Family Matters, by Elle2

 
This is an episode that helps me to understand a comment Jensen said earlier about so much being in the episodes that there just wasn’t enough time.  When I first watched this episode I thought, this is boring, disjointed, disconnected, poorly timed, way too talky and frustrating.  Upon my second viewing it got a bit better, still feels like three distinct ‘moments’ throughout the episode and there is a lot of talk but I also think because of the massive amounts of reveals in this episode it sort of had to be that way.  
 
I’m trying to keep score here, I’ll do my best, please add to what I’ve missed:
 
  • Crowley is the grand puppeteer; he pulled Samuel down because of his vast hunting expertise
  • Crowley has some hold over Samuel besides Sam and Dean
  • Crowley yanked Sam up because apparently he needs the Winchester line as well as the Campbell line (it better be that, otherwise Sam and Dean are poorly connected to this storyline)
  • Sam’s soul remains in the cage (I hope it doesn’t stay there all season or longer)
  • Crowley didn’t need Bobby’s vast wealth of knowledge because although he owned his soul, Crowley never used Bobby to gain any of his alpha prizes – and bad news abounds, the Winchesters and Bobby have given up what would have been excellent bargaining chips by allowing Crowley his bones back for safe keeping, too bad they didn’t know what was what back then.
  • Alpha monsters know where purgatory is
  • Crowley wants to expand his territory
  • Cas still has a civil war but will pop in and out to help Sam and Dean.  Not sure why Dean is written so OCC with Cas though… “Clean him up.” Is definitely out of character as well as Cas’ “Of course, your problems come first.” Something is very wrong with the tone of these two at least in this episode.
  • Christian has been a demon muppet from the get go – although that means he should have been able to sense Sam and Dean hiding rather than leave them be and yes, Cas also should have recognized him for the demon he was/is
  • One of the vampires yelled “Dean” just before getting slaughtered…what is that? (Chime in here, folks, I swear I heard her yell Dean the first time I watched this and then I’ve replayed that moment at least six times and I still hear her scream “Dean”)
 
What else is going on?  I have no idea.  As I said this seems to be in three parts, Sam’s diagnosis and the ‘first family meeting’, then there is the vampire hunt and finally the long and talky scenes with the alpha vampire and Crowley’s big reveal.  In between there are little moments between the brothers when I can see the beginnings of a partnership, a glimmer.  
 
We’ve seen this opener for several days so there isn’t anything surprising in the teaser.  However, having all three main men back together always works for me so I enjoyed their moment immensely.  I was hoping this season wouldn’t be more of Dean driving the bus and Sam as passenger but I guess that’s where the story is going for now and at least there is a plausible reason rather than Sam is doing penance and Dean is all broody and unforgiving.  
 
Sure, Dean has plenty to brood about and Sam does need to repair some damage but there is the interesting philosophical question lingering, what exactly is Sam and how conscious is he of his actions?  We get a few answers in this episode and I find myself more and more positive about them than I had thought I would be.  If I were Dean (and as a viewer) I still wouldn’t trust Sam because it’s apparent that he has no compass without a soul.  While Sam does show that he’s not just going to be lead around on a rope (speaking of rope, just how did he untie himself?  Dean is too good a hunter to simply not tie the bonds correctly) and that he will choose to be with Dean, it’s clear he’s still hazy on what exactly it means to be a partner.
 
I’m alternately frustrated and proud of Sam in this episode.  It frustrates me that he didn’t tell Dean about the alpha vampire being caught and that he bald-faced lied yet again about it to Dean…yes, I’m saying that Dean asking if there was anything weird and Sam saying no is a bald-faced lie.  I’m sure there are plenty that can split hairs with me on that, that’s okay.  I stand by my assessment; feel free to stand by yours.  On the other hand, I’m proud that Sam decided to work with Dean, he clearly didn’t have to and Dean did give him the out.  Also, Sam had no difficulty backing Dean up when Dean disarmed Samuel and Christian was heading in for the attack on Dean. Furthermore, I like that compass or not Sam can still innovate when the situation calls for it.  Soulless Sam isn’t mindless Sam as we see by his activation of the GPS.  Good to know.
 
Sam has had rational (albeit cold) reasons for his behaviors this season.  Soulless Sam obviously does not concern himself with the ramifications of his choices besides what they gain in the end.  Dean gets turned into a vampire because it allows them to find the vampire lair, never mind what it does to Dean.  Sam allows Aaron to be tortured because it gets them the information they need, never mind that Aaron is in pain and frightened.  Sam doesn’t tell Dean about Samuel capturing the alphas because he’s on board with the whole capturing of alphas to gain information, never mind that what happens after the alphas are captures is shady at best.  Sam has become much more tactical this season with his sights on the bigger picture, even as he does not know what that bigger picture is.  However, the ends do not always justify the means and one must weigh the cost, analyze the situation and allow for differing points of view.  The Sam of earlier seasons would have done that, remember Bloodlust anyone?
 
It’s good that Dean and Sam are back together, however tenuous that partnership is, for they do balance each other.
 
I’m glad that Samuel truly cares about Sam and Dean that too is good to know.  He is hiding something and that is not so good but we saw this aspect of Samuel when we first met him so I’m not surprised.  Also, it’s a lot like John Winchester, wonder how long before the same old resentments burble up to the surface…well, actually they already have only this time Dean is demanding the answers.  Hmm, interesting stuff.
 
So Crowley is pulling all the strings, hmm, the more things change the more they stay the same.  Azazel worked behind the scenes in the past, Crowley is apparently much more comfortable being out in the open.  But demons will bone you every time at least this time both Sam and Dean are going forward with their eyes wide open.
 
