I only made it to part of Dallascon, thanks to a poorly scheduled department retreat (at least I thought it was poorly scheduled…) I flew in on Saturday afternoon, but luckily for me, Ben Bella (the publisher of our new book) is located in Dallas, so the production manager offered to pick me up. I had never met Monica, but she’s not only the production manager for ‘Family Don’t End With Blood,’ she’s a fellow Supernatural fan, so I was pretty sure we’d hit it off.
We did. In fact, we hit it off so well that we talked excitedly about the show and the boys and the book and the conversation was so scintillating that we missed our exit and ended up downtown. Oops. Scenic tour of downtown Dallas, and then we finally found the Westin. Not the Westin garage, which was hidden around a handily disguised U turn, however. A few more wrong turns (it was a theme of the day) and we finally made it into the garage, only to find large portions of it covered by stacks of building material and reams and reams of rolled up discarded carpets. Which meant very few parking spots. What the hell?
Eventually, in desperation, Monica proved her superior parking skills and parked the car sideways in several half-blocked spots with stacks of building materials in the other half. That wasn’t the only problem with the Westin, it soon became clear. The entire hotel was under construction – as in, the lobby was inaccessible and lots of men in hard hats standing on giant cranes were literally taking the place apart. With very loud drills and jackhammers and who knows what else. I repeat. What the hell?? Did they not remember they had booked a convention for thousands of people this weekend??
I was having flashbacks to my dismal hotel experience in Vegas last spring before long. There was only one restaurant open in the hotel and it was woefully understaffed and overwhelmed, which meant that there was no way to grab a quick bite when you have 45 minutes between panels. There were four elevators but at any given time usually only one or two were actually working, the others repeatedly getting stuck between floors and then taken out of commission. To add to the fun, they continued to do construction work on the escalators that took people from the ground floor to the convention floor, so there was literally no way to get between them but the already inadequate elevators. At times there were 100 people packed into the lobby entrance trying to get from the first floor to the second. Argh.
That said, the con itself was excellent. The seats were big enough and comfy (woohoo!), the stage was just the right height, and the guests were in great moods. Oh, and there were fangirls. Some of my favorite fangirls, who I hadn’t seen since Houston con a long long time ago – that went a long way toward forgetting just how awful the hotel situation was. (They did comp con guests one night, which I do appreciate).
I got there just in time to catch Mark Sheppard’s Saturday panel. Mark alternated between snarky and serious; here he is intimidating a fan just by standing in front of her as she asks a question. (Actually he was being sweet, but being up close and personal with the King of Hell can be intimidating anyway)
Sounds like we’ll be exploring more of Crowley’s backstory in the new season, and will also find out how he really felt about being Casifer’s bitch last season.
Mark also talked about one of his favorite scenes in Supernatural, in ‘Sacrifice’. He said how much he appreciated and was impressed by the fact that even when Jensen was off camera for hours, he was still so ‘in it’. That’s the kind of actors they are, and I love hearing how much they respect each other.
He also spoke passionately about fandom, as he often does. About the power we have, and how impressed he is that we use that power for good. The cast is the catalyst, focusing on issues that need to be changed, and we are the power that gets behind them and makes things happen.
Mark also had some advice for a fan who asked about dealing with depression: Get help. Reach out to friends, and find help from a professional who knows what they’re doing and can give it. Don’t keep it a secret, because then nobody can help you.
In a very powerful moment, Mark asked everyone in the giant ballroom who has dealt with depression to raise their hand. Many of us did, because I think we trust each other.
Mark: Twenty years ago, we couldn’t even do that. Nobody would have felt like they could raise their hand.
That’s progress, even if it’s slow progress.
Later that day, I told Mark that this was one of the most inspirational panels I’ve ever heard him do. Which is really saying something.
Next up was R2M, who after all this time together still warm my heart with their friendship. A fan tried to get Richard and Rob to give Matt grief for not being at karaoke on Friday night, but they refused. They’re both too proud of him to give him a hard time.
Richard: Nothing makes us happier than Matt working a lot on tv.
And boy, is he! He’s on General Hospital every other time I walk through my living room, and all three of them were just on Criminal Minds Beyond Borders, thanks to SPNFamily alum Adam Glass.
One of the funniest moments of this panel was Matt spontaneously insisting that whoever had his microphone before him (Mark) had left it yucky. That resulted in a surprise Mark Sheppard at the mic demanding “Excuse me!”
Rob told the story of that time radio station KLOS and their ‘shock jock’ dissed Louden Swain and the SPN fandom responded by tearing them to bits – until they eventually ended up not only apologizing but having them back on (Rob brought Rich for moral support) and feeding them lobster!
Don’t mess with the SPNFamily!
Matt: I was so mad, I was gonna shock the shit out of that jock. But you guys had it.
Somehow we had a question whose answer was ‘an elephant sized duck’ which resulted in Matt’s imitation of said duck which made me laugh so hard I had tears running down my face.
Annnnd we ended with Matt taking on the challenge of doing Rob’s shaker dance. Complete with butt smacking.
After that, it was time to grab a bite with those aforementioned fangirls (we were lucky enough to get to the restaurant early before they got overwhelmed), which included some hysterical photo op and autograph stories from this and past cons that I can’t share because it might embarrass someone (*ahem*). I can’t think of many things that are more fun than spending an hour with a bunch of fellow SPN fangirls. And then it was time for Misha Collins!
Misha decided to wear a red leather jacket that made my friend Becca hyperventilate. Which gave the rest of us an excuse to poke affectionate fun at her (because come on, we’ve all been there…). Then he came onstage and I had to eat my words becuase damn, I couldn’t blame her. He looked absolutely gorgeous in that jacket and his customary faded flared jeans and boots.
