The "Supernatural" Season 9 premiere left us with plenty of questions (and cravings for spoilers) about the episodes to come -- especially in regards to the enigmatic Ezekiel (Tahmoh Penikett), and his new status as Sam's (Jared Padalecki) "angelic pacemaker."
Dean (Jensen Ackles) is currently keeping Ezekiel's presence inside Sam a secret from his younger brother -- and from his original angelic ally, Castiel (Misha Collins) -- but on "Supernatural," secrets don't stay buried for long.
HuffPost TV chatted with executive producer Jeremy Carver about Ezekiel's trustworthiness, Dean's secret, and how the mythology will be balanced between the demons, angels and the Winchesters in Season 9. Read on for that and much more ahead of tonight's new episode, "Devil May Care."
How much should we trust Ezekiel's intentions at this point?
I think he seems like a pretty honorable guy, to me. I think Ezekiel is a pretty interesting character, and I don’t see any reason not to trust his intentions.
Well, we're a suspicious bunch ...
[Laughs.] Yeah, as is warranted over the course of the show. I think I'll let what we’ve seen speak for itself.
I thought you guys did a great job of resolving some of the long-standing conflicts between Sam and Dean last season, but obviously we've seen the brothers keeping secrets from each other many times before. Can you talk about how this time around may be different and whether the character development last season is going to inform how they resolve their conflict this season?
Well, I think the quandary here is different than we’ve seen in the past. It’s going to be very interesting, given the way that they progressed last season … and frankly, in this case, how Dean is going to deal with this is very much part of the episodes moving forward.
How they deal with this becomes very much a touchstone of how the season progresses and forms up. I know we’ve seen secrets before. And yes, it’s a secret, but I look at this, even more importantly, as -- between the moment in the church, and the moment he allowed Ezekiel to possess Sam -- two very big decisions Dean has made that are affecting not just the relationship, but the mythology. That’s what’s really driving not just part of the mythology this year, but also it’s a very big weight on Dean, in the way that, many times he’s reacted to Sam’s actions or Sam’s weaknesses in the past, [but] this is pretty much all on him. He very much feels the weight of it.
Last season we saw Dean in Purgatory and Sam dealing with the trials along with the larger tablet arc. This season appears to be driven by the situation with the angels and the various warring factions, at least judging by the premiere -- which admittedly isn't much to go on. Would you say that the brothers are going to be reacting to those threats, primarily, or will there be more personal motivations driving both their arcs later on?
Where the premiere took on one aspect of what we’re dealing with this year, I think from the get-go, I feel like I’ve been saying things like "broken landscape, and a wide array of characters, and bad guys, and people rising to the fore, and taking shots at the throne," as it were.
If you look at the first three episodes of this season, by the end of Episode 3, you’ll get a real good idea of the wideness of the landscape this year, because Episode 1 dealt mostly with the angels, where [other] episodes are going to look at the whole other component that the boys are dealing with here, and that’s from the demonic side of things. So you’re going to see a variety of arcs here, not just in terms of the straight-up myth, but in terms of the personal arcs of the brothers, which will very much factor in here. You’re going to see all of it, I think.
It seems like the first few episodes are designed to allow Castiel to go on a voyage of self-discovery -- are we likely to see him back with the boys on a more permanent basis soon? Or is his entire arc more separate this year?
The short answer is you’re going to see all of it, but it’s all really, really keenly motivated by Cas, in that we really wanted to give him a chance to deal with what he’s dealing with. So we wanted Castiel’s character to really breathe, and I don’t find it any less intriguing, or enjoyable, that he may have separate journeys here and there. I think certainly the character has earned it, and I don’t think it takes anything away to have a character who is so beloved and has been part of the show so long to give him some separate storylines to grow.
That said, the show orbits around the Winchesters, so he’s never far, and he’s never out of their thoughts, and there’s all kinds of crossing that goes on. I can’t go that much more into it because there are very specific reasons why he’s either with them or not with them this year, that are deeply due to personal arcs between the three of them.
What can you preview about the episode that will flash back to the brothers when they were younger, especially how that story relates to a "part of Dean that we didn't realize existed"?
I think, especially after nine years, we all tend to put our brothers and the various supporting characters into certain boxes that we tick off: “This is who they are, this is how they would act,” and I think any time we can find a piece of the past that maybe makes us look twice at our characters, and maybe adds a couple extra layers of complexity, is always fun.
I can’t go too much into it. I just would say that … I’m going all the way back to Episode 1 of the series -- as we’ve always seen Dean Winchester, in terms of his approach to the life, approach to the hunting, it may not have always been that way.
You spoke at Comic-Con about finding different aspects of the characters' personalities that you haven't yet showcased this season, with the characters all asking "who am I?" -- can you expand on that specifically in regards to Sam and Dean, since as you just touched on, we feel like we know them pretty well after eight seasons.
Yeah, I think No. 1 is that episode I was just talking about, looking at Dean’s past. No. 2, I think -- and again, it’s a little too early, and I’m really happy to talk to you about it a little bit down the line -- because some of these things become more and more fleshed out the deeper we go into this story of this angel who’s possessing Sam, that provokes certain reactions and actions from the brothers that really delve into everything you’re saying.
I think it’s a bit too early to really dive into it, but rest assured, you’re going to see … frankly, we even saw it in the first episode of this season, in terms of Sam’s views on dying, and all these things, and the way the voices in his head were speaking to him. It’s a slightly different thing than we’ve seen before. We’re only going to be building on that as our brothers, again, come to terms with not just who they are and what they want, but how they relate to each other, moving forward. It’s always at the top of our list to keep on plowing what feels earned but also new.
"Supernatural" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
Do you think Ezekiel can be trusted? What do you think we might learn about Dean's past that we never knew before? Share your hopes and predictions below!