The end of the first half of Supernatural’s impressive ninth season ended with a shocker that sent fans of the series into a state of shock — the death of beloved nerdy prophet Kevin Tran (Osric Chau).
With the mid-season break now in full swing (the show returns Jan. 14), we spoke with executive producer Jeremy Carver about Tran’s sad departure and his plans for the second half of the season for a recent edition of Spoiler Room in Entertainment Weekly. Below is our full chat, presented as a special edition of the online column:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, is Kevin’s death going to stick?
JEREMY CARVER: I know it’s going to hurt. And it’s with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Kevin. With any luck, being Supernatural, there will be a way to perhaps see him sometime down the line, but it’s with a very heavy heart that we see Kevin be murdered.
Talk to me about the decision to do this and how it propels the characters’ arcs going forward.
We were saying from the beginning of the season that Dean has made two very big decisions here. One was at the end of last season when he convinced Sam not to close the gates of hell and the beginning of this season making the decision to essentially trick Sam into accepting the angel Ezekiel — who was actually the angel Gadreel. But he made these two crucial decisions that affected the boys’ mythology and to watch particularly the second one turn into a heartbreaking failure is really what’s going to be driving Dean from here on out in the season, starting with he’s going to do whatever it takes to track down this angel and eject him from Sam. And that’s going to lead him to making alliances that he never thought he’d be forced to make. But he’ll do anything, basically, to try to right what he, I guess, considers one of the biggest mistakes he’s ever made.
How does Dean deal with it emotionally? They were best buddies and he was extremely broken up about it at the end.
It really does break him up — frankly, as it did us. Kevin has become a really beloved character on this show and like I said, it’s with a heavy heart that we did this but sometimes you have to go where the story goes. And Dean finds himself, I think, a bit unmoored by this with really no one but himself to blame. And as we know, Dean’s go-to is blaming himself anyway. And the fact that he’s right this time, hits him hard. And I think we’ll find him struggling with this for quite a few episodes. Now, I think things get serious, tense, sad and people get angry. But I don’t think in any shape or form that things get mired in sadness. It’s not like we’ve thrown a 600-pound weight on this. Things are kept moving and brisk. You can throw a pity party all you’d like but there’s always a monster around the corner waiting to be killed. The last thing we’re going to do is, whether he wants to or not, no one is going to get a chance to drown his sorrows. That’s where the unlikely alliances come in and people pulling Dean out of this come into play. They keep things moving and keep it interesting, compelling.
At the end of the episode, Gadreel takes off in Sam’s body. So are we going to see Sam’s body and Dean go their separate ways?
That’s a little tricky in that we have people on different paths. We’ve got Sam who’s being possessed and essentially taken over by Gadreel, an angel who’s done this horrible thing. And we’re going to reveal that Gadreel is more complex than we even may have presented him now….I think we’re going to see Gadreel put through his pieces a bit mmre by Metatron in terms of going down a dark path.
I think Jared has done a wonderful job playing the role and I think the real fun thing we find in episode nine that Jared hasn’t just been playing two roles, he has, in essence, been playing three. So that’s a lot of fun to see this other side come out as well. And Jensen has done a wonderful job playing against this. So that’s really what driving the mythology of the boys when we come back.
Castiel has his powers back. Tell me about what’s next for him.
You’re going to see that Castiel, now an angel, is going to find himself in this angelic frame more than ever and this might be a little bit of a case of be careful what you wish for. Now that he’s an angel again, he’s going to have to find his place in this angelic battle, and it may not be the place he imagined for himself, which is going to confront him with some choices he perhaps never thought he’d have to make. So he’s right back in the fire, as it were.
In terms of the standalone episodes, what’s coming up?
It’s going to be really interesting. It’s going to be a combination of introducing some really really wonderful new characters into the mythology while also seeing a lot more of some of our favorite friends returning in the back half. For example, Dean’s journeys will lead him to an encounter with none other than Cain [guest star Tim Omundson] of Cain and Abel and that will open up a whole new branch of mythology for the show that is going to have significant impact on the rest of the season and throughout the series. That’s a very exciting new story vein we’re opening up. And we’re going to get an answer to where the heck Garth (DJ Qualls) has been this whole time and viewers will remember he sort of went AWOL when put in charge of guarding Kevin back in season 8 and we’ll answer this question, and I think it will be surprising. And there will be hugs. I think we can rest assured we’ll be seeing the return of The Ghostfacers. They will be making a return in what actually is a really fun and pretty emotional episode. And we’re going to do a heck of a lot of digging into the men of letter’s lore. We’re going to be going even deeper into that and introducing new characters and taking a deeper look at some men of letters characters we’ve even met before. That’s a storyline that continues to pay off for us in a fun and exciting new way. Then I can tell you we’re going to see some people we absolutely did not expect to see. And it’s all a result of the events that have happened here in the last season and a half. I can’t go much more into detail than that.
I assume they’re beloved people.
I think they are. I think we can say these people are beloved, yes. And I think it makes for some pretty strong stuff.
Last, I have to ask about splitting the guys up. That’s something that’s always met with some mixed reactions. Can you talk a little bit about why that was something you wanted to do at this point and how long that will be the case?
We frankly go where the story takes us and the story is about two brothers who go hunting monsters in their Impala — no one is more aware of that than we are. So in the same way that some folks may have been complaining that Castiel was apart from the boys when he was human, I like to think he’s gone on a pretty interesting journey. So to cut right to it, the boys might be apart but they’re not apart that long. We’re invested in good story but we’re also not crazy.