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Back to some more golden moments of paradise. Dean is in Mary's kitchen eating a homemade BLT. He savors it like it's the best meal he's ever had in his life. Probably because it is. He even tells her this is the best sandwich ever, then asks where Sam is. Mary thinks he should be there soon. Dean is dying to see him. Mary, still a little confused by Dean's behavior, says she's thrilled he wants to hang out there but shouldn't he be at work? At the garage. Dean covers, he has the day off. A mechanic. Just like John. How nice. Dean goes back to taking extreme pleasure in the sandwich. Then he looks outside. "That lawn looks like it could use some mowing." Mary in shock asks if he wants to mow the lawn. Dean would love to. She tells him to knock himself out. "You think you'd never mowed a lawn in your life." Dean shrugs, not letting on that is indeed the case.

Out of all the amazing scenes in this episode, this one is my favorite. Nothing out there, I don't care what show or what story, shows better the pure joy one can get from a simple pleasure usually taken for granted. Plus it's to The Ramone's version of "What a Wonderful World." What's cooler than that? The heavy guitar riffs come on, Dean pulls the cord, the engine revs and we see the red lawn mower moving over the bring green grass. The Technicolor lenses were brought out for this one for everything is colorful, bright cheery and there are even garden gnomes! Yeah, I know that's actually a metaphor that evil is really lurking but I'm too enchanted by the pure joy on Dean's face to care. Dean even stops to smile and wave at a neighbor who's taking out his garbage. He skeptically waves back like Dean has been drinking. I wouldn't count that in the tally though.

After a successful mow as the song winds down, Dean is sitting on the front steps and enjoying his favorite beer, El Sol, smiling over a job well done. Then, things actually get better! Up pulls a car, a rental that has just come from the airport. Another "I don't believe it." Sam gets out of the car. He's got one really pitiful track suit jacket on and a yellow shirt, and Jared looks really bad in yellow. I remember that from "It's A Terrible Life." Sam barely smiles at Dean, hinting to us that there's some tension there. Dean rushes over and bear hugs a perplexed Jessica, who gets out of the passenger side alive and well. Her reaction is great. "Good to see you too Dean," she says while her face hints she thinks he's been drinking. A fair assumption since he has a beer in his hand. "Can't breathe," she says and he lets go.

Sam comes over and Dean's all smiles. "Sammy, look at you. You're with Jessica, I don't believe it." Sam naturally doesn't get it either. Dean asks where they came from. They just flew in from California. Like Stanford, remember Dean? "Law school I bet." Sam isn't impressed and sees the beer in Dean's hand. "I see you've started off mom's birthday with a bang as usual." Dean is surprised today is her birthday. Sam definitely isn't pleased he forgot for that's why they flew in. Dean doesn't know what to say. Uh oh, I see a "be careful what you wish for" moment coming.

They're at a restaurant and someone puts this weird dish with an asparagus tower in front of Dean. He deadpans its awesome. They all toast over Mary's birthday and man does this scene feel weird. I'm sure that was the point. Dean watches Jessica and Sam kiss though and he's grinning from ear to ear. Poor guy, he doesn't see that Sam doesn't like him. That's really sad. Then Carmen interrupts. She was worried about him last night. He uses his "I'm good" line and this time he means it. She says proposes they get him a cheeseburger later. "Oh God yes. How did I end up with such a cool chick?" "I just got low standards," she jokes. Lady, you haven't seen Dean's lows. You see, there's this waitress in Tampa"¦

He kisses her and then it's time for Sam's big announcement for Mary's birthday. Sam and Jessica get really cute about who's going to drop the news and Sam shows them the ring on Jessica's finger. Mary is elated. She gives Jess a big hug and then Sam, wishing his dad was there to see this. Sam agrees and then I realize that yellow polka dot tie that Sam has on is really hideous. They really are going out of their way to make him look like a wimp in this reality. Also, I'm watching everyone's subtle reactions. Sam is all smiles when Mary hugs him and is even sweet when Mary mentions John. It isn't until Dean comes over and offers his congratulations that Sam's face gets a little sour. Dean says he's glad Sam is happy and Sam doesn't buy it one bit. Oh, so that's why this scene seems strange.

Dean sees that same woman over Sam's shoulder, except her dress is grey now and her face is looking more gaunt. The same dripping noises come on in the background. Dean briskly walks over, someone walks in front of him and she's gone. He turns around to see Sam, Jessica, Carmen and Mary staring at him like he's lost his mind. Yeah, how does he explain all this to them?

