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9.07 Episode review/ reaction / thinky 
21st-Nov-2013 09:18 pm
Now & Then
I'm late to the party (camping with my class does that!), but I have things to say about this episode so I'm going to write some stuff.

This turned out to be more meta-ry than reaction/review. I've had time to digest and think things over. I've also read a few reactions and I suppose this incorporates some of that.



I loved this episode. I loved it A LOT. It's probably one of my favs this season (after the opener maybe…).

I'm going to put aside a few things here - one being the ages of the boys (apparently Adam Glass wrote them as 14/10 instead of what we saw 16/12). Personally, I think it's irrelevant in terms of what we were being told in the episode. Sure, it's presents some canon problems but I am more interested in the essence of what this was all about rather than tearing apart our beloved canon. That's not to say it's not important, it's just that I think what's MORE important is what this episode gave us in character development and understanding.

There were so many incredibly poignant moments during this episode. I can't believe we were given so much in such a short time. Before I delve into those a list of pure SQUEE:

That was a Classic Supernatural Episode (can we trade mark that please?!): - salt and burn, boys standing over a grave with Dean lighting a book of matches, solving a ghost case COMPETENTLY together, Sam choked and Dean thrown into a wall, E.M.F.F! (had to throw a "fucking" for good measure!) - damn if Dean doesn't still have that baby, the fucking amulet (oh how they tease us!) wonderful broments and a heartfelt moment in the Impala at the end. <33 It's a check list of a CSE!

Also, as I've seen most people mention, the casting of Dylan Everett as young!Dean was an excellent choice. He brought the right emotion and characterisation for Dean and nailed it. He made me cry so full friggin' marks there!

The thinky stuff:

Dean

"Sometimes you've got to do the best for you, even if it's going to hurt the ones you love".

It's perhaps a little clunky, but that, right there is what this episode was all about. This was a hallelujah moment for me. Finally! FINALLY we hear Dean admit that he's done something for himself even though he knows it will hurt someone he loves. This isn't about excusing Dean for allowing an angel to possess Sam, but rather giving us background as to WHY he let that happen. It gives us an insight and a canonical moment that we can latch onto and see where it all started.

Dean needs Sam alive for himself and he's finally acknowledged that. This is about Dean wanting something and taking it (and rather ironically it's something Sam has asked him to do a number of times). It's selfish, it's wrong but dammit he's given enough and he's not giving up this. He let go of the life with Sonny, he let go of an opportunity with a girl he really liked, he let go of achieving in school, he let go of some semblance of happiness to return to Sam. He is NOT letting go of Sam now because he has let go of too many other things he loves and wants.

Fuck me if that's not the essence of what I love in this show. Dean loving and needing the one thing in his life that makes him truly happy. Sam.

It's also crazy sad because by doing this he IS hurting and damaging the very thing he wants - brotherhood.

I'm amazed that after 9 years the power of this relationship is STILL THERE! It floors me time and time again.


Sam

Dean. Thank you. For always being there - for having my back.

Sam has thanked Dean a number of times for "being there" during the series. Sam has expressed his gratitude for "having his back", but this time it felt like he was thanking him choosing him over other people, another life, other opportunities.

Sam discovered more about Dean and I think he continues to marvel in what Dean has done and what he has given up (at the same time as we do). The love goes both ways. It's different though - they love each other differently, and that's exactly what it's all about. They need each other differently and this episode really emphasised that. It's not about one loving the other more, it's about how they fit together - Dean needing Sam to complete him and Sam feeling special and loved in a way that no one else can. It also shows how that codependence is both beautiful and damaging.

I also loved Sam's quiet competence during this episode.

We are SO heading for a major fall. It kills me to think about it, but I'm also excited. If the drama is organic because it's borne out of character flaws rather than contrived like the jealously we saw in S8, then I am in my happy place. Even when my heart is being torn apart.

John

I actually had no issue with the way John was portrayed in this episode. Sure it hurt - especially thinking about him leaving both Sam and Dean at this time, but it's actually not too far from my fanon John.

