Director (and Guest Star) Richard Speight Jr. Brings the Emotions in ‘Unfinished Business’

I am loving the lead up to Supernatural’s Season 13 finale. With four episodes remaining, this week’s ‘Unfinished Business’ kept up the momentum and continued the work of bringing the team together who will try to save the world (from AU Michael or Lucifer or the both of them). We’ve now gotten rid of Asmodeus to clear off the playing field a bit, and by the end of this episode Castiel, Gabriel and Rowena will all be in the bunker with the Winchesters getting ready to save Mary and Jack (oh, and the world).

Richard Speight, Jr. directed this episode, which wouldn’t be OMG AMAZING in itself since he has already directed multiple episodes. What makes it OMG AMAZING is that Richard ended up directing an episode in which he also is the featured guest star! They assign the directing schedule early on, so originally they didn’t know Gabriel would be getting an origin story, or that this would be it. When I sat down with Richard earlier this year after his first directing foray for Season 13, he knew he’d be directing episode 20 but had no idea what it would be. Turns out it’s one that stars his own character, Gabriel! Not one to be easily discouraged, Speight opted to do it anyway. He must have worked his butt off, but he pulled off a tour de force performance as not one guest character, but TWO – Gabriel and Loki!


Two of Speight’s previous directing outings have been favorites of mine, especially Season 11’s ‘Just My Imagination’ and Season 12’s ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’. The latter was beautifully directed and scored, the title and the music and the directing choices a loving tribute to Quentin Tarantino’s films. That was writer Davy Perez who wrote the nod to Tarantino, but Richard told me in an interview at that time that he then knew he could pick up the momentum and roll with it.

Richard: …I decided oh, I can totally go stylized with this, we’re gonna go cinematically stylized, and I can dive in and keep fanning the flames in that direction. So that led to a lot of Western themes that I put in there, and to a Western score that got put in…. I’m a big Sergio Leone fan, and it felt like there was a lot we sort of pulled from that.

‘Unfinished Business’ also lent itself to being cinematically stylized, from some of the filming choices to the set dec to the awesome music score by Jay Gruska that really set the episode apart. Gruska apparently composed original music even for Gabriel’s kazoo solo, which was perfect for the alley fight scene – and also worked as an homage to Supernatural actor and Richard Speight good friend Rob Benedict’s band, Louden Swain (fans who love the band join in with a kazoo chorus on one of their best-loved songs). Gruska’s score was integral to the cinematic styling of this episode, making some of the pivotal scenes more memorable.

In some of the previous episodes he has directed, I’ve been impressed with the beautiful cinematography and lighting and asked Richard about it. His appreciation for director of photography Serge Ladouceur’s talent makes their collaboration a particularly striking one. In War of the Worlds, for example, he said that he’d almost over-shot the sequence with Lucifer in the hanging cage being tormented by Michael because it just looked so cool!
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Things Get Serious with Supernatural ‘Funeralia’

The ominously titled “Funeralia,” written by Steve Yockey and directed by (one of my favorite directors) Nina Lopez-Corrado, kept the momentum going as Supernatural nears the end of Season 13. I had a few quibbles with this episode, but there was quite a bit that I loved a lot.

This episode had only two story lines going, which made the back and forth feel less overwhelming than it sometimes does, and I appreciated that. It let the emotional impact of both story arcs come through much more clearly, and honestly, that’s usually my favorite thing about an episode of this show. Adventure is good, but I watch for the emotional resonance, for the characters who are so real that they feel things – and I can feel with them.

Story line number one was Castiel and the fate of Heaven and the Angels. I am not always very adept at following the angelic story lines because they seem to shift from time to time when I’m not paying enough attention (or maybe that’s why I don’t pay enough attention). In this episode, Naomi reminds Cas (who apparently already knew) that Heaven is powered by angels, and without angels, all the souls housed there will fall to earth as ghosts. Huh? Weren’t there whole seasons when no one – Cas included – was at all concerned about the angel population and everyone seemed very willing to lead armies against other angel factions and kill lots of angels? Was nobody worried about Heaven being out of power as a result?? There was a time when Metatron ejected all the angels from Heaven, so I’m not sure how it kept being powered up then (or maybe he left a few dozen up there?) I also didn’t think it was powered by angels in the first place – wasn’t it powered by souls? And that’s why everyone wanted them from Purgatory? And then there was also the reapers are actually angels thing, which nobody mentioned this time, but I think that went away rather quickly which is probably for the best.

At any rate, I was a bit confused by all that new information about Heaven. Angel and Heaven canon in this Show tend to be a bit flexible, which is not my favorite thing. I was also confused about why no one told Cas that Lucifer was actually in Heaven – and where is he, for that matter? Or Jo?

Those quibbles aside, Misha Collins and Amanda Tapping made the Heaven story line compelling anyway, because they were both so damn good.
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Shock, Awe, Heartbreak – Must Be an Episode of Supernatural!

 

There are few things more fun than watching a brand new Supernatural episode while actually AT a Supernatural convention. That’s how I got to watch last week’s episode, Bring ‘Em Back Alive, with my con roomie and partner in crime, Kim. We perched on the edge of our hotel beds balancing  cheeseburgers and fries and settled in for an episode we were both mostly unspoiled for, which ended up making all the difference!

