Thoughts on 9x07 – Bad Boys

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Well, what is there really to say about this episode? It was emotional, sweet, nostalgic, revealing and incredibly touching. Bad Boys took a classic Supernatural haunting and used it as a window into a small piece of Winchester history. The writing was exceptional, the cinematography was beautiful and as usual, the acting was perfect, from flashback to present day. Bad Boys has, without a doubt, quickly become one of my favourite Supernatural episodes.
 

Non-Traditional, Old Fashioned Haunting, More or Less

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The opening of this episode was just right – it was hard to tell for a while what or who exactly was the baddie. The two boys running and hiding the barn followed by something/someone – revealed to be Timmy, the sweet and seemingly innocent little boy just playing hide and seek. Unit Dean actually reached out and shook Timmy’s hand I waffled as to whether or not Timmy was the ghost in this storyline, particularly after his eerie window display on Sam and Dean’s arrival.

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For a standard haunting in so many respects, the writers did a great job casting red herrings on what was actually the problem at this farm – ghost, psychic, possessed child – all of the above? The best part of this was that Timmy was not a standard creepy child (a la changelings) but a sweet, lonely, bullied child whom Dean instantly connected with – showing him a proper hand shake and threatening his bullies away.

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Dean is always good with children; especially the ones with sad back stories or who are picked on (remember him teaching Ben to deal with bullies?).  Timmy was able to release his mom because he trusted in Dean’s advice as a result. Whenever an old classic is handled in a new way, it’s a refreshing ending. It was nice to give both Timmy and his mom some closure in this episode before she was able to move on, presumably to Heaven, based on the warm glow, rather than the burning that often accompanies ghost endings.

Choices of a Sweet Sixteen


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Dylan Everett did a fantastic job playing sixteen year old Dean Winchester. The attitude, the intonation, the emotion – it was all just right. The progression of young Dean from his stand-offish approach with Sonny to end when he very emotionally says goodbye to Sonny, though he clearly wants to stay, was fluid and much in keeping with the character we know years later. One other minute but well placed detail – young Dean was wearing the amulet. Anybody else clap and point at that moment?

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The flashbacks were few but informative. For instance, Dean denied being hungry as the reason he stole food and did not reveal anything about Sam whatsoever as his motive – very little personal information was given throughout his stay including is dad, for various reasons. So although Dean settled into life at the farm in many respects, he knew full and well it was temporary which is in keeping with the Dean we know who has always wanted a “real home” and a “real life” but didn’t really believe he could ever have one.

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Dean’s first kiss. This was a truly spectacular reveal. It was sweet, as was he and Dean was so taken by this memory that he didn’t even share it with Sam all those years later and was completely hurt that she didn’t (apparently) remember him. Dean may be a ladies’ man but he certainly came from an entirely differently foundation.

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The best scene of the flashbacks, as I mentioned briefly above, was Dean’s goodbye with Sonny. More specifically though, was his decision to leave. Sonny explains to Dean that John has arrived with a “job” and he has to go now, despite the dance and Robin, but that Sonny will fight for Dean to stay if that’s what he wants.

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Dylan Everett was beautiful here as Dean, playing the emotions of the decisions between looking at the picture with Robin and looking out the window and seeing young Sammy in the Impala and smiling tearfully at his baby brother and knowing what he has to do. This moment was absolutely beautiful and I will admit, made me a bit teary.

Brother Dearest


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Much like the audience, Sam learned a lot about his older brother during their trip to the Catskills. He learned that Dean didn’t get lost on any hunting trip, Dean won a wrestling award during his stay and most significantly that Dean had some sort of life on the farm he claims not to remember well and/or couldn’t wait to escape.

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Sam’s walk into the bunk room and peeling off the layers of tape on what had obviously been Dean’s bed at some point was one of my favourite moments in this episode. As they often do, Supernatural did this wordless scene very well – the music was just right and Jared played the melancholic, nostalgia well in the gentle smile as he fingered the bed carvings and ripped through tape names to find “Dean W.”

