hells_half_acre: (Young Dean)
[personal profile] hells_half_acre
So, where did we leave off? Let's get back to it...

Bad Boys

I really liked this episode when it aired. I probably still do. It's really in the style of Something Wicked, which is perhaps my favourite episode of S1 (it's either that or Home, which was when SPN hooked me.)

I like this opener, where you think they're running from a monster or something, but it's actually the little cute kid.... though, that's not REALLY a misdirect. It's a misdirect that misdirects you by making you think it's a misdirect when it isn't actually.

It's interesting though, that this dude threatens the kid with a belt - you'd think Sonny wouldn't put up with that. But then, maybe this guy was the groundkeeper and not a child-care worker? Don't know...

Anyway, he is dead now.

I like Sam's "Huh, I seem to have the place to myself... READING TIME!" And then the phone rings, and his disappointed/annoyed face makes me think of Bobby in Weekend At Bobby's (6x04) trying to eat that peach cobbler.

Sam: "Hello? Uh, sorry, there's no 'D-Dog'..."
Dean *grabs phone*: "Sonny! Hey, so what's up?"

- I love how Sam's like "Dean actually has a friend who calls him D-Dog, I don't know how I feel about this."

Dean: "You remember when we were kids - a spring in Upstate New York. Dad was on a Rugaru hunt, we crashed at the uh...bungalow colony with the ping pong tables-"
- Dean and Sam didn't know what a Rugaru was until 4x04, but WHATEVER. Maybe they didn't know what it was and thought that it sounded made up then too, and just figured their dad was making excuses for ditching them... wow, that's depressing. Maybe they just didn't care, or they forgot, or they never looked into what "Rugaru" meant in John's journal.
- I also love how Dean can jog Sam's memory by telling them what motel they were staying in. I mean, you do the same if you're a kid that moves around a lot - my mother tells stories like that with her siblings. "You remember that time on Tranmer Road..." and instantly they all know the time-frame that she's referencing. Though, for her, it's years, for Sam and Dean it'd be weeks or months. They need things like "ping pong tables" to narrow it down. Those were probably a huge treat.

Sam: "Yeah! Y-You-you disappeared. Dad came back, you were gone - he shipped me off to Bobby's for a couple of months and went and found you. You were lost on a hunt or something."
Dean: "That's what we told you. Right."
Sam: "Sorry, that's what you TOLD me?"

- It's interesting that "lost on a hunt" didn't seem to fill Sam with anxiety back then or in retrospect. I mean, you'd think it'd be better to tell him the truth than having him worry about Dean for two months while stuck at Bobby's. Also, John obviously didn't stay with Sam at Bobby's - so Sam was dropped off at Bobby's and John probably went back to the interrupted Rugaru hunt, or possibly took on another hunt or two. And we KNOW from A Very Supernatural Christmas, that Sam was the type of kid to worry about his loved ones, rather than trust that they were invincible.
- I wonder if John was an early cellphone adopter or if this business was all carried out through payphones and people like Bobby... like, maybe John's emergency number for the boys is actually Bobby's number, and he just called Bobby from payphones to see if there were any messages for him. It's interesting to speculate about.
- Also, Sam doesn't take kindly to being lied to.

Dean: "Truth is, um, I lost the food money that dad left for us in a card game. I knew you'd get hungry, so I tried taking the five-finger discount at the local market and got busted. I wasn't on a hunt. They sent me to a Boys' Home."
- So, this is also really interesting - because there's been fan speculation and fanon for years about Dean's relationship to the food money left by John. Did John leave enough? How did Dean budget it? Did he ever run out? Did he ever become a prostitute to make ends meet? Did he ever starve while giving his food to Sam like the sacrificing saint that he is? It's interesting what the writer have decided to go with here, because it doesn't necessarily negate those things nor confirm them. In this case, Dean takes the blame for gambling away the money... but why was Dean gambling with the money in the first place? Dean was never an irresponsible kid, especially when it came to looking after Sam - not since Something Wicked, and these events happen years later... so is Dean lying here about what happened to the money? Was he running out and trying to make more money before he had no money to gamble with at all? If the cops could get ahold of John to tell him that Dean had been arrested, why couldn't Dean phone and tell him he needed more money? Was he just frightened of punishment for losing it? Did he feel like he couldn't call at all? There are still many unanswered questions about why exactly Dean was forced into stealing food for Sam. Dean sees it as his own fault, but even Dean admits that he sees everything wrong with the world as his own fault.

Dean: "Hey, you going to be okay to do this or are you too tired?"
Sam: "Hm? No, I just - I'll be fine."
Dean: "And everybody is okay with heading out to the Catskills."
Sam: "I am everybody."
Dean: "Yeah, right, alright, grab your stuff, we'll head out."

