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I've been thinking about this all week, and in an effort to re-awaken my desire to write, I'm going to try to put my thoughts together in print.

As I surf my limited inlet of the 'Net, I find that reaction to last week's ep of SPN, "Road Trip," to have inspired a lot of reaction and comment. In truth, I've re-watched parts of the ep more than I've re-watched anything all season. It was a good ep, with a lot of exciting stuff. They packed quite a lot into their 42 minutes and left it at a cliffie that, had I had the next chapter, I would have watched it right then and there.

But what I'm seeing brings me down a little bit. I'm seeing a lot of "Yay, Sam!" and very little empathy for Dean as he departs solo down a dark and dangerous road. I'm seeing a lot more "Dean needs to grow up/let Sam go/alone time/do some soul searching/etc." than I am recognition of the fact he did not, in fact, leave "for some along time" to "think it over," but rather, he's on a near suicide mission and gave no indication that even if he survives that he's ever going to come back. Now, of course we know that the brothers will reunite eventually; that's the nature of the show. And the fact that there is so little urgency shown toward Dean is, to a degree, to be expected. (Particularly from the sites I've been visiting, one of which is decidedly Sam-leaning.) After 9 years, that sense of urgency (from, say, S3) is long gone. But it's still disappointing that there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency or empathy with where Dean is headed.

It was a refreshing sight to see Sam stay put when he was angry rather that stomp off. And I was saying back in . . . S4? S5? . . . that Dean was on a ledge and Sam better get his act together so he could catch Dean when Dean took that last step off said ledge. Maybe this is it. Maybe the "dark place" that I keep hearing Dean is heading for is that final step off the ledge and it will be Sam who pulls his brother back this time. It's something I've wanted to see for a long, long time.

But this whole 100% blaming of Dean for making a selfish choice got me to thinking about who exactly it was who started the "by any (supernatural) means necessary" to save whom.

It was Sam, you know.* Way back in "Faith." One of my very favorite episodes.

The situations are not identical, but neither are they entirely dissimilar. Dean was ready to die. He expected to die. But Sam had no intention of letting him go. Sam found a faith healer who, it turns out, was healing thanks to the powers of a bound reaper. Of course neither Sam nor Roy Le Grange knew this, so neither can be faulted for that. But Dean's life was spared at the cost of the lives of others, and Dean did not want that at all. Sam pleaded for understanding; Dean bore the guilt of knowing people died in his place. (This was before the Apocalypse of Doom storyline, and I loved Roy telling Dean that he chose Dean for healing because God had important work for him to do. I see that ep--and still see that ep--as God using a bad situation to accomplish good.)

Dean was now living, as the saying goes, on borrowed time.

Then we get to the end of S1/beginning of S2, when Dean is once again ready to die. He's ready to cross over with Tessa, but just as he's about to make that final decision, John makes a deal with YED, and Dean's life is once again spared--at the cost of his father's, and against Dean's wishes. (He woke up remembering nothing of his time in the veil. He only know that there was a pit inside of him, like something was missing, iirc.)

Dean should be dead twice over by the time we get to episode 2.02, "Everybody Loves a Clown." If "what's dead should stay dead," Dean's family* set the precedent for "by any means necessary" to defy that.

Dean makes the deal to save Sam. Knowing Dean's soul is in torment, Sam tries to make a deal to get Dean out of Hell. Knowing Sam's soul is in torment, Dean looks for a way to spring Sam from the Cage, eventually finding one in the form of--literally--a deal with Death.

This continues back and forth, up until the beginning of S6, when we learn that Sam turned his back on Dean--not knowing where he was or if he was dead. He assumed Dean was dead, but there was no body to verify.

And now we come to S9. Sam was dying, and after some internal debate, he was willing to die. He was ready to die. But did he want to die? He kept talking to the "I want to live" part of his brain, hoping for a plan. But he couldn't come up with a plan for himself. So when the unavoidable became the only choice, he was ready. Taking Dean to the "light at the end of the tunnel" was forgotten. "As long as no one else gets hurt" didn't, apparently, include Dean (never mind "I'm not leaving my brother alone out there"). But things change, circumstances change, and Sam had resolved himself to the inevitable--leaving Dean behind and crossing over.

Then suddenly, he was given the option of a plan. He didn't ask for specifics, he didn't question. He simply said, "yes."

Did Dean trust the wrong angel? Yes. Why? Because he was lied to.

Did Dean trick Sam? Yes, in that it was not Dean Sam was speaking to, and Gadreel did not represent himself as himself.

Did Dean lie to Sam? Continually, to keep the secret. And it has cost him.

Is Dean responsible for Kevin's death? No more so than Sam himself is. Dean had no reason to suspect that Gadreel would kill Kevin. Gadreel was the one who did the killing.

Now Dean has come to the conclusion that Crowley's constant refrain is correct--Dean is poison; he's a danger to anyone he loves or who gets close to him. So he has walked away into the dark. No back-up, no family, no home base. He gave no indication that he would return, and Sam gave no indication or invitation that he expects Dean to return.