So what of the brothers?  Well, there is a long, long, long way to go but there were two moments that showed me that both brothers want to get their bond back.  First up, Sam (after mysteriously freeing himself from the ropes) makes it known that there is no containing him, so Dean opts to work with him but he’s watching his every move which Sam accepts.  Later on Dean gives Sam a choice, leave or stay with him but he (Dean) is driving the bus.  Sam agrees to stay.  Both brothers had a chance to walk away, both opted to stay together.
 
There is a common goal, get Sam’s soul back, after that they can hunt down Crowley.  Sam is the one who asks the final question of the episode, in essence, “Are you with me, Dean?”  There isn’t an answer but since next week has them together…
 
Some other interesting/fun moments:
 
“Hello, Neuman.”  Hah!  Love a good Seinfeld reference.
 
While Sam is willing to allow a kid to be tortured and his brother be turned into a vampire he isn’t so thrilled with betrayal, were it not for Dean’s not-shoot-first-but-rather-ask-a-question, Grandpa Samuel would be dead.
 
“Explain it to me again, like I’m five.”  LOL
 
“He still thinks Velcro is a big deal.”
 
And any brotherly moments in or around the Impala work for me.
 
I’m interested where this is going, Cas’ civil war is very much on the backburner but there are tidbits dropped (mainly by Misha in interviews) that he is in many more episodes in the second half of the season.  So, do we conclude the Crowley has Sam’s soul part in the first half of the season?  I hope so.  I would like Sam to get his soul back sooner rather than later mostly because thus far I think everyone has handled the Sam has no ‘feelings/emotions’ pretty consistently but to have him simply be a robot isn’t very interesting (he’s no Data nor do I want him to be) and further, it will keep any brotherly bonding completely nonexistent.  How does Dean bond with Sam who has no feelings and how do we as viewers find any connection with soulless Sam?  
 
Better to have him get his soul back but find that the heavenly civil war and whatever deal Samuel is working for become the focus.  The Winchesters are loyal to family and, if Samuel isn’t working against them but perhaps is working to protecting Mary (hey, Ash said he couldn’t find her in heaven), then perhaps that will be interesting enough to keep all the Campbells and Winchesters (and Bobby Singer) working together.
 
Again, Loflin and Dabb remain consistently inconsistent as writers, this isn’t terrible but it isn’t great…but, I do put a but here, this episode has grown on me in just 24 hours and I do believe that it will continue to grow on me (and not in a moldy sort of way either.)  There were some great shots that I enjoyed, perhaps the coolest for me was the simple closing of Sam’s computer which brings us to the crane shot of the Impala entering the outer area of a building…brought to mind the same scenery of What is and What Should Never Be outside the warehouse.  
 
We didn’t get as much fancy footwork (or wingwork) of Castiel but the demon moments worked abruptly enough, although I’ll admit I was confused, thus a second viewing.
 
It’s the long drawn out dialogue that drags down the pace of this episode as well as the darkness which made it confusing to understand just what the big deal was with the vampire’s long nail.  I didn’t get that his nail was somehow cutting through the iron shackles but perhaps I just need to brush up on my vampire lore.  Also, (and I know I’ve written this twice above) but really, was Sam simply able to untie himself or does he have some superhuman strength as well?  That set up just wasn’t done well.
 
More pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, we have four more episodes until winter hellatus arrives (with one repeat of Exile on Main Street on November 26th, day after Thanksgiving here in the States).  Hope we get some more answers, perhaps a soul returned and some real brotherly bonding…I know, it’s a tall order.  I live in hope.
 
I won’t grade this episode, actually I know I have graded a few this season but I really do try to stay away from that for I believe that it’s best to grade the season as a whole, I liked it more than I didn’t and repeat viewings will be necessary to gather all that is packed into this 42 or so minutes.  I will say that despite my dislike for Episode 5 (mostly because it was so depressing) I like how this season is going thus far.  Every week reveals a bit or two (or more) of the puzzle and the slow but ever forward pace keeps me intrigued.  Season 6 is going well.
 
Bring on All Dogs Go To Heaven.
 
Thanks for reading, Elle2
 
 
 
 
 

Comments  

Tigershire
# Tigershire 2010-11-07 01:30
Hey Elle2, I too heard that vamp yell Dean's name. Could it be she was in the nest that he went into before? When he was turned? As we saw, Dean got Alpha Vamp flashbacks when they got there. Maybe there was some connection via the Alpha Vamp that stayed with some of the other vampires even though Dean was cured?
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-11-07 04:51
Where did I get the idea that the girl who was calling Dean's name was one of the hunters. Though if she was a vampire (and she probably was) maybe all the vampires have some sort of mind link thing going on, or at least had while the Alpha vamp was around?

It's so strange, for the first time in a long time I was like 'Meh' before the episode (probably because the big reveal.) When it hadn't been uploaded by the time I woke up, I just went back to bed. Usually, I'd just hang around clicking refresh (saddo...) But once it came on, I was fecking riveted. There was so much going on, and each viewing reveals something different. The same with the performances, they're so nuanced and so much to interpret has arisen from them.

So here's to another week of debating and pondering questions such as (a) Was Crowley lying? (I hope so) (b) Where the hell is Sam's soul? (Pit) (c) How long before Dean cracks? (Not too long at all) (d) What's Samuel's motivation (Mary) (e) Is Sam still bluffing Dean? (Um, no comment...) and many MANY more.

Great days, people. GREAT days.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-07 05:08
Elle2, I love your thought provoking, somewhat troubled review. I have had my issues with this seasons, too, but there is hope. I found it again, though I am at odds with some of the story threads here.

I got a bit cross with Dean who actually expects the universe to evolve around his needs (which wouldn't suit his psychological disposition with a very low self esteem, so I think it's a shell he tries to protect himselff with and is desperate for help), and Cas' remark 'of course your problems come first' was, to my reading of the scene, a sarcastic rejoinder. He has problems on another scale and as long as we don#t know more about his agenda, I don't really trust Cas at this point. Or- to not put it that harshly: I am wary.

There are some inconsitencies in the depiction of soulless Sam which I'm trying to sort out for me and which will pour into my article -not an open couch this time.

We got a few answers to our questions. Yes! But there are also some more questions raised. This show loves to do this to us. I hope they won't drag the get-Sammy's-sou l-back storyline out till the end of the season. For very shallow reasons I want the ensouled Sam I love so much back. And - I can't think of a really good way to tell this story at this point. It could be just another version of the saving of Dean or of Sam in the earlier seasons. And, well, I'd like this show - they wanted to give us a 'new show' - to present us with some new aspects.

I am so very curious how it will all play out. And I continue watching with a lighter heart, as somehow I am confident again.

Love, Jas
elle
# elle 2010-11-07 06:42
Great review, Elle2!

I too heard that chick call Dean's name in the window - I thought she was a hunter at first, but I don't know now. Perhaps it has something to do with when he was "related" to the vamps for a time a few eps back?

RE: Crowley's bones, I was under the impression they weren't really Crowley's bones because I thought Sam or Dean made a comment about bluffing him (Crowley) after the exchange of bones. Maybe I imagined that though.

I have a feeling that Crowley got Sam up, in part, to get Dean back in the game as well. My theory is that this whole thing ties in with Cas' angel civil war in some way or another. Not sure how the pieces go together yet, but I think they do.

I agree with you that Cas and Dean are somewhat off and I would like them to get back on track quickly. I love Cas too much! It will be interesting to see how his storyline plays out the rest of the season, especially when Misha's fully returned from psuedo-paternit y leave in the second half of the season.

Good season, overall, so far!
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-11-07 06:51
Elle2, many people are puzzled about Sam untying himself. There's been some insistence on his being a super-skilled hunter these days. This was mentioned by Bobby, Samuel and Sam himself. Maybe his getting free that easily is just another demonstration of HOW GOOD a hunter he is.

Or else, it could be that he can't be held by any ropes because he's not human... This would tie in with the flickering lights that announced his presence before.

I thought kind of funny that he first asked Dean politely to realese him. When that didn't work, he just did it himself. It's as if he was teasing Dean: "You see, I'm THAT good.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-11-07 07:57
Maybe Sam learned a little something from that dominatrix in 'Swap Meat'? Knowledge via osmosis from Gary's experiences? (Be about the only good thing that came out of that episode....)

Nah, I dare say both Sam and Dean are well versed at untying themselves in variety of situations. Remember how quickly Dean got out of the handcuffs in 'The Benders'.

It was probably put in for a number of reasons, to show how adept Sam is now; that he doesn't need to be saved, to show how much Dean doesn't trust him, for the sheer coolness factor and also, of course, as a backdrop for THAT line!
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-11-07 08:34
Surely they're both good at that area, but even Dean was astonished. Did you see the look on his face? I'm here thinking - just because I have nothing else to do -about all the emphasis given to Sam's enhanced skills. What is the purpose? Could there be more about Sam's soulness than we're being told? Maybe he's meant to be part of that army of monsters? The soulless boy, a "perfect animal". A few questions answered, many more raised. :-?
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-11-07 08:36
Sorry, I meant soulessness. :oops:
percysowner
# percysowner 2010-11-07 08:53
I'm not bothered by Crowley being able to break Sam out, since I'm not sure that he did. Right now I'm going on the theory that Crowley knows Sam is out, knows he doesn't have a soul, knows no one has come forward to say they got Sam out and that they have said soul, so Crowley is simply taking advantage of a situation to get Sam and Dean to do what he wants.

One of the uncomfortable scenes last week was Sam questioning the sister of the victim. In it he reveals that being soulless seems to make him more aware of the tells that people give off when lying. In this episode he says straight out that the Alpha Vamp is lying about not knowing where Purgatory is and that Crowley is bluffing. Soulless Sam doesn't make leaps of faith. I think he picked up on the tells of both the Alpha and Crowley. I also think Sam breaking his bonds plays into this. Dean is so hit by what Sam can't do, that he doesn't recognize that Sam has some invaluable resources to add to the hunt.

I hate Dean is in the driver's seat again and I hope that eventually, even before Sam gets his soul back, Dean starts paying attention to what Sam CAN do as opposed to everything he can't do.
bookdal
# bookdal 2010-11-07 09:48
How to read Supernatural?

Okay, Elle, I’m a fan of yours, so I hope you don’t mind if I reply to you with a few observations of my own. One of the things I love about this show is the levels of reading we can perform. It’s also one of the things I hate. I’m constantly asking myself: how do I read this show? I have two ways so far (there are many others but I have not fully fleshed those out). However, this episode solidified two of my readings.

1. Read it allegorically - Oh Supernatural… how very Roman Catholic of you! And for us, the viewers, we must beware the red herrings.

As I watched this episode (three times), I was constantly drawn back to the Alpha Vamp and the idea of Dante/Purgatory , a mention which took center stage for me. I love the Divine Comedy (have read it more than three times), and probably most of you know, it is an allegory of political proportions. Within the historical context of 14th century Italy, Dante made some stinging semi-satirical commentaries on his contemporaries using this poem.