- Hahaha, I just love Sam's "I am everybody." It's hilarious and kinda sad, because he IS everybody, you know?

Sam: "Hey Dean? I mean, why didn't you just tell me you went to a boys' home?"
Dean: "I don't know. It was Dad's idea and then it just - the story became the story. I was sixteen."

- I love how all the Winchester communication problems circle back to John's horrible communication problems. Seriously, why lie? I guess it's somehow nobler for Dean to get "lost on a hunt" from which John has to rescue him - rather than telling Sam that he's let Dean stay in juvie (which is basically what he did) while he pawned Sam off on Bobby while John continued hunting. I guess in that case, John doesn't look like a hero going to rescue Dean, and instead looks like a parent punishing their kid for doing something wrong. But, you'd think that Sam would have a firm grasp on the meaning of punishment, it'd hardly be like John would have to hide the fact that he was a bit of a hard ass from Sam - Sam KNOWS. So, why lie? Maybe to avoid Sam demanding that John go get Dean? Maybe anxiously worried Sam is less annoying than indignant demanding Sam? But then, John didn't even HAVE to deal with Sam then, because Sam was at Bobby's - so, was Bobby also in on the lie? Or did John tell Bobby that Dean was missing on a hunt so that Bobby would drop everything and look after Sam while John took off to "find Dean"? Was the story concocted in order to lie to Sam, or to lie to Bobby or someone else, and Sam just had to be lied to as collatoral?
- Anyway, I also like how Dean says, "I was sixteen" here as the answer to why he lied - he lied because John told him to, because he was sixteen and didn't know how to question his father's authority or decisions.

Sam: "You were here for two months, and Dad couldn't find you?"
Dean: "Oh, no, he found me here. He found me quick. He left me here because I lost our money."
Sam: "You were sixteen, you made a mistake."
Dean: "Yeah, I made a mistake. Look, I know how you think. None of this was Dad's fault."

- So, they're sort of touching on what I blathered on about above - was the lie to prevent Sam from having even more problems with their dad?
- I love how complicated the boys' relationship to their father is. Sam came to understand the good in him by S5 and Dean came to understand the bad. But they still have the fundamental opinions from when they started out - with Sam immediately seeing the poor parenting choices and Dean immediately seeing the good ones. Dean felt himself deserving of punishment, so sees nothing wrong with their Dad punishing him by leaving him behind in what is basically a very nice low-security prison. Sam sees Dean as a child who wouldn't have been arrested in the first place if he had a better father, and therefore as undeserving of punishment for the crime.
- I think word choice is important here too. Dean clearly says "our" money when he talks about losing the food money. So, it's not like he doesn't know that money was for Sam. And when he explains why he stole, it's because he knew SAM would get hungry... so, again, Dean is NOT irresponsible. So he must have had a really really good reason to enter that card game. Which is also probably something that Sam understands on a fundamental level, and yet another reason why Sam doesn't think Dean should have been punished for it.
- It's also obvious that Sam thought that John was looking for Dean for two whole months, and now knows that John was just off hunting like any other day - which has to piss Sam off, seeing as how he was left stranded at Bobby's without Dean (which, back then, must have felt like not having an arm for two months - since Dean as the only constant thing in his life really. I mean, being without Dean probably felt to Sam like being at sleep-away camp for the first time - only it was sudden and unexpected and he didn't know when the hell it was going to be over.)

Sam: "Sonny's an ex-con, huh?"
Dean: "Oh, and we're such angels? Trust me, he's more than made up for it."

- This might be a weird sidenote. But again, if we're exploring the idea of punishment and who deserves it - ex-cons are important to think about. Here, we see Sam immediately distrust Sonny after learning that he's an ex-con. Does he distrust him NOW or does he distrust him retrospectively as someone who looked after Dean for 2 months? More importantly though, we see that Dean's opinion of punishment is sort of... traditional/old-fashioned? Sonny did something. Sonny was punished. Sonny has now made up for whatever he did. Sonny is therefore okay in Dean's books. The nice thing about punishment is that you can feel as though you've atoned after it's done. You can sort of...forgive yourself and move on. The weird thing about society, especially today's society, is that it never forgives. We're all about punishment, but it doesn't really serve any purpose anymore (well, beyond getting dangerous people removed from society for a time) - but there's less of a stress on rehabilitation and stopping repeat offenses and reforming people into good citizens. If you're a con, then you're a con for life. You can't get a job, you can't ever escape that mistake you made. You screw up once and you're screwed for life.

*flashback*

Sonny: "So, what did he take?"
Officer: "Get this - peanut butter and bread."
Sonny: "Okay, and how about family?"

