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curled around these images
just enough to make us dangerous
A couple of tiny moments from 8.20 
28th-Apr-2013 11:40 pm
Sam and Dean peering
Man, that ep does get in. It's been a while since I've watched an ep 3 times. <3

A couple of little (tiny) reaction moments that had me thinking. (What? Obsessive? Me? Nah...)

Because I've been experimenting with gifs I've been looking extra closely at little moments.

This reaction from Sam made me think about how terrified he must have been after that very heartfelt hug from Dean. Dean's only really hugged Sam like this after one of them have returned from the grave (or elsewhere...). I wondered if Sam was thinking this was Dean acknowledging just how dangerous this is - acknowledging that Sam may well die and Dean was somehow accepting that. Sam might be thinking that Dean was getting a hug in before it's too late. And no, I don't mean that Dean has given up on Sam. This is about what Sam might have read from that hug.


zebra363 pointed this Dean reaction out to me:

This is after Charlie tells Sam that if anyone can do these trials he can. That's an eye roll! What's going on with that? He looks away as though he doesn't want to accept what Charlie's saying. He knows Sam is strong enough - maybe he doesn't want to hear someone else say it. Or something...?


While I'm here...

Awwww.... hand holding. :)

28th-Apr-2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
This show just gets under my skin. I find myself re watching episodes all the time when I could be watching the backlog of episodes from other shows on my DVR. What can I say? When I am obsessed, I am obsessed. Yesterday was a season one revisit.

But regarding Dean's reaction. I didn't quite see the eye-roll (and I still didn't see an actual eye roll with the gif) but I did see how he reacted, otherwise, to that comment and I think that it's not so much a reaction to Sam's ability to complete these trials more than it is his reaction to not being as involved, himself, as he really wants to be. Dean is a man of action and feeling sidelined, especially with Sam on the line, has to be very difficult for him. He can give lip service all he wants but you know that it really sticks in his craw that he isn't able to do more.

Or, it could have been that he felt uncomfortable overhearing what could be considered a personal moment between Charlie and Sam.
29th-Apr-2013 02:06 am (UTC)
Yeah - I don't think he literally rolls his eyes - more the feel of it.

And yeah - I didn't consider that Dean might be still feeling he should be the one doing the trials. I know it has been a major issue for him.

I was certainly feeling the sense of him feeling uncomfortable. Hmm, I wonder if that's why Sam often leaves Dean alone to have his "moment" - he did it with Krisy and now with Charlie.
28th-Apr-2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
I'm not 100% sure that Dean does think Sam is strong enough. I really think any trust Dean had in Sam was shattered during season four and he has never really gotten it back. Then when Sam didn't look for him during his Purgatory year, anything that had been built up was smashed again.

Dean's attempt to bench Sam was not a vote of confidence. Sam may not be up to the physical stress of hunting, but he did fine talking to people at the scene, interviewing suspects and looking up lore. He even took out the second Djinn. But Dean ruled all that out unilaterally. So I'm not sure Dean believes Sam can do this and he may not want Sam to be encouraged to continue. Although there is no indication that there is any way to quit now that Sam has started.
28th-Apr-2013 04:29 pm (UTC)
I'm not 100% sure that Dean does think Sam is strong enough. I really think any trust Dean had in Sam was shattered during season four and he has never really gotten it back

Good point but I also think Sam said it best. It's not that Dean doesn't trust Sam, per se, it's just that Dean has a tendency to trust himself more. When I think back, the only person Dean gave his unreserved trust to was his Dad and even that took a huge hit when he sold his soul for Dean and then laid down the "save him or kill him" whammy.

I've been watching season one (again) and I think this is evident even before the season 4 brother meltdown, which of course added fuel to the fire, I am sure. Dean's trust issues seem to go way back. Maybe, at first, it was the big brother thing but then the hits start coming. Maybe it is because Dean really does have pretty good instincts. Maybe he has a need to be in control. Maybe it is all of these things.

I don't know. I don't exactly see him wanting to bench Sam as a complete lack of trust or confidence. I mean, after Swan Song, I can't see how Dean would not know that Sam has the strength and will to do what needs to be done. Maybe that is what he is afraid of. I can see him trying to be protective, too. Especially in this case where he has been sidelined. Dean has a need to "do something." Of course, I think it is multifaceted but Dean is also hardwired to watch out for Sam and in this particular circumstance and for the moment, it seems that it is *all* he can do.

It is fun to discuss, though.

