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"IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND" by Lightfoot & Winchester 

 
Over the years, Supernatural has shown it can stretch beyond its classic rock roots.  We've seen Dean lip-synching to Air Supply, Bobby referencing Joni Mitchell and Sam choosing to put Jason Manns on his iPOD playlist. Still, I doubt Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot will ever be played on the show.  I'm sure the mere thought of it has "Executive Consultant" Eric Kripke spinning on his swivel seat in Los Angeles.  But in light of "The Mentalists" episode, and before we all start spewing the pea soup, I'd like to share the lyrics for Lightfoot's classic "If You Could Read My Mind".  
 
If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie
About a ghost from a wishin' well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet
You know that ghost is me
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost, you can see

If I could read your mind love
What a tale your thoughts could tell
Just like a paperback novel
The kind the drugstore sells
When you reach the part where the heartaches
Come the hero would be me
Heroes often fail
And you won't read that book again
Because the endings just to hard to take

I'd walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script
Enter number two, a movie queen
To play the scene of bringing
All the good things out in me
But for now love let's be real

I never thought I could act this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it
I don't know where we went wrong
But the feelings gone and I just can't get it back

If you could read my mind love
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Just like an old time movie
About a ghost from a wishing well
In a castle dark or a fortress strong
With chains upon my feet the story always ends

If you read between the lines
You'll know that I'm just trying to understand
The feeling that you left
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it
I don't know where we went wrong
But the feelings gone and I just can't get it back
 
On the surface, it's a song about the break-up of a romantic relationship, in this case Lightfoot's marriage.  However, on a broader scale it's a song about love, and wishing you could read the others person's thoughts and feelings, so that you could make it right.  Plus, it even mentions ghosts!  And it has a lot to say (unintentionally) about our two brothers.

I'd Walk Away, Like A Movie Star


  
Sigh.  Sam really does walk away, like a movie star, doesn't he?  (When this is all over, would someone please sign these guys up for big, successful movies?)  All kidding aside, that's what he does.  It's one of the ways Sam deals with emotional conflict. He walks away from it, thereby physically separating himself from the source.  For example, Sam knows something is bugging Dean, begs him to tell the truth, and then when the very painful truth is revealed, he walks away.    And he stays away.   
 
Now, I am a big fan of the walk-away-to-cool-off technique.  In fact, it's something I should probably practice more regularly.  I sometimes have an unfortunate tendency to spout off instead!  When you're really, really angry, walking away before you say something hurtful is a very wise course of action.  
 
But walking away and/or staying away can also be a form of punishment.  It takes away the other person's opportunity to explain his side.  It stops the discussion cold. I know.  I've used it, and it is very effective.  It also puts The Walker in the power position.  If you walk away, the other person really has just two options - follow you, or turn and walk away too.  But, whatever choice he makes, it's a direct reaction to The Walk.  Although in this case, maybe Sam walked away because he is barely holding himself together.  He didn't feel capable of taking on Dean's issues too.  
 
I like how The Walk was referenced in "The Mentalists".  Dean brought it up in the diner, saying he wasn't even going to ask Sam for an explanation of what he'd been doing for the last 10 days.  But if you read Dean's body language, he so badly wanted to know, and was more than a little hurt and surprised when Sam didn't "˜fess up.  However, Dean didn't push him on it.  I think that shows a new maturity from both brothers.  Maybe Dean is learning that with Sam, sometimes less is more. 

I also found it interesting that it was Dean who walked away after their little spat outside the museum.  Dean has just been warned, via a message from Ellen, that he needs to start reaching out to people again. He's frustrated and tired of getting the semi-silent treatment from Sam.  Being fed-up, he decides on the direct approach of really saying how he feels.  It's classic Dean.  "Keep pushing me, and I'll tell you exactly how I feel!"
 
I have to admit, I fall into the camp of not being offended by Dean's use of language.  He always uses words like dick and bitch.  Are they okay words to use in an argument in my house?  Not a chance.  But does Dean use them regularly?  Absolutely.  He is not usually characterized as the brother with the big vocabulary.  Please note.  I'm not saying he's stupid.  I think he is Sam's cerebral equal, but his smarts lie in other areas, and lexicon is not one of them.  
 
Furthermore, Sam has called Dean a dick too.  Back in Yellow Fever, when Dean was wondering why he got infected, Sam kind of infers that it's because Dean is a dick, just like the other victims.  It's meant mainly as a joke, but not entirely.  Sam does say Dean scares people. 

