Sunday, 31 March 2013

Review: Supernatural 8.18 "Freaks and Geeks"

Off the back of what was a cracker of a mythology episode, this week’s “Supernatural” was a filler (not that there's anything wrong with that). But that didn’t stop the script giving plenty of nods to the past.

It’s something that’s been so very enjoyable in season 8, an acknowledgment of and continuity with the history of the show. We kicked off the “Then” with John Winchester’s voiceover, explaining vampire lore, way back from the season 1 episode “Dead Man’s Blood” and then got a flashback to “Supernatural’s” greatest vampire hits. We got a nod to the Campbell family recipe cure. We got a nod to the Leviathan of last season. We revisited the themes of whether vengeance constitutes justice, what really makes a monster – is it being an actual monster or just being monstrous in your actions and of course, that old chestnut, can a hunter really have a normal life.

These things took what could have been a bit of an average filler, to something a little more interesting. Weaving a thread of this show’s history and themes through an episode always makes me happy.

I said in my preview that I wasn’t much of a fan of Krissy, not that I disliked her, just that I wasn’t as enamoured with her as many people seemed to be. I found her a tad more enjoyable in “Freaks and Geeks”. She was still dripping with ‘tude, but really, who could blame her with her dad being killed and all. I know a couple of brothers who’ve been pretty eaten up and vengeful after the loss of a loved one. In fact, when they first met Krissy, the Winchesters were fresh off watching Bobby die and Dean, in particular, was hell bent on catching and ganking the Leviathan that did it. So, I thought Krissy’s slightly more pronounced hard edge, with a smattering of vulnerability was appropriate.

In true “Supernatural” orphan style, she connected with people of similar experience and built a new family unit. Once again, another universal theme of the show was touched on. Family don’t end with blood, as a wise, curmudgeony, cap-wearing fellow once reminded us.

What I didn’t totally get was Victor’s evil plan. He lost his family to a wendigo and consequently, became a hunter; first to track down the thing that took his life from him and then tracking down other nasties to make sure no-one else would have to go through his pain. This is essentially every hunter’s story. Offering the kids training and closure in a safe haven, was not too much of a head scratcher, though, producing angry, kill or be killed kids, is not exactly ideal parenting. But here’s where I go…err. I didn’t completely get onboard with the whole, in cahoots with the vampire in order to create a hunter master race thing. Yeah ok, he was having new vamps made to be easy kills for the kids, which Victor then misled them to believe were the vampires that killed their families. But what was the next stage of this plan? Krissy was supposed to gank the girl vampire and then all 3 kids would've, supposedly, got their revenge. So what was next? Would Victor kill the vampire he was working with and train the kids to kill something new? And he killed the 3 kid’s families to simply build a batch of new super-dooper hunters? A tad extreme don’t you think? But then, I guess Victor was a few tools short of a kit. That was made pretty clear from the outset! Maybe his plan was never supposed to make sense to us, because there’s no sense in and nothing to be gain by vengeance.

Old Victor gave me the heebs and made me feel hinkey right from the get go. He made me all uncomfortable and skin crawly. He might as well have had a captioned arrow following him around ever scene, pointing at him and saying "Bad guy". Maybe it was because this actor played the shtriga in “Something Wicked” or maybe it was that sweater…maybe Dean’s right on the sweater thing. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, even sometimes as a human with the outward appearance of meaning well. I always enjoy it when “Supernatural” toys with what makes something truly a monster. Some humans are just as bad, if not worse than monsters. Both Sam and Dean have learnt this and still struggle with it with it. Victor was a monster, a creepy sweater.

Dean’s interaction with Krissy was one of the more enjoyable aspects of “Freaks and Geeks”. They were thrown together in “Adventures in Babysitting” when Krissy’s dad and Sam fell foul of the vetala. That time around, they managed to snark each other out pretty nicely as Dean tried to give Krissy a bit of career counselling and Krissy would hear nothing of it. This time around, their previous connection opened a door for Dean to get Krissy to listen to him and trust in what he was telling her.

Dean with kids is one of my favourite things. He has a way with them. Maybe it’s because he predominantly spent time with his younger brother whilst growing up, maybe it’s because he raised Sam and so has developed a parental vibe about him. Whatever it is, he’s great with the kids, seemingly getting them and being able to talk to them on a level they respect. Equal parts authoritarian, understanding and cool. Actually, it probably helps that he’s cool, it drips off him…even though we all know deep down he’s a dweeb. Dean is someone it’d be hard not to listen to.

Talking Krissy down from killing Victor and making her realise that was not a path she wanted to take, was a nice moment. She wouldn’t want to be crossing that line. Sam and Dean crossed it years ago, we’ve seen them kill humans when they’ve absolutely had to, but hopefully Krissy need never go there. It may have felt like some kind of justice but it would've ended up feeling like empty, angry vengeance and that would've smarted later. The Winchesters can attest to how vengeance may feel great initially, but in the long run, doesn’t change much. They’re still full of hurt, they're still hunting; Krissy would be too. It was a lesson in doing the right thing over what feels right in the moment. Doing what is right over exacting revenge. Something that has been learnt by the Winchesters as they've travelled their very bumpy road. Though, I have a sneaking suspicion that had Victor not done the deed for them, the brothers would've been paying him a return visit to permanently take him out of the picture. Because, how could you not trust him to do that again? But better two grown men than a teenage girl...