My John is all about tough love. Leaving Dean with Sonny turned out to be the right move. This episode was about Dean's coming of age. John helped Dean grow up. He helped him face his responsibilities and he helped him make a choice. I have NO DOUBT that John knew about Sonny and his reputation with "bad boys". When Dean arrived at Sonny he was cocky and didn't seem to give a damn. Sure it was pretence but without Sonny's intervention he may have continued down this path. John was clearly failing (I totally believe Dean blew the food money on a card game. He was cocky enough to think he could win and when he didn't totally believed in his abilities to steal food. He was also stupid enough to hit a cop), Dean needed intervention and John was wise enough to give it to him.

John probably had a job on and knew that both Dean and Sam were safe where they were. What John did doesn't lessen him in my eyes at all. He's not the Father of the Year, but he cares enough to make sure they are safe and learning the lessons they need to stay alive.

Of course all of this is open to interpretation and I think we can all fill in whatever gaps we need to - including Dean leaving Sam for two months. Dean needed to be away from Sam for him to fully appreciate how much he means to him. That smile at the end was not fake. Seeing Sam again brought him pure joy. I think in our heady "they would never leave each other like that" fanon we forget that they are actually brothers. They would have fought and annoyed and truly hated each other at times. Having a break from each other wouldn't have felt like there worlds have ended. It would have been a relief. And then, after a while, they would have realised what they were both missing.

And so much more...

Dean's (possibly) first kiss. Again I think his age is irrelevant here, it's the fact that he discovers girls and the intoxication of their comfort, approval and yumminess. This is about Dean discovering a distraction. He finds a way to feel wanted and loved. It comes easy. So this coming of age story is not just about Dean shaking off his teenage attitude, or seeing the moment he learns about not being able to have things for himself, it's also about why he's into women. He was initially called a "womaniser" (S1 and S2 set him up to be so) but we've seen so much more since then. Now we get to see the role women play in his life. They accept him. They make him feel good. He can have them when he wants. And he can leave them. He may not want to, but he's become good at it. (I have a half written meta on Dean and Sex and this episode is further evidence of stuff I've been pondering. Mainly Dean's need for acceptance and comfort).

Dean also knows how to handle bullies. He's the one who taught Sam after all.

The MoTW = Dean being able to let go. I actually hope this isn't a foreboding message that one day Dean WILL learn how to let Sam go, but this is what the message seems to be. Timmy had to let go of his mother. Young!Dean had to let of a possibly better life. What does Dean need to let go of?

This episode hit so many right notes for me. I know we can quibble about ages and how the actors looked and the fact that Dean was away from Sam and that John left Dean with Sonny, but it was about giving Dean a reason for being who he is. It was about showing pivotal moments that shaped his character. It was a HUGE ask of a writer and I think Adam nailed it.

Was it to make Dean appear more sympathetic about his choice with Sam? Possibly. Does it work? I suppose that will depend on how much you accept the information we were given and how sympathetic you are to Dean's reasons. I think even if it does explain Dean's choices it probably won't excuse him.

He still has a lesson to learn. How to let go of Sam.
Comments 
21st-Nov-2013 01:36 pm (UTC)
But Dean already did learn how to let go of Sam, in "Swan Song." Not just in the sense of letting him fall into the Cage at the end, but when he told him the night before that it was up to Sam to make the decision and he was going to support him in it. I agree with you that this season is about Dean realizing that he's going to have to let go of Sam and that his failure to do so in the past has caused big trouble--but he has managed it before.

Maybe in the interim year with Lisa, Dean realized that he can't live without Sam, and once he got him back, he wasn't going to let go?
21st-Nov-2013 01:56 pm (UTC)
He did say that he never gave up, read every book, etc. And we never heard him promise. I'm not sure he did let go. But even aside from that, this is the first time it hasn't just been Dean sacrificing to keep Sam with him, it's the whole world. Like he said to Zeke, it's all the people who are going to die now because of it. They won't be the first to die because Dean put Sam first, but it's a line he's crossed, and he knows it. I keep thinking of his line at the end of S1, about how the things he'll do for Sam or his dad, they scare him. Well, guess what, Dean.
21st-Nov-2013 01:57 pm (UTC)
Argh. I'm so conflicted. Because while everything you say here has merit, I think the criticisms of this episode are really valid, too. I think this is a huge departure for Dean emotionally from what we've seen before and it doesn't quite hold up; it doesn't have enough heft to carry it off.

