When Supernatural premiered in 2005, fans thought the coolness factor of monster-hunting brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) was upped exponentially by their '67 Chevy, Impala. The sleek black muscle car has also been their greatest resource for escaping danger, with a powerful engine and a cache of weaponry stored in the enormous trunk.
For the first time in the show's long history, Dean's 'baby' will take center stage. Supernatural season 11 is about to unveil an entire episode (titled "Baby") told from the car's point of view, giving us a new perspective on how the Winchester brothers work. The crew filmed the action in a completely new way - to provide this unique glimpse into both the more dangerous and the quieter moments of the show's protagonist's lives.
According to TVLine, achieving director Thomas J. Wright's vision for "Baby" meant attaching cameras all over Impala (make that Impalas), while a sound man rode in a makeshift rumble seat in the trunk. The crew needed to film from every angle inside the car, which got pretty cozy for the actors and also meant a lot of damage to the show's fleet of eight Impalas.
Jeff Budnick, the man responsible for bringing "Baby" to screen, describes the carnage:
"The cars that I had to repair from that episode, five of them had to get new headliners because of the cameras ripping through the headliners. We had to put carpets in and the glass got cracked. It was a lot of work to get them back to normal."
The Supernatural cast and crew focused on all the in-between moments that can get glossed over in an action-packed episode. The Impala's view illustrates what it's like to essentially live in your car; including researching a case, sleeping, and the perils of trying to fit a vintage car through the drive-through lane. Padalecki was most amped about seeing the brothers interact and bond in this simple, enclosed environment:
"When I read the script, I was like, 'We never see the boys do this stuff. I can't wait to see it.' That should be something we do more often. We usually have the come-to-God [moment] in the middle of this library or something… But what a cool glimpse into the Winchesters and how they travel."
Supernatural has kept things fresh for a decade by continually experimenting with the format. The meta-episodes have been the most ambitious, and often the funniest, but this week's Impala-themed story seems like more than just a stunt played for laughs. Fans follow these characters because there's always something more to learn about them - and this intimate peek into their minute-to-minute actions promises some interesting new insights. Plus we're so there for the bros singing a classic tune together as they ride off to their next big job.
Some viewers out there may be rolling their eyes at the threat of another heart-to-heart chat between guys who should just be shooting stuff and chugging beers afterward, but they shouldn't worry. If Supernatural star Padalecki is looking forward to it, there probably aren't any embarrassing manly tears involved.
Supernatural season 11 continues with "Baby" tonight, October 28, on the CW at 9/8c.