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CuriousParker

John Winchester: Daddy Dearest

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Well IA with catrox14 (from previous thread), I'd really love to know when John found out about Sam's special status.  I had always presumed it was when he got his "fresh lead" on the YED and left Dean (...Dad's on a hunting trip and he hasn't been home in a few days).  Given that he LEFT his journal in Jericho (?) with coordinates for a new hunt -- presumably for Dean only -- it seems like no matter when had the first inkling, his focus on YED ramped up after that point and he wanted Dean to just go about normal hunting. 

 

But regardless of whether or not John knew Dean would drag Sam into the fight, YED went after Jess to kickstart Sam back in.  Here's today's horrible thought: what if John figured out something and started to get close and the reason YED burned Jess was to "take the gloves off".  So John's investigation is what triggered the burning. Not that Jess wasn't living on a landmind to begin with -- regardless of Brady's introduction, YED taking her out to motivate Sam seems not only matches what he said in the cabin but makes sense.  

 

But Sam and the rest of the Special Kids were triggered, I thought, JUST BEFORE Jess burned.  Their abilities (I think) were all initiated at the same time. And Sam hadn't had the death visions until just before Jess was killed (but BEFORE Dean brought him back in).  So... to me...all signs point to John somehow kicking over a nest and YED's response was to "activate" the Special Kids. 

 

 

PS: Excellent title. 

Edited by SueB

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The only thing I want to know is when and how John knew Sam was different and why he burdened Dean with that huge secret and why he made a deal to save Deans life when all he did was make Dean's life worse with that secret. Thanks John.

I remember something I read from interviews because I really wanted more information on John's back story.  The journal gives the portion of Dean not talking and withdrawing.  I really wish they had given us more about this time as I think this really is the spin off.  There is such a richness that hasn't been tapped and it's definitely an interesting place to explore. 

 

I put the next part in spoiler tags in-case someone new is just now starting, just to be safe.

 

Since Krikpe wrote the comic books when they were little, there is suppose to be one that John thinks he should kill Sam to save him but can't do it.  So my guess is John knew for a long time and it's what added to his fear and why he drove Dean and Sam so hard.

 

So for me that give a reason for John having a strong military background and that the fear drove him.  I know fear can look so many ways...but it is why I still think John cared about his boys and Dean had to have enough moments that he felt it or he wouldn't have reacted so strongly once his father had been found.  I'm sure that are parts he hated but he also admired him  if that makes any sense.

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what if John figured out something and started to get close and the reason YED burned Jess was to "take the gloves off".  So John's investigation is what triggered the burning.

 

If that had been the case, I'm sure YED and that Barry character (the demon that we meet in S5 to hammer us over the head about how angry Sam is. *eyeroll)

would have gloated about it to no end. I don't think that's where the writers' thinking went. Not that I think they really thought it all through.

 

I think the whole living-out-of-motels off the grid thing is also there to bring the point home that this American white-picket fence idyll is no guarantee for safety. Put that together with the military background, and it must have seemed to John that staying off-grid is safer. Overall, he was on the run, since it must have occurred to him early on that Sam might have been the target. So, become a moving target. Of course, that doesn't explain why he left them by themselves so often. But maybe that came after. Once Sam was out of diapers. Maybe, the leaving actually showed him relaxing a bit. As messed-up as that sounds.

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The moment where I personally was like, "screw yourself, John," was when John started screaming at Sam to kill him in order to kill the Yellow Eyed Demon. Mostly because he had no hesitation about demanding his son do something so horrible as shooting his own father in the heart from only a few feet away. Obviously John didn't even think about Sam's perspective or what doing that would do to Sam. Not only was Sam not as important as ~the mission~ to John, it wasn't even a contest, John obviously forgot that Sam was even in the running for "things John cares about." Typical of him, imo.

 

The issue I have with John's parenting overall is that he didn't seem to see his children as people, just as extensions of himself. God forbid they had anything else in their lives or their own lives at all. God forbid they even knew they *could* (which is why I find the isolation so appalling, though of course YMMV). Imo John was *massively* selfish. I don't really care about stuff like being gruff or old school or liking to drink or whatever, he just sounds like a good ole boy imo, but I think that the massive selfishness and the refusal to allow his children to be their own people separate from him was *incredibly* dangerous and actually did have pretty bad ripple effects. Not least because, when you make yourself a person's *whole world,* and then you dip out? What is that person supposed to do? Their whole fucking world is gone.

 

I actually think that Henriksen had John's number better than anyone else within the show. I still remember in Jus in Bello (3x12) when everyone is talking about sacrificing Nancy, and Henriksen flat out says no, that they don't sacrifice people, because if they did, they'd be no better than the demons. Dean gives him this look like his mind is spinning, I think because he thinks Henriksen has a point but SHIT. What's he going to do about it now? (Off-topic:  I miss Henriksen so much).

 

Why I think that John thought something was wrong with Sam:  because Sam was difficult, basically. Who knows what the writers were thinking, but I've just figured that John's train of thought would go, "Things went easy with the first kid, wtf is wrong with Sam that he can't learn to listen like his brother? Why is he so rebellious? He's going to do the whole family in someday. Watch that one, he's trouble." Etc. I mean, what was John's idea of "saving" Sam, anyway? I have some inkling that it wasn't making sure Sam was "self-actualized" or whatever, and I actually don't even think that John was thinking about the "psychic kids" thing or was thinking about a connection between Sam and Yellow Eyes per se (did he even know about the "psychic kids"? I don't remember if they told him about Sam's visions). I think that John's idea of Sam being "saved" was Sam towing the line (i.e., towing John's line). I think he was telling Dean that now Dean would have to do (what John had conceived as) John's job, and was telling Dean that he needed to keep Sam in line, and if Sam were to step too far out of line, better to kill him than accept that. Imo just an even harsher version of Sam being essentially dead to John when he went to college. Luckily, Dean imo really did see what was "wrong" with Sam as being the demon blood specifically, not something intrinsic to Sam, but an evil thing that was poisoning him, so his idea of "saving" Sam was basically to make sure he wasn't poisoned by it anymore (which imo is why he got so angry in S4 when he found Sam drinking it and told him that he thought he should hunt him).