I would have much preferred that we lose the romance and developed more nuance to Dean's headspace via his relationship with Sonny or one of the other boys. Or the labor of the farm and how it differs from hunting. Imagine a gorgeous, nearly wordless scene wherein he's doing "honest" work and really enjoying it. It would have been like the opposite of the construction job in 6X01 and it would have been glorious.

The romance points you make are valid but I think we could have gotten them better from a story told slightly later (like an actual 16 year old story, where he has sex with a girl for the first time and he thinks it's going to be about getting laid hurr-hurr but instead it's the emotional connection).
21st-Nov-2013 02:22 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, but for me it's not about imagining what they could have done (the farm idea is nice and maybe having it in the background was about that suggestion) , but rather what we got and trying to understand how that relates to what they are doing now. I don't see this episode being just about Dean's history but rather how that moment it time matters for what he's going through now.

where he has sex with a girl for the first time

Yeah, but for me, I got all that emotion - and the not just sex for sex sake - connection through that kiss. I think it was probably less awkward (as in actually filming a sex scene) and sent the same message about Dean and how he feels and needs the connection to women. I was totally sold on that kiss - which might have been more about the actor in that scene rather than what Dean was doing at that age. I felt that Dean was more about bravado than experience. I totally buy it as a 14 year old particularly. 16 not so much. But as I say above, I'm kinda handwaving that in favour of going with the intent rather than the age. After seeing the would-be wee!Dean in The Kids are Alright I would say Dean was kissing at about 13/14.
21st-Nov-2013 02:02 pm (UTC)
I loved this episode, too. I also have no problem fanwanking John's actions (and I love John! Still! )—in fact, in this case I am a little grateful for the retcon about John's dead dad, since I can just picture him being helpless to know what to do with Dean at this stage.

That line of Dean's about hurting the ones you love chilled me, because even though he knows this is going to hurt Sam one way or another, I don't think he really, fully understands what he's done. I don't know that he ever can.
21st-Nov-2013 02:45 pm (UTC)
I have a feeling we are all going to fanwank John's action in this episode! I have seen some beauties! And I suppose it's all about what works for us. I hated John in the beginning of this episode (wee Dean's face :((() but by the end I felt like it was just a lesson (like many others) so nothing had changed for me about him.

I am so torn about Dean knowing how much he's screwed up. I think he's definitely aware of a line he has crossed but he believes it was for the right reason and therefore won't ever really understand the wrongness of his actions. He's right in his eyes. Sam needs to live - end of argument (and I wonder if Dean feels confident that Sam will actually understand his actions and therefore won't ever really lose him. Hmmmmm….not sure…)
21st-Nov-2013 02:04 pm (UTC)
I think Dean did let go once by supporting Sam's choice to jump in the pit, and it nearly killed him, emotionally. Dean tried, but it wasn't something that he chose or that allowed him to be truly happy. He began to recover in the time after, but even the people and the life he began caring about never had a chance once Sam showed up again. So I don't think that lesson, to let Sam go, is ever something he can chose without it tearing him apart. Sam is just too much a part of Dean - the way they grew up, the sacrifices he made - if Sam dies, a part of Dean does, too. I'm trying to think of a way they could show us Dean learning to let go of Sam - but how to do that without destroying the essence of the show? Guess I'll watch and see if they try it:)
21st-Nov-2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to think of a way they could show us Dean learning to let go of Sam - but how to do that without destroying the essence of the show?</i. Oh me too! Jensen's "dream" of Dean riding off into the sunset on a motorbike after letting Sam go is so sad (and yet kinda perfect….whaaa….). Not letting Sam go wouldn't be a problem if Sam just stopped dying! How about him just not ever having to let him go? They could just live happily ever after…. They really need to die together. Or not die at all. Damn you show...
21st-Nov-2013 02:38 pm (UTC)
Everything you've said here.