I do think there was an opportunity lost in not discussing with Krissy and the kids, or even Victor how the brothers were raised in line with how these kids were being raised and how it screwed with their heads. It would've been any eye opener for Krissy, Aiden and Josephine to hear the Winchester’s story (not the whole story of course) and a nice nod to the brother's history together. It could have acted as a cautionary tale and if they wanted to get the kids out of hunting, giving them the straight-up on the cost of the "life" could have helped. Sure, the brothers really never had any choice in the matter, not simply because of John but because of their destinies, something was going to come and tap them on the shoulder eventurally, but these kids did have a choice. I would've liked to have seen that scene and was a little disappointed we didn't go there.

The theme of wanting a normal life ran thick through this episode. Victor, outwardly, was trying to give the kids a normal life, a safe and solid start, whilst training them to be killers on the side (!!). It didn’t pan out, because Victor was not who he seemed to be, but beyond that, because, can the life of a hunter ever be normal?

Sam is still hopeful; he still wants that chance and still sees a future where that might be a possibility. Maybe with kids, maybe not. I think Sam sees these trials and closing Hell’s gates as his best shot, his and Dean’s best shot, because then, maybe the world would be a safer place. Maybe they wouldn’t need to be on the road all the time, hunting. Maybe one or both of them could leave the "life", settle down and risk bringing kids into this world. Maybe hunting could become a side job, not an all consuming calling. I think this dream is propelling Sam forward and has helped him re-embrace hunting (something he was super squirrelly about at the beginning of the season), because he can see a goal, the light at the end of the tunnel, for both of them. Of course, even if the brothers close Hell’s gates, there will be other monsters; there will always be other monsters... But dreams are a good thing.

We saw what happened to Dean in season 7 when he felt there was no hope. He became a sad, shadow of himself. We’ve seen Sam become an impassioned (not in a good way) hunter, becoming fuelled by desperation and anger when he felt that was his only option. I prefer this Sam, one who still has hope for a brighter future. One who can see more than hunting in this world. One who looks for the positive in a situation. One who can help keep his brother grounded. It feels more like the Sam I feel in love with. Similarly, I like that Dean has rediscovered his mojo and now appears to be mostly ok with hunting (as in not bemoaning about it to anyone who will listen), because the Dean I fell in love with, loved the family business and saw purpose and value in what he did. These two balance each other. I see them as the yin to each other's yang.

I really like that Sam still has this dream, even if that’s all it is. I think it’s what keeps Sam, Sam; empathetic, resilient and thoughtful, because he has hope and hope are important. He's always been a far more positive person than Dean. I guess having a dream for a better future can do that for a guy. I hope that never changes.

This glimmer of hope has given this season a less oppressively dark feel. Season 8 seems lighter in tone, which is a blessed relief quite frankly!

Of course...the placement of this episode could be looked on as prophetic. Here we had another lesson on how humans and monsters don't mix. A hunter working with and trusting a vampire. Victor, of course, had a nefarious agenda, but still...a hunter working with and trusting a vampire... "Supernatural" rarely shows us these things for no reason.

I’ll say this for Adam Glass, he’s got better. He’s delivered far stronger episodes this season. He seems more disciplined in his characterisations. But what I’ll also say about Adam is that his episodes tend to have a nice build and then wrap up in a frenzy. My analogy, whilst discussing this with a friend was, it’s like he’s great at foreplay and then comes too quick! I think this episode suffered a little from that. I also thought the Hell’s gates scene at the end felt a tad cobbled on and was there to make a point that we’d already got a handle on… 'Real' life for a hunter possible/impossible? If they close the gates, will the kids be able to have a 'real' life, will the brothers be able to have a 'real' life. "Maybe they won't be the only ones." Yeah, yeah, we get it Mr Glass, no need to whack us over the head with it. Actually I thought it was pretty funny when Sam said, "What do they have to do with any of that?" Because I was thinking the the same thing! But all in all, I thought Adam Glass wrote a nice filler here, with some good dialogue and enjoyable moments, managing to stay true to many of the themes of the shows and possibly foreshadowing trouble coming down the line for a monster/hunter relationship. It was a filler, but it didn't take me out of the overall arc of the season.

Plus the boys were working well together and I'm just happy that they're at the place they're at!

I particularly dug the brother’s scene in the car, at the top of the episode. Man, they love to chat in that car! It was cool that they were checking in on each other and it was adorable to see Sam try to get Dean to acknowledge that Cass has hurt his feelings! For the tiniest moment, I thought Dean was going to say something deep, but noooooo, silly me! What was I thinking?! “Why don’t I go and get some herbal tea and you can find some Cowboy Junkies on the dial and we can just talk it out!” “Eat me, Dean!” Bahaha! Bless Sam and the tenacity he shows in forever persevering with trying to get his brother to talk about his feelings! And, did Dean yell out “Nay!” Nay? He must have been hanging with those LARPers again!

Also…both the guys looked glorious in this episode. It was one of those, pause, rewind, play, pause, rewind, play episodes…. *sigh*

Oh and when Dean took Aiden's gun away... Guh!

That's it! Next week, it’s back to the big arc and the trials (eeeeep) and a returning character… Benny, I’m talking about Benny!

Let me know what you thought of the episode. Thanks for reading!

sweetondean is Chief Editor and writer for The Winchester Family Business.

For all the latest Supernatural info and article links, follow The Winchester Family Business on Twitter at @WinFamBusiness

Review: Supernatural 8.17 "Good Bye Stranger"

Well hello “Supernatural” you’re on fire baby! “Goodbye Stranger” was damn fine. I can easily judge how much I dig an episode by how much noise I make and at one stage I was a tad worried that me screaming “No, no, no” at my television might have my neighbours calling the cops! (Alas they did not; obviously they don’t care for my welfare). I was knee deep in this one from beginning to end. In a season of super strong episodes, “Goodbye Stranger” was right up there.

