*Takes deep breath*
This show is going to kill me dead before the end. I swear to God.
Earlier this week, I found out that one of my younger sisters is going to have another baby.
It will be her fourth. This isn’t earth-shattering news by any means, but she is barely thirty, has three kids now, works two jobs, and they’re somewhat strapped for cash. During my conversation with her, while I was offering my big-sister-like support, she told me her oldest, who is twelve, isn’t really happy with this news.
She asked me what it was like being the oldest of five, and if I ever was unhappy that Mom and Dad kept having kids. It was an interesting question. And I thought about it a lot while watching this episode. I told her that the only time I cared was when I lost my childhood. And no one really seemed to mind.
I’m rather emotionally drained now (do you think the guys have any idea how they affect us??) so I’ll do my best to bring you cohesion along with reaction.
This epi had some extremely tense, scary moments. In fact, I managed to totally crush a pillow at one point. I think, though, that the overall purpose was not to sully John’s good name or to break our hearts by showing Dean’s reaction to what could only be seen by him as a betrayal, but to show us how much the boys have changed since the start of this whole thing. How far they’ve come in their separate journeys.
And leave us in wonder at what that might mean to the Big Picture.
Throughout the entire show, I could see both sides. But I gravitated toward Dean. Mainly because his pain showed so plainly. And because he’s the oldest. I think most of us oldest children, or those that held the typical oldest child role, will more often than not relate to Dean in a family-type situation. Even if personality-wise (like me) they are more like Sam.
The start caught my attention because Michelle Pfieffer’s sister, Deidee was running for her life from… something… down the hall. She hid out in her room, thinking she was safe, and they kept showing her feet from under the bed. I have had an under-the-bed fear since I saw the first Poltergeist, so when the thing grabbed her and pulled her down, I almost bit through my lip. Scare. Ee.
But then… we see a pic of Big Daddy Winchester on the nightstand. Duh duh duhhhh.
The first glimpse of the boys is funny. Something I could totally picture happening rather often with life on the road. Sam up and brushing his teeth (of course), Dean curled up against the door. He wakes roughly, practically falling out of the car to Sam’s cheery “Morning!”
Dean is, predictably, starving but Sam points out that they’re two hours from anything.
“But I’m hungry now.”
What is he, five? That was probably the most adorable thing he said. I wanted to ruffle his hair.
Sam helpfully suggests that there could be a sandwich in the back seat and Dean greedily grabs it, then rears back, gagging, after he sniffed it. It was tuna. UCK.
A phone rings and poor Dean ducks into the car to drag it out of the glove box, banging his head on the frame as he exits. *ruffles hair some more*
But, this is when any humor ends because the person on the other end of the phone is looking for John and upon hearing that John died two years ago (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long!), reveals that he’s John’s son.
So, okay, we knew this was coming. But seeing Dean hear those words still hit me funny. He gets to this toward the end, but I’m going to jump this shark now. Dean gave up everything for his family, for his father. Any chance at a ‘normal’ life, girlfriend, school, future. It simply wasn’t the way it was going to be for him. And I’m sure he quietly rebelled against it. Alone in his room. In the car. Where no one could hear. I’m sure he cursed and swore and punched things and maybe even cried.
But where everyone saw, where anyone noticed, he was all about the life, the job. He worshiped his father. He mimicked everything about him. He did it because he admired him, sure, but he also did it so John would SEE him. And we know he did, eventually. We know when John was two steps away from death he finally told Dean that he’d seen all that his son had done for the family, that he was proud of him, but GOD. That was about 28 years too late, you know?
And to find this out – this huge news. This life-changing information. To find this out this way. I felt hollowed out for much of the show just watching Dean’s eyes. Listening to the tightness in his voice. The betrayal he had to have felt – the betrayal he showed he felt in the way he pulled in on himself, even to the point of curling his shoulders in as he sat. He showed it by how he kept himself separate from Sam and Adam when the three of them were together.
Okay, so back to the show.
Sam points out to Dean that Adam checks out. He’s a normal kid. Eagle Scout, college, the whole nine. Dean, though, is convinced it’s a trap. Doesn’t matter if Adam is a real person on planet Earth. He’s possessed. Or he’s a shape shifter. SOMETHING that would make it not true.
Sam points out that in 1990, about 9 months before the kid was born, John put in his journal that he was going to Minnesota for a hunt. He points out to Dean that John wasn’t a monk. That he was gone for weeks at a time. Hunt comes into town, rescues girl, girl’s grateful…
Dean gets all sqicked out saying, “Now I’m thinking about Dad sex. Stop it.”
