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Various observations on 7.14 
12th-Feb-2012 04:22 pm
Becc_j Art
As much as this episode was a filler and full of sparkly moments, I think we can extract some thinky... :D

I just need to take a moment to drool over that motel room. Honestly. My squee knows no bounds looking at this room. Re-watching it yesterday we had to pause to take a good look.

A tiki (islander?) themed motel in Kansas. I'm not sure why but that cracks me up.

I adore the lighting. Green on one side, red on the other. Of course all the little touches - like A TIKI THEMED TISSUE BOX COVER - are to die for. Surely that wallpaper is custom made. SO COOL!

Other stuff:

1. Dean ditched Sam at Plucky Penny's so he could hook up with girls.

We are given some canonical evidence of where and when Sam's fear of clowns began. I'm not sure if this is a deliberate attempt to load some more guilt on Dean or just one of those things. I suspect the former because he apologises to Sam at the end. I also felt that Dean may have been defending himself a little when he was defending Tyler's mother.

I'm sure she was there to represent John more than Dean but it did occur to me at the end that Dean might see himself in her a little bit. (Assuming Dean took on the care taker role as often suggested) He could see somebody who, like himself and John, had other things on their minds. (though I really didn't like her. Making a kid that age take a bus all by themselves.. :(()

Once again we get to see Dean interact with kids. I like this consistency - we see him reach out and help children that seem to have a similar childhood to himself (Kirsty in Adventures in Baby Sitting for example). Though on the flip side we saw him kill Amy in front of her child. I suspect Dean still sees a difference between a "monster" child and a human child.

2. Dean was smiling!

zebra363 mentioned that she felt Dean was too out of character immediately following 7.13. He seemed to be in a very bad place at the end of that episode, telling Sam he'll "do what he can" to stay alive and here he was much happier. Laughing even. I agree but I wondered if this was Dean making himself smile, as suggested by Frank in 7.11. Finding the smallest of moments that can bring out that smile. Sam covered in sparkly glitter, a giant slinky and getting Sam to repeat "ball washer" (tehe), all moments that he can enjoy and smile about. He's workin' it.

Either that or it's inconsistent writing. I'd like to think it's not. We can't have episode after episode of Dean being down in the dumps. I mean, we can but (for me) that would get rather tedious. Same with having every episode where Sam is having to deal with Lu in his head. It's all there, just pushed aside so we can have a "filler" episode where we can sit back and enjoy the ride.

(To clarify - I think Dean's smiles and overall better mood are genuine. I don't think he's "faking it", I just think he's allowing himself to enjoy the moments when they present themselves rather than keep seeing the glass as half empty. I'd like to think it's because of Frank's advice, that's all.)

I'm not spoiled for the future but I suspect this was a light one before some heavy ones ahead. I like that they mix it up.

3. Fear

It's interesting to me that another Dabb and Loflin written episode, Yellow Fever, was based on fear. That one using Dean's fear of hell and this one Sam's fear of clowns.

It mirrored that episode in so many ways (opening chase scene, count down clock etc.) - but, thank god, it wasn't a bad as YF. I hate YF with a passion, mostly because the boys were SO out of character. I felt this one at least had them in character. The plotting was probably a little weak (I really can't get my head around that ending), but it served as a way to bring unicorns and clowns into the story. It wins for that alone.

I think that D&L have a good grasp on the boy's history and I think this episode demonstrated that.

We first heard about Sam's fear of clowns way back in Season 2 (Everybody Loves a Clown) so I love that we got some more on that. It was by no means a deep, psychological look at that fear and but it think it works much better than Yellow Fever. That episode used Dean's fear of hell as a joke. At that time (and probably even now) that fear was no laughing matter whereas Sam's fear of clowns is a little less "serious" and therefore a more appropriate catalyst for an episode like this.

It does amuse me that someone like Sam, who has been through SO MUCH is still afraid of clowns. I suppose it's the leveller. They are, in many ways, super human. But to see a very real fear like this reminds us that they are just humans after all. (though I don't believe that for a second. Anyone as good looking as those two can't be merely human...)

4. A shout out to 70's cop shows.

I'm taking a bit of a leap here but Starsky and Hutch springs to mind. (\o/) There were just too many references for it not to be deliberate.

The biggest hint is the 70's feel "action" music when the boys were chasing Cliff. Even the way that scene was shot is reminiscent of S&H. I mean really.... conveniently placed pile of tyres (though empty cardboard boxes would have been better) and the rather obvious stunt actors making the drive and tumble. (It might just have been me but all I could think there was... that's not Jensen!).

