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curled around these images
just enough to make us dangerous
Seems that chatting SPN cheers me up... 
18th-Apr-2013 11:42 pm
It remembers me!
or maybe it's the wine...;)

So. I just made a comment to someone asking a question about the amulet - that in 5.16 (Dark Side of The Moon) Dean's heaven experience was manipulated by angels. Is that just my head canon? Dean did mostly see negative things because that's what the angels wanted him to see yeah? My understanding is that those things actually happened but he was shown those to draw him closer to saying yes to Michael.
18th-Apr-2013 04:04 pm (UTC)
I think there's room for interpretation, because it's never outright stated. But yeah, I always took it to be manipulation. After all, Zachariah knows they're there and is pursuing them throughout. And when Ash tries to help them, it's ridiculously easy for Zachariah to redirect them to where he wants them to go.

Besides, it's so damn blatant. Dean lands in a memory of himself doing something nice for Sam, then gets smacked in the face with a whole bunch of 'Sam doesn't love me!' memories. Dean gets a nice (if bittersweet) memory of Mary, then Zachariah has her say a whole lot of cruel things.

And Sam lands in heaven away from Dean, so they can't experience the fireworks memory together and have something to bond over.

It's not a whole lot different to It's a Terrible Life or The End, really. I think that's as subtle as angels get. :)
18th-Apr-2013 04:50 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Yes.
18th-Apr-2013 04:17 pm (UTC)
While it is never explicitly confirmed, that's my interpretation as well. I doubt that it is a coincidence that all of Dean's memories are about abandonment - either by Sam or by John - and then Zachariah twists Dean's memory of Mary into telling him that everybody leaves him. If that is not a deliberate manipulation I don't know what is. Besides, nobody ever confirms either that the memories Sam and Dean experience in heaven are actually their happiest or most important memories. That's just what Sam assumes right after they arrived in heaven. Given that we actually see Sam's most important memories later in the show, namely in 'Swan Song', it is clear that Sam's memories in Dark Side of the Moon are not at all a reflection of Sam's happiest memories.
19th-Apr-2013 02:46 pm (UTC)
Oh that's a good point about seeing Sam's most important memories in Swan Song. I hadn't considered that. *nods*

The episode makes much more sense to me if I read it as Dean's memories being manipulated. It was really hard to watch him being hurt by the things that made Sam "happy". I would agree that they weren't necessarily Sam's happiest moments, but rather the moments that affected Dean the most. It did the trick...Dean started to head toward saying yes.

Clever ep - depressing as all hell though.

18th-Apr-2013 04:26 pm (UTC)
It's really hard to say. Mary was a construct made by Zach to manipulate Dean, that's for sure, but all the other things like 4 of July with Sammy that was just the way heaven works
19th-Apr-2013 02:49 pm (UTC)
I'm more and more convinced that what Dean saw was geared to making him throw away the amulet and head towards saying yes.

The firework scene was lovely. It was Dean's memory so I think it was all about seeing what he considered a happy moment and then it gets knocked on the head by seeing all of Sam's "happy" memories (which were Dean's worse...)

18th-Apr-2013 04:32 pm (UTC)
It has always been my understanding that Zachariah manipulated the entire heaven experience, once he found Sam and Dean. Actually, once he showed up, things really went from bad to worse. This was the episode where any thought of heaven being a heavenly experience was thrown out the window, wasn't it? Of so many depressing episodes, this one, IMO, was the most existentially depressing episode of the entire series.

20th-Apr-2013 12:14 am (UTC)
I totally agree that this was the most depressing ep. Not only the manipulation, but then to see the result of that as Dean throwing away the amulet and it never ever again being addressed (well, yet. I'm hoping they are keeping that up their sleeves for the last ever ep...).
18th-Apr-2013 04:36 pm (UTC)
I don't know. I thought it was mostly just tremendously sad that these would be the things that counted as happy memories: Sam remembers and awkward dinner at the house of a near stranger, running away from an abusive home, and the night his father kicked him out for going to college, Dean remembered the fireworks, which were lovely but even there he was having to stand in for something John wasn't giving his family, and having to be the comforter at an age when he should have been comforted even before the fire. I think they were revealing, significant memories, manipulated or otherwise: Sam's desperate bids for stability and independence, the origins of Dean's need to be the caretaker. I guess my read would be that the angels manipulated the selection process, that those weren't meant to be the very top memories, but that the ones selected did come from a pool of possibilities, that weren't maybe moments of pure joy but more moments that were symbolic of something.