 

That said, I'd be the first one glued to my TV set if they had John come back. I agree that he's a pretty fascinating character and probably the "side character" most likely to be able to carry a spin-off.

 

ETA:

 

I don't mean to say that I hate John. On the contrary, I think he really did have good intentions and really did care about his sons (in his own way). They certainly loved him. I even think that he did pretty well raising them considering the horrible circumstances (such as his all-pervasive, life-altering paranoia, lol). He also seems to have tried *extremely* hard to live according to his own ideals, even when that was impractical or difficult, and I respect that. That he couldn't just be written off as a bad person probably just made him even *more* dangerous to everyone who loved him, though. And is also why imo he's such an interesting and rich character.

Edited by rue721

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The conversation between him and YED goes like this:

 

YED: You know the truth, right? About Sammy. And the other children.

John: Yeah, I've known for a while.

YED: But Sam doesn't, does he? You've been playing dumb.

John: Can you bring Dean back? Yes, or no?

YED: No. But I know someone who can. It's not a problem.

John: Good. And before I give you the gun, I'm gonna wanna make sure that Dean's ok. With my own eyes.

 

And that's when YED tells him the gun is not enough.

 

I love that scene an inordinate amount.

 

We don't really know how long he had known or even what exactly he knew. I'm trying to give him credit that if he knew actually something specific, he would have told Dean. The visions surprised him when they told him about them in season 1.

Edited by supposebly
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The conversation between him and YED goes like this:

 

YED: You know the truth, right? About Sammy. And the other children.

John: Yeah, I've known for a while.

YED: But Sam doesn't, does he? You've been playing dumb.

John: Can you bring Dean back? Yes, or no?

YED: No. But I know someone who can. It's not a problem.

John: Good. And before I give you the gun, I'm gonna wanna make sure that Dean's ok. With my own eyes.

 

And that's when YED tells him the gun is not enough.

 

I love that scene an inordinate amount.

 

We don't really know how long he had known or even what exactly he knew. I'm trying to give him credit that if he knew actually something specific, he would have told Dean. The visions surprised him when they told him about them in season 1.

That scene and the end scene with Dean is why I really don't think John was really trying to be all bad.  He saw his errors but he couldn't figure out how to change it as it was too late.

 

For me the surprise about the visions was more about I didn't know and that means Sam is in danger, as though as long as he wasn't having any special skills he was safe, at least that is how I saw it.  When he found out about it we don't really know.  I think he also couldn't kill Sam, and he had to count on Dean to finish the job.  Plus, they were fighting so much that Dean was the only one that had a shot at saving Sam and he only had a short time to warn him about the possible need to end Sam's life.  That was the part that many fans can't forgive, but since he wasn't really planning on having his sons finishing it and always thought he would, I can give him a little slack.  Was he father of the year, HELL NO, but with him being such a good hunter, some of his actions do make sense.

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These are all excellent questions being brought up--just goes to show that there's still some interesting story to be told with John. I, too, would really like to know more of what John actually did know though. Did he just know that Sam had a darkness in him or did he know Sam was fed demon blood as a kid? If he knew about the demon blood, did he know why Yellow Eyes was feeding kids demon blood--did he know they'd be vessels for Lucifer?  I'm not convinced he knew anything about the special children since he seemed genuinely shocked that Sam had visions, so maybe he didn't know about the demon blood, but heard what Gordon did--there was a war coming and the special kids were supposed to fight on Hell's side. Lots and lots of questions here.

 

Personally, I've always thought John knew for some time there was something up with Sam--or something was supposed to be up with Sam anyway--from an early age. I think he didn't know all the gory details, but I think it's also what drove John to hold so tightly to Sam and made him not want Sam to go to college and have a life away from John. He wanted to make sure he could keep an eye on Sam and do the deadly deed if need be. I also think that's why he was stopping by Stanford on the down low to check up on him, not so much to make sure he was safe, but to make sure he hadn't gone dark side. Ironically, this is probably what made Sam's compulsion to rebel and run away even stronger

 

But Sam and the rest of the Special Kids were triggered, I thought, JUST BEFORE Jess burned.  Their abilities (I think) were all initiated at the same time. And Sam hadn't had the death visions until just before Jess was killed (but BEFORE Dean brought him back in).  So... to me...all signs point to John somehow kicking over a nest and YED's response was to "activate" the Special Kids. 

 

I've always wondered if Jessica Sam's first dream? Sam says in Bloody Mary he'd had those dreams days before Jessica died, but in Home he also says he has dreams (plural) that come true so I was led to believe Jessica's death wasn't his first dream that came true. But then again, in Nightmare Sam says his visions started 6-7 months back, which would make it August or September (about when the show started) so maybe she was. Doesn't really matter, but just got me to thinkin'.

 

Anyhoo, I've always thought the special kids were activated because they had finally "ripened"--I'm sorry I don't know how else to put it--but they still needed Yellow Eyes to make their powers fully work until they gave into them fully. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the time was just simply because John Winchester was getting proactive, and puts a slightly new twist on things, too. That does make the story come together differently, doesn't it? Even if things got kicked off because of John, I'm not sure if Jessica was the fallout of whatever John was doing. I'm thinking Jessica died to get Sam back out there. Yellow Eyes says he killed Jessica and Mary because they got in the way which is supported by the "replay" Yellow Eyes gave Sam of his mother's death in All Hell Breaks Loose I and by stupid Braidy in S5.  I think Yellow Eyes may have told it straight here, from Devil's Trap:

 

Sam: I wanna know why. Why’d you do it?

