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Thoughts on the Supernatural evolution...

My brother
This post contains spoilers for Season 4.

Okay, the daylight savings time change messed with my baby's internal clock and she's been getting up WAAAYYY early. So, this morning, I sat down to jot down some musings, and realized the only place to share it might be here.

A little disclaimer so that I don't ruffle any feathers: this is my own personal conjecture, based on imaginings and speculations. *grin* And as per usual, it rambles.

Read at your own risk.

I'm no longer a spoiler-phobe, but I don't watch/read anything ahead of what the next episode is -- just because I enjoy the element of surprise. But that doesn't stop me from speculating the hell out of things.

That said, I've been thinking a lot about Uriel's comment about Dean's memories of Hell, and you all know I'm about to chew off my bloody tongue in wonder about that. As are all of you, I'm sure. But, as the song says, my thoughts were soon wandering, the way they always do, and I started to think about this show as a whole.

Once upon a time I was part of a writing team called the Supernatural Virtual Seasons. While in reality the relationships didn't work out -- which can happen when you gather groups of people with strong opinions on a subject -- in concept, the team was a fascinating idea. That's what drew me to say "yes" to joining in the first place. Take a group of creatives, writers by trade, offer them a singular purpose, with milestones and benchmarks along the way, then turn them loose to hone their craft.

Kripke's five-year plan is beginning to crystallize this season. He has taken these characters through a three-year journey so subtle that they got under our skin before we were truly aware what was happening, and now, roughly 3 million people literally can't imagine their lives without the Winchesters.

Going back to the first season, we were watching a show about monster hunts. We had two brothers, one angsty, in pain, and guilt-ridden, one sarcastic, witty, and walled. We had a bit of their past, their purpose, and their place in the world, but mostly, we watched them bounce from hunt to hunt, searching for Dad, sure, but basically, killing bad guys. Every once in awhile we got a sneak peek into a bigger picture, but the shades were pulled again so quickly that we had to jerk our heads back or risk getting our noses caught.

Until the triumvirate of Dead Man's Blood, Salvation, and Devil's Trap. Then, suddenly, we were allowed to see a bigger picture, an arc, a plan. As the plan unfolded, the characters got deeper, more layered, and we were allowed to begin peeling them back.

Sam, who had always been the sensitive one, the feeler, the soft voice in a moment of grief, the reason in chaos, was shifted through desperation and loss into a position of strength. For a time there, he was the one thing his brother couldn't fight, the only thing between Dean and darkness.

And then, he shifted again. He began to sink into the quagmire of the unknown. His powers increased, his world turned sideways, and he lost everything, everything that mattered to him. No other person in the Winchester family has had that happen.

He was abandoned and alone and he began to harden in a way that we, the audience, perceive as "unlike himself." But I'm starting to think that's not really the case. I think that's very much like himself. I think he has always been strong, stubborn, driven. I think that's what Kripke's been trying to show us with different tiny things—Sam leaving Dean in Scarecrow, Sam pushing Dean to share in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Sam turning into a scary version of John in Mystery Spot. We have seen signs as to Sam's evolution along the way and now we're starting to see yet another rotation of that change.

Dean, on the other hand, was very much out there with what he wanted people to see. When you looked at the brothers side-by-side at the beginning, you saw Sam pulled in close to himself with Dean spread out and bold, deflecting and attracting any attention at the same time. Until The Plan started to kick in.

Dean's world turn on its side much sooner than Sam's, and since the end of the first season, we've been watching him work to recover. His bold brashness was still there for the most part, but it was starting to tarnish and turn into show. The real Dean was the quiet guy standing by the funeral pyre with one lone tear slipping down his cheek, his entire being wound so tight you could pluck him for sound.

Sacrificing himself for his brother was both his only perceived choice -- and the only path this character could see as right -- and also his only perceived escape. Even when reality hit, and he feared death and Hell, he didn't regret his decision.

How could he? He would be spared ever truly experiencing the loss of Sam and therefore his loss of sanity. Any parent would want to go before their children. That's probably the only reason John could smile at the boys when the end came for him.

So, now what? The evolution hasn't completed. We don't have the full picture. We won't until Spring of 2009, I’m thinking. But we have the sensitive (in many various ways) brother filled with a strange power and struggling to keep control. We have angels threatening him, and him standing up for himself. We have him defeating demons alone.

And we're worried that he's going down a dark path that we won't get him back from. We're worried that The Plan is to turn our Sam into a merchant of death, delivering it without mercy, without remorse, and without care of consequences. Even to his own brother.

