Comic-Con 2012: Flashbacks Will Be Huge in Supernatural's Next Season

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There were some major people disappearing in the Season 7 finale of The CW's Supernatural. Dean vanished to Purgatory and Castiel did one of those "sound of angel wings" and *POOF* he's gone. But the biggest disappearance happened for Supernatural came off camera, when showrunner and founding father of Supernatural Sera Gamble vacated her spot as showrunner of the cult series in the off-season after taking over the job from creator Eric Kripke for the last two years.

Stepping in to run the show for Season 8 will be Jeremy Carver, a longtime Supernatural writer who spent the last two years adapting Being Human for Syfy with his wife Anna Fricke. I'd say the last two seasons of Supernatural were a bit of a rough patch after the creative high of Seasons 3, 4, and 5, but it wouldn't be accurate to lay the blame on any one person. Still, fans are looking for a rebound, and Carver, who wrote such gems as "Changing Channels," is being looked upon as the man to bring the show back to form.

"I'm really excited, I thinkwe're telling the story a little different way this year in that we're incorporating a lot of flashbacks of joining the pieces of what happened when [Sam and Dean] were away from each other," Carver said. "While these two are very much united in terms of what they're after this season, they have to come to terms with that they are both maturing and becoming slightly different people than they were before they separated last season. I'm excited for the fans to watch the boys mature just a little bit more."

"Because the show hinges so heavily on the Sam and Dean relationship, it's been difficult do go do Sam [alone], and do Dean [alone], and then bring them back together," explained Jared Padalecki , who plays Sam Winchester (but you knew that already). "We're going to see a lot more of Dean in Purgatory than we saw of Dean in Hell. And because we're going to have a Dean storyline for however long he was there [in Purgatory], I think it was a year or something, we're going to see a lot of what happened with Dean and what happened with Sam. And it was the first time in Sam's life that he was able to–without feeling bad about it–walk away from the life. He wasn't in behind Castiel, he wasn't in behind Bobby, he wasn't in behind Dean, he didn't know about Kevin, he was finally like, 'Okay, not my issue, I'm out for real.' And he was able to, for a long time. But now he's being dragged back into it."

It kind of sounds like a reversal (this show loves its reversals) of the start of Season 6, when Sam went to Hell and Dean lived a regular life with that orange ex-girlfriend Lisa. But the flashbacks might be more focused individually on one brother at a time, and those flashbacks may run the whole season.

"The flashbacks [will] become more and more [important] as the season unfolds," Jensen Ackles said. "It's a bit of an onion, you peel back what happened over the past year while Dean was in Purgatory, what was happening to him, and also what was happening to Sam while he was up top will be revealed through flashbacks as the season progresses. We start off in present time, which explains how Dean got out of Purgatory, but what happened to him while he was there will be explained later."

Writer extraordinaire Ben Edlund, who has written some of the series' most daring and memorable episodes, reflected on the last season and what's coming up. And he kind of hinted at disappointment in Season 7. "It would be cool if we had a higher instance of absurdist toss-away episodes," Edlund said. "I think that that's something oddly we would have had more of last year, because it seemed to me like we were moving in the direction of a B-movie premise with the monsters [the Leviathans]. I would say the monsters were actually a wrestling match of things that worked and didn't work, but mythologically speaking they set the ground for other things that I'm very pleased we've got working in our grandfather clock, so to speak."

I asked Edlund about the tone of the season, now that Carver is running the show, and whether it would be lighter and more fun. "I'll say that our arc is in some senses pretty serious, but I think what that means is a higher index of comedy, similar to the Republican administration [laughs]."

This could be a make-it-or-break-it-season for a lot of longtime Supernatural fans, but it sounds like the writers already have a much better idea of what's in place than they had in Seasons 6 and 7.



Super-Note-urals

– Jensen and Jared flew in from Vancouver Sunday morning at 8am after filming until 4:30am earlier that day, and hadn't had any sleep. Jensen asked for forgiveness if he wasn't completely mentally all there, but he was, and yes ladies, he still looked like he'd gotten plenty of beauty rest.

– Jensen is getting behind the camera again this season and directing its third episode. It's actually the first episode Supernatural is shooting this season, and he described it as "a one-off" but said it will include one of the important flashbacks that tell the bigger story.

Mark Sheppard, who plays King of Hell Crowley, said, "We've seen Hell, and it looked like the line for the panel."

Misha Collins said we'll first see Castiel in Episode 2, and we won't see him in Episode 3.

Jim Beaver would not reveal the fate of Bobby or say whether the character will return in Season 8. "I don’t exactly know where ghosts go when they stop being ghosts. If they haven't said, I think that's good because it leaves doors open."

– Collins does AMAZING charity work. Please check out Random Acts when you get a chance.

– Edlund said that he's come up with another way to tell a different version of the super-meta episode "The French Mistake," and says it would give the boys a whole new acting challenge. Fingers crossed this happens!

– Beaver was wearing his Deadwood hat during the press room, and says he's been asking for a Supernatural one for several seasons.


Psst! Check out our complete Comic-Con coverage for the weekend's news, photos, and more.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom