Supernatural @ Comic-Con: Sam's Flashbacks, Castiel's Future, and... Ninjas from Space?

Supernatural made the move to Comic-Con’s big room, Hall H, this year, and had no trouble filling it with excited fans. In fact, the extra space was needed for the shrieks that met Jensen Ackles when he introduced a clip from the third episode of the show’s upcoming seventh season, which he directed. “This is a little slice of life back into Sam’s past,” described Ackles before a clip reel set to Foreigner’s “Long, Long Way From Home.”

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The sneak preview focused on Sam (Jared Padalecki) and an old childhood friend played by guest star Jewel Staite (Firefly). While flashbacks of Staite’s character and a high-school age Sam (Colin Ford) showed a sweet bond between the two -– “You’re a freak. All the coolest people are,” she tells him before Sam plants a kiss on her -– things between the reunited pair are more tense. “You killed again,” Sam tells his old flame, who’s using the fake name Amy Pond, a clever wink to fans of Doctor Who. “You know the kind of person I am,” she says, offering to show him what’s behind a secret door, but only if he drops his knife. “Show me and I’ll drop the knife,” Sam replies. She reaches for the door…and cut to black!

Unlike Ackles’ first directorial effort, Season 6’s “Weekend at Bobby’s,” we will be seeing more of the actor in front of the camera as Dean, too, which made the whole actor-director gig a “more difficult” experience, Ackles explained.

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But what about Misha Collins, who won’t be returning as a series regular in Season 7, after ascending to the role of God in the Season 6 finale? The actor called it “incredibly daunting” to find himself playing the man upstairs. “How do you play God?” he wondered. “It’s an interesting challenge to work on.”

So does that mean Collins will be around a lot next season? Showrunner Sera Gamble was reluctant to spoil anything. “You saw the cliffhanger. It was very cliffhangery,” she said, before adding, “He’s going to be the first couple episodes.” Gamble did, however, reveal that we’ll be seeing Jo, Crowley (“Cas said he has big plans for him. We’re going to tell you what those are right from the jump”), Sheriff Mills, and Death next season. “And you’ll meet new guys too,” she added.

However, there are no current plans for a return appearance by Chuck, since Castiel will be taking on the role of his absent father, God. “[Castiel] has always felt very strongly that his father abandoned them all,” said Gamble. “One of the questions we asked ourselves [this season] was, ‘You’re God. What do you do? How will you do things differently?’”

Season 7 will take the Winchester boys to scary new places. Now that the wall in Sam’s head has fallen, we’ll learn about the horrible things that Sam did. “Sam is way out of his league,” explained Padalecki. “It’s kind of scary. … We get to see what can scare the Winchester boys.”

And how do you top the super-meta of “The French Mistake”? Maybe you don’t. “I don’t know that there’s much more we can do,” said executive producer Ben Edlund. But he does think “there’s lots of room to play with form” with episodes like “Ghostfacers.” In fact, he’s already got two cool ideas: ninjas and spaceships!

Ackles also gave props to Supernatural creator Eric Kripke for carrying out his five-year plan for the show. “I’m surprised and also proud at the fact that Mr. Kripke kept to his word and wrote those five years the way he had planned,” said the actor. And Ackles is up for continuing to look ahead, despite already passing that five-year mark. “Because the story of these two brothers continues to evolve, the stories are kind of endless,” he said. “As long as they keep kicking out stories, we’ll keep telling them.” Gamble added Kripke really created the “perfect franchise” and the writers have a plan prepared if the seventh season is the last year, as well as if it’s not. “We hope to go on for a long time,” she said. “We have fresh blood in the room,” which has re-energized the show.

Finally, the panel closed out with a Comic-Con tradition: a preview of Season 6’s DVD gag reel. A couple of teases: Cat walk, dancing, and a worm. Don’t miss it Sept. 13!