Supernatural's "Cliffhanger Is Deeply Involved With Castiel's Fate"

We're worried Cas is in danger, and supercreative writer-producer Ben Edlund didn't make us feel one bit better...

By Jennifer Arrow May 06, 2011 4:00 PMTags
Misha Collins, Jim Beaver, SupernaturalJack Rowand/The CW

Please don't leave us, Cas!

We're a little scared that Supernatural is gunning for badass angel Castiel (Misha Collins) as season six comes to a close, and well, talking to diabloical mastermind supercreative writer-producer Ben Edlund didn't make us feel one bit better. He told us that much of this week's SPN is told from the viewpoint of someone with "no real consideration" for external concerns.

Could Cas' life be flashing before his eyes in "The Man Who Would Be King"? Here's what we can tell you:

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Q&A With Supernatural Executive Producer Ben Edlund

Tonight's episode is Castiel-centric. What else do we need to know about this angel that we finally learn?
Well, I think that he has been up to fishy business this entire season. We have alluded to quite a bit. For me [this episode] is a combination of [being about] bringing angels onto the show and bringing them specifically in the form of Misha, and what Misha himself brought to the show. Castiel is one of my favorite characters, [but] he has a lot of explaining to do, because I have a love for that character—and he has been doing fishy things, so if I am a viewer I want to know his side of the story, because I want to maintain my love for him. So [the episode] moves in that direction.

Are you going to kill Cas? There's been some talk that Cas is going to die, in part because season seven might be the last season and it should be just Sam and Dean.
Well, season seven...We are just now starting to work that out. But I will say that the cliffhanger is deeply involved with Castiel's fate. And it must remain an unopened gift until that evening.

We've seen a little bit of past history about Cas' meatsuit, Jimmy. Does that come into play?
That's an excellent question and the answer falls under the category don't open your gift until Christmas. No, I'd say that that is not a gigantic issue as far as his personal character contributions to what's taking place, only because the wheels that are moving are so massive. I always reserve in Castiel's overall makeup the fact that there is an aspect of him that is purely flesh and purely human, which can function as it did in an episode before as a real Achilles' heel, when he started to eat meat, because he just loved red meat. He couldn't stop himself. There are ways to reach the angel through the man, but whether that becomes one of the gears in the final machine we are speaking of, nope, I won't answer you.

Can you tell us a little the unusual structure of "The Man Who Would Be King"?
The biggest part to me is how it deals with time. It has so many different aspects of flashback in it, and I think it is trackable, but I really feel like it's kind of ambitious in the way that it takes you...it's a very ambitious temporal structure for us. It doesn't travel through time; we travel through time with his recollections.

Rumor has it you directed this episode?
I did! I did with a tremendous amount of help from the crew... and even cast [LAUGHS]. But yes, that was a relearning experience. I directed one before on Angel.

So what's the biggest difference between writing or producing and directing?
You have to use the muscles of taking action and the muscles of overseeing action! When you're writing, the most action I take up other than staring at the computer screen is making calls to the office and telling them that it will be another day late. [Laughs.] When you're directing, you cannot be a second or a minute late, so you have to be a totally different...a whole different psychology applies, I think, and that's the part I find most terrifying, having to be a real person again.

How did cast and crew pitch in and help when you directed?
I think there were legitimate moments where I had that stage fright, and we had to move forward, and I was really trying to keep up with the action and there were excellent suggestions made. The guys know how to direct the scenes: Jensen [Ackles], who has directed an excellent episode himself, and Johnny Mac, the first [assistant director[, these guys...There is the possibility that the director could have a heart attack, and they could get the days work done, because I had about four. They weren't medical heart attacks but they felt real. [The cast and crew is] a very powerful organism up there [in Vancouver].

Is the set as tight-knit as it sounds?
Totally. It's collaborative, and I think that it's elastic. They shift weights really well and the balance of the whole thing runs really well. You know, it's like fighting a little war; there can be frictions, but they are the kinds of frictions that good bones, joints and muscles make when they get a truly athletic thing done.

What are you most excited for people to see in the next episode?
There is a depiction of heaven that I feel approaches a kind of poetry and there is a place that we go to in hell that has a certain poetic turn but I would say overall that it is a really whacked-out structure, and it's going to be fun to follow. I mean it's really just a person telling their story with no real consideration for what's happening outside the moment or in the past, you have to go on that ride and it's a fun one. We have a flashback within a flashback, and it just doesn't stop. Good luck. 

Supernatural airs Friday at 9 p.m. on the CW.