Fans of Supernatural enjoy the show for different reasons. So weâ€™re used to the dissent that comes with a whole lot of people expressing their opinions over what they like and donâ€™t like. One element that we donâ€™t seem to fight over, though, is our fondness for the brothersâ€™ relationship. In fact, if you ask fans on the forums or at the conventions what made them originally fall in love with the show, chances are youâ€™ll hear â€œthe brothers â€˜ relationshipâ€ as the answer.
We love the relationship so much that we got some good natured ribbing about it in some actual Supernatural episodes. Itâ€™s evident from the following scenes that those involved in the making of the show know just how important that brotherly interaction is to us:
â€œI mean, the best parts are when they cry.â€ - The Publisher, Supernatural 4.18, â€œThe Monster at the End of This Bookâ€
â€œâ€¦ So weâ€™d have to blow off the scene where they sit on the Impala and talk about their feelings.â€
â€œHa. Right. You answer the hate mail.â€ -Kevin and Bobâ€™s conversation, Supernatural 6.15, â€œThe French Mistakeâ€
These lines are funny because basically, theyâ€™re true. Give us the boys in the impala, park them by a nice lake, find the pitch perfect melody in the background, let them be vulnerable with each other - and weâ€™re good.
So now I must pose this question: In Season 7, do you find yourself rewinding and watching the brother moments over and over again? I know I do. Why is that? For me, itâ€™s because Iâ€™m so starved for them, and I never know how long it will be before I see another one.
Sam and Dean obviously love one another. They are everything to each other. Thatâ€™s a given. So, knowing that information, why does it still seem like they donâ€™t like each other very much lately? Ok, perhaps Iâ€™m going a bit too far. Maybe they seem like they still like each other, but where is that brotherly love that has become the signature of the show? It seems to me that itâ€™s gone missing.
Now, this article isnâ€™t about the storylines (not directly anyway). That could be a topic unto itself, but this is specifically about the brotherly interaction weâ€™ve been seeing (or not seeing, as the case may be) play out on screen. And for the record, I have enjoyed, to one degree or another, most of the episodes of Season 7. Iâ€™ve just enjoyed them without the brother scenes that Iâ€™ve come to love.
Taking a step backward, many fans refer to Seasons 1-3 as the classic years of Supernatural. It was there that the brotherhood was showcased. Almost every episode from those seasons contained at least one brotherly moment, and many contained multiple moments in the same episode. And each one played out in a poignant and touching way. These moments between Sam and Dean were never overdone. They just deftly conveyed in words, facial expressions and sometimes actions, what the brothers meant to each other. These were the scenes that ended up defining the episodes in which they were contained.
We all know well the many brotherly moments seen in those years. Seasons 1 and 2 had the boys reconnecting after a time apart, and sharing the burden of trying to find their father while hunting the thing that killed their mother (and Jessica). Later, that hunt intensified, and the boys attempted to deal with the death of their father. And so those moments revealed themselves in many ways. Whether it was the boysâ€™ banter back and forth, ("Pilot," "Asylum," and "Hell House"), Deanâ€™s concern over Samâ€™s emerging powers ("Home," "Nightmare," or "Simon Said") Samâ€™s realization that he was starting to need Dean as much as Dean needed him ("Faith," "What Is and What Shall Never Be," and "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2") or Deanâ€™s actions while in protective big brother mode ("The Benders," "Croatoan," "Hunted," "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Folsom Prison Blues," "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1" - okâ€”just about every episode), we saw the care, concern and the deepening love between them intricately woven into the storylines.
In Season 3 we saw Sam and Dean battling more demons, taking on Bela and a possible (although not trusted) ally in Ruby. We also saw Sam become obsessive in his attempt to save Dean from going to Hell. Brotherly moments abounded in episodes like Fresh Blood, A Very Supernatural Christmas, Malleus Maleficarum, Mystery Spot, Time is on My Side, and No Rest for the Wicked. The intensity of the boysâ€™ connection, (much to their own detriment at times) became apparent to them, and compelling to the viewers.
Even in the breakdown of the brothersâ€™ relationship (and the introduction of Castiel and the Angels) in Season 4, the strength of their feelings in regard to one another was always present. (And letâ€™s not forget Lazarus Rising gave us that moving reunion and hug!) We saw the angst, disappointment, and despair in both Winchesters, and though we may not have liked them being at odds with one another, the interactions between them in episodes like Metamorphosis, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Heaven and Hell, Sex and Violence and Lucifer Rising were gripping to watch. The situation between them got so bad precisely because they cared so much about each other.
The slow repair of the relationship came in Season 5, and we saw the brothers find their way back to each other. Episodes like The End, The Real Ghostbusters, and Point of No Return revealed to the boys (and to us, even though we already knew!) that despite everything, their bond was permanent and moreover, each brother actually sustained the other. The Swan Song finale, - whether you loved it, hated it, or were neutral about it - brought home the message in that poignant Stull Cemetery scene that ultimately, the boys chose family over everything else (even life). Or more specifically, Sam and Deanâ€™s enduring love for each other saved the world.