Yellow Eyed possessed John: You mean why did I kill Mommy and pretty, little Jess?

Sam: Yeah.

Yellow Eyed possessed John: You know, I never told you this, but Sam was going to ask her to marry him. Been shopping for rings and everything.  You want to know why? Because they got in the way.

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That scene and the end scene with Dean is why I really don't think John was really trying to be all bad.  He saw his errors but he couldn't figure out how to change it as it was too late.

 

That scene shows, and I sometimes forget, that John didn't actually intend to sacrifice himself. YED basically just  used that opportunity to get rid of John.

 

He was willing to give up the Colt to save Dean but he didn't intend to die. The way Jeffrey Dean Morgan played him, I always saw a very tired, depressed, and somewhat suicidal man, so I keep forgetting that at least in this instance, he wasn't really suicidal.

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Very interesting discussion going on here. And I agree: I, too, would love to know how much and when John knew about Sam.

 

I tend to agree with DittyDotDot, especially this bit about why John was checking up on Sam in Stanford...

Personally, I've always thought John knew for some time there was something up with Sam--or something was supposed to be up with Sam anyway--from an early age. I think he didn't know all the gory details, but I think it's also what drove John to hold so tightly to Sam and made him not want Sam to go to college and have a life away from John. He wanted to make sure he could keep an eye on Sam and do the deadly deed if need be. I also think that's why he was stopping by Stanford on the down low to check up on him, not so much to make sure he was safe, but to make sure he hadn't gone dark side. Ironically, this is probably what made Sam's compulsion to rebel and run away even stronger

 

I've thought that for a long while now.

 

 

The moment where I personally was like, "screw yourself, John," was when John started screaming at Sam to kill him in order to kill the Yellow Eyed Demon. Mostly because he had no hesitation about demanding his son do something so horrible as shooting his own father in the heart from only a few feet away. Obviously John didn't even think about Sam's perspective or what doing that would do to Sam. Not only was Sam not as important as ~the mission~ to John, it wasn't even a contest, John obviously forgot that Sam was even in the running for "things John cares about." Typical of him, imo.

 

I agree. And if that hadn't convinced me, the bit in the car (and then again in the hospital) where John then blamed the "plan" failing and also Dean's condition on Sam definitely cemented it. As if Sam didn't feel bad enough already, John has the heartlessness to tell him (paraphrase) "well if you'd killed the demon when you had the chance back there,* your brother wouldn't be dying now." And if that wasn't bad enough, to add "You begged me to be a part of this, but I told you I never should've brought you along. See what happened." **

 

Yeah, John? How about if you hadn't gone after the demon until you actually had a good plan - like how to make sure the demon wasn't going to possess you in the first place - and then when your hasty, crappy plan went south, not blaming your son because he came to help and then didn't kill you?

 

If Sam's relationship with John wasn't messed up before, it surely was then. No wonder Sam felt so incredibly guilty after the fact. John put that huge guilt trip on him before the YED killed him.

 

* As if shooting his own father to do so was akin to not landing that big fish or shooting that deer for Sunday dinner.

 

** Oh, yup, make sure everyone knows you were "right," John. That'll definitely help the situation. I was indignantly scoffing at the television with that one.

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Do we actually know that John looked in on Sam at Stanford? I had just assumed that Dean made that up to be nice, because Sam told him he was nervous about seeing John again. How would Dean even know if John was going to Stanford to check on Sam, though? It didn't seem like John was very communicative with him.

 

Though just swinging by Stanford to spy on but not actually speak to Sam is something that John would do, I guess, since all through the first season it kept seeming like he might be watching from afar but not actually contacting them or telling them that. Like in "Home." So maybe it wasn't just a white lie on Dean's part.

 

Not even to hate on John, I just thought it in keeping with his character for Sam to basically blink out of existence for him while Sam was refusing to accept John's authority and going his own way to establish himself on his own turf (college, girlfriend, apartment, etc), and for John to only "have" a son again once Sam began "acting like a son" again, as in, accepting John's authority and going back on John's turf (i.e., hunting, brother/father, on the road and in the car). I figured that, in John's head, the world outside of his own purview basically didn't exist, so if Sam was no longer living within his purview, then Sam basically didn't exist.

 

Also, I figured that, in John's POV, Sam was a messed up, disobedient child, so that's the role that Sam had to stay in to have a father/be a son. Not the role he had to stay in just within the family, but pretty much literally, he had/has to live like that, like he needs to be babysat by his older brother, etc. Same thing for Dean, he had a role he had to stay in, too, but to John imo, Dean "knew his place" so there wasn't any trouble. I don't think that Sam was/is self-aware about that, but I think Dean was/is, and that's just what I figured their family's dynamic was. I didn't find any of that unrealistic just because John was a control freak, tbh.

 

I also thought of John refusing to speak to Sam as basically a version of the silent treatment, to emotionally strong-arm Sam into relenting and coming back. Like, Sam could either have a family but do things John's way and under John's control, or he could go his own way but he'd be completely alone in the world. I didn't find that unrealistic, either. John was hardcore when it came to battles of wills like that imo.

 

Anyway, I'm open to being wrong, I'm not basing that on any specific dialogue where anyone said that or anything. Those are just the assumptions I made to fill in the gaps and make sense of how their family worked. I didn't really think that it was essential for anything to literally be wrong with Sam, he was going to be the problem child regardless, because that was a role within their family that someone had to fill, and he was the person left to fill it. John was the leader, Dean was the good son, there needed to be a bad son (not that Sam and Dean never switched off -- though I think Dean more often was put in the role of "the failure" or "the weak link" than "the bad son" specifically -- but as a general role). They even made that super literal in S4/5, when Dean was supposed to be Michael, Sam was supposed to be Lucifer, and Dean pretty explicitly put John in the role of God while they were talking to Joshua in the Garden. When it came to the vessels, too, there *needed* to be vessels, there were roles to fill and *someone* had to fill them, albeit the roles were "supposed" to be designated to the Winchesters specifically. 