“Maybe he slipped one past the goalie,” Sam helpfully adds.
Okay, that got me laughing. But, seriously, they are both guilty of the same thing. They’ve just been lucky so far that they don’t have any spawn running around. As far as they know. The thing is, I don’t blame John for having lovers. I don’t even blame him for having a kid – especially when he didn’t know about the boy until much later.
I blame him for making the very human mistake of being selfish and then dying before he could make it right. I blame him for wanting to protect Adam—to do right by him because he could—and forsaking his other sons in the meantime. I blame him for leaving Dean in charge of his brother while he went off and did whatever and never noticing what it was doing to Dean. Never seeing—or at least acknowledging that Dean’s childhood evaporated and his personality was shoved down deep to only be exposed in rare moments so that he could keep up the pretense of being just like John. Never even seeing what it was like for Sam to bounce between militant-hardly-there father and always-there-too-young-for-this brother.
Did I mention emotionally raw? I did? Okay, good.
Dean puts holy water in Adam’s glass and real silver cutlery at his place setting. Adam passes the tests (and, thankfully, Dean puts his gun away). They tell Adam that John died on the job. Adam thinks he was a mechanic (of course). “A car fell on him” is Dean’s explanation.
Adam says that John came into the ER torn up from a hunting accident. Adam’s mom, Kate, is a nurse, and well, the rest is history. He said he met John when he was 12, which would have been 2002, which would have been right before Sam left for Stanford if we go by the 2 year rule from the Pilot. So, when John was spending the most time with Adam, Dean would have been REALLY alone.
And John would have not just been keeping something from him, he would have been lying to him. About where he was going. And why. All of that had to be going through Dean’s head. The biggest question of all being “Why didn’t you tell me.”
Sam, though, looks… happy. Not like bouncing, puppy-Sam happy, but… relieved in a way. I got to watch this via IM with Sojourner and she pointed out that Sam wanted his brother back and this was a brother… maybe that was enough for Sam. Someone to teach the ways of the Force, so to speak.
When Adam says that John “Dropped everything, drove all night…” when he heard he had a son, Dean’s eyes killed me, but Sam’s were soft. Understanding.
One of the things that caught me was when Adam brought up the Impala. I guess I’d always thought John would have given Dean the car well before Sam left for Stanford. I don’t know where I got that—fanfic, probably. But it surprised me that John would have had that car when he was visiting Adam. That he would have used it to teach Adam to drive. That’s DEAN’S car…
Dean explodes that THEY are John Winchester’s sons and gets up to leave. Sam doesn’t budge. Adam says he can prove it and we’re back at Adam’s house, Dean holding a picture and choking over the fact that John took Adam to a baseball game. It was for Adam’s 14th birthday, so that would have been in 2004 when Sam was gone and Dean was doing everything he could to keep their little family together.
John left that September and took Adam to a baseball game.
When Dean closed his eyes and that muscle in his jaw clenched, I felt the bottom drop out from my stomach. You could see him trying to wrestle his emotions and bring them under control. Trying to do the Right Thing while at the same time wanting to throw the picture against the wall.
It’s when I saw the picture of John with his arms around Kate – so much like the picture of John and Mary – that I started to suspect something. I didn’t know what, but… really? John held Kate like that? I don’t know. It seemed like adding salt to a wound. It was one thing to have a one night stand with a pretty nurse who saved your life and accidentally father a son, then want to have a relationship with that son.
It was something else entirely to hold the woman years later as if she helped make you whole. I didn’t really know where to put that in that moment, but ironically, Dean was the one to help me out. When he called Kate "Dad's girl." He sounded like he accepted John's relationship with this woman.
Since Kate’s been missing for three days, the boys take on the hunt. I mean, what else are they going to do, right? He starts to investigate and Adam asks if he thinks the cops missed something.
“Maybe – they don’t have my eyes.”
No one does, baby.
Sam signals Dean and tells him about the grave robbing in ’90 and sees a pic of John in the newspaper clipping. Can you imagine what a kick in the gut that would be? To see your Dad in a picture from a place you didn’t even know he’d been? That might wig me out slightly.
So we get some facts on the MotW – grave robbing back in ’90 when John was there, 17 bodies missing, same thing again, only 3 bodies found this time and Kate and a bartender named Joe Barton are missing. Curiouser and Curiouser.
Dean sees claw marks on the floor under Kate’s bed and does this adorable head tilt thing that made me bite my lip. That man does funny things to me.
