“Supernatural” E.P. Sera Gamble has certainly made some controversial decisions since taking over as showrunner, not the least of which was the death of Bobby (Jim Beaver), the only character outside of Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) who has survived since Season 1.
If it makes you feel better, Gamble tells us that the move to kill Bobby off wasn’t an easy one for her, either. “Clearly, we were very upset in the writers’ room when we were breaking that episode,” she tells us. “One of the big themes this season and challenges for Sam & Dean has
been about taking away the tools that they’ve come to rely on and the
support system that they’ve come to rely on. We didn’t have that big of a
pool to draw on to begin with. This show is pretty famous for killing
people off. It’s a precedent that was set pretty early on.”
The tragic exit of the beloved character changed the dynamic of the show significantly. On a superficial level, the Winchesters have lost their go-to guy — they’ve got to get more creative with their research strategies and they have to be more careful without him around to bail them out. On a deeper level, their already unstable emotional states are now completely threadbare.
The most recent episode ended with a chilling image of Dean forcing a strained smile into the dark, giving us an idea of the fake-it-til-you-make-it philosophy he’s trying to adapt. (Yes, Ackles continues to improve upon perfection. “I loved the last shot of that episode. I think that Jensen did a
tremendous job with that, as usual. He should really do this
professionally,” Gamble jokes, dryly.)
She clarifies that Dean hasn’t given up on finding some peace in what’s happened. “Frank won some grudging respect from Dean with that piece of advice
about being professional and about trying to move forward. They’re not
going to keep trudging on and just work because they have nothing else
to do. Dean desperately wants to move on and to try to find reasons and
meaning, to try and do right by Bobby’s memory,” Gamble says. “It’s important to him,
and it’s important to him to be there for Sam, but we’ve thrown
something incredibly difficult at him. He’s trying to take Frank’s
advice, and if you’ve ever been given a piece of advice like that when
you’re in grief, it’s not easy.”
Aside from a few shots of Sam manipulating the scar on his hand, which implies that he’s fighting away a hallucination of Lucifer, the show has backed off of exploring the specific ups and downs of his precarious mental state.
Not for long.
Gamble tells us that Sam’s found a compulsive, careful way to stay on track, but “that apple cart will be upset in an upcoming episode. We have some episodes coming up that continue to spin out what’s going
on inside Sam’s head. We revisit what’s been happening in terms of his
maintenance of his ongoing hallucination problem, which is a day-to-day
thing that he’s been managing. He doesn’t have a permanent solution
right now, he has a maintenance solution. That can’t last.”
She is particularly looking forward to messing with Sam’s mind in what sounds like a hilarious upcoming episode about childhood nightmares coming to life. “Sam gets beaten up by clowns,” she says gleefully. “As we all know, Sam is really afraid of
clowns, so an upcoming episode takes place at a Chuck-E-Cheese type
place. One of those birthday party pizza place, slash
stop-bugging-your-parents-for-ten-minutes places. They pick up a case
that takes place at Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie, and Sam has
terrible childhood memories of this place. It’s just full of clown
If you’re thinking we’ve been there, done that, you’re wrong. “If you thought that early episode when he was confronted by a
few clowns at that carnival was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Gamble teases. “It is about your worst
nightmare. Childhood fears are kind of coming to life, and attacking
people in this episode, so it was an opportunity for us to get really
fantastical with what can attack people. Unicorns and stuff like that.
It was a really fun episode, but the clowns are really the highlight for
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, she did say unicorns. White horses outfitted with unicorn horns have been tromping around the Vancouver set. Yes.
With Lisa behind him, Dean’s a single man again — and we’ll see him have an, er, romantic encounter with “The Vampire Diaries” star Sara Canning in an episode coming up soon. Gamble says that she’s not sure if a less temporary love interest will ever be brought into the show again. “I don’t know. My honest answer is that I don’t know. There’s no lasting
love interests for them in Season 7,” she says. “They don’t have time, they’re busy,
and they are in no emotional state for any kind of conventional love interest.”
Which brings us to Castiel. Gamble still wouldn’t tell us much about the character’s return — in fact, she wouldn’t even confirm that when Misha Collins returns, he’ll be playing Castiel. “I can tell you that you will see Misha Collins again soon,” she says. “Everyone is
reading that script today, actually. I can tell you that the people here
are telling me that they like it, but I think it’s partially their job
to say that, so I guess I can’t tell you anything with any reliability.”
With Bobby and Castiel out of the picture, at least for the time being, we’ll be seeing a few other characters come in to repopulate the Winchesters’ world — not that they’ll compare to Bobby and Castiel, of course. Frank will be back, as will Garth (D.J. Qualls), the nerdy hunter who drove Dean up the wall while Sam was lovesick with Becky.
“I think it’s business as usual in that you will meet hunters and you’ll
meet people who come and go. You’ll meet a woman who
is sort of a helper to hunters. Her name is Nora Havelock, who Sam and
Dean knew many years ago. She’s introduced in an episode that’s about revisiting a case
they worked a few years ago. Our philosophy hasn’t changed in that if
we write a character and we like them, we’ll continue to explore them.
That’s how characters like Castiel sort of became major on the show. We
wrote them a little bit, and we wanted to keep writing them.”
You won’t want to miss this week’s episode, a noir-a-palooza in which Dean time-travels back to the 1940s and teams up with the famous prohibition agent Eliott Ness. Check out the preview below and tune in on Friday at 9 p.m. EST. “It’s a really compelling time period, it’s beautiful, and it was so fun to shoot,” Gamble says. “It very quickly just became a production question about pulling it off in the time and the budget that we have. Our crew are miracle workers, so the episode looks great, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”
Honestly, you could just watch it to see Dean in the 1940s garb. We wouldn’t judge you.