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It’s been a long time since Sam and Dean have hunted a ghost…or anything really. I had heard that this season was going to focus more on the Winchesters as the hunt-ed and seeing this episode made me realize how true that has been so far. You can’t really call what has happened with the Leviathan so far ‘hunting’. Sam, Dean and Bobby have spent more time on the run then the Leviathan have. And Sam’s case with Amy last week didn’t really play out like usual. 

Speaking of the much talked about turn of events…No matter what side of the fence you’re on about Amy’s death, I think we can all agree that it was good to see Dean feeling a little guilty. Hear me out, please. I’m not saying that I want Dean to be miserable and unhappy, because I don’t; I’m not even saying that I completely disagree with his decision to kill Amy. He was probably right; she most likely would have killed again. What I was more upset about was what Dean’s decision implied about his relationship with Sam. There are a million reasons why Dean would kill Amy even after Sam asked him not to, but we’ve never seen Dean hide that kind of decision from Sam. It really made me wonder what kind of trust issues Dean is still harboring. Let me be clear, Dean is not the bad guy here and I certainly don’t want it to sound like I’m blaming him for anything. Dean’s trust issues with Sam stem from some very concrete past betrayals.  And he has reason to doubt those close to him after his more recent Cas betrayal. So when I say that it was good to see him feeling guilty I just mean that it was good to see him feel something about killing Amy. I’m sure he feels some guilt for killing her in front of her son but I think the majority of the guilt stems from his betrayal of Sam’s trust. And that is a clear indication that there is still plenty of hope for Sam and Dean. If they can mend their relationship, and really trust each other then they can once again stand as a unified force. 

Sam and Dean have a lot to feel guilty for, most of which was not their fault to begin with. So it was very interesting to find out that Sam has found a way to let go of his guilt. I certainly think Hell is punishment enough for anything he’s done in his lifetime but I didn’t ever expect him to be freed from his guilt. Guilt is the Winchester calling card and they certainly don’t know how to let things go. Dean went to Hell himself and came back with more guilt than he could handle. So what’s Sam’s secret? I’m hoping that his new outlook on life will rub off on Dean a bit. He carries so much on his shoulders that to him it has become his identity. 

“You should be able to see that I’m 90% crap”

The way Dean sees himself makes me sad. How did he develop such a low opinion of himself? Has it ever been explained? The obvious guess here is that it stems from guilt. In the past it’s come out that he sees himself as a monster only capable of slitting throats; barely human. Yet he feels responsibility for every bad thing that’s come to pass in his lifetime. There’s a bit of a disconnect there and it’s strange that he can’t see it. 

It’s always difficult to get inside Dean’s head. We get glimpses of what he’s feeling and every once in a while, when the pressure is too much to handle, we get a closer look at what he’s going through. This episode was an interesting way to give us that closer look we’ve been needing. The Egyptian God Osiris who can see inside people’s hearts and weigh their guilt. If their guilt is lighter than a feather, they are safe. Well, for a Winchester with the weight of the world on his shoulders, that’s a definite death sentence. I have to say I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of Osiris’ trial, the whole thing felt a little strange, but at the end of the day I was happy for any way to get inside Dean’s head. And who doesn’t want to see Sam as a lawyer?

Sam stepping up to defend Dean was a nice twist. It was a brotherly gesture, one it seemed Dean needed. Dean was ready to just give up and be damned. He didn’t really even attempt to fight for himself because he couldn’t argue with the things that Osiris was saying about him. I think Sam being there to help him was a breath of fresh air for Dean. Last season Dean had a lot on his plate with no one to back him up. I imagine it felt nice to be the one receiving the help for a change, even if he didn’t think he deserved it. 

The first two witnesses Osiris called to the stand were Jo and Sam; obvious choices, I think. Dean still feels responsible for Jo’s death because he enabled her hunting habit. He helped her with her first case against her mother’s wishes and helped her realize her calling to be a hunter. That doesn’t really sound all that bad, does it? As far as Dean’s concerned he may as well have killed her himself. He feels guilt for Sam because he brought him back into the life. “He’s rather damn you with him then be alone.” No matter that Sam was clearly meant to be a hunter, and has saved many lives over the years. And not to mention that a lot of his problems stem from the demon blood Azazel gave him as a child and not anything Dean has done or failed to do. Both of these examples of Dean’s guilt have been building for years, especially in the case of Sam. So when Osiris mentioned the third witness, I thought it was odd that it would be something so recent. Perhaps Amy was still fresh in Dean’s mind and his guilt about the situation was so strong that it trumped past experiences. But the fact that killing this one monster elicits such a strong emotional reaction from Dean reinforces my thought that he feels guilty for much more than simply killing Amy. What did you guys think? Was there someone else you would have liked to see as a third witness? 

I should also say that the flashbacks during the trial were nicely placed and edited. They evoked just the right emotions in me and I think there was enough information that someone who may not have seen earlier seasons could easily put two and two together. To be nitpicky for a minute though, I do have to say that the interaction between Sam and Dean felt a little stunted. I would have liked to see just a touch more emotion between the brothers during the trial. I don’t think the acting was the problem, I just don’t think the scene was written that way.  