They move the mattress and find a grate to a heating duct (which… why she put her bed over it, I dunno) and after a quick game of rock/paper/scissors, Dean goes down. ‘Cause it’s always with the scissors for him. I remember seeing that there would be a subtle nod to Kim Manners in this epi, and I wondered if this might have been it. The rock/paper/scissors thing was introduced in Heart, which Manners directed… *shrug* Who knows.
Dean climbs through the heating ducts ala John McClain, grumbling adorably about going with paper, and comes upon a bloody ucky mess that one assumes is Kate.
Back at the motel room, Dean is cleaning his gun (and what IS IT about watching that man clean his weapons?? Oh, get your mind out of the gutter…) Adam bursts in and demands what’s going on. Dean covers up the gun and sits kinda hunched over not wanting to say, but Sam tells him. Dean barks a “SAMMY” reprise (toe curl) and Sam says he has a right to know.
Right about here, Sojourner blows me away by IMing that the baddies were ghouls. I’m all, wha?? But she slaps down the Wikipedia definition of ghouls and it totally fits. *nods in appreciation* Mad props to the girl’s researching skills.
We get an outside shot of the Impala to indicate time has passed (and to let us look at the Impala, ‘cause, c’mon), and when we come back to the boys, Sam and Adam are sitting across from each other and Dean is behind them, in the shadow, at the table, watching. Sam tells him the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and Adam is like “okay.”
Dean jumps all over that. No one just says “okay.” But Adam says that this thing killed his mom and he wants to help.
Dean doesn’t want Adam to help, but Sam points out that he lost his mother and maybe they can understand what that feels like. Dean jumps up with a “why do you think Dad never told us about this kid, Sam” saying that John was protecting him.
“He didn’t want Adam to have our lives…”
He is pissed, man. Just all revved up and no one to take it out on because the person he WANTS to yell at up and died on him two years ago, and he can’t yell at Sammy for just wanting to bond with his new brother and he can’t yell at Adam because it’s not his fault…
“Babysit the kid. I’m going out.”
Adam wants to know if Dean is always this way. Sam simply replies, “Welcome to the family.”
Sam starts to teach Adam a few things and hands him a gun: “I know what it’s like to want revenge.”
So, Dean goes to investigate a tomb where 3 bodies recently went missing as “Agent Nugent.” Heh. *starts to hum Free-For-All*
“Have you thought about where you’d like to spend eternity?” The mortuary man asks Dean.
With a dark, sad look on his face, and in a rough voice, Dean replies, “All the damn time.”
After he pokes around a bit in the tomb thingy, Dean goes to a bar and ends up meeting Joe’s wife.
She tells Dean that Joe had the help of a “specialist” back in ‘90 to solve the grave robbery case.
Meanwhile, back at that Batcave, er, um, Motel, Sam is telling Adam how John really died and that Dean killed the demon that did it. Adam says that it’s over for them, then, and you feel the irony of that statement fall on Sam’s shoulders like an anvil.
“It’s never over.”
Then, it’s lights, darkness, action. They realize that the “thing” is in the ducts and Sam fires at it as they run out of the room and to Adam’s pickup. As they start to get in, Sam gets pulled under the truck and Adam’s trying to grab him back, but Dean shows up just in time to save them. They realize that there’s a sewer grate under the truck and that the “thing” had set a trap that Sam had neatly fallen into.
Dean said that they may not know what it is, but they know what it’s after: all the peeps from that ’90 grave robbing case… Joe, “Dad’s girl, his son.”
Dean wants to take Adam to Bobby’s then come back. Sam, wrapping his wounded ankle, wants to use Adam as bait. Sam says they could train Adam.
“He could die, Sam.”
“We could all die.” Sam argues that so many things want revenge—on them, on John… they could die any time and keeping Adam from the fight won’t necessarily protect him. Adam says he’ll do it, whatever it takes. So, Sam teaches Adam how to shoot while Dean looks on, a sick look on his face. Back at the motel room, Sam is telling Adam about their past hunts while Dean sits in the background and watches.
The energy they each build up in these scenes is palpable. Dean is glowering, confused, angry, hurting. Sam is ecstatic, purpose-driven, happy.
“Being a hunter isn’t a job… it’s life,” Sam say. He tells Adam to leave behind his girlfriend and friends, that he has to leave behind all his connections. “It’s the price we pay.” You cut them out and you don’t look back “Only one thing you can count on: family.”