There's also the "good cop, bad cop" reference and Sam acting (so very badly) as a "tough" cop when interrogating the staff. I'm sure S&H have tossed aside many a chair when trying to be threatening. I thought maybe he was trying to imitate Horatio from CSI, but the more I think on it I reckon it's meant to be more "cheesy" - 70's style cheesy.

And that hotel room reminded me of the episode Murder on Voodoo Island for some reason.

(Shut up! S&H have to be homaged at some point in this show. It may as well be now! *g*).

I really did enjoy this episode. The multitude of pop culture references alone made it a romp. But to throw in some AWESOME bro moments (SAM GOT DEAN THE SLINKY!!!), some beaten up Sam (shut up! You know me...), a spectacular hotel room and classic one liners you have a very satisfying episode indeed.

ETA: Oh, and did you all notice the clown's wink at the very end?
12th-Feb-2012 08:43 am (UTC)
My thoughts on Dean (yes, surprise!): I think his laugh was genuine. The brothers were working a case, Sam was doing okay, they could rely on each other- almost like old times, so I think Dean felt better and dared to hope and laugh (just to be crushed underfoot next episode, my thoughts exactly, as they always do that...). But the strongest indicator to me was the absence of alcohol. Dean didn't drink. And that must mean something. (Hopefully something other than inconsistent writers.)

I needed this episode. I really did. Even hubby said it was remarkable how the writers of SPN influenced my emotional state. So to me, even though it might be a filler episode, it felt necessary to take some breath.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I am always looking forward to it :-).

Edited at 2012-02-12 08:45 am (UTC)
12th-Feb-2012 09:16 am (UTC)
Oh yes! I agree that the laugh was genuine. I think his overall mood was one that was genuine and I wonder if that's because he's been practicing. I suppose it is a leap as we have no evidence that he's really trying it on, but I think I like the idea that it's getting easier for him to smile and feel better. And yes, definitely about the alcohol. I think the last ep was a real wake up call for Dean so it makes some sense that he would lay off the alcohol. It's interesting that he is able to.

I think we definitely needed to take a breath and because the season (to me anyway) isn't quite as heavy as say S4 or even S6, a lighter episode like this really fits in.

Oh, I'm glad you like my rambles. More than anything I love chatting about the show. I know we all see things differently and I love being told about things I might not have considered. I think the lack of alcohol is a great point. :DD
12th-Feb-2012 08:47 am (UTC)
Before I even read your post I have to blurt out: It made the episose for me the moment Dean called Sam "Sammy" in the sort of beginning. It was a moment that really made my heart smile. :D

Ok, now I'll read your post.

Yeah, that hotel room was something, eh? *giggle*
I enjoyed the feel of the early seasons this episode had. And like you I'm expecting heavy ones to come, so, enjoy the fun while it's there. :D
Killer-unicorn with rainbow shooting out of it's ass... made of win! lol

Made me laugh how the clown Dean gave Sam in the end, ended up trown out on the road. I wonder if it is a hint that Sam has finally gotten over this fear and has tossed it out. (Not that he will ever like clowns much...)

I think the word "satisfying" is a good word to decsribe this epísode. I enjoyed it thoroughly. :D
12th-Feb-2012 09:21 am (UTC)
OMG YESS!!! THAT SAMMY WAS THE BEST EVER! Hee... on our second viewing we had to replay that scene also. SO SO adorable.

I think Sam may well still be afraid of clowns. I saw the tossed clown as a way of not having it in the car. :D

And did you notice the clown wink at the very end? (I meant to mention that). Very cheeky..

12th-Feb-2012 01:20 pm (UTC)
Yes, I noticed the clown wink. :D I'm glad it was a cute wink and not something really creepy. lol.
So you think Sam may well still be afraid of clowns? Well, he didn't actually hug his present.. :P So, yeah, could be. *nods*
12th-Feb-2012 01:43 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine we'll be lucky enough to ever have that revisited. It would be awesome if we did... just to be sure...;)
12th-Feb-2012 09:11 am (UTC)
Agreed - that motel room was a jaw-dropper! And that tag felt earned. No alcohol, and a Sammy still alive and covered in glitter. All kudos to Jensen for making that laugh of Dean's seem completely unforced and genuinely infectious.
12th-Feb-2012 09:24 am (UTC)
I was nice to see Jensen being able to play Dean like this. I dunno, but there was a sense of relief there I think. During that "ball washer" scene we were actually pondering if that was almost a blooper... or maybe an adlib. It looked so comfortable and...them.