28th-Apr-2013 04:17 pm (UTC)
That thing Dean does when Charlie says that about Sam succeeding in the trials - I took it to be him still thinking "it should have been me" rather than a simple eye roll or him doubting Sam
29th-Apr-2013 10:17 am (UTC)
Hmm, yes. Maybe Dean keeps being reminded that it should have been him and no one should have to tell Sam that he's strong enough.
28th-Apr-2013 04:30 pm (UTC)
I think Charlie thinks of Dean and Sam partly as fictional characters [ETA: and since she's now had significantly more real interaction with Dean, she probably thinks of Sam as Sam in the books even more than of Dean as Dean in the books], even though she knows them and knows they are real. It showed in the way she talked about what she found out through the books. Imagine if you learned that a friend of yours had had his girlfriend horrifically killed in front of him because she was tangled up in his life, and that he had had to kill another woman he was attached to at her request, would you ever say to that person something about how they had "zero luck with the ladies"? Taken as simply someone talking to someone else she knows somewhat, that remark was horrifically tasteless. But speaking as someone who has read about this stuff in a pulpy book, even if she intellectually knows it really happened, the response makes sense. And I think Dean gets this about Charlie; he's seen her treating hunting partly as a game (real role-playing) with it not quite coming home to her how real it is, even though she's gotten hurt. And he's been in her nightmare and seen her trying to deflect her guilt and grief about her mother by turning that into a shooting game.

So Dean hears her say that Sam is strong enough, he'll come through, she knows it from the books. And Dean knows that being strong enough doesn't mean everything's going to be OK with the hero riding off into the sunset. Sam was strong enough to take Lucifer, but look what happened then. Dean said it in Trial and Error: these things end with one of them dead or worse. He doesn't have to doubt Sam's abilities to realize that Sam might fail or might die or worse even if he succeeds. So he rolls his eyes a little because Charlie is certain Sam-in-the-books will make it, but Dean knows that Sam-his-brother could still die.

How's that for overreading of a single expression? But it's not so much about that one moment for me; taking a little distance from Charlie reacting as a meta fan figure and realizing that it actually makes sense for her as a fictionally real being to react that way is the only way I find her character moving rather than gimmicky.

Of course, there is the irony that Sam really is a fictional character and that for all that the possibility of a deadly outcome has to be emotionally real to Dean to be moving to us, we are much closer to Charlie's position: show is coming back for another season, Jared has a contract, there's a limit to how bad things can be for Sam!

Edited at 2013-04-28 04:34 pm (UTC)
28th-Apr-2013 04:58 pm (UTC)
there's a limit to how bad things can be for Sam!

Ahahaahaha, OMG, BB, you say that as if the things that have happened to bring the boys back haven't already been worse than dying.
28th-Apr-2013 04:43 pm (UTC)
While I have not watched the episode three times – I won't have my shiny iTunes download till tomorrow, and then I will :) – I wonder if Dean's eyeroll is less about Sam's capabilities than because Charlie is being a little bit embarrassing.

She's walking a line here, between being their adorable new best friend with basic hunting abilities, and being the admittedly obsessive fangirl who has just mainlined all the Supernatural books and can thus recite their life stories back to them.

Sam looks a little uncomfortable there too, and their expressions aren't too different to the unhappy ones they pulled at the beginning of the episode when Charlie was thanking them for saving the world and commiserating with Sam over his romantic woes.

It's very sweet that she's so supportive, but every time she reminds them she knows their history, they've got to be thinking '... Those books had sex scenes in them. And vomiting. And me crying my eyes out'.

Awkward. :)
29th-Apr-2013 01:39 pm (UTC)
Oh yes - I think the fact that she's read the books makes for some awkwardness for sure. I think my reading on it is similar. Charlie has only said that from the reading she's done. I can understand them not wanting the "world" to know all about them (it's a lovely, more subtle breaking of the forth wall I feel).

Which has got me thinking. Can we assume that the books were written up to the end of S5? Chuck was still writing at the end of Swan Song, so I assume him saving the world was in there.
28th-Apr-2013 04:55 pm (UTC)
I don't know if I'm just not reading closely enough, but for me, the eyeroll was more about how the boys feel toward those books than How Dean feels about Sam/the trials/whether Dean thinks the comment is true or not.
29th-Apr-2013 01:41 pm (UTC)
Yes - I'm beginning to see this now. I think she might have just cross that rather fine line she's been treading with the knowledge she knows about them.

28th-Apr-2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
I wondered if Sam was thinking this was Dean acknowledging just how dangerous this is - acknowledging that Sam may well die and Dean was somehow accepting that. Sam might be thinking that Dean was getting a hug in before it's too late.

Agreed, mainly because that's exactly what I thought about that hug. And looking at Sam's eyes, he's thinking the same. He was clearly expecting Dean to storm in there and tear him a new one, but instead, he got a hug. This is his moment of realization.

Re the second gif, I don't see an eye-roll, just Dean glancing away. We know that he wanted to do the trials, we know that he'd rather give up his life to keep Sam safe. But now that responsibility's been taken away from him, and when Charlie brings it up, he's probably thinking "it should've been me."