- I love how smart Dean's stealing choices were. Peanut butter and bread are basically the two cheapest staples you can buy to keep from starving to death. Cheap protein and carbs that keep well and don't even need refridgeration. Any idiot could see that a kid stealing those two things is not stealing for the fun of it. I knew a 12-13 year-old that was caught stealing, and he was punished for it, but he was stealing Pogs. POGS! I mean, honestly, probably all the other kids Dean's age were trying to steal cigarettes, porn, beer... or whatever the equivalent of pogs was. (Can you buy beer at the grocery store in the states?... yes, I think you can. You can in WA anyway, so I'll base my knowledge on that.)
- Anyway, my point was that I like that Sonny's first question is "what is wrong with this kid's family, because he should not be stealing basic food."

Officer: "Well, his old man called. Once he found out what happened, he said 'let him rot in jail.'"
- So, in fairness to John, we don't actually know what his exact words were, or if he even talked to Dean. He may have just called and talked to the officer, and the officer, we find out, does not like Dean at all due to the black-eye Dean gave him - so the 'let him rot in jail' might just be the cruelest way that the officer can think to summerize John's wishes, just to get back at Dean.
- That being said, we also know THE LOOK that John gave Dean in Something Wicked and how mad he was then when Dean messed up while looking after Sam. So, it's not outside the realm of possibility that John was super angry and actually did say, 'let him rot in jail.' It's not like Dean looks overly surprised at the words or disbelieving. He looks disappointed in himself and chastized more than any thing.
- Also, it could very well be that John IS really pissed and actually leaving Dean there is for his own good, since John can give himself time to cool down before seeing Dean again. Possibly, jail could have been the lesser of the two punishment.

Sonny: "You shouldn't do that, kid"
Dean: "Why? 'Cause he's a cop?"
Sonny: "No, because when you make him mad, he leaves with the key."
*Dean laughs*
Sonny: "Ah, don't sweat it."

- It's also interesting to see how far back Dean's distain for cops goes. I remember back in the pilot, Sam giving him a hard time for being disrespectful to them. I wonder where that comes from - years of run ins like this? It doesn't seem in John's character to be disrespectful to cops, so I don't think it's mimicked from his father. Certainly, Sam never inherited the trait, so it's gotta be something purely Dean.
- Also, I love that Sonny uses a paperclip to get the cuffs off. Again, that goes back to the pilot... it's a favourite move of Dean's in fanon, and I think we all assumed it was a trick that John had trained them to use - and perhaps he did, since Sam can also pick his way out of locks... but it could just as well be that Sonny taught Dean how to do it right here (or at least shown him that it was possible) and then Dean taught Sam. Again, John doesn't seem the type to have had very many antigonistic run-ins with the police, though I could be wrong about that, I suppose.

Sonny: "Deputy do that?"
*Dean laughs*
Sonny: "Then what? Your old man?"
*Dean shakes his head*
Sonny: "Then how'd you get it?"
Dean: "Werewolf."
Sonny: "Okay."

- So, sorry, but if I were a police officer and I arrested a kid for stealing bread and peanut butter and I could CLEARLY see that his arms were covered in bruises. Even IF that kid punched me in the face, I think my first call would be to Child Protective Services. But hey, whatever.
- So, the timeline of this episode, because they made Dean 16 (originally they were going to have him be 14, which kind of actually works better, I don't care how old Dylan Everett looks) actually SORT of lines up, but not quite, with the werewolf hunt mentioned by Sam in After School Special, and DOES match up with the possible werewolf hunt mentioned by Dean to Gordon in Blood Lust about being 16 and "embracing the life". Basically, what I'm saying is that the Winchesters hunted a LOT of werewolves in the early years.
- For a werewolf to get that close though? Geeeeeez... because in order to bruise Dean's arms like that, the thing had to be in biting distance. Also, for the bruises to be that fresh, that hunt must have just happened. So, if it IS the hunt where Dean decided to "embrace the life" - this is supposed to be the Dean that has come to the conclusion that Hunting isn't that bad... which kinda throws the rest of this episode into chaos a little bit. Though, to be fair, real lives and decisions aren't linear. Dean could have embraced the life a week ago, spent two months on a farm where he is thrown into doubt about embracing the life, and then he could leave the farm and decide "nope, I was right the first time. I need to be happy with Hunting, because I've made the choice to stay so I might as well pretend it's what I want." And then years later, reeling from his father's death, he could glorify the decision as purely his own, without any doubt, while talking to a stranger - because what else is he going to say? "My whole life was dictated by what was best for my family, rather than what was best for me. I have never actually had free will" - unlikely. We always frame our life stories as though our bad decisions were good ones, as though our choices were our own.


