This episode’s “business” showed us a deeply reflective Dean. The messages relating to Dean’s story arc weren’t obtuse, contrived or heavily veiled in symbolism, but they also weren’t so blaringly repetitious that they became tiresome. Just simple comments, thoughts and an insightful discussion that moved the story line, accompanied by poignant music. So what did we learn?
Forgiveness and Redemption
I promised myself I would not talk about forgiveness this week. After the long, dynamic, passionate conversation on forgiveness that occurred in the comments following last week’s “Threads” article, I thought that subject had been exhausted. I was determined to ignore any subtle references or inferences about forgiveness that might appear in this week's episode. So, of course, that was the explicit subject of the heartfelt reflection from Dean to the co-ed! Dean himself raising the subject undeniably confirms that forgiveness is a major theme of the season and we are on the right track! So, I give up! Let’s talk about forgiveness.
Dean: “Truth is, I can relate. I’ve made more mistakes than I can count. Ones that haunt me day and night."
Delilah: “So how do you deal?”
Dean: “Whiskey. Denial. I do my best to make things right. Whatever that may be. For you, maybe it’s coming clean. You know, finding a way to ask for forgiveness. But not breaking the bank at your local florist. I mean, real forgiveness. You can’t just bury stuff like this. You got to deal with it.”
What a breakthrough! Dean heard Charlie and Sam’s preaching that burying pain doesn’t work in the long run. Dean admitted that he tries to drink it away, and then refuses to deal with it when he is sober. An interesting psychology question – isn’t acknowledging that you are in denial mean that you actually aren’t in denial? Doesn’t denial mean that either you don’t believe there is a problem or you don’t believe you are the cause of the problem? If you are aware of the pain and the need to address that pain then I would term it avoidance, not denial. Anyway, Dean may not be ready to accept or deal with his issues but his speeches to both Delilah and later to Andrew certainly implied that he knows what he needs to do once he is ready. He understands that he needs to ask forgiveness for whatever wrongs he believes he's inflicted, and he obviously believes it enough to sincerely impart the same advice to someone whose wounds aren’t as scarred over as Dean’s. That’s a start.
Maybe, in a small way, Dean is ready, though. If we listened closely, he actually did start to acknowledge and apologize for the long list of things he feels guilty about, going all the way back to the very first day he reentered Sam’s life. Looking around at the coeds on the campus, Dean very nonchalantly commented to Sam:
“Sorry I ever made you leave.”
Dean didn’t make Sam leave college. He asked, or maybe even begged, Sam to help him look for their dad, but Sam made the choice. Then when Jessica died, Sam found his own motivation to leave school. Yet this casual remark reveals how Dean views the situation. Dean feels he pulled Sam back into hunting, and Dean found a way to apologize for it. What a perfect way to go down the road of redemption. Begin at the beginning, taking one small step at a time.
MoC…and Letting Go
Firstly, what's with Dean’s appetite?? How about eyeing co-eds? Deano, my boy, they are 15 years younger than you! Get it together! I actually felt both of these "jokes" were overdone to the point of being ridiculous. Dean might be satisfying his murderous cravings by substituting gluttony and lust (or maybe the MoC is intensifying all vices?) but did he suddenly forget how to feed himself? A few weeks ago he was talking with his mouth full of hamburger. This week he was talking with noodles hanging out of his mouth.
I don’t have any problem showing his cafeteria tray overflowing with all the tempting junk food offered in a campus dining hall (I may have been guilty of that myself once or twice. Free sundaes? Free, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies? Bye bye good judgment & moderation!). I do, however, object to dumbing him down to a mannerless oaf. In contrast to his eating frenzies, Dean displayed his usual strategic hunting skills as he grasped for a way to get through to the ghost-du-jour without bones or tethered objects to destroy.
Dean: “Andrew, listen to me. You have every right to be pissed, but take it from me, the more you kill the crazier you’ll get. The blood fuels the rage. So it looks to me like you got two choices: You can keep killing and become something you won’t recognize, or you can move on, ‘cause that is the only thing that’s gonna give you peace. It’s up to you man. Pain or Peace?”