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Throughout their time on the farm it became increasingly apparent to Sam that Dean probably remembered more than he was saying and was maybe even happy for a hot minute during his farm life. Sam’s expression watching Dean and Robin interact at the restaurant was nothing short of priceless, astounded by the way his brother was behaving and then to have his brother flee because “some chick” didn’t recall him.

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By the end, even though Dean continued to insist he couldn’t wait to leave the farm when he was sixteen and that he didn’t remember much; Sam recognized the lie. However, instead of called Dean out, in another top moment of the episode, Sam thanks Dean for everything and for always watching out for him. Oh Sammy, I need a hug now…..

D-Dawg


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The two months Dean spent at Sonny’s farm were clearly special to Dean – and he wanted to keep them as his and his alone for various reasons. This piece of his childhood was arguably the only part that was normal – about dances and girls not demons and ghosts – since his mother died and he wanted to keep it that way. Throughout the episode Dean remains closed mouth about the time on the farm to Sam – about everything from Robin to the wrestling achievements to why he left ultimately. It seemed to me that as long as he kept the memory those two months for frozen forever and a perfect memory. Of course, he’d also never want Sam to know why he left – be it that John insisted he leave and/or that Dean made the decision to come back because he could never leave Sammy.  

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Dean’s line to Timmy – “Sometimes you gotta do what’s best for you even if it’s gonna hurt the one’s you love” – was very similar to Sonny’s advice to a young Dean about looking out for yourself first and foremost. When Sam asked Dean how he knew Timmy letting go of his mother would work, Dean said it was a Hail Mary, but it seemed in his advice Dean could have been talking about himself. If Dean had done what was best for him and let his family go, all those years ago, who knows how things would have turned out.

Of course, this advice applies on so many levels to the Winchesters – not making demon deals, not making angel deals, not making deals of any kind really, etc. I don’t mean to imply Dean was regretting his decision to go all those years ago, not at all. Perhaps he meant he had to go with John and leave Robin. Or, perhaps he meant the deal with Zeke to save Sam, despite it hurting Sam, because it was the best thing for Dean. It’s really hard to tell at this point, the double speak that line could have meant. Does this forewarn of Zeke’s reveal? Regardless of the implications, it was an interesting line from Dean’s mouth.

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In the end, Dean is pleased to have Sam’s thanks – the emotion is clear on Dean’s face when Sam says he knows things haven’t always been easy - even if he denies knowing what Sam is talking about – and it’s a great exchange between the boys.

Final Thoughts


This episode is an instant classic. Though Sam has never doubted that his brother made sacrifices when they growing up, this offered some excellent insight into Dean that nobody had previously. The flavour was that of the early days of Supernatural and with the incredible brotherly bonding that took place on several levels here – how could it not be immediately re-watched several times?


Comments  

Trucklady
# Trucklady 2013-11-24 19:25
You are right about the re-watch. That is exactly what I am doing right now. Just saw the part again where Sam is tearing off the names on the bed and noticed the first one was Kevin P. Funny how the director slipped that in there, like we wouldn't notice. This was an awesome episode. I just love Dean with kids, Dean and Sam broments, back story reveals. This one had it all including the back to the beginning type of MOTW. Great write up Elle.
Trucklady
# Trucklady 2013-11-24 19:25
You are right about the re-watch. That is exactly what I am doing right now. Just saw the part again where Sam is tearing off the names on the bed and noticed the first one was Kevin P. Funny how the director slipped that in there, like we wouldn't notice. This was an awesome episode. I just love Dean with kids, Dean and Sam broments, back story reveals. This one had it all including the back to the beginning type of MOTW. Great write up Elle.
Elle
# Elle 2013-11-24 20:00
Hi Trucklady,

Thank you! There were so many good moments in this episode, it was hard to spot them all. This episode was like a hug, it was just so sweet from end to end!
elle
# elle 2013-11-24 20:00
Hi Trucklady,

Thank you! There were so many good moments in this episode, it was hard to spot them all. This episode was like a hug, it was just so sweet from end to end!
eilf
# eilf 2013-11-24 20:10
Elle thank you for this interpretation of the events in the is episode - in the way you were specific about what it was that Sam learned and what he was thanking Dean for at the end. A lot of reviews (not particularly on this site, but all over) have made it sound like Sam spent his childhood in a bubble only thinking about himself and having no understanding of how hard Dean's childhood was. And considering how hard it is to get Sam's point of view across at the best of times this apparent interpretation has been very frustrating for me.