 

I  think something had to be "wrong" with Sam for their family to work, regardless, but because this is fiction, there turned out to *literally* be something wrong with Sam, too. John just "knew" that something was "wrong" with Sam because he needed something to be wrong with Sam, but while irl probably nothing at all would have been wrong with him, since this was fiction, Sam literally was chosen by a demon and contaminated by demon blood that turned him supernatural/an antichrist-in-waiting. But I think it makes sense as a dynamic even without the supernatural stuff.

 

Imo they kind of touched on the chicken-or-the-egg question of whether it was the demon blood/supernatural that was the contaminating force or whether it was the father/ordinary in (S1) Nightmares (which is a reason I personally like that episode, though of course YMMV).

 

As if Sam didn't feel bad enough already, John has the heartlessness to tell him (paraphrase) "well if you'd killed the demon when you had the chance back there,* your brother wouldn't be dying now." And if that wasn't bad enough, to add "You begged me to be a part of this, but I told you I never should've brought you along. See what happened."

 

LOL that's exactly the kind of thing I mean. John scapegoated *constantly.* It came off to me like, according to John, everything was always someone else's (not John's) fault, and everything was either perfect (his marriage, Mary, etc) or the product of pure evil (it was the YED who ruined their lives, not John's choices. Sam was contaminated by literal evil and might need to be hunted/killed).

 

Again, not even to hate on John. That made him difficult (and likely to mess with his kids' heads), but not a *bad* person, imo. He also had a lot of strength of character and clarity of purpose, some good points. Anyway, YMMV.

Edited by rue721

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Very interesting discussion going on here. And I agree: I, too, would love to know how much and when John knew about Sam.

 

I tend to agree with DittyDotDot, especially this bit about why John was checking up on Sam in Stanford...

 

I've thought that for a long while now.

 

 

 

I agree. And if that hadn't convinced me, the bit in the car (and then again in the hospital) where John then blamed the "plan" failing and also Dean's condition on Sam definitely cemented it. As if Sam didn't feel bad enough already, John has the heartlessness to tell him (paraphrase) "well if you'd killed the demon when you had the chance back there,* your brother wouldn't be dying now." And if that wasn't bad enough, to add "You begged me to be a part of this, but I told you I never should've brought you along. See what happened." **

 

Yeah, John? How about if you hadn't gone after the demon until you actually had a good plan - like how to make sure the demon wasn't going to possess you in the first place - and then when your hasty, crappy plan went south, not blaming your son because he came to help and then didn't kill you?

 

If Sam's relationship with John wasn't messed up before, it surely was then. No wonder Sam felt so incredibly guilty after the fact. John put that huge guilt trip on him before the YED killed him.

 

* As if shooting his own father to do so was akin to not landing that big fish or shooting that deer for Sunday dinner.

 

** Oh, yup, make sure everyone knows you were "right," John. That'll definitely help the situation. I was indignantly scoffing at the television with that one.

One thing you have to remember is John's military background, you put yourself below the mission.  The mission is everything.  Just one big problem, Sam and Dean didn't agree.  Also before this one, he gets onto Dean for questioning his orders and looks at Sam.  

 

Why, because Sam is the one that can stand on his own too feet and is willing to do it different.  Dean was the peacemaker and John hadn't ever seen Dean in the light of rebelling before.  So when you look at the entire picture and if you know anything about fighting in the Vietnam War, John looks like a lot of messed up Vets from that time frame.  So I don't see a simple Bad Dad, but a very complex man with issues.  Also woman usually in that time period were the nurturing ones, Men said things like toughen up, don't cry and etc.   This time period is very different from today.

 

We didn't see child abuse around the corner.  I remember a friend that was beaten everyday, but because her bruises weren't big enough, it was decided it wasn't abuse.  Today, they would react differently.

 

So I still see a man that did his best and loved his sons but didn't have a clue on how to do it correctly.  He showed remorse before he died, but he had a split second to save Dean.  In the end, like his wife, he chose his son over living.  but he also had to warn Dean. 

 

It is a shame the show didn't look into the richness of this and give us more.

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I'm moving a post I made in the "Something Wicked" thread here because I think it has more relevance to John as a character:

 

With all due respect to everyone's personal experiences (I was babysitting for the neighbours when I was 10), there is an enormous difference between looking after your siblings for a day on occasion or being at home by yourself for a few hours at a time versus expecting a 9 year old to feed, wash, dress, put to bed and get up, entertain, care for boo boos, reassure, and guard his 5 year old brother all by himself for days at a time.  This type of 24/7 responsibility is hard enough for an adult to deal with, and it was unrealistic and cruel for John to put it on Dean.  And given the implications in the ep that this wasn't the first time he'd left Dean to look after Sam for an extended period, Dean was probably even younger when he was first expected to take over for his father.  At best, this was full on neglect by John.

 

While the show leaves it ambiguous, I suspect John was using Sam and Dean as bait for the Striga, since it could only be killed while feeding.  The timing of his arrival, just as the Striga is starting to feed on Sam, indicates  he was either following it as it headed towards the motel room, or had the room staked out, waiting for it to arrive.  And even it was just lucky timing, he still risked his children by leaving them alone near the hunting grounds of a monster he knew targeted victims exactly like his sons, and left Dean completely unaware of the potential danger they were in.

 

And of course Dean, being one to take burdens on himself even as a child, felt guilty, even though he shouldn't, even if John didn't say anything out loud and just gave him the condemning, contemptuous stare ("Dad never said anything, but I knew...").  John should have said something, about how everything was okay and it wasn't Dean's fault.  You know, the reassuring things any decent parent would say, instead of laying all sorts of silent blame on his kids shoulders.  Dean didn't fail to protect Sammy, John failed them both.

