Jensen Ackles, <EM>Supernatural</EM> Jensen Ackles, Supernatural

Not only did Supernatural creator Eric Kripke confirm that Dean Winchester is alive — though not too comfortably since he's in hell — he spilled next season's plans for the beleaguered Winchester brothers. You weren't lying when you said you were hoping to make your fans really angry and full of anxiety all summer!
Eric Kripke: [Laughs] It was a fun way to end the season. Dean meat-hooked in the center of what looks like a thousand mile spiderweb of rusty chains. Sort of M.C.Escher meets Hellraiser. Why did you send Dean to hell?
 Everyone expected Dean to be safe! That's reason enough to send him to hell. But also, in ways I can't reveal, it's a turning point for Dean. You need huge moves to happen that can cause radical shifts in the characters, that set them off in a new direction. So what happens to Dean in hell and how Dean gets out become primary concerns of Season 4. So you'll have scene set in hell?
Kripke: I can give this away. Dean spends a lot more time in hell than anyone's probably thinking. Dean could spend — in human time — six months, maybe more. In hell time, who knows how many years or decades that might be. [Laughs] I won't tell you how he gets out, but he will emerge to a different landscape. A lot has changed since he's been away, and he has to readjust to his loved ones after being gone for so long. Is he still human or… part demon?
Kripke: It takes hundreds of years to be burned away into a demon. Dean won't be a demon, but there will be an ongoing mystery. When he gets out of hell, he'll have little recollection of what happened to him down there. That's one of the mysteries of the season. Speaking of demons, will Ruby be back? And any new characters?
Kripke: Ruby will be back, and we're introducing a new supernatural species. We intend to bring back Steve Williams, the old embittered hermit hunter Rufus. Let's get to the heart and soul of the show. How will Dean's hellish sojourn affect the relationship between the brothers?
Kripke: It will affect it massively. We'll slowly unfold Dean remembering what happened in hell, and that will drastically affect their relationship. Dean is basically a POW coming home from the worst hellhole — literally — ever. How do you reconnect with your life when you've been through something that horrific? That becomes one of his issues. But don't worry, he's still the same smart ass he always was. What's grieving little brother Sam been up to? In the finale, we saw some of his power in his fight with über demon Lilith.
Kripke:  We presented him as immune to her powers. We have some twists and turns in store with that. Sam promised Dean right before Dean died that he wasn't going to pursue any of his powers in terms of discovering his potential. Upon Dean's return, Sam tells him "I promised I wouldn't head down that road because you made me promise," but we begin to wonder if indeed that is the truth. For whatever it's worth, the writers have never been this excited about a season. We have some really exciting plot twists. Maybe they'll be exciting enough that this won't be your last season?
Kripke: Maybe. But you write every season like it's your last and hope for the best.

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