That was one hell of a powerful opening. Seeing Castiel drive an angel blade through Dean’s heart was shocking, even if we all knew that it couldn’t possibly be real. It made us realise what was coming, foreshadowed something awful and for me, put me on edge straight away, where I stayed for the 40 something minutes. The hundreds of dead Deans shot was fantastic…even if it was my worst nightmare. Seriously though, he’s one hell of a pretty dead dude!

Ok, let’s talk about Meg…I can’t wait any longer. I’m so bummed out that Meg died. (Did she die? She did didn’t she. I think she did. But I’m still holding on to a little hope). Meg’s a nasty piece of work for sure and she could never redeem herself for the evil she’s perpetrated against the Winchesters, but oh my gosh I’ve always loved her. She’s been a character that has redefined herself over and over. She’s understood that sometimes to survive, you have to go where the wind blows you. She’s always had the best snark I’ve ever heard and even though I loved Nicki Aycox’s Meg, it was Rachel Miner’s Meg that I truly adored. She playfully owned Meg’s evilness.

Meg always knew which card to play, even if sometimes that was the helpful card. If it protected her or got her to where she needed to be, she was willing to take a road that may not be the most enjoyable. I saw in her the kind of do-what-needs-to-be-done-to-get-the-job-done mentality that the brothers have developed. I liked that symmetry and that development in her character. I think she wound up being more like the Winchesters then she’d ever care to admit. An adaptable survivor – it’s just she’s all for bad, where as they’re all for good. I think that’s part of the reason they ended up working with her. They were all capable of seeing a common goal and doing what needed to be done to achieve it, even if their reasoning differed. There wasn’t trust per say, simply understanding. She understood the brothers would as soon as stab her with the demon knife as look at her and the brothers understood she’d throw them to the hellhounds if it suited her. But both could put those things on the back burner to do what needed to be done. I loved how Meg and the Winchester’s relationship developed like this. It shows how smart they all are.

Meg’s relationship with Cass started off as a thorny one for me. I disliked the pizza man kiss with every fibre of my being. It came from nowhere and felt like nothing but fan service. But the show managed to develop their peculiar relationship and obvious attraction into something interesting. It’s that line between good and evil that the show loves to toy with. But beyond that, for me Meg and Cass would see something in each other that they wouldn’t see in the human world they live in. They’re both supernatural creatures, with a different understanding of humanity’s place in the scheme of things. They’ve both been around the block a few times. If thrown together like they were, I can see them being drawn to one another if only for that reason. Being something different can be hard, even if you’re all evil, or all powerful. That’s something that shone through for me in their scene in “Goodbye Stranger”. In one room you had a couple of humans, in the other room you had a couple of totally different creatures that could connect on a level no human could ever understand.

Meg of course was human once, why would she not be attracted to a hot guy (albeit it hot angel). Cass may never have been down that road, but he’s been with humanity for a few years now and the most human of humanity, the Winchesters. You can see in all his interactions how this has changed Castiel, for good and bad. He obviously feels emotions now, why would he not feel conflicted affection for a creature with a commonality to him, who at one point took care of him and was now vulnerable and tattered in front of him. I liked this scene a lot. I liked that Cass has no clue why he’s so sweet on Meg, having never experienced anything like this before. I liked that he’s learnt what makes a girl’s nethers quiver (though I presume only in theory); he's watched  at least one porno and he's been hanging out with Dean after all, not like Dean’s shy about the ladies. The whole scene rang true to me and I was surprised by it. It also made me want to see Misha in some kind of romantically sexy role, because damn, the way he looked at Meg…well, I was tempted to grab some pizza and move some furniture around!

Meg’s death hit me hard (this may have been the yelling no, no, no thing). The character has such a long and strong history with the show, through her connection with Azazel, the original villain of “Supernatural”, the very first thing we all learnt to hate and started out hunting with the boys. She’s possessed Sam, beat the snot out of Dean, was partly responsible for Jo and Ellen’s deaths. In the end, she went down fighting for what she believed in, Lucifer and that Crowley is an ass! She’s Lucifer’s gal. I don’t think for a moment that she was standing up for Sam and Dean – though maybe her Unicorn – she was preventing Crowley from getting what he wanted, because she hates Crowley, he’s a usurper in her eyes, plus he just tortured the crap out of her. No angel tablet for Crowley is a win for Meg. I think that’s why she stood and fought. Team Free Will’s ultimate escape to safety was simply a by-product. Which seems fitting. The fact that the guys scarpered without assisting her, speaks to what I said earlier, this was their relationship, she was after all Meg, an evil demon who caused them a lot of pain… But booooo! In a season where we seem to be rebuilding the “Supernatural” Universe, why did they choose to kill her off? The Meg character is meshed to the cellular make up of where we’ve been and where we are now. I’m bummed to lose that history. She felt like the last one standing…

Wow – so I apparently turned this into a eulogy for Meg! We return to our normally scheduled programming…

One of the things I’ve been enjoying about season 8, well the back end, has been the teasing between the brothers. I’m loving both of them having a bit of fun with each other again. The fact that they’re smiling regularly and smiling at their brother, well, be still my beating heart. It feels like years since we’ve seen them being so affectionately playful! Sam in particular seems to be having a good time poking fun at Dean and I’m really enjoying it. The first scene with the brothers was kind of delightful, except for the coughing up blood thing. Dean’s Doc Holliday joke was an unknowingly astute call.