In Season 6, Sam came back Soulless, and we watched as the boys were unable to interact in the same brotherly manner. However, we saw through Deanâ€™s actions that he cared deeply about wanting to get Samâ€™s soul back (even if Sam didnâ€™t), and Appointment in Samarra showed us the lengths he would go through to get that soul. The second half returned us to some proper brotherly moments with the brothers real reunion (Like a Virgin), and Deanâ€™s concern over Samâ€™s wall falling (Unforgiven and IMO, the only saving grace of Mannequin 3: The Reckoning). We saw the brothers more in sync mentally and emotionally (And Then There Were None, The French Mistake) and the moving Season 6 finale (The Man Who Knew Too Much) showed us how Deanâ€™s persistence paid off as Sam returned the favor by integrating all the fractured parts of himself in order to return to his brother.
Now itâ€™s time to move on to Season 7. The problem for me is that all too often, though we have been told the brothers are concerned about one another, they seem really distant from each other. Iâ€™m not saying we didnâ€™t have any brotherly moments. Meet The New Boss had a few, and Hello Cruel World had some really great ones (that episode gave us Dean taking care of Samâ€™s hand, the â€œstone number oneâ€ speech and 6, â€“ yes, I counted! -â€œSammyâ€s from Dean). Other episodes like The Mentalists and Plucky Pennywhistlesâ€™ Magical Menagerie each had a friendly car side chat at the end. With other episodes you might be able to content yourself with things like: the cute letter Dean wrote Sam in Time After Time; the way Sam, confused and about to undergo ECT by a demon In The Born-Again Identity uttered â€œMy brotherâ€ even though he couldnâ€™t finish his thoughts; and the way Dean burst into the doctorâ€™s office wanting to see Sam in the same episode. But even with these glimpses of brotherly concern and interaction, the season still (so far) hasnâ€™t added up to a strong brotherly connection.
For the most part, I feel like the viewers have had to rely on the boysâ€™ history together and what we know about their brotherhood from previous seasons in order to navigate the Season 7 interaction weâ€™ve seen between them. In fact, even some scenes that may have been meant to show brotherly interaction - like Samâ€™s â€œI still need you but take care of yourselfâ€ talk with Dean in Season 7, Time for A Wedding!, the (somewhat hostile sounding) exchange between the boys at the end of The Slice Girls, or the Sam and Dean drinking scene in Party on, Garth - fell a little flat. With the exception of 7.02, none of the brother moments mentioned comes close to the moving scenes we saw in seasons past.
So, if there are indeed less brotherly moments (and Iâ€™m almost sure that there are) in Season 7, and most of the ones weâ€™ve seen donâ€™t have the emotional impact of previous seasons (which Iâ€™m pretty sure is also the case), what are the reasons for this? Are the writers trying to tell us something?
One answer is maybe itâ€™s just the natural evolution of things. Sam and Dean have both died and gone to Hell. The brothers have already made the biggest sacrifices they could for one another. Because of that, Sam and Deanâ€™s worst fears have already come true. In other words, the most terrible things they that they could worry about happening to the other already occurred. Maybe, seeing each other actually survive all of that, there is nothing left to fear for each other. But I donâ€™t really buy that. Because, just as the show had to reboot after 5 years in order to find interesting stories (and succeeded to a large degree), Sam and Deanâ€™s brotherly relationship had the ability to be rebooted in the same way. That was attempted in season 6 (with varying degrees of success depending on what you thought of Soulless Samâ€™s interactions with Dean). Specifically in regard to season 7, Samâ€™s hallucinations and unraveling sanity, Castielâ€™s betrayal, Bobbyâ€™s death, and even Deanâ€™s loss of hope all could have made for some intense brotherly interactions (and did begin to, in 7.02).
But instead, we saw Sam quietly manage his madness, Deanâ€™s solitary spiral into ever increasing apathy, barely a mention to one another about Cas, and the boysâ€™ emotional distance from one another during Bobbyâ€™s death. Again, the question remains, why? Were these all just missed opportunities, or was it done purposefully? Pondering this matter, Iâ€™ve attempted to come up with some reasons the writers may be deliberately trying to avoid brotherly moments for story purposes.
Samâ€™s Hallucinations: We learned this season through watching the episodes (and from interviews with cast and producers), that Sam has been struggling just to keep it together enough to function and hunt. Throughout the season, (with the exception of 7.02) he has chosen to shoulder his burden alone so as not to trouble Dean, who he feels has his own problems. Plus, he had that coping mechanism (oh the handâ€¦). As Sam got increasingly more unraveled, perhaps his own fear at how bad things had gotten and a deep sense of isolation kept him from really turning to Dean for help.
Deanâ€™s Sense of Futility: We know Dean has had a hard time finding a reason to continue hunting. The fate of the world continues to become jeopardized, and he lost so many friends and people he considered family, that he began to wonder what the point of it all is anymore. He continued to hunt, mostly going through the motions. Bobbyâ€™s death seemed to numb him to everything but revenge on Dick Roman (or so weâ€™re told). Perhaps this numbness and Deanâ€™s own sense of uselessness made him feel that there was nothing he could do to help Sam. Also, because Sam kept a lot to himself, maybe Dean just didnâ€™t realize how bad things were getting. We did see him spring into action when he realized things had gotten critical with Sam.
The Loss of the Impala: We all know how important the Impala is to the boysâ€™ story. It helped save the world, after all. Without it, the boysâ€™ sense of a â€œhomeâ€ is gone. Maybe this makes it somehow more difficult to open up to one another without that comfortable, familiar place that was always a part of their connection.
