It was a privilege to speak to genius writer, director, and producer Ben Edlund at San Diego Comic-Con back in July. Read on for what he had to say about the upcoming eighth season of Supernatural, and check out the video below from the pressroom roundtable interview.
Generally speaking, Supernatural fans haven’t necessarily taken to female characters in the past. This year the show plans to bring on a new character named Amelia as a love interest for Sam. How does Edlund think that fans will react? And did the writers try to take a different approach this time to win people over? Edlund joked, “No, we’re arrogant beasts! We have no interest in the fan response!” He continued on a more serious note: “Yes, I think it’s a real challenge. I mean that’s been a persistent thing. So, if you’re in Season 8 of a show and want to look at the areas that are challenging that haven’t yet … mountains that haven’t been fully summited, then what is it for these guys to have outward relationships? Especially outward relationships, or in this case Sam, an outward relationship with a female. Those are challenging issues for this show because there’s such a sense of like … first of all, it’s hard because they should be alone in so many ways. It’s important for them to be these pariahs. But they also have to maintain and retain their humanity in a sense, so they have to remain connected. Anyway … strategies for that? I think actually the strategy we’re employing this time is to actually be as small as you can be with the telling of that story—keep it as divorced as possible from the massive operatic influence of the supernatural. So, oddly, we’re trying to tell as much of a naturalist story for Sam and his relationship as we can, in the confines of the supernatural world. It’s just, uh, we’ve been around this for 8 years. […] So, we’re just playing with different stuff and blah blah blah.”
How’s Dean going to feel when he comes back and sees that his brother moved on and started a whole new life? Will he be resentful that Sam didn’t find a way to help him, or happy and relieved that his brother found a new life? Edlund: “I think initially the former. Like, why didn’t you look? We have a tacit agreement that we always break our agreement not to look! But I think that too, it gets to a large philosophical issue that they need to grapple with, which is like … how do you live a life? How do you live a life in the context of … all they’ve done has been at the service of this terrible crushing duty. And like Sam actually took time out to try and see again what the world was. If you’re a hero and you’re losing your substance and you can’t fight anymore because you don’t know what you’re fighting for. Or if you’re not connected to the cause in an intimate way … this is testing that material in a way. It sounds grown-up when I say it!”
One of the continuing themes between the two brothers has been their inability to be honest with each other. How do they balance that in the writers room so that it doesn’t become unbelievably dishonest? Edlund: “I know what you mean. I think that we run that risk sometimes. Ultimately, the way to frame that … they are pathologically dishonest with each other because John Winchester was pathologically elusive to them. Like, they learned, like, the truth is this dangerous thing and that you shouldn’t speak it. He even taught them to keep secrets from each other for strategic purposes. So, when you look at the dysfunction that they showed in each other, it comes directly from how they were brought up. And that’s a kind of dysfunction that people in this world continually face. Why didn’t my dad tell me that he loved me yesterday? We’re just people sharing the same kind of thing. Why aren’t we more … why isn’t there more disclosure? It seems clichéd when we watch it on the TV, but it’s actually happening all around us. But I do believe that that’s a tension we’ve been careful with because we’ve played it so many times. And I think it sometimes does weigh on the patience. So … ah, there are a lot of episodes! Watch a different one!”
What is the overarching theme next season? “For me, footwear! For them […] there’s this big giant story about like, dealing with our world and everything in it. There’s no particular big bad. There’s all of the history suddenly looking at itself from across the wrestling match and going like, ‘Do you have the thing I need?’ And Crowley’s going like, ‘Wait …’ And everyone we’ve established around a table like this, just playing a game of Poker over the future of Supernatural. So, we’re gonna play that out. But I think also, again, human themes. Going from way up here where we’re flying with Leviathan and angels and all that stuff to a small relationship where you can actually see a human face when you get there. We’ll see how we do but that’s our ambition.” I can’t wait to see it all play out on screen!
Photo and Video by Lucia Giusti, Copyright © 2012 TheTelevixen.com