Friday’s May 6 episode of “Supernatural” takes us on a ride unlike any we’ve seen from the show before. Episodes have a tendency to be shown from the perspective of Sam or Dean, and at one point this season, we saw a Bobby-centric episode. It’s now Castiel’s turn to take the narrative wheel through writer Ben Edlund, who has never disappointed us with his episodes.
This time, Edlund is also wearing the director’s hat in his “Supernatural” directorial debut. We posted a short preview of our chat with Edlund earlier this week, but now we can share with you the entire, slightly troubling conversation. One thing’s for sure about tonight’s episode — we’re about to learn a lot more about our angel buddy.
And we may not particularly like what we discover.
Zap2it: We spoke with executive producer Bob Singer recently, and he told us that this season you’ve all made a conscious effort to keep the war in Heaven off-screen. Will we be seeing heaven on screen in this episode?
Edlund: We will. We’ve seen heaven before, from time to time, and each time requires that we take cameras and point them somewhere on the planet. And it’s not like we can choose from anywhere on the planet, it’s in Vancouver, it’s our best shot. We’re generally cautious about pacing ourselves and keeping from overstepping our capacities, but I feel like we’ve done some good stuff. There are sojourns in heaven and hell. It’s a good travelogue into the Supernatural universe, both temporally, and this is a first-hand account from Castiel of his life so far in a way.
Seeing as this is a far cry from your usual monster-of-the-week “Supernatural” episode, were there any particular challenges when it came to writing and directing this particular hour?
There were a couple of things that were a challenge. One was a structural writing issue. It’s a voiceover episode, which we don’t usually do, with Cas speaking, in essence, to the audience. Temporally, it goes from flashbacks, to flashbacks within flashbacks. We go from biblical times to the present. It’s a real trip, and inside that structure, we visit moments over the course of this past season and in the middle, between Season 4 and this one, to kind of flesh out where Castiel’s story has taken him. It does a lot of explaining, and you don’t want to talk too much, so I’d say it was a pretty challenging deal. With the writing aspect, that was a hard one. A lot of angels talking, which is always difficult, and the story is a massive one that had to be boiled down to 41 minutes and it had to be filmable.
It seems like this was a lot to take on as a first-time director on this series. Did you specifically choose to direct the Castiel-centric episode?
I was slotted to direct an episode called #20. That was quite some time ago. That number in the order makes it almost certain that it will be a predominantly dramatic episode. I knew those kinds of thing going in, but as far as it being specific to Cas or the arch that it would embody, we developed those things on the fly. Once I understood where were in the storyline, I pitched a Cas episode, because we love him and we want to know his story.
Now that the Mother of All is dead, what does that mean for Castiel and Crowley? How did she fit into their plan?
The real driving catalyst, the reason why more bad has happened to good people on ‘Supernatural’ this year than any other year, does not come directly through the Mother of All monsters. She’s badass, and she does bad things, but it’s this partnership between the angel and the demon that has driven most of our conflicts. It’s all because of Crowley and Castiel.
I was surprised that you killed Eve off in episode 19. I’d figured that she was the big bad of Season 6 and that we’d see them take her down in the season finale.
I think it’s good that you’re shocked, and that it was an audience expectation that we would be running a more traditional big bad course with the mother of all monsters and that that’s not where we’re going. The fact that people love the character of Cas and are really worried about what he’s doing, that makes good drama, and that I credit to Sera. In the early stages of plotting this arc, that was one of the real tentpoles that went up. It’s painful, but it’s good that it’s painful.
Was there any hesitation in taking Castiel in a darker, more painful direction? He’s been a breath of fresh air so often, bringing humor to tense situations.
I had my hesitations, because I really like the fish-out-of-water, dumb jokes, and I like Cas. I like the thing on camera that Misha created that complemented this new strain of creature, this angel coming into our world and gave a body and character to it. That’s a really great thing. But one of the rules of ‘Supernatural’ is loss, and losing things. You have to love something before you can feel its loss. I think if we were to keep him around as a kind of happy-go-lucky kind of Joe Pesci in the back, we would not be answering our higher imperatives of keeping this thing tense and keeping it real and keeping the stakes high.
Especially considering the fact that Dean has finally gotten back on track with Sam, how is he going to feel when he realizes what Castiel has been doing behind their backs?
He won’t like it. Familial betrayal is his kryptonite, so to speak. It’s his thing. It’s the thing he hates worse than any other thing, and he has brought Cas into the family, so the math there has a clear outcome. It’s going to hurt him deeply even to discover what we understand to be the case right now, which is that Cas is capable of working with a demon. Even that is going to be so painful. It’s going to be a hard week for that good-looking bastard.
What is it about Crowley that keeps him around? He’s one of very few bad guys that has lasted longer than a season.
I like thinking of Crowley as the smartest player on the board. Other characters have more core strength. He’s like a cockroach, or something. He is the embodiment of consciousless resource. If it weren’t Mark Sheppard, maybe he wouldn’t be back so much, but the character that arrived when we first brought him in — the disenchanted demon who wanted Lucifer dead — it just opened up a door for all kinds of great ironic places to go. The voice that emerged is one that’s fun to write for. On a show like Supernatural, to come back that number of times is miraculous, because we kill fast.
Tune in to “Supernatural” Fridays at 9 p.m. EST on The CW.