These reasons are the only ones I came up with that the writers may be intentionally using to impede the brothersâ€™ relationship. Maybe you can think of more. Of course, the possibility exists that the lack of brotherly moments is not deliberate at all. That is, the writers are just not thinking of, or are no longer interested in, writing these scenes. I would be very surprised to find out that is the case for people like Sera Gamble and Ben Edlund, who have been with Supernatural from Seasons 1 and 2, who know the brothers, and who have also written some beautiful brotherly moments (even as recently as early Season 7). However, that may be the case for some of the other writers, though I would hope that they receive script notes that guide them in how to write that brotherly interaction.
Maybe, though, instead of asking if itâ€™s deliberate or accidental we should be asking â€œIs it working?â€ I have read many posts from fans on various forums, as well as online critics, who miss the brotherly moments. It doesnâ€™t mean it ruined the entire season for them; although maybe for some it did. I think many of us just question taking away (in large part, not entirely) the formula that worked so well in the past. And for the life of me, I just canâ€™t see how any of the circumstances of season 7 would have to preclude the presence of strong brotherly love. Even if (due to the reasons I mentioned above) the boys canâ€™t or wonâ€™t reach out to one another, the VIEWERS could still see evidence of that love. The expression of the brothersâ€™ bond could take many forms, even if they are not having heartfelt conversations together. Previous seasons of Supernatural handled this well. For example, sometimes more than words were exchanged between the brothers by the way they looked at each other (or looked at one another while the other wasnâ€™t watching) or by the actions they took in order to have each otherâ€™s backs.
Now, some may notice that I continue to bring up previous seasons as the standard with which to measure all brotherly moments by. And I have heard people say that the boysâ€™ relationship canâ€™t be like it was in the early seasons, because one - Sam is no longer a â€œkidâ€ who needs protecting by Dean and two - theyâ€™ve both been through too much. But while I know the boys (and how they relate to one another) may have to somewhat change, that doesnâ€™t mean the moments between them have to change so drastically or worse, disappear altogether. No matter how old Sam gets or how much theyâ€™ve seen, the bottom line is they still need each other very much. It seems like that truth would provide an endless supply of brotherly moments.
Maybe, though, the lack of connection is all leading somewhere. Perhaps now, without worrying about being vessels for archangels; with Sam finally free of the constant taunting of Lucifer visions (we think); with the return of Cas and Bobby (in some form or another) and with both boys having survived Hell and the Apocalypse, the brothers will finally be able to turn to one another again. Even with the threat of the Leviathans looming, perhaps the season finale is building toward some kind of big emotional payoff. Iâ€™m just not sure (much like with season 6) that the end justifies the means.
After all, the Supernatural universe is a fantastical one. Itâ€™s a world where time traveling, dying, going to Hell, coming up soulless, meeting monsters, demons, Gods and even Death is commonplace. That kind of world isnâ€™t exactly relatable. Therefore, the characters within that world (even if they arenâ€™t always human) have to be relatable. This is accomplished by showing those charactersâ€™ thoughts (through their actions), emotions, and their relationships with one another. Family dynamics is something that is instantly relatable for every one of us (either through blood or otherwise). Therefore, the examination of those family relationships in a show is very compelling to us.
Sam and Deanâ€™s brotherhood fits the bill perfectly. In real life, we wouldnâ€™t want to explore it; their relationship would be extremely co-dependent, unhealthy and quite frankly, sad. In the world of Supernatural, though, it works very well. When we see them growing up being each otherâ€™s main source of company and comfort, their shared grief, their constant proximity to one another, their lack of close relationships with others (which I donâ€™t think is a good thing, but thatâ€™s where they have gone with this), the stress of facing unspeakable evil and life altering circumstances on a daily basis, and the necessity of having to constantly trust one another with their own - and save the otherâ€™s - life, well then it actually makes good sense that they have the relationship they do. For me, all other storylines revolve, or should revolve, around that relationship.
Ultimately, Iâ€™ll watch no matter what because Iâ€™m invested in the show and I want to support the real life people involved in making it. But in order for this ride to be more satisfying, I want and need to see those brotherly scenes. After all, weâ€™ve taken this journey with Sam and Dean precisely because they have taken it with one another. Weâ€™ve seen their bond tested, strained, and strengthened to become an unbreakable entity, and weâ€™ve tuned in to all of it. So I pose one more question: After all Sam and Dean have been through, shouldnâ€™t they (and us) get to reap the rewards of that achievement, by finally being able to turn to one another and settle into their brotherhood? If they do that, despite what obstacles may come their way in the future, they (and again, really us) will never be far from a brotherly moment.
It's not even like in early s6 where they weren't there for obvious story reasons ie the real Sam wasn't there. I hated that, which was the main reason I hated the whole time jump / soulless Sam storyline. But at least the absence of brotherly moments made sense. This season I feel like there have been many, many times that were ripe to be really good brotherly scenes, but the writers haven't gone there. The most recent being in TBAI. The scenes with Dean and Sam in the hospital at the beginning and the end, and the one by the car outside were all begging to be really moving, and in seasons gone by they would have been. But instead the boys seemed cold and weary. It's like the writers are deliberately not going there. Like you I am mystified as to why when it is, for many (including me) one of the key attractions, in fact te heart of the show.
Maybe they are building up to some huge emotional release and bonding moment between them, but even if they do, the wait (almost a whole season since HCW) will be too long. They are taking advantage of the audiences loyalty and patience.