On a completely superficial note - nothing says "this takes place in the 90s" quite like having a character dressed nearly completely in denim.
Sonny: "I guess you're hungry."
Dean: "No, I'm not."
Sonny: "Then why were you stealing bread and peanut butter?"
*Dean shrugs*

- Dean never brings up his brother, never says the food is for his brother. Which is probably standard protocol for running into the police while John is away. Never give Sam's location. Never let them know Sam exists. Most likely, John was leaving them alone when they were too young to be left alone that long... and because they aged Dean up here, Sam IS technically old enough to be left on his own. He'd be 11, about to turn 12 at this point. But still... if Dean had been left at 14 for this story, then Sam would have been 9 about to turn 10, and technically not allowed to stay home alone (at least according to the rules where/when I was growing up.) It's interesting though, that Dean can't ask about Sam - he has to assume that since they got in touch with John, that John will drive back and get Sam, that Sam will be looked after.

Sonny: "It's for boys like you. You work the land. Teaches you some discipline and responsibility, keeps you out of trouble."
Dean: "That's lame."

- I think Dean is the last kid that needs to be taught discpline and responsibility. I'm pretty sure that Dean is IN this mess because of discipline and responsibility. That's the problem and why the cops should have viewed it as a child-abuse case instead of a deliquent, because Dean's not BORED and getting into trouble... he's overburdened with responsibility, probably slightly afraid of his disciplinarian father, which was why he didn't call him for money, and THAT'S why he's getting into trouble. He doesn't need more responsibility and discipline, he needs less. Ironically though, Sonny's farm IS less responsibility and discipline for Dean, so it works out anyway... and I think Sonny must realize that when Dean gets HAPPIER being there rather than miserable and wishing for home... but we'll get to that.

*/end flashback*

Sonny: "Oh, and this must be Sam."
- I wonder when Sonny found out about Sam? Was it when John came to pick Dean up? Was it over the phone when he called Dean about the problem? Was it whenever Dean was in touch to give him his number? Because Dean did say that he gave Sonny the number of "the batphone" - which means that Dean MAY have been updating Sonny over the years with whatever number was best. Sonny DOES know all about hunting, and we never find out how? Did he know before hand? Was that his "okay" at the mention of the werewolf? Or did Dean update him over the years and eventually tell him? Has Dean had a secret confidant all these years? "Sonny, hey, just wanted to give you the new number - things are a bit crazy right now, my dad died, and my brother is some kind of psychic..." "Sonny, I've got a new number of you, things are a little crazy right now - I just came back from hell, and my brother and I are fighting a lot - there's this demon I don't trust, and apparently angels are a thing? Things are getting pretty heavy..."

Sonny: "These days, the system would rather incarcerate a boy then redeem him..."
- Huh, I forgot about this line. That's just what I was saying earlier. The American prison complex is a pretty scary money-making machine. I'm sure the Canadian one isn't all that much better, but due to the media being what it is, I know more about the US than my own country.

Sonny: "...You know, I never believed any of this mumbo jumbo stuff you boys are into, but..."
- So again, how did he know? Did Dean just tell him - "Listen, here's my number, if you ever have any trouble with ghosts or weird things that can't be explained, call me!" And Sonny is just like, "Well, Dean clearly went insane, but whatever, he's still such a nice boy."

Oh yeah, the protective sigils on the bed posts! I love Sam seeing the sigils. I love that little connection to the past. I love him tearing off the nametags until he finds Dean's. I guess I just like Sam uncovering pieces of his brother than he never knew about.

Dean teaching Timmy to shake hands is cute. I also like how Dean immediately kneels so that he's not towering over Timmy - it's a good tactic for making sure Timmy is comfortable with him and more open to talking.

And the misdirect story....

[I have been writing for two hours and I'm only 15 minutes into the episode - my god. I'm going to have to shower and leave for the evening soon.]

Sam: "So, Dad didn't want you to tell me. Why? Was this place really so bad?"
Dean: "I don't know. I don't really remember. Look, nobody bad-touched me, nobody burned me with their smokes or beat me with a metal hanger. I call that a win."
*Sam laughs*

- I love how Sam's trying to figure out why Dad wouldn't tell them too. Here, he's figured that it's because it must have been horrible, and John was trying to protect Sam from hearing horrible things... or something?
- You also gotta love/cry at the fact that Dean's bar for a "win" is extremely low. "I was not sexually or physically abused. Yay!"

But, of course, that was the misdirect corpse. And so Ruth dies. Poor Sonny though... people dying sucks.

So, the restaurant they are at is the Tomahawk in North Vancouver. It's a popular brunch place... and I like the fact that they used it as a multi-generation family business, because that's exactly what it is.

*flashback*

Dean: "Thanks"
Sonny: "No problem, I do this for all the boys when they've been here a month."
Dean: "I meant for getting the charges against me dropped."