I’m more and more convinced now that Supernatural is lifting right from Dante. It was fairly clear to me last year with Lucifer in “Swan Song” when he told the boys that he was mistakenly seen as burning “hot” when in point of fact, he burns “quite cold.” In the Divine Comedy, Lucifer (Satan) is at the bottom of Hell, half-frozen while consuming Judas, Brutus, and Cassius in his three mouths. He is cold because he is at the point in the universe that is farthest away from God’s light.

So I think that this television show may be doing the thing I’ve been hoping for: an adaptation of the Divine Comedy. And that would make sense, especially if the show is approaching this season as the beginning of another leg of the journey. We had Paradise and we had the Inferno; now we get Purgatory.

2. Read it politically – So I have this working idea that the show is commenting on what it means to be a soldier in a post 9/11 America. I actually began an article, “A Tale of Two Generals – Supernatural’ s Sam and Dean as post 9-11 Warriors,” which presented the thesis that the show is a relevant and sharply critical commentary on the war on terrorism, the unconscious cultural fear of soldier turned terrorist through torture, and that the show could really only exist after that traumatic event. I thought the metaphor of Mary’s death acted as a similar trauma as the 9/11 events: an unknown assailant (Azazel) infiltrates what should be the safest of places (a baby’s room) and then brings death and destruction – even trapping the mother and setting the building on fire.

The subsequent story is really an unraveling of a vast network of subcultures and hidden agendas that are similar to the uncovering of military/terror ist organizations. From tracking different political agendas (Gordon, for example) to self indulgent vendettas (Meg, for example), the show demonstrated that all “organized” operations tend to be fed by selfish desires that are aimed toward similar goals. This is true of the Winchesters too; Sam and Dean in Season 4 is a great exposition of what happens when the means become disconnected from the ends. And now, in this season and particularly this episode, we return to the problem of waging war against and with sides that are not clear about their goals.

I’m more and more convinced that this show is one of the very few shows that have had the guts and tenacity to comment on a post 9/11 America, albeit in the most metaphorical sense.

Just some thoughts…..
anonymousN
# anonymousN 2010-11-07 10:36
I agree with AndreaW, Tim the enchanter and percysowner. I like the fact that they are showing how cool Sam is as a hunter now.Jared was perfect there. Not just how he got out of the bonds but also how he treats any situation now.I am liking the direction the show is taking.Excited for the whole season.
elle2
# elle2 2010-11-07 13:21
Hi, Tigershire, Tim the Enchanter, Jas,

Thanks for thinking it was a vamp calling out to Dean...I was wondering. I guess that will be one of those mysteries for the season. Tim, perhaps you're right, all vamps have some sort of mind meld thing (kind of like the Borg?)

Jas,

This was a tough article to write, I went through many starts and stops and almost didn't do it...still, writing helps to clear my mind so I poured it out.

Like you, I don't like the constant theme of Dean supposing everything revolves around him. While Dean has always been very focused on his family he isn't normally one who thinks of himself first and at the center so this is a bit off. Hopefully it will temper out a bit as Cas reveals more of what is going on. The same note occurred in Weekend and Bobby's and it sounded off then and it did again this week. It's out of character and hmm, not surprisingly Dabb and Loflin wrote both the scripts it figured fairly prominently in. Sorry, Mr. Dabb and Mr. Loflin, this is a knock against you for it's not true to the Dean character.

Elle, glad you're in the Dean via vamp as well, I kinda like the mystery there. As for Crowley, I do hope (and think) this is tied into Cas' civil war. There has to be a reason beyond that Sam and Dean are hunters that Cas pulled them back...there are plenty of hunters out there that he didn't choose, Bobby and Rufus come to mind. As for the bluffing over Crowley's bones...darn it, now I HAVE to go watch Weekend at Bobby's again. :lol:

Andrea, Tim and Percysowner, perhaps there is more to Sam's abilities...it does sort of read that way, especially since he stated that the panic room wouldn't hold him either, really? I'm hoping for some more info on that in the future.

Yeah, I'm with you on the Dean is driving and Sam is in the passenger seat (metaphorically speaking, I don't mind that Dean drives the Impala). I understand the reasoning, with Sam's moral compass missing it's tough to allow him to lead, especially since we've seen what his choices have been. I'm hopeful that we'll see a collaboration which was hinted at and actually shown in this episode. Still, my fondest hope is that Sam's soul returns quick so we get 'real' Sam and then continue down the mystery lane of whatever else is going on for there is plenty going on.

Bookdal, First off, you're a fan of mine? Thank you very much. I'm a fan of yours. Your writing is excellent (Alice is willing to take guest submittals...it may lead to more if you're ever willing.)

Your comparison of 9/11 and the aftereffects and what SPN is doing is quite believable. I have no idea if that's what's being done here but the theory you've put forth is quite excellent and well worth the read. Well done, my friend, well done.

anonymousN, You sum up AndreaW, Tim and percysowner's posts well...Sam has always been a cool hunter and he does have some more coolness going on here. Like you and others, I'm hoping that Dean and Sam will balance each other out and draw from the strengths of the other. That is the bread and butter of the show and I do believe the writers will take advantage of the very scenario they have set up.


I'm loving all the wonderful comments going on about each of these episodes this season, glad we have so many more episodes to keep up the lively discussions.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-07 13:51
Bookdal, if I may I would like to direct you to an article I wrote a while back, concentrating on Lucifer, which you might like, since you are such an aficionado of Dante's Divine Comedy.

it's called A Devil Named Lucifer, to be found on my writer's page. I thought you might be interested in that since I drew a lot from Dante there.

