Taking risks as you try to figure out where you belong, and what you should be doing with your life, can be a difficult challenge for anyone, no matter what their circumstances or personalities are like. That’s certainly the case with both actress Lindsey McKeon, a former two-time Daytime Emmy Award nominee for her role as Marah Lewis on ‘Guiding Light,’ as well as one of her more recent characters, Tessa the Reaper, on the hit CW series, ‘Supernatural.’ The actress began her career on more family oriented shows as ‘Saved by the Bell: The New Class’ and ‘Boy Meets World,’ before delving into more sultry roles, such as on the CBS soap opera and on ‘One Tree Hill.’ McKeon then once again reinvented herself and showed her versatility when she entered the fantasy genre with her role as Tessa. The vibrantly showcased the horrors the reaper had to contend with as she tried to help dying and lost human souls, and the drastic action she was forced to make when she was no longer able to do her job.
Set in Dixon, Missouri, ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ the last episode McKeon starred in, follows an angel as he blows himself up in an ice cream parlor. Claiming to be supporting Castiel (Misha Collins), the bomber kills one of Metatron’s (Curtis Armstrong) angels and several humans. The bombing causes several angels to doubt Castiel’s leadership abilities, despite his insistence that he would never order such an attack.
Hunting for more of the angels who are also eager to kill in Castiel’s name, Dean (Jensen Ackles) finds another bomber who turns out to be Tessa the Reaper. Since the other angels have come to view Dean as a savage killer, as a result of his growing dependence on the First Blade, they insist he talk to her for answers. Tessa reveals she was tormented by the pain from the human souls that are trapped on Earth after Heaven was closed. She also admitted that although she was too much of a coward to kill herself before, she will now happily die for Castiel’s cause. Tessa impales herself on the First Blade, making it look like Dean killed her. Even in the aftermath of Tessa’s death, Dean completely refuses to be separated from the blade, even if it brings out an uncontrollable rage in him.
McKeon generously took the time after the initial airing of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to talk about the episode, and her overall recurring role of Tessa on ‘Supernatural,’ over the phone. Among other things, the actress discussed how she thinks Tessa killed herself in part because she was in one of the most difficult positions she’d ever been in, and was in pain for having to listen to the tortured human souls that she couldn’t help get into heaven; how Dean’s deal with the Mark of Cain caused his inability to be impacted by Tessa’s death, which wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t consumed with the First Blade’s power; and how it’s unknown where Tessa will go, or how she’ll be punished, after her death, and how she may be stuck in a tortured purgatory until heaven’s reopened.
ShockYa (SY): You played Tessa the Reaper in a recurring role on ‘Supernatural,’ and returned for the May 13 episode, ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ after an absence of three seasons. What was it like returning to the character again after three years, and what is it about Tessa overall that you enjoyed playing so much?
Lindsey McKeon (LM): Well, I didn’t necessarily make the decision. The casting department and producers contacted my team and said, “The writers are thinking about bringing Tessa back. Would Lindsey be available these specific dates?” I immediately said, “Yes, I love playing Tessa.”
SY: In ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ Tessa disguised herself as a suicide bomber who claimed she was set to kill on behalf of Castiel, even though he denied he would order such attacks. What would have driven her to act as though she was part of a conspiracy against him?
LM: I think she was conflicted, and part of her wanted out of this tortured place. So I think if Castiel or Metatron came to her as Castiel and said, “There is a way out, and you will open up heaven and save all these people,” she would be more apt to make that choice. But I think she disguised herself in part for selfish reasons, particularly because of the pain she was in, and the fact that she wanted to open heaven.
SY: In the episode, Tessa also decided to take her own life by impaling herself on Dean’s First Blade, which made it appear as though he killed her. Why do you think she was driven to use the First Blade to kill herself, and make it appear as though he killed her?
LM: I think she was in one of the most difficult places and positions she’d ever been in. She didn’t necessarily see an ending anytime soon. She was in a lot of pain, mentally, not being able to do her specific job. All she’s able to do is listen to tortured souls that she feels like she can’t even help. So she felt that at that point, it seemed better to her to take herself out, and hang in that limbo of nothingness, until something else occurred.
The First Blade seemed to be the only way available to her. The angels weren’t going to bring something else in to kill her. She also wasn’t able to go into the auditorium, as Dean kept her blocked her from going in, to keep her from killing herself. So that was the only available option to her at that time.
