Eric Kripke seems just as excited to see us as we are to see him when he joins us at the press roundtable at Comic Con. With three years of promoting Supernatural under his belt, Kripke’s become an expert at saying an awful lot while actually giving away very little. He begins with a typical tease when one of the reporters brings up Jensen Ackles’ continued employment on the series now that his character has been banished to hell.
“Shockingly…no [he’s not returning],” says Kripke. “He’s going to be on Gossip Girl. Yeah, we’re making a trade, we’re doing a hostage exchange.”
Not that Jensen wouldn’t fit in nicely amongst the pretty people of the Upper East Side, but I’m not sure Chace Crawford is Winchester material.
Okay, fine. Kripke admits that he’s only joking about Ackles’ departure. (Can you imagine the fan uproar if it turned out to be true?)
“Dean gets out of hell. We knew that day one in the writer’s room. So we said, let’s not be coy about it. Lets get him out of hell but let’s get him out mysteriously and lets have one of the big questions be, ‘how did he get out and who got him out and why’? And so we quickly get past what everyone knows and we get onto the things that they don’t know.”
And it’s that ‘don’t know’ part that is scaring fans already. Less than a month into filming, spoilers have seeped into the fandom. Attempts were made to mask the “sides” that always make their way on to the Internet. Names were changed and large sections were blanked out but fans weren’t fooled. They know their Winchesters. Thanks to the writing team on Supernatural, the boys’ voices are so familiar it’s easy to tell who’s speaking without any name designation at all. And it’s this familiarity that Kripke wants to mess with for the sake of exploring new territory with the brothers, something they haven’t been able to do since the first season.
“We’re really giggling like schoolgirls in the writer’s room,” says Kripke, an image I find to be more than a little disturbing. “[Sam and Dean] are always so on top of each other. It’s like they know what each other’s thinking. [Now we] pick up the series four months later and let the boys surprise each other again, have them keeping secrets from each other again, and have reveals about who they are and what happened in this four months that they were apart.”
Turning Sam and Dean’s relationship on its ear is a big enough change for Supernatural fans, but Kripke has more in store.
“We try not to be formulaic and we try to keep people guessing. It’s like the way Bruce Willis finally got to do what he wanted when he made ‘Hudson Hawk,’ so I’m going to make Season Four of Supernatural. It’s gonna rock! The third episode is a completely black-and-white throwback to the Universal monster movies of the 30′s, so that’ll be cool. The fourth episode is a time travel episode where they go back and meet their parents when they were younger. And we just came up with this episode; Ben Edlund is writing it, it’s like insane on a level that is even for us insane, where a town has a wishing well and everyone’s wishes are coming true. There may or may not be a seven-foot-tall, talking teddy bear in it, we’re not sure yet.”
A seven-foot-tall, talking teddy bear, maybe, but there won’t be a chupacabra anywhere in sight.
“Dude, we can’t afford a chupacabra unless the chupacabra looks like a person who says, ‘I’m a chupacabra.” A sentence that would sound so out of place coming from anyone but him.
“We learned really early, after the wendigo episode, don’t mount creatures you can’t afford to produce. They’re just gonna look stupid. Do it well or don’t do it, is the plan. That’s why there have been no chupacabras, that’s why our werewolves have yellow eyes and fangs and are otherwise human. Every so often there’s off-camera references to the chupacabra two states over and that’s where’ll they live.”
And as definite as he is about no chupacabras, he’s also standing by his oft-quoted statement about ending the show in five years.
“I think no one believes me, but I really feel like that would be a favor to the fans. Better to have, ‘wow that was great and what a satisfying ending’ rather than literally jumping sharks and bringing in Raven Simone to play the cute, little, adopted orphan and weddings in Hawaii. I feel Buffy did it pretty well. You know it ended and that was a great final episode. Never say never I guess, [but] at this point Jensen, Jared and my contracts are all up at year five and I’d rather just go out bold. So that’s MY plan.”
And, for now, he’s sticking to it. In Kripke’s mind, Supernatural isn’t a TV show told over five seasons, it’s one long movie and that’s the way he’s been writing it in his head.
“Beginnings are easy because you’re launching everything. Endings are easy. The middle’s kinda shitty and hard to write.”
comic con Which takes him back to Season Three, brutally shortened by a writer’s strike that left his team scrambling to fit in the mythology before the final curtain.
“I have mixed feelings about Season Three. I think we had some great episodes, but I feel it was probably my least favorite season. I think that’s because it’s the middle and it’s that weird transition point. Now pieces are falling back and momentum is starting to build again towards something, so I think it’s actually been a real magnifying focus on our energy.”
Yes, he’s positive in that. Whatever adversity they had last year, be it the sagging middle blues or the effects of the writer’s strike, that’s all behind them.
“I think we’ve got a exciting season in store. We’re doing what we want to do and we’re doing it without compromise. I’m excited for the fans. They might say, ‘Kripke’s gone total bat-shit and it’s terrible, but I’m entertained by it. It’s something I like and so we’ll see if everyone else likes it and if not … well, go watch Grey’s.”
Not a chance, boss. Not a chance.
Photo credits (all): Mitch Haddad/Warner Bros. Television Entertainment.
(L-R) Executive Producer Eric Kripke, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles at the Comic-Con “Supernatural² panel discussion on 7/27/08.
Originally published at SFUniverse. Forgive me if the dates are wrong – trying to catalog all of my old work.