CCI" The "Supernatural" Panel

Fans were extremely excited when they were given the chance to see the first five minutes of the first episode of the new season of "Supernatural" at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Sunday.

The clip featured Dean (Jensen Ackles), who was last seen hanging from a web of hooks in hell, waking up in a cffin buried underground. He punches through the coffin wood and dirt starts to pour in. We cut to a quiet shot above ground of a simple "cross in the ground grave" in a cemetery. The earth begins to sink below and Dean's hand breaks through, "Kill Bill" style.

Once above ground, Dean gasps desperately for air. He walks to an abandoned gas station where, after breaking in, he looks in a mirror and realizes that he has a handprint burned on to his shoulder. Dean begins to load up on supplies including water bottles, candy bars, cash...and an Asian porn magazine. Suddenly the TV comes on by itself, first showing loud static, then followed by the radio admitting an equally loud frequency. Before Dean can figure out what's going on, the windows of the gas station blow out, knocking Dean down and spreading glass everywhere. Cut to the audience yelling and applauding the clip.

Executive Producer and writer Eric Kripke, Supervising Producer, writer Ben Edlund and Producer and writer Sera Gamble were on hand to take questions from the audience. They were joined on stage by shows stars Jenson Ackles and Jared Padalecki (Sam).

"I guess my first question has already been answered," said a fan referring to the clip. "Where is Dean?" she continued. "Out of Hell apparently," replied Kripke.

As fans of the show know, Dean made a deal with the Devil at the end of season two, when Sam was killed, that if he brought Sam back, Dean would go to Hell in one year. At the end of Season Three, Dean was forced to make good on his bargain.

"In the writers room when we were talking about season four, the big question was, does Dean get out of Hell? About twenty seconds later we were like, no s**h he gets out of Hell," said Kripke. "So then we quickly moved on to the next question, which is 'How does he get out of Hell?' And the mystery of what brought him out and what was he doing there? What was Sam doing in his time away from Dean? We thought these would be interesting questions and the primary concerns of season four."

Kripke continued, "We plan to have more mystery than we did in past seasons. It's four months later, and it's about how they spent their time away from each other. It's been fun for the writers to write, because they [Sam and Dean] can keep secrets from each other again, which is something they haven't been able to do since season one."

Ackles was asked how he felt when he read in the script that he was being killed and sent to Hell. "I thought it was a typo," said the actor. "I asked Eric how he was going to bring me back, and he said that he hadn't figured that out yet. 'So much for house hunting,' I thought," joked Ackles.

The panel was asked about the possible return of Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Watchmen") who played the boys father in the first two seasons. "Nobody's dead forever on 'Supernatural,'" said Kripke. He went onto say, however, that with the actors busy schedule, it was unlikely to happen this season.

Season 3 saw not only Dean meet his untimely end, but also recurring characters Ruby and Bella. When asked how many deceased characters would be returning this season Gamble said, "Anyone can come back at any time." "But not many will," chimed in Kripke.

Kripke talked about how the writer's strike affected the show. He said that with fewer episodes available, the writers had to drop some of the smaller stories and focus on the major arc - Dean's deal to go to Hell. The focus of season three was the brother's search for a way to get Dean out of his deal, so other stories like Sam's discovery of his powers and their mothers back story were saved to be explored more in season four.

Padalecki was asked how he thought Sam was going to handle his growing powers. "I think Sam is coming from a place of wanting to make the world better," said the actor. "He wants to kill demons and ghosts just like his dad and brother," continued Padalecki. "But as long as Eric is creating the show you should always be nervous," added the actor.

Kripke was reminded that he once said that he wanted to end the show after five years. Since this is the beginning of the fourth season does he still feel the same way? "Yeah," replied the producer. "It's better to go out on top. I'm really afraid of 'jumping the shark.' I don't want Hawaiian weddings and Raven Symone," stated Kripke referring to how other shows have gone on past their prime. "I'd rather go out on top and strong with an ending that you can be satisfied with."

When asked which was his favorite episode that he wrote, Edlund answered, "Ghostfacers," the season three episode that spoofed "Ghost Hunters" and "The Blair Witch Project" by featuring a ghost chasing, glory seeking TV crew. Edlund said that when he pitched the episode he even had the theme song to the fake show written and sang it for his colleagues in the writer's room.

When asked about the rumor that Sam would be getting a love interest this season Kripke came clean with a trick he played on the fans. He said that when he was writing the description of a new female character for casting, he wrote in "love interest for Sam" just to mess with the fans knowing that it would be leaked. "I wrote it in to screw with you guys because you get so angry," referring to Padalecki's female fans.

Kripke was asked about the shows influences, and he sited Asian horror films such the original "The Ring," "The Grudge," "The Eye" and "Dark Water." He also mentioned shows with cars that he watched growing up like "The Dukes Of Hazzard" and "Knight Rider" as being influences for the show's use of the '67 Chevy Impala.

A fan asked about the shows tendencies to cast genre guest stars and if an appearance from fan-favorite Bruce Campbell was in the cards. "We go after him every season," answered Kripke. He explained that because Campbell is currently a regular on another TV series ("Burn Notice") they are unable to get him on the show.

However he was able to confirm one bit of stunt casting. Mitch Pileggi (Skinner from "X-Files") will be playing Mary's father (the brother's grandfather) in what Kripke refers to as the "time traveling" episode this coming season.

"It's great when actors from those types of shows or movies show up, because they really get the genre of the show that we're doing and it's almost effortless," said Ackles.

Finally, the panel was disrupted when actors A.J. Buckley and Travis Wester showed up in their "Ghostfacers" personas, filming the panel. They asked "Sam" and "Dean" what was with the name-cards placed in front of them? "Who's Jared Pad-a-lick-e," asked Wester. "Come on Sam, did you make that name up in a role playing game?"

After some humorous moments with the two characters, including them performing their theme song and demonstrating their latest creation, "Ghost Martial Arts," Ackles got into character as "Dean," grabbed a chair and ran them off the stage. Kripke stated that this might not be the last fans see of the "Ghostfacers," and that they may return in alternative media including a short-form spin-off series.

Season four of "Supernatural" premieres September 18th on the CW.

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