Supernatural's milestone 300th episode was a poignant affair.
Taking a break from Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean's (Jensen Ackles) end-of-the-world problems, Thursday's episode focused on a long-awaited Winchester family reunion and finally gave the brothers some much-needed closure. The touching hour saw the boys stumble across a magical pearl that granted one's greatest desire. It seemed like the perfect weapon to use to permanently eject Michael from Dean's head, but as it turned out, Dean really wanted something else: to see his father again.
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In an emotional reunion with John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Sam and Dean finally had the chance to unpack some of the emotional baggage they've been hauling around since childhood. The touching conversations that ensued allowed the bothers to open up a bit more and gave John an opportunity to finally atone for the mistakes he made as a father. The episode also delivered a rare happy family dinner before a tearful goodbye between John and Mary (Samantha Smith) left us reaching for the nearest Kleenex.
In light of the show reaching this major, and majorly memorable, episode, TV Guide hit up showrunner Andrew Dabb to talk about why this was the perfect time to bring John back, what that reunion means for Sam and Dean moving forward and the scenes that made him cry.
What made you want to focus on this emotional Winchester reunion for the 300th episode?
Andrew Dabb: With any milestone episode, I think there's a good temptation to look at the past a little bit. Episode 200 is that in a very plot sort of way in terms of dealing with some of the bigger problems that had happened on the show in the previous episode. For 300, we wanted to do the same thing. We wanted to focus more on the emotional journey Sam and Dean have been on over the past 14 years, which led to conversations about how you do that in the best possible way. That would be for them to come face to face with their father again which, thanks to Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jensen Ackles, we were able to make happen.
The boys had a taste of closure back in Season 2 with John's ghost. How long have you been wanting to revisit that story and give them a real sense of peace with their dad?
Dabb: The idea of bringing John back, it's been around for a long time. It's been mentioned as early as my first season on the show, which was Season 4. Jeffrey has gone off and had a really big career and that made it a little more difficult. But also, it was like, if you're gonna bring Jeffrey Dean back, you wanna make it count. I don't know that had we brought him back in Season 4, Season 5, even 6 or 7, that the conversation Sam and Dean would have had with him would have been that much different than the conversation they had with him in Season 2. I think now, in Season 14, we're dealing with two guys that when he died were in their early to mid 20s. Now they're in their late 30s to early 40s and that's a very different mindset you're in as an adult at that age. And so, bringing John back in this way, in this episode at this time, it allowed them to have a different conversation. Conversations that allowed them to put down some of their pre-existing baggage and kind of continue on this emotional journey they've been on for the last decade and a half.
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What I loved, and what I think fans will appreciate, is that it acknowledges the mistakes John made with his sons. Especially that scene with Sam. How important was it for you to have him answer for the terrible things he'd done as a father?
Dabb: I think it's important. John is a very flawed character, obviously, but John is also someone who Sam and Dean have much more perspective on now having been through a lot and also kind of having a son of their own the last two years. He was under an intense amount of stress and pressure. This is a guy who had his life ripped apart and his reaction to it was not great, and his reaction ultimately made Sam and Dean who they are today. As Dean says in his scene towards the end, he likes who he is, and that's a big part of growing up. None of us come from, or very few of us anyway, come from perfect families with perfect parents and everything like that. But if you can move past that and even become someone you like, someone you like to be, that's the biggest victory you could ever have. And for Sam and Dean, it's a very different kind of victory. It's not chopping a vampire's head off or beating the devil or anything like that. But it's one that means a lot more to them as people, as characters, both in this moment and moving forward.
There's also that lovely scene where they're all having dinner and laughing. It's such a beautiful, perfectly normal moment given that so much of Sam and Dean's story is rooted in trauma. What did it mean for you to give them this sense of happiness and normalcy with their parents, if only briefly?
Dabb: Supernatural very rarely is about giving the main characters gifts. It's more like temporary wins most of the time. They win but they lose. In this case, it was an opportunity to give them a full-on win, to give them the greatest gift. So it was really exciting as a creator and also as a fan. When I watched the episode earlier this week for the last time when we were doing the final sound check on it, you get emotional about it.
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And what did it mean to finally give Mary and John the proper goodbye they'd previously been robbed of?
Dabb: If you look at John, all he wanted was to see his wife again. That's really all that he wanted. And having to get that moment for him, because he loses it quite quickly, he had it. When you have someone like Samantha, who's an amazing actress who understands this character and inhabits this character, and someone like Jeffrey, who's an amazing actor... to his great credit, he hadn't played this character in 12 years. He stepped in without even missing a beat. And the way they played that was just incredibly powerful. I hope the fans will appreciate the amount of care and craft that went into that, not from a writing stance necessarily, but from the actors and the emotion they brought to their performances.
Now that Sam and Dean have come full circle with their dad, what does this mean for them moving forward? What does this change for them, if anything?
Dabb: I don't think this represents a massive change for them. But some of the things they're saying to each other, to John, they've felt for a while. But what I think this does allow them to do is put down some baggage they've been carrying for a long time and more fully embrace the journey that they're on and how their characters are changing. That they're growing up and they're having these new experiences. And they'll kinda setting their childhood aside -- not permanently because I don't think you can ever do that -- but they kinda move past some of that trauma.
What was your favorite scene from this episode and why?
Dabb: I think the dinner scene is amazing. It's just a beautiful, beautiful scene. And then the scene where Mary and John are reunited. Both the performances of Samantha and Jeffrey in that scene, but also Jared and Jensen and how they react, the looks on their faces. This was all done essentially in one shot. So when I saw that shot in the very early dailies, which Bob Singer shot, it moved me to tears almost then. So that's a moment where you go, "This is really gonna work." And I think it really does.
Supernatural continues Thursdays at 8/7c on the CW.
(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)
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Other Links From TVGuide.com SupernaturalJensen AcklesJared PadaleckiMisha CollinsJeffrey Dean MorganAlexander CalvertSamantha Smith