Why? That is the question I would ask you if I had the chance to speak with you face to face. Why break down the brother’s bond? Why strip away everything we hold sacred in their relationship? Why spend a great deal of time, in fact dozens of episodes, to establish that both Sam and Dean are capable of treating each other in ways that make them barely recognizable. Since before the beginning of season 8, you said you wanted a more “mature” relationship between the brothers. Even then I asked myself, “Why?” They are dysfunctional and codependent. They are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again. Dean continually sacrifices the needs of the many for the needs of the few, or the one. To quote one of Sam’s most unforgettable lines ever, “So?”
The phrase “heart and soul” has been used repeatedly to describe that the love the brothers have for each other is the core of Supernatural. It is what distinguishes it from other shows. The fact that they will do anything for each other is what makes the show larger than life. Dean sold his soul so that Sammy could live. Sam chose to remember the horrors of Hell and endure months of the ensuing psychological warfare rather than leave his brother alone. When you took over as Showrunner, did you assess that this kind of insane self-sacrifice couldn’t continue? Was it weakening the storyline? Was it dooming the show to boring repetition? Was it unrealistic to portray two brothers in their thirties loving each other the same way they had when they were twenty? Obviously they got older, so did you feel it was your responsibility to “update” their relationship? You have acknowledged in almost every interview that the show revolves around their relationship. You’ve said “we’d have to be crazy” to mess with that, but isn’t that exactly what you are doing? The entire first half of season 8 was devastating to their bond because Sam didn’t look for Dean. You put a rift between them that didn’t start to repair itself until an epic goal reunited them – the trials. Then Sam told Dean he wanted them both to live, that he would lead his brother to the light. Phew. They expressed love, compassion, or at the very least, support for each other again. Then in what was clearly a turning point in the series and in their relationship, you wrote the stunningly brilliant exchange that took place between them in “Sacrifice”.
I fell in love with this show because their relationship was a glowing beacon of unshakeable love within a family. The show filled me with hope for humanity. It inspired me and so many others to act selflessly. To face fear. To rise above impossible challenges. To reach out and use love as the cornerstone, the stone one, of courage. None of us face a literal apocalypse, but we all face our own demons. For nine years these boys have taught us how to turn and face the challenges in our lives. Jeremy, it is terrifying to watch this beacon of hope be destroyed. If feels like they are saying, “Sorry, only kidding. Life has worn us down. We aren’t the larger than life heroes you thought we were. We don’t know how to overcome all this pain anymore. These past several years and endless miles have worn Sam down until he just can’t forgive Dean for the choices he has made for him. Dean is too broken to ever risk letting Sam go. Love isn’t enough anymore. We are beaten and tired and stuck. We don’t have any more answers. You are on your own to figure out this “life” thing. God knows we haven’t done a very good job at it.” Jeremy, couldn’t you have altered their relationship without this gut-wrenching hurt? Did Sam really have to feel threatened by Dean’s friendships with Cas and Benny? Did Dean really have to start down the path of self-destruction? Did he have to leave Sam? Did Sam have to say they weren’t brothers; that he wouldn’t save Dean? I have to believe there were countless ways they could have gradually grown their relationship. Why did you choose the coldest, harshest road possible for them? Jeremy, you are destroying the people who we counted on the most to save us from ourselves; the ones who every week taught us that love would overcome absolutely everything. Our heroes. Our inspirations.
I have to wonder, though, are the brothers still teaching us something in braving this new suffering? “Purge” emphasized honesty. My experience leads me to believe that most people’s relationships in real life are not this honest. This level of raw truth first requires that a person understand their own emotions. They need to pull and tug and rip apart the jumble of emotions they feel every day and analyze the components. They need to recognize their pain as hurt, betrayal, anger or disappointment. They have to challenge their reactions to that pain. How much of it is their own fault versus the fault of the person that hurt them? Our own cognitive behavior patterns were largely established in childhood and early adulthood. The way we think, the way we react to situations is dictated by patterns. We pull away or we attack. We ignore or deny problems even exist, or we downplay their significance rather than deal with them head-on. Our successful relationships are built on a system of checks and balances, i.e. we surround ourselves with people who can successfully compensate for our blind spots. Our close friends understand what we mean rather than what we say (if we say anything at all!) and accept us with all our faults. Our families forgive the outbursts of confusion and hurt when something overwhelms our normal filters. We are then faced with a choice. Do we ignore the patterns that keep returning us to the same place or do we plunge ourselves into the terror that is the unknown? Do we risk the life we know for what might be, even if the unknown might be better? Often, we aren’t given a choice. Just as Sam and Dean have been forced into this impasse, these crossroads often grab our lives and don’t allow us an easy escape. Our relationship is broken and we are faced with divorce, or we are fired from our jobs and have to either redefine ourselves or stare down unemployment. How do we let go of what we know? Do we let our teenagers and young adults drift away because we can’t let go of the relationship we had with them as children and recognize and acknowledge them as the new adults we helped them become?
Dean is faced with this pain right now. Sam grew up. Dean has to let go of being the parent, of being the big brother, in order to recognize that he just can’t keep Sam safe from life anymore. Dean may have intellectually acknowledged that reality well before “Swan Song” but it doesn’t seem he ever emotionally let go of his role as Sam’s caregiver. Sam is long past rebelling and pulling away. He has repeatedly proven his ability to make life-changing decisions and to live with the consequences. He is forcing, demanding, a new relationship with the person who has defined him his whole life but in order to move ahead he has to let go of his judgments of Dean’s decisions. Walk a mile in my shoes before you know if you would make the same decisions I made? Is that where we are headed? How many of us have had to allow that the younger sibling, or the partner, or the friend that always screwed up and made unbelievably poor choices actually learned from their mistakes and is ready to live life differently? Can we see them for who they are now instead of who they were before? How many of us has had to forgive ourselves for catastrophic, repeated mistakes in our lives? Crowley asked, “Where do I even begin to look for forgiveness?” Cas is struggling with accepting his disastrous history of misplaced trust. How can they let all that go? How can we? Is the story now showing us how to redefine our relationships? Instead of facing monsters and demons that threaten the world, are the boys (and Cas, Crowley and even Gadreel) now showing us how to face something far more scary – the redefinition of family, of relationships, of self? Are they now showing us redemption?
It may be a long time before it is revealed why you are putting us through this merciless trek of agony. I have always believed in your story-telling ability, but if I’m honest Jeremy, I would have chosen the easier path. I don’t like this drama, this angst. I want this show to be my safe haven, my happy place, yet week after week, I am left with my jaw on the floor and my heart in pieces. Your writers have said this won’t last forever so I have to trust the show will pull us through this darkness into the light. In the process, we may all grow into better people. Like Sam and Dean, able to forgive ourselves and others. Able to embrace redemption and let go of past patterns of destructiveness. It would help immensely, though, if you could reassure the SPN family that the brothers will be back better than ever. Please don’t use the word “mature”! I am old enough that all my relationships are “mature”. That doesn’t mean they are all good! Jeremy, please, please, hurry, though. Waiting until the end of season 9 for reconciliation will be bad enough. Please don’t spill this storyline into season 10. I want the brothers back, for their sake and mine. Let the healing begin.
Do you think that the brothers and the show will be in a better place when this is all over? Are we all better for this growth? How long do you think you can endure the reconstruction of their relationship? What is your limit? I have always admired Jeremy Carver’s ability to have the boys say exactly the right words to each other. What is your take on what he is piecing together here?
Screencaps courtesy of www.homeofthenutty.com