I’m also loving this new honesty business. We’ve had some cracker Impala/brother scenes this season and this may have been my favourite. Dean simply saying he can’t take any more lies and Sam agreeing to be upfront from now on just, well, yay and *sigh*. I love these guys and I love where we’ve come with them. Through all the pain we end up here, where they’re laying their cards and their feelings on the table over and over. I think this has been the most honest they’ve been in like, forever. It certainly feels like the closest they’ve been in like, forever. And Sam’s cheeky come back to Dean’s heartfelt “I can carry you” line was so awesome. It really pulled me back and reminded me of “No Rest for the Wicked” when Sam told Dean he “…should’ve been jamming Eye of the Tiger right there” after Dean’s impassioned speech. Perfect come back in a perfect scene – just like Dean’s “Shut-up”. So perfect! It’s also good to know the Rudy Hobbit, like Swayze, always gets a pass!

One thing that became clear in “Goodbye Stranger” is that Naomi has no clue who Castiel really is, or what makes him tick. Killing fake Deans over and over and over (and over and over…must have taken him a while to get to where she thought she had him), was never going to be the same as having real Dean in front of him. She underestimated Dean and Cass’ friendship and she underestimated the level of humanity that Castiel now has. If there’s one thing “Supernatural” does well, it’s show how loyalty and love can conquer all. It drew John back from Azazel, it drew Sam back from Lucifer, it drew Bobby back from possession and now it drew Cass back from Naomi.

And they all happened to be facing a bloodied and broken Dean at the time, who reminded them that they were family and he loved them, because for Dean that’s the most important thing. Dean’s the embodiment of this theme. Oh my gosh…I literally just teared up! I’m not saying that it’s just Dean who can do this for people, it’s just that the Cass and Dean beat down scene is one that we’ve seen before and it’s used as a metaphor for what’s at the heart of this show. Cass learnt about love and loyalty and family from the best teachers ever, the Winchesters. He was never going to be able to stab that in the heart.

Where’s this angel tablet thing going? In fact where’s this demon tablet thing going? I’ve been pontificating theories with Far Away Eyes about what the snag to this whole tablet thing might be. There’s got to be a snag right? It ain’t going to be that simple (not that the trials are simple, but you know what I mean). Cass is off on a bus to where exactly? Is the tablet leading him or did connecting with the tablet give him a better understanding of what needs to be done now. Is he off to track down the tablet’s scribe, the Transformer angel Metatron? You can bet your bottom dollar that whatever Cass is doing and what the brothers are trying to do is going to end up being at odds.

There were a couple of really interesting things raised in this episode, like Naomi and Crowley’s past relationship. I think most of us have always suspected that Crowley is not quite what he seems, not simply a crossroads demon made good. The fact that he’s been around since Mesopotamian days, certainly would imply that he’s something bigger…even if just a demon, an ancient demon who’s had dalliances with angels in the past – if indeed Naomi is an angel (I think she is, just a special branch). Obviously the whole Fergus thing was a ruse. Is it that Crowley has been many people over his time and humanity has always been his cover? Was he simply possessing Fergus and laying low for some reason? Is Crowley simply his latest in a long line of concealments? We’ve seen his red eyes, we’ve seen red smoke, but he’s pretty gosh darn powerful, I figure he can fake whatever he needs.

The other thing was far more troubling. Sam’s health. What does it mean that Sam’s been damaged in ways that even Cass can’t heal. “Something on the subatomic level and his electromagnetic field…” What? Hmmm…. Interesting indeed! I think it’s important to note that when Dean asked Cass if it was lethal, Cass said he didn’t know. I found this whole conversation around the changes in Sam to be so intriguing. We know he’s suffering, but maybe the deep changes – the changes that are happening to his cellular construction - are something different all together. Something not bad – not lethal – a different change. Cass said damaged, but that could also just mean changed right? (Right? RIGHT!!!?)

I liked “Goodbye Stranger” a hell of a lot. I’m a sucker for great big mythology episodes and this one was a BIG one. I’m glad we’re back with the tablets, I like this story and that the Cass manipulation, as suspected, worked it’s way back around to join the main arc. I enjoyed all the secondary characters. They are after all, some of the longest “living” and most involved in the brother’s history. Cass, Meg, Crowley – they all rocked it. I dug all the interactions between Sam and Dean, even the small ones, like when they were researching and Dean said he thought Cass was lying or when Dean commented on Meg’s hair and Sam gave him the open palmed, silent “What?” which Dean heard loud and clear. Beautiful. I thought the scene between Meg and Sam was really well done. I liked how she got it, but didn’t get it! I think being able to talk to someone who wasn’t emotionally involved was easier for Sam. Dean’s always going to have a different perspective, because Sam’s relationship with Amelia affected Dean personally in a way – as in Sam was with her and enjoying her company while Dean was fighting for his life in Purgatory. That will colour every conversation or attempted conversation for Sam. Meg was a blank canvas (also a funny one). I’m glad Sam still wants a normal life, it’s who he’s always been, it’s nice to see that at least that one thing hasn’t changed and it makes me hopeful he can indeed take Dean with him to the light at the end of the tunnel (rose coloured Winchester glasses firmly on my face).

This script was tight and punchy and had some of the best one liners I’ve heard, including one that made me squee “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?” I’m a Star Wars geek from when I was a little kid and I’m literally going to go watch A New Hope once I’ve posted this! Robbie Thompson is a lovely writer. I get excited now when I see his name pop up. I couldn’t be more thrilled that he has one more to play out this season.

