A ‘Supernatural’ Tribute to Writer Steve Yockey
With final seasons come final goodbyes, both on-screen and off. Last night, Steve Yockey bid the Supernatural family farewell, gracing us with one last episode on his way out — “Proverbs 17:3.”
Yockey joined the Supernatural writing team in 2016 during season 12. Throughout the course of his tenure working on the show, we as fans were lucky enough to have him as a writer for 11 episodes. Though that may be but a small portion of the fifteen year run of the show, Yockey’s work left a lasting impact on the integrity of the overall story that unfolded over the course of the final few seasons.
No matter if an episode was a crucial piece to the main plot or a monster-of-the-week, Yockey always gave us something that was enjoyable, funny, and deeply meaningful to watch. He has a knack for finding the right time to make the audience laugh, and subsequently delivering a sucker punch right in the feels without warning.
In celebration of Yockey’s final episode of Supernatural, the Nerds and Beyond team took a look in the rearview at some of our personal favorite episodes that he’s worked on.
“Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” – Season 12, Episode 6
Yockey really started off with a bang with his first Supernatural episode, as he took a story that was seemingly small compared to the grander scheme of looming plot lines and managed to turn it into something quite beautiful.
Right from the get-go, the opening sequence of “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” sets up a promising premise. The audience is introduced to a young boy saved by Mary Winchester, and we follow a quick progression throughout his steps into adulthood as he goes on to become a hunter himself. This inspiring tale is quickly shot through the heart though, as the man — Asa Fox — meets an unfortunate and untimely death. Rather than just briefly introducing the plot with a throwaway character dying, this opener left viewers wanting more.
Yockey was tasked with writing a handful of extremely important dynamics between the Winchester brothers and other characters throughout the course of this episode: Jody, their mother, and even other hunters. You certainly wouldn’t have known that this was his first episode, because the writing choices that he made were spot-on and really hit home. The dynamic and stark comparison between the boys’ strained relationship with their suddenly-back-from-the-dead mother versus Jody’s established motherly bond with them was crucial to see play out on-screen, and Yockey threaded this pivotal, delicate thread of plot like a true pro. It was also a pleasant surprise to finally see Sam and Dean at a gathering of hunters, and their utter bafflement upon realizing the gravity of the reputation that they had earned throughout the years.
You think the stories about Asa are crazy, you should hear what they say about you.
This episode was just an introduction (an impressive one, at that!) to the amazing work that was in store from Steve Yockey … – Lindsey
“Advanced Thanatology” – Season 13, Episode 5
This episode finds Sam and Dean helping a teenage boy who is caught up in a terrifying incident at the abandoned home of a 1960s psychiatric doctor. While this episode contains a lot of plot, it also gives us an honest peek into the emotional lives of the Winchesters. Yockey does a seamless job of showing us how the boys are really coping with the recent loss of Mary and Castiel and incorporating that into a usual Supernatural case. In typical co-dependent Winchester fashion, Sam worries about Dean’s grief and makes a series of hilarious attempts to cheer him up. Yockey perfectly plays up Dean’s unhealthy coping mechanisms of “bullets, bacon, and booze” to communicate to the audience just how well Dean is not doing.
This episode also includes two of the biggest reveals of season 13. In Dean’s attempt to resolve the case, he finds himself temporarily dead and ends up with a surprise visit from Billie, who we learn is now Death herself. Not only does Billie give us hints on what is to come of the Winchester’s fate, but through her reading of Dean’s nonchalant reaction to dying, we learn Dean is feeling hopeless and helpless and questioning his usefulness in making the world a better place. This episode highlights Yockey’s understanding that the emotional depth and growth of the characters is what really draws fans to the show.
Lastly, in the last remaining minutes of this episode, we also learn Castiel is back! Again, Yockey seems to understand the fans and was aware of the emotional response they would have at Castiel’s return. There is very little dialogue in the scene and instead he lets it play out through the emotional reactions of Sam and Dean suddenly finding their best friend back from the dead. – Amanda B.
“Various & Sundry Villains” – Season 13, Episode 12
When two witch sisters come into the picture, you know things will get interesting. Yockey wrote this amazing episode with a lot of funny moments and a nice surprise for season 13.
The episode begins with the Plum sisters wreaking havoc and killing unsuspecting men after the men have fallen under their ‘spell’. Cut to our hero Dean Winchester being the next victim after meeting these spellbinding ladies. The Plum sisters know that Dean has the Black Grimoire, a powerful book of spells that they need to reanimate their dead mother. After the sisters brainwash Dean into getting them the book, he returns to the bunker, and in the first of many funny moments of this episode, Dean returns to the bunker with an announcement … he has fallen in love. Dumbfounded, Sam looks at him like he’s insane and wants to meet the girl who stole Dean’s heart. I’ve always thought this was a good parallel with Sam’s story from season 7 when he married Becky. Dean’s reaction in that episode is very similar to Sam’s reaction in this one: comical and perplexed.