Back at the house and there's a terrible picture of John holding a large fish. Sam asks Dean what that was back at the restaurant. Dean brushes it off as he thought he saw someone. That's one way of putting it. Mary announces she had a lovely birthday and Sam lovingly smiles. Aww, we forget that he never knew this woman at all, so this is how he would have been with her had she lived. He adores and worships her. That is the true unconditional love of a son for his mother. Sam then says he's beat and asks Jess if she's ready to turn in. Dean doesn't get it. It's not even 9:00 yet. He proposes they go have a drink. Carmen likes the idea, Sam says another time. Dean insists. "Look at us. We both have beautiful women on our arm. You're engaged, let's go celebrate." Sam has had enough of this brotherly act and takes Dean aside.

Sam wants to know what's gotten into him. Dean doesn't understand. "This whole warm fuzzy, ecstasy trip thing." "I'm just happy for you Sammy," Dean says and pats him on the arm. This gets Sam even more riled up. "Yeah right, that's another thing. Since when do you call me Sammy? Dean come on, we don't talk outside of holidays." Dean is surprised to hear that. "Well we should. You're my brother." Sam doesn't like that line at all. "You know that's what you said when you snaked my ATM card. Or when you bailed on my graduation, or when you hooked up with Rachel Nave." Who? "My prom date, on prom night." She's also the writer for "Bugs." She deserves this!

"Yeah, that does kind of sound like me," Dean says. Dean tries to apologize an apparently Sam has gotten over it. He's not asking Dean to change but they don't have anything in common. "Yes we do" Dean says as Sam tries to leave. "Hunting." "I've never been hunting in my life Dean," Sam replies. Dean looks like he's dying inside. "Yeah well, we should go sometime. I think you'd be great at it." Sam only responds like Dean is talking nonsense. Poor Dean doesn't want Sam to go so Sam turns around and tells him to get some rest before leaving. Dean is crushed. This is so sad! Also, notice how everyone is telling Dean to get some rest? That must be the method the Djinn uses to get them to stay in this reality.


# Jasminka 2009-12-11 04:25
Alice, could you please get out of my head…? This is one of those episodes I love to watch over and over.
I just watched it yesterday night when my mind was spinning with yet another heavy crisis I had to solve at work and I somehow couldn’t get down. So, a dose of Winchester helped me relax, and now I find this recap – woman, how do you do that? Doing this amazing episode justice with your recap and review – and in a manner that makes me believe I’m watching it right now, with some nice, wicked comments on the side…

Yeah, why do smart characters end up as lawyers..? I could picture Sam working for NASA or the UN, putting his diplomatic skills to good use…. (and I wouldn’t mind having him share my office with me: JasPh.D. & SamPh.D., therapists for the impossible… oh, I’m crazy…)

Well, this is an episode in which Dean shines…. Containing some of the sweetest Dean-moments ever… and he breaks my heart every time in those scenes with Mom… how he leans into her, as she bids him good night, eating the ‘best sandwich ever’, having a –relaxed (how long has it been, the man has felt at peace?)- beer, his loving glance at Sam with Jessica, his realization what’s going on between him and alternative-rea lity-Sam, his love for Carmen (and that kiss, … sorry everyone, heavy fan-moment coming on awwwwwwwwwwh, I’m dying…. ), and that graveyard scene… I’m dying again (how many lives does a woman have, exactly?) and getting buried in a Kleenex coffin.

Jensen, you’re way too young to be such an amazing, amazing actor! Everything is here – the tense body language communicating all that pain and the dignity he keeps throughout everything that happened to him (and that will happen), the changes in voice, the struggle for breath, gosh, the tragedy of it all…

You’re absolutely right, Alice. There’s not much to do but to be in awe over this character. Apart from all he does to be the man he is, allowing Sam to think ‘he’s a degenerate to protect him’ is one of the most difficult things ever – letting a loved one believe you’re, well, a disappointment, … I salute you, Dean, dear.