Also, the "Sometimes you've got to do the best for you, even if it's going to hurt the ones you love" to me equated to Dean doing what "is best" for him, by choosing Sam and, unfortunately, hurting the first girl in was in love with. He chose Sam over that girl. Even though he knew it would hurt her. Because Sam was what was best for him. :)

I also agree about your John observations. This John also fits my fanon. Tough love twisted a bit because John was obsessed with finding Mary's killer. This was what, 10 years, before we first met John and if he was obsessed when we first met him, imagine the level closer to when he lost Mary. Technically John left Dean to "rot in jail" (or some phrase like that.) I'm sure he checked up an found out about Sonny or may be he knew about Sonny ahead of time and figured there would be a good chance Dean would be moved there. But even if John thought Dean would be in jail during the time, it would still be tough love to teach Dean a lesson. Was it harsh that John did that? Yes. But it was also harsh that John left a very young Sammy with a young Dean and expected Dean to take care of, provide for, and even protect a very young boy when Dean was so young himself. There was already precedence for a harsh, tough love, and obsessed John.

But as you said, that doesn't mean John didn't love his boys. Just that his love was different than fathers who have a normal life. Remember what Dean or Sam said in the episode where the brothers first met Adam (who? lol)? That Dad teaching the brothers how to fight, be vigilant, and protect themselves WAS taking the best care of them their Dad knew how. Their Dad knew what was out there. He knew if he didn't care for his boys in this way, his boys would die or suffer more. And that was proved out by Adam being killed by monsters. Adam who had a safe, normal life. Without John's harsh tough love.

I also agree that the age of the brothers ultimately does not matter even with the canon difficulties. I do think they should have left them at 14 and 10 because somehow that fits a bit better and honestly while fandom probably would be picking apart "how old" Dean looked, whatever. What is more important is the coming of age aspect of this episode and how much it reinforced what Sam means to Dean and that Sam appreciates it.

:)

Also, when I posted my initial reaction I ended with the statement that the brothers love for each other is both tragic and wonderful. The codependence you mention here. It's what drives the show for me just because it is both tragic and wonderful to behold.

Edited at 2013-11-21 02:42 pm (UTC)
21st-Nov-2013 03:07 pm (UTC)
He chose Sam over that girl. Even though he knew it would hurt her.

Yes, exactly. He chose Sam because he wanted to and not through any obligation to "watch out for Sam". The girl was less important (though a hard choice…).

Ooh, and I never got the feeling that John thought Dean was in jail…maybe I missed something. If John thought Dean was "rotting in jail" then I take EVERYTHING back. Dean says John found him in one day and knew he was with Sonny ( I think?), so I felt that John had made a choice here.

I would have bought it if they said that kid was 14. He acted like he was 14 and I know 14 would have worked so much better but I'm hand waving that stuff. We'll have to take him as 16, which actually works for me as well.

And yes! Tragic and wonderful. So fantastic…<33



21st-Nov-2013 02:52 pm (UTC)
FINALLY we hear Dean admit that he's done something for himself even though he knows it will hurt someone he loves.

I'm very glad to see someone that agrees with me on the interpretation of that line! I've seen so many people (mostly the ~anti-codependency~ sort) who were like "yes, Dean, learn that lesson! Now go do what's best for you! You don't need Sam!" and I'm sitting here like "no, duh! Dean already did this, and it was selfish and it's going to bite him in the ass in an epic way."

I found this episode completely emotionally manipulative and had a lot more problems with the retcon of Dean's feelings towards John and hunting, but I do think that the kid hit the exact right note at the end and left me feeling that Dean wanted to be with Sammy, and not just out of obligation. I felt Dean seeing Sam in the car was a joyful moment in the angst, and I appreciated it.
21st-Nov-2013 03:21 pm (UTC)
Now go do what's best for you! You don't need Sam!"

OMG! Sorry…what?! nonononno…it's all about Dean needing and wanting Sam (and yeah, the wincest friggin writes itself). I actually loved seeing that Dean's decision was based on something he wanted for himself. In ep 1 I thought it was about wanting Sam to live because he didn't believe Sam was really ready to die. After this episode I now believe it's about Dean finally doing something for himself. Keeping Sam alive because he wants him around (it's ridiculously romantic and wrong and tragic and screwed up, but Dean did it because dammit he wants it).