Having said all this, I am really enjoying s7 MUCH more than early s6 and all of s4, but we are desperately overdue for some brotherly moments, and I don't know why they are withholding them. It doesn't help the show.
There is the odd vague attempt but storywise esp this season has there been a genuine reason to not do scenes and re- enforce the brothers relationship? I cant see one .
- Sam should have said some much more supportive things to / about Dean when he defended him in DYL - a really disappointing ep for me and the first major missed opportunity.
- they should (and would in previous seasons) have helped each other deal with Bobby's death,
- Dean should have helped Sam who was struggling with his hellucinations, and Sam should have (after some emotional scenes where he tries to hide how bad it is for Dean's sake etc) let him
- Sam should have been more worried about Dean's drinking and tried to help him get through his depression / lack of motivation
- Dean should have been more scared about losing Sam in BAI, and both less defensive / p****d. Both should have recognised in that early scene in the hospital that this could be the end, the real end, of everything for them. They were VERY close to losing each other forever in a potentially even more permanent (given that this is SPN) and heartbreaking way than one of their deaths. But there was no tenderness, no fear, no sense of loss in that scene. Just weariness from both.
If I was guessing what the writers would say if you asked them why they are doing this maybe would say that the boys have lost everything and everyone but each other. That they are both numb. That they are both too pre-occupied with their own issues (Dean's depression, Sam's wall issues) to have the energy to help the other. That part of it is a sign that they have grown, and now treat each other as adults who don't need taking care of.
I don't buy most of those reasons. The Sam and Dean we know, and particularly the strong unit they proved themselves to be by the end of Swan Song, would not have retreated onto their own little islands the way the writers have shown them to do in s7. They might each have tried, but the other would not have left them there alone. They can't help looking out for each other. It is in their DNA. But this season it is like they don't have enough energy for the other because they are too busy with their own problems. That isn't like them.
So for me it isn't an absence of appropriate opportunities for brotherly scenes, it has been a deliberate resistance to take them from the writers.
I re-watched Plucky's PMM yesterday and I love the scene when Dean is on the phone to Sam and says "Sammy" when he's trying to get Sam to admit to his 'clown thing'. There haven't been anywhere near enough "Sammy"s this year, imo.
I'm one of those fans who fell in love with this show because of the brotherly relationship. Even my husband gives the brotherly relationship as the reason why he enjoys the show so much! I'm also one of those fans who see Seasons 1-3 as the classic years, precisely because of the brotherly relationship and all the wonderful scenes between them in those years. I get increasingly nostalgic for that relationship and those scenes as the seasons go by. I am really, really missing it these days. I was so excited for S7 after the brotherly awesomeness of 7.02 but then it all fell a little flat for me. Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying S7 more so than any other season since S3 but it's also felt a little flat to me because of there being not so many brotherly moments.
Like the posters above I am mystified as to why we aren't getting the brotherly moments this year. When we were told the boys would lose everything this season, lose all their support systems and be left isolated, kind of back to the S1 'them against the world' idea, I got really quite excited. I thought it meant we would get lots of brotherly relationship moments with their isolation bringing them closer than ever but we seem to be getting less of the moments, not more.
This is a fantastic article. Thanks so much for writing it. I think I may have to go dig out the dvds and re-watch some classic brotherly scenes now.
I think that feeling arises from the mere fact that the show hasn't given me a good reason as to why the brothers have continued to hunt after getting Sam's soul back in S6. It would have made more sense for Dean to stay with the one who I have mindwiped and for Sam to go find a girl and buy the house next door to Dean. Instead, Sam gained mental illness and Dean lost Sam, his true love and pseudo son, his BFF, Bobby, and his beloved Impala.
I thought Stone No. 1 was going to be Stone No. 1 for the brothers this season (it being the season of them all alone in the world, closer than they have ever been and having to depend only on each other). Instead, that stone turned out to be self-pain and Dean's Stone No. 1 turned out to be alcohol and a ghost in his pocket (we think).
Quote:Exactly. I think when the brothers lose their intimacy, the audience loses intimacy with them and what they are doing.
Quote:I'm in it until the end, but I did not enjoy S6. I've felt S7 was better than S6 overall (both seasons did have some good individual episodes), but whatever this new formula is supposed to be (all grown up, the job is too much for them, don't want to unduly burden the other, no joy to be found in the world, no victories for humanity) it's not working, because the brothers are no longer two sides of the same coin.
I think your right about the writers deliberately withholding these moments and pray that it's part of the storyline NOT an attempt to show how they've "grown". Because after all they've been through how could they NOT need each more then ever.
On whether it's working - I guess that will depend on the payoff. Such as with season 4, there was this tearing and breaking down of their relationship but the payoff was HUGE. If all these missed opportunities are part of the story, then I want the ultimate payoff to be representative of that.
In Party On, I saw signs that both brothers were peeking their heads out, but I would definitely need more than that by the end of the season to justify not having in the episodes that GeorgieGirl mentioned above.
It not that I won't like Season 7 otherwise (I've loved a lot of the episodes) but I would be disappointed.
One theory I had has to do with plotting; the show has really become plot heavy in the past two seasons with overly complex story lines that don't directly connect to the brothers. The Leviathan story is not nearly as personal to Sam and Dean as say, John being missing, or Dean's deal were. These two story lines were not earth shattering, or world ending, but they were personal to the boys, so therefore the more compelling stories IMO.