This trial may not stop Dean from carrying the world on his shoulders but knowing that Sam doesn’t see him the way Dean sees himself may be of comfort to him. And maybe Sam’s positive outlook will start to rub off on Dean. And who knows, maybe he’ll be able to start to forgive himself for the things that are no longer in his control. What do you all think? What purpose do you think this episode was meant to serve?

Here are some random observations and quotes I wanted to mention. 

*Dean: “License to kill.”
Sam: “Seriously?”

*Dean: “Dead and sober. Double crappy.”

*Dean: “No weirder than a ghost car.” Was this a jab at Route 666? If it was, that is hilarious. 

*Dean’s drunk pep talk to himself made me laugh a lot. 

“It’s nothing but a ground ball; you just gotta put your mitt down. You are Dean   Winchester, this is what you do.” 

*Sam: “I saw that on The Good Wife.”

*When they were looking for the ram’s horn, I couldn’t help but think about how Cas could have gotten them one in a matter of seconds. 

*Dean: “I didn’t want to do it alone.” 



# purplehairedwonder 2011-10-17 11:58
Dean went to Hell himself and came back with more guilt than he could handle. So what’s Sam’s secret?

I think this is important because Sam's and Dean's Hell experiences are completely different. Sam spent 180+ years in Hell as a victim. Coming out the other side, Sam sees it as having paid his dues for his cosmic-sized mistakes (even if they all weren't his fault). He has hallucinations and has to live with horrific memories that would kill a normal person, but it's in the past. Hell is in the memories of pain and helplessness and terror for Sam, and he's working through that as best he can.

Dean, on the other hand, is still in Hell in a way. He spent thirty years as a victim before turning torturer himself, and that's where his pain and guilt stem from. He abandoned everything he stood for in life--saving and protecting people--to stop his own pain. He became the monster he'd spent his whole life hunting. That was more than enough guilt for him to bear once he got topside. But now he sees Sam living with the effects of tortures Dean himself implemented during his time in Hell, so it's no wonder he's drowning in guilt. Hell is very much with Dean everyday in a way that Sam's will never be by their very different natures.
# sofia 2011-10-17 13:13
I do think you have a point with the two experiences in Hell being very different. Sam was a victim and was never given the option of becoming the torturer so he really has nothing to feel guilty for. Although, that's never stopped a Winchester before.

I do wonder if he is completely free of guilt. And if so, when did he make that change. If I remember correctly, he was still feeling pretty guilty in "Unforgiven" but that was before his wall collapsed. So I wonder if the memories of what he suffered are what's allowing him to feel like he paid his dues. Either way I'd like a little more explanation at some point.
# purplehairedwonder 2011-10-17 13:26
I don't think either brother will ever be completely free of guilt. It's more a matter of being able to acknowledge and accept it, and then leave it in the past and move forward, not letting it define them. And that's what I think Sam's trying to do right now.

He used to hunt to get revenge for Jess and then to try to change his destiny as the Boy King and then to alleviate his guilt over the mistakes he made. Sam's always been very proactive about atoning for his mistakes, and going to Hell is pretty major atonement. He seemed to be at peace right before he jumped in "Swan Song" and now that he's acclimating (in a loose sense) to the memories being in his head, I can only assume he's starting to process them. And as a result, now he genuinely seems to be hunting because he wants to help people (though I'm sure focusing on a case is a good distraction to keep Lucifer from coming to the surface as well). I would like to see more of how he's doing that, though.
# Sylvie 2011-10-17 12:35
I also hope that Sam's positive outlook will rub off on Dean. The problem with a guilty conscience is mostly that it's a perception of guilt rather that real guilt. He is not a murderer per se, even though he kills, he's not Dexter, lets put it that way. Not a psychopath or a sociopath, unlike Soulless Sam in last season when he would kill an innocent to get to the bottom line. In that way, Soulless Sam has more to answer for as we were shown in the last episode of season six (sorry, I'm really bad with titles). Far Away Eyes put it really well comparing it to Catholic guilt. I feel real guilty when I lie to get out of something even though it's a little white lie, I drag it with me for years! Thank God it's never resulted in anyone's death thought, 'cause Osiris might be coming for me next, and Sam wouldn't be there to defend me!
# sofia 2011-10-17 13:19
I really enjoyed Far Away Eyes comparison to Catholic guilt too. And I think a lot of the guilt Dean feels is unnecessary. It's normal to feel bad about Jo's death and wish there was something he could have done to stop it, but to think that he is directly responsible is unreasonable. Poor guy really carries way too much on his shoulders.

Am I the only one who would really enjoy a little Dean breakdown? Not because I want to see him suffer, but because I'd really like to see him work through some of these issues. And I think we could all use a little brotherly bonding.