And actually I hope Dean never learns that lesson. Maybe he doesn't have to let go or give up Sam. Maybe it's all about accepting this reality and going with it. Damn shame he made the decision to let an angel possess Sam but hey, it's all about the flaws after all...
21st-Nov-2013 03:25 pm (UTC)
Loving all this discussion, almost more than I loved this episode, even with all its flaws. And I jsut realised who the old boy who got tractored at the start was, which had been bothering me. It was Maybourne from SG-1. *is happy now*
21st-Nov-2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
The post ep discussion are always so interesting. I knew this one was going to stir up some discussion- anytime they add history to a character (especially this late in the series) it's going to be met with controversy.

xox
21st-Nov-2013 03:50 pm (UTC)
Everything you've said here. Every single word.

it's irrelevant in terms of what we were being told in the episode. Sure, it's presents some canon problems but I am more interested in the essence of what this was all about rather than tearing apart our beloved canon.

Thank you for this. I've seen a lot of harping on their ages to the exclusion of what was actually revealed in the episode, so yeah. In the grand scheme of 9.07, the age thing IS irrelevant. Quite. Thank you.

after 9 years the power of this relationship is STILL THERE!

Amen, sister! It's still there, and still has the power to bring us to our knees, to legit tears. (Now scratching my head even harder at the ones who are all about other relationships, those who want to permanently separate the brothers.)

it was about giving Dean a reason for being who he is. It was about showing pivotal moments that shaped his character. It was a HUGE ask of a writer and I think Adam nailed it.

This, too. For me, at least, this episode goes a long, LONG way towards explaining who -- and why -- Dean is. I bitch about bad writing on an almost weekly basis, but here, I agree 100%. Adam Glass absolutely and totally nailed the question of how did Dean become Dean. (And in my headcanon, what we didn't see goes a long way towards explaining the whos and whys of Sam, also. Especially Sam's stormy relationship with John.)

Sam discovered more about Dean and I think he continues to marvel in what Dean has done and what he has given up

The moment at the end, when it becomes clear that Sam knows exactly why Dean gave up life on the farm . . . just blew me away. (I'm hoping that what Sam learned about Dean, of what Dean would give up, would do for him, will go a little ways towards buffering what is sure to be a HUGE blow-up once he discovers Ezekiel. At least that he'd have some inkling of why Dean did what he did.)

Leaving Dean with Sonny turned out to be the right move. This episode was about Dean's coming of age. John helped Dean grow up. He helped him face his responsibilities and he helped him make a choice.

Jeez, this is why your reviews are my favorite. You make us THINK. Because I hadn't considered this at ALL. But after a bit of thought . . . maybe . . . I think you're right. Ex-Marine John would absolutely be about tough love. (His lying to Sam about it is another kettle of fish entirely.)

I have a half written meta on Dean and Sex and this episode is further evidence of stuff I've been pondering.

If ever a meta needs to be completed . . . *gently pokes you*
22nd-Nov-2013 01:33 am (UTC)
(Now scratching my head even harder at the ones who are all about other relationships, those who want to permanently separate the brothers.)

Oh really? There are people who want them separated? But..er..um…what?! I don't get that. This show is all about this messed up relationship of theirs. Separating them would end the drama, the tension, the meaning of the show (and my viewership!). Crazy. I wonder if people seriously watch this show in the hope that Dean leaves Sam (or visa versa) and that be that. Even though I say above that it's about Dean letting go of Sam, I don't think it's about him literally doing that. He needs to learn how to not be so dependent on him but I don't think that means they have to be separated. Part of their amazing dynamic is the crazy lengths they will go for each other due to their love (oooh, man, I feel like sorting those people out! *head shake*)


At least that he'd have some inkling of why Dean did what he did

I have a feeling that Sam will definitely understand why Dean did it. It's whether he will be able to forgive him for it that will be the big question. If they have Sam being all "why did you do that?" I will be scratching my head. If Sam doesn't understand Dean's motivations after all this time it would be out of character I think. Though Sam may not understand how Dean could betray him so badly, The long Dean leaves telling Sam about Zeke, the worse it will be.