And how good was the final montage with Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp. I hadn’t heard that song in years. I loved the way it was just allowed to play and then drifted off into wind and bird noises. Beautiful, beautiful work. This show is damn good TV.

So Cass is in the wind, the trust between him and the Winchesters is currently in the wind with him, the boys are trying a new concept called honesty, Sam knows that Dean knows that Sam’s not feeling so good, Crowley is screwed, Naomi is screwed (what’s a bet they end up working together) and the longest surviving demon and secondary character on the show is no more (A-wah!). Good episode was good and chocker-block!

6 episodes left until whatever horror awaits us with some God awful torturous cliff-hanger. Gah! Bring it!

Also...Dean should always wear a henley...

Also, also…I’m just going to leave this here…

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts on the episode!

See you time!

sweetondean is Chief Editor and writer for The Winchester Family Business.

For all the latest Supernatural info and article links, follow The Winchester Family Business on Twitter at @WinFamBusiness

Friday, 22 March 2013

Supernatural Convention Report - Viva Las Vegascon Part 2: Jensen, Jared and Misha

All photos in this report (c) sweetondean 2013


Truth is, I come to these conventions for many reasons, but the main reason is to see the boys and if truth be known, one specific boy…or man…MANLY MAN (I mean these boys are in the 30’s after all!).

Normally the Js are on the Sunday of the convention. They’re the showstopper if you may, but at Vegascon, they were on the Saturday. Whether this was because of flights back to Vancouver and timings of work or whether it was because they wanted to be able to play up after their convention commitments I have no clue – but I’m betting on the later!

Jared had his mum and dad in town; they were with him at the convention at the panel and in his photo-ops. Clif flew down on Friday and Johnny and Sean came in with the boys on the Saturday.

But once again, I’ve jumped ahead! The day started a bit later than the usual J day. Normally I’m up at about 5.30am getting ready for a 7.30 breakfast start – or something along those lines. But this time, we could actually have a relaxing morning. The Js weren’t arriving at lunch until 2 and before then, we had Emily Perkins’ and Misha’s panels. So there was plenty of time to get ready, sort the makeup, do the hair…prepare for what was ahead!

(My apologies, I can’t for the life of me find my photos of Emily!)

I’ll admit we were a tiny bit late to Emily’s panel – moving a bit slow that morning – but we caught most of it. Emily is super tiny – I actually walked past her later in the casino and I’m talking TINY! She seemed a little nervous too, which was sweet. Plenty of people asked questions – it’s always awkward when there’s a guest and there’s no one to ask questions! But plenty of people lined up. There were a few of those, what do you think Becky is/was/has/done/doing questions which kind of drive me crazy, because really, unless you are asking about the character motivation in the episode they’re in, or unless the actor has created their own back-story for their character, these are questions for the writer. Some cast members are ok with saying, “I have no idea, ask the writers” but most try and come up with an answer on the spot. Convention handy hint: If asking a question, remember that the actor and the character are not the same thing and remember that the actor may not have complete insight into where the character might be now…or probably hasn’t even thought about it! I will say that when someone asked why Sam didn’t have pants on when Becky tied him up, I liked Emily’s answer – she was trying to make him comfortable and he was hot. It was left up in the air as to whether she meant he was warm or HOT! I think we know the answer to that one!

After Emily it was Mr Misha Collins! I’m going to come clean, I’m not a minion and where as I like the character of Castiel here and there, I’m not one that feels the need for him to be in all the episodes. The show for me is and will always be about the Winchester brothers. Other characters fill out and colour in their world, but they will never take the focus away from Sam and Dean, nor should they. But over the last few years of meeting Misha (whom I tend to call Collins), I have developed a healthy respect for him and frankly, have fallen a little in love with him. He’s funny and inspiring and I love that he teases the fandom and I love that he teases me! But I’ll get to that.

This convention had the most Castiels I have ever seen! From your standard Castiel, to Steam Punk Castiel, to pink Castiel! There were Cass’ everywhere!

First thing Misha did when he came on stage was inappropriately grope Richard, or at least fake it…so it was going to be one of those panels huh? Excellent. Then he grabbed Rob’s ass! Ah Misha, don’t ever change.

It was a fantastic panel, where Misha managed to inspire and offend us all at once, as only he can do. As usual, he took no crap. If he didn’t like your question or he was simply over it, you knew – I say this but he’s never rude, it’s always done very tongue in cheek and frankly, I think it’s what people enjoy about the back and forth with Misha.

To decide which side of the auditorium went first for questions he made the first people in line go up on stage and arm wrestle! The Castiel won, but then Misha never answered her question, saying he was trying to demonstrate to her that violence was not the answer! She said, he started, he said, “Don’t turn this around on me!”

People congratulated him on becoming a regular for season 9. He was asked about directing and said he was terrified of what Jared was going to do to him…which according to Jensen and Jared he should be, though I have a sneaking suspicion neither will be anything but supportive. He discussed Random Acts and how it was because of our passion and creativity that he started the charity. He could see what we were capable of and wanted to harness that into doing good (as opposed to evil, which I think he’d also enjoy quite frankly).

At one point he got all the Castiels up on stage and led them in a dance – what I called The Dance of the Castiels. Or rather he got them to “frolic” with him. He told them to follow him and he proceeded to dance around the stage in a way that looked remarkably like that ridiculous dance from the gag reel, complete with twirls and pirouettes!