- I like how mature Dean is here. It's not hard to see why Sonny would realize that Dean's case isn't as cut and dry as usual.

Sonny: "...and seeing as how we can't find your pops anywhere, you can stay here as long as you want, Dean. You're doing good in school, you're making friends, you made the wrestling team. I'm proud of you."
- Dean's face kind of breaks my heart here, because you can see that he's happy to hear that someone is proud of him - but then he's sad that that someone isn't his father.
- Also, them not being able to find John, to me, indicates that the number they have for John ISN'T Bobby's number or someone else... so, when they arrested Dean, Dean must have given them the number for wherever John was on THAT particular hunt, and now that hunt is over, and that number is no longer a way to get in touch with John - so, at this point, no one can call him? I mean, I suppose if there was an emergency, Dean would know Bobby's number or Paster Jim's - but what if Dean were unconcious? Also, what if something were to happen to John? Does Bobby know where Dean is? Does anyone know but John?

Sonny: "Let me ask you something, and I want you to be straight with me. Are you into the whole heavy metal devil worshipping stuff?"
Dean: "What? No!"
Sonny: "Hey, I'm not judging. It's just that I found a few occult looking symbols carved into your bedposts."
Dean: "It's a very long story."
Sonny: "Does this story have anything to do with why you put salt in front of your bunk door every night before bed?"

- I love stuff like this... the little things that make the Winchesters stand out from everyone else. The differences that they can't hide. Dean probably needs those protective symbols and salt in order to feel safe without his weapons, so that he can sleep through the night.

Dean: "Well, it's a family thing, so I can't really talk about it."
Sonny: "Same family that left you here? What are you in the mob or something?"
Dean: "More like something."
Sonny:"I was part of thing gang, right. They were my family. I lived breathed, I would have even died for them. You know where it got me? 15 years in a correctional facility. And for what? Being loyal? To who? I should have been loyal to myself. Because you get one shot in this game, Dean. And when you look in the mirror, you want the guy looking back at you to be his own man."

- It just occurred to me that these days, I highly doubt they'd let an ex-con run a Reform Home for Boys. :P
- But, more seriously, the analogy isn't too far off here. Dean's family is more than a family, it's a way of life, and it's one that he was signed onto by someone else rather than signing himself onto it. So, Sonny's not wrong here. Sonny is basically the equivalent of Sam's school teacher. He tells Dean that he doesn't HAVE to be in the family business, he doesn't HAVE to have his decisions taken away from him - or decide based solely on what his family needs rather than what he needs... but, just like Sam, escape isn't that easy. Sam got out, but he was already marked, he was already roped into a destiny that he couldn't avoid. Dean's the same way, only Dean never got out, not really. Sonny's was a vacation, but I think he knew that it would come to an end one day, he just chose not to think about the end while he was there. But, we'll get to that later...

*/end flashback*

Aww, Robin purposefully blanking on Dean. So awkward. So painful. Also, Sam's face when he finds out Dean took guitar lessons.

Dean swooping in to save Timmy, also cute.

I'm not sure his advice against bullying is actually sound though.

Again, I like Sam uncovering pieces of his brother.

Ugh, lawnmower scene. I'm gong to go have a shower and then come back and skip this part.

Dean: "Kid's going to need eight thousand stitches, but he'll be fine."
Sam: "Kid was bullying Timmy before the accident, right?"
Dean: "Yeah, why?"

- I love Dean's "Do not go after my little Timmy!" face - Dean takes like 3 seconds to instantly bond with kids. Though, he does get over it quickly when Sam lays out the facts.

And Sam finds a pictograph of what happened with Timmy.

*flashback*

Robin: "What does your dad do?"
Dean: "Boring stuff."
Robin: "Do you like it?"
Dean: "No, not really. But, my dad expects me to follow in his footsteps, so I've kinda gotten used to it."

- It's interesting, because in S1, Sam talked about Hunting as if their end goal was "the thing that killed mom" and after that they were done. Meanwhile, though, in retrospect, Dean didn't talk that way - so maybe John DID indicate that Hunting was a forever thing, and that Dean would do it his whole life too. Maybe it WAS implied that Dean would follow after John, beyond hunting the YED. Still, John DOES say that he wanted Sam to go to school, he wanted Dean to have a home - how does that fit in with a father who is clearly pressuring his kid to be a hunter forever? Same could be said for Sam talking to Mr. Wyatt - because he too, talked about going into the family business as though that's all there was to do in his life... he didn't talk about it then as though there was an end-goal and then they could retire and do something else.
- Anyway, it's interesting, and you have to wonder how much is John saying "I want you to be a hunter" and how much is Dean just INTERPRETING that message from John's actions wherein he never lets Dean and Sam do anything BUT hunt. I mean, it hasn't happened yet, but even though John later claims that he wants Sam to go to school, we know that when Sam actually DOES go to school, John is not happy about it and basically disowns him as a result (if only in words, not practice). So, is John a huge hypocrit in Salvation when he says those things? Is it more sinister emotional manipulation? Is it a deflecting of blame (ie: John doesn't WANT his boys to be hunters, but they HAVE to be, therefore John can't let them be otherwise)? I don't know. It's an interesting question.