Dean has a way of boiling things down to the simplest terms, doesn’t he? Obviously Dean’s insights to the vengeful spirit were informed by his own battle with the MoC. Dean has the same choices – he can give in to killing and become something he won’t recognize (which already happened at Randy’s house) or he can get on with his life, because that is the only way he will find any peace. I’m curious if Dean had come to this conclusion for himself before trying to talk down Andrew, or if the heat of the moment helped him to see things more clearly. Either way, he had reflected on his situation enough to admit that the blood fuels his rage, and he will eventually have to deal with the rage.
Andrew’s wife also encouraged him to move on, but she told him how to do it.
Corey Silver: “I should have said this earlier, but I couldn’t let go. But it’s time for me to let go and for you to do the same. Please I’m begging you. Do this for me. Do it for us. Goodbye.”Letting go of wrongs done to us and wrongs we have done to others is the only way to save ourselves. Corey begged Andrew to let go of his need for revenge at the same time she acknowledged her need to let go of him so he could be at peace. Andrew chose to move on…and so did Dean.
Sam: “Looks like Andrew wasn’t the only one who chose peace.”
Dean: “Yeah, looks like. Think I’m gonna follow his lead too."
Sam: “What do you mean?”
Dean: “My peace is helping people. Working cases. That’s all I want to do."
Sam: “Is this about the Mark?”
Dean: “I’m done trying to find a cure Sammy."
Sam: “Dean, Cas is so close.”
Dean: “To what? We don’t even know if there is a cure. So far, we’ve got nothing. We have found nothing at the MoL library; Metatron may or may not know something and maybe Cas is onto something with Cain….maybe.”
Sam: “Yeah, maybe. Nothing is guaranteed Dean. So what? You can’t just stop fighting.”
Dean: “Yes we can.”
Sam: “So this is it. You’re just gonna give up.”
Dean: “No, I’m not just gonna give up. I appreciate the effort, OK? I do. But the answer is not out there. It’s with me. I need to be the one calling the shots here. I can’t keep waking up every morning with this false hope. I got to know where I stand, otherwise I’m gonna lose my freaking mind. So I want to fight it, ‘till I can’t fight it anymore. Then when all is said and done, I’ll go down swinging.”
Dean’s inner warrior needs to see things in simple terms – fight or flight – and Dean is tired of strategizing, researching, running, searching for answers and hoping for a way out. He’s decided to just turn around and face the fight head on. He knows his opponent now. He knows he is battling his own rage. So he’s going to try to find the answer within himself; he’s going to find his inner peace by saving people and hunting things. Hopefully, his speeches about forgiveness mean that he knows that working to feel peace is not the same as attaining peace. He needs to forgive himself one transgression at a time to find true peace.
Sam wisely let his brother have the last word because he knew that Dean sorely needed that resolution, even if it is only temporary. It didn’t look like Sam bought into it, though. Good. Sam, you have to have enough hope for both of you.
The Story and the Truth
This season has frequently shown how people weave their own stories to avoid facing painful truths. When talking to Sam, Corey defended her fabricated, romantic fairy tale story of communicating with her husband in the afterlife:
Mrs. Silver: “Mostly I didn’t want to face the truth.”It was only through letting go of the story and facing the truth that she was able to let Andrew, and herself, be at peace.
. Sam made it a whole week without getting knocked unconscious! Hooray!!
· Supernatural is taking its family values lessons to a whole new level. A few weeks ago, a victim was killed when he went out to sneak a cigarette. This week:
- Driving drunk? Billy died.
- Texting while driving? Caused an accident.
- Driving on a suspended license because of a previous DUI? Add letting a man die and leaving the scene of an accident to your list of crimes.
- Play music too loud? Go deaf, right before your brain melts…literally.
- Always practice safe sex, even in meaningless, casual hook-ups!
These public service announcements come at no extra charge during your weekly ghost hunt! Actually, though, I think they have a lot to do with the next point…
· Again with the 16-25 year old guest stars! Not only were the crimes set on a college campus, inside dorms and dining halls, but the dialog emphasized the blatantly obvious targeted age of the show:
Local Detective: “Now days the only way to know anything about teenagers is through social media. Trust me. I have two of them.”Flash: The vast majority of teenagers are in high school/secondary school not college. In Iowa, only college freshmen or maybe sophomores would still be teens so don't try to trick us into thinking you're hip to teens when you're using college coeds in your story!