Okay, before I go into the fact that Sam was laying it on extra thick and Dean had enough, I have to tell you what this statement made me think about. Okay, so Kripke said early on that Sam was like Luke and Dean like Han, right? But I’ve started to see Sam more like Anakin. The Anakin that gave it all over for the sake of power because he thought that he could use that power to keep his family safe and ended up destroying everything around him.
On Facebook, I took a quiz and the end result was that I was Darth Vader. Stop laughing. Anyway, look what the results said:
You know how to get results, always. You take care of business and never have to ask questions later. Your only weakness is your family, so be mindful of suggestions of patronage hiring from your boss.
Seriously, all I could think about was Sam now. Not maybe Sam at the beginning, but what he’s become.
Okay, so anyway, Dean pulls Sam out into the hall and says that what he just told Adam was the speech that John had given Sam before he “ditched them for Stanford.”
“You hated dad for saying that stuff and now you’re quoting him?!”
“Turns out Dad was right.”
Sam looks at Adam and sees meat because to the demons and monsters that’s all he is. Sam says Dad did right by them and taught them how to protect themselves. Says that Adam deserves the same.
Dean thinks it’s too late for them, but not for Adam – he could go to school, be a doctor…
They end up asking each other if they are jealous of the kid. I think the answer to both is ‘yes’ but for different reasons. I could actually see both sides of that argument. Dean wanting to respect John’s wishes—that was SO VERY Dean.
Do what Dad wants is his mantra. Especially when he’s tailspinning. And he sees what this life has done to Sammy, despite all of his efforts. And he doesn’t think he’s worth anything to anyone outside of the job, and he can start to see why John would want to keep Adam out of that.
But, Sam’s right, too. The world is ending (on the show), and Dean was the one that said it was going to end bloody. And John trained them and Sam is finally, FINALLY seeing the value in that. He wants Adam to have a fighting chance. And, I think, he might want a little of the feeling Dean had with him. A little of a big-brother rush.
Dean says he’s going to find whatever is hunting Adam. He goes back to crypt thingy, starts poking around… in the dark… I hate the dark. I have to stare so hard at the TV to see what’s happening, to not miss a thing. And… I’m totally freaked out about what could possibly jump out. Ask Terry. She’s watched scary movies with me. I wrap up into a ball.
After some poking around, he manages to find the things lair, steps in something squishy (uck) and see’s what’s left of a person—looks like an arm?—and some glasses. “Sloppy Joe.”
Oh, Dean. *laughs*
He hears some rustling and shoots at noise, ends up getting trapped in there. FREAKY.
Son of a bitch is said multiple times—when he sees the cave-in and when he realizes that he has no cell reception. Underground. In a tomb.
Meanwhile, Adam and Sam are barricading themselves in the house, salting doors and windows and making it so that the only way in is through the floor grate in Kate’s room. I think right about here is when I started chanting “omgomgomgomgomgomg…”
At this point, everything happens kind of fast, which is a RUSH to watch and hell to review. “Kate” comes back right as Adam and Sam salt the entrances. Dean’s trying to escape. Sam’s telling Adam to get away from her, she’s not his mother. Dean finds more skeletons. Then he finds Kate’s body (ack!). Adam reveals his true nature (turning in a blink from a scared, confused boy into a dead-eyed, devilish-faced creep… impressive), biffs Sam on the chin. Dean finds Adam’s body (double ack!).
Sam is tied up on a table while the mommy ghoul starts to carve him up. He reveals what they are… kinda spits the word. Funny how baddies – these ghouls and the Christmas Baddies (I’m blanking on what they were…) don’t like their “real” names. Both had objections to the terms.
“We are what we eat.” *I laughed at a bad guy!*
They cut on Sammy’s arms (ouch) and dig into his side. GhoulKate notices that Sam’s blood tastes different. As they are circling him and smelling him and generally acting skeevy, GhoulAdam reveals that they are brother and sister and John killed their GhoulDad back in 1990. So, now they want revenge.
While this is happening, Dean is working to break out of the tomb. He sees a window above him (strange tomb, that) and gets some kind of bar thingy to break the glass. It’s an effort. And I have to say, the whole “Dean stuck underground in a cave-like tomb” scene was pretty cool. His discovery and fight to get free. I liked it. A lot.
Especially when he jammed the bar thingy in the hole and Mitch Gaylord himself out of there. If it hadn’t been so dark we could have had a nice tushy shot. But still. Impressive, that.
