"Supernatural" is exploring time travel again -- and this time, it's personal (...again).
Ever since HuffPost TV broke the news that Gil McKinney would be guest starring as Sam and Dean's paternal grandfather, Henry Winchester, there's been speculation as to what role he might play in the show's mythology.
As fans may recall from Season 5's "My Bloody Valentine," there's a reason why John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Mary Campbell (Samantha Smith) were destined to be together, which ties into the families' bloodlines. In Seasons 4 and 6, we got a look at the Campbell clan's involvement in the hunting world, but until now, we've seen very little about John's history.
That's about to change in "As Time Goes By," since -- as you can see in this week's Producer's Preview video -- Henry isn't entirely ignorant about the supernatural world.
HuffPost TV was on set for the filming of "As Time Goes By" (directed by the show's director of photography, Serge Ladouceur) and spoke with stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles about the developments of the episode and how it might impact the show's mythology going forward.
"There’s not many [relatives] left that we haven’t tapped into, so this is a family member that is coming back that we knew nothing about because he was never involved in our lives or the lives of people that were involved directly with us," Ackles explained on set. "It’s kind of getting some insight into the life and the legacy of the Winchesters, which is something that we as characters never really knew."
Padalecki added, "And we found out about the Campbells. We knew their mom, kind of knew her business, and so it’s interesting to see from a Winchester perspective what happened and learn a little bit more about our father -- learn a little bit more about what began to drive him the way he was driven and maybe why he was so built for it and why he became so good at it."
"But it does more than just that, also. There’s an introduction of a whole new kind of thing ... It’s just a whole new way of thinking about the world that we live in," Ackles continued. "It brings on a whole whack of new ideas and weapons. It's exciting because I think that now it’s going to open up some doors for stories and for the brothers to go in ways that they’ve never gone before and it’s also kind of cool because it ties into the legacy of who they are."
While John arguably spent the past few seasons being demonized (no pun intended) for his decisions as a father, Ackles and Padalecki agreed that this episode would help both brothers see their dad from a new perspective, and allow them to better understand what made John who he was.
"I think Sam more than Dean -- because Dean always had that spot for dad, which Sam did not -- but Sam learns that maybe he’s more connected than he ever knew with his father’s side of the family, who he sort of tried to steer clear of ..." Padalecki added. "Obviously, we know the story about his relationship with his father. So Sam starts to see his place in the world in a different light and starts to get a better grasp of maybe where he fits in, in the grander scheme, which is nice."
Since Sam has struggled all season (and arguably all series) with whether the hunting life is for him, the episode helps refocus him on the Winchester Family Business. Meanwhile, Dean struggles to accept Henry, given what the brothers learn about their father's past, and the pair have more than one confrontation. While both perspectives are driven from a character standpoint rather than a mythology-based one, the episode also has its share of plot progression, which will ultimately tie into the overarching story of the season, including the hunt for the tablets.
In many ways, "As Time Goes By" feels like a Season 2 episode, with a meaty mythological aspect and a return to a more balanced brotherly dynamic. While the episode highlights the fact that Sam and Dean have different strengths and different methodologies when it comes to getting the job done, it also emphasizes that they'd still do anything for each other, which has always been the heart of the show.
"Supernatural" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on The CW.
Are you excited to meet Henry Winchester? Weigh in below and come back after the episode for an in-depth interview with executive producer Bob Singer on where the story will go from here.