He told an awesome story about on set shenanigans. How they recently had a guest star on set and the crew dressed in drag while shooting the guest star’s scenes and then the next day, wore ball-gags in their mouths. The guest star, to his credit never mentioned it. Just did the scenes professionally and went on home. What the cast and crew didn’t realise was that this guest star was only on set for 2 days, the in drag day and the ball-gag day! When he wasn’t on set on the 3rd day and everyone realised he’d finished up his scenes the day before, they were mortified! Because they never got a chance to tell the poor guy that it was just a joke. He must have gone away thinking, “What the hell?” This story came up again later in the J’s panel…Jensen had a field day with the sulking and the pouting, but I’ll get to that!

I love Misha’s panels. I love the way he talks to the fans. He can bounce between serious and gracious and just telling someone to get out of here! This one was probably my favourite of his panels so far – though maybe not as dirty as his panel in Sydney last year! He did manage to drop a few F-bombs, but he kept it pretty clean as a whole!

After Misha, it was time for the Gold lunch. The lunch, followed by the Js ops meant that we missed Rob’s solo panel, Richard’s solo panel and Jim’s first panel (we caught Jim on Sunday). This is the first time I’ve ever missed a panel because of clashes. I’ll be honest, I was kind of bummed. I mean Rob and Richard are two of my favourite guys… I did feed this back to Adam from Creation in my post con email (which I always do) and he said they were trying to give as much bang for our buck as they could. So, I guess yeah, if you weren’t Gold you got the panels…but I was still disappointed. I told him that next year with the 4 days (I’m going to have to go into training), maybe some of those clashes could be avoided. Here’s hoping.

Anyhoo, it was time for lunch with the boys (MEN). I’ve got to say, Creation really put on a spread! Lot’s of lovely stuff to choose from and yummy desserts. But yeah, I could hardly eat because of the nerves. My stomach was playing ping-pong or something! This was the 5th time I’d be seeing/meeting Jensen and Jared and I was still as nervous as hell! Go figure!

The boys arrived right on 2, looking fabulous as usual. Jensen in his denim shirt and Jared in some scarf ensemble which was exactly at Amy height – which I’ll explain later! The lighting was absolute rubbish so I got no decent photos at the lunch. There was a spotlight right about Jensen’s head which cast the most awful shadows on his beautiful face and we were back a fair ways as there was a dance floor in front of the stage and obviously no tables were allowed on it. My friend Karen called it the demilitarised zone! Jensen asked if we were having a dance party later!

First up, there was the usually chat about season 8, season 9 and then the boys thanked us for the People’s Choice Award. How if it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t be there or be receiving such accolades. Then someone congratulated Jensen on the bub. I must say I was very impressed with the fandom and the lack of questions about the coming baby. I feared the whole thing would be gushing about said bub and Jensen is a pretty private dude so I was worried all the baby talk would make him uncomfortable. But there was really very little. Nice work fandom! Anyway, there was the baby congrats pretty early on which led to that adorable moment of Jensen sticking out his tummy as if he was pregnant and Jared placing his hand and ear on Jensen’s tummy as if listening for a heartbeat and saying that Jensen was barley showing. Gah. These boys! (Though I think I heard fanfiction writers the world over squee in weird delight…)

One of the really interesting titbits revealed in this panel was that Jensen and Jared did not confer on their outfits for the PCAs. They both have friends who are stylists who helped them out individually. Jensen was just going to wear something out of his wardrobe…until the stylist saw what he was suggesting, and went out shopping for him! The fact that they matched – well... Jared said that they spend so much time together that now they think alike. Jensen said, “My suit actually matched your tie” the fans all said “Yes” which cracked Jared up! But, the whole matching thing was a complete fluke.

The wonderful thing about these lunches/breakfasts is that they are super casual. You don’t have to get up and queue at a microphone, you simply raise your hand at your table and the Js will get to you – point you out. I know that at Burbank, there isn’t a breakfast; it’s an additional panel, in your assigned seats. I’m hoping this isn’t the way it’s going because that would lose the casual intimacy that these events have.

Anyway, this lunch panel flew by. They are 30 minutes and I think this one may have been the fastest 30 minutes of my entire life! It was a blur of nerves and laughter and lurve…and it was all only just beginning…

Next up it was photos with Jensen. I had 2 singles and a shared with Hazel. Hazel and I laugh that in our friendship, she’s the Jared and I’m the Jensen. You know how Jensen is always going “What?” and turning to Jared who whispers what the question was or what was said? Well that’s us. Something happens to me at these convention things and I lose the ability to hear properly or think clearly, or something! So thank goodness Hazel is there to organise me! I’m forever going “What are we doing?” and she tells me!

I never do daft poses with Jensen. I mean, I mix it up a bit to get really good shots, but I’m all about getting my arms around that man! I’m always polite, say hello, say please and thank you, say goodbye. So first I asked for a hug photo and along with a big smile, I got a great, big all engulfing hug! Then I asked if I could kind of hug him from the side with my arms around his belly and he pulled me in, wrapped his hands over my hands and well…he pulled an adorable face! Like he’s doing an O with his mouth! Of course I didn’t know until I got the photo back, but it’s super cute and I love that he does that without me asking. I guess he’s seen me enough now to know he can play up and have a bit of fun and I’ll be cool with it. If you follow me on twitter it’s my current icon.