And, yes, the first time I saw those scenes, I too believed that they found a brotherly bond even in that reality, but the heartrending truth soon delivered a blow…

And, well, about that old wives’ tale… where my mother came from, people believed that if you died in a dream, you’d really die. .. Is there anyone out there who can convince me that you have died in a dream and are still around? No kidding, growing up with that superstition I somehow still believe that… like I’m still ten years old…

That decision Dean had to make to come back… My God, my heart breaks for him yet again… I was brought up with the moral standards that integrity and kindness are two of the most important things in life. Spontaneously I’d say, ‘Of course I would have done the exact same thing, returning to the real life, doing what needs to be done’, but truth is, I don’t know if I had the strength to do that.
With every tough decision I had to make in my life I’ve striven to honour my parents by doing what needed to be done… But it gets harder… I’ve been asking myself ever since that episode whether I would be able to muster up the strength necessary if I came into a situation as impossible as that… I only hope I would. But I don’t know for sure…

Alice, thanks a lot for this great recap! You summed it all up so beautifully and inadvertently gave me an idea for an article. Now I’ll have to get to work again.
Any other ‘landmark episodes’ recaps coming up? Terrific! Jas
# DianeUK 2009-12-11 04:52
Just trying to type around the tears!!!
This and ALWAYS will be my favourite episode EVER. It is the one that the DVD goes to automatically when the disk goes in!!!!
Jasminka you said it for me.
I was supposed to be working at home this am .... But HAD to read this when I saw the title (OH! Work is always there!)
The only other point I would make is that it is SOOO wonderful to see Dean smiling and happy. It happens so rarely. I miss his smiles ... but then maybe if there were too many (can there be too many?) we would not cherish them so much.
My son always knows when I have watched this episode because I hug and give him a kiss!(don't always remember other times!). Have to go and phone him now!
Thank you again for this article
Diane x
# Randal 2009-12-11 11:37
Lynda Carter wins, trust me. My first boyhood crush. Yowza.

This episode has had a strange shelf life in my noodle. Usually when deliberating on whether this one is better than that because who doesn't love making lists, it's pretty fluid, but this is one of the few that seems to age like a fine wine, climbing up the charts.

There's so much emotional depth in it and if your heart doesn't break at the end, then you're one cold mofo. I'm a sucker for the heavy mytharc/demonol ogy and comedy ones, but goddamn, I don't pay attention to any of that Emmy bullshit, but how Jensen didn't win one of those stupid trophies for this (do they have single episode ones?) is beyond me. The curse of being on a "horror" show, I guess.
# Bevie 2009-12-11 16:05
If ever anyone in the world deserved to win an acting trophy, it would be Jensen in this episode. I am in complete awe of his talent portrayed here. I'm sure the doofuses who vote for the Emmy winners never even attempt to watch an episode of Supernatural. Boy, they don't know what they are missing out on! I have such respect for this man's extraordinary talent.

As for this episode, it may well be my number 1 episode. It shows off Dean's character so well. His love for his mother and Sam. His deepest wishes for a loving relationship with a good woman and a desire to have a family of his own. Yes, the tears do flow when watching this one! So much empathy for the character of Dean Winchester, who puts himself last in every situation that comes down to his comfort or the well being of others, even strangers. That is the quality that makes me love Dean Winchester unconditionally . We know what makes him tick and what drives him to be the hero he is.

What a wonderfully constructed character! Bless the exceptional writers, producers and creator Kripke for this awesome guy! And the amazing Jensen who brings him to life every episode!
# Hillary 2009-12-12 03:12
This is by far the best episode of supernatural ever, there is a reason it is the only A+ episode on twop. It's just a fantastic character study and highlights how well constructed and acted the character of Dean Winchester really is. This episode highlights why I like Dean. He may have superficial flaws but deep down he has a respect for humanity and desire to protect the innocent from the darkness. This is also the episode I use to explain why I love this show.
# Karen 2009-12-14 09:20
Hi Alice
Once again another great review.
This has always been one of my favourite episodes.
Can’t say anymore than what has already been said.
Thanks again.
# Suze 2009-12-15 06:12
I love Dean in this, and we need more Ramones ( C'mon, they're mostly dead or well addled, they'd be cheap ... ) Best of all I love the Genie, awesome tattoos, glows in the dark, all round top monster ... All sing together now ... You ain't never had a friend like me ... :lol:
# Dany 2009-12-23 12:52
I've been waiting for this recap for a long time Alice, so thanks for this wonderful piece!
This is one of my favorites episodes, lots of klenex every time!
Yes, I too think that Emmy is way overdue, but like Bevie I think that those people that vote for that never saw a Supernatural episode, they don't know what they missing (like amazing acting!).