The brothers meet up with the girls, and get into a hilarious fight over them. And then the big surprise of the episode emerges, the return of Rowena! She had been assumed dead after Lucifer burned her alive. In this case, the boys are actually relieved to see her, so she can help them with these two witch sisters who are using men to get their mother back from the beyond. In this episode we see Rowena and Sam have a heartfelt conversation about Lucifer, since they have both been tortured by him.
In the meantime, the witches have the Black Grimoire and are using it to get their mother back from the dead, however their mother returns as a zombie and things go haywire. Rowena helps the boys get the book away from the witches and in return asks them if she can use it to get her powers back. Although they don’t want her to have the book, Sam does let her have the one page she needs, feeling empathy for Rowena after what she has been through with Lucifer. Yockey has an amazing way of telling a story, and interweaving other parts of the mythology into it. In this case, bringing Rowena back and making her redeemable in Sam’s eyes. – Michelle
“Funeralia” – Season 13, Episode 19
In “Funeralia,” Rowena was on a mission to bring her son back from the dead, no not that son, Crowley. Her way of doing that is to kill as many reapers as it takes to get an audience with Death. The reaper Jessica goes to Sam and Dean telling them, also revealing that in Rowena’s death story, it all ends with Sam, every time. During the episode, she takes responsibility for how Crowley turned out and learns about Sam being the one who eventually kills her. She ends up kidnapping Sam and torturing him, and Billie shows up but does nothing. They have a very emotional fight where Rowena breaks down, and Billie says to her,
Sometimes, life is unfair, and sometimes we lose things, and sometimes we make mistakes. And some of these things can never be fixed, no matter how powerful you become, some things just are. And everyone has to live with that.
That right there is Steve Yockey. He is exceptional at writing emotional scenes and heartfelt conversations. They tended to happen in perfect situations and needed to happen to progress the story further and make it more profound. Yockey writes his stories as if he has already seen them take place, and we see the replay of his thoughts. Not to mention, a lot of his stories have female characters and bring them to the front of the Supernatural class to showcase their contributions to that world. Thank you for creating those moments, all the best on The Flight Attendant. – Sarah
“Nihilism” – Season 14, Episode 10
I have always appreciated the wild ride of the episodes Steve Yockey gave us. “Nihilism” was no different. Yockey not only wrote intense action as Michael’s monsters chased after three quarters of TFW 2.0, but also wrote a world in Dean’s mind where he is happy. We got to see the little things — a bar, friends alive, hunting — that bring Dean joy. More than that, Michael’s piercing lines to Sam, Cas, Jack, and even Dean himself created an interesting conflict. It was chilling to hear, but so very magical to watch Ackles deliver those lines.
The shining point of this episode, though, is how Yockey managed to write an episode that never wavered one bit. From the beginning when they were all trapped with no way out, to Dean locking Michael away and getting a visit from Billie, the episode was high octane energy. It never fell short, and it never slowed down. It left viewers entertained and on the edge of their seats. We wanted more. That is success. That is a Steve Yockey episode. – Melanie
“Peace of Mind” – Season 14, Episode 15 (written with Meghan Fitzmartin)
“Peace of Mind” was the impressive product of a writing collaboration between Yockey and Meghan Fitzmartin. Hailed as one of the best episodes of the season, “Peace of Mind” is unique from the start, sending Dean and Jack to meet with Donatello regarding Jack’s soul while Sam and Cas work a case in a picturesque town. Humor and dire stakes go hand-in-hand in this episode and both are written and executed flawlessly. This is seen in Dean’s antagonistic relationship with Jack’s snake, going from a truly funny gag to something that sets up a plot point for the next several episodes, and Sam’s evolution to “Justin Smith.” What begins as a humorous juxtaposition to the Sam we know ends up addressing Sam’s lingering guilt over the recently-killed hunters.
This episode also showcased some of Cas and Jack’s best qualities, both as individuals and as parts of Team Free Will. Despite the volatile nature of Jack’s soul, he remains optimistic, bright, and nurturing, all qualities that made fans fall in love with him immediately. As for Cas, his off-beat personality, refined sense of sarcasm, and keen sense of his friend’s emotions all play important rolls in this episode. Whether it’s reading … um … passionate love letters that reveal who in town may be able to help them, coming up with yet another iconic one-liner, or breaking Sam out of the mayor’s mind control, Cas’ flawless characterization went a long way in the success of this already incredible episode. A staple that makes this installment stick out is the way it showcases the Team Free Will dynamic. Viewers are used to seeing Sam and Dean working a case while Castiel and Jack venture into the more cosmic world, leading to a potential misunderstanding of the family’s dynamic. “Peace of Mind” breaks that mold beautifully, showing that they all genuinely care for each other and their personalities each compliment each other individually outside of their “normal” case pairings. – Bri
So thank you, Steve Yockey, for the everlasting impact that you have left on the story of Supernatural. Your talents will be missed, but we can’t wait to see what you’re doing next.
Yockey may be leaving this show, but he’s in no way finished doing what he does best. His next project is The Flight Attendant, an upcoming HBO Max thriller drama series for which he is an executive producer and showrunner. In the meantime, you can follow him on Twitter to see what else he’s up to!