Ex-Marine John would absolutely be about tough love. (His lying to Sam about it is another kettle of fish entirely.)

Oh yeah. John had many faults but nothing I've seen on the show convinces me that he didn't love them. I always think about the character traits of Sam and Dean and attribute the way they have survived and their concern for others to the was John raised them. Even if he took a hand to them (I think we've heard enough to know that John probably did hit them when they screwed up or he was angry with them), it was at a time when corporal punishment wasn't as frowned on as it is now. Also, he was EX-marine and a damaged man. He also desperately wanted to make sure his boys survived. Lying to Sam about where Dean was was a low thing to do. Especially saying he was lost on a hunt. Nothing would traumatise Sam more than thinking of Dean missing like that. I could fanwank and say he did that to start to toughen Sam up. Make Sam realise that he could lose Dean some day (and wow, maybe that's why Sam is more accepting when Dean goes missing - like last season - than Dean is when Sam goes missing). John made some bad choices (telling Dean he may have to kill Sam one day being one of the worse things I think he's done), but his character is so rich and wonderfully flawed that I can't help loving him.

ha! I would love to finish that meta (along with the hugs one), but time is SO against me. Hopefully one day. ;)

Sorry - I really blabbed here. I think I'm still trying to sort my thoughts out.;)
xx
21st-Nov-2013 03:50 pm (UTC)
So much THIS!! I seriously enjoyed this episode a lot. I've felt bad that I've been not all that positive about this season so far, so I was really happy to change that when I saw this one. It felt like old school Supernatural again - no angels, no MOL bunker, just the boys heading to a case in the Impala. And YES to the EMFFFFF!! I loved all the brotherly stuff.

The MoTW = Dean being able to let go. I actually hope this isn't a foreboding message that one day Dean WILL learn how to let Sam go, but this is what the message seems to be.

Oh goodness, yes. That's what I was thinking. I really hope it won't come to that, or at least that we won't *see* it come to that. *sigh*

As for the fallout, I agree with you that it's building up to something huge. But they've gotta come back in the end. It'll be painful, but hopefully it will be worth it.
22nd-Nov-2013 01:53 am (UTC)
It was definitely old school SPN! yay! As much as I love the bunker it's a place of deception now, so it's hard to feel comfortable there. I love seeing them on the road again (and not an angel or demon in sight! *g*)

I don't ever want to see Dean let Sam go literally - i would rather see him learn that he can live without him (but doesn't have to…). Not sure how they'd show that, but Dean makes some pretty bad decisions when it comes to keeping Sam alive. I've been wanting him to acknowledge that he does that for himself as much (if not more so) than for Sam.

I am dreading (but also looking forward) to how they resolve this major issue. I hope they do it justice.
xx
21st-Nov-2013 04:23 pm (UTC)
Such a lovely read! :D Made my heart feel warm. Thanks for that. ♥ It was a beautiful ep and I thought it was interesting to see that Dean, like Sam, did had a time away from the family with the choice to not return.
But decided to go back to his responsibilites he felt for the family with Sam being the one that made it all worthwile for him. So far we never had a look at that. Dean always seemed to be there and never seemed to want anything else but hunt. Now we know he actually made that choice.

He still has a lesson to learn. How to let go of Sam.

I'm not sure if this is about letting go or rather about doing the right thing. I don't quite understand why Dean should let go of Sam and what that is supposed to bring. They live in a dangerous world and need each other to look out for one another. I'd say it's more about remembering their apprechiation for each other at this time. The little boy who had to let go of his ghost mother was alone. But Sam and Dean have each other. And maybe it means Dean decides to come clean with Sam about Zeke? :O (A thought that suddenly popped into my head. I'm not spoiled for future eps. Purley speculative.)

So anyway, a lovely episode as well as an enjoyable read of your thoughts. ^_^

xoxo



Edited at 2013-11-21 04:24 pm (UTC)
22nd-Nov-2013 02:14 am (UTC)
Hey hun! thank you - I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had many warm fuzzies after this one. It left me with a lot of thinkies as well.