Mrs. Silver: “Some teenage girl. I think she goes to the college.”
This episode also talked about the latest social media tools, it made fun of the outrageously old “Gen Xers” (I'm in BIG trouble if GenX is now considered over the hill!), and the ghost used Wi-Fi to haunt victims. Wi-Fi wasn’t common enough when this show began 10 years ago for that to even have been an option back then! Again I say, some white board in the writers’ office has “modernize hunts and appeal to younger audience” as a goal for S10! I foresee a hiatus article dedicated to this subject because this demographic redirection is obvious, and frankly, alienating! Obviously, “teens these days” are proficient with social media and apps, but only a proportionate sector or the fan base are in their teens! The fact that you found this article on an internet website, probably because of a tweet or Facebook post, quite possibly when you checked your mobile device, probably fed from a wi-fi signal proves that the teens are not the only ones who “get” social media and apps!
· Several times this season we have observed the dumbing down of Sam or Dean. This episode they seemed to mysteriously be able to access their brains again, but it was the teens who were portrayed as mindless goofs. I know teens make dumb decisions a lot of the time, but Delilah's roommate didn’t have to study because she was sleeping with the TA, Delilah only took art history because she got to look at naked guys, Billy so relied on “Trini” that he drove further and further into a deserted area looking for Tacos, speaker guy was willing to “hook up” with some random chick just because she offered via text….I could go on and on. I am nowhere near my teen years, but I seriously objected to the portrayal of teens as complete and utter idiots. I think my two kids would object to this objectification also. What do you think? Was the stereotyping justified for the story? Did you notice the over-the-top typecasting? Am I being too sensitive?
I enjoyed the familiarity of “Halt and Catch Fire”. I loved seeing Sam and Dean hunt again! I was taken aback that they looked considerably older and more “gentrified” in their suits and overcoats, especially compared to the 20-somethings that surrounded them, but I’m afraid we’d all look old on a college campus (except those of you who belong on a college campus!). The myth arc symbolism didn’t melt my brain and the story was an original way to update an established plot. I liked that Sam and Dean split up to pursue different angles of the case. It seemed natural and believable, yet was a good way to relieve some of the Js filming time. I would have liked less caricature and more sophistication to the victims, the survivors and our boys, but I loved the broments.
Always and forever.
I’m sucked in every time.
Almost by definition, “Threads” readers like to analyze and decipher episodes. Did the pluses outweigh the negatives for you? Heaven help me, but did you hear Dean’s conversations as acknowledgement that forgiveness is on his mind? Given he doesn’t see any other solutions, do you agree with Dean’s strategy to quit looking for a way out and just plow forward to the end (that was so reminiscent of what he said when he had no other options in "No Rest for the Wicked"!)? Lastly, what have you thought of the updated pop music the past few weeks versus the traditional hard rock that is characteristic of Supernatural? A sign of the times or a willingness to be open to change...or a tragedy? I’m curious to hear what you thought of the episode!
Screencaps courtesy of www.screencapped.net
not only that, but when this episode was over I saw so much more than what was merely on the surface. I see an exciting second half ahead..;)
this is what tickles me most about this episode....
here we have it….the walk in ea. other’s shoes. at the beginning of s9, sam was resigned to accepting death because he saw no way out for himself. Dean kept telling him to fight, but sam believed there was no solution. He thus accepted his fate with pure Winchester style, both dignity and going out on his own terms. Though he didn't want to die, he saw so no way out and thus accepted for him what he believed to be the inevitable and resigned to do so his own way.
But dean didn’t stop the fight. He still believed in a way out for Sam and thus resorted to the only way he could think of to save his brother. He knew he wouldn’t like it, he knew Sam would be hurt and angry, but alive was more important to dean…..so for him, he’ll take his punishment when the time came.
So now here we are in quite a similar circumstance. Dean is now the one who has resigned himself to acceptance that there is no way out of this situation and thus will live with it on his own terms. He said he would fight til he couldn't anymore and if/when he goes down, it’ll be swinging.