Elle2, forgive me for this ruthless self-promotion! I'll shut up now.
;-), Jas
bookdal
# bookdal 2010-11-07 15:12
Thanks Jas! I will read it right away.
Marisol
# Marisol 2010-11-07 15:50
Loved your review, always do. I just have to throw out a thought I had concerning Sam and his no-soul. The Alpha said that "freaks" with no souls went to Purgatory. In the episode coming up with Robert Englund if Sam is the injured brother and has a near death experience, or dies (again) he won't go to Heaven or Hell this time, he will go to Purgatory. How interesting would that be? And what valuable piece of info for the good guys. Now, I am not promoting any more Sam and Dean deaths, but for that plot point, I might be on board.

On another point, I don't know that Dean thinks he is the center of the world so much as he believes that he drops everything and helps when others need him, so he expects the same courtesy in return. He and Sam sacrificed a lot for Heaven, the angels kind of owe them at least a few favors.
elle2
# elle2 2010-11-07 16:33
Jas, bookdal, marisol and Leslie92708,

Jas, shamelessly and ruthlessly promote away...I'd forgotten about that article, me thinks I'll be heading over there for some reading as well. :-)

bookdal...I'm serious about your writing, you are a joy to read with so many thoughts that are well-articulated.

Marisol, wow, speaking of well-articulate d...Sam dies and goes to purgatory (hey, Sam, pick up a soul whilst you're there) and then Cas and Crowley perhaps bring him back (both would seem to have a vested interest.

I think that's why those little comments this season referring to Dean thinking he's the center of the universe (in sum and substance) ring so incorrectly with me, and I know it's not just me since several reviewers (Bardicvoice to name drop shamelessly) also wrote that that line in Weekend at Bobby's just did not work. You're right, Dean is frequently putting others ahead of himself and while in seasons past it wouldn't be such an issue, I think now that he's so worn down by all that's occurred he doesn't cover as well but rather lets his exasperation slip. Further, as a fan longing for some bro on bro bonding, it is nice that Dean wanted Cas to tear up the attic on behalf of Sam's missing soul...there's a bit of an awwww brotherly moment. :-?

Leslie, there are so many great responses here, I love reading just to help me clarify my own thoughts and then I go back and watch it again with a fresh perspective. I like your take on Sam in purgatory...it would be quite damaging to purgatory, Crowley might not want such a fixer upper after that.
alysha
# alysha 2010-11-07 17:07
Elle2! Loved the look back at the episode. We've gotten quite a bit of info, and now we need to process it all.

Bookdal, wow! Very thought provoking, I was following you word for word! It's amazing a TV show can be so cerebral. You need to write meta all the time!
Amelia
# Amelia 2010-11-07 17:59
Dean doesn't think everything revolves around *him*, he thinks everything revolves around *Sam*. With Bobby- "What could be more important than Sam?!" His demands to Castiel have been exclusively for assistance for Sam, anger that he wasn't helping Sam when Sam asked him for it, etc. Not a thing about himself, that I can recall. Cas phrases it as "your problems", but I think that speaks more to their relationship and the fact that Dean is now the one doing the asking. Still, he's asking for Sam.

Maybe what Dean needs to realize is that the world doesn't revolve around Sam. But as long as the major plotline is "Something is wrong with Sam", as it has been for pretty much the show's entire run, I don't think that's very likely. :P
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-11-07 18:38
Amelia, totally agreed. I think exactly the same. Just to add to everything you said, Dean's state of mind has almost always to do with Sam. When he resources to drinking, for instance, it's mostly because of Sam. All Hell Breaks Loose, My Bloody Valentine, When The Levee Breaks and Swan Song, just to name a few. He's always scared about Sam, for Sam, and about what may happen to Sam. My guess is that his beating of Sam happened precisely because he feels so scared.

Dean has never ceased to be a big brother at the core. And I feel a little guilty to confess that it's exactly the way I want him to be. I just love it when he gets protective of Sam. Maybe it's because I'm a big sister too, I don't know, but I just love it. I only wish it wasn't so painful for him to be so.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-11-07 20:06
Do ‘freaks’ still have souls or do they disappear once they've died and been, y'know, turned into a freak. (I prefer the term 'atypical' myself....) I mean, vampires are technically alive, as are shapeshifters, Rugarus, the strange guy in Monster Movie etc so technically, what constitutes being a ‘freak’? I mean if, because of genetics, you’re predisposed towards something amoral from the beginning, how does that work? God made them that way so are some people/things condemned to purgatory by sheer virtue of the fact as to the way they are born?

I mean, the people we judge to be moral are hugely immoral. I’d say Sam and Dean have broken the Ten Commandments a number of times (especially the one about coveting a neighbours wife, huh Dean huh, huh!!)

Amelia and Andrea2, I don’t know if I agree entirely with you. No, Dean is definitely not all me, me, me but at the same he does think his problems should take priority. Now, his problems always seem to relate to Sam’s problems but the thing is, it’s Dean who dictates what Sam’s 'problems' are so while he is demanding things FOR Sam, he is also dictating what Sam should want/need.

The key statement from Dean is not ‘Something is wrong with Sam’ but ‘Something is wrong with Sam, what do we do to fix him’. Yes, being protective is an admirable quality but by constantly focusing on Sam’s ‘problems’ it is inferring that Sam ‘is’ a problem that constantly needs to be fixed.

Take 6.07, Sam is tied to a chair and Dean has decided what the best thing is for him; get him his soul back. No consultation, no discussion as to what Sam thinks, merely a decision made. Same with the demons blood. Dean decided it was wrong so he took any decision away from Sam by locking him up because he wanted to fix him. He never once asked ‘Well, what’s the real reason you’re drinking the blood.’