Dean: "I want to be a rock star - but, I also really like cars."
Robin: "Being a mechanic seems rough."
Dean: "What? No, not at all. Cars are cool as hell. Fixing them is like a puzzle and the best part is, when your done, they leave, and you're not responsible for them anymore."

- It's okay, Dean, I didn't need my heart.
- The important thing here, in my opinion, is that last bit - "...and you're not responsible for them anymore." Dean is a kid that is overburdened with responsibility - neverending responsibility and neverending problems that he CAN'T fix. He can't get his dad to stop hunting, the monsters are never going to go away, and he ALWAYS has to "watch out for Sammy". In this case, being a mechanic isn't just the dream job of a kid who likes cars. It's the dream job of a kid who desperately wants problems he can solve and responsibilities that END. The whole reason he got into trouble was stealing bread and peanut butter for SAM - I mean, you could argue that it was his food money too and he'd have to steal food for himself even if Sam didn't exist - but even the way adult Dean phrased it "I knew YOU'd get hungry"... it wasn't himself that he was concerned with, which is also all sorts of backwards for a 16 year-old kid. Sam's dream escape was always the fantasy of "normal", for Dean, who I think accepted early on that normal was never an option, he just craved problems that were fixable and responsibilities that came and WENT. It's why Dean's always loved the black and white cases, why he clung so hard to them in the earlier seasons before he came to accept that it just wasn't possible. Dean was trying to treat hunting cases like broken cars that he could fix and then be able to leave town and put the aftermath behind him. The problem was that once the case was his brother (or himself), the aftermath started following him wherever he went.

[It is taking me so long to do this episode, that I just had to stop at the 29 minute mark and continue my life for 24 hours, and then return, so hopefully I can keep the flow going...]

Robin: "Have you kissed many girls?"
Dean: "What? *psh* Yeah, of course. Lots."

- Dylan Everett is so good with mimicking Dean's mannerisms here. Adorable.
- Also, I know Adam Glass (the writer of this episode) has said that this wasn't Dean's first kiss - since many people speculated so at the time, just that he hadn't kissed MANY girls. So, this is an inexperienced Dean. This is one of the things in the episode that I think work slightly better if Dean is 14, rather than 16, because any boy who looked as pretty as Dean did as a kid would have kissed more girls by 16, in my experience - though he DOES have a lifestyle that might cramp his social abilities, so maybe it's not too far fetched. And things DO change quickly for kids, so it's not at all far fetched that Dean could be inexperienced at 16, but making out with Amanda Heckerling in janitorial closests by 18 and shacking up with Lisa Braeden for a weekend at 19.

*/end flashback*

Robin: "Trust you? And why would I do that again?"
Dean: "You DO remember me!"

- Oh, this is funny but also sad.

Sam: "Timmy, listen, we need you to tell us about the fire, okay?"
- Again, I love that Sam gets really low to talk to Timmy. It's a little body language thing, and I know it also has to do with camera blocking, but man, it makes a world of difference when it comes to the body language of characters.

Dean: "I bet she gave you that cool action figure, huh?"
- I hate that Dean thinks it's the action figure, because it's NOT, so the kid loses the only momento he has of his mother.

Sam: "Looks like it wasn't the action figure that was anchoring her here, Dean."
Dean: "Then what is!"
Sam: "Him."

- Ooo, and we get the "what do we do with a human anchor problem" that they botched back in Mannequin 3: The Reckoning. This one they treat a little better, with actually finding a solution instead of having things be resolved deus ex machina.
- Sidenote: This is the kind of ghost that Dean would have become if he had chosen to stay in My Time of Dying (and if John hadn't bargained for him, obviously). He was anchoring to his family then, I'm sure of it.

