The Supernatural writing staff has a lot on its plate this season. With the introduction of angels and God, there’s a whole new world for the staff to figure out. In our exclusive interview with writer Sera Gamble, she explained how the show is blending the actual world of religion with the Supernatural mythology. In part 1 of our interview, Gamble also talked about the 66 Seals that need to be broken, and how working on Syns, her new Showtime pilot, will affect her job at Supernatural. Continue reading for the full transcript and to listen to our interview.
And come back to BuddyTV over the next few weeks for more of our exclusive Supernatural writer interviews, including Jeremy Carver’s thoughts on writing, Ben Edlund’s inspired comedy, and more from Gamble about Sam’s role and what’s to come for the rest of season 4.
This season was a little different, bringing in the religious aspect. angels, Satan, so I was wondering how you and the other writers felt about going in that new direction with the show?
We’re excited about the angels. We’re pretty into the angels. The threat of Lucifer, we don’t really see it as religious per se. Although we do use the Bible as a source, we just see it as the flip-side of the Supernatural coin because we’ve been writing about demons for four seasons now, so it was time to pull the curtain back and look and see what else was there.
How do you go about creating your own Supernatural show mythology versus using all of that actual religious stuff that exists?
We give ourselves a lot of license to draw from mythology around the world, first of all. And when it comes to the question of God, we leave ourselves a lot of room. There are characters on the show that either don’t believe in God or are very deeply agnostic. And the angels we meet on the show, they don’t have the direct Bat Phone to God. They are very low to the ground, they are soldiers working on Earth. So we’ve constructed a mythology that’s really not about God, it’s about a war that’s happening here on planet Earth between a few angels and some demons and then our characters, the Hunters, who are sort of caught in the middle.
Are you constantly looking in new books to learn about demon lore?
Yeah, I pretty much exhausted Amazon by now. I’m very excited when a new book about demons comes out. And we Google all the time. We have assistants on our staff who spend a lot of time researching. The Book of Revelations has been important to us this season, obviously because it talks about what might happen should the apocalypse occur. But there are demons and demonic creatures in about every civilization in the world, so there’s a big pile of stuff for us to draw from. There’s a lot.
The premise now is that Lilith trying to break the 66th seals, and do the writers know how many seals have been broken or what the count is at throughout the season?
We have sort of a tally, a rough tally going up on the board. So we know where we’re at at different points of the season. Yeah, the sort of “How F’ed are the Boys” tally. Yeah, we keep track.
It’s more than just the seals that we see on the episode, it’s not going to be 66 episodes, each one a seal.
Yeah, the promise we made to our audience was that you weren’t going to have to sit through 66 episodes wondering if each seal was going to be broken. We did an episode where you met a character called Anna who was hearing the voices of angels, and one of the things that she revealed was that there were more than 66 possible seals. So it’s a question of which seals can the demons get to and which seals can the demons break. And there’s an important point in the season, where it’s revealed that a halfway point is being reached where half of the seals are going to be broken or have been broken. And we kind of keep track of it that way. It’s sort of the ticking clock of the season, so it’s important in that sense.
So the halfway point, that’s coming up in an upcoming episode? So we haven’t reached the half way point in the first 10?
You know that’s a good question to ask a writer/producer on the show. I can’t remember now which episode they say that in. That’s terrible, isn’t it? I don’t even remember if we’ve said that yet or if it’s a spoiler. I’ve just been in the room all day working on episode 19, so I know it happens before episode 19. I’ll put it that way. I’m going to get busted now on the message boards for not remember exactly which episode that happens in. But I know we get past the halfway point somewhere around halfway through the season.
Well there’s been 10 episodes, and I don’t remember hearing that yet.
OK, well then I’ll put it that way. That’s a big marker. That’s a big way for them to keep track. If half the seals go, that’s a big deal. But no, we’re not going like “Here’s the 23rd seal and here’s the 24th seal.” That would be a bit ponderous I think. This season is constructed so by the end of the season, the endgame of the season is “Are they going to be able to save us from having these seals broken or not?” Kind of like how in previous seasons it’s like “Is Dean going to get saved from Hell or is he going to Hell?” So it’s “Are we going to be able to avert the apocalypse?”
Eric Kripke has said there’s a five-season plan, so that would mean next season would be the last one. Is that still in effect? Is that still in the writers’ minds? That this is the set-up and then next season is the final season?
I’ve never heard it spoken of seriously in any other way by Eric. He’s always had a five-year plan, and the sort of skeleton of the over-arching story we’re telling has always been explained in terms of the five seasons. There have been many points along the way where we didn’t think it would make it to five seasons. We had a plan in place to end this season when we thought we weren’t going to get renewed for another season. But it became clear, pretty early on, that a lot more people were tuning in to see the show this year so that we should move forward with the five-year plan.
It was recently announced you’re creating a new pilot for Showtime, so how will that affect your role on Supernatural?
Well first of all, as far as I know there has been no official Supernatural pick-up. There are constantly rumors going around, but if there’s been an official pick-up, I haven’t seen the champagne bottles. I’ll be the first one to be doing a little dance on the Warner Brothers lot. But you know, people develop shows all the time. This is something I’m developing while working on the show. There are so many steps between sitting down to write a script that you’re developing for a network and something actually being on the air, especially when you’re doing something for cable.
This could be a really happy process that takes a few months or it could be something protracted that takes years or it could be something that dies on the vine at any point, so it’s just impossible for me to predict what that means in the future. And so it doesn’t actually have any immediate bearing on my job at Supernatural, besides the fact I have another job to do in the evenings.
So you talked a bit about the message boards and about getting in trouble with those fans because, these are very rabid fans who look at every little detail. So do you follow anything the fans are saying or how they’re reacting?
I occasionally will go on a message board to take the general temperature after an episode airs. I wouldn’t say that I follow things too closely, I do hear about things from other writers and from other assistants as well. So if something is having a strong reaction, I will probably hear about it. You know, it’s a delicate balance, between respecting your fans and your audience and really wanting to make a show for them, and also needing to tell the story that you’ve set out to tell.
And for me, that means fulfilling Eric’s vision. I’m on the staff of his show. So I’m a little bit speaking as part of this larger brain. So in terms of how much we’re influenced by it, I think we have to listen with love and then continue to tell the story we need to tell some of the time. That’s difficult, that’s not an easy thing to do. And then there have also been several times over the past few seasons where I’ve seen course corrections happen based in part on fan response to certain story elements or characters.
-Interview conducted by John Kubicek
(Image courtesy of SeraGamble.com)