Now we have Sam who hasn't lost faith. He still believes there is a cure and Sam is not so resigned to accept his brother's situation. There was an article recently that stated Sam would be exploring his own journey on his quest to save his brother. I have no doubt that Sam will keep trying to find a way to save Dean, even if his brother has given up. I believe we will see Sam working without Dean's knowledge on finding a way to rid Dean of the mark.
Now while I don't believe Sam will trick Dean into possession of any kind, I do believe that Sam may very well take an approach that Dean might not approve of. Sam will do what it takes to save his brother, regardless of Dean's acceptance or not.
I wonder if Sam can actually squeeze into Dean's work boots. LOL
I have no doubt that Sam will find a solution. I’m excited to see what it will be.
Looks like Sam will once again have enough faith for the both of them...…:)
I think the lesson for dean by the end of this story is to learn to have faith..…faith in Sam, faith in God, and most importantly faith in himself.
just my opinion of course..
question: is the lady who played Andrew's wife the same person who played the lady from wishful thinking ? you know the one the invisible kid was spying on, the one sam was interviewing?
Sam isnt the only one who is meant to learn a lesson here. This is about them both understanding each other's perspective...t ruly for the first time. This is just as much about dean understanding what sam has lived with and fought within his entire life. And the decsions hes made that dean may or may not have agreed with or understood as it is for sam understanding deans perspective about why hes been driven to do what hes done.
In the end, the lesson is for both...to accept who they are and love who they are....to let go of the self loathing and all the guilt theyve ladened themselves with.
Sam has always shown his love for dean by abiding his wishes/promises and each time it backfired on him....this time i think sam is going to do what he wants. Much the way dean has always done. Dean has been emulating sam, trying to find a way to live with this evil as sam has always done. Another example of the boys walking in each other's shoes...which again will lead to that inevitable lesson for them both that i mentioned above.;)
Jmo of course
But as for Sam this is the point where Sam has to start doing what Dean has done before, after we have had Dean definitely say that he has effectively drawn his line in the sand. Dean has said he is going to manage his condition in his way the best he can, for as long as he can, he has accepted his lot and let go of a mythical cure that probably doesn't exist but Sam isn't going to have that, Sam can't have that. I don't know if that is keeping the faith or not. But really, this is the point where Sam will go on a journey which he will find he can no longer justify going dark like he did with Lester by saying he wouldn't have done it only....and not feel any push back from it.
It is about the switch for where Sam has to understand the choices that Dean made to save him when Sam said he went to far, examine the things he said in the past two seasons because he will have to go that extra mile and explore what he is capable of doing just so he can keep his brother by his side even after his brother has made his choice to 'let go' of chasing his tail.
Though I wonder what PrincessElsa 8 think about the whole connection to Frozen and this weeks angle of 'letting go'
Sugarhi15, I love your observations about the parallels to S9! Those are the type of consistent themes that I believe distinguish Supernatural from other shows. It is the "walk a mile in my shoes" idea. As you said, I think this set up gives a great deal more depth and excitement to both Sam and Dean's journey.
ParadiseHeat, you are also correct that the stakes are much higher for Dean's situation. Sam dying (veil or not) would have caused Dean a great deal of pain, but Dean becoming a virtually immortal demon is a greater risk to the general population. If the MoC keeps resurrecting him, then even Ruby's knife wouldn't work to end his "demonhood" and he could go on generating havoc forever.
The image of Darth Vadar comes to mind. The prize pupil on the side of good becomes the most feared and ruthless weapon on the side of evil. His closest family, Luke, said "I have to save you", but Luke's love brought back Anakin, who then said "You already have." Dean would feel the same way if he became a force of evil. He would want death so that he could at least die a hunter.
I think Jeremy is going to teach both brothers a lesson. Dean: What is means to want death so that "No one is ever hurt again because of me" (Sam's words); and Sam: what it means to be the one who has to have faith and fight for both of you because the one you love is resigned to death. Those are themes worthy of Supernatural. Now we just need a string of superb episodes that highlight (rather than miss) that underlying message.
That is an interesting point about Dean and forgiveness. I hadn't thought about forgiveness in his remark to Sam about taking him away from college. But that is as good a place to start as any. Dean does need to forgive himself before he can start to have a healthier relationship with Sam. We'll see how far the Mark let's Dean go with his journey of self awareness. It might have other plans.