Now I get why he does it (apparently having a soul is good and drinking blood is bad) but these were Sams decisions to make and by taking any semblance of choice in relation to these away from him, it’s making Sam to be (I feel) Dean’s inferior and that’s what drove the huge wedge between the brothers in the first place.

Take when Dean pulled over the car after the Alpha vamp was captured. Straight away it was ‘No-ones forcing you to work me (though technically Dean, you’re working with the Campbells.....) , we do things my way, I drive the bus, you tell me everything and I make the decisions etc etc’. (Drunk Sam was right. Dean, you’re bossy...) Maybe he was justified in saying it but all we can see at this stage, is that Dean has decided his way is the right way. (Ok, I admit, that line pissed the everliving crap out of me.)

By taking away all manner of decision making from Sam, he’s reducing him to nothing more than a problematic dog, best to keep him tied up but if he chews through, we can train him to take commands and use him as an attack dog.

No, Dean has never ceased to be a big brother at the core. His fierce protectiveness is one of the things I love most about him. That’s something that can’t be changed but being the big brother shouldn’t equate to constantly having to ‘fix’ the little brother, it should also mean empowering him to make his own decisions.

I also do understand why Dean is doing what he's doing; fear, anger, maybe guilt, the inherent need to protect. I'm the second eldest of five so I do get the whole protection thing (and I'd probably be doing exactly what Dean is doing now, to be honest). But there's a fine line between being protective and being domineering and I feel, at the moment, Dean is walking a thin line between the two.

Now, I'm well aware that this opinion wasn't particularly coherent and probably has more holes in it than the Titanic but it's really (REALLY) late here so I'll add/retract/apo logise tomorrow as needs be.
Amelia
# Amelia 2010-11-07 21:56
"My guess is that his beating of Sam happened precisely because he feels so scared."

I totally agree, Andrea. He was definitely scared... he didn't know what Sam was. Sam had been lying to him all week, in everything he said... so was this a lie, too? Or was it the truth? Was this Sam, or was it possessed!Sam, or not!Sam? He couldn't risk killing it, in case it was Sam. But he couldn't risk walking out with it, if it was a monster. All he could think of to do, faced with that, was to knock the thing out and take it to Cas.

When I think about it, this must be a really, really frightening situation, because Sam looks like Sam. He looks like someone Dean trusts and loves, someone he knows he can count on. But he's anything BUT that guy now. He'll use Dean, he'll lie to him, he'll manipulate him, he'll put him in mortal danger, and he doesn't feel a thing about it. Dean can't possibly trust him, but when he looks at that familiar face, it feels like he can. It's way more dangerous than if it was a stranger sitting next to him, who he knew to be wary of. There's always the danger of his guard slipping with Sam, because Sam looks so much like the Sam he knew.

Tim, I don't know that I have much of a problem with Dean laying ground rules for hunting with soulless!Sam. He knows that Sam will lie to him, manipulate him, and betray him. Sam has no problem doing that, and even after being called on it, continues to do it without any indication that he intends to stop. The reasonable thing to do, after your hunting partner lies to you about everything and lets you get vamped without telling you there's a cure, would be to never hunt with them again. But Dean's saying, look, we can still hunt together, but when you think it's okay to do that stuff to me, and when you don't even consider questioning the Campbells about anything they're doing, that shows me that losing your soul has impaired your judgment, and I can't rely on the things you tell me to be true, or to be straightforward and non-manipulativ e. So I have to call the shots when we're hunting together, to make sure I'm not getting manipulated or used.

It's like the story of the frog and the scorpion. It's not the scorpion's fault that it stung the frog... that's it's nature. It's in Sam's nature, while his soul is missing, to be all right with screwing Dean over in all sorts of ways. Dean could walk away, but neither of them want that. SO in order to stay and not be the dumbest sucker on the face of the planet, he has to figure out some way to neutralize soulless!Sam's deceptions from the get-go. It's like the frog wearing armor on its back... if he does, both he and the scorpion will make it across the river alive. If Dean protects himself immediately, he and Sam might be able to work together without Dean getting turned into a monster or killed for a plan he didn't even know about. If he doesn't, they'll go down in the middle of the river, and it'll be no comfort to anyone that it was "just Sam's nature."

I think he's doing the smart thing here, I guess. I guess I don't know what other options he has, given the situation that they're in.
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-11-07 22:03
Tim The Enchanter, I don't disagree with you. Dean demands priority to his problems and his problems apparently consist of Sam. But it just proves, once more, that Sam is front and center for him.

Since you mentioned When The Levee Breaks, I was reminded of Bobby's words then: "Maybe he's here now instead of the battlefield because we love him too much". You know, I think that's the problem with Dean (if you can call that a problem): he just loves too much. ;-)
Suze
# Suze 2010-11-08 05:05
Well, it was a bit dark and wordy but I'm all happy again ...I was hating the Sam-goes-bad-fo r-the-umpteenth -time story but I'm rather getting into it now, only fly in the jam is Sigorney-Lite Glenda or whatever her name is but with any luck she's doomed as Grandad's minions seem to be going down like ninepins. R.I.P Creepy Christian. Not.

Delighted that Crowley is in the frame, as I can't get enough of that snidey gay mockney demon stuff.