Drummer Stephen Norton had on a similar shade of pants, which made them decide they should try to compress themselves into one being – in other words, Misha ended up on Stephen’s back and they generally just glommed onto each other like two puppies roughhousing. It was pretty adorable.
Misha: That seemed like it would work so much better when we planned it backstage.
Misha told the story of last week’s Star Trek con when he crashed Shatner’s panel wearing Spock ears. He was disappointed that Bill didn’t recognize him until he remembered that from the stage, you can’t see a damn thing.
We got the interesting little tidbit that Words with Friends was a big problem on set for a while, because they were all addicted to it. Once Jared beat Misha by an embarrassingly large amount, which eventually resulted in Misha paying him back for the bet they made with coins piled all over Jared’s trailer. That started a prank back and forth that made the Winchesters look like amateurs.
He also gave a little insight into what it was like joining Supernatural in its fourth season. Castiel was set up to be a recurring character, which put a lot of pressure on Misha – every day essentially felt like an audition to see if they really did want to keep the character (and the actor) around. Being a guest star is nerve wracking anyway, Misha said, like you’re the new kid at school – but this just added another level of anxiety to the mix.
It didn’t help that in that very first scene, there were so many sparks landing in Misha’s hair that they had to wet it down so he wouldn’t catch fire. And then director Kim Manners instructed him not to have any reaction. Easier said than done, I imagine!
Misha: Staying stone faced while being incinerated and shot at is really hard!
And that set the precedent for how Cas was going to be…
Cutest moment of the panel? Misha got a call while onstage from Vicky, who had just run a triathlon. Hearing Misha try to convince her that third place was something to be proud of when there were only three competitors was entirely heartwarming.
Misha also got a little teary eyed when recounting a story about Maison making a wish. Instead of something in the future, as she blew on a dandelion she said “I wish for this.” Brilliant!
Like Mark, he teased Season 12 for his character – Cas is back to being warrior Cas, and that makes the character seem new for Misha. And that makes me happy!
Mark crashed the end of Misha’s panel, which gave us some rare and amusing Misha and Mark interaction.
Misha to Mark: Just be quiet.
Mark: That’s never going to happen.
Awww, but look at them. Such fondness.
That was the last panel of the day, so there was more time to socialize, this time at the Benihana across the street (one of the only restaurants we could walk to). One of my friends had never been to a Benihana, and was thoroughly transfixed by the culinary gymnastics. The rest of us were worried about our food, because the poor guy was obviously brand new and not exactly smooth with what he was doing. Which is a little intimidating when said guy has sharp knives and is making flaming volcanos out of onions a foot from your face. No one was injured, however, and the food was eventually excellent – and then it was back to the hotel for one of my favorite parts of any con.
The Saturday Night Special featured the following goodies:
Richard Speight looking oh so very Texas in a cowboy hat and boots, and playing bass like a rockstar. Sometimes we forget that these people are not only talented actors, but many of them are talented musicians too. It’s why I don’t think the SNS will ever really be duplicated with any other fandom – we just got incredibly lucky. Put them together with a band like Louden Swain and a front man like Rob Benedict, and you’ve got incendiary magic going on.
And Chris Schmelke doing the same, along with Mark Sheppard on drums (though I couldn’t get a decent picture of him to prove it).
Lots of awesome new music by Louden Swain.
Julian Richings looking like he was having the time of his life onstage with the band. Also? Death plays a mean tambourine.
Emily Swallow and Rob Benedict doing a brother-sister duet of ‘Let’s Be Still’. It’s such a haunting song, and they sing it beautifully together.
Osric Chau clearly nervous about trying out a new song, and then absolutely killing it with ‘Falling’ – and looking so damn relieved and ecstatic after. Osric wears his emotions on his sleeve, and that gives the audience a special connection to him when he’s performing. I get nervous for him when I see how nervous he is, and then his triumph afterwards is equally infectious.
Rob and Briana killing it with ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around’
And then Briana singing one of my favorite songs ever, ‘Valerie’, with Emily and the band as backup.
Oh, and Briana and Emily being adorable together. SPNFamily, y’all.
Jason Manns and Rob singing Come Together in the way only they can. I love that Jason and Rob have teamed up for Station Breaks, because they clearly inspire each other musically and just plain get along.
Billy Moran tuning Rob’s guitar onstage — because family always has your back.
Half the room pulling out their kazoos for Medicated and then their lights for She Waits.
Rob: It’s a sea of lights and I just wanna dive right into it!
There were a lot of people fumbling for tissues after that one, including me. Thank you, fandom, for arranging for so many of us to have lights to hold up – such a powerful moment, and such a lovely tribute to Rob to show our support.
Mark Pellegrino came out to lead us in the encore cheers.
And then Rob sang a beautiful acoustic version of ‘Fare Thee Well’ in the silent ballroom. That’s become one of my favorite SNS traditions – in part because it’s a direct connection to the show I’m still besotted with after all this time, and in part because Rob sings it with so much emotion. I love that fandom, usually exuberant and noisy in its passion, goes silent as midnight when Rob asks for quiet.
Rob: You guys are so fucking incredible.
Purple Rain closed out an emotional Saturday Night Special, with everyone joining in.
And then Louden Swain said their triumphant goodnight. I keep thinking, one of these times it’s going to be good of course but not this kind of emotional. But nope.
Stay tuned for more from Dallascon Sunday with J2!
With so much appreciation to @arkine13 and @mamaprior for the edits and watermarking – love you both!
Check out our books on Supernatural at the links
on this page – our adventures behind the scenes and
on the road in Fangasm and essays on the show by
Misha, Richard and more in Fan Phenomena SPN!