Supernatural pulled another huge status-quo change at the end of last season, and now we've gotten our first glimpse of how this massive event will play out. And let's just say Demon Dean reminds us a little bit of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Spoilers ahead...
The Supernatural panel at Comic-Con showed us a clip where the demonized version of Dean Winchester meets Sam for the first time — from an episode directed by Jensen Ackles. (Ackles mentioned that Dean spends a lot of the episode tied up, a fact the fans were excited to hear.)
The clip mostly consisted of Dean stalking Sam through the Men of Letters HQ with a big fire axe, and very nearly taking Sam's head off. Dean has a great snarky energy as he urges Sammy to come and get it. At one point he calls his brother "Sammy bear." Later, the two Winchesters are face to face, and Dean is telling Sam that he's the real monster — Dean may be a demon now, but Sam has done some terrible things (including recently, searching for Dean) that are more monstrous.
During the panel, Ackles mentioned that Demon Dean isn't like other demons we've met on the show — this isn't a demon possessing a "meat suit," it's Dean's soul twisted in a demonic direction. Dean is still himself, just evil and sadistic. And Demon Dean doesn't care as much about the Impala as regular Dean does.
Demon Dean is like the guy at the party who doesn't want the party to end, even after his friends have all left and the music has died down, Ackles told us in the media pressroom. He doesn't even care, he just wants to be an asshole. Demon Dean is constantly getting into fights. "Lot of booze, lot of babes, lot of fights." Demon Dean isn't comedic, but he's definitely lighter — especially after last year, where Dean was so guilt-ridden.
A big deal last season was when Sam claimed that he would never go to as extreme lengths to save Dean as Dean had gone to to save Sam. But now, we're going to see Sam going to crazy lengths to find and save demon Dean. We asked Padalecki about this contradiction, and he said Sam was lying to Dean "because he was hurt," and "you always hurt the ones you're closest to."
Added Padalecki, "Sam wasn't saying, 'I don't care about you'... that was Sam's way of saying, 'You hurt me and you lied to me and you let me get possessed by an angel.' We do see how far Sam is willing to go, and Sam goes outrageously far, and we see the darker side of Sam, and we test the edges of morality."
But the time when Dean was in purgatory and Sam didn't look for him because he got a girlfriend and dog "was strange," added Padalecki.
Padalecki said it's been a lot of hard work coming up with new versions of Sam — the soulless version, the angel version — and it's nice that Dean is dealing with that this time around, and Padalecki has has a much more relaxing summer. Padalecki enjoyed playing soulless Sam because he was a character of pure logic, and Padalecki drew on his past as a "mathlete" in school, with a version of Sam who's always calculating.
Mark Sheppard, who plays Crowley, hinted on the panel that nobody will ever believe that Crowley didn't know what would happen to Dean with the Mark of Cain — but at the same time, Crowley may or may not be able to control his new demon friend.
In the press interviews, I asked Sheppard if he thought the relationship between Crowley and Dean was mostly just Crowley manipulating Dean, or whether there was other stuff going on. Sheppard said "there's genuine affection" between Crowley and Dean, and Crowley "would have done a lot of things, if he didn't care for" Dean. You never quite know what Crowley's endgame is, but he always manages to resolve things so he comes out on top.
Also, Misha Collins, who plays Castiel, said that Cas will be much more concerned with helping Sam to fix Dean than with his own fading grace. During the pressroom interviews, Collins told us:
"I think Cas has developed a somewhat fatalistic perspective on life, and I think that he feels like he's doomed because the only solution he now is to either get Metatron's cooperation, which he's too prideful to do, or slit an angel's throat and steal its grace and he doesn't want to kill any more angels, so he is somewhat resigned to his own expiration. So he's conerned about it, but he feels like doesn't have any options."
Showrunner Jeremy Carver said that Dean's demon transformation shapes everything that happens this season — and he also teased the 200th episode, which sounds like it's going to be not just a musical, but some kind of hair-metal tribute. Rawk on.
In the pressroom interviews, Carver said the new season is "not going to be quest-oriented," and instead the arc is going to be much more character-based and built around the impact of the decisions the characters have made. "Crowley and Castiel are going to be confronted with some very personal issues," said Carver.
"Last year was certain people deciding who they wanted to be," Carver added. "Everybody had to make that decision in the season. This season is, 'I am who I am.' That could be a very good or very bad thing."
Carver also teased that there would be some returning characters — one episode will team Sheriff Mills with Sheriff Donna Hanscum from the episode "The Purge," and the show will be doing its own version of The Heat.
In addition, "you're going to see characters that have been spoken of and have never been seen over the 10 years" of the series, Carver added.
Could Castiel star in a Supernatural spin-off? The writers are still "kicking around a lot of possible ideas about what a spin-off could be," said Collins in the press roundtables. "But nobody's talked to me." Asked about another attempted spin-off, Carver would only say that they're looking at the whiteboard and listing some ideas right now.