Supernatural‘s Winchester brothers have officially been “saving people, hunting things” for 200 episodes … and season 10 isn’t even halfway over. But after taking a break from some of the season-long drama last week to celebrate the show’s milestone, it’s time to get back in the swing of things. EW chatted with stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles about the season so far and what lies ahead.
EW: Were you all surprised at how quickly Dean became human again?
PADALECKI: Yes. I was disappointed.
ACKLES: Yeah, I thought they probably could’ve dragged that on a little longer. They wanted to get Dean back to Dean and get the brothers back to being brothers again. I like that. I’m thankful that, for the first time in several seasons, [Sam and Dean are] kind of back together as brothers. That being said, I wouldn’t have minded a handful of more episodes with that separation. That would’ve been fun.
PADALECKI: My wet dream was like having a cat-and-mouse chase ala De Niro and Pacino in Heat. I wanted to be on his trail for a while.
ACKLES: We could’ve explored more of what Sam went through too because a lot of that is being implied and not seen, which will come back in the future, and I think maybe we’ll get to see some of that in flashbacks. I hope so.
PADALECKI: I felt so blessed that I was able to play soulless Sam for half a season or Gadreel/Ezekiel Sam for half a season, and it’s so fun to watch that dynamic. Part of me wanted that action movie, like Sam on Dean’s trail or vice versa to dance around it for a little bit, but I understand we have other stories to tell.
ACKLES: It could’ve very easily been five to 10 episodes of leading up to that meeting of Sam and Dean. But they’ve only got 23 episodes and they gotta get to the point, they gotta move the story along because they got places to go.
We got a glimpse at how dark Sam went to save Dean. Is there more where that came from?
PADALECKI: There is a little bit more. It’s more hinted towards than necessarily seen.
ACKLES: We might get some flashbacks and stuff in the future.
PADALECKI: And we also see it kind of manifested in the way Sam behaves. He knows that he crossed these boundaries that he swore he’d never cross. These people were humans. And so Sam has done whatever it took to monsters but to do it to a human being and to a human soul I think has put this kind of resolution inside of Sam where he knows where he’s gone and he doesn’t want to go there again.
What are the after-effects of Demon Dean like? How did his time as a demon change him?
ACKLES: I think right now it’s less about what he was and it’s more about what he might possibly still be. He’s still got the Mark of Cain so he’s still dealing with whatever adverse affects that’s having on him, which have yet to be really defined. But I think it’s the mystery of what those could be that is really haunting Dean right now. He’s got the shakes. He’s trying to live a cleaner life because he doesn’t want to let down his guard. He doesn’t want to cloud his judgment right now because if he does, then he’s like, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to control myself and I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole,” so right now it’s a little tricky. Sam’s aware of it and he’s kind of watching out for him and I’m sure it will manifest itself at some point but to what, I’m not quite sure.
How is the relationship between the brothers moving forward?
PADALECKI: Sam knows how much he loves his brother and how much he’ll do for his brother, or for Cas, or whoever he loves, but he feels like sometimes he hasn’t either shown it or had the opportunity to—from the pilot when he decided to go off to school to season seven when he was with Amelia instead of trying to get his brother back from purgatory. Sam knows that when shit hits the fan, Sam will do whatever it takes, but he isn’t always sure that other people see that. And talking to fans, [I] hear that kind of echoed where they’re like, “Hey, why won’t Sam do for Dean what Dean does for Sam?” And part of me wants to like go, “Sam went to the hell box as Lucifer for his brother. What are you talking about he doesn’t do the same thing?” So it just goes to show that not everybody knows just what Sam’s commitments are. But I think he’s proven himself kind of begrudgingly because he had to cross some boundaries he didn’t want to cross, but now he knows that Dean knows just how far he will go to help his brother, and now the audience gets to see it too.
Is Sam still holding on to the anger from the angel possession?
PADALECKI: He always will. He is enriched and changed. Sam is holding onto the anger from all 200 something episodes up to…
ACKLES: Dragging him out of college.
PADALECKI: Since dragging him out of college. Sam, prior to being an angel is very different from post being an angel. Legitimately, the best part of a show going this long is that Sam and Dean have been affected by each and every effing thing that has happened in the last 200 something episodes
ACKLES: Those are battle scars that aren’t going to go away.
PADALECKI: Those are battle scars that aren’t going to go away even though CW makeup comes on and covers them up. The characters are richer and more layered for having gone through that, so that will always be in Sam’s mind. And he knows that he’s vulnerable, and he sees what his brother will do, and he has a certain respect for it now because now he sees what he was willing to do, so it kind of validates what Dean was willing to do to bring his brother back. However, he’ll never forget it. He’ll move past because he’s a soldier but he’ll never forget it.
ACKLES: I don’t think that there’s anything that will completely ever usurp the brother bond, the family bond that is what ties these two ties together. They can say, “We’re not brothers,” and they can pretend like they’re not brothers, and they can do all the things to each other that might scar that, but it will be just that—it will be a scar on a bond that will never really break.
How much is witchcraft playing a role in this season?
PADALECKI: It plays a lot.
ACKLES: I don’t think that we’ve really gotten into the meat of that just yet.
PADALECKI: We’ve never delved into witches like we did delve into demons and angels and even vampires.
PADALECKI: Leviathans, yeah. We’ve played around with witches but witches actually play a pretty large part in our storyline, even from like “Man’s Best Friend,” where there was a witch making a dog manifest itself as the servant, and Crowley was a witch before.
ACKLES: They’ve always been there.
PADALECKI: They’ve always been there and so now we get to delve into this part of the supernatural universe. I’ve read a few forward and we see witchcraft play integral parts in a few episodes coming up and I think it’s a neat thing that we haven’t seen. Sam and Dean have the thing they do with demons, they have the thing they do with vampires or with ghosts or zombies, but we haven’t really seen them come head-to-head with witches too much so it’s going to be a nice new arena to explore.
How much will Cole factor into season?
ACKLES: I’m not sure when he’s due back.
PADALECKI: But he has been back since then.
ACKLES: Yes, yes. And I think that just from his character’s perspective, his mind has been blown and his eyes have been opened to what is really out there, to the monsters that live in Sam and Dean’s world, so [how he will] factor into the lives of these two brothers has really yet to be seen, but he’s going to be around. I’m sure that that’s probably something that will come to fruition later in the season but right now I think it’s more of an introductory storyline. But how that’s going to pay off, I have not read.
All we know about this year’s mythology is that it’s very “personal.” What more can you say about that?
PADALECKI: The big bad, I think, is hard to specify at this point. We’re going to see Crowley, Cas, Dean and Sam, all going through their own personal struggle—Dean with the Mark of Cain and where he was as a demon; and Sam with where he had to go to save Dean from the Mark of Cain and how far he will continue to go; and Cas dealing with his family and his past. He’s been an angel for so long but I think we’re going to see him kind of struggle with, “What else is there? What have I done to my human me?” It’s a very human struggle. Even Crowley as the King of Hell, we saw one of his demon cronies resort to self-immolation to say I have troubles with the way you’re running things, so we see these four characters that have been through so much. But [now], we’re all going through very human struggles and we’ll see where that takes us. Supernatural kind of plays with macro and then micro and then macro and then micro. So this year, we’re definitely focusing on the specifics.
Supernatural airs tonight at 9 p.m. on The CW.
Reporting by Natalie Abrams