'Supernatural' Season 6 companion: Revisit soulless Sam, Castiel's porn phase, and more

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supernatural-companion-seas.jpgThe seventh season of "Supernatural" began on Friday, and while the Castiel-as-God and Castiel-as-Leviathan storyline is a refreshing new spin on the usual big bad formula, we have to admit... we kind of miss the Castiel who considered pizza boy porn tropes to be his sexual education.

Luckily, "Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 6," a richly detailed look back at one of our favorite Winchester years, is set to be released on Tuesday. The book is packed with insight on every episode, as well as in-depth analyses of characters like Samuel Campbell and Lisa Braeden.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles contributed heavily to the book, so if you're curious about how Jared worked with the writers to develop soulless Sam or about the challenges of Jensen's first directing gig, you'll definitely want to pick this one up.

In the meantime, we've got an exclusive excerpt for you below. It's a look at one of the season's best episode -- "Live Free or Twihard," which kicked off as a hilarious "Twilight" parody and ended with some major revelations about the changing nature of Sam and Dean's relationship.

LIVE FREE OR TWIHARD

When seven teenage girls go missing in seven days, Sam and Dean investigate. The latest victim, Kristen, idolizes the romanticized vampires from books and movies, and the brothers find a message indicating she met a guy claiming to be a vampire at a nightclub. They check out the club and confront two suspicious guys. Sam's is a vamp that he decapitates. Dean's is just a teenager trying to meet girls. Then Dean is attacked by a real vampire - and Sam just watches as the vampire turns Dean.

Sam then rescues Dean. At their motel, Dean is oversensitive to lights and sounds, and he wants Samuel to come kill him, but then he sneaks out to see Lisa. He wants to say goodbye, but the sound of her pulsing blood makes his vampire teeth appear. Before Lisa can see what he has become, he runs out, pushing Ben out of his way. Dean returns to the motel, where Samuel reveals he has a cure, but Dean needs to get the blood of the vampire that turned him.

At the vampire nest, Dean sees vampire Kristen writing poetry to girls online and learns that he is supposed to be bait for future victims. Dean tries to stab his sire with dead man's blood, but a psychic message from the Alpha Vampire knocks out all the vampires. When he awakes, Dean slays the entire nest to get the blood he needs. Samuel makes the cure and it works. While he is puking up vampire blood, Dean has visions of things he saw as a vampire, including a glimpse of Sam watching him get turned. He doesn't confront Sam, but he no longer trusts him.

"There are a lot of vampires going on these days," says Jensen Ackles, "so I enjoyed killing some vampires properly this season." Could the vampires Jensen alludes to include those in Twilight and True Blood? One of True Blood's executive producers used to write for Supernatural, and is still very good friends with executive producer Sera Gamble. "I did mention to her that we poked good-natured fun at the genre as a whole," Gamble says, "but Twilight was definitely a larger target, because it's wildly popular and ripe for parody. If you're familiar with Twilight and Vampire Diaries and True Blood and you watch the teaser, then it becomes quite understandable what we're doing, and I think people who were familiar with those found it really funny. Then I think there was a certain segment of the audience who actually had never seen the Twilight movies [or read the books], who watched the teaser and were like, 'What the hell is going on right now? I don't understand why these actors are talking so slowly and why they're so serious about this stuff.' So the teaser will be funnier if you watch the original."

Composer Jay Gruska is one of the people who has never seen Twilight. "I haven't," he confirms, "but a big element of my job is to understand something about a style that I don't necessarily live in, to understand it enough to emulate its sound. I gotta say, 'Live Free or Twi-Hard' was a really fun episode to do, because I got to write a couple of pop-rock sensibility underscore tracks that had guitar and rhythm sections."

Story editor Brett Matthews also had fun working on this episode. "It's hard to pick a favorite part," he says, "but I like Sam and Dean in Kristen's room - I think that scene is particularly funny. All the stuff in the goth bar is fun too." Unfortunately for fans looking to have the fun of visiting that bar, locations manager Janet McCairns reveals it wasn't a real goth club. "No, we certainly looked for that, but we had to largely manufacture it," she says. Fans can still visit the location, though. "We shot that at Honey Lounge in downtown Vancouver," says locations manager Russ Hamilton. "We had a ton of extras, which was incredibly challenging, but they came with their own [goth] clothes. It was a sight to behold." Hairstylist Jeannie Chow certainly appreciated it. "They showed up with the hairstyles already," she said, "so that was fun to work with. "We're usually in small town USA, where there might be one character that is labeled a punk or a goth, so it was nice to actually have a huge group, to do something different."

Production designer Jerry Wanek was excited to do something different for the vampire's nest. "The script said interior warehouse, but we've done [a lot of] interior warehouses, and we wanted to push something that was more fun. We found this old building downtown that was completely gutted and we turned it into an old bank. We brought in all this cool fake bronze and marble, and I thought that was a really successful transformation from something that was just this barren white-walled shell into something that was really richly detailed. It gave you a really cool feeling that if you were a vampire and you wanted a lair that this was someplace that you could hang out."

Hang out and get your head chopped off! Of the multiple beheadings that occurred in that lair, lead visual effects artist Mark Meloche says, "They say that we become desensitized after a while, but it's as troublesome [to create] now as it was six years ago, because when you're trying to figure out exactly what a decapitated person looks like, it really looks like nothing on the show. It's a much grislier event." Despite what they are allowed to show on Supernatural, they still get notes from the powers that be. For instance, supervising sound editor Michael Lawshe reveals that for that scene, "One of our notes was, 'There are three or four too many beheadings.' Then we asked, 'What if you just hear them and don't see them?' 'Okay.' So they rearranged picture [changed the visual edit] on a five-second sequence at the top of the staircase as Dean is going through lopping off heads of vampires. There were just a few too many, and when the body count gets that high, you don't want to get numb to it, you want it to still be horrible. Whenever the network cuts a scene down visually, it gives us a license to give it more grossness audibly, and we take advantage of that whenever we can. That's what Eric Kripke likes - the grosser, the wetter, the more snap and crackle the better. Then we know he's smiling."
Photo/Video credit: Titan Publishing Group