I think I'll be rewatching that final scene many, many more times. :D
12th-Feb-2012 10:15 am (UTC)
The mood shift still jars me, but I was thinking today that Dean managed to raise a laugh at the demons being hit by holy water from the sprinklers in No Rest For The Wicked, just minutes before his deal came due.
12th-Feb-2012 10:48 am (UTC)
Oh yes. He's resilient and faces danger head on, there's no doubt about that.

(oh and thanks for the running hint. I got a lot further today..;D)
12th-Feb-2012 12:13 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. I agree with all that.

I'd love to think that this has been some sort of step forward (though, with 9 episodes to go i would say it would be one step forward and five steps back knowing this show *g*)

I do love that they are addressing Dean's issues. I mean, he has such deep and interesting ones, there's so much to explore.

The end was so great. I love that Sam just KNEW that Dean was going to tease him. And when he did I think it was such a lovely relief for Sam. And I adored that Sam was actually loving seeing Dean having a good, big laugh.

Of course, I'm sure the knife in the heart it just around the corner. (grin)

12th-Feb-2012 11:05 am (UTC)
Nope, refuse to think about it. Hee!

There was so much I could find fault with if I study it, plot, pacing, repetition, cruelty, Sam changing clothes while tailing a subject...what? You know me and my hinkey time line fascination.

I think a less drunk Dean is a less morose Dean and if he's put the bottle down for a while then I can see a place where he can still find joy teasing and working with his brother - yep, it was a bit of a jar from last week but a welcome one and although I don't really think someone who was tipping back as much alcohol as Dean was could possible just stop - it was a joyous episode in many ways - funeral humour is something Dean has a penchant for, I found his change of attitude pretty genuine in the situation and not the forced "Frank's theory" one and the one liners came fast and furious, it was great fun to watch, but not think about or dwell on.

Pretty, pretty hotel room and as soon as I saw the first glimpse of it I thought of you jumping up and down squealing and pointing at the screen!
12th-Feb-2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
There was so much I could find fault with if I study it,

Ha! Yes, yes. I am sure I watch most episodes with a different part of my brain. The one that ignores all those things. Though, I was thoroughly entertained so I had no problem with the pacing. Though...yeah... on re-watch there were certainly moments that dragged.

And Sam changed clothes? Ooh... I'll have to take another look. A continuity problem then. (I do love those..)

Yeah... looks like Dean's drinking is becoming the reason behind his moroseness doesn't it? I like that he actually mentioned that he wasn't going to drink. Though, as an alcoholic (which I see Dean as) I would imagine just stopping would be damn hard. I would love to have seen him actually go to pick up a drink and then put it down.

(I think I might be dwelling on Frank's smile theory as I am currently vidding it...;D)

The hotel room did indeed make me squeal. I think I was..."OMG! look at that room!! \o/)

12th-Feb-2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
And Sam changed clothes?

Yep, he follows the mother with the little kid, he's in his FBI suit when he leaves and in his jeans as he pulls up and gets out of the car.
12th-Feb-2012 12:23 pm (UTC)
This is just my opinion, but I think Dean was able to genuinely laugh and smile at the end of this episode because it was the first time in months he's been sober all episode. Dean is a cranky drunk.
12th-Feb-2012 01:51 pm (UTC)
Yes... that seems to be the theory behind the happier Dean. I can certainly go with that, though I do like that (maaybe) he's also willing to find things to smile about when he can. Hee... and Sammy covered in glitter?! Well, it made my heart sing.. :)

12th-Feb-2012 01:59 pm (UTC)
Glitter!Sammy FTW!
12th-Feb-2012 01:10 pm (UTC)
We are given some canonical evidence of where and when Sam's fear of clowns began. I'm not sure if this is a deliberate attempt to load some more guilt on Dean or just one of those things. I suspect the former because he apologises to Sam at the end. I also felt that Dean may have been defending himself a little when he was defending Tyler's mother.

I think the idea is to remind Dean that his actions do affect Sam's wellbeing. Anybody who's been paying attention can see that Sam is terrified that Dean is going to die on him - but Dean's been so thoroughly swamped by his own misery that he's been missing the depth of Sam's desperation. He's also agreed, on the surface level, to go along with Sam's insistence that he's fine and there's no need to worry.

So they use a little thing to highlight a big thing: there was a time, long ago, when Dean vanished on Sam and left him alone with the clowns and he couldn't cope. Substitute in 'dying' for 'running off to hit on girls' and 'Lucifer' for 'clowns' and you've got the current situation. In the end Sam needs Dean to banish the clowns for him because they don't bleed and he can't kill them - like Lucifer they're the product of fear and misery, and having some backup is why he survives.

