Two things prompted this article, Alice’s recent top ten wish list for Season 10, and this YouTube video that was posted on the WFB Twitter account.
The video especially reminded me just how much the brothers mean to each other, and just how utterly desolate their relationship has been, really since Season 4. Kripke said in an interview after “No Rest for the Wicked” that Sam and Dean’s relationship would be radically changed, and it truly has never recaptured the glory of seasons’ past. There have been moments, and there were moments in “Do You Believe in Miracles?” – mostly because Jared absolutely sold Sam’s horror and loss, and all that it meant. But, my one wish for the writers is that they go back and rewatch the earlier seasons, notably 1 – 3, and see that you can stay with the premise of no chick flick moments, and still have the brothers talk.
It was in “Wendigo” when Dean, trying to help Sam cope with the loss of Jessica and the frustration of not knowing where dad was, told Sam that hunting things, saving people was the family business…hey, that would be a good name for an SPN website. 😉
It was in “Phantom Traveler” that Sam admitted to Dean that the job took a toll. Dean tried to brush it off, telling Sam he had to just not take it ‘home’ with him. Sam called Dean out because Dean kept a very large knife under his pillow – these days it’s a gun.
“Scarecrow” contained the wonderful phone call where Dean told Sam he was proud of him, for always knowing what he wanted and standing up to dad. Dean admitted he wished he could be more like that. It caused Sam to rethink a few things, and to return when he couldn’t get Dean on the phone. Why did he even call Dean that final time? Well, I think simply because the two brothers had reached such a good place, and Sam wanted yet another contact with his brother.
There were moments in “Bugs” when Dean told Sam that dad would make a point to travel through Stanford simply to check up on Sam. And Sam learned a bit about Dean in “Route 666,” that he had loved a girl and gotten dumped by her because of the family business.
One of my favorites is in “Something Wicked” after Dean confesses what happened 16 or 17 years earlier when they first encountered a shtriga. Sam listens as Dean tells him the burden he carries, absorbing everything Dean says. It isn’t until a few hours later, when they’ve set the trap for the shtriga, that Sam tells Dean that he’s sorry. He’s sorry for being hard on Dean for always being the good soldier, always doing everything dad tells them. Sam has learned something about Dean: Dean follows dad’s orders without question because at a critical age, and a critical moment, Dean didn’t and Sam almost died. It’s a huge eye opening moment for Sam into his brother’s mindset. It is also a great moment between the brothers.
There were apologies over Dean’s life being saved by a reaper, at the expense of someone else, and confessions by Dean that his life is empty without dad and Sam and that he, Dean, is almost afraid of just how far he’ll go to save either one of them. Well, that’s a trend that carries on throughout the series – and throughout all the lives of the Winchesters, Campbells too.
Season 2 didn’t lack for these simply moments either. “Everybody Loves a Clown” has two with the brothers having a row on a dusty back road about how the brothers are dealing with the death of their dad, and at the end Sam comes to Dean and tells him how he isn’t doing well, he isn’t handling dad’s death well – but neither is Dean. Sam openly calls Dean on his own grief and then leaves him to ponder it all. Dean’s actions show how poorly he is handling their dad’s death – sorry, Metallicar.
The writers didn’t leave it there though, this theme of dad’s death and how it affected the brothers carried on further into Season 2 as Dean struggled with the realization that their dad died in order to save him and Sam commits himself to being a hunter because that is what dad would want and despite it being too little, too late, it’s the best Sam has to offer, and he offers it fully. We have great moments, in “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” when Sam calls Dean out for spiraling and at the end of the episode Dean confesses that he knows Dad died because of him, and he apologizes for acting the way he’s been acting. In “Crossroads Blues” Sam tells Dean straight out he doesn’t like where Dean’s head it, and doesn’t want him to meet with the Crossroads Demon. Dean at the end tells Sam everything he learned, although he does not answer Sam’s question regarding whether he, Dean, would make a deal, Sam knows by Dean’s non-answer.
Further on into Season 2 the burdens Sam carries get heavier as he adjusts to them more and he struggles deeply, so much so that he gets drunk in “Playthings” and begs Dean to kill him if it comes to it, and in “Houses of the Holy” he confesses that even as he knows Dean will always be there for him, it isn’t enough. He needs to know there is some higher power…this is echoed a season later in “Long Distance Call” as Dean, staring into the abyss of hell, needed to believe that somehow there was something out there that could save him, something/someone besides Sam.