I'm not sure if this is about letting go or rather about doing the right thing

For me, I think this was an example of Dean making a choice not because he felt he needed to do the right thing, but rather to show that choosing Sam wasn't about obligation. It was about wanting to be back in the family unit (because of Sam and because he likes being with him).

The letting go is not about physically leaving Sam, but rather learning to live without Sam (or rather, not having to bring him back from the dead just so Dean can be happy). I have no desire (what so ever!) to see them separate and that be the lesson that has been learned. But rather, Dean realise that by keeping Sam alive (by non con possession) was done for himself and not for Sam. That he needs to reflect on his dubious choices and see that choosing Sam's life for himself could possibly destroy Sam. It's true that they have each other (and timmy was alone), but when Dean makes his choices to keep Sam alive he would also be alone - which he doesn't want. He doesn't want to be Timmy.

man - that was messy. Sorry. In my head I know what I mean.

I would love to think that this brings about Dean being honest with Sam about Zeke. I'm not sure what we are in for (unspoiled yay!), but I can't see Dean coming clean about Zeke. It's gone too far - but it's hard to say. This might have been his lesson, as you say
(Deleted comment)
22nd-Nov-2013 02:16 am (UTC)
Oh you too? John doesn't win any prizes for fathering that's for sure, but he did manage to raise two amazing boys. He wouldn't have been able to do this if he was a total (and abusive) bastard. His methods are tough, but effective.

(Deleted comment)
21st-Nov-2013 04:27 pm (UTC)
I hope to God Dean WILL be able to let Sam go. I get that Dean is sympathetic. I've read, and enjoyed, sympathetic characters who were the perpetrators of sexual noncon. But one thing I don't think anyone can sell me on is wanting such a character to remain in a long-term partnership with their victim. And that applies as much to the gen (and supernatural) violation in a familial relationship that Dean has committed as it would to a sexual violation in a romantic relationship.

I think I am, reluctantly, sporadically (I have days of denial, days when I feel like I can stil make it work in my head) coming to realize that Sam and Dean's relationship, whether it's gen canon Sam n Dean or fanon Sam/Dean, is over for me. I can imagine, from where they are now, a redemption arc for Dean and a recovery arc for Sam. But not with them together.

So, yeah. I can understand Dean. I can sometimes like Dean. But this isn't about Dean lying, or keeping secrets. This is about a violation that involves taking away someone's consent by trickery (trickery that used Sam's trust and love to betray him by allowing Ezekiel to impersonate Dean) and continuing to keep the victim unconsenting with repeated memory wipes in order to enable that person's body and mind to be inhabited, without their knowledge or consent and against their perceived wishes, by another being, one who can and does control and access that person's body, thoughts, and memory at his own will and at the will of the person who enabled the possession. This is, blatantly, being done to serve Dean's and Ezekiel's interests. This has gone on for weeks or months of show time. And Sam's history, which Dean knows, makes him the cruelest possible victim for that particular crime.

I think the show is going to treat this as a problem of honesty, and evade the noncon. I can even understand, on a Watsonian level, why Sam would treat it that way: I'm not sure he could survive confronting what Dean has really done in the context of his history. Dean lying to him is a familiar situation, one he knows how to get angry about and how to forgive. But he's never really confronted and dealt with the major betrayals and possessions from his past (betrayal by Ruby, possession by Meg, by Lucifer, and a host of smaller invasions of his body/self/mind/memory/consent autonomy). In no way is he prepared to confront a situation that repeats those with Dean as enabler. But I'm not sure I'm going to get over it if the show seems to be endorsing that perspective.

