ensen Ackles as Dean and Jared Padalecki in Supernatural by Sergei Bachlakov/The CW
After an impossibly long two-month hiatus due to the writers' strike, Supernatural finally returns with new episodes this week. And to celebrate, we've conjured up another Q&A. Will there be an extended Season 4? How do fans' opinions affect the show's direction? Will we get answers about this year's finale? Supernatural creator Eric Kripke is back to tackle your questions and theories. Plus, he has a special message about this week's all-new episode. Supernatural airs Thursdays at 9 pm/ET on the CW.

I've had a long-term theory regarding Sam and his visions - that they were not his but given to him by YED through the connection of blood, which he used to keep track of and communicate with the chosen children. Is this right? Or am I just smoking something? So totally dying to know!Thanks! - gloriaoliver
Eric Kripke:
It's an interesting theory but I'd be crazy to confirm or deny. Sorry, but you just have to keep guessing.

Is there any chance you'll ever appear in a brief cameo role? - ckll
Kripke:
No, no. It's funny, when I'm in the writers' room or discussing a scene with a director, I tend to be quite animated, acting out the parts and reading the lines the way I see them in my head. And so it's become a running joke that the writers and directors are always asking when I'm gonna go up and shoot a part already, because I'm clearly a frustrated actor. But the thing is, I'm a deeply, deeply terrible actor, so no friggin' way. After my performance in the lead role of Southview High School's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, I swore never to torture an audience like that again.

Do you have any plans to extend Season 4, since the strike shortened Season 3 to only 16 episodes? - acsgrlie
Kripke:
I was certainly willing to; the entire writing staff was rested and ready after the strike. But alas, the network only ordered 22 episodes, so we'll be presenting our usual length.

In "Mystery Spot," did Trickster really bend time or just Sam's mind (e.g., another dream-like experience akin to DaLDoM), or both? - racestaffer
Kripke:
Sorry to be Dungeon Master here, but again, I'm not gonna answer. What do you think?

In "All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 1," the YED said to Sam that he was looking for the best and brightest of your generation. Sam replied, "My generation?" and then the YED said there were others. My question is, was Mary or someone we know part of the other generations that the YED was talking about? - chillgirl12
Kripke:
Way to pay attention. Specifically, the YED was making a reference to children like the baby girl - Rosie - seen in the Season 1 episode "Salvation." If you remember, when John was tracking the Demon in Season 1, the pattern he discovered was that the YED was visiting children in their cribs on their 6-month birthdays, the same way that he visited Sam. So, over two decades later, the YED was repeating his old pattern, visiting a new generation of children. Presumably, there are generations older than Sam... and generations younger.

In recent interviews about the last episode of Season 3, a giant cliff-hanger was mentioned. I know you can't give anything away about Dean's deal, but is the "jaw-dropper" something about Mary ? - nic875
Kripke:
Nope. You gotta wait for the Mary information. It's coming in Season 4.

You said that the Demon war is now Season 4, so my question is, to what extent will we see it? Will it be like in "Jus in Bello," or will there be blow-out battles? - Padackles13
Kripke:
All right, here's a brutally too-honest answer: They will mostly be like "Jus in Bello" - skirmishes and off-camera battles - because we can't afford to produce actual blow-out battles. There's an interesting story behind all this: When Season 3 was beginning, the biggest note we received from the studio and the network was to open up the scope of the story, to make it more epic. We told them that costs money, and they said that they understood, but we should still go for it. The writers already knew that we wanted to release a bunch of new demons onto the landscape. But we basically escalated it, increased our number of demons, turned it into a war, opened the Devil's Gate, all that. Then we produced "The Magnificent Seven," and it was way, way over budget, and that wasn't even full-scale war yet. Immediately the studio clamped down and said we had to stick to our budget for the rest of the season. We protested - how do you present a war on our bargain budget? They basically said, "Figure it out." So here we are, a war without the money to mount it. And our Season 4 budget is even smaller than our Season 3 budget. Therefore, we'll be employing all kinds of tricks next year - the war will be smaller, more contained, underground, more guerrilla-style. I actually think it'll improve the show. Looking back over Season 3, the spectacle and size is never as interesting as the episodes that focus on the brothers. I think we probably got a little too distracted at times. So in Season 4, there will still be the war, but we'll be presenting it in our scruffy, angsty, Supernatural way, and we'll return to concentrating on the relationships and the characters.

With all the debate about Bela, etc - whom I personally don't mind - I find myself wondering how much the displeasure or pleasure of the fans affects the direction of the show. Are you swayed or do you stick to your vision and hope they'll stick with you? - islandgyal
Kripke:
Here's another honest answer. The reality is, I have a core story that I want to tell, and I've never wavered from it, not once. It's the saga of the Winchester clan - who the brothers really are, who their parents really are, why Demons are so closely intertwined with them, what their destiny really is. It's an epic, emotional family story at its heart, and to me, that's what Supernatural is really and truly about. Beyond that, story elements come and go, some are introduced, and others discarded. And whether we keep a storyline or toss it is based on several elements: the writers' opinions, the realities of actors' schedules, and yes, at times, the opinions of the fans. We value the fan response. It works as a kind of real-time audience testing. We never listen to specific comments. But if the fans overwhelmingly reject something, over and over and over, on every website, we tend to pay attention to that. Again, I want to stress, it never alters the core story and central mythology; if the fans don't like that, then they should go watch Grey's. But if one of the outer-orbit, less important stories just isn't working, the writers don't feel so self-important that we need to keep it. There's always room to make the show better, and that means trying new things, keeping the things that work, losing the things that don't.

And finally, though it wasn't a posed question, I'd like to add one more thing: I love Ghostfacers (airing this Thursday at 9 pm/ET). I don't love every episode, but I think it turned out great, and it's one of my favorites. Go to CWTV.com/ghostfacers for a sneak preview and tons of outtakes.