 

As for the guns, yes, eople keep loaded guns in their homes, sure, but they don't hand them to a 9 year old with instructions to use as needed for protection for himself and his little brother and then leave him alone to determine what needs to be shot at.  Any kid, and most adults, aren't infallible, don't have perfect judgment in a crisis, and can easily make mistakes about perceived threats and shoot someone they shouldn't.  Even though Dean was supposedly trained by John since he was 4 for this job (which itself is a questionable parenting choice at the very least), it was still insanely irresponsible for John to put him in this situation.

 

John was an obsessed, selfish asshole, who continually put his desire to hunt above the needs, welfare and safety of his children.  There are many indications in other episodes that he drank too much and was sometimes physically abusive towards Dean, if not Sam.  As a parent, John sucked, big time.

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Thanks for bringing that over to the discussion. I wonder if Dean thought John used Sam as bait after his second experience with the Striga?

And yeah, John was an asshole when it came to arguing. He lost me when he failed to contact Sam when Dean was dying. Then it went downhill when he chewed out Dean for the car. It was such a little thing but I cringe every time I see that scene. Berating Dean seemed like a common occurrence.

Finally, it's possible John never accepted that Sam letting him live was the right answer. To some extent, his subsequent death might have been a 'screw you' to both the boys. John Implied that if Sam had killed him in the cabin then John wouldn't have had to make the trade. The net result in both cases was John dead but no gun and YED lives. OTOH his starting position on negotiation was 'gun for Dean'. So that's technically akin to saving a life and letting YED go. Was John making a positive statement towards family with that first offer or was he low balling the bid, knowing YED would demand more? It's hard to be certain IMO. It always bothered me that the only option he tried was a deal. Was he that smart that he knew it was Dean's only chance or did he just want a guaranteed way and was fatalistic?

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And even it was just lucky timing, he still risked his children by leaving them alone near the hunting grounds of a monster he knew targeted victims exactly like his sons, and left Dean completely unaware of the potential danger they were in.

 

I agree that it looked like John was using the kids as bait. I'm still unclear, though whether Dean, as an adult, was supposed to wonder or even believe that John had used the as bait back then. The script makes me think that yes, he was supposed to be considering that possibility, because they used the older son as bait to actually catch the witch in the present day, and because they had that really straightforward conversation with the older son as to whether he was giving his consent at being used as bait and that he didn't have to do it if he didn't want to. I think especially that consent conversation where they made sure he was OK with it, and then how they were just outside the room watching for the witch instead of just winging it, made it seem like in the present day, at least Dean was thinking that John had been using them as bait. On the other hand, I don't think that's how JA played it, he seemed to play it in a much sweeter way, where he really was just upset with himself for not "coming through" for Sam back then and wasn't putting any blame/responsibility on John at all. There doesn't have to be a definitive answer to that or anything, YMMV, and I expect everyone will have an individual perspective. The reason I think it's worth discussing anyway, is that I do think it changes Dean as a character, though, if he was consciously considering the possibility back then that John had manipulated them and put them into danger that he himself wouldn't put a child into in good conscious, versus if he really was just blindly accepting John's version of events or ways of doing things.

 

On John's part, I think it matters whether he used social engineering/manipulation on his children (to lull them into acting as bait) versus if he was just a dumbfuck (who just left his kids near a child-murdering monster out of general convenience and figured Dean could figure it out). I actually don't know if it matters that much to him as a father, but I think it matters in terms of him as a hunter and how much planning and thought he put into things. After seeing things like the YED debacle, I'm actually prone to think he was just a dumbfuck, even though that actually doesn't make sense w/r/t the flashback. So who knows.

 

One thing you have to remember is John's military background, you put yourself below the mission.  The mission is everything.  Just one big problem, Sam and Dean didn't agree.  Also before this one, he gets onto Dean for questioning his orders and looks at Sam.

 

I don't believe that John put the mission first primarily or solely on account of his military background, because he was so *lackadaisical* about so many things concerning that mission. That whole time during S1/S2 when he was dealing with Yellow Eyes and about to go/did go face-to-face with him, he seemed to be winging like 95% of it. In general, it seemed as though he maybe would have some vague plan about doing it entirely alone and some general background research, but that seemed to be pretty much it. He was also so uncommunicative that I have trouble imagining him as a good team player at all. Imo he seemed more like a cowboy or a vigilante than a soldier.

 

He didn't execute any of his mission to avenge Mary, or really run his life in general, with *any* kind of military precision imo. He never seemed to standardize anything either, everything always seemed so ad hoc and sloppy with him, like how the guys were still finding random storage units in his name way after he died (and even a long lost son after he died, ffs) or how he had to rush to give Dean some random vague directions before dropping dead because he hadn't thought to put a letter in a safe deposit box or something just in case of his sudden death -- despite being in a very dangerous line of work for *decades* at that point. He kept his possessions tidy and things like that, but how he ran his life looked like a big old sloppy mess in general.

 

I think he used a lot of military trappings, like the map coordinates or demeanor, etc, but he didn't seem like a "military man" to me. Even how he disciplined his sons, I have no problem thinking that he used corporal punishment or whatever, but his primary/most-dreaded-by-his-sons method of discipline seems like it was the guilt trip, or maybe other passive aggressive tactics like the silent treatment/going MIA. For all his talk about "orders" there seemed to be a lot of guesswork involved in even figuring out what he wanted, let alone how he wanted it done. Not that blame, guilt trips, silent treatment/abandonment, and difficult-to-decipher hints aren't age-old and often successful methods of discipline (lol), but I don't think of any that as being big in the military. That seems more like just his personality or how his family did things.