I also think it goes too unremarked that Sam wasn't there for the fireworks memory -- he, too, saw only a memory of Dean's from which he was excluded.
20th-Apr-2013 12:24 am (UTC)
Oh yes yes - I don't feel that the actual memories are false or manipulated, but rather what Dean was seeing - what Zach had chosen for him to see (or for them both to remember for that matter). I think the moments were wonderfully significant and we were lucky to be given a glimpse of their childhood through this episode.

It's was terribly sad, made even sadder by the way it affected Dean after. :(

18th-Apr-2013 05:08 pm (UTC)
I think almost certainly it was manipulated for exactly those purposes - Zach was pretty single-minded in his methods to push Dean towards the edge - virtually everything he did stuck a knife into Dean and twisted it, even though the result wasn't ever what he expected.

I think Sam even says that these weren't his best times, that his best memories were things he'd done with Dean (though I may have imagined this or read it in a fanfic, I can't quite remember right now!)
20th-Apr-2013 10:48 am (UTC)
I think that's something Sam WOULD say (I don't remember him saying that in the ep, though I think he did try an defend them at one point. I'll have to check....). It would have been just as painful for Sam to have to see Dean go through those memories. It certainly ended up being painful watching Dean thrown the amulet away as a result of his time in "heaven". :(

18th-Apr-2013 05:32 pm (UTC)
I always thought that the memories they saw were definitely manipulated by Zachariah, that he may have even had something to do with them being killed, and if not, that he was going to take advantage of them being on his turf to close the deal. That's why it was extraordinary that Ash was able to get them out of their heaven over to his. I think Zachariah was completely in control of what they saw, he had access to all their memories while they were in their heaven and knew just what to use to affect them the most.

Also, I'll note that my headcanon is that the fireworks memory was also the first for Sam, but he saw it from his point of view. And also that they have never again talked about what they saw in heaven.
20th-Apr-2013 10:52 am (UTC)
Yes. I'm thinking Zach definitely manipulated what they saw. I wasn't sure if Sam actually "saw" the firework moment. I thought that was only Dean. It would be nice to think Sam saw it also.

And yeah - it's probably not something they talked about later. Such a shame as it might have saved the amulet.
18th-Apr-2013 06:21 pm (UTC)
I saw them as manipulations because for reasons others have already stated here and it was in line with his manipulations through seasons 4 and 5. That's what Zachariah did. Also, once Zachariah was out of the picture, Dean and Sam found themselves in a shared memory.

Edited at 2013-04-18 07:33 pm (UTC)
20th-Apr-2013 10:54 am (UTC)
Also, once Zachariah was out of the picture, Dean and Sam found themselves in a shared memory.

Ooh, I'll have to go back and watch that episode - I can't remember that shared memory once Zach was out of the picture. I thought Zach disappeared once Joshua showed up...I can't remember what memory came after that....

18th-Apr-2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
I've always saw them as manipulations, maybe not false memories but certainly not their happiest. The whole purpose of the exercise in heaven was to get Dean to break, lose faith in Sam and say yes to Michael. Which Dean sort of fell for it all hook, line, and sinker while Sam tried to explain that he wasn't controlling these memories. Significantly, the memories we see of Dean's is A) the fireworks scene which excluded Sam and B) His memory of Mary which didn't include Sam as well.

So I found Zachariah manipulated certain memories to appear to get Sam and Dean to break. Sam and Dean together was something he was having trouble contending with, but by themselves he learned that they crumble.
20th-Apr-2013 10:57 am (UTC)
*nods* that's definitely how I see it as well. I'm sure the memories were real - just carefully selected.

but by themselves he learned that they crumble.

The story of the Winchesters' lives. Borne out time and time again...

18th-Apr-2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
Dean did mostly see negative things because that's what the angels wanted him to see yeah?

Pretty much. And what better way to tear him down than to give him the one pleasant memory of the fireworks, followed by all those unpleasant ones? Make him THINK Heaven was gonna be good, then . . . the slow, painful reveal. Man, that kind of sneaky crap is right up Zachariah's alley.