I hope this is the storyline that finally shows Dean that he is worth a great deal to a lot of people. Lisa tried to tell him that, way back in S6. Sam tried to tell him that, way, way back in S3. He also tried to tell Dean that at the beginning of the trials last season. I'm hoping that Dean will finally get a clue in that regard.

I'm also hoping that we see Sam pull his brother from the brink. That Sam will acknowledge, without condition or excuse, his part of the relational equation and step up and pull his brother from the abyss. He helped do it in S5, only to turn around and step off that ledge himself. This time I'd like to see him do it in a way that doesn't end up leaving Dean alone. I want them to finally--finally--meet in a spot where they relate to each other with mutual maturity and respect.

Is that too much to ask?

Don't answer that.

These thinky thoughts are bound to change after tomorrow night's ep, what with Crowley seeking out Dean's partnership and Sam bonding with Cas over PB&J. But I will always want Sam to be there for Dean with the same passionate loyalty that Dean is there for Sam.




*If we go back far enough, Mary made a deal with YED to bring John back.

ETA: After a week . . . the day of the next ep . . . I've finally scene something that expresses some empathy for Dean. That's a little better.

Date: 2014-01-22 04:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wind-storms.livejournal.com
I am late to this meta especially since the next ep has aired, but I really enjoyed your thoughts and you put it a lot more eloquently than I could. I have not seen a lot of empathy for Dean out there for most of this season really, and while I will not say every decision Dean makes is a great one, I am willing to watch how the story unfolds. For example, people are upset Dean didn't say he was sorry for what he did to Sam. Well, who is to say he won't say it when they reunite? I am taking a wait and see approach.

You pointed out that Lisa and Sam have tried to tell Dean he was worth more than he thought. Bobby also pointed it out after Dean made the deal, in one of my favorite scenes ever in AHBL2.

I am curious about the dark path they have been talking about for Dean as well, and now that the ep has aired it looks like the mark might have more to do with it than a possession by Abaddon. I was disturbed by it, but again, I am willing to see how it plays out. I am also curious: was GadZeke pretending to be Sam the entire time he was possessing him, or was Sam there for some of it? It isn't clear to me if this is a repeat of S6 Soulless!Sam and if this is the first time we've had the real Sam back.

The reason I can rewatch episodes from S1-S5 over and over is because of the brother relationship. The banter, the one-liners, the bitchface reactions, how they always had each other's back whether it was a MOTW or a myth-arc episode. I am just not seeing it anymore and I miss it. You brought up Faith, which is also one of my favorite episodes, and the lengths Sam went to back then. I realize it's S9, and they want to show the boys have matured, but they need to show some sort of give-and-take relationship. Even Sam said in S7 that Dean wouldn't have to look out for him all the time anymore and he could go on with his own life, and then there is the whole S8 Purgatory mess. If Sam really feels so little for Dean, why don't they split up and go live their adult non-hunting lives? The show has become unbalanced by focusing on the what's wrong with Sam angle every. single. season. It really is Sam's turn to pull Dean back from the brink and show much he cares. It would be nice if they could go back to having some funny moments and actually enjoyed being in each other's company instead of acting like they are with a co-worker they can barely stand to be around.

I was not bothered they were apart this episode and I wouldn't mind if it went on for a couple more episodes if it came to any sort of real resolution. You brought up many interesting points and I hope that the show is intentionally drawing parallels to the earlier seasons in an attempt to get the show back on track, but I have been hoping that for a long time and they keep failing to deliver. As long as Sam continues to resent Dean for everything, the show is going to be hard for me to watch.

Date: 2014-01-22 12:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] feliciakw.livejournal.com
Bobby also pointed it out after Dean made the deal, in one of my favorite scenes ever in AHBL2.

You are absolutely correct. In a fantastically touching scene, too.

Oh, I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

I think we did get glimpses of Sam, and the blue-flashy-eyes thing was what it was supposed to be--the transition from Sam to Gad and back.

S1-S5 are very re-watchable (S1-S4 the most so for me), but I like these later seasons okay, and most episodes have something to recommend them--primarily Jensen/Dean. It's a different show now, but these past two episodes have been exciting and interesting, so I'm okay with that. I do want to get the boys to the relationship you describe--a mature, comfortable, balanced version of what we used to have. It will be different, simply by virtue of everything they've been through, but getting back to a place where they actually like each other would be great.

Even Sam said in S7 that Dean wouldn't have to look out for him all the time anymore and he could go on with his own life

Oh, they so very much dropped the ball on that one, because my theory became that one of the reasons Dean focussed so intently on Sam was that if he didn't, he'd have to deal with the mess that was in his own head, and he wasn't about to confront that. A story opportunity lost.

I wasn't bothered that they were split during this ep. They need eps like that from time to time.

I just wish that they work for and earn their reconciliation--both sides (particularly Sam).

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