 

I actually don't know what the writers were going for with that, tbh. Was he supposed to come off as a military man but they just happened to elide most of the things that I would associate with that kind of person, or was he supposed to seem like a mess covering with a veneer of authoritarianism/order? I suspect the latter, but as much as because of the actor's exhausted and withdrawn performance as anything, I'm not sure.

 

Anyway, I think that John's virtues were his vices, in that his clarity of purpose, stubbornness, and refusal to see anything from any perspective but his own, were what made it possible for him to do things like continue on a pretty thankless and lonely mission for decades, endure some ludicrously long amount of time being tortured in hell without breaking, etc. But those traits are also what make me imagine that he'd be really difficult on a personal level.

 

In any case, I do think he was very callous toward his children even in the context of trying to make them into soldiers, though. Child soldiers aren't an accepted "thing" for a reason, and he seemed to be throwing his kids into "the field" extremely young. When they were adults, his "orders" were often absurd and not something that should actually be asked of a person in basically any context -- I count both his demand that Sam shoot him in the heart to kill YED, and his dying wish that Dean murder Sam if Sam gets out of hand, in that category.

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John Implied that if Sam had killed him in the cabin then John wouldn't have had to make the trade.

 

Oh he didn't just imply, he outright said it. Although, he never told Sam about the trade. That, Sam and Dean had to figure out themselves. And it was painfully obvious.

 

John: If you'd killed that damn thing when you had the chance, none of this would have happened.

Sam: It was possessing you, I would have killed you too.

John: And your brother would be awake right now.

 

I feel I should have put this exchange in Caps. They were yelling very loudly.

 

I guess from his perspective, he didn't want to tell Sam the exact plan since he didn't expect Sam to comply. He might have been surprised at that one.

This all might have turned out better if he'd actually included Sam in this. But then, he was probably afraid of YED getting close to Sam.

 

I always wonder what he was thinking about in that scene where ghost!Dean yells at him for not doing anything. He'd already sent Sam for the demon-summoning stuff, so he already knew he was gonna summon YED.

 

I think the money issues with this show really didn't do his character any favors in Faith. Was it all that expensive to have him leave a message that he was on his way? Sam could have told Dean that he had left a message and was on his way. He could still have been late. No need to pay JDM.

 

Most of him we know and see is as a father and from Sam and Dean's perspective. We rarely get a real glimpse of the man independently from them unless he's trashed as a husband in Dark Side of the Moon or elated as the best-hunter-ever.

 

I saw none of these things to that extreme. Actually most of his hunting turned out rather disastrous from what we saw.

 

Young John Winchester is kind of a pleasant non-entity that serves more as a plot trigger than anything. And boy!John Winchester is not much more than a memory to Grandpa Henry Winchester. We do know that according to Dean, he never forgave his dad for leaving. Not much of a father figure to use as a role model for his own parenting approach.

 

I wonder what would have happened if Mary had told him. I guess she felt so guilty that she repressed it all. I guess it's hard to tell your husband that in order to save his life, you gave up your future son. Probably not so good for the marriage. Or any future sons. Or did the angels mindwipe the deal she made as well?

Edited by supposebly

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From the "Death's Door" thread (episode 7.10)

 

I never thought Bobby was too harsh either. It's not like he was daily berating Dean or ever telling Dean he was worthless, his "harsh" speeches usually said the opposite, in my mind. And, he always had to work up to a "harsh" exchange--they usually came out of frustration and weren't his first course of action. But, I always thought he worked from a place of caring and affection for the boys--especially Dean, IMO.

 

I agree, imo Bobby was loving and genuinely tried to think about what would be best for Sam or Dean, he didn't try to manipulate them to get them to do/think whatever was best for himself or think they were/should be carbon copies of himself. It didn't even really register with me when he was gruff, I guess, because I just always assumed that he was genuinely trying to do/say what he thought was best for Dean/Sam individually or as people, not just trying to get his way or tear anybody down -- because of that, it didn't come off to me as mean. When he was pissed at one of them, iIrc, it was usually on their own behalf. That also went a long way with me. YMMV, of course. Right after Bobby died and Dean was sort of flailing around looking for someone to fill that same role, and reached out to Eliot Ness, and Ness was like, "stop with the bellyaching!" -- I didn't personally think that was harsh of Ness, either, but Dean looked pretty hurt and confused in his reaction, and I figured that was because he knew that it was coming from a place of "Ness for real couldn't care less" rather than Ness actually trying to look out for him, like Bobby would have. Similarly, with Frank, when Frank told Dean to basically pretend everything was all good and to put a smile on, I thought that was awful advice not coming from a place of Frank actually caring about Dean as a person in particular, but Frank just passing on something that he personally did and what he found convenient.

 

YMMV but I think that the main problem between John and Dean in particular was that Dean felt betrayed by him. John had conditioned him to be a very specific person in a very specific life, but then it turned out (imo) that that was because John was conditioning him to fill a specific, useful role in *John's* mission/life, not because John loved or thought that was best for Dean as a person. He did similarly to Sam, I would think, but imo Sam never trusted or maybe even loved John like Dean did, so he didn't feel the same sense of betrayal. Not that I think that John was trying to screw his sons over, imo he did his best and loved them in his way, but he had a paranoid, blinkered view of the world. Imo, John raised them to live in the world as he saw it, but the world in John's perspective was brutal and had John at its center. The main difference between Bobby and John, imo, was that Bobby could be trusted to primarily look out for the guys rather than himself, whereas John was looking out for himself/his needs rather than theirs.

 

All that said, though, I couldn't warm up to Bobby and couldn't understand why he was on the show for the life of me, whereas I hated that John died and *still* am hoping against hope that he'll come back. So y'know. No accounting for taste, I guess.

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I like the point you made a couple of weeks ago regarding John.

I actually think that Henriksen had John's number better than anyone else within the show.