I didn't much care for this episode. Dean's behavior was so over the top. It wasn't funny it was uncomfortable. We want to laugh with Dean not at his frat boy comedy. Ogling girls barely out of their teens was just well icky. It was nice that Sam didn't get knocked out or tied up. That was at least nice to see. Other than that the episode didn't tell us anything we didn't know except Dean is kind of giving up and Sam isn't. :(
I'm just guessing here....but I don't think the song choices are for the teen demographic.... there has been classic rock....the use this season of pop music came when dean wasn't himself....he was a demon or he was a teenage boy...
I think the music more represents dean's state...meaning dean isn't really himself since he got the mark.. sometimes the music is angsty rock, especially when we see him alone in his room worrying about the mark. they played annoying pop music when he was a demon and when he's a teenage boy they're playing taylor swift. the music seems to go with dean's mood so far this season. since dean isn't really himself, the music hasn't been typical dean music. .when dean gets rid of the mark, I wonder if there will be total rock and less use of pop music....when dean is back to dean again and the Winchester world is back to normal. going to have to pay attention to that.
the use of pop in some eps seems to represent the Winchester world in it's current state of turmoil and chaos.
jmo of course.
I just think and believe me it's not an attack on any of us....but the boys aren't the only ones getting older:D what we may not have noticed or cared about then, is being noticed now.
for me it's no big deal...when it comes time for me to make my season end cd's if I don't like a song, I wont burn it....:D
The Taylor Swift song was perfect for the ending of last weeks episode.
Now, Dean and Sam have been researching possible cures for the MoC and, not having found anything, Dean has decided the only viable option is to continue the family business, hunting things, saving people, until he can't anymore. This can be viewed as both fatalistic, and practical at the same time. Just as Dean took desperate action to save Sam, could this be setting up Sam to do the same for Dean? Not talking possession but something just as extreme? I too, was struck by Dean's nonchalant comment to Sam "Sorry I ever made you leave", referring to Sam's time at college. I don't want to get in to the whole apology thing after it had been beaten like a dead horse last week, but maybe this is also Dean reflecting back, taking stock on his life and the decisions he's made? Not saying he's going to die (or can die for that matter), but starting down the path of acknowledging that yes, he's done some bad but has also done a hell of a lot of good in his life, and that this ultimately leads to Dean forgiving himself?
My husband and I watch NCIS, which has been on as long as Supernatural and gets top ratings. Although it evolves, it doesn't forget what made it a ratings winner in the first place. Yes, it's a different genre, but in the end, a show is only as good as the story it tells and we just are not getting top notch stories anymore. IMO. Supernatural should be embracing the fact that the brothers are now in their mid thirties and should be showing them as smarter, more worldly, more mature. more comfortable in their own skins. JC claimed he was going to mature the brothers but his idea of mature and mine are two very different things. When you read what he and the writers say in interviews and on Twitter, you wonder just how mature they are themselves. That's my rant this week about TPTB. Lol.
I want Dean to realize that just because he can do something doesn't mean he should. He needs to think about the consequences of his actions which is something he doesn't seem do much of.
As for Dean starting to forgive himself, I like that aspect of him. Dean may have decided to just go with the flow until the end, but Sam will not give up the fight. It reminds me (very loosely) of someone with cancer or with any disease that has fought for so long and just decides to let nature take its course, until loved ones help that person fight on. I'm speaking from experience. That's how I see it.
Thank you for these threads. I don't have much time to express my views, but I do enjoy reading what you and others have to say. :)
Deans resignation to his situation also reminded me of a terminally ill patient. Giving in isn't the same as giving up but it often takes loved ones to help regain fight.
And with Dean's eating habits:
Superwiki - Young and old Dean ("http://supernaturalwiki.tumblr.com/post/110801273510/some-things-never-change")
It is just the same but the noodles make it pretty icky. Aaaanyway...
Supernatural has had a flock of child/teen actors. It is nothing new. We even got Weechesters in a high school. And how Dean was I think there might be something else behind it too. In second last episode he felt how being young was again. And being young at this age meant that Teen!Dean liked Taylor swift's music. It wasn't classic rock because on that scene it was not meant to be it. So, by that reaction on this one I think Dean reminisced his school days that might seem simpler and happier now. And it might again mirror Sam's life a bit.