But, Uriel's words tripped me up. The angels see value in this hero. Rather than smiting, they warn saying if he got to be more trouble than he was worth… meaning, he was worth something. And then… then Uriel insinuates that there is a dark memory Dean possesses from his time in Hell, a secret, if you will, that levels out the playing field a bit.

In Yellow Fever, Dean was infected when Sam was not. I had been thinking that was due to the previous groundwork laid that Sam was immune to many demonic viruses' and powers. But… now I'm thinking about who the ghost sickness infected. People who used fear as a weapon. People like the sheriff and the former bully. People like Dean.

Not, perhaps, because he is a hunter. Sam is a hunter. He uses fear. Perhaps it's more because of something that happened to Dean -- or because of Dean -- in Hell. Something caught the attention of the angels. I can't believe with all the pain and suffering here on earth they're also keeping track of those lost souls burning for eternity as well. That is supposed to be punishment for not taking advantage of the chances we're given here on earth, right? I mean, there's no possibility of redemption in Hell.

But Dean… he was rescued. Perhaps not fully redeemed. Perhaps there is a high price for his salvation that we haven't seen yet. With Kripke's plan churning forward, I'm thinking that's a definite maybe.

And Dean's character has evolved just a thoroughly as Sam's. He has held onto his personality, just as Sam has, but the substance behind the roguish grin is deep with experience, pain, regret, satisfaction, confusion, and now, for the first time in a long time, hope. Dean actually believes in something. Something that has the power to do good. This is a first. Of course, as per usual, he had to first be shown proof, but hey, we can't all have the same level of faith.

My mind is aflutter with possible scenarios of what Dean could have done in Hell that not only caught the attention of the angels, but possibly put him on a path to using fear as a weapon to… what? Torture demons? Torture other lost souls? Keep different levels of Hell in submission? I mean… something big enough to make him a target for the ghost sickness, right? Isn't that fascinating?

We watched our hero quake in fear because while he was in Hell -- the worst possible place you can ever imagine, terror riding the coattails of hysteria -- he may have used fear as a weapon.

Dean is, in my mind, as sensitive as his brother, he just has a selective, back-to-the-wall, no-other-way-around-it way of showing it. We've all seen him kick ass and take names. We've all see him harden his eyes and tighten his jaw and plow through a mess because the mess needed to be dealt with. We've seen him be harsh and demanding. But always with purpose: protection or saving. It's hard to imagine a situation so dire, or time spent in that horrible place so long, that he would become the Dean of his nightmares from Dream A Little Dream Of Me.

Thank goodness he was saved from it. It breaks my heart to see him remembering Hell. Even as I want to see it more.

A group of writers -- the people changing up on occasion -- came together and listened. Listened to one little man's plan for two brothers' journey through monsters and demons, family strife and sacrifice, unity and separation, literally to Hell and back. Then they took that and wove random stories around that central core, always subtly bringing us back to the journey. Always showing us just a little bit more. Until we're so flippin' hooked we can't sleep for pondering about the next phase of the plan.

All I know is, through the talent of the writers, the talent of the actors, and the vision of the show's creator, we have two characters that have been able to hold on to what makes them recognizable as Sam (soft smiles and dimples, earnestness and confidence in good, research and logic, fact to prove fiction, soldier, believer, warrior) and Dean (classic cars and classic rock, sexy smile to hide the truth, soulful eyes that expose cracks in the wall, shoot-first ask questions later, guardian, soldier, caretaker), and yet change enough that we honestly have no idea what's going to happen with them next, or what they're going to do about it.

That, to my way of thinking, is some fantastic storytelling.

 

Comments

(Anonymous)
Sep. 12th, 2009 04:27 am (UTC)
What was your take on where Dean's head is emotionally?
Hey gaelic-it's Meggin

Dean. Where is his head at now? I'm having such a hard time dealing with his comments about not trusting Sam and that they'll never go back to what they were.

I mean we all grow up-sometime (LOL)-And our relationships with our sibs do tweak here and there a little, but the basics stay the same. And I guess I just don't want to see a major overhaul of their dyanamic. I want Dean to have that sense of being tight again with his brother and no more sad songs about being alone again-ya know?

What was your take on Thursdays season opener?

I loved seeing Chuck again. I'm gald Castiel is back and sticking with the Winchesters. Bobby nearly sacrificing himself to save Dean was awsome. Jensen's expresions were superurb as he grimaced under the knife. But where was Sam's deep remorse?