Another thought I had relates to scheduling. We have all heard about how hard JP and JA work, how long their days are etc, and while I certainly don't begrudge them wanting more flexibility or a shorter workday, I began to wonder if the PTB are trying to lighten the actor's load by having Sam and Dean be apart more often on screen. If only one actor is on screen, then the other actor can have time off. The boys seem to be going off in separate directions to research a case and then communicating by phone a lot more. I would be willing to bet that the lack of brotherly moments can be directly attributed to lack of screen time that they seem to share these days. I also find it a little funny about the complaints fans have been making regarding killing off all of the extra characters leaving Sam and Dean so isolated. I feel like this season (and season 6 as well) has had Sam and particularly Dean dealing with everyone but the other, despite their 'isolation' and lack of friends. Here are a few examples from season 7: Hello Cruel World - Dean spends most of the ep. with Bobby and Cas, while Sam spends most of it inside his own head. The Girl Next Door - Sam ditches Dean and spends most of ep with Amy. The Mentalist - Dean spends most of ep with chick of the week, while Sam investigates on his own. Time for a Wedding - Sam spends most of his time with Becky (ick) and Dean with Garth. Adventures in Babysitting - Dean spends time with young hunter girl while Sam investigates on his own (again). Time after Time - Dean spends nearly whole episode with Eliot Ness, while Sam spends it with Jody Mills. Slice Girls - Dean spend episode with chick of the week (again) while Sam spends his time investigating on his own (again). Born Again Identity - Dean goes to find a cure for Sam, while Sam sits in the hospital, (oh, and investigates a case, on his own, again). This may be overkill as far as examples go, but you get my drift. Now, I really liked a lot of these episodes, but the boys have been spending a lot of time apart these days. How can they have brotherly moments when they aren't together????
This is where I'm pinning my hopes on Jeremy Carver as the new showrunner. He was on-board during the earlier years and seemed to have a firm grasp on the concept of the brothers as an unstoppable force against the world. I don't dare hope that we'll get that back but wouldn't that be loverly?
I think this article & the one before that shed some light to it. I too got hooked up to SPN because of the brotherly moments. Everything else, The MOTW, the Impala were a plus to this series. The tone changes somewhat when the angels appeared (may be one reason why I don't like them) but there were still a good measure of brotherly moments in it despite them being at odds.
I was excited when I first heard about the Butch&Sundance kid storyline. I thought if everything else is taken from them then they have to rely again more on each other. Their bond is being strong again (or at least that's what the writer promised us). Instead I saw two brothers going through the motions. Why they even hunt anymore is beyond me. Nothing seem to drive them anymore not even the love for each other, like we clearly saw in BAI. Where have the great lines like "I'm not leaving my brother alone out there" gone? OK, Sam was tired - but obviously not tired enough to do a little hunt with Marin. Where has the great big brother "you touch my brother and you'll be dead before you hit the ground" gone? Yes, he called and searched for help like he always would, but in the end he stood weary leaned against the doorframe like the didn't care anymore (yes, Dean is tired too - he's been nothing else but this season...except from being drunk).
Instead we get brotherly moments of the "Amy"-kind and the flat, half-hearted "Defending your life". And do not even get me started on "The Mentalist" - Urgh!
The "they are grown ups now" argument doesn't count for me either. Even as a grown up you can show worry or love about someone who's close to you. But the emotions displayed this season were like the brothers action: going through the motions.
Quote:If it is leading somewhere I am not sure I want to know the outcome anymore by now. Why watch practically two "strangers" act (seldom interact) alongside for about 20 episodes only to get it revealed in the last 2-3 episodes? This doesn't make for a Season I want to rewatch over and over again, like I did with the previous ones. I don't want to bash Sera or the writers but my hope lies in Season 8 and J. Carver now. I hope he brings back some of the elements I fell in love with in Supernatural.
Just my $.02 :).
This has hit home for me in so many ways.
I too am guilty for falling in love with this show because of the brother relationship. And I too will see this show till its end, be it goes out with a magnificent bang or be it fizzles and plummets into the pit of despair.
I am just too emotionally invested in these two characters to walk away from them.
I have been enjoying this season but I do feel that there have been less of the brotherly moments. I especially noticed it in The Born-Again Identity. In that final scene when Sam was basically dying, to see Dean standing beside Cas and not by Samâ€™s bed really surprised me. I had expected Dean to be grapping Samâ€™s hand saying â€œItâ€™s me Sammy! Iâ€™m here! Donâ€™t give up!â€ Anything to try and reach his brother and not caring or believing that his efforts were useless.
I have to agree with BoGirle too that the brothers seemed to be doing a lot more of their investigations separately this season.
I do feel that the lack of these moments and working more apart is due to the struggles and stresses of their personal circumstances. With Sam constantly fighting with what was real and what was not. Trying to stay focused on the job and not wanting Dean to worry about him. And Dean always waiting for that other shoe to drop. Struggling with his depression, questioning his job and his purpose in life and of course the loss of Bobby and Castiel.
What these two have endured itâ€™s a wonder how they are not either locked away in an institution or have eaten a bullet. Or taken the Impala for a final drive over the escarpment of their long desire to visit to the Grand Canyon.
I can only hope that the lack of brotherly moments has been deliberate and the writers have a wonderful resolution or payoff in-store for us. It does look like they are leading in that direction with Sam no longer having visits by Lucifer and with the return of Cas and possibly Bobby.