It's not a matter of trust. I don't believe that Dean lacks confidence in Sam . . . it's more that Dean is concerned for Sam's health, that he doesn't want Sam to become any more damaged than he already is. He doesn't want Sam going on a hunt if his reflexes are so shot that he can't shoot straight, can't protect himself. IMO, Dean is worried sick that these trials will kill his brother, and that's where all the mother-henning is coming from. It is still Dean's job to "look after Sammy," and that's exactly what he's doing, as best as he can.

Re the third gif, gawd, Dean looks so young and innocent when he's glancing up like that . . . :)
29th-Apr-2013 01:48 pm (UTC)
*nods* I agree - especially with how Dean is feeling toward Sam at the moment.

In the ep the turning away Dean does looks more, er, dismissive and eye rolly than I've been able to capture here. I think (from reading some comments) that there's a mix of awkwardness about what's Charlie has read in the books and maybe not wanting to confront the issue quite yet...

and yeah - Dean looks so vulnerable when looks up like that. <33
28th-Apr-2013 05:27 pm (UTC)
I noticed Dean's eyeroll when it happened. Not sure what to think of it.

I don't think I totally noticed Sam's reaction to the hug. I wasn't like just all "HUG!!!!11!!". Not sure I want to think about Sam thinking about that. :(

I did think at the end of this ep (and I have always rewatched 3x now), that Dean really has matured quite a bit. And for the first time, I *like* that maturity.

Still not sure about that eyeroll though.

29th-Apr-2013 01:52 pm (UTC)
There's been some interesting suggestions in the other comments about Dean's eyeroll. I think I'm going with him feeling awkward about the books and what Charlie knows about them. I think the books are a bit of an issue for them...

And I have loved seeing Dean mature. I hope it's a real maturity and not just something we saw in this episode.


28th-Apr-2013 06:28 pm (UTC)
I agree with you on how Sam might think of that hug as an admission of worry.

I had read somewhere that Dean figured out that it was something Sam needed, but I think it is a very (selfishly) Dean-needs-a-hug hug. Dean's concerned and just needs to reaffirm 'Sam's here, he'll be ok'.

For the second gif, I was surprised by Dean's reaction! It looked like, "Yeah, right. Sam's strong enough. *sarcasm*", and I felt hurty about it. But gateslacker's statement of it being Dean's feeling of being sidelined rings so true of Dean and makes so much sense. I love it when other people can help fill in gaps in our own thoughts and persepective. Hugs gateslacker; and ash48 for always having thinky thoughts.

And Sam to the rescue! Do you know how often that happens in the later seasons?
28th-Apr-2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
I love it when other people can help fill in gaps in our own thoughts and persepective.

YES!!! That's what I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about coming here to discuss the show. I also love that ash48 ALWAYS has a great, thinkie post to get us all started and that coming here is a happy place even when folks don't necessarily agree.

((((((hugs)))))) backatcha!!!
28th-Apr-2013 06:30 pm (UTC)
I noticed Dean's expression there too, and it does seem like a bit of an eyeroll in the sense that Dean wants to dismiss what Charlie's saying. However, I think by this point she's earned his respect and so he *does* listen -- and that's part of why he makes the decision to stop being so fearful and just really get behind Sam. I think Dean's response there was a signal to the audience that he's really hearing what Charlie is saying, and it sinks in.

Ohgod, I didn't notice that handholding....that expression on Dean's face as he looks up....oh my. *is hypnotized*
29th-Apr-2013 02:11 pm (UTC)
I think Dean's response there was a signal to the audience that he's really hearing what Charlie is saying, and it sinks in.

Oh nice. Yes - more contemplative maybe. He did end up changing his attitude toward Sam so this might have been the beginning of him thinking about it.

Dean looks a little vulnerable when he looks up like that. I love that Jensen comes out of the "game" knowing what Charlie has been through. He come back emotionally spent and it shows.
28th-Apr-2013 06:55 pm (UTC)
I didn't see it as much of an eye roll as a "can we all stop talking about how 'fine' Sam is?" Sam is not fine and nobody knows that more than Dean. I almost think that we, as the fan girls, are supposed to be having the same reaction as Charlie.

Sam is fine, fine, fine. Will be fine. He saved the world, didn't he....?

And also, I am just so glad to have that little detail remembered!
29th-Apr-2013 02:16 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...yes. I like that take. She represents the confidence we all have that Sam can do this. Dean knows he's not fine. Though I think there's a step he takes here of knowing Sam isn't fine and being ready to move forward from there. I'm thinking know it might have been the beginning of his turning point.