Like most episodes written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner, this one was jam packed full of things happening – in multiple story lines, no less. We bounce back and forth between Dean and Ketch in the AU, Sam and Cas and Gabriel in the bunker, Lucifer and Jo in Heaven, and Asmodeus in the dark and dreary room from where he rules the demons and tries to figure out how to get his captive archangel back. I usually don’t like bouncing back and forth, like at ALL, but in this episode three of the four story lines were convergent so it wasn’t as grating as it might have been. Either that or so much was happening that my head was spinning too much to notice, because whoa, was there a lot of action!

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Supernatural Seacon 2018!

 

Seattle con has always been one of my favorites. It’s just a short drive from Vancouver, so the cast is usually well rested and in a great mood – and it’s where some of my close friends live, so it means I get to visit them and hang out too. Add in the fact that some of my favorite fangirl buds were also here this year and that just makes it better. I had a vendor table with plenty of copies of Family Don’t End With Blood and our other books on Supernatural and fandom, right next to the lovely Kayla and Louden Swain, which was extra fun.

My friend Alana King of Youtube fame was also at the con, which meant time to hang out and some bonding time for the two of us whenever I accompanied Alana to anything that had to do with one Mr. Jared Padalecki. Alana had just completed a fundraiser for To Write Love On Her Arms and had a bound book of messages for Jared from all the contributors, which she had carefully handwritten. Needless to say, she was beyond nervous to give that to him, so I promised to come with her to tell him about the project and the awesome people who contributed. Alana had also agreed to get a photo op done for a fellow fan who couldn’t make it to the con, which involved Jared writing a message to her on a whiteboard – that was a lovely moment during which Jared said nice things to Alana and gave her a kiss on the forehead, which of course made Alana burst into tears. In the video blog on Alana’s channel, I’m the one doing all the reassuring smiling, but really I get all emotional too – I just hide it better!

I got to catch up with Megan Padalecki at this con too, who I haven’t chatted with in a little while and missed a lot. And of course the rest of the awesome people of the vendor squad, who are like a traveling group of artists bonded together around Supernatural – Jodi, Shelley, Scout, etc etc etc. I’m always in awe of your talents and proud to call you my friends.

Friday kicked off with Rob Benedict and Louden Swain holding down the fort while Richard Speight Jr. filmed, Rob wearing his “Frobday” shirt designed by Scout like 24 hours before and miraculously ready in shirt form for the con kickoff. Rob was rockin’ it.

And then there was the latest rendition of the Borja Borja series of shirts, this one featuring a swimming …naked…Borja. Though he insists that’s the body of a naked baby…

Rachel Miner was first up, and came onstage by means of the newly installed ramp, which thrilled her and all of us. It’s easy to forget how much of a difference it makes to be able to come and go on your own, and Rachel reminded us all, thanking Creation for making sure she could do just that.

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‘The Thing’ – Iconic Supernatural!

 

Two great episodes in a row, Season 13! We’re on a roll! I loved this week’s Supernatural episode for all the reasons that I love the Show itself. There is nothing more iconic Supernatural than one brother losing – and then saving — the other, and that’s exactly what happened in ‘The Thing’. There’s also nothing more iconic for this Show than the Winchesters being brothers, and we got that too – the balance between the humor and the emotional was exactly what I most love about this Show. Thank you, Davy Perez, for writing such an entertaining and satisfying episode.

The episode was chock full of protective Winchesters, which is my favorite flavor. Sometimes they were protecting a monster-god who was going to turn around and try to eat them, but that’s in keeping with the mistaken identity theme that Season 13 has had going from the start. (I’m still not 100% sure about Cas). This time it was Sandy Porter – well, the young woman who used to be Sandy Porter and is now the god Yokoth (Magda Apanowicz). I have to hand it to Yokoth, she played an alarmingly realistic version of woman-who’s-mysteriously-awakened-after-100-years. I suppose she was just biding her time until she figured out who to eat and who to breed with (Dean Winchester because of course it is) but she did a great job of it, looking all mystified and damsel-in-distressy. Sam and Dean, good guys that they are, totally fall for it.

After the opening scene in which Sandy is sacrificed to the tentacle monster by the creepy chanting robe-wearing people (shout out to the VFX wizards who made a tentacle monster genuinely SCARY), Sam and Dean are in the bunker trying to find that elusive last ingredient so they can open a rift of their own and get Mom and Jack back. Sam, ever the diligent researcher, has fallen asleep on the table. So Dean, ever the considerate big brother, proceeds to affix derogatory post it notes all over his back.

Ackles is so good at the subtle facial expressions as Dean tries hard not to wake Sam up, shaking his head no no no when Sam stirs and then resuming his little game when he falls back to sleep. When Sam does wake up, Dean not so casually pretends he was doing absolutely nothing – Sam is clearly suspicious, because he knows his brother, but can’t find anything amiss. It hearkened back to Season 1, when the brothers were constantly playful with each other, and I loved that little interlude.

The fact that Dean is playing this little game only for the benefit of the two of them somehow made it even more endearing. The reminder that no matter what else they’ve been through, Sam and Dean are still and always brothers, was so very welcomed.

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