However if it turns out that it wasnâ€™t then I admit I will be very disappointed in the writers and producers of the show as this would tell me that they have either become oblivious or have lost what the true heart and soul of this show really is.
I find myself feeling like a starving person peering through the window of a restaurant and salivating over the wonderful food seen inside and not being able to get in. Once in a while the door opens and a scrap of bread is tossed out to me, which I cherish, as it is so very seldom.
That's how I relish and wait endlessly for the brotherly moments we get now. So few and far between and usually cut off in the middle.
I will never stop watching as long as this show is on as I do know how much the brothers are connected and still love each other from the first 3 seasons. So I make up little bits that fit in between the lines. Little bits that the writers should include but mostly don't now.
They've been through so very much but there is no need to starve us for the brotherly moments we wait for. No story line is worth overlooking that most important part of the Winchester saga. I NEED those moments and LONG for them!
Jared and Jensen are marvellous actors with great chemistry between them and should not be wasted in this manner. That chemistry reached through the screen and captured my heart for life in seasons 1-3. So, writers, please don't continue to waste that wonderful opportunity to showcase that aspect of this awesome show!
I pray Jeremy Carver will bring back that aspect that most of us are missing right now.
Fabulous, thoughtful article Metamorphic Rocks. You rock! (Sorry. Bad puns are one of my bad habits.)
One thing I really miss is the constant touching. Think of Season 1 and Season 2 - Dean is always touching Sam, making sure he's okay, checking his wounds. I miss those obvious physical gestures. But then I decided to look at it in the context of my own children. When they were smaller, we did lots of hugging, kissing, cuddling, tickling etc. But as they get older, we're doing less. We're still very demonstrative, and physical but not quite as often. For instance, my 10-year old still wants a kiss at bedtime, and to have her back rubbed at bedtime, but she doesn't want her friends to see me kissing her when I drop her off at school.
I wonder the same for Sam & Dean. In seasons 1 & 2 they had been apart for several years. They emerged from a famine of brotherly relationship into the 24/7 feast. They spent those early seasons constantly checking that the other one was still there. Maybe, now that they've spent all this time together, it makes sense that they don't touch as often. They're now so close they're practically sharing the same body. A simple glance at the other provides the all the necessary information.
I also think that The Brotherly Relationship is being shown in different and more subtle ways (which aren't always as rewarding to the viewer, I agree.) I think Dean's constant anxiety about Sam's mental health and "the other shoe dropping" is evidence of the bond. He so desperately wants Sam to be okay that he's on pins & needles watching him all the time. Sam gently chiding Dean about his drinking is also evidence of care. He wants him to be okay, and clearly being an alcoholic is not healthy.
I think both brothers actions in BAI were also totally in keeping with the strong bond. Sam was so honest with Dean about his total exhaustion and the fact he might die. That shows huge faith and trust in his brother. And that little anguished "My brother..." kind of said it all for me. "My brother wouldn't like this.. My brother's going to get you.. I'm scared and I need my brother". He was in anguish and still managed to whisper those 2 words.
I also think Dean was very loyal and devoted in this episode. He was all power and storm when he first met the doctor. He tried to use his own force of will to bulldoze the psychiatrist into healing Sam. When Sam was saying how tired he was, he urged him to get angry and fight to live. And then when he realized he couldn't be of any more help at the hospital he went and looked & looked & looked for someone to help Sam, someone to cure him. I liken it to a family launching a Bone Marrow drive when that's the last option to cure their loved one's cancer.
I also think it made sense for Dean to hang back while Cas went to Vulcan mind-meld with Sam. He was giving the "doctor" room to work. (Sam didn't go onstage with Dean when he was healed by Roy Legrange either.) But the instant it looked like Sam was in trouble, he rushed over to him.
In my article "Solitary Sam" I suggest that it's Dean absence, and the possibility of his death that force or coerce Sam into answering or letting in Lucifer. I think in some ways that provides yet more evidence of the strength of their bond. Sam so desperately wanted to, and needed to find Dean, he spoke to the Devil himself.
But.. all that being said --- I would like to hear even more "Sammys".. I'd love a Bitch/Jerk exchange.. I want an anxious Dean pawing Sam while checking for injuries.. I want Sam pacing by Dean's hospital bed.
But I think maybe the boys have hit The Seven Year Itch. They're like an old married couple - still very much in love, but not so demonstrative. And they have other things on their mind. A married couple would be worried about mortgage payments and kids activities. Sam & Dean are worried about mental illness, overwhelming grief and killing Leviathan.
I think they need to go on a second honeymoon - preferably Hawaii, where they can go shirtless, a lot!!! They'd have time to just have fun and enjoy each other's company. And then maybe we'd get some of those more obvious displays of The Brotherly Relationship, instead of just the subtle and nuanced signs and suggestions.
Thanks for writing this!
First, Sam has ALWAYS kept things from Dean. From day one, Sam has been a private person and has kept much of what he is going through inside. Many of the brotherly moments from the early seasons come from Sam trying to draw Dean out and get Dean to discuss his feelings. So, Sam not letting Dean in on how much he is / was suffering with his hellucinations is no surprise to me and feels organic and true to character.
