robert Singer's teases for Season 8? Are you looking forward to seeing Benny and Castiel again? Weigh in below!