I think that's a big part of (although not the only reason) why Dean was doing better here - he still has his half of the partnership to manage. Revenge is generally a dead-end street for them, and drowning his sorrows in sex and alcohol just gets him really screwed-up teenage daughters. But this is an actual positive thing he can do, and puts meaning behind his vow to stick with Sam.

Because he's got a sense of meaning, he also has the breathing space to laugh and be happy - because he apparently has not yet learnt that that is tempting fate. :)
12th-Feb-2012 02:20 pm (UTC)
Man, I wish I could express myself as well as this.

I knew that there was a bigger picture and deeper meaning to Dean leaving Sam but couldn't draw that line like you've done here. Great comparison.

I totally believe that Dean's desire (and ability) to keep his head above water is because of Sam. Both brothers had said as much "I'm not going to leave my brother out there". They are probably only just hanging on for the other. Sam had hidden his hallucinations from Dean to protect him and in part is probably (seeming) to deal with it so well because of Dean. And likewise Dean.

and puts meaning behind his vow to stick with Sam.

I'd like to think this is the case. I didn't feel like he was lying to Sam at the end of 7.13. I think he has every intention to do his best to stay alive - for Sam. It would be so interesting so see what Dean would do now if Sam were to die - not that I want them to go there again - but I wonder if he'd just give it all up. I would think something would have to happen to Sam for him to completely snap.

because he apparently has not yet learnt that that is tempting fate.

HA!! Because we KNOW there's no such thing as a string of episodes where the boys are happy, well adjusted, trouble free, smiley hunters. We got one, so I suppose we better be grateful. :D

Thanks. <33

13th-Feb-2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)

I'd like to think this is the case. I didn't feel like he was lying to Sam at the end of 7.13. I think he has every intention to do his best to stay alive - for Sam. It would be so interesting so see what Dean would do now if Sam were to die - not that I want them to go there again - but I wonder if he'd just give it all up. I would think something would have to happen to Sam for him to completely snap.

I don't think he was lying either - but I also think that it was clear there was a limit to what he could promise. He has to make a conscious decision to stay alive at every moment, because he struggles to find reasons to want to. They've peppered the season with these little emotional reminders, and he really needed another one after Bobby. So a little switch flips in his brain 'Oh, that's right, I'm staying alive for Sam'. He's been saying it - and now he might believe it a bit. And given what I strongly suspect all this stuff is foreshadowing, he's going to need all the conviction he can muster. :)

At this point, I don't think he'd be able to go on if Sam were to die too. I'd say it'd be a toss up between just sitting down and giving up, and making some sort of obviously suicidal attempt to take out the leviathans.
12th-Feb-2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
Dean's belly laugh wasn't a forced smile. It was so genuine it even made Sam smile. I just think Dean was so relieved that Sam wasn't dead and then to see him like that? There is no way he won't find it funny. And his pure joy at seeing that slinky??? awww... (I also think it was a nice shout out to that episode that had Dean saying he didn't know the last time he'd laughed with his brother. It shows how much they've repaired their relationship. And the fact that Sam let him laugh at him? Very sweet!)

SN constantly does this so I am not surprised why anyone thinks it doesn't fit. Every time they do a funny episode it is on the back of something darker. I think we see Dean starting to heal here. Although last week was angsty, Dean also did get an affirmation of how important he still is to someone and that he still has a reason to fight. I think last week helped put things in perspective for him. it gave him a very good scare about where his irresponsible behavior could led him.

As for the Dean being that mom thing? That is a bit of a stretch, IMO. It did not feel, at all, like he was talking about himself. There were no parallels. For example, Dean put Sam there to chase girls - not because he was out playing caregiver. No, he was being a normal kid for once and I have no trouble with that. I think this was meant to show us that, even with all the realistic ways he sees his father now, he still understands some fundamental things. That and Dean clearly identified with the kid, not his mom. The mirroring of behaviors and attitudes screamed 'Dean'.

Dean apologizing at the end wasn't even a serious angst filled thing. I just think Dean finally got a very good understanding about the power of fear. I don't think it was meant to be anything to show he was feeling very guilty about it at all. Especially since he ended it with giving Sam a clown doll. That was just so Dean and so big brother :) If he really did feel bad, he never would have given Sam that doll. He'd have bought him a pie or something instead, lol!!