I almost think that we, as the fan girls, are supposed to be having the same reaction as Charlie.

I love the way Charlie works in being a representation of the SPN audience AND being a solid, interesting character in her own right.

29th-Apr-2013 12:46 pm (UTC)
I noticed the eye roll too.  Thing is though, Dean makes faces at Sam a couple of other times that are similar.  I think part is the books....yeah, yeah, he's awesome, my little brother, blah, blah, blah, don't let it go to his head.  It's a bit about no chick flick moments in front of Sam..got to maintain that cool.  Part of it is that Dean thought he should have been doing the trials.  But I think a big piece of it is nobody, including Sam, is acknowledging how bad off Sam is and that just because he's a hero, doesn't mean this isn't destroying him and why does it have to be Sam (or Dean) again?  Sam is still saying he's fine and Dean's not buying it and doesn't want anyone else to buy it either.  

Dean's making faces when he comes back with food and realizes Sam is still asleep.

He does the same eye-rolly thing when he walks in on Sam coughing up a lung later.  Yeah right, Sam's fine, uh huh.  Not buying it and getting impatient with it.

A big piece of it is covering up his own fear too, I think.  The djinn said he reeked of it and Sam shows up in the fear-driven dreamscape.  There's this look when Dean sees him in the bed that starts scared and ends up pissed off.  When Dean is scared, he gets sarcastic and puts distance between himself and the fear with a cocky, snarky attitude.

As for Sam's reaction to the hug, to me Dean seems like an elder to both Charlie and Sam.  Some of that parenting that Dean does is coming through with both of them.  Somebody needs to look after them because they aren't doing it themselves.  Sam looked totally thrown after Dean hugged him and like he wasn't sure what tornado hit him.  He expected to get bawled out again and instead he got a hug and a move to get back in the game.  No wonder he looks freaked out.  Dean and his Deanishness are things Sam is really counting on right now.  Sam can take chances with his health  because Dean's been there looking after him even if Sam resisted it and that's predictable behavior.  Sam knows he's not fine and he's really counting on Dean to know that also.  Dean is Sam's series of checks and balances.  What does he do if Dean breaks that pattern?  Sam needs somebody to have faith in him to help him have the courage to finish the trials.  It's a fine line between letting go or accepting something and giving it up for lost.  

Sorry for the long comment...I'm trying to figure out what to make of all that and it just came tumbling out.  I hope it makes sense.

Edited at 2013-04-29 12:48 pm (UTC)
29th-Apr-2013 02:32 pm (UTC)
Oh hun, never apologise for a long comment! yay! I love the thinly..

and yes yes to all of those things Dean might be thinking and doing when he turns away. I actually love that we can read so much into it.

And I think you are right about Sam's reaction. I think as long as Dean is either "pretending" to buy that Sam is "fine", then Sam can carry on the act ok. We know that Sam hates to cause Dean extra worry. It's in the very fabric of his nature. Sam knows that Dean has been concerned all through this hunt and has behaved predictably in not wanting Sam to be involved. The hug was unpredictable behavior on Dean's part (and the reason it came as such a lovely surprise to us all) so instead of it providing any sort of comfort it must have totally freaked him out. Though I think Sam is also aware that Dean needs this too. I think it was important that Sm returned the hug, rather than ask Dean what he was doing.

I think they have both accepted that the situation has dire and in doing so can now more forward once again.

Thanks for the caps. Dean seeing Sam on the bed was getting to the heart of his fear and it was great to see how he then went on an addressed it. Hmmm, maybe he did let a little something go by the end. Even though he told Charlie "never".
30th-Apr-2013 12:57 pm (UTC)
Very interesting to read all these different takes. Thanks for throwing the question out there!
1st-May-2013 02:09 pm (UTC)
Isn't it interesting?! I love that there isn't one interpretation of it.
Thanks for pointing it out. :)
30th-Apr-2013 04:24 pm (UTC)

Wow, many ppl comment on Dean's reaction on benching Sam or on Charlie's pep talk.

I just wanna add a few. I think, considering that Dean always think of himself as Sam's pseudo parent, he will always worry. When you have a child, no matter how old that child grows, how far they go, how strong they are, you'll always worry for them.

Dean can't just shut off his parental instinct when it comes to Sam. He will always trying to look after him. Can you ask your mum not to worry for you? I bet she can't do that. It's already inherent inside of her to worry for her child.
Parents, good parents, will worry for their child until they die.
1st-May-2013 02:14 pm (UTC)
I absolutely agree! I'm a mum so I know (even when my daughter is driving me crazy...)...;D

Dean will ALWAYS worry and care about Sam - he's said so himself many times. And I believe that of Sam also. We don't get a chance to see as much, but it's there.

I think Dean's way of showing concern can be showing bravado also.
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