Even Pamela was trying to convince Dean to say "yes." Pamela. It was Pamela and Mary who really convinced me that Zachariah was pulling the strings. Heck, Zachariah probably sicced Walt and Roy onto the guys in the first place.

Edited at 2013-04-18 08:31 pm (UTC)
20th-Apr-2013 11:00 am (UTC)
Heck, Zachariah probably sicced Walt and Roy onto the guys in the first place.

oooh, I never considered that. Good very well be.

And yes the Mary moment was so sad (crap I don't remember Pamela...looks like I definitely need to go back and watch that ep. It's just so painful though....)

18th-Apr-2013 09:57 pm (UTC)
i think there is some angel involvement - but that its what we see ie the scenes with Zachariah. I would dispute that Dean sees negative things - he has the fireworks memory with Sam, memory of his childhood home and mother. The fact that the things Sam remembers aren't happy memories for Dean is part of exploring thir different experiences of their shared past.
20th-Apr-2013 11:04 am (UTC)
Yes. I think we were lucky to get these glimpses of their childhood. It was a devastatingly sad episode - but one of their best I think. I think the scenes were manipulated in order to weaken Dean. Zach knows how much Sam influences Dean so pulling them apart like that was a clever strategy to get Dean off side. Luckily Sam's influence won over in the very end when Dean changed his mind and killed Zach.

18th-Apr-2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
I actually think it's Sam whose influence on their shared Heaven (BECAUSE THEY ARE CANONICAL SOUL MATES WHHAAATTT??) was manipulated to give Dean an idea of his brother that exaggerates Sam's desire for independence vs. his love/devotion to family. The Dean memories we saw--fourth of July, Mary taking care of Dean--are absolutely what I would expect to be the general gist of Dean's Heaven. And, while I do not doubt that Sam did see those things we were shown as happy memories, I also don't buy that there would be no Dean, no Jess, no anything except the veeerrry specific moments we saw that helped pan Zachariah's agenda. I don't think the canon explicitly tells us the memories were manipulated, but I do think we are led to drsw that conclusion, and we do have evidence that Zachariah is controlling (or at least manipulating) what Dean sees by the version of Mary we get later in the episode.
20th-Apr-2013 11:08 am (UTC)
*nods and nods* Looking back I like that we weren't told that Zach was manipulating the memories that they saw. I think the way the episode played out (with Dean taking that extra step away from Sam and closer to saying yes) was all we needed to make up our own minds about what he might be doing.

SOUL MATES!!!! \o/
18th-Apr-2013 11:44 pm (UTC)
I assumed that both Sam and Dean's heaven experiences were manipulated by Zachariah - not that they weren't real memories, but that those particular ones were chosen to appear (and to hurt Dean).

That's a good episode, now I want to go watch it again... :)

Also, chatting SPN definitely cheers me up!
20th-Apr-2013 11:22 am (UTC)
It was a good episode. A great one actually - very painful but the pain was necessary to get Dean to where he had to be.

After chatting about it here I need to re-watch it. There are something people have mentioned that I don't remember. Looks like I'm in for a re-watch also.

Chatting SPN can be uplifting! :DD
19th-Apr-2013 01:08 am (UTC)
I always assumed that was the case, but then I thought Dean overreacted when he got offended Sam's memories and said that these were all their very happiest memories. Other than the fireworks moments I wouldn't have said any of those moments were top ten material for either brother? Even dean's memory of his mother is about comforting her when she's upset over John leaving. That's not a happy memory for a child at all, and we know from the pilot that they did have happy moments together as a family that would have been in Dean's happiest memories,, so I always figured the memories that were shown were deliberately chosen by Zahariah to shake them. Ditto with Sam, surely a happy memory would have been settling in to Stanford and making friends, meeting Jessica, not the night his dad kicked him out of the house
20th-Apr-2013 11:29 am (UTC)
Yes indeed! Their idea of "happiest" was certainly strange. I like the way the episode started off with the fireworks moment to set us up thinking they would be seeing their happiest moments but instead it became anything but. They were instead bitter sweet moments - with emphasis on the bitter.

I think Dean was pretty fragile going into heaven so the extra push with images of Sam being "happy" without him was all he need to tip him over the edge. Zach was being rather clever in his manipulations (I love it when he describes himself as "petty" - it sums up Zach perfectly).