From my perspective, Dean never tells Sam to stop being pissed at him.  He doesn't tell Sam how to feel.  He just asks, in less-than-polite terms, to have his feelings recognized too.  He was forcing the discussion, in the same way Sam has forced discussions in the past.  He just wasn't as eloquent.  In some ways, it was a classic parenting move, which is in line with Dean's quasi-parental role.  Parents are often advised to tell their teenagers how they feel about a certain subject, and then drop it.  But, Dean likely should have waited to hear if Sam had anything else to say.
 
A Fortress Strong, With Chains Upon My Feet,  But The Feelings Gone And I Just Can't Get It Back

SPN 1265  

Dean. Dean. Dean.  How many times over 7 seasons have we been told how he pushes his feelings down, and secures them behind a strong, fortified wall?  Now all those feelings are acting like chains on his feet, and threatening to pull him under.
 
But at long last, it seems Dean may be willing to lower the drawbridge just a little.  He tells Sam that in his gut, killing Amy felt like the right thing to do.  But he confesses it was lying to Sam about it that was destroying him.  He admits that hiding things from his brother makes him very, very uncomfortable.   
 
I'd hazard a guess that's not the only thing making him uncomfortable these days.  He's worried about Sam and his hellucinations - how best to help him, and will his brother ever recover from them.  I also suspect he's still grieving Lisa & Ben, and his decision to wipe their memories.  In DYL and TM, Dean looked somewhat ill at ease around the ladies.  It seems he might not be as sure of his Dean-catnip charm as he was in the olden days.  That suggests a rocking of his self-confidence that goes all the way to his core.

But in the over-the-hood confession, Dean doesn't stop at the statement of how hard it is to lie to Sam.  He surprises us all, and actually mentions Castiel. He acknowledges that he lost more than just a friend when Levi!Cas waded into the lake. He owns up to the fact that Cas's betrayal and apparent death have destroyed his ability to trust anyone.  Dean always drew his strength from the bond he shared with that very small circle of people he'd let into his secret heart.  But now? Sam is back but he's not quite the same old Sam.  And Cas is gone, leaving a trail of destruction through Dean's whole being, including how he views himself as a man, and a hunter.  Wow!  That fortress is looking a little shaky.  

And I Will Never Be Set Free As Long As I'm a Ghost, You Can See



Ironically, at this moment in his life, Sam doesn't really want to know that Dean is feeling unstable.  That's because Sam is still seeing Lucifer on a regular basis.  The constant battle in his brain is weighing heavily on him.   If ever there was time when he needed his big brother to be strong, it is now.  He needs that Stone #1.  (My question, why didn't Jimmy, the real psychic, use Sam's hellucinations against him, or at least mention them?!) 
 
Selfishly, I wish they would show a little more of Sam trying to cope with his constant Satanvision.  Grabbing the palm works.  But I'd like a few more "tells".  Maybe a stunned "Are you talking to me?" directed to Dean or Bobby, or a sudden unsteadiness on his feet, and then a headshake and quick recovery.  Even a quite glimpse of flames, or something hellish (more news stories about the Kardashian wedding break-up might qualify as hellish!)  
 
The reason I want to see more of those visions is because I want to see how Sam copes with them.  In Slash Fiction, the Leviathans suggested he's seeing these hellucinations almost all the time, which would make him incredibly damaged. Yet, outwardly he seems to be functioning fine.  He spent over a week on his own, and didn't end up as a John Doe in a hospital, or jail.  But if he is capable of functioning relatively normally given that much psychic destruction, he's almost superhuman. And if you're superhuman, you don't really need to have a brother, and friends to lean on, or be supported by when the pain threatens to overwhelm you.  They're nice to have, but not necessary.  
 
Enter Number Two, A Movie Queen To Play The Scene of Bringing All The Good Things Out In Me

SPN 0333


And the Oscar goes to movie queen #1 Ellen Harvelle.  Thank you Ellen, for being as amazing after death as you were in life.  I love how she is still reaching out to the boys, and trying to mother them, to give them that maternal reassurance they so desperately crave. 

Her little speech from beyond was worrisome though.  "You better tell someone how bad it really is."  Okay.  So, what's the other shoe in this scenario?  How bad is it really?  Is there something yet to be revealed to us? I am still pondering the line from God!Cas to Crowley in MTNB, when he talks about not wanting to let Michael out of the cage. I wonder whether Michael did more than slay demons and banish Lucifer to the Pit. Maybe he was the Archangel who exiled the Leviathan to Purgatory in the first place. Has Ellen caught wind of a Dean-Michael scenario, yet to be explained?
 
