The 'Supernatural' Cast on the Beginning of the End of the Winchesters' Story
"Story's over. Welcome to the end."
Those stinging words were delivered to the heroes of The CW's Supernatural — world-saving brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) and their angel ally Castiel (Misha Collins) — by God (Rob Benedict) during Season 14's finale. And with that proclamation, the deity opened the gates of Hell, freeing a tsunami of monstrous souls from below.
Those ghouls and ghosts included many of the troubled creatures the Winchesters put down there over the years. That's right: For the final season of the horror show that deals with angels, demons, and every entity in between, God is the big bad.
Fans had known for roughly a month before the April 25 finale aired that the end was nigh for the longest-running American genre series ever, and the only remaining survivor from The CW's network predecessor, The WB. On March 22, in an emotional video message, Ackles, Collins, and Padalecki announced that Season 15 would be the last.
Making the decision to wrap Supernatural was a long and difficult process, recalls Ackles from the Vancouver set in late September. He notes, "We had exhaustive conversations because of the love that we have not just for the show, but for these characters, this crew, and this life that we built here. Saying goodbye didn't seem real. It still doesn't."
While looking away toward the metal, art deco staircase in the Men of Letters bunker, which serves as a hideout for the hunters, Ackles continues, "There's a scene we shot recently that really got to me. Cass decides he's going away for a while. And it wasn't necessarily a goodbye, but it felt like that to me. It made me think about how it's the last time we're going to [have a moment like] that. [It reminded me of] the last episode of Cheers when someone knocked on the door and Sam [Ted Danson] said, 'Sorry, we're closed.'"
Even so, Ackles, who also directed this season's fourth episode, "Atomic Monsters," tries not to show his emotions too much on set. Padalecki is not nearly as composed. "He's the worst!" Ackles jokes. "He'll be like, 'This my last first day!' and I'm like, 'Shut up, you big baby!'"
From his comfy trailer at the end of the day, Padalecki confesses, "I'm a nostalgic guy." For example: He has kept a script from every single episode — with the exception of a few donated to charity — to use for research (in typical Sam fashion) and for his own memories. "I have many filing cabinets," Padalecki says with a laugh.
Both agree that Sam and Dean are embedded in their DNA — and they're not ready to give them up just yet. "We still have a long way to go," Ackles says. Tough as he is, the actor concedes that when the cast returns to shoot the last batch of episodes after the holidays, "it's going to start to get really dusty in here."
Collins shares a similar sentiment and connection to his loyal seraph. "Cass is part of the fabric of my psyche. When I put on the trench coat, I feel like he's real — which may point to a certain psychosis in me," he jokes.
Though emotions are running high, the vibe on set is far from gloomy. The silly jokes and resulting crack-ups in between takes keep the atmosphere pleasant. But there is also a nearly palpable determination to make each moment count, not only for the cast and crew, but for the millions of fans waiting around the world.
Luckily, No. 15 is poised to be one hell of a season. The premiere begins mere minutes after God (who prefers to go by the moniker Chuck) executed half-angel Jack (Alexander Calvert), the brothers' foster son turned foe (he killed Mama Winchester!). To recap: God murdered Jack when Dean, determined to put down the young seraph himself, suddenly lost the heart — which did not sit well with God, who reveals the showdown between the two was all a part of His plan.
With God on a path of vengeance as His favorite playthings were turning against Him, a distraught Sam shot the Creator in the shoulder with the Equalizer. The energy gun, crafted by God, visits upon the shooter the same injuries suffered by the target. (So it's a really good thing Dean resisted the urge to polish off Jack with the weapon earlier.) Later, Sam's wound will bring him both anguish and mysterious revelations.
Now, armed with two rusty wrought-iron fence posts and Cass' angel blade, the trio are fighting for their lives in the cemetery as Hell's ghosts close in. In the premiere, they regroup inside the walls of a sturdy mausoleum, where they've taken Jack's corpse to safety. While debating an exit strategy, they discover they have company — someone who claims he can help with their escape.
OK, they're not dealing with the actual devil — this time around, at least — but this concession represents just one of many difficulties ahead for the angel. From the start of the season, he is racked with guilt, caused partly by his inability to save Jack. "For Cass to have been on watch when Jack died is a crushing blow to him," he says.
As is the fact that Dean still blames him for the death of Winchester mom Mary (Samantha Smith), because the angel didn't sound the alarm about Jack becoming unhinged. "Cass feels he's losing Sam and Dean, the only other people in the universe he has a connection to," Collins adds.
Finally, Cass takes God's retribution very personally because, as an angel, he views God as his literal Father — and a supposedly perfect being. "[God] becoming his primary enemy bent on destroying everything he cares about is a really difficult transition [for Castiel] to go through," Collins says. As a result, after a few episodes of chaos, Cass gets fed up and takes a personal time-out before returning to the action. Or, as Collins puts it, "He leaves in a huff."
Stoic Dean gets his own personal crisis too as he ponders his significance in the universe. "Dean's asking, 'Are we just a ball of twine [to God]?'" Ackles says. "It's up to Sam to get him out of his funk." Padalecki adds: "Sam and Dean feel outmanned and outgunned. Only together can they possibly overcome [God's vengeance]."
Some things never change — the Winchester brothers will always have each other's back. But before engaging in any philosophical debates, the guys have an impending apocalypse to clean up. Residents of the neighboring town are, fortunately, mostly unaware of the infestation. After all, two handsome "FBI agents" (ahem) have explained they're containing a gas leak. "They've put a lid over it, using some supernatural [elements] to quarantine the town," Ackles says, adding that this is no permanent fix: "The magic that's keeping the monsters out isn't going to last forever."
Hey, there are plenty of other evil beings to take down anyway. Today's scenes, from a later episode, are all about action and are seemingly unrelated to the not-so-heavenly Father. Sam and Dean face witches searching for precious books in the home of onetime superwitch Rowena (Ruth Connell). These villains may be small, but they pack a mean magical punch.
One spell in the hall outside Rowena's apartment sends Dean flying … and then crashing onto the floor. Which means that before special effects are added (the stunt guy already did his bit), Ackles is flinging himself on the ground multiple times. By the last rehearsal, Ackles has gotten punchy and the movement is more about fooling around. A while later, Padalecki's face will become twisted by hatred as Sam summons strength and magic to brutally vanquish a witch — in one impressive take.
Supernatural, 15th and Final Season, Thursday, October 10, 8/7c, The CW
This is an abbreviated version of TV Guide Magazine's latest cover story. For more, pick up the issue, on newsstands Thursday, October 10.