One yummy thought-shirtless Dean weilding the Michael Sword-(sighs)

Need your wisdom and your soothing words.

gaelicspirit
Sep. 12th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
Re: What was your take on where Dean's head is emotionally?
Hi there!

I hope you're doing well -- it's been awhile. :) Thanks for reaching out.

At first when I saw your comment, I thought it was to my Stream of Consciousness post, so I was confused when you said,

What was your take on Thursdays season opener?

Here's the link to the review about the entire episode if you want to read that:

http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/59197.html

Since it's you, though, I'm going to ramble a bit specifically about your subject line. This is just my opinion/POV, though, so take it with a grain of rock salt. :)

Last Season, Dean not only had to deal with returning to life/earth after suffering a horrible, pain-filled death, thirty years of unimaginable torture, and ten years of soul-searing, shameful behavior, he had to accept the fact that he started the world on the path to armegeddon when he broke under Hells torment.

That's big.

Add to that the fact that he was being forced to absorb the fact that Sam was systematically pulling away from him, trusting a demon--not just another hunter, not another guy, not another friend, but a demon--over him. Not just trusting her, but having sex with her. Not just having sex with her but drinking her blood...

That's bigger.

So, when last season ended, Dean, who had defined his life by how well he protected his brother, how well he did his one job, had been forced to lock his brother away to fight his own demons and had to listen to that self-torture (which was torture for him as well), had physically fought his brother--twice--to an almost-death ending, had used the same phrase on Sam that John had used on him when he left for Stanford, had found himself standing alone over and over again with his hand extended and empty as Sam repeatedly went his own way--a way that Dean knew in his gut to be wrong, and was told that Sam was going to bring about Lucifer and that they'd been collectively deceived all along by the beings they were supposed to be able to trust.

(whew, that was a run-on sentence if I ever wrote one)

With that headspace, we start this season.

We start with Dean getting a contrite brother back next to him, nursing a broken heart, no idea who to trust--if anyone--and finding out that not only do they have to clean up their mess (did you notice he said that to Sam? That it was their mess, and not Sam's mess?) but that he's supposed to be some unique vessel for heaven's ultimate warrior.

Holy shit.

...okay, I had to break this into two posts because it was too long...
gaelicspirit
Sep. 12th, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
Re: What was your take on where Dean's head is emotionally?
PART 2

You said: ...our relationships with our sibs do tweak here and there a little, but the basics. stay the same. And I guess I just don't want to see a major overhaul of their dyanamic. I want Dean to have that sense of being tight again with his brother and no more sad songs about being alone again-ya know?

I totally get what you mean. The thing that drew so many of us to this show was the amazing dynamic between these two brothers. How they were more than just siblings, they were partners, friends. I think many of us envied that connection. I know I did.

But in reality, I think for some people, relationships with sibs get more than just tweaked here and there. I think for some people circumstances are such that change is unavoidable and an overhaul is necessary. I'm the oldest of five and I think with the exception of my brother who lives in a bit of a fantasy world disconnected from the heaviness of reality, I've gone through--and am going through now--that journey with each of them.

Taking into account everything I said up above about where Dean was and where I see him at the onset of this, being tight with his brother probably seems like a complete impossibility in this moment. In Dean's eyes, Sam not only betrayed him, he broke his heart. He turned his back on him. He turned his back on everything they had fought for all their lives, everything that made Dean who he was.

That isn't something that he can just get over in the span of time we were witness to with the opener. It's something that has to be accepted, taken apart, examined, then put away.

Because, remember, for Dean? Sam is his one job. This new assignment, this new destiny of being Michael's sword, that's a gig he has to work. His JOB is and always has been Sam. He's not going to turn his back. He's not going to walk away. He's not going to give up on Sam. On them. He's just tired. And he's in pain. And he needs to be able to see his way clear to a new path with this brother.

Maybe not the one that they'd walked in their youth, or even the one they were walking before everything (literally) went to Hell. A new path, but still (and always) the same one as Sam.

Sometimes trust is lost and relationships change, but the change isn't always for the worse. More often than not, it makes the relationship stronger for the change. Because no two people can be the same thing to each other all their lives. Life just doesn't allow for that. You bend, you move, you adjust, you hang on.

And Dean's hanging on to Sam. Not trusting him is not the same as not loving him. It's just human.

