Following a six-month hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Supernatural returned to The CW tonight to begin wrapping up its 15th and final season.
Kicking off an upcoming run of seven episodes is “Last Holiday,” which sees hunters of the supernatural Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) plotting to kill a vengeful God (Rob Benedict), as their de facto brother Jack (Alexander Calvert) wrestles with the loss—and redemption—of his soul.
When the pipes in their bunker hideout start to malfunction, Sam and Dean head to its control center, hoping to reset the system with the push of a button. Unexpectedly, it reactivates Mrs. Butters (Meagan Fay), a wood nymph helper of the Men of Letters, who had been trapped in standby mode since 1958.
At first, the brothers enjoy the magical being’s presence. Through the use of her powers, she dresses The Bunker up for the holidays and offers monster radar, which helps Sam and Dean clean out a nest of vampires. But what they don’t realize is, the nymph is a weapon. Trained by the Men of Letters to protect their organization at all costs, she knows Jack is the son of Lucifer and views him as a threat.
Growing suspicious of Butters’ motives, Jack learns that the nymph plans to kill him, but only after she’s drained him of his powers. And even though Jack was involved with the death of their mother, Mary, Sam and Dean ultimately come to his rescue. Directed by Eduardo Sánchez from a script by Jeremy Adams, “Last Holiday” puts Sam, Dean and Jack on a path toward reconciliation, which they’ll certainly need to effectively team up against the Almighty.
Tonight’s episode was one of 14 shot before COVID-19 shut down production worldwide. In August, co-showrunners/executive producers Robert Singer and Andrew Dabb were able to resume production, finishing off the show’s final two episodes.
Below, they tease its “emotionally terrific” finale, which is set to air November 19, a major change to its storyline that came about during their hiatus, and the possibility of future projects in the Supernatural universe.
DEADLINE: Several years ago, Supernatural became the longest-running fantasy series in the history of American television. How are you feeling about bringing the show to a close, after so much time with it?
ANDREW DABB: I would say for me—and Bob was closer to it than I was, because he was on set during the last episode—it’s bittersweet, obviously. We’re really proud of the work that we did, but we’re also sad that we’re not going to get to do more of it.
But it didn’t feel like we were going out on fumes. It felt like we still had stories to tell, so that feels good. It feels like it’s a strong exit, although I will say for me, personally, I’m still in denial that it’s over. Bob and I still have a lot to do in post, and sound, and visual effects, and all that kind of stuff, so it’s still going on for me. It’s not over yet, but probably like middle of November, I’ll just collapse in a corner somewhere.
ROBERT SINGER: I would just add to that, that it was bittersweet, and there was a certain amount of sadness, but I don’t think any of us were looking back and thinking we made the wrong decision.
DABB: No, not at all.
SINGER: I think it felt like the right time to do this and go out on our own terms, while we still have a fastball.
DEADLINE: Obviously, at this point, there are still a lot of unanswered questions, and a number of major storylines to be resolved. Did you feel any pressure as you thought about how you might end the show?
SINGER: Well, once we knew it was going to be the last year, Andrew and I got together fairly early—I think probably at the end of last season—and agreed on where we wanted to take it, and then ran it by Jared and Jensen, and they signed on. So, unlike other seasons, we actually knew where we were going to go this year (laughs).
DABB: I would say, just in terms of plot threads, once we decided where we were going, that became our guiding light. So, I can’t say that we sat down at the beginning of this final season and were like, “OK, here’s 14 years worth of hanging chads and things like that. Let’s resolve all of them.” Like, that would’ve been a very boring season.
We didn’t comb Twitter and make a list of questions fans were asking. I think we closed out all of the major stuff, but I’m sure anybody who’s looking deep will find something from like Season 8 that’s unresolved, and that was not the point of this final season. The point was to get us where we were going with these guys, emotionally, and as characters.
DEADLINE: While your series finale was originally set to air in May, production delays imposed by the pandemic made that impossible. Did COVID-19 safety protocols, or the time you were left with during an unexpected hiatus, result in any changes to the final episodes?
