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News from San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Creators and cast members carefully divulge bits of their shows' futures

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Zachary Levi

Zachary Levi arrives at SyFy/E! Comic-Con Party on July 23, 2011.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Every year, San Diego Comic-Con becomes more of a whirlwind of hints and teases about upcoming seasons of popular shows, as fans ask pointed questions and their favorite writers, producers, and actors hedge and wink. Still, various tidbits and foreshadowings emerged from some of the key panels at this year's event.

Supernatural

The "What About Misha" question was very present and very unanswered at the Supernatural panel. Collins himself mused on his "incredibly daunting" challenge of portraying his ascension to supreme being, but provided no spoilers. "How do you play God?" he wondered. "It's an interesting challenge to work on." All showrunner Sera Gamble would say was, "You saw the cliffhanger. It was very cliffhangery." She did confirm Castiel would be in "the first couple episodes" (no kidding!), but smart money says the fan favorite is bound to resurface later in the season, if only for a couple of episodes. He'll have company in the familiar faces department: Gamble promised the return of Jo (Alona Tal), Crowley (Mark Sheppard), Sheriff Mills (Kim Rhodes), and Death (Julian Richings).

Meanwhile Jensen Ackles introduced a clip from episode 703, which he directed. The clip featured Jewel Staite as a close friend of Sam's from his teenage years, leading to flashbacks involving the welcome return of Colin Ford as young Sam. Already revealed for season 7 are a cowboy/outlaw theme, moving on from the dark, noirish tone of season 6 -- but the writers say they're developing a menace for the brothers that's scarier than ever.

Will the seventh season be its last? Only if the bottom drops out of the ratings, though they have a contingent plan to wrap the series this season if necessary. While creator Eric Kripke created a five-year plan, stuck to it, and then moved on, the current creative team and the two stars sound convinced that Supernatural is ideally structured to continue evolving for some time to come.

Fringe

The question of the "existence" of Peter Bishop raised at the end of Fringe's previous season led to some coy playing around with fans at the Fringe panel, including a video of actors supposedly being considered to replace Joshua Jackson (featuring a string of actors including Zachary Quinto, Geoff Stults, Ben Schwartz, and, uh, Joshua Jackson). Jackson himself came out at the end of the video, wearing the fedora associated with the Observers.

The creative team continued having a grand time teasing the issue. "It's not that Peter's consciousness is anywhere," executive producer Jeff Pinkner said. "There is no Peter. Peter doesn't exist. Josh calls everyday, 'What am I doing this year?'" There's even a micro-sized teaser video for season 4, featuring Peter warning that there are things he can't explain about himself -- but the scene comes not from the forthcoming season but from episode 104.

The lack of an alternate-universe version of Peter offers some clues. "I don't know that Peter's ever going to have an alternate," Jackson said. "But I think whoever he gets folded back into this season as will be a different version of [Peter]."

More plans for season 4 include more interaction between Here and There (with both of Anna Torv's characters facing off), reveals on Olivia's abilities, a continuation of stories that look backward in the characters' lives, and a tougher version of Astrid (Jasika Nicole).

The Vampire Diaries

The new storylines opened up at the end of last season are exciting the cast and crew. Paul Wesley is enjoying the complexity of a bloodthirsty renegade version of Stefan, while the writers look forward to the creepy yet emotional ghost stories associated with Jeremy's return from the dead and the consequences thereof.

The love triangle between Elena, Damon, and Stefan continues to run through the storyline, despite Stefan's disappearance. "Katherine said to Elena at the end of the season, 'It's OK to love both of them,'" said co-creator Kevin Williamson. "And we'll just see what that means."

The upcoming season 3 will include the continued presence of Elijah (Daniel Gilles) and a guest appearance by Jack Coleman (Heroes) as an anti-vampire local.

Chuck

What fates await Team Bartowski in their final, 13-story outing? The change in roles, with Morgan swapping the Intersect function with Chuck, emphasizes the completion of Chuck's development from the conflicted slacker we first met in 2007. Meanwhile, there's a lead-off encounter with Mark Hamill, guest-starring in the season premiere, "war" between Jeff and Lester, a possible death among the series cast, and a love interest for Casey as well.

Zachary Levi talked about how it hit him that Chuck was playing out its final episodes, despite having been "on the chopping block" every year for the last few seasons -- the toughest part was filming the last scenes of season 4 without knowing if they'd all be coming together again. "That nailed me, really hard," he told Michael Ausiello. So the word that season 5 would be the last season at least offered the chance of closure and goodbye at the end among the cast and crew, and with the fans. Though he's not privy to the producers' plans, he expects the final season will, in typical Chuck fashion, have humor, depth, drama, suspense, and "a lot of heart."

His only tease for the opening of season 5: Morgan does have the Intersect. "it wasn't a joke, it wasn't a prank, and that will play a big part in the mythology of how the rest of the season plays out," Levi said.

Conversely, while Morgan adjusts to being the Intersect, Chuck has to deal with not being the Intersect. "He definitely at the beginning of our season wants those powers, but this season is back-to-basics for Chuck," says executive producer Chris Fedak. "Chuck has to be far greater now. It's very much about him coming up with those clever, smart solutions again, and having to be a real spy." So Chuck in a sense comes full circle, with a novice Intersect, while Chuck himself is forced to evolve in an unexpected way.

Fedak added, "I'd love to have Linda Hamilton back on the show. It wouldn't be the show without bringing Mama Bartowski back one more time."

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