We have evidence what he did when he was young. Checked every girl and ate like a sloth. In a way he escaped to be young again or well to the memories of it and as I watched it from that point of view. It really didn't bother me. Nor I don't think we get more teens or I rather hope we don't. Then I will start to complain. :)
It is weird how differently people saw this episode. Most what I saw thought it was like old times. That Dean was just Dean. This was a clear MotW episode that has been how they have been done from day one. Like I said. I have had not much trouble with the show but I have not been watching it for ten years. My observation from many sites is that maybe Supernatural has not changed that much but maybe the people that watch it? I mean when I was young I liked Knight Rider and Dempsey and Makepeace and I literally can't watch them nowadays without poking my eyes out. And if I hadn't watched them I would talk about "The glory of the good old days". They are now in my eyes very, very bad. People also wish a lot of stuff to happen/change in the show and when they seem to get it it is not what they wanted. As an observer it is probably easier to see it.
I mean my wish came trough. The Leviathans went bye bye and I am really glad of that. I wonder if all these issues have come because the difference of binge watching and normal or just most commonly that we all see the show in different ways. These are just thinky thoughts and in general so don't shoot me. Just wondering a lot the different reactions. ;)
I am glad that Dean said sorry. It is a good way to begin at the start.
Is there a point in time when fans just "burn out" on a show? Are the 10yr veterans the first to bail because they need to move on? Or are the binge watchers less patient with the slow progress of plots because they devoured the first x seasons in weeks rather than years? I don't know. Interesting questions.
The trends/threads I'm noticing: wrath, gluttony, lust, pride and one could consider Crowley slothful and Rowena greedy plus there is certainly some envy in there. Of course, this show has had no shortage of deadly sins. Also, faith, hope, justice and other theological or cardinal virtues like diligence, love, abstinence, patience, restraint, courage (more?). Intentional? I wouldn't have thought so, but this weeks blatant gluttony and lust makes me wonder. While EK used the strictest definition of righteous (obedience) during his tenure, Could it be that JC is using the general definition (without guilt (or Sin))? We do tend to see more than what is intended however, but I find it interesting.
I can't figure out the whole parade of teenagers thing, and I hope there is a point that is not related to appealing to a younger audience.
Honestly, unless the music is horrendous, I don't notice it too much, but I love the classic rock as it's feels like it's another character, like the Impala, so when it's not there it just feels wrong.
While the whole "walking in each other's shoes" has been mentioned (directly or indirectly) I am enjoying the differences in the way each brother handles the opposing experiences. Dean was bull in a china shop with Sam in years past (with doses of alcohol induced self pity) but Sam, although he hasn't said it (does he ever) is seemingly pleading with Dean not to give up, patient even, while slowly sliding towards desperation. However, I am not sure what that will become over the remaining episodes (is that anxiety I feel?). Perhaps this is the slow winding road that will lead to the fork where our beloved brothers will take different paths and (hopefully) end up fighting the heroic battle together.
Also, I too was wracking my brain as to where I had seen the ghost's wife before and finally remembered the lady in Wishful Thinking who was spied on by the invisible kid and interviewerd by
Sam. I'm pretty sure that was her. Another recycled guest.
Oh, by the way. I liked the episode, but never never stop with the classic rock please!
“No, I’m not just gonna give up. I appreciate the effort, OK? I do. But the answer is not out there. It’s with me. I need to be the one calling the shots here. I can’t keep waking up every morning with this false hope. I got to know where I stand, otherwise I’m gonna lose my freaking mind. So I want to fight it, ‘till I can’t fight it anymore. Then when all is said and done, I’ll go down swinging.