Dean: "...and because she can't move on, she's going crazy. Okay? You gotta let her go. You'll be okay. Listen to me. Sometimes you gotta do what's best for you, even if it's going to hurt the ones you love."
- So, there are two things that I want to talk about here. "Because she can't move on, she's going crazy" is the first thing - because it's said by Dean. Dean is talking about a mother who wanted so desperately to protect her child that she basically was driven mad with it - became obsessed with it. She couldn't let go of her kid when he cried out for her, so she protected him and slowly went more and more insane with it, making decisions that Timmy didn't consent to and didn't want. Timmy was scared of being alone, but that didn't mean he wanted her to hurt people or kill all his bullies. Let's think of another person who wants to protect their family more than anything in the world? Let's think of another person who makes increasingly more desperate and drastic decisions in order to keep their family alive and safe... let's think of another person who might slowly be going insane because they can't move on from being responsible for a baby. Timmy's mother is trying to be a responsible parent and so is Dean when it comes to Sam. The problem is that they've both tipped the scales past helicoptor-parent and right into pathelogical-protector.
- The second thing I want to talk about is "Sometimes you gotta do what's best for you, even if it's going to hurt the ones you love." And I need to talk about it in two parts.
1) Dean KNOWS that his pathological need to save Sam, to protect Sam, isn't even about Sam anymore. Dean did what was best for himself. Dean NEEDS Sam. He let him go once before, it's true, but I think he's relapsed on his ability to quit his Sam-addiction. Dean's decision to let "Ezekiel" possess Sam wasn't really about saving Sam, it was about doing what Dean thought was best for himself. And I think Dean must know this on some level. It was similar back in S2, when Dean knew (from EXPERIENCE) how shitty Sam would feel after finding out that Dean sold his soul for him, but he did it anyway - and he FULLY admitted at the time that it was entirely selfish on his part.
2) BUT back when Dean was at Sonny's, he DIDN'T put himself first. Dean developed this pathelogical need to save Sam because he was incapable of doing what was best for himself. So, in a weird way, this life lesson for Dean is both a justification and an admonishment - Dean basically can't get it right. Or maybe, it's just that problems aren't that easily solved and there's no consequence free way to live. Does he put himself first at the age of 16 and leave his 12 year-old brother with a... controversial... father? Does he put Sam first at the age of 30-something, even if it means Sam dies, and Dean is torn apart by grief?

I love the VFX of the mother changing and drifting off. So well done.

Robin: "So, um, this is the family business."
Dean: "Told you it was boring."
Robin: "Yeah, right."
Dean: "Well, as you can see, I did not run off to become a rock star."
Robin: "Mm, I don't know about that. You look pretty rocking to me, Dean Winchester."
[Robin talks about her love for running the diner]
Dean: "I guess we didn't know everything we thought we did at 16, huh?"

- This is a harder one to parse, because Robin equates the heroic-aspects of Hunting with being a rock star, as though that shows that Dean kinda DID run off and become a rock star... only, that wasn't the dream that Dean actually talked about the most back then, that was the throw-away dream. That was the insincere "I wanna be an astronaut" dream, or "I wanna be president." Less than 1% of kids actually MEAN it. What Dean wanted to be was unburdened, and he is not. That being said, I think it's true that Dean HAS found happiness in hunting, if only by necessity - which is better than nothing. Sam's found happiness in it too, over the years, so it's not all bad.

Sonny: "Always hate to see you go, D-Dog..."
- "Always"? I'm confused as to how many times Dean has seen Sonny since he was 16. I wonder if they met up for coffee when Sam was at Stanford or something. I mean, there was no comment from Sonny that you usually get from adults who haven't seen you since you were a kid... or, maybe I'm just overanalzing a throwaway line. I mean, I often declare that something "always" happens when it's only happened once or twice. But their goodbye isn't exactly "oh man, I haven't seen you in forever and I don't know when I'll see you again!" It's more the "Catch ya later, dude" type of goodbye that you give someone when you see them fairly regularly.

Sam: "I mean, here I was thinking it was the worst part of your life, and it turns out it was the best. Why'd you ever leave?"
Dean: "Never felt right."
Sam: "Really?"
Dean: "It was two months, Sam, okay? And I couldn't wait to get out of here. I don't know what to tell you. It wasn't me."

- Again, I love Sam uncovering pieces of his brother. I love the look on his face when he delivers his conclusion - that he knows Dean was happy here, that he realizes that this was Dean's Stanford. That this was Dean's chance at a normal life - and instead of a demon ripping it away from him, it was Sam - just Sam needing Dean. And yeah, Dean's feeling of responsibility and his continual need to self-sacrifice for his family isn't at all Sam's fault, but Sam benefits from it (he is also hurt by it too though). But, what I'm trying o say is that Sam's escapre was blocked by demons, but Dean's escape was blocked by his personal demons - his inability to put himself before family, his love and the responsibilty he felt towards Sam.
- And Dean lying about this is just the same as Dean lying back in Dream a Little Dream about never having dreamt of making a life with Lisa and Ben. It's a lie that rings hollow in the very saying of it. You can hear the emptyness of the words... and yet, it's the kind of lie that you can't call out, because it's the tone that says "I am lying and we both know, but it is for the best that we pretend it is the truth."

