Death’s Door/Adventures In Babysitting
I’m putting these two together because they are related. It’s Dean going through the very real grieving process. Let’s face it, Dean was in a bad place before Bobby’s shooting. This didn’t help, but his reaction was classic Dean. At first it was angry outbursts and avoidance. Sound familiar? His grieving over Sam’s corpse in “All Hell Breaks Loose Part II” comes to mind.
When Sam wanted to talk about the reality of the situation at the hospital, Dean couldn’t. What’s sad is they never did have that talk. When Sam tried bringing up calling Bobby’s contacts in “Adventures In Babysitting,” Dean shut him down there too. It’s very fitting Dean would follow through with the numbers Bobby gave them before dying, focus on going after Dick Roman. He needed that diversion. Otherwise he would have drunk himself into oblivion.
New found mission or not, Dean is stuck. He’s hurting, he’s not feeling the good he’s doing in his life, but he continues to hunt because of Sam. Frank tells him to quit, get up each day, do the job, and plaster on a fake smile while doing it. Dean heartbreakingly tries in the end, but he isn’t fooling anyone. Including himself.
Dean doesn’t want to focus on the case, leaving it to Sam, but he’s reluctantly dragged into it because Sam goes missing. He didn’t take well Chrissy’s talk that Sam could be dead. The death of loved ones is still really raw with him. Then he gets there and, cannot make the kill. Sam actually has to work through his weak state and kill the monster. Now we’re scratching our heads as to why Dean froze. Um, it’s because…no…he’s…well he’s been down a lot lately…perhaps he’s…nope, got nothing. Ah well, at least he got to fist bump with a 14 year old girl.
Time After Time
Dean is transported back in time where he gets to relieve another boyhood fantasy. He gets to hook up with someone in history who he deeply admires and worships, Eliot Ness. He has a crap load of fun doing it, and we have a crap load of fun watching him. When they’re having a talk in the car, he confesses to Ness that he doesn’t know why he’s doing the job anymore. Ness responds by flat out telling him he’s being a crybaby.
“Everybody loses everybody and then one day, boom, your number is up. But at least you’re making a difference. So enjoy it while it lasts kid, because hunting is the only clarity you’re going to find in this life. That makes you luckier than most.”
This is exactly the kick in the ass Dean needed! He can go on from this adventure with a new found love for hunting, right? Perhaps the other writers forgot to watch this episode.
There’s one outcome that ends up carrying a theme from the previous week. Sam is the jumping in for the kill after Dean returns. Dean really doesn’t put up much of a fight. He’s on the ground watching. Sure, it could be he was stunned or hurt after being hurled through space, but he wasn’t there fighting by his brother’s side. I didn’t think it meant anything at all until...
The Slice Girls
At first I took this episode to be a sign that Dean was getting healthier. He still isn’t taking the job very seriously, at first anyway, but at least he wants to go out looking for chicks in bars. Sophisticated singles bars, not the usual dives. I guess that’s good, because he scored. Of course he ended up banging a monster and essentially creating one, but hey, accidents happen, right?
The fact is once Dean sniffed out a mystery he ran with it, and it was Sam throwing all the doubts and conjectures at him. Dean figured out the case and his one night stand were definitely related, and he was next on the victim food chain. He has to deal with the ultimate showdown, his own daughter now wants to kill him. I swear I read this fan fiction years ago.
You’d think that Dean would be more emotionally invested in Emma’s plight, but perhaps he’s seen enough crap in his days where he just didn’t take the fact that his daughter wanted to kill him all that personally. The scenes between her and him were quite flat. He did the right thing and gave her a chance to walk away. Wow, the same chance he didn’t give Amy. Ugh. That issue again?
Yes, after Dean earned justification for what he did with Amy he can’t kill his own monster daughter in the same situation. No wonder Sam was pissed. But that finally brings to light why he’s been hesitating all this time. Sort of. No, actually we never quite figure out why Dean is so reluctant to pull the trigger recently. Sam tries to find out, but he gets nothing but a bitchy attitude about it. Of course Sam was in a bitchy mood himself but hey, he had a point. Instead, Sam just tells him, “Don’t get killed.” Dean angrily says he’ll try. After this, Dean goes on with his normal killing ways as if everything’s okay. Oh, then it all makes sense. Um, no. And the pendulum swings.
Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie
This episode really can just be counted for Dean as a weird standalone, not really at all consistent with his drama this season. It’s amusing to watch Dean like this. He’s happy to do his job. He saved Sam from a vicious clown beating, harassed his brother in the process for fearing a vicious clown beating, and there wasn’t much more than that. Except for the uptight and out of character “baby mama” rant at the beginning. I do concede bringing that up is nitpicking though. The final scene of those two laughing over a glitter covered Sam is too priceless for words. Oh yes, this moment doesn’t last but it was fun to watch.
Oh poor Dean. The guilt thing again. Ben Edlund does so get this boy, doesn’t he? I really love how Dean felt for Jeffrey and what they did to him four years ago. It was a truly terrifying glimpse and the messes they sometimes leave behind after these cases. Granted, Dean had to see the parallel. The drinking, the suicidal thoughts, pulling himself together for a cause. Dean has been going through that recently in his quest for revenge against Dick Roman.
I don’t blame Dean for falling for Jeffrey’s act, but it was really sad to see him fall for Sam’s as well. After being so cautious about the signs earlier in the season, he really doesn’t know the private hell his brother is experiencing. I’m still chalking this up more to Sam’s ability to hide things than Dean’s inability to see them, but when did Dean forget about never catching that break?
Out With The Old
Okay, massive frustration time again. Sam is finally coming clean with Dean about his hallucinations and how they’ve taken a serious turn. Dean is brushing all of that off, even getting impatient with Sam for losing focus on the case by being tired. WTF? He’s treating Sam’s sleeplessness like he’s having a bout of the common cold. Sure, I understand, Sam has had insomnia before. But why was Dean so overly cautious of the warning signs earlier and now refuses to acknowledge them? Why is he now in uber hunter mode giving laser focus to the case? It’s kind of baffling. Or maybe not. At this point, I’m not sure what Dean is going to show up every week.
The Born Again Identity
No doubt, Dean was blindsided by Sam’s breakdown. He didn’t see it coming. He really had no idea how deep in Sam’s mind Lucifer’s torment went and that this latest bout of sleeplessness was killing his brother. His reaction is the only thing Dean could have done. He had to find Sam help. That’s exactly how we’d expect Dean to react.
Sure, there is no way that Dean could have expected to find Castiel, and we know easy forgiveness is not his thing. I didn’t expect him to actually forgive Castiel. I even expected him to put aside all that resentment for the sake of saving Sam. But Dean put the entire blame of Sam’s misfortune on Castiel. That’s obviously some of the hurt talking. Sam was way more practical than that. Sure Castiel took down the wall in Sam’s head, but there was a lot of ugly crap behind that wall that couldn’t have been contained forever. Sam was right, that was what happens when spending a lot of time with Lucifer in the cage. If you happen to get out, your sanity isn’t spared.
So, is Dean’s anger at Castiel misguided? Perhaps, but knowing Dean it’s consistent. I was just taken back by how Dean was often going through the motions here. Save Sam was the mantra, but it lacked a lot of the feeling of past episodes, with “Hello, Cruel World” being the “save Sam” yardstick.
This ends up being what’s bothered me about Dean all season long. He’s doing what he’s expected to, what he’s been trained to do, but he’s not doing it with any sense of urgency, passion, anger, distress, etc. Especially with Sam’s life on the line, there should have been more. But I get it, Dean’s burned out by this point. Still, it isn’t very fun or interesting to watch.