I think Mary's death turn John into a paranoid supernatural survivalist and that's how he raised his sons. Of course, unlike many who adopt a more extreme paranoid life style, John was actually right. There WAS someone out to get his family. Now it's my headcanon that he though Sam (and only Sam) was the target. When JDM was on the show this was the case. And because of this, Dean's quality of life became secondary to 'protect Sam'. Dean became his lieutenant and saving Sam from YED was the mission. At some point he learned about Sam being more than just in danger, but I think John started the supernatural survivalist route first to protect Sam. And he used Hunting as both a way of Intel gathering and developing the skill sets for when he would eventually find YED and stop him.

To this day I'm not sure if Sam realizes John's primary goal. John talked about revenge but I think that's what he told the boys. I think he WANTED revenge but the nomadic lifestyle, isolation from other hunters, and extreme paranoia says to me that he felt he didn't have a choice. 'That thing is still out there' seemed to me to be a threat in his mind. So, his defense was a good offense. Take out or neutralize the YED before it hurt Sam. And revenge was the whipped cream on top for him IMO.

So while I said Sam maybe still doesn't realize this, I wonder if Dean figured it out. As a disembodied spirit he made the comment 'you sure know something'. Although Dean was quick to say it was ALL their problem when Sam tried to claim ultimate responsibility for Mary's death, I think Dean also understood John better and could possibly suss out the protection motivation vs the revenge. JMO.

As things got towards the end, I think John's focus became more about revenge than they had in the early days. I don't know if it's because he was just pissed at the life they had been forced ( in his mind) to lead or if he was just tired. In that final year he became absolutely reckless with his own life and taking out YED trumped protecting family. I don't think it had always been that way but that's where I think he ended up. I think the strain kinda broke him.

Edited by SueB
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I agree for the most part. My only real difference of opinion is that I don't think that John was obsessed with Sam's safety in particular. Though it's maybe plausible that the reason he painted a target on his own back, by going around hacking supernatural creatures into pieces and relatively publicly dedicating himself to a revenge mission, and then continually separated himself from his children, was so that he could be a "diversion" and draw attackers *away* from his children. Sort of like how in the movies, if someone is about to be mauled by a bear (i.e., Sam and Dean about to be attacked by YED), another person will stand far away and bang some pots and pans together to get the bear to come after them instead (i.e., John would go far away from them and set himself as the hunter to beat/the real threat). Kind of a joke, but that's the most logical spin I actually can put on his tendency to leave them alone if he was really thinking that the main target was Sam.

 

Personally, I think that John's primary mission was that he didn't want what happened to Mary and to the Winchesters to happen to any other family ever again. That's where the "saving people" part of the family motto comes from, imo -- he's saving other families from the Winchesters' fate by killing the monsters who would prey on those other families. Of course the Big Bad in his mind would be the monster who preyed on his own family, since he knows first hand how YED could leave destruction in his wake. John was willing to sacrifice his own family life/kids somewhat in service of that mission, it seemed -- I think that he felt that YED had destroyed his family already, so what was even the harm. (Which imo is very callous, but that seemed to be how he approached things, like he had nothing left to lose. Even though he still had a TON to lose!). I think that making sure what happened to the Winchesters never happened again was (and is) Dean's primary mission, too -- I think he and John were on the same page about that. But whereas I think John primarily feared and imagined *other* families being destroyed (and considered his own to already be in ruins, maybe), Dean primarily feared and imagined *their* family being destroyed again/some more.

 

I think that something sad about how John reacted to her death was that apparently, John gave up on them being a real family after that. It seemed like he went:  OK, whelp, no family left here anymore! YED ruined that! Totally pear-shaped! And he apparently decided Sam and Dean were destined to be hunters because of her death, just like he was destined to be one because of it, since then he trained them up for hunting to the exclusion of all else. Or at least he tried to exclude all else, imo, even stuff that wasn't a security risk, like education or friends. I think he was genuinely trying to keep them safe, but how do you *not* brainwash kids when you keep them completely isolated and shove a worldview down their throats that alienates them from 99.9% of the rest of society? Oh, and meanwhile also terrify them with constant talk (and demonstrations) of killing/murder. I don't think that John set out to brainwash them and create a mini militia, but I think that's what he did -- imo, Henriksen was dead on. In general, I found him really insightful. It's actually bizarre to me that he was so insightful, seeing as that brings up the question of how the writers managed to write this one consistently insightful character just out of the blue. Too bad this show sucks about killing off interesting characters altogether. I want to see the spin off with Henriksen, Gorden, John, and if an angel bff were necessary, it could be Gadreel...Rufus & Bobby and Ellen & Jo could come around to hunt monsters sometime...Well anyway. That's what fanfiction is for, I guess.

 

While I see what you're saying, that Dean's quality of life did apparently suffer because he felt responsible for Sam's well-being, I don't think that John would have been conscious of that trade off, or even conscious that Dean's quality of life was suffering in general. Dean wouldn't have ever told him he was feeling afraid or overwhelmed, and John doesn't seem empathetic in the way he'd need to be to sniff that out for himself and/or to do anything about it. Apparently, John didn't even bother calling to let Dean know he wasn't dead when they were supposedly still hunting as *somewhat* of a team or keeping track of each other in some way, hence the events of the pilot. That was when Dean was already an adult, but come on. I don't think this was someone who is going to be all about their kids' emotional states, lol. Definitely not someone who would be trying to *talk* about his kids' emotional states with them, I can't even really imagine how that kind of conversation (about his kids' emotions, not John's) would go. Well, I can, but how I imagine those conversations wouldn't result in anyone being happier or feeling better at the end!