Much has been said about how the writers dropped the ball with the Sam story line this season but IMO if Sam had been all sharing and caring THAT would have been dropping the ball. He is dealing with his wall coming down, his memories of hell, his hellucinations, and the loss of Bobby. Is that not enough for him to deal with? Do we also expect him to be trying to support his brother? Draw his brother out? Share with his brother? Why would he start sharing now when he never has in the past?
As for Dean, he is rarely the one to start the sharing and caring. He almost always needs to be asked by someone what is going on inside him, think on it, and then share. And, his brother is normally the one that we see asking him to examine his feelings soâ€¦.. with Sam dealing with his own BS I can completely see why Dean isnâ€™t sharing and caring either. Dean is dealing with having to lose his brother in S5 only to have a soulless Sam returned to him in S6, losing Lisa and Ben in S6, being betrayed by Cas in S6 & S7, dealing with Samâ€™s wall breaking in S6, and losing Bobby in S7. Deanâ€™s hardcore drinking and emotional withdrawal IMO feels organic and true to character.
Like most people, I fell in love with the show because of the relationship between the brothers and I like a good bro mo as much as the next fan. But, the thing that has kept me interested for seven years is the evolving relationship and story. There have been some well written and well placed brotherly moments in S7 and I, for one, believe the story is going somewhere and the brothers will come out the other side with an even stronger bond and closer relationship.
And your right Dean doesn't open up easily anyway. And he wouldn't like he could further burden his already messed up brother even if Sam felt up to trying to pull him out of it.
But there have been several opportunities for the characters to have "moments" where their feelings could have overwhelmed them, such as Bobby's death and Sam's near death, that passed without them comforting one another. It feels like a deliberate storyline, which is fine if it is, but I'll admit I want resolution and payoff for those missed moments if that is the case.
By the way, thank you Metamorphic Rocks for a great read. Even though I don't necessarily agree with everything you said, it was really interesting and it had me thinking back to all the seasons. And that is always a good thing. Winchester brothers on an early Monday morning instead of work? Anytime!
I fell in love with this show because of the brothers and their relationship. I'm not a fan of horror in general and if Sam and Dean, and their struggles, hadn't been so compelling from the start I likely would not have watched past the first half of season 1...but my fate was sealed when I saw FAITH. And I'm just now realizing that when I'm feeling the need for some Sam and Dean brother-stuff; it's always seasons 2-3 that I go back too; rarely do I feel compelled to rewatch any season 5-7 episodes because they do lack a certain brotherly feel. Seasons 2-3 (and certain episodes in season 4) are my most rewatched and it's because that's when the show was about the brothers, and all the "supernatural" stuff was just the setting in which we were watching this character piece unfold.
I despised season 6, specifically the first half, as I did not like Soulless Sam. It meant zero brotherly moments, and watching those first 11 episodes before Sam's soul was restored was so uncomfortable for me, I nearly stopped watching altogether. But I knew I had to push through and the second half of season 6 was better, but still the moments were not the same. True, the brothers have been through so much over the years, but I don't buy that their love/concern for one-another would fade as they "grew up". It may change, but as others have said, it wouldn't disappear. At this point I have to hope there's a reason for the lack of moments. Because the reason I like to watch SPN and don't like watching other shows is because of how much is focuses on character. I do not enjoy procedurals and I do not want SPN to become another of those!
I feel like I'm digressing...A few commenters have mentioned the fact that Jeremy Carver may bring some "old school" feel back to the show...but have they forgotten that both Sera Gambel and Robert Singer have been on board since season 1? If anyone should be able to harken back it should be those two. Maybe Jeremy's distance from the show will allow him to see clearly the glaring absence of good characterizatio ns and missing brotherly stuff. His penned episodes always seemed to have really good brother moments.
And just because it's been on my mind the last few days I have to address the criticism of the way the writers dealt with Sam's hallucinations in the first half of the season. It actually makes sense to me. As I've gone back to rewatch some season 4 stuff, this is exactly what they did to Dean in the beginning of that season. The first episode of 4 introduced the idea of Dean and hell memories, and then it wasn't addressed or even alluded too again until Wishful Thinking (episode eight) and then we got a three episode arc (four if you count Family Remains) of Dean talking to Sam and "dealing" with the memories. It's so similar to how we are seeing Sam dealing with Lucifer-vision this season.
Anyway. Kind of a rambling response, but there it is. This was a great article and I found myself nodding along and agreeing with so many points. I am keeping my fingers crossed for some good bro stuff these last five upcoming episodes, and with a season 8 (I hope!) I have even more hopes...in any case, I'll be with these guys til the end!!
1) His brillaint sense of humour.
2) His brotherly moments.
A Very Supernatural Christmas is my favourite episode, and I'd probably put Mystery Spot in second place. Not only was the humour in them totally awesome, but there was a depth to the relationship between Sam and Dean, and some very poignant and satisfying moments.
I've been enjoying season 7 personally. All that I had noticed was that they were writing more separate scenes for Sam and Dean, and for sure this is done to lighten the heavy workload on Jensen and Jared.
But to anyone feeling the need for more brotherly moments, I'm pretty sure now that Carver is back and the showrunner to boot, you will get them.
(btw are you the Mickey that posts on TVBTN?)
It sounds like I enjoyed the second half of s6 more than you. From LaV onwards I really thought it was good, and there were quite a few brotherly moments. Certainly more than we have seen this season.