And remember, in this journey back to each other, I haven't even touched on Sam's POV in this. He has a lot of healing to do himself. Dean isn't the only one that is going to have to figure out how to trust Sam again -- Sam has to learn how to trust himself. He went to a place last season that I can pretty much guarantee he never thought he'd go. He needs Dean as much as Dean needs him.

I just think it's going to take them both a little bit to realize that. I think that's only natural. And I think that some of the stuff they are going to have to do to remember how much the need each other will probably have to be done WITHOUT each other. It's the only way to really gain perspective.

I am once again tremendously excited to see where this season is going plot-wise, and personally invested in how the brother's journey back to each other will be handled. In the end, I think we're all going to be okay.

Whew, okay, that was incredibly long-winded. If you're still awake, I hope that helped you. And if you read the other ramble, I'd love to know what you think.

You are a sweet soul, Meggin. And I'm blessed to know you.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 14th, 2009 11:26 pm (UTC)
Re: What was your take on where Dean's head is emotionally?
Hi it's Meggin,

(LOL) I finally figured out how to access the comments section here, so, finally had a chance to read yours to me. Therefore _TOALLY DISREGARD MT EARLIER POST OF NOT RECIEVING-sheesh!
I hope the writers do show us some of Sam's POV so we can be comforted in a weird way that he IS as messed up over his "role" in setting Lucifer free as we assume he should be. Because Dean was sooo broken when he found out that it was he that broke the first seal. And Sam being the EMO one you'd think he'd be a basket case over this.

I'm not sure how I feel over the Michael's sword destiny for Dean. You know me, it takes a lot of angst fill processesing to reach acceptance of anything that could pose a danger to Dean. I don't care how high an honor it is, being a vessel for Michael would mean Dean would have to be in the back seat while this uber entity took over his wheel, and if you think Dean is protective of his 'baby' and who gets to drive her...I'm borderline crazybitch over who gets to foola round withDean's 'meat suit'... I mean really, would an angel care if he put a 'ding' in the vessel as long as it served him? Look how hard Cas rode Jimmy!!! The man was starving! Can you picture Dean having to go for days, weeks, maybe months with out adequite food (burgers) and water (coffee/beer)? Oh, and lets not forget Pie denial!!!! oh the humanity!!! (LOL) Plus I'd miss Jensens sweet panoply of expresions as he went through the show straight faced and monotoned. BLEH!
You know what I think would be an excellent tool to get both brothers on the same page about how much they need eachother? A regression episode. That kid that plays Sam so well, I'm sorry I can't think of his name right now, if he played Sam regressed by some curse or spell, while still keeping the adult Sam's mind/dialogue (how cute would that be?) And Dean had to protect a younger version of his brother once again, and Sam had to accept help from his older brother because of his more diminutive size, once again, it would remeind them that the uncomplicated devtion they once had together worked and worked damn well in seeing them through any awfuness the suprnatural world could through at them.
Plus can't you just picture it? The kidSam digging his hands into his jacket pockets and scowling at his big brother and saying "jerk" and Dean smirking back at him and saying 'bitch' then reaching over and towseling the kids hair. KidSam pulling back out of towsel reach and threatening Dean with j"ust wait til I'm..." and Dean softly finishing "all grown up?" And KidSam's bitchface melting into a sad pout as he remembers just what he was like 'all grown up" with out Dean. And he runs over and hugs Dean around the waist buring his face into Deans shirt. And when a surprise then heart melted Dean returns the hug...Well, I'm just saying that that hug would cause a squeee heard round the fandom that's all.
gaelicspirit
Sep. 15th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
Re: What was your take on where Dean's head is emotionally?
Yay! You found it! I got back from putting the baby to bed to find three messages from you. Hee. And I'd been so worried.

Hey, I write those reviews I put the link to each week. Since you don't frequent LJ, I could send you the link to the review along with a list of others who've requested it. No worries either way...

Your idea of regression is a sweet one. I keep thinking about "In the Beginning" and how Dean had to see what the past was like... I wonder if Sam will have something like that. Or if somehow they'll see what the future would be like if they don't come together somehow. I'm dying to peek ahead, but am staying resolutely spoiler-free.

As for Dean becomming Michael's vessel...

I have a couple of reactions to that. First, it's obvious that the 'vessel' for an angel has to be a 'special' human. We don't know what makes them special, just that they are. But, that specialness must run in familial bloodlines or else Jimmy's daughter, Claire, couldn't have handled Castiel in The Rapture.