As usual, it was all too quick and it was off to wait for our J2s. Oh, I also have to say, my friend Kellie was a first timer this year and joined us in the photo op queue. She was so nervous about her first op. We gave her some in-queue coaching and backup! She got an epic hug from Jensen and bless her, was so thrilled when she came out of the room. I waited for her to see her reaction and it was shaky and teary and giggly. I remember my first time I met Jensen, I ran to my friend Tiny and hugged the life out of her and we jumped up and down on the spot! Of course, I’m pretty sure Jensen caught that! Seeing as we were still in the photo room! I love seeing people meeting him for the first time. It never gets old and it never gets old for me. He glows, with inner and outer beauty. And yes…I ran my hand down his back again. I simply can’t help it. It’s a subconscious thing, honestly it is! I just gotta touch the man! *sigh*

Ok, then it was our J2s. We had a single, a shared and for something different we got an op just with them. So my single was hug city again. By the way, that Padaleski dude just keeps getting more gorgeous. He’s like a golden God! Seriously, every time I see him I’m like…crikey, he got prettier again! Anyhoo, for our shared op we asked the boys to hug each other and we’d hug around them. Well, when we got the photo back they’re giving each other funny looks and sort of pushing each other away with their hands up like, yuck don’t you hug me, man – it’s brilliant! I’m in love with it! Then we got them to do a pose on their own and they did this kind of rock n’ roll thing with Jensen pointing at the camera and Jared kind of pulling a rockstar face. This one will never see the light of day I’m afraid. It’s really epic and just for us and well, we don’t want it all over the net!

Then it was queuing for Jared time. We had to wait at the photo room straight after our J2’s because we had Jensen’s meeting and greet and we had a 10-minute window to get our Jared ops and get to the meet and greet room!

Now like I said, Jared was wearing a scarf and it was Amy height. So when I went in for my hug, I was buried in scarf! I stopped Chris and asked Jared if I could shift his scarf and he said, “What’s happening?” and I said “You’re blocking me with your scarf!” and he said… “Oh yeah, I do that kind of thing!” and grinned at me. Gah! Then my second op, even though I change positions, it happened again and I said, “Err Jared, you’re blocking me again” and he laughed and shifted the scarf saying, “Is this better babe?” Bless him. This also happened with his collar at Vancon…so I must be just the right height to get buried in Jared’s clothing – not such a bad thing. By the way…he called me babe, sweetheart and love. Good grief! Oh and also, Mrs Padalecki was in there videoing the photo ops…so we all may be on a Padalecki family home video!

After our lovely Jared ops it was time to sprint down to the meet and greet room for our 30 minutes in Heaven…I mean, with Jensen.

As you’re probably aware, Creation has modified the guidelines around the private meet and greets. They’ve asked that attendees do not transcribe or report verbatim what was said. I know there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle about this, but let me say, as someone who’s done 6 meet and greets – 4 with Jensen, 1 with Jared and 1 with Richard, I support this request. These are relaxed and open forums where the guests feel comfortable sharing information and stories with a small group. Both Jensen and Jared have said things in the meet and greets I’ve attended, which I’ve never written up because I didn’t feel they were appropriate to share. Sometimes things slip out and it’s up to us to ensure that anything that may have been said in candour remains protected. This is about protecting the people we’re fans of. It’s also about protecting the integrity of the private meet and greet situation. I want to ensure that Jensen feels comfortable in the room and doesn’t have to worry about anything coming back to bite him on the ass.

To clarify the new guidelines, I contacted Adam from Creation. He told me that blogging about the event and paraphrasing a few lines here and there was fine, but entire transcripts was not in the spirit of the event. I guess, they’re not doing an interview; they’re having a candid chat with fans. There is a difference. To be honest, I usually only remember a handful of questions anyway, because I can barely remember my name when sitting in a small room with Jensen, let alone exactly what was said! So, with respect for Jensen (always), I will just paint a picture of the experience.

As usual, we had to pull numbers from an envelope to allocate our seats. I pulled front row but Hazel pulled second row (there were only 2 rows). It’s Hazel and my policy to always sit together at these things (I say it’s our brand), so I swapped with a reader of my pieces on The Winchester Family Business, I took her second row seat and she took my front row seat.

Anyway, Jensen strode in all smiles and hellos, seating himself on a tall chair in front of us. He was wonderful, as usual. There was discussion around directing and around his interest in photography, which he was warned would become much more important soon! We talked about the introduction of the MoLs bunker and Dean’s room and I discussed with him Dean’s prayer to Cass and the fact that Dan Loflin, the writer of that episode, had been on set when that scene was shot. I congratulated him on the scene and he thanked me, I said it was very emotional and he smiled and thanked me again and then I said, “At least it was for me” and he gave a great big laugh! I made Jensen laugh! I think that might be one of my favourite meet and greet moments ever!

He was gracious and attentive. He always ensures he puts maximum thought into your question. Mine was such a good one that we went back and forth with it a bit. I was totally stoked! He always looks you right in the eye when he talks to you and addresses his answer directly to you. It’s your answer and he ensures you have your moment in his orbit. He’s funny and yet soft-spoken. Jensen is quite different in this environment than he is in the panel with Jared. Less boisterous, a little more quiet. This is not to say there isn’t plenty of laughter, he has a great sense of humour and likes to joke and tease. There’s a lot of laughter in these things believe me! He seems totally relaxed and at ease with us in this environment. It really is awesome. Jensen’s meet and greet is always my favourite moment of the convention. I can’t imagine not doing it, like ever and I’ll always have his back no matter what. I have to say, these 30 minutes generally feel like a good amount of time, but it’s always so sad when he thanks us and gets up to stride back out. I could sit and talk to him for hours. He’s smart and interesting and amusing…and yeah, incredibly beautiful to bask in.

So then it was the J’s panel!