Dean thought he was doing such a good job of telling everyone he was fine.  But, he forgot that ghosts and spirits aren't swayed by words.  They can read your mind, and your heart, and see what's really there.  What Ellen sees is a man adrift and looking for shore.  Dean is looking to trust again, to get back on stable ground.  He just doesn't know how.  Perhaps her words will steer him there.
 
The other movie queen in this episode is Melanie.  She brought out all the good things in the boys because she trusted them, believed what they were telling her, offered them thanks for saving her life, and absolution for not being able to save Camille.  Those are all things Dean in particular, but Sam as well, is searching for right now.   The respectful way she treated Dean allowed him to take strength from his "Saving People, Hunting Things" creed.  I think, for just a moment, he let himself believe he had helped someone.  Unfortunately, he quickly fell back to his default position of letting himself be consumed by guilt that he couldn't save everyone.
 
Heroes Often Fail



We certainly saw our heroes fail in this episode.   They failed to save Camille.  And that was because they failed to listen to the ghost of Kate Foxx, who was trying to warn them about what her sister was doing.  I thought they were remarkably pigheaded in the cemetery.   In this case, they were both guilty of seeing only a supernatural creature which needed to be destroyed, rather than someone who might be able to help. Kate was screaming "Why won't anyone listen to me?"  It's not like they haven't had experience with ghosts who try to warn people - think the Dad in "Provenance" or the murder victim in "The Usual Suspects". If they'd slowed down a bit (or not thought they were reading the ghost's mind) they might have saved Camille.
 
But the flip side is that failure is important to heroes. Sometimes that's how the most valuable lessons are learnt.  Those experiences are what help them succeed the next time. Of course, it's also their failures that make them compelling and human.  The drama is in watching how these heroes try to overcome their many personal and professional failures.
 
If You Read Between The Lines
 
Reading between the lines is taking a message from what is inferred, rather than what is stated.  We do that a lot as TV viewers.  We use our own imagination to fill in the blanks.  That's probably why there is so much discussion in the blogs lately.  None of us share the same imagination, so we all fill in the gaps a little differently.  That can lead to very different interpretations of a scene or speech or storyline.  
 
But reading between the lines in our daily life is also about reading body language.  One of the things I appreciated about "The Mentalist" was that there were real psychics, with real messages.  But it was Melanie, the non-psychic who was truly able to read the brothers.  By reading their body language, she could tell they were stressed and pissed.  She could also tell when that tension was easing, and a sense of balance was returning.
 
My paying job requires me to ask a lot of different people, a lot of different questions.  To get good answers, I need to listen closely to what they're saying.  But just as importantly, whenever I can, I need to listen to what their body is saying.  Are they tense or relaxed?  Happy or sad?  Open or evasive?  Their body language as much as their words can influence the questions I ask.
 
Body language can reveal so much about what a person is thinking.  But it's not the same as reading someone's mind.  After all, stiff posture sometimes just means the person has a sore neck!
 
What I find fascinating about Sam & Dean is that when they are hunting, or in a desperate situation, they are incredibly skilled at reading each other's minds and body language.  They anticipate, usually correctly, what the other is about to do and react accordingly.  Those reflexes have saved them time and time again.
 
But it all falls apart when the conversation gets emotional.  Yet, they persist in believing they know what the other is thinking.  They're not reading each other's minds.  They're reading their own projections.  Sam fears Dean losing faith in him, both as a person and a hunter.  Dean fears Sam not needing him, and leaving him again.
 
If they could really read each other's minds, it would be a fairly short book.  Sam would read in Dean's mind "I couldn't let him die, Bobby. I couldn't. He's my brother."  And Dean would read in Sam's mind, "You know me. You know why. I'm not leaving my brother alone out there."



They'd read the simple message of love.  And oh, what a tale that thought could tell. 

 

 

Comments  

Melanie
# Melanie 2011-11-11 12:10
Love that song! I always thought the lines were 'a ghost you CAN'T see' and 'feelings that you LACK'
I just looked up the lyrics, its listed both ways on different lyric sites - hmmm.

Gotta run -- still working my way through this -- one of my favorite songs. Fits the Winchesters. :)

I always like your meta - wish I had time to concentrate right now
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-11-11 20:31
Hi Melanie,

Good catch! The song does seem to have been recorded both ways -- sometimes seeing the ghost, and sometimes not. Oopsy. The analogy doesn't work quite so well when it's "can't" but I'll take creative licence (and internet variety) and just go with "ghost that you can see". My apologies to Gordo.

And thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoy my meta. They're always a little left fieldish, but I like the view from there!

See you at the wedding. I'll be on the groom's side!

Pragmatic Dreamer
trackerem
# trackerem 2011-11-11 12:54
good stuff!
Bevie
# Bevie 2011-11-11 14:22
That was beautiful and such a satisfactory read. Loved it and love Lightfoot! :P

I appreciate it so much, especially lately as a lot of negative stuff has made my enjoyment of my show a lot harder. :-?

Love your interpretation of the brothers in the song. :-)
Geordiegirl1967
# Geordiegirl1967 2011-11-11 14:23
Quote:
If they could really read each other’s minds, it would be a fairly short book.  Sam would read in Dean’s mind “I couldn't let him die, Bobby. I couldn't. He's my brother.”  And Dean would read in Sam’s mind, “You know me. You know why. I'm not leaving my brother alone out there.”
I love this. So true. Great review. Thanks.
sofia
# sofia 2011-11-11 14:39
This is great! I couldn't agree more with just about everything you said.

I think you described what I believe is going on between the brothers perfectly.

I, too am in what seems like the minority of people who didn't find Dean out of character in his fight with Sam outside the museum. To me it felt like a classic Sam and Dean fight.

Sam walks away from Dean (rightfully so) leaving him feeling abandoned which is perhaps his greatest fear. They are reunited and Sam is still angry (rightfully so) but Dean is going crazy wondering what Sam is thinking and if they'll get past it. He's also frustrated that Sam doesn't immediately forgive him. The stress of their argument and the things he's keeping to himself finally push him to the edge and he lashes out. But never once did I think Dean felt Sam was somehow at fault for their argument. He knows he lied to Sam and admits fully that it felt wrong.

I'm glad to hear there are others out there whose interpretations of that scene were similar to mine! I thought I had missed something...
Gerry
# Gerry 2011-11-11 15:09
What a great read! Loved it. Sam and Dean, reading between the lines. I so agree that to get a good read on a scene you have to look at the brothers' body language as much as what they say. That's why Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are so darn good.

I also agree with your read of the argument scene. Sam through his silence has actually had much of the power in their interactions. Dean finally tells him he's not going to dance any more, in Dean language. It's time for something to give, so Dean pushes. And I don't believe Sam really hoped Dean would just accept his anger and leave at the end of the case. He was waiting for something to shift, too.

About Sam's hallucinations, I kind of like the way they've unfolded. We know Sam still has them, but the connection he has with Dean gives him a way to stay calm--which is why he's so freaked at Dean's lie.

I like that Sam is actually stronger than anyone thought he would be, because he survived getting his soul back. But I don't doubt for a minute he will be tested again and the state of his soul will tell the tale.

Another episode tonight! Can't wait . . .
AmyinSydney
# AmyinSydney 2011-11-11 15:34
Oh my gosh, I love you. That is all.
Marilyn
# Marilyn 2011-11-11 17:36
Love that song; its probably years since I thought about it. Thanks for reminding me what a great song it is and how appropriate for the Winchester brothers journey. :lol:

I couldn't agree with you more about this episode. For example: that is how they talk to each other; especially Dean.They have called each other dick and bitch in the past.

I thought Melanie's character was great; she was exactly who Dean and Sam needed in their life right then. Awesome shoutout to Ellen. I still miss Ellen and Jo, Pamela, Rufus,and Castiel to name a few. Darn, I am going to have to grab a kleenex. :sad:

You perfectly summed up what they need to say to each other:
If they could really read each other’s minds, it would be a fairly short book. Sam would read in Dean’s mind “I couldn't let him die, Bobby. I couldn't. He's my brother.” And Dean would read in Sam’s mind, “You know me. You know why. I'm not leaving my brother alone out there.”

But family life is not that easy, is it? At least my family doesn't have to save the world on a regular basis.

Thanks for a great article, Pragmatic Dreamer.
saltwatergal
# saltwatergal 2011-11-13 10:44
What a fantastic review. TPTB should be listening and offering you a JOB!
Thanks
BagginsDVM
# BagginsDVM 2011-12-01 20:54
Wow! I just had time to read this. Great essay! Definitely agree with your insight into the boys' minds.
I love that song too. I might just have to pop Gord's Gold into the CD player now.