I thought Cas was being deeply sarcastic with that "Your problems come first" crack and as for RoboSam's hidden Houdini qualities, I've got three words ... Rubbish. Fat. Rope. ;-)
Julie
# Julie 2010-11-08 05:58
Thanks Elle,
Well I didnt expect to get quite so many answers in one episode, but a lot of things to mull over in this one.
I dont really think that Dean does think the world always revolves around him but , after all, it is not long ago that it actually DID all revolve around Sam and Dean and they made huge sacrifices and gave up everything for it and got sod all in return, except more problems and angst. I figure they should get a little payback and he now is entitled to expect to get a little help.
So we finally now know for sure what we all suspected - Sam has no soul. He is indeed `RoboSam`, that has to stick , I love it! I agree with many others that it is not that he does not feel but that it is like he is `wired` all wrong , he cannot process his feelings , he now seems to have no moral compass whatsoever, as Dean said , no instinct. He sees only the goal and will say/do anything to achieve this. This does mean he needs to be with Dean again, who now needs to be his own little Jinimy Cricket, and in my weird little mind this conjers up all manner of lovely images and songs! But we need to get this soul back and quickly as I cannot bear to think of what is happenning to him, by my reckoning he has been down there for over 120 years already. We also have to consider when he does come back how his experiences will manifest themselves.
Now to the Cambells , I am actually warming to Gwen and think she has possibilities to be an ally. I want Christian back and soon, just so Dean can call him a knob again and hit him really , REALLY hard . Interested now in Samuels motivation for signing on with Crowley (Oh how I love to hate him! Mark Shepherd you are wonderful) I think he is trying to save Mary. I think Mary and John are together in Purgatory / Hell or wherever, after all they both made deals with Azazel and in DSOTM Ash did say he had searched heaven for them and could not find them.
I loved all the new `Deanisms` in this one far to many to list and you all know exactly what I mean hope this trend continues we need some light relief to cling to .
One last thing, and I apologies to Arde for muscling on on her territory, a few months ago when the passion for making posters was at is height on CBOX I found a qoute I loved and made one that has turned out now to be phrophetic because its true now !!
Hope the link works
http://tinypic.com/usermedia.php?uo=zHAawG5Dm5avTHdj0RGVW4h4l5k2TGxc
Karen
# Karen 2010-11-08 09:53
Hi Elle2
I have to admit I liked this one. It was a bit slow during the Vamp raid but I liked all the reveals.
I believe Samuel did strike up a deal to gather the Alpha’s for the return of Deanna and Mary. Now if Mary is in purgatory that could be part of his primary reason for doing it.
I guess Cass can only read who the deal maker is if its only the soul being offered otherwise he would of seen that Samuel did make a deal with Crowley or who ever.

I still find it hard to believe Crowley had the power to free Sam from the Cage and Samuel from heaven. With everything that it took to get Lucifer out, I can’t see how getting Sam out would be any easier. I believe Crowley is working with someone higher than himself. I don’t believe it would be Raphael since Crowley help put a stop to the apocalypse. Which Raphael was in favour of. However Crowley did seem to be on good talking terms with Death, after all it was him who set up the meeting between Death and Dean. I could see Death being able to pull that off for both Sam’s, and keeping Sam’s soul in the pit for collateral.

I do believe Sam is unaware of what happened to him. I know he’s been untrustworthy lately but I really believe him with this.
I do hope the brother’s can find a common ground until they get Sam’s soul back. I really have been hating this part of the story.

I don’t have an issue with Sam getting out of the ropes, I’m with Suze on this…too thick a rope. I’m sure with Sam constantly struggling, especially during Cass’s soul search, that Sam just loosed the ropes.
Now what I do have a problem with is how has Sam gone almost a year without sleep. So how is being soulless related to not requiring sleep?
The only beings that ever went without sleep were either possessed by demons or they were an angels vessel.
Oh well will just have to keep watching...than ks for the review Elle2.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-08 14:12
This is a great discussion going on here, wow! Despite all the fine and classy arguements, I'd still like to stick with my theory that Dean wants his needs met at top priority (while I'm not disagreeing with you who claim that Dean's top priority is Sam).

But to my mind, Dean's core need is: to be aperfect protector of his family - in this case: Sam.
And he expects others, like Castiel and Bobby, to meet that demand. if he can't find a way to save his little brother again, he would have to suffer the feelings of havig failed, his bad conscience, dad's punitive voice in his head and so on.

So, from a therapist's point of view with Dean as a very much disturbed patient suffering from a variety of disorders, I'd say that Dean is putting Sam's well-being (or what he think to be his well- being) first in order to fulfill his core needs. And in that way the universe should evolve around him - to help him solve this problem.

He has hardly any tolerance for Castiel's possible priorities and he needs to be told by Bobby (in a rather annoyed manner) that he's not the center of everyone's thoughts. He feels hurt when others don't feel like he does and he reacts sarcastically, too.

He would probably react differently if his self-esteem was better, but then again he hasn't done much to improve that. He didn't really let Lisa in or anyone else who offered him love, as he in all likelihood believes to be undeserving, a result of always putting his family first.

So, eventually, it all boils down to his low self-esteem. Dean, sweetie, wanna come over to my couch?

Cheers, Jas

P.S.:Before your shout at me - I am very fond of Dean. Perhaps too much or else I could not get even the least bit angry at him.
Amelia
# Amelia 2010-11-08 14:27
"He has hardly any tolerance for Castiel's possible priorities and he needs to be told by Bobby (in a rather annoyed manner) that he's not the center of everyone's thoughts."

That's obviously what happened in the show, I agree. However, Dean's intolerance for Cas's priorities is based in his insistence that Cas should be caring more about Sam. You'll notice that in the third episode, Dean didn't appear to be especially pleased that "he came first in Cas's thoughts". Not at all. He was, in fact, incensed that Cas answered him when he wouldn't answer Sam. He laid out multiple reasons why Sam deserved Cas's special attention, going on about it for at least two or three minutes until Cas finally had to walk back his words about having a special relationship with Dean and say that he hadn't come for him, either. Only then did Dean let it go.

