For its 200th episode milestone in 2014, “Supernatural” went deeply meta, delivering “almost a pure homage to the #SPNFamily and the crazy things that happened to the show, from the books being written about it to the Clue games to the Funko figures,” series star Jared Padalecki recalls. Now five years later the show is hitting its 300th episode and Padalecki says the focus is on creating “an homage to the Winchester family.”
For the episode entitled “Lebanon,” executive producers Bob Singer and Andrew Dabb “wanted to go for something that had a lot of heart to it,” Singer says. In that regard, having Jeffrey Dean Morgan reprise his role of Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam’s (Padalecki) dad John Winchester was the “centerpiece of the story.”
In looking for ways to rid Dean of the Archangel Michael, who has possessed him on and off since the end of the 13th season, Ackles says his character comes across something “almost like a genie bottle” that will “give you what your heart desires the most.” Even though Dean is telling everyone he wants to get rid of Michael, “what he truly desires is to see his dad again,” Ackles says, and so that is what happens.
John’s re-emergence in his family’s life allows for storytelling in which “John looks at his sons not as boys but as men,” Ackles continues, which is something both he and Padalecki have wanted to see explored for a long time.
“The last time John and Sam really had a relationship was when Sam went to college, really before the show started,” Padalecki points out. “You think about your parents or your grandparents or whoever you’ve lost and you think, ‘I think they’d really like me now.’”
Dabb notes that it is also about putting the nuclear family back together for one special episode of television. “The core of ‘Supernatural’ has always been family, and Sam and Dean, from the very first shot of the show, were victims of a broken family — in a crazy, supernatural way, but were still broken,” he says. “The last 14 years were them recovering from that — putting together a family of their own with Bobby and Castiel, having their mother come back into their lives, and now their father. They have some really emotional conversations with him and conversations they wouldn’t have had at age 23.”
The episode title speaks to the larger world around the Winchesters, though. “We’re getting a glimpse of how things could have been,” says Misha Collins of the “altered reality” tone to the piece. “We’re getting to see a version of Castiel where he’s almost more back to where we first met him: he’s really just a soldier. In a way, it’s what he would have been if Sam and Dean hadn’t become important figures in his life.”
And the Kansans who observe these mysterious men coming and going at all hours in their 1967 Chevy Impala will also play an integral, even if somewhat lighter, part in the episode. “In the post office the post mistress, for whatever reason, doesn’t care for Sam, has a crush on Dean,” Singer says.
It’s about pulling back in certain moments to see other characters, some of whom will recur later in the season, react to Sam and Dean.
“What’s kind of unspoken is they’ve been living in this one town for multiple years now and they haven’t clued anybody in [to the supernatural], so why is that and what does everybody think about them?” Dabb says. “Sam and Dean have always had family because they’ve always had each other, but they’ve only recently gotten a home [and] a home is not about the house you live in, it’s about the community. We’ve never really explored that community, and the 300th episode is the start.”