*flashback*

Dean: "You know, I've never actually been to one of these school dances."
Sonny: "Yeah, about that Dean, your old man's outside. And man, he's really something. I tried to tell him what a big night it was for you, Dean, and ask him if he could come back later, but he just said to tell you he had a job. Said you'd know what that means. You know, after I got out of jail, this place gave me a second chance - and it's done the same for you too - so if you want, I'll stick my neck out for you and I'll fight for you to stay."
*looks out window at Sam*
Dean: "Sonny, thank you for everything, but I have to go."

- Ugh, my heart. That whole section of looking out the window KILLS me, because he smiles when he sees Sam and you can SEE that it's not just forced resposibility for Sam placed on him by John, it's also that Dean just truly LOVES his brother more than he loves anyone else in his life. And it KILLS him, because he knows that he can't NOT choose Sam, he can't leave his little brother, but he also knows that it's going to cost him EVERYTHING. - It's really where the co-dependency rears it's ugly head, because Dean and Sam are basically born and bred into this fundamentally abusive relationship. The minute you're incapable of leaving a relationship is, ironically, the moment you should leave it.... but Dean can't. Which really speaks to how strong Sam must have been to take off to Stanford, to rip himself out of that situation. It also explains why Dean was so unforgiving about Sam leaving, because Dean could only interpret that as "Sam doesn't love me the way I love him, because I could never leave him, even when I WANTED to." Whereas Sam could realize that love shouldn't be a sacrifice of self - that he could love his brother, but it didn't have to be at a cost of his entire life. Dean never got that memo... I mean, he literally did bargain his ENTIRE LIFE away in order to keep Sam with him in S2. The only thing that Dean could put above his brother was stopping the apocalypse... Dean never put himself ahead of what he saw as Sam's needs. And you could say that's noble, and a lot of Dean fans do, but it's also severely unhealthy and shouldn't be celebrated. He's the boyfriend that threatens to kill himself if you leave him... and he'll not only follow through, but come back from the dead to do it again and again and again. Sam gets a bad name for seemingly not loving Dean that way, but really, the fact that Sam OCCASSIONALLY says "I love you, but let's be healthy about this" should not be a character flaw (and it really is only occassionally, because a lot of the time Sam's just as bad... only he doesn't just sacrifice himself, he'll also sacrifice others, as though that's somehow better.)
- On an even more controversial note - John Winchester. The writers are so good at keeping John a really grey figure. "He's really something" could mean ANYTHING. It could mean that John is charming and full of charisma. It could mean that John is a military hard-ass who won't take any bullshit. We don't really know how John came across to Sonny, besides the fact that Sonny recognized that Dean didn't really want to leave.
- I also love how Dean didn't try to explain anything to Sonny. He didn't give him any openings for Sonny to argue with him. He didn't say "I can't leave my brother" because then Sonny would have just said "I'll fight for him to stay too"... he just said "I have to go." And he did it with as much dignity as he could muster, while in tears and resigning himself to a life he didn't want.

*/end flashback*

Sam: "Dean, thank you."
Dean: "For what?"
Sam: "For always being there. For having my back. Look, I know it always hasn't been easy."
Dean: "I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

- So, at first I thought that Sam just mispoke "it always hasn't been easy" instead of "it hasn't always been easy" - but it actually makes a HUGE amount of difference to meaning, so I wonder if it's intentional. "It always hasn't been easy" is actually the exact same as "It's never been easy", because the negation is after not before the time-signifyer.
- I like the fact that Sam acknowledges that he directly benefits from Dean's psychosis. That Dean HAS always been there for him - that Sam has never had to be alone unless he CHOSE to be alone (ie: Stanford).
- That being said, Sam also suffers because of Dean's psychosis - and he doesn't know about the worst offense at this point.
- But Dean's identity is still so tied up in Sam, that I don't think he can even acknowledge that there was a time when he could think of himself outside of that brotherhood - that he wanted anything different. I know he nearly got it with Lisa and Ben, but that year was clouded with mourning for Sam - so it's hardly like he actually had the time to establish himself as Dean-without-Sam... he didn't. He was still Dean-mourning-Sam when Sam came back. Just as Sam was still Sam-mourning-Dean when Dean came back in S8... and both of them fell back in, nearly immediately, with being Sam&Dean. {Dean actually had a longer run of trying to be a different person (excluding pre-series), since he refused to rejoin Sam right away in S6, and then tried to keep his own life on the side, but that only lasted a month or two, before he gave up and just became Sam&Dean again}.

[I have spent so long on this episode it's ridiculous. I think I'll just stop talking now. That took me two days. I get so analytical and detail-obsessed when it comes to pre-series stuff.]

So, uh, tell me what you thought in comments, I guess!
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