I agree that JC won't necessarily bring all of this back. As you rightly say Sera and Bob Singer have been there since ep1. Sera has also written some wonderful brotherly eps, so there is no reason why she shouldn't have been able to keep that vibe going. Maybe the writers have started to take it for granted a bit, and have stopped writing it in explicitly?
Also I agree with others that have noted the disappointing amount of time the boys have spent apart this season. At one point I said 'if I see one more ep description that says "Dean does X, while Sam does Y" I will scream'. I am sure it is just for the practical reason of giving the Js some days off during filming, but if that is necessary then they need to write it in in a more brother-friendl y way. So rather than them appearing to choose to do things on their own or with others (Garth, Bobby, hunters kids they have never heard of) the separation should be forced on them in the story.
All we are asking for is a few looks, touches, smiles, references to their childhood, jokey / teasing comments. There doesn't have to be a tearful heart-to-heart on the car bonnet every week to satisfy us.
I hope JCs fresh perspective, or maybe the opposite ie his early seasons experience, will help to address this issue.
I agree too, I would love to see less of Sam and Dean apart, it has become increasingly frustrating for half the episodes to be dialogue between them over the phone or with side characters we are not likely to see again.
And yeah, maybe Sera and Bob have gotten lazy about the brother stuff...or simply complacent about it. Which is odd because as you said, Sera is also good at writing those scenes. Ugh. Having this conversation makes me miss Eric.
(Sorry -- this was a reply to Quote:
Thank-you all so much for reading, and for taking the time to comment!
Quote:I would have loved to have seen this. It would have given us some awesome brotherly moments. Maybe it might still happen but I doubt it. I'm guessing Sam's Hell storyline is pretty much done and dusted now.
I have greatly enjoyed much of S7 so far, all the MOTW stories have entertained me and I like the Leviathans (and above all I was very happy to be free of the angel/ apocalypse/ civil war storylines this year) but I mainly watch for the brothers' personal stories and, this year, those parts have just left me rather underwhelmed.
I agree so very much. At first it was only a feeling, I didn't manage to pinpoint what felt wrong watching the episodes, I think because the brotherly moments were always so part of the show, so natural and inherent, that I didn't see the moment they "took them away".
I went nuts trying to undestrand why .. I even thought there may be something at odds with the Js chemistry, but the sparkle is still there when they're allowed to work on it. For once, I liked BAI and thought Sera did justice to the brothers, but just didn't have time for anything more, cause she had to "wrap" the Cas subplot pretty hastily .. just .. the ep was so packed! Too many things to deal with, and too little time to do so. That's something pretty recurring in season 7. They have SO many thing they could/should talk about and throw at us, still they don't deal with them. They could have, as you said, used the hallucinations so much more, not only from a brotherly POV, but also plot wise, still they decided to focus on self-contained eps, and overlook the major storylines, or the more interesting aspects of the relationships among the characters. I think in fact that the lack of brotherly moments is something that enter a "season 7' trend" overall. They have pretty damn good material, but they're almost afraid to use it. They hold back, and I can't understand why. They can make so much more of it, and it frustrates me that they're not doing it.
(Sorry for my bad english, it's not my first language)
Eric Kripke left Sera Gamble with an enormous story telling problem. The natural conclusion to the characters' arc was finally resolved. Sam becomes a monster (the devil's meat suit), as predicted, but redeemed himself and saved the world. Dean was given the chance to have his own family. The characters arcs were paid off.
If the arcs was paid off, where the heck is there left to go? Essentially a new arc for Dean and Sam has to be created. Unfortunately that hasn't happened. The characters have nothing left to want (either openly or secretly) that under pins their motiviations in a plot. And sorry, 'brotherly love' is not a character motivation. It's an aspect of their personality. A clear motivation (that expresses brotherly love) is: "My father says that my brother might turn into a monster and that I might have to kill him. However, I love my brother. Is it brotherly love to kill him to stop him becoming a monster, or is it brotherly love to keep him alive, even if he does turn into a monster?" That question sets up a conundrum for the character that can run through every episode in a season.
At this point neither Sam nor Dean has a clearly defined character arc that underpins each episode. The arcs, such as they are, are now largely procedural (plot driven). The character arcs just aren't driving anything of vital importance. What has been Sam's arc through S6 nad S7? Mainly it's been, "I have something wrong with me." That's hardly motivating for a character. That's just a statement of fact. And poor Dean doesn't seem to have any motivation at all. That's even worse.
So, the Winchester Brother's need something that's driving them to get out of bed in the morning (apart from saving the world). I don't care what it is, just let them have a motivation beyond slaying monsters that can get them through a season.
If nothing else, surely two men who have sacrificed their 20s to saving the world should be intelligent enough to seriously question how they hunt and how they can take things in a different direction? Both brothers have the same enormous question in their lives. For Sam, "I was told that I would become a monster. I didn't. I wanted a normal life. I didn't get it. What do I do now with my life?" And what about Dean? It's even worse. "I gave up everything. I got nothing. Where do I go from here?"
Comparable real life analogies to these fundamental questions are to be found in the lives of astronauts during the Apollo program. If you walked on the moon, you've pretty much peaked. What do you do with the rest of your life when you're a hero in your 30s?
These are BIG questions to be answered for both brothers that the writers, for some reason, refuse to address.
I have hope Jeremy Carver can resolve this in Season 8 because until that happens there just aren't any compelling reasons to watch Supernatural.