I know this is a Dean-centric episode and so it was mostly for looking at Dean's past, but that doesn't mean we can't learn about the family dynamic at the same time.

For me the last scene was a reinforcement of what the guys already know about each other. Sam knows about Dean's childhood, Dean has to have some idea that Sam has always been sympathetic to what Dean couldn't have. But when Sam left for college Dean COULD have left too. That is what kids do when they grow up. They move on and live their own lives.

In this episode what Sam discovered was that Dean had had this opportunity and had not taken it. Sam doesn't know for sure that it was because of Sam (because he was not privy to any of the flashbacks the way we were) but he assumes it (correctly) even though Dean won't admit it. And, oh Dean, when other people keep information from you you have a tendency to refer to that as 'lying'.

So his understanding of what happened to Dean was pretty intuitive (after all if his interpretation of Dean's motives was just from what Dean SAYS he would assume that Dean left this place because of his devotion to his father and the hunting lifestyle) and it is all the more indicative of two brothers who understand each other very well.

I have never really thought of Dean as a ladies man. He pretends a good game is all. He is a good looking guy and he has no problem finding willing love 'em and leave 'em partners and he has no problem with that. But he is a different person in a serious (grown up) relationship, those are important to him. His upset at Robin not remembering him seems in character to me.

Thanks for the review - and the pretty pictures :-)
eilf
# eilf 2013-11-24 20:10
Elle thank you for this interpretation of the events in the is episode - in the way you were specific about what it was that Sam learned and what he was thanking Dean for at the end. A lot of reviews (not particularly on this site, but all over) have made it sound like Sam spent his childhood in a bubble only thinking about himself and having no understanding of how hard Dean's childhood was. And considering how hard it is to get Sam's point of view across at the best of times this apparent interpretation has been very frustrating for me.

I know this is a Dean-centric episode and so it was mostly for looking at Dean's past, but that doesn't mean we can't learn about the family dynamic at the same time.

For me the last scene was a reinforcement of what the guys already know about each other. Sam knows about Dean's childhood, Dean has to have some idea that Sam has always been sympathetic to what Dean couldn't have. But when Sam left for college Dean COULD have left too. That is what kids do when they grow up. They move on and live their own lives.

In this episode what Sam discovered was that Dean had had this opportunity and had not taken it. Sam doesn't know for sure that it was because of Sam (because he was not privy to any of the flashbacks the way we were) but he assumes it (correctly) even though Dean won't admit it. And, oh Dean, when other people keep information from you you have a tendency to refer to that as 'lying'.

So his understanding of what happened to Dean was pretty intuitive (after all if his interpretation of Dean's motives was just from what Dean SAYS he would assume that Dean left this place because of his devotion to his father and the hunting lifestyle) and it is all the more indicative of two brothers who understand each other very well.

I have never really thought of Dean as a ladies man. He pretends a good game is all. He is a good looking guy and he has no problem finding willing love 'em and leave 'em partners and he has no problem with that. But he is a different person in a serious (grown up) relationship, those are important to him. His upset at Robin not remembering him seems in character to me.

Thanks for the review - and the pretty pictures :-)
DeanColt45
# DeanColt45 2013-11-24 23:06
I haven't seen anyone point out yet that it appears that Sam is tearing up at the end just before he thanks Dean. I freeze framed it to make sure I hadn't imagined it. Sigh. It was like a hug. Thank you for the lovely review. I too loved this episode.
DeanColt45
# DeanColt45 2013-11-24 23:06
I haven't seen anyone point out yet that it appears that Sam is tearing up at the end just before he thanks Dean. I freeze framed it to make sure I hadn't imagined it. Sigh. It was like a hug. Thank you for the lovely review. I too loved this episode.