SINGER: There were shooting restrictions we had that changed the scripts somewhat, but not in a way that we had to make a 180, or do any drastic changes.
There was a big change, which I’m not going to get into in detail, in how we were going to exactly end the show. But I think what Andrew came up with was very satisfying, and emotionally terrific. So, I don’t think there’s any regrets about that.
We had things, in the last two episodes, that required a crowd, [and] we weren’t allowed to have more than 40 extras. Forty extras doesn’t go very far, so how you shot that [changed], and that sort of thing. But other than that, we didn’t really have to do a big about-face.
DEADLINE: What was it like, returning to Vancouver to finish shooting the final season, after four months or so away from set?
SINGER: Well, we had the good fortune, [unlike] shows that might just be starting up, that we could really hit the ground running. We had a well-oiled machine up in Canada, and once the COVID rules were put in place, and were made clear to the crew and the people in the office, we really did hit the ground running, getting used to some of the ideas. Like, if you were in the office pod, you couldn’t go on the set, and if you were on the set pod, you couldn’t go in the office. There was testing. If you were on set, you got tested three times a week.
So obviously, it was different, but everybody really held fast to what the rules were. Ours is a very friendly set, and everybody gets along really well, including the actors with the crew, but they had to distance themselves. So, I know that felt really odd to Jared and Jensen, as it did to me. But we just accepted what the rules were and went ahead.
DEADLINE: As of tonight, there are only six new episodes of Supernatural still to come. What can you tell us about the journey ahead for Sam and Dean?
DABB: I think in some ways, we got a little fortunate that we’re coming back with an episode that’s a little lighter, a little bit more self-contained. We’re not pulling everyone into the fight against God, and the desperation and sadness that is to come. It’s a little lighter, and then from there, it progressively gets a little darker, and a little bit more end-of-the-world-y, because it’s the end of the world.
For Sam and Dean, what we really thought about as we went into this [was], when you make God the bad guy of your season, I think you could make the argument that’s a very strong, or very dumb narrative choice. But for us, with our guys and the themes of this entire show, it was more about free will and self-determination. As much as it is against God and cosmic forces, and all this crazy stuff, it’s really about these two guys claiming their independence for the first time in their lives—and as long as we grounded it like that, everything else kind of snapped together.
So, as we move into the final run, that’s really what this is about. It’s about the conflict with God, but it’s also about these two guys completing a journey that’s been 15 years in the making, to become, hopefully, better and more fully realized people. It’s not always just about defeating the next bad guy; it’s about making yourself a little bit better, too. I think that’s something we’ve talked about a lot with Sam and Dean, and we’ve seen a lot over 15 years, and this is kind of the culmination of that.
DEADLINE: Is there any possibility of a happy ending for Sam and Dean?
DABB: Well, I would say it wouldn’t be Supernatural if it was all happy.
DEADLINE: Season 15 has brought a lot of beloved characters back into the fold. Can we expect to see more characters from past seasons, as we head into Supernatural‘s final stretch?
SINGER: I think we’ve brought some fan favorites back—some that we can reveal, some, probably not. But yes. I think we sprinkled enough of that in to make the audience happy.
DABB: People know Charlie’s coming back, and Donna Hanscum’s coming back. They were both in the teaser that got released recently, so they’re not a big secret, but there are a couple of other people who the guys have met along the way who will come back and play big, good, or if not good, at least interesting roles in what’s to come.
DEADLINE: In the past, there have been several attempts at creating a Supernatural spinoff. But are there any currently in the works? Do you think we’ll see more projects set in this universe going forward?
SINGER: Well, I think we want to take a deep breath. You know, we’ve been so immersed in this for so long. I know I’m not ready to jump back into the Supernatural world right away. So, I don’t know. Maybe there’s a movie in it down the line somewhere.
DABB: Yeah, I would just echo Bob. I mean, I think we wrote this as an ending. This is not a “To Be Continued,” and if there was some opportunity to do more, down the road a little bit, that would be amazing. But if not, I think we’re very proud of the ending that we have.