First there is the assurance to Sam he is not giving up and the appreciation for Sam- (the effort) . Remember how touched Dean was in "My Time of Dying" when he thanked Sam for not giving up on him. Then we have Dean's self reliance and take charge approach to almost any situation. Dean then mentions hope as being false. Dean has been so scarred and saturated by the eternal darkness he see that he has always struggles with hope and faith. He has articulated this many times: Faith 1.12; House of the Holy 2.13; Are You there God it is Me Dean Winchester 4.02. He admits to Sam he is struggling "otherwise will lose his freakin mind" and then the eternal vow of both brothers who intend to go to their graves swinging. So I understand Dean's approach to the MOC and think it is pure Dean. Dean is also following Sam's advice. Sam told Dean he had to deal with the Mark and maybe the answer was within Dean, Sam also told Dean he had to get back in the game when Dean was hunkered down in in his room (sanctuary) searching for answers in the books. I personally was glad to see Dean doing the work to help himself and it was not a bad idea.... heck it could not have hurt to stay in there for a month! I know that Dean's approach will not succeed without Sam. They balance one another. Sam is also acting in true form to his character. Sam is giving Dean everything he needs. Sam is giving 100% support, constant presence (standing by Dean); he is seeking answers using everything he has- intelligence and physical force; and he is the one with the strength of faith and hope which was articulated most poignantly in Season 8 when he took on the trials. He sees a light at the end of the tunnel. I like where this going and think the resolution will be the combined force of the brothers.
I think Dean does have forgiveness on his mind based on his advice to the one remorseful college student. I do think part of the cure will be requesting forgiveness from Sam and forgiving himself. I do not think we can read to much into Dean's casual remark to Sam: "Sorry I ever made you leave (college)." I do think Dean blames himself for everything and he may still regret the role he thinks he played in taking Sam away from college and the life he wishes his brother had. (Dean struggles between wanting his brother to have a normal life and desperately needing him in the family business) It was just a line for Dean to emphasize his staring at so many hot chicks on campus. Where by the way are all the average looking young people in college?
In regard to music. Another person stated it perfectly. Classic Rock is another main character to the show. It seriously goes with the car and Dean thought Sam douched up baby with an IPOD playing crap music. Classic Rock is an intrinsic premise to the show. It cannot be replaced. I thought it was ludicrous and heresy that Dean in his 14 year old body would like that Taylor Swift tune. Dean was still his adult self in that 14 year old body and I cannot imagine that hormones would cause him to suddenly like Taylor Swift. With that said, I will concede that maybe there is some subtle meaning to Dean liking that Taylor Swift tune. What is that meaning? I think the producers are pandering to the teen audience and want them to think that teen Dean likes their music. Another less pessimistic view is that Dean enlightened by the feeling of his youth realized he is open to the new or change. There may be some truth to the fact that Dean liked Classic rock just because his Dad did. Perhaps a subtle reference to Dean making interior changes. Also it has been made known that Dean knows about and apparently listens to other music: In Crossroad Blues, 2.08 Dean knew about classic blues music: "Yeah, except that wasn't a legend. I mean, you know his music. You don't know Robert Johnson's songs? Sam, there's, there's occult references all over his lyrics, I mean, "Crossroad Blues"? "Me and the Devil Blues"? "Hellhound on My Trail"? " And in this current episode Dean says that the "thing" about driving the dead brother's truck is in all the country music. Despite all that the music foundation of the show has to remain classic rock. it is the heart and soul.
With the exception of the brother insights, I hate to say it but I found this episode just boring. I know it was a MOW episode and the set up was old school- usually like that but something was missing. . The opening was good... (was that the bridge we saw in the pilot???). It was just that the whole story was mundane, the dialogue commonplace, the teenage characters stereotypical and it seemed, as you mentioned, a Public Service Announcement not to text and drive. Supernatural used to scare, intrigue, inspire, humor and provoke (------------so mething , you fill in the blank.) I got nothing on this story. My other thoughts: Dean is too old to be staring at college girls 18-21. His lecherous side could be depicted by giving a double take at a hot 30 something professor. Food falling out of Dean's mouth is not funny. Dean is not stupid! I too was thinking of Frank Devereaux tutorial. Sam rushes to the door of the widow and says we have an emergency..... then proceeds to sit and with great empathy listen to a long superfluous story about her late night internet dates with her dead husband (I do like the idea.... maybe they should have just gave us a quick scene of that), LA LA LA, while Dean is hacking away at electronic devices and getting choked to death. Apparently the basement of the dorm did have good reception. I thought the 810 connection was lame and could not figure out how all the teenagers knew about or remembered the dead guys address.
Looking forward and excited to see the next episode.