With Bobby, of course, Bobby told both of them that the world didn't revolve around their problems. Dean had said to him, "What's more important than Sam?!", not "What's more important than my feelings?", which is an important line in determining where his head is at right now. It's not "What will people think of me if I don't help him?", it's not, "How can I appear to be a perfect brother to the people around me?" He didn't seem to give a crap what Castiel thought about the broken nose that resulted when he knocked Sam unconscious, and he didn't appear to be especially interested in whether Bobby was judging him for not wanting to be in the car with Sam/not!Sam after he got turned by the vamp. Mostly, he seems to be focusing on what Sam is now, how they can figure out what's going on with him, and how they can get his soul back.

So yeah, no shouting here, but I don't really agree with the assessment. I think there was some of that in the early seasons, but post-Hell Dean took his licks for letting Sam get killed, and he seems to not really carry that burden anymore. He loves him, he wants him to be okay, but he's also perfectly fine saying so when Sam's screwed him over in a way he finds difficult to forgive. That's why we got Bobby freaking out in Lucifer Rising, way back when... Dean was actually rejecting poor treatment, and it scared him. He was no longer the guy who worked overtime to be the perfect family guard dog... he was acting like a regular person. And I think, despite the tongue-lashing Bobby gave him for it, that that attitude still carries through til today.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-11-08 14:51
Amelia, thanks for your response and my apologies for not being all clear on what I mean. I sometimes forget that not everyone reading this is a psychologist.

The self-esteem issues that fuel Dean's deep need to be a protector of his family (established in his early childhood) are not of the conscious kind. It's not in a way of 'what will people think of me if I don't help him' it more 'what will I think of me if I don't help him' - however that question will not pop up in his head but his unconsious will be burdened when he feels to have failed.

These things happen in our subconscious. Everyone has views of themselves built early on and it fuels what we do and how we define ourselves. we are not always aware of that and it's my job (among others, of course) to help my patients to see these manacles that tie them down in their development.

You're right, he's not speaking of 'what of my feelings', but his emotions are, indeed, what determine his actions and he is driven to help Sam by his feelings - love, fear, anger, all emotions that tie him so close to Sam that he can't distance himself enough from those to look at the whole matter from another perspective.

He's somewhat imprisoned in that despair, and if he could change his view perhaps only a little bit he would not feel that hurt by his assumed betrayal of Sam and hopefully sleep better.

I agree that he doesn't carry the burden you refer to anymore, at least not in that heavy extent. The burden he does carry, though, is his need to protect and save, I'd say.

Isn't it great that we can disagree about this show to some extent and still love it and discuss is with each other? I am always grateful for more perpectives to broaden my view and enjoy the sometimes exciting and affectionate verbal quarrels.
Camila
# Camila 2010-11-08 20:25
Reading the articles of Winchester Family Business is a delight. It makes me want to write about the show even though I do not consider myself a good writer. I felt compelled to write a little something this time because the topic is very personal to me, the topic being Dean's attitude towards Sam.

Although the first thing that hooked me up on the show was the soundtrack, I fell in love with Dean and the story of the show during a scene from the first season in which Dean calls John showing his concerns about Sam's visions. At that moment I knew that I had to go on watching the show. But going straight to season 6, I must say that I am 100% sure that Dean's attitudes towards Sam is much more than a concern with what is going on with Sam.

Dean's problem is sheer jealousy. Since day one he just can't accept the fact that he wasn't the first one Sam looked for, and to make matters worse the problem with Campbells is not the hunting per se, it is the fact that Sam calls them "FAMILY" and keeps secrets with them.

Besides having to deal with his own mixed emotions, he has to keep himself sane to figure out what is going on with Sam which is why I understand the whole beating thing. It was just a moment of frustration speaking louder than words.

And the reason I understand it this way, is that I have/had the same experience. Of course my Family is not in the hunting business (Although that would be cool haha), but I can surely say I had the same life the brothers Winchester had. My brother is 9 years younger than me. I had to learn how to be responsible very early because both my parents needed to work and we didn't have much. I took care of my brother for a long period of my life. I had to cook for him, pick him up for school, be a role model, and tell him that he didn't have to be afraid, of thunder for example, when I myself was scared to death. Growing up for him was not easy either, so I shamefully say that we had lots of fights, and we hurt each other a lot. Things that I regret to this day, which is the main reason I cry a lot in certain scenes on SPN. Let me tell you that as a personal experience, it damages a person. I am a grown-up full of fears. I constantly ask God not to let me die before my parents or my brother because I don't now what they could do without me (as I take care of them) and I also worry about how my brother will be when my time comes. I know that's insane, but that's why I defend Dean and say that he does not think that the world circles around him; he simply puts his brother, mon, and dad above himself without hesitating.

Last episode's scene in which Dean almost crying gives Sam an ultimatum is another demonstration of desperation. He loves his brother so much it hurts, and he can't stand not having his brother in the way the things were which makes hard for him to have a life without Sam. Because that's all he knows and what he's best at: Taking care of little Sammy.
alysha
# alysha 2010-11-09 21:04
I haven't spent a lot of time yet this season thinking about why Dean is so unraveled! He seems to have lost his center. He's the one who is going through the motions, not Sam. Sam is just doing what his intellect tells him to (or actually following a hidden agenda the audience is not privvy to).

But Dean? What motivates him? Why must it be all about Sam? At first this season Dean seemed past his co-dependancy and he still is better than before. I don't know. In some ways, there is something more wrong with him than Sam. I just can't put my finger on it.