21st-Apr-2013 04:19 am (UTC)
I may be a bit controversial here. First, I DO think that Zach manipulated what Dean saw as Sam's happy memories. I could easily believe that receiving the letter from Stanford telling Sam he got a full ride was one of the happiest moments of his life. For once what Sam was good at and enjoyed, academics, research was seen as valuable. He had a chance to do what made him happy and it wouldn't cost John or Dean one penny. But the fight where John threw him out? That had to hurt. We SAW that Sam was hurt and angry that John threw him out in season one. We heard Sam say he wasn't sure John would even agree to see him in season one while they were looking for John. The night Sam left, Sam may have felt relief that the fight was over and that he took a stand, but I can't imagine that was a completely happy night. We never see the actual happy memory for Sam. I do wonder if it was finding out Stanford wanted him and the joy he felt before it all fell apart when John threw him out. We will never really know WHAT that memory was.

The first memory, too, was odd. Sam was reliving that Thanksgiving, but not as the eleven year old who had his first normal holiday. He was reliving it as a 27 year old man and he was being fondled and come onto by an eleven year old girl. All I saw in Sam's heaven of that memory was deep discomfort and the taint of feeling like a pedophiliac. Sam was not reliving that day as a child, but as a man who didn't enjoy it at all.

And then there was when he ran away in Flagstaff. Kids who run away and stay away are running from a life of pain and sorrow. If one of the best moments of Sam's life was living in a cabin with no indoor plumbing, raiding dumpsters for pizza and only having a skinny Golden Retriever as company, then his childhood was pretty miserable. I can believe that BTW. Dean did what he could, but Dean was a child himself. John was drinking, according to both Sam and Dean, and possibly was coming to suspect that Sam was the real focus of the attack on Mary. IRL, runaways find prostitution, living on the streets and being abused preferable to returning home. If Sam felt that living without John was one of the happiest times in his life, how sad was he before he left.

Which brings me to the controversial part. We see how Sam's memories hurt and anger Dean. We are told that Sam and Dean are probably soul mates who will share a heaven. We see Sam avoiding the final "happy" memory because he knows it will hurt Dean's feelings. When/if Sam and Dean do share a heaven, Sam will be forced to NOT relive happy moments in his life because of how they affect Dean. Sam watch Dean's joy in being with Mary, a memory he was not part of. In those memories Sam was conveniently asleep upstairs and not part of Dean's life, but Sam didn't resent that or get angry. He encouraged Dean to stay and experience those good memories. But Sam now knows that if Dean is part of Sam's happy memories then Dean will be hurt. Sam is going to have to tiptoe around heaven avoiding any happiness that doesn't include Dean. Settling in on campus, Dean was missing Sam and dealing with an angry John, how DARE Sam be happy. Meeting Jess, well Brady killed that by telling Sam it was all manipulated but even before then, Dean would have remembered the hunt he and John were on and how they NEEDED Sam to help them. DSOTM showed that Dean did not accept that Sam could be happy without Dean and Dean was not only hurt but angry with Sam for finding happiness without Dean. The biggest confirmation of this was the Thanksgiving memory. Dean didn't remember a Thanksgiving where Sam disappeared and he and John were looking for him. That Thanksgiving probably happened when Dean accompanied John on a job and Sam was too young to go along. It may have been a happy memory because Sam didn't have to spend it ALONE, but Dean can't even start to see that.

Continued in part 2.
21st-Apr-2013 04:19 am (UTC)
Part 2

DSOTM made me sad for Sam more than Dean. His childhood was so hard that his happy moments revolve around not being with John. I think John's anger and obsessive need to hunt was the largest reason why Sam was unhappy. Plus if Sam was eleven, Dean was fifteen and in Plucky Pennywhistle we find out that around this time Dean was dropping Sam off and finding girls. Why wouldn't a family showing Sam attention and kindness be a happy memory? Why did Dean have to ruin it for Sam by making his issues more important than the fact that Sam was happy? Dean talks a good game about wanting Sam to have normal and happy and I think he does want it in the abstract. But every time Sam is happy and Dean isn't part of it, Dean becomes angry and resentful. And, if Ash was right, Sam will get to deal with that for all eternity.
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