I took the episode for what it was - a funny little side trip before things get all dark and angsty again. Like placing that Babylon episode after Sam killed Madison. Odd timed but still enjoyable :)
12th-Feb-2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
I totally agree it was genuine. And so wonderful to see. I just wonder if it's also because he allowed himself to actually let loose and enjoy a laugh. He's been so caught up with feeling rotten about everything, I think he's missed these opportunities. (though Sam covered in glitter doesn't come around too often I admit *g*).

Oh and yes! Relieved Sam wasn't dead. It's so weird, that's usually the first thing I think of and that didn't cross my mind (*doh*). Though, I did wonder why Dean hadn't gone off looking for him when I first watched. My immediate assumption was that he called Sam and Sam said, "wait for me I'm coming to you".

It shows how much they've repaired their relationship.

OH yes! (thank god!) and I loved the Sam almost said something like.."it's great to see you laugh" but just said it with his eyes and gestures. Oh SPN... this is why I love you so much!

I hope you're right (to a certain extent) that this is Dean beginning to heal. SPN is also guilty of showing them starting to heal only to knock them back again and forget the progress that had been made in the last ep. I will be very interested to see where this picks up next week.

That is a bit of a stretch, IMO

Hee.. well, I admittedly do stretch things a bit sometimes. :) maenad expressed what I was actually trying to say much better in a comment above. I'm totally guilty of over reading things into the show at times - but I can't help myself. :)

And I totally agree that he saw himself in the kid. (which is why I made that comment in the poll)

I'm thinking the apology at the end was sincere. I had the feeling that Dean only just clicked that Sam's fear started when he was leaving Sam at that place. I agree it wasn't angst filled or meaning to be this deep - "oh my god I've scarred you for life" moment - which was why Sam's "which one" comment was so perfect. And perfectly brotherly.

I do love the lighter ones, as long as they don't veer too far from the boys' current journeys. I didn't think this one did (toooo much). Unless we see Dean sink right back down, bury himself in a bottle in the next ep (without a new catalyst). Then I won't be so gracious about this ep. I think.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

12th-Feb-2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
He seemed to be in a very bad place at the end of that episode, telling Sam he'll "do what he can" to stay alive and here he was much happier.

See, I think it's not so much Dean's words in response at the end of that ep that are important to remember but SAM'S words and Dean's reaction to them that make them both so much more comfortable together in this one. Beginning of the ep Dean has his little swearing off women and bars and alcohol. He plays it off as a joke, but like everything Dean does, his actions say more than his words. Sam was smiling at him constantly throughout this ep, like he thought his words got through to him and worked. It's the only episode to date this season, where Dean's drinking something and it's not alcohol, but coffee. It's the stuff unsaid. :) Of course, I think it's gearing up for next ep unfortunately, so it's a set up for a fall, but still, it happened.

[In fact, I feel like there's this potential for unsaid canon before that first scene by the car, that explains Sam's little smiles at Dean even in the beginning. Like Sam woke up this morning and Dean hadn't poured a glass of whiskey before they went out to breakfast, then at breakfast he never once went for his flask, ordered two coffees, and looked like he actually slept the night before. (Fic potential! Writers, get on it! XD)]

I got the 70s cheesy feel too! The score kinda played it up in that chase scene but there were other places too. Ooo, yes and the tiki hut motel room. Sam is trapped in by green and red, conflict colors, not a good omen for the future. Trouble's a-coming!
14th-Feb-2012 04:41 am (UTC)
I adore the idea that things happened that morning (as you suggested) to make Sam all smiley at Dean. I'm sure Dean can see the change in Sam's mood with the change of his own behaviours. That must please him also. They are both SO connected and in tune with each other things like this rub off on each other.

I hope that if we are due for a fall in the next ep, or coming eps that they don't hand wave what happened here. They seemed to have gained some ground. Maybe even the fact they are able to have a laugh will help when things start to get tough (well, one can hope *g*)

Oh yeah? You got the cheesy feel too? I wondered if I imagined that. :D I thought that music was notably different to past chase scenes. I love the way they consider these little details.

13th-Feb-2012 02:02 am (UTC)
So agreed with just about everything said here - the affection between the boys was obvious from the start and only grew as they worked through some of the very early resentments from their childhood, with an actual spoken apology and the exchange of gifts. Add to that Dean's growly affectionate "Sammy" on the phone and you have an episode that I felt like *I* needed as much as the brothers did. Of course, this being SPN, it only means we should hold on tight for the next episodes.... But for now, I'll keep smiling :)
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