Party On, Garth, Of Grave Importance, The Girl With The Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo
Oh man, time for another massive “WTF?” character shift. These are killing me! Ever since “The Slice Girls” Dean has been enthralled by the possibility Bobby’s ghost is hanging around and watching out for them. Sam kept talking him out of it, but his heart knew better. Then they finally find out its true. Bobby gets through. So suddenly, Dean is hurt and hates the idea? He’s even angry and mean to Bobby because he ditched the reaper? Oh come on. I seem to recall Dean being a ghost once himself in “In My Time of Dying.” He should at least understand why Bobby did it. Dean was trying to do the exact same thing. Fight it. His work wasn’t done. Why couldn’t he and Sam try to talk with Bobby instead? Why couldn’t they try to help their father figure through this? This is not the Dean Winchester we know. He helps those he loves, no matter what they’ve become. Especially when Bobby hasn’t betrayed him.
Reading is Fundamental
Here’s more chances to explore Dean’s issues with Castiel. No matter what Cass does, Dean won’t forgive him. Now Castiel is a little bonkers (okay, a lot) and Dean only wants to focus of the mystery of the stone, not on his strained relationship with his angel friend. That makes perfect sense, it’s how Dean has always dealt with hurt and betrayal. Look at how he was all business with Sam at the beginning of season five. Dean’s outburst during the game of Sorry shows how very much angry and hurt he still is. We didn’t need to see or hear more than that.
There Will Be Blood/Survival of The Fittest
Oh wait, I see a few traces of the Dean Winchester we all know and love in these eps. They have their plan on getting Dick now and he’s rolling with it. He and Sam are in perfect sync regarding this. Yes, they’re still totally misguided with this issue of Ghost! Bobby hanging around and messing up their plans. Instead of talking with Bobby and dealing with the issue, Dean locks the flask up. Oh, great going. That backfires since it only makes him mad.
Both these episodes are a straight forward, “get the bad guy” type missions. Dean thrives well with this kind of focus. He was even finding his sense of humor again. He’s amazingly patient with Castiel, and even shows a that hint of forgiveness that has us cracking a smile. Even baby is back. All this in time so he could kill Dick, yet get burned again by moving on to his next disturbing adventure.
What Does It Mean?
So what did we learn from point A to point B? I’m going to call Dean’s plight in season seven “Frog in a blender.” It looked interesting at first, but the end result was an unrecognizable mess. Okay, perhaps there were some small traces of old Dean in the very end, but the question is, will it last?
Out of everything that happened in season seven, the most inexplicable thing to come from it is the two brothers somehow forgot how to talk to each other after the first two episodes. I love how Dean got upset with Sam in “Meet The New Boss” for not telling him about the hallucinations, and then Dean and Sam had that ground breaking brotherly moment in the warehouse during Sam’s psychotic break, but after that there wasn’t a lot of good honest, open or productive conversation between the two. There was the whole Amy fiasco with secrets and lies that went nowhere. They couldn’t come eye to eye about Bobby’s ghostly existence until it was proven to be true. Sam never shared with Dean the terror of his mental breakdown, although he did share it with Castiel. Dean never asked or tried to get to the bottom of what was going on with Sam outside of “Hello, Cruel World.” Oh, and the very brief conversation at the beginning of “Party On, Garth.” The one that should have been revisited at some point. Again, that will be explored further when we look at Sam.
The only time there wasn’t disconnect was when they were working a case. I’m sure all that was intentional in the writer’s minds, but what was the purpose? By shelving the brotherly dynamic, it shelved the heart of the show. The object was to strip them of everything so all they had was each other, right? Then why didn’t they rely on each other more? How did they grow more apart? Could one reason really have been that the car wasn’t there anymore? We know how so many brotherly conflicts were hashed out in the Impala.
Oh, don’t get me started about the car…
I hope that if any serious wrong is corrected in season eight, it’s that Dean emerges from this seemingly senseless ordeal with his fighting spirit in tact again. Oh, and his spirit sticks around for the bulk of the season. No more guessing from week to week which Dean Winchester will show up. Is that too much to ask at this point?
Coming up in the next part, A Deeper Look at Season Seven Sam Winchester. Hint, it involves a lot more primal screaming.
Here are the links for the previous "A Deeper Look at Dean Winchester" articles:
A Deeper Look at Season Six Dean Winchester
A Deeper Look at Season Five Dean Winchester
A Deeper Look at Season Four Dean Winchester
A Deeper Look at Season Three Dean Winchester