And, honestly, though I've found some of the treatment of Dean's choices and motivations this season very good, and surprisingly subtle, and though I like that it's possible to find Dean sympathetic from his end even of such a horrific narrative, I'm not only in my usual Sam-focused way annoyed by, but also genuinely skeeved out by the lack of emotional focus on Sam. In a storyline about the compromising, erasure, and displacement of Sam's selfhood and agency, pulling out all the emotional stops on exploring the subjectivity of the character responsible while marginalizing Sam's subjectivity makes it feel as though the narrative is collaborating with what Dean is doing. Especially by contrast with the way the narrative has tended to emotionally focus on Dean during other characters' dark arcs. I get and believe that Dean is also a victim here when he is doing bad things, but I feel like the narrative has been edging to emphasizing his victimhood over his victim's victimhood. (It doesn't help that Lisa and Ben, victims of the much smaller violation that was the dress rehearsal for this one, were written out of the narrative so very completely.)

It was probably always meant to be a tragedy. But I wish they hadn't chosen this particular one. And I wish, if they had, they'd waited till the last season.
21st-Nov-2013 04:40 pm (UTC)
Fuck. I should not have clarified those particular thoughts. I liked them better unclarified. I think I will go for denial, and maybe alcohol.
21st-Nov-2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
Agree with everything you said and bow down to your way to articulate things. It puts things so nicely into perspective. Thanks for this lovely meta/review, hon.
22nd-Nov-2013 03:09 am (UTC)
Thanks hun. I had strong feelings about this one. I know they don't match up with many thoughts around the place, but I continue to be drawn in and moved by this messed up relationship.
21st-Nov-2013 07:04 pm (UTC) - reply
I totally agree on all three, Dean, Sam and John. I do not see John any worse for this. I still love him and think this is what Dean did need. If nothing else, it taught him not to get caught and that there are consequences to being caught. And there are a ton of reasons why John let Dean stay there so long (maybe it was Dean's sentence - John might have had the choice to take him home prior to sentencing but Dean might have ended up here afterwards; a hunt kept John away. ect) but the bottom line is that Dean never held it against John, so we can't. And I loved that we see Dean being given a true opportunity to leave this life and he made his own decision. That is HUGE.

I do have some issue with continuity but they are minor (ie, they should have written Sam staying with Pastor Jim, not Bobby, IMO, and how young Sam seemed) but I enjoyed the episode as a whole.

I think Dean's message about letting go was about Zeke and Sam. He knows that his choice is going to hurt Sam but he did this out of necessity - his own and what he could live with.

I do not think this had anything to do with learning to let Sam go, per say. Good gosh, no! It would take something from the uniqueness of Sam and Dean if they could let go. Nahhh... not for me :0)

22nd-Nov-2013 03:19 am (UTC) - Re: reply
but the bottom line is that Dean never held it against John, so we can't.

That's my feeling also. Dean came out on top - went from a boy to a man, so John ultimately made the right choice. I think Dean knows John is tough for a reason. He might not like it, but ultimately he understands his reasoning.

Sam staying with Pastor Jim would have been perfect. I think Jim has been long forgotten as a character and Bobby seems to fill that space. Bobby would not have been a great choice for Sam, but I have been thinking that John was also making Sam grow up too. Time without his big brother, leaving to live without him (ack!) and probably learning some things from Bobby.

when I say that Dean needs to learn to let go of Sam I didn't mean that literally. As in, he has to say goodbye to Sam. I think the lesson is learning to not keep bringing Sam back because he can't live without him. In both cases Dean saved Sam from death because of his own needs.

There's no way I want to actually see Dean let Sam go (or for them to be apart), but part of the mess Dean is in at the moment is because he couldn't live without Sam. It's a problem and if we use the mirror of the MoTW -by hanging on to someone you love like that (timmy holding onto his dead mother and driving her insane), then we see that what Dean has done is damaging to Sam (and probably their relationship). This might simply be about Dean acknowledging that he did the wrong thing. If he understands the hurt he's caused then that might be what this "letting go" is all about.

Of course, I don't want to ever see Dean let Sam die, but at some point he does have to accept that bringing Sam back isn't the best thing for Sam.
21st-Nov-2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
i dont know, there were mistakes and everything , i guess i'll let it pass because of your review
22nd-Nov-2013 03:21 am (UTC)
I think the essence of this episode overshadows the mistakes for me. I don't usually say things like that, but the age thing (and even Sam playing with a toy) is handwavable over what this episode was all about.
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