Richard told us in his meet and greet on Sunday evening that the Elastic Waste Band was not originally supposed to be on stage with the Js. But Richard asked Jensen if he’d like them to stay and Jensen said yes and thank goodness for that, because having the band on stage with the boys during their panel was so much fun. I mean, I’ve always thought Jensen must love to dance…what with how often he dances around on the gag reels, well, in this panel…he danced quite a bit! He bantered, played air-guitar, air-drums and of course…he sang. Jensen really enjoyed the band. But hey, I’m getting ahead of myself again!

Jared brought the PCA out for us all to see – which Jensen then danced across the stage with. Jared is so proud of that thing. They set it up on the podium on stage so we could all enjoy it during the panel.

Thankfully someone had said to Jared that the chairs were too low on stage (they were) so the boys sat up on the back of the chairs so we could all see them – and enjoy their long legs sprawling!

I think Jensen is getting sassier in these things. In the couple of years that I’ve been doing the Creation conventions, he has definitely relaxed more and now he gives the fans so much cheek! Also, he’s naughty and sometimes kinda dirty! It’s so appreciated I can’t even tell you!

There was a great question about script writing and what they like and don’t like as actors. For me, hearing them talk about their craft is always a highlight, because they are both so passionate. Later there was a funny moment about method acting, where the nervous fan tried to explain method acting to Jensen, which made Jared whisper – “He’s a professional actor”.

Ty swung by for a visit to ask a question about the J’s identical trailers and motorcycles and then bring a little boy, whose name was Jensen, up on stage to meet big Jensen. Awwww.

Then later Misha tried to crash the panel – sneaking up on Jensen and Jared, even though they could see him in the monitor on stage – which made Misha laugh like a crazy man! They sent him off to the band to play the cowbell and the band started playing (Don’t Fear) The Reaper. The guys totally cracked up. Great moment.

Another brilliant moment was when a girl asked what’s it like to be really attractive and Jensen turned to Jared quick as a whip and said, “I should probably take this one”. Jared totally lost it! One of his hand clapping, laughing fits! It was fantastic. Then someone shouted out that Jensen wouldn’t know because he’s married! Which made him go on a baffled tirade about how obviously a wedding ring was an ugly ring and how you must disappear when you get married! It was epically snarky!

Then there was the moment when Jensen went to tell the story about the guest star and how the crew dressed in drag…which of course we’d already heard! Jensen said “That little shit stole my story…I don’t wanna tell it now.” Then he fake pouted and Jared took it and ran with it going, “But did he tell you” and Jensen jumped in and said, “Oh I’m sure he told them that” and they ran that shtick for a bit, back and forth! It was brilliant to watch them adlibbing a joke on the fly!

Of course there had to be one awkward question. A girl asking Jared about some I Blame Jared Padalecki for Everything Facebook page. Beyond the initial confusion, it went down like a tonne of bricks – but it was cool to see Jensen jump to his friend’s defence, shoot the question down in flames. Why do fans ask inappropriate questions? It wasn’t funny; intentional or not, it came across kind of rude and was a bummer at the end of a great panel.

Anyhoo…through the panel there was loads of good-humoured yelling out from the audience, which was so funny. It’s great that the audience’s off the cuff comments can completely crack the boys up. I’m pretty sure they enjoy themselves doing these things just as much as we enjoy watching them. This panel was probably the most laughter filled one I’ve seen. I don’t know if it was the Vegas thing, but everyone, including Jensen and Jared were in incredibly high spirits.

Of course then the band cracked into The Boys Are Back in Town and Jensen did a bit of air-guitar and then joined Rob and Richard to sing. Jensen loved having that band on stage, you could just tell!

After the panel, it was time for the J2M op. It was super quick, because the day was running behind and the guys had to be out by 9pm. But it was still great; I mean how often do you get squished in-between Jensen, Jared and Misha! Never! In my op, at the very last moment Misha kind of scooped an arm around me and then had to quickly adjust, as he was about to grab my boob. SERIOUSLY! The photo looks like he’s cupping my boob! Hahaha! Awkward!

Then it was autos. I got Jensen to sign my Mac! I have a Dean and the Impala decal on my Mac and now I have Jensen’s signature above it! I’ve literally have started calling my Mac, Ackles. I do so love my Mac…and now I love it even more and Jensen thought it was pretty cool! I also got a Sam, Dean and Cass banner signed by all 3 of the guys.

When I got to Jared I was so exhausted, I absently mindedly leant on the autograph table and let out an exasperated sigh! Jared looked up and said, “Deep breaths, deep breaths and relax” and laughed. I was like, “Oh ahh sorry, forgot where I was for a minute.” When I got to Misha he looked up and went, “Oh it’s you!” Now I’ve met Misha like 7 times now I guess, because he’s been to Australia a couple of times and last time he was here I ran into him in the lobby of the hotel and we had a chat. Then, because he recognised me, he teased me at the cocktail party and then in the photo op, so now I guess that seems to be a thing with us! Because in my op with him later that night with Hazel, he looked at me, shook his head and said, “You keep going!” and pointed towards the door…before breaking into a great big smile. So I guess now I Misha fodder! I’ll see him in a couple of months in Sydney again…let’s see what happens this time!

And then it was over. It was one hell of a long and wonderful day. But it’s always so heartbreaking…because when you walk away from your autos with Jensen and Jared, you know that’s it…and you’re not going to see them for a while and like I’ve said before, every time I see Jensen, it’s harder to walk away…

Coming soon… Viva Las Vegascon – Part Three. Sebastian dances, Mark drums, Ty parties and the Richard’s meet and greet.

Thanks for reading!