Sam’s not faring so well without his brother. The GhoulSibs are cutting Sam, and digging their fingers into his side. They say that since John was already dead, Sam and Dean would have to do. But that they were inseparable. Which for some reason, was really good to hear. They are always together. And we dig that about them. It’s nice to have someone else notice. Even if they are a ghoul.
They cut Sam’s arms open and start bleeding him out--after saying that Adam really was his brother and that he was still alive when they started to eat him. Poor Adam. No wonder he had such a horrible look on his corpse face. In pretty much the nick of time, Dean shows up, shoots Adam, Sam yells that they’re ghouls, and Dean shoots off Kate’s head. He goes to untie Sam, but Adam tackles him. Dean and Adam fight viciously while Sam bleeds. And bleeds. And bleeds s’more. I was getting nervous, ya’ll.
Sam’s getting weaker . He calls for his brother who is beating the ever loving crap out of the ghoul. Don’t know about you, but I think if Sam hadn’t sounded so weak, he would have just kept hitting. Because even if this Adam was a ghoul, he knew that Adam had been real. That all of it had been real. And not only had John not told them about their brother, their brother got killed by a supernatural element before they could do anything to stop it.
They never even really MET Adam. Just a thing that wore his skin and held his memories. So Dean kept hitting until he had to go save Sam. He untied Sam and lifted him up with a “Here we go, here we go” as he’s wrapping the cuts. I love how when things are really bad with or for Sam, Dean has a tendency to repeat himself. It’s a nice touch that Jensen gives the character and makes him more real.
Sam says thank you – that was nice. That doesn’t really seem to happen often.
They burn Adam’s body. I think I had a lump in my throat the entire end scene. Just watching their faces.
“Adam was our brother – he died like a hunter, deserves to go out like one.”
Sam proposes bringing him back, calling in a favor, but Dean says Adam’s in a better place.
As they watch the body burn, Dean proceeded to completely break my heart.
“You know I finally get why you and dad butted heads so much – you’re practically the same person. I worshipped the guy. Dressed like him, acted like him, listened to the same music. But you were more like him than I will ever be. I see that now.”
Sam takes that as a compliment.
“Take it any way you want.”
What do I take away from this? One thing is for sure, Dean Winchester owns me. I got sucked in because he’s oh, so pretty. I got hooked because he made me think about my life, and now I’m his because I see parallels everywhere. Well, that, and the pretty.
He so easily believed that Adam was John’s son. He even found ways to excuse and explain it. He never once acted like this was in any way a betrayal of them. He was excited at the prospect of someone to teach. And he was also willing to use this person, their brother, as bait. He was so detached, so blasé about the significance of it. It just shows us that he’s had to disengage, to pull away, to tuck “Sam” so far down inside of him that he’s almost gone. He’s done that so that he can finish the mission he’s designed for himself.
The only time he looked pained was when Dean saved him and said that was what family was for. The flash that crossed Sam’s face was OUR Sam. But it was gone too quickly.
He lost his compass when John died. And because of that, he bounced a lot, getting cut on the sharp edges of life. Choices were made, consequences rendered, and miracles happened. And now Dean is started to pull himself out of his hole. He’s starting to edge out the “Dean” that never really got to be because he was so busy following in his father’s footsteps and caring for his brother. He went through a huge gamut of emotions in this episode from denial to betrayal to hurt to acceptance to obedience to surrender.
I think the fact that John made the choice that he did about Adam will hurt Dean for a long time. I think that it will affect decisions he’ll make in upcoming episodes. And I don’t blame him.
Man, I don’t know. I've always had issues with John. Mostly because I saw different facets of my parents in him. I hated how Dean shifted into soldier mode when John came on the scene. I softened toward him when he said, “I want Sam to go to school, I want Dean to have a home, I want Mary alive.” And he won me when he told Dean he was proud of him.
And I can’t blame him for wanting to protect Adam. I really can’t. But I DO blame him for not telling his boys. For not being honest about where he was going when he left them, when he left Dean while Sam was gone. But these are choices that we make in the moment because we want to feel good about something and we think that we’ll have time to make it right with those affected.
Guess you never know when your deal will come due, huh?
I have another answer for my sister. I need to tell her to let her oldest have his childhood. He’s already grown up so fast because of how they’ve lived; he’s already helping her take care of the other two. Don’t make him raise this baby. Let him be a kid. Because we grow up fast enough as it is.
I feel like there should be more to say, but it’s late and my heart is heavy. I don’t think they could ever peel back enough layers of the Winchester onion to satisfy us. Guess that’s why we keep coming back for more.
Well, that… and the pretty.
Hope I see ya’ll next week.