I love flashback episodes. It’s so fun to get a peek at Sam and Dean’s childhood. We may know the basics, but we don’t know about all the little moments that really shaped them. It’s amazing to see how the choices they made as kids have had a profound impact on their adult life.
Early on in the series Dean was painted as an obedient soldier coming to the defense of John and the life he chose for his sons. Over the years, that image has changed since we’ve gotten to know Dean and he’s gotten to know himself as someone separate from his father. Dean has come to realize his father's mistakes but has still remained fiercely loyal to him. Even in this episode as Sam questions Dean about John leaving him at Sonny’s Home For Boys, Dean comes straight to John’s defense insisting it’s not his fault. That loyalty is still there.
And how many times have we heard Dean talk about their responsibility to the job? “Saving people, hunting things. The family business.” Whenever Sam has tried to walk away and live a normal life, Dean reminded him of their obligation. So it surprised me that a 16-year-old Dean came so close to walking away himself. Not only did he not like hunting, but he had very different dreams for himself.
Robin: “What do you really want to do?”
Dean: “I wanna be a rockstar but I also really like cars.”
Robin: “Being a mechanic seems rough.”
Dean: “No, not at all. Cars are cool as hell. Fixing them is like a puzzle and best of all, when you’re done, they leave and you’re not responsible for them anymore.”
Those are the words of a kid who has been given way too much responsibility way too early. The fact that he craves a life where he’s not responsible for anything is really telling. Not only was he responsible for Sam’s safety and well-being, but we learned way back in season two that many times he has to be responsible for his father too.
John: “You know, when you were a kid, I'd come home from a hunt, and after what I'd seen, I'd be, I'd be wrecked. And you, you'd come up to me and you, you'd put your hand on my shoulder and you'd look me in the eye and you'd... you'd say, "It's okay, Dad". Dean, I'm sorry. You shouldn't have had to say that to me, I should have been saying that to you. You know, I put, I put too much on your shoulders, I made you grow up too fast. You took care of Sammy, you took care of me. You did that, and you didn't complain, not once. I just want you to know that I am so proud of you.”
That’s a lot for one person to handle. If it’s possible, I love Dean even more knowing how easy it would have been for him to walk away and knowing that he chose not to. Sonny was ready to stick his neck out for Dean. And let’s face it, it wouldn’t have been too hard to convince child services, or whoever, that Dean was better off at the boy’s home. He was flourishing; doing well in school, picking up new hobbies (Dean Winchester with a guitar? Yes please!), just generally adjusting to civilian life. But he couldn’t do it because he couldn’t leave Sam, the person he cares the most about in this world.
I don’t know about you, but that scene pretty much tore the heartstrings right out of my chest. It was a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand I was so sad for Dean knowing all he would miss out on by making this choice. But on the other I felt so proud of him and so happy knowing what this decision would mean for him and Sam. Yes, there are terribly rough roads ahead for both of them, but I can’t help but think how differently things would have played out if they weren’t in each other’s lives.
Part of what made this episode so enjoyable for me was Dylan Everett who played young Dean. Over the years, the show has struggled to find actors that can mimic Jensen’s mannerisms. Colin Ford was the perfect young Sam right off the bat, but for whatever reason they never quite found the right young Dean. Personally, I think Dylan Everett hit the nail on the head in this episode. What did you guys think? Were you a fan of Dylan’s interpretation?
I also really enjoyed watching Sam learn things about Dean that he never knew. There was a definite mixture of interest and sadness in his discoveries. Sam saw those two months as the best part of Dean’s life. And it seems he felt personally responsible for taking that away from him. I was glad that Dean found his own way to let Sam know how he feels about their life together.
Sam: “Dean, thank you.
Dean: “For what?”
Sam: “For always being there. For having my back. Look, I know it hasn’t always been easy.
Dean: “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
Ok, so it’s not an outright “I love you”, but it might as well be.
I can’t believe I haven’t even mentioned the ghost hunt yet. I found the story pretty satisfying. Although, I knew there was something off about Timmy from the moment he came on the screen. I actually assumed he was a ghost and Dean was talking to him “Sixth Sense” style. I was really happy to be wrong because I hate guessing twist endings. Not that it happens often. Even though Timmy was technically the “bad guy” in this episode, I couldn’t fault the little guy for anything. He was just too pathetic and adorable. And really, you can’t blame him for being a scared little kid, crying for his mother. And when he needed to step up and take control of the situation he did.
I think it goes without saying that I enjoyed this episode. It was a nice break from the big story arcs of the season and had me reminiscing about the early seasons of this show. Sam and Dean sure have come a long way since then! What did you all think? Were you glad to have an old school hunt? Did you like the flashbacks as much as I did?
There are so many good quotes and moments worth mentioning in this episode.
Is Sam secretly reading ‘The Marvelous Land of Oz’?
Dean: “And everybody’s ok with heading out to the catskills?”
Sam: “I am everybody.”
Sonny: “You shouldn’t make him mad.”
Dean: “Why cause he’s a cop?”
Sonny: “No, cause when you make ‘em mad, they leave with the key.”
Dean teaching Timmy to shake hands properly was such a sweet moment.
Dean: “You shake like that, you’ll be alright.”
Dean: “Nobody bad-touched me, nobody burned me with their smokes or beat me with a metal hanger. I call that a win.”
The return of the samulet! Just seeing it makes me want to watch “A Very Supernatural Christmas”.
Sonny: “What are you, in the mob or something?”
Dean: “More like something.”
Sonny: “You get one shot at this game, Dean. And when you look in the mirror you want the guy looking back at you to be his own man.”
Dean and Robin’s first interaction in the diner made my skin crawl. So. Awkward.
I have always wondered who Dean’s first kiss was. Now we know.
Dean: “You have to trust me.”
Robin: “And why would I do that?”
Dean: “You do remember me!”
I actually laughed at this bit of dialogue. Only Dean would see a woman’s suspicion as a sign that she remembers him.
Dean: “Sometimes you gotta do what’s best for you, even if it’s gonna hurt the ones you love.”
Sam: “Here I was thinking this was the worst part of your life, turns out it was the best. Why’d you ever leave?”
Dean: “Never felt right.”
Dean: “It was two months, Sam. I couldn’t wait to get out of here. I don’t know what to tell you, it wasn’t me.”
Who is excited for Sam and Dean to sign their purity pledges next week? Looks like they may become dragon bait!