Thanks for the comment!
# rmoats8621 2011-10-17 20:16
No, you're not the only one who would like to see a little Dean breakdown. I think that it's the only way Dean (and Sam) will be able to get past this issue and move on.
# KazKriz 2011-10-17 15:06
As always I totally agree with your review, I like the way you see into the real sense of the episode.
I think this one let us see what's going on inside Dean's head and I like that because even when we all know Dean feels guilty about a lot of things. To hear him call himself 90% crap made me realize how low his self esteem is. However I hope Sam could give him some advices to handle it

I can't believe Sam doesn't feel bad about what he's done. but well, I'll give the show some time to explain it ^^
# sofia 2011-10-18 08:24
I think the show will explore Sam's guilt-free attitude a little more in the future. At least I hope so! I think it's impossible to live your life with zero guilt for anything but it's certainly healthy to not hold on to it quite as tightly as Dean has. Hopefully Sam and Dean can find some healthy medium.
# Marilyn 2011-10-17 20:04
Sofia, great job as always. :-) I agree that the flashbacks were great and I enjoyed seeing Jo again. I especially liked the scene where she was sent to kill Dean. She tried so hard to get through to Dean that it was not his fault and maybe she lightened his load a little.

How sad to feel you had no childhood; which is probably quite true. But he really can't blame himself because Sam had none; he did his best to give Sam a childhood- more than John did. Jo was not a child when Dean met her; so why does he feel guilty for her not having a childhood? If there is any guilt floating around in the universe, Dean seems to attract it like metal filings to a magnet.

Jensen does very well playing angsty Dean; he gives another beautifully nuanced performance.

I am also glad to see Sam in a good place; I hope it lasts. I hope the brothers get to a place of trust again; it has been a very long time coming.

I was pretty disappointed in this episode at first. I thought it could have been much better; some of the reviews on line (yours included) are helping me see it in a better light.

Like many others, I want them to sit down and share their hell experiences. I think it would help Dean a lot.

Again, thanks for the review. I also loved the fact that Dean had to give himself a pep talk before taking the bartender to the motel. :lol:
# sofia 2011-10-18 08:20
Marilyn, thanks for the kind words and I'm glad you enjoyed the review.

I definitely agree with most viewers that this episode had its problems but I think the insight we gained from it outweighed those problems. I really think we're working up to something good for Sam and Dean (real reconciliation, possibly?) and I trust the writers to take us there as smoothly as possible. There are going to be bumps in the road, as there are every season (some more than others)but I see no point in letting the bumps overshadow the great moments because those are the ones I remember a few seasons down the road. Maybe I give the benefit of the doubt a little too freely where Supernatural is concerned but it's because I have yet to be truly disappointed by any season as a whole.

So there's my little anti-rant, take it with a grain of salt.

I would also love to see Sam and Dean sit down and talk about Hell. As purplehairedwon der pointed out above, their experiences of Hell were very different ones and it could be a really interesting conversation.
# Sharon 2011-10-18 10:54
Send Dean to the pit apparently it does you the world of good. You come back with no guilt or issues nothing . Dean will be has good as new in fact even better.
# Lindab30 2011-10-18 19:12
I'm feeling the need to talk about my point of view regarding Sam feeling good. I don't know if this is what the writer's intended but I see it as repentance and forgiveness. Anyone who has committed a serious sin or shall I say a "wrong" against someone and feels true remorse from it is beginning the repentance process. This is something that can be spiritually, emotionally and even physically painful, depending upon the severity of the wrong. For example: a person commits adultery, admits to it and works to regain the trust and love of their spouse. This can be long, difficult and painful. I witnessed this in my family and I was told " he has been through hell" meaning owning up to what he did and feeling the remorse was difficult and painful. It was also worth it because the marriage was saved and they are a very very happy couple now.

In Sam's case his revenge driven single minded focus is what allowed him to be manipulated by Ruby and led to the freeing of Lucifer. From that instant he felt nothing but guilt and remorse. Part of the repenting process is to "right the wrong", but how do you undo the damage of the earthquakes and tornadoes and whatever else Lucifer did and bring back all the lives that were most likely lost as well? How do you undo all that suffering? Sam took full responsibility for his actions,(anothe r part of the repenting process) never made excuses. He willingly sacrificed himself to save others because it was the only thing he could do to "right the wrong". He suffered in hell for about 180 years. After regaining his memories and having time to acclimate himself to that he realizes he paid the price. His own suffering was far more than what he caused in others. He put Lucifer back (right the wrong). He has forgiven himself, and that brings peace. He may even believe that God has forgiven him. At least that is something I am hoping for.

Sam still has a bumpy road ahead. I personally think that he has put up his own wall to hide the memories. This is a normal human response to traumatic events. I believe the other shoe is yet to fall for both of the brothers and I think Dean will be first.

Sam's current state of being, of feeling good is what will give him the ability to save Dean when his crisis hits him just as Dean saved Sam from the terror of his hallucinations.

I appreciate your positive review. Even though is wasn't one of the better episodes it still had much to offer. Thank you for being one to bring the positive aspects of each episode to the forefront and giving me more to think about.
# sofia 2011-10-19 08:00
Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments. I agree that Dean will be the first to really breakdown. He's definitely working up to a meltdown. I think Sam's new found positive outlook will be the glue that holds him and Dean together. I don't think Sam is done suffering, but for now he'll be a much-needed support to Dean.

I'm interested to see where the show takes Dean and I'm interested to see how they handle Sam's hallucinations. It should be an interesting ride!