So I'm wondering -- is there only one vessel (or vessel blood-line) for every angel, or is it just that the angel has to find a human capable of, um, taking it in? To put it delicately. If there's only one vessel for every angel, then Dean could be in big trouble because Michael isn't going to sit idlely by and wait for Zach's arrogance to wear Dean down to the point of acceptance. Lucifer is free and that has to chafe Michael somethin' fierce (as they say around here).

But, if it just has to be a special human, what if Michael chooses another vessel? What does that mean for Dean?

BECAUSE... Dean is supposed to be Michael's sword, right? The weapon with which Michael originally defeated Lucifer so that he could banish him to Hell. A weapon. Not necessarily a meat-suit. What if... what if it's not essential that Michael inhabit Dean, but that Michael use Dean? And what will that mean for the human being that is Dean??

Personally, I don't want Dean to be possessed by an angel. I don't want him to give in. Consider it, sure, because he's Dean and his ground is to do the right thing. And if things get bad enough, if enough people in his life are hurt (or lost), then I can see him considering making the sacrifce of his will for the greater good.

But I don't want him to give in. Because his being human, and his falling down and getting back up, and his tenacious struggle to move ever forward despite the pain and fear and forces pushing him back give me hope. I know it's a TV Show and he's a made up character, but he still gives me hope. What good is a fictional story about good vs evil if there's no hope?

I'm glad you found your way back here, my friend. :) Hopefully see you next week!
(Anonymous)
Sep. 17th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
Re: What was your take on where Dean's head is emotionally?
Hey gaelicspirit-Its meggin

You mentioned-I could send you the link to the review -yes! Please do! I love your deep insite and in a funny way it helps me understand my my own feelings that get evoked in the Episodes.
RE: Dean becoming Michaels Vessel you said -But, that specialness must run in familial bloodlines. That's immediately what I thought when it happened that Cas inhabited the childs body (did a minor give legal consent?-just wondering ) So if not Dean than could Sam be a canidate? I'm just hoping they don't fall back to a bother vs brother thing with Dean as Michaels vessel being pitted agains Sam as Lucifer's vessel. Never, I mean never count Kripke out for blindsiding the fans for the sake og "good" TV. I'm hoping he is true to his word about the ultimate message being about the importance of family and that the boys will come together again to fight evil.
There are a lot of comments going on about how we can't hope for Dean and Sam's relationship to ever go back to the way it was. That all of us evolve and even Kripke stated that in this season the boys grow up. I'm not sure what that means. Growing up is painful, the loss of innocence, seeing the world for the brutal unforgiving nature of its reality. It causes one to loose hope. And like you I find Dean's character gives me hope. I guess I don't want that to change, this is fantasy TV after all! When I shut the door to the outside world and turn on Supernatural I don't want to have reality to intrude or stay too long. Supernatural is my down time from it. So making Sam and Dean change, become further estranged or have to come together again from a differnt angle just to work together seems like too much of reality for me. I'm diggin my heels in now. The arms are crossed in body language that says "If I'm not 100 percent convinced I'll like the new version, I just might not buy the season 5 DVD and will call the show over for me at season 4. " Well, that's not much of a threat but I just don't want to be disapointed. Life on the outside is just too good at dealing out disappointment free, gratis, for me to voluntarily spend time having it fed to me in my one "happy" show-ya know?
I would love to see the writers make Sam evolve into a decent guy again. Sam used to be the becon of hope for Dean and now talk about a taste of disapointment in Dean's mouth. It must make Dean feel that all those years he tried to teach Sammy right from wrong was just wasted time, or knowing Dean, that he just hadn't done his job good enough for Sam to turn out this way when push came to shove.
Still and all I'm cautiously optomistic that Kripke's promise of it being a light hearted take on the end of the world etc will be true. O f course this is the same man that thought killing Dean over a hundred times in Mystery spot was hilarious. sheesh! I'll be residing behind the couch for the moment, send all messages there.
gaelicspirit
Sep. 17th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
Re: What was your take on where Dean's head is emotionally?
Okay, I've added you to my list. :)

Life on the outside is just too good at dealing out disappointment free, gratis, for me to voluntarily spend time having it fed to me in my one "happy" show-ya know?

*nods* I know. I really, really know.

And don't worry -- you're not alone behind your couch. This is pretty much the only place on the 'net that I feel confident enough to speak my mind. I am not so, um, exhuberant with thought and emotion anywhere else. Out in the rest of the online world, I keep the couch close.

And there's plenty of room for two.

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