I spoke with new Supernatural writer Davy Perez back in November 2016 after the airing of the first episode he penned “American Nightmare.” At that time, Perez hinted that his next episode would “have some elements from the past.” I was curious as to what he meant by that. We found out when Davy Perez’s second episode “Stuck In The Middle (With You)” aired. In this new interview, Perez talks about how “Stuck In The Middle (With You) came about, the challenges he faced with the script, the episode style and more. Read on to learn what he had to say.
Congratulations on writing another Supernatural episode. What challenges did you face in writing “Stuck In The Middle (With You)” that you didn’t have with American Nightmare?
“When I wrote the first one, it was kind of a straight line. And in this one for me it wasn’t just going out of order just to do so, but finding what moments would resonate that it would make sense that it was told in that order, so that was a little bit of a challenge. And also making sure that there was enough of the tension in there because we immediately see Castiel with his wound and realize that he’s in a dire situation. How do you keep the tension and how do you keep raising the stakes when you pretty much give away that one of your main characters is wounded in the first three minutes? So, that was a huge challenge.”
How did you conceive the idea for “Stuck In The Middle (With You)?”
“Well the idea was conceived from trying to look at some of my favorite movies and stories and how I would want to emulate them. For the sound round of scripts, Andrew (Dabb) told us that we could think a little bit outside the box if we wanted to and come up with one or two really big ‘out there ideas’ to see if maybe we wanted to try them. And this was my ‘out there idea.’ It was what I felt was Supernatural’s version of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and what would that look like. Unrelated to that actual structure, I wanted to write an episode about demons and I wanted it not to be about our typical Crossroad Demons. I wanted it to be something very dangerous and deadly. I had talked to Andrew about the Prince of Hell idea and he responded to it and helped me to also look at it in a way that would work with our universe. So, I kind of had those two for a while as two separate ideas. And as I was breaking the story, they kind of naturally started to flow together. It was fortunate that it was the right ideas at the right time.”
What made you decide to reach into Supernatural’s history to include elements like yellow eyed demons, the Colt and Crowley’s rise to King of Hell?
“I’m a new writer on the show so I was really starting to do a lot of research on the characters and their history and watch older episodes. And for me, it just felt like a little bit of a time jump from when we saw Crowley as King of the Crossroads to when we saw him with Bobby and saying that he’s now ruler of everything. I just thought there was a story there. So for me that felt like an opportunity to have a little fun and to fill in that gap. We were breaking these ideas for the season fairly early on and I could approach Andrew with these ideas. He was receptive to them as long as they worked for the episode. The thing with The Colt in watching some of the early episodes was that it such a mythical weapon and it just seemed that it didn’t have a resolution; it just sort of fell of the map. So to me that was another opportunity to fill in the gaps. I guess in my own way I like things to make sense and that’s just how I am. I’m very analytical, sometimes too much. And the fact that I get to do that as a writer is a bonus of the job.”
Why a Tarrantino style of storytelling?
“What I liked about this format is that we could show a visual through the flashbacks about how we got from one moment to the next. I love old movies and new movies with innovative story telling. Pitching it as a ‘Reservoir Dogs’ sort of episode kind of makes it hard not to tell it out of sequence because that’s what ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (and also ‘Pulp Fiction’) does. And if we were going to emulate Tarrantino, I wanted to do it as close to his style as possible. Obviously, it’s a different format, it’s television and not film. And it’s the budget we have versus the budget he has. But if you’re going to do it and try to play homage to someone who’s at that level of writing and directing, you better do it right. And I actually got really lucky with the director that was assigned, Richard Speight Jr. We sat down to talk about the script for the first time and he immediately got it and he was a huge Tarrantino fan as well. And I just knew from his passion for it and his insight into the pop culture of it all that he was really the right director to bring it to life. Once everyone knew that this was our Tarrantino episode, everybody got on board and added something extra to it with Bob and Andrew shepherding it to fruition. But as far as the decision to tell it out of order, there’s really no way not to tell it out of order.”
How do you feel “Stuck In The Middle (With You)” will develop the characters and move them towards their destinies for the season finale?
“Well, it’s definitely an episode that effects the universe, not just in the season but in the series. It explains a lot of things from the past and there are some very relevant stakes happening in the now. If you pay close attention to what’s being said in some of those scenes and what’s transpiring, I think it’s going to be very important for our characters. You have The Colt playing out; it’s with the British Men of Letters, you have Mary who was working with the British Men of Letters and maybe realizing they are not all that they are presenting themselves to be, you have Lucifer who’s not back in his proper cage, you have Crowley…what’s he up to, why does he have Lucifer there? What’s his endgame? That’s something we’ll have to address in the coming episodes. We have our guys who are usually on top of it all realizing that working with the people that they care about can sometimes put them in situations where it’s not ideal. And we have Ramiel and his sister Dagon taking an interest in Lucifer’s baby, what kind of interest? And for Castiel, he got very close to death yet once again and it came on the heels of him betraying the reaper. Where is his place, is he doing things for the greater good? There’s a lot of things going on, so people need to look at it beyond being a fun episode.”
What character did you find most challenging to write for in “Stuck In The Middle (With You)?”
“You know, that’s a good question. The ones that are actually a little challenging for me to write for are the players of the week, like Wally or the Peterson family in the last script. The reason for that is that the characters that we know and love are well established. You can practically hear their voices in your head, how they might react to something. The people of the week…you want to write them in a way that feels interesting, but you don’t have that much time with them so you got to find really quick ways to try and give them a strong point of view of an arc or something that you can gravitate towards because as a writer, you want all of your characters to have a fully formed reality. You don’t want to spend all your energy on our heroes who you are already interesting. You want to turn every character into its own fully fleshed out person who would be interesting to watch.”
What was your most difficult scene in the episode to write?
“The most difficult scene was probably the Castiel speech because I made it very personal. I really put myself in the place of someone who had to say goodbye and say what they really wanted to express. I thought about my two brothers and how much they mean to me. If I were about to pass away, how would I be and how I would react and what I might say? So that’s why I chose the words ‘I love you’ because I would want my brothers to know I love them. But it was tough. Those kinds of speeches and those kinds of moments…the show has certainly had those kinds of scenes in the past. Some have landed and some have not. Of course, any time on any show when you write a deathbed scene or speech or someone confessing their emotions, it can get very melodramatic and it can get very heavy handed and it can get very sappy, so I just wanted to make sure that the tone was right for that and that it was right for the character. Ultimately, it was just a very personal thing for me as a writer expressing how I would feel if I was stuck in the middle with this fear and I had my two brothers standing by me, my two brothers who loved me. What was the last thing that I would want them to know about me?”
Without giving away spoilers, can you give a teaser for your next episode?
“There’s a hell hound involved in this week’s case so Sam and Dean are investigating. What I can say is that they find out that this hell hound may not be behaving the way that a hell hound might behave so they have to look into that. Also, there are other story lines out there being addressed and that can move forward. Mostly just a straight ahead, monster hunt of the week. I had a really fun time getting back to basics, writing Sam and Dean together is always satisfying especially since both Jensen and Jared elevate the writing with their natural brotherly bond.”
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