'Supernatural's Jensen Ackles talks Dean's scars and directing at Comic-Con 2012

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jensen-ackles-comic-con-2012.jpg "Supernatural" star Jensen Ackles is currently spending some time behind the camera, directing an episode of the show for his third year in a row.

This season's episode has presented some new challenges -- and not only because he had to break focus halfway through to travel to Comic-Con in San Diego. The episode, titled "Heartache," heavily features Dean, unlike previous episodes Jensen has directed, which were more focused on Sam.

"I think last year I was only in three days out of eight," Jensen told us when we sat down with him after the "Supernatural" panel. "This year I'm in all eight days, so it's a little difficult."

The episode features Liane Balaban as Amelia, Sam's new love interest, as well as a handful of other guest stars that are new to the series. "The stuff with Jared, the scenes in motel rooms and things like that, I can pretty much block it all myself, pick my camera shots, and he and I just go do our business as usual. It's when we have scenes with guest stars who need direction or who want direction or want that kind of affirmation of 'Is this right? Am I playing this right?' That became very difficult because... I'm trying to be Dean, [and] I'm also trying to keep an eye out for what they're doing so I can give them notes on their performances after they yell cut."

Though Jensen's episode will air as the third of the season, it's the first that they're shooting. He notes that the season premiere will start shooting on Thursday -- and in that episode, he'll explore Dean's escape from Purgatory after a year trapped there.

As for how Dean escaped? Enter Benny, a new recurring character who will have a significant role in Season 8. "There's a character introduced in the first episode which helps explain how Dean gets out. That character doesn't just go away. [He] will stick around and of course cause problems," Jensen says, when asked what "scars" Dean carries with him post-Purgatory. "Because Dean is indebted to this character for his exit, it makes the situation very volatile. That's how the onion gets peeled back, through this crazy relationship with this new character."

Perhaps the most surprising twist, for fans who have kept up with the show for years, is that Sam didn't make a distinct effort to save Dean from Purgatory. They've spent so much time saving each other over the course of the series, but at the end of Season 7, Sam was left alone, without anyone to call or any leads to follow. He decided to get out of the hunting life and try to be normal.

Dean isn't going to take that too well, consulting producer Ben Edlund confirms. Despite the fact that the brothers want each other to be happy, and to lead a normal life, Dean will feel a bit resentful that Sam followed through. "Like, 'Why didn't you look? We have a tacit agreement that we always break our agreement not to look?' I think that too, it gets to a large philosophical issue that they need to grapple with , which is how do you live a life [when] all they've done is be at the service of a terrible crushing duty? Like, Sam actually took time out to see, again, what the world was. If you're a hero and you're losing your substance, you can't fight anymore," Edlund says. "You don't know what you're fighting for. You're not connected with the prize in an intimate way."

Catch the video below for more from Jensen about Dean's return from Purgatory, plus some insight into one of last season's episodes.

"Supernatural" returns on October 3 at 9 p.m. EST on The CW. For more of Zap2it's "Supernatural" coverage, click here.

Photo/Video credit: Getty Images/Zap2it