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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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 Gets Back to The Family Business with Tombstone

I’ve been a happy Supernatural fangirl so far in Season 13, and episode 13.06 was also a win in my book. I’m not over the moon like I was last week, but it was a solid episode with great performances once again – both dramatic and funny as hell — and some great directing by Nina Lopez-Corrado, one of my favorite SPN directors. Also a special shout out to Jay Gruska for the awesome music throughout the episode, both instrumental and song choice. This was one of those episodes that had a specific “feel” to it, with the writing (by Davy Perez), directing, music and set decoration all contributing to make it wonderful.

Supernatural has done a Western episode before, so this one didn’t carry the first time thrill of OMG we get to see Sam and Dean in the old west, but it’s been a while so I was eager to see Dean Winchester put on boots and a cowboy hat once again. And this episode marked a change in tone for the season that was significant– having Castiel back is that ‘one win’ that Dean so badly needed in order to rekindle some spark of hope so he can care again. He told Sam at the end of the last episode that he just needed a win, and he got a big one. Castiel is back, against all odds. That’s wonderful in itself, but maybe that means other things can change for the better as well. Dean has hope again, and a renewed belief that maybe what they do really CAN make a difference – just by knowing that good things can still happen. Miracles, even. I think we’ve all missed Dean’s personality this season, since his usual sense of humor and ability to take great delight in even the smallest things has been quashed by his depression, grief and hopelessness. In this episode, we start to see the Dean Winchester we know and love come back to life, and it feels almost as good as when I see that start to happen with a real person, whether a client or a friend. I’ve missed this side of you, Dean Winchester!

The episode starts with a flashlight-lit chase in a graveyard with Dean and some sheriff guy we don’t recognize, until he disappears down a hole grabbed by who knows what. Then it’s “48 Hours Earlier” and we’re back to where we left off, as Sam and Dean react to the surprise return of Cas.

Sam: I don’t know what to say…

Dean: I do. Welcome home, pal.

You can see how desperate Dean is for that win – he barely hesitates, he needs to believe this is really Cas from the get go. The relief on his face as he embraces his friend is palpable.

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