And lest we forget, Season 2 ends with Sam telling Dean he shouldn’t have made the deal to bring him back to life. Dean tells Sam that he had to make the deal, he’s the big brother, and it’s his job to look out for Sam. Sam comes right back and asks the rhetorical questions: “Then what do you think my job is? You sacrifice everything for me; don’t you think I’d do the same thing for you? You’re my big brother; there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.” It’s a great moment – ruined only by the placement of that final scene with Bobby and Ellen coming to say something about how many demons got out…should have cut that moment, just saying.
Season 3 has some of the most heartfelt, and doggone close to chick flick, moments as the brothers reveal tiny bits of themselves to the other in moments of vulnerability, which result later in a change in the other’s behavior. “Fresh Blood” has one of my favorite brother moments as Sam calls Dean on his reckless behavior and tells him to knock it off. That he (Sam) has been following his big brother around all their lives, watching him, trying to be like him, and that he knows Dean is scared. All Sam wants is for Dean to knock off the stupidity and simply be his big brother again…just ‘cause: just ‘cause in a few months you’ll be dead, Dean, and I’ll be alone. Just ‘cause in a few months, I won’t be able to have any big brother to watch or follow. Just ‘cause I’m not ready to lose you yet, but I know I’m going to and I want a few more good memories. Just ‘cause… (yeah, that’s tears in my eyes…I’ll not try to fool you and say it’s allergies.) What results from that moment is brotherly bonding of the best sort, no chick flick moment, no tears, no heavy emotions, just two brothers working on their car, the older brother teaching the younger brother a thing or two about mechanics.
“A Very Supernatural Christmas” also brings some of the best brotherly bonding, past and present. Sam, in the present, doesn’t want anything to do with Christmas because he knows Dean will be dead for the next one, and he just can’t take on that emotional baggage, no matter what. But, over the course of the episode Sam remembers just how hard young Dean worked to keep it light and innocent for young Sam and suddenly present-day Sam can’t hold back. He has to offer something to Dean for all he did when they were kids…so he offers him a Christmas, complete with decorations, eggnog, and personalized presents. He never answers Dean’s question about what changed his mind, but that wasn’t really important. What was important is the two shared a beautiful memory of that Christmas holiday together.
And “No Rest for the Wicked” has some beautiful moments as Sam and Dean race futilely against the clock and in the end Dean tells Sam to remember what dad taught him, and to remember what he (Dean) taught him. The brothers bonded over singing a Bon Jovi song, as good a moment as “bitch” and “jerk” back in Season 2, and oh, how I long for those days.
There have been other moments since these, but they have been fewer and farther between, sadly. There were moments in Season 4 when Sam tells Dean a bit about the affect the demon blood has on him, knowing it’s in his system and how he feels carrying that his whole life. We see moments where Dean opens up about hell and what breaking there and torturing souls has done to him emotionally. Season 5 gives us a great moment in “The End” when Dean confesses to Sam that they need to be together because they keep each other human.
I think much of the threads in the later part of Season 9 were supposed to show us how badly the brothers do need each other as Sam withdrew from Dean emotionally and Dean sunk deeper and deeper into the grip of the Mark of Cain. In the finale it does wrap it all together how badly the separation has affected each of them. As Dean is dying he confesses to Sam that he knew the Mark was making him something he didn’t want to be, and that dying was better. Sam, for his part, shows in his expressions and desperation how much he hated keeping Dean at such a length, and now that Dean has died in his arms (again) it is clear that Sam regrets every moment of his anger at Dean – even as it was deserved.
This isn’t an article to hash out whether one brother deserved the anger of the other. It’s purely meant to reflect upon how much I wish the writers would rewatch some of the earlier seasons and learn afresh how to have the brothers communicate. Too often there is the beginning of a conversation only for a phone call to interrupt or some other such distraction. They don’t have to have chick flick moments, but they can talk. They used to talk. The moments when one brother tells the other something that is heavy on his heart and mind has an effect, we’ve seen it. I miss those days when they would share something and later on have that sharing change the behavior of the other. Those were beautiful moments that I miss dearly. The video someone made, that I’ve embedded herein via Alice, is what brought all these thoughts out, and now you are the beneficiaries – or not, of my thinking.
As always, thanks for reading. Elle2