SY: Speaking of Dean keeping Tessa out of the auditorium, the two previously always had a close bond since her initial appearance in the second season. Why do you think their relationship had evolved so much throughout the series, and led to Tessa using Dean’s blade to kill herself?
LM: In a way, Dean is always getting in Tessa’s way, or Tessa is getting in Tessa’s way. (laughs) That seems to be their relationship-they keep each other from doing specific things. This time, Tessa was a little bit off her rocker. This led Dean to come in and try to keep her from doing something terrible, which could have horrible repercussions.
SY: Tessa didn’t approved of Dean’s deal with the Mark of Cain, which impacted his reaction to her death. Do you think Tessa’s death will make him question how much he has grown to like the killing aspect that’s associated with the blade?
LM: Overall, I’m not sure, but it did or a moment. If it was regular Dean without the Mark of Cain, he would definitely begin thinking about why he was using it. I think having the blade is making him feel all powerful. I think that’s blinding him from normal reasoning
SY: Tessa revealed to Dean that she previously contemplated ending her own life with an angel blade but Castiel gave her something worth living for-toughing through Metatron’s forces and reclaiming Heaven. Do you think she previously chose to stay alive to try to reclaim heaven and save the humans?
LM: Yes, I think it was part of that. But if she could take herself out for the greater good of humanity and nature, so that these souls could go back to heaven and it could open up again, she would willing give her life for the greater mass. But that didn’t occur, and Dean kept her from that. Once again, there was no way out.
SY: Until ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ the series only showed how heaven being locked up affected the angels, but not the humans who died or the reapers. Will the humans and repears continue to be locked out of heaven, and will Tessa be stuck in purgatory with the humans?
LM: Maybe! It’s very possible, because with Tessa, we don’t know where she will go, or how maybe she’ll be punished, or lost in a different realm, indefinitely. I think people can still get into hell, but the lost souls that are supposed to go into heaven can’t get into heaven, but aren’t supposed to go to hell. So they’re just in this tortured purgatory, which is obviously not where they’re supposed to be. It could cause a huge mess if all of a sudden, since there’s so much chaos, these souls are falling through the cracks and going to hell, even though they’re not supposed to be there.
SY: Speaking of purgatory filled with the lost souls, do you think that Tessa could be sent there, or is there another place she would go, since she’s a reaper?
LM: I think she would go to a different realm; I don’t think she would necessarily go where the humans would go. I think that is one of the reasons why she took her life, because she was stuck in this world where humans were. For her to make this huge decision to take herself out, I don’t think she would go to another place where humans were. Otherwise, she would just stay where she was. So I feel like there is another realm for fallen angels and reapers, where they either sit and wait, or are punished. But I do think it’s separate from where the humans go.
SY: Since ‘Supernatural’ has been renewed for a tenth season, would you be interested in reprising your role as Tessa again, to explore where she does go after she killed herself?
LM: Of course! Tessa is one of my favorite characters I’ve played. If the show can get into purgatory or whatever realm Tessa goes to, and investigate that, I think that could be so exciting.
SY: Besides ‘Supernatural,’ you have also starred on such shows as ‘Guiding Light’ and ‘One Tree Hill.’ What is it about television that you enjoy so much?
LM: I love my job, and being able to delve in all kinds of characters, which is challenging. Whether I act on television or in films, that is what inspires me.
SY: In addition to ‘Supernatural,’ you have also also starred in the horror genre with your role as Steph in this year’s film, ‘Indigenous.’ What is it about the genre you enjoy?
LM: It’s interesting, because there’s a part of me that loves suspense that’s done well. It’s interesting watching horror shows and films; I actually watched ‘Penny Dreadful,’ and even though I dabble in the dark side in my acting, I still went to bed with nightmares after watching that show and other horror series and movies.
A lot of times I don’t even go to the theater to watch scary movies, because I’ll come out seeing ghosts, and will scream and jump. it’s difficult for my mind to differentiate reality from fiction. It’s easier for me to go in and make a horror film that it is to watch it, for some reason.
SY: After reprising your role of Tessa in ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ you also will appear as Deb in co-writer-director Bob Castrone’s upcoming comedy, ‘Flock of Dudes.’ Are there any details about the character or the film that you can discuss?
LM: Well, it’s about this group of guys who are friends and are in a bromance with each other. One of them gets a little fed up with the way it is, and decides to break up with his friends. Then after that, all these different things in their lives start occurring, and some of them get girlfriends. I’m one of the girlfriends, as is Hilary Duff, Jamie Chung and Hannah Simone.
Written by: Karen Benardello