 

Also, I don't think that John was aiming for Dean to get the idea that protecting Sam trumped everything ever (because John didn't even protect Sam like that, he was relatively willing to hang Sam (or himself) out to dry if need be. He was the one who wanted Sam to shoot him to death to get rid of the YED and who told Dean to just kill him if things didn't work out!), I think John was just trying to tell Dean to protect Sam *as well as* himself, because in John's eyes, Dean was the elder and trustworthy/obedient, and Sam was the baby and kind of a screw up. In Dean's head, though, I think "take care of your brother" sounded more like, "if you drop your guard or screw up, your worst nightmare will come true (again) and your family will be murdered in front of you and you'll be helpless to stop it even as you know it's your fault. SO PROTECT THEM!" and he got pretty paranoid. And that's not a huge leap for Dean to have made, imo, since they were already in constant danger, John was already Mr. Paranoia as far as I can tell, and since his mother had already been murdered right in their home, but I don't think that John was all about looking at things from his kids' point of view and I doubt he would have thought twice about telling Dean to protect his brother or have understood why/whether Dean was finding the pressure of that a lot to bear, frankly.

 

I think the main issue between John and Sam was just that they butted heads and were frustrated with each other constantly, and so they kind of hated each other (well not *hated.* but kind of hated). Sam never seemed like he was the favored son imo, I thought that Dean actually hated how John and Sam were always at odds and couldn't get along, and it bothered him that Sam didn't care *more* about fixing that. Eventually imo Dean felt like John had screwed him over and hated himself for being such a sucker for his dad, but in the early days when John was actually alive, it seemed like Dean was basically like, "Sam, try harder and get over yourself! Do you not want this to work, don't you care about me/us?!" Just like imo Dean actually thought of taking care of Sam as pretty good times for the most part, and it bothered him that Sam didn't remember things so fondly. Imo, Sam and Dean weren't really in competition for John's attention/affection/etc, because Dean genuinely wanted to keep the family together and for everyone to be reasonably happy/safe, so he genuinely wanted Sam and John to love each other, get along well, etc. I don't think either he or Sam saw their relationships with John as a zero sum game at all. BUT! I don't have any siblings nor do I have any cousins on this continent (and fewer than a handful in the world anyway), so I don't really know from that kind of competition. Lots of things could have been flying over my head.

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I think Deans view of Johns view of him was formed in early childhood with Save Sammy and the withering look in Something wicked and so hard coded into his OS and written into his hard drive that only a reformat might fix that.

I don't think John had a clue that what he compelled Dean to do as a child would break Dean forever.

Edited by catrox14
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 Imo, Sam and Dean weren't really in competition for John's attention/affection/etc, because Dean genuinely wanted to keep the family together and for everyone to be reasonably happy/safe, so he genuinely wanted Sam and John to love each other, get along well, etc. 

This makes me wonder how much Dean remembers of the before-times.  Is he hell bent on keeping the family together because he's old enough to remember what it was like to have a normal family and is trying to get that back?  Or is he simply trying to hold on to what he has left?  Dean knew the hugs-before-bedtime dad and could see how Mary's death changed him but Sam has only known a neglectful, demanding father.  On the other hand, Dean didn't seem to remember the I Wuv Hugs moment until he relived it in heaven but he was about 4 when that happened so should he remember it?

 

How much could Dean reasonably remember pre-traumatic event and how much could those memories effect his adult behavior?   I'd be curious to hear a clinical/psychological explanation.

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How much could Dean reasonably remember pre-traumatic event and how much could those memories effect his adult behavior?   I'd be curious to hear a clinical/psychological explanation.

There's a great book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Loss-That-Is-Forever/dp/0452272688

"The Loss that Is Forever" by Maxine Harris.  She describes it as: "the psychological Great Divide, separating the world into a permanent 'before and after.'"

I read it years ago (my Father died at 12, I found the book compelling).

 

The short answer is it's a permanent impact.  Some positive, some negative.  You are just forever different.  Even those who don't have any recollection of their mother (like Sam), are affected by the loss.  But Dean's would be more profound, more evident. 

 

Dean was born in Jan '79, Mary died in Nov '83.  He was fairly far along towards being 5, tho still a 4 year old.  He wasn't attending school yet but as he said in "Dark Side of the Moon", certain triggers bring back memories.  He remembered his car track. He remembered his father leaving for a few days and mom being sad. We also saw the moment when pie=comfort became a permanent thing.  In "Dead In the Water", he admitted to not talking for a while after Mary died.  He talked about wanting to make his mother proud when he was scared. 

It's also easy for a parent who passed away to get a distorted place in a child's heart.  Like Mom=love/comfort/warm/safe.  Because in the before, he would have felt those.  It's hard to look critically at that person and remember anything negative.  Although there HAD to be negative things.  Even today, knowing she made the Deal that set off the sequence.... Dean has nothing but empathy for her.  I don't know if he could ever ascribe anything but "love" to a memory of his mother. 

 

For Sam, he just subconsciously knows something is missing.  Something is wrong.  Add to that all the other freak issues (survivalist nomadic lifestyle, translating greek in early teens, etc..) and Mary's death unscores the "wrongness" of his life.  When he saw her in "The Song Remains the Same", they did a good job of showing Sam as gobsmacked.  She was so beautiful (in appearance and vitality).  I think he got a sense of Dean and John's devotion to her.   And of course he got to see his Father in the "before" state.  And it's shocking because he is so different than the man he remembered.  That episode, IMO, did more for Sam's understanding of his family than many others.  And he got to experience that loss all over again -- this time with an awareness of what was missing. 

 

Finally, as the book and other psychologists will tell you, losing a parent early also affects your development as an adult.  There are certain rights of passage that naturally occur between father/son, mother/son, father/daughter, mother/daughter.  When one of these is not around to bring closure, there's something missing.  For example, how many TV/Movie dramas do we have where their is a rift between father and son that they never got to overcome.  They never correctly passed through a rite of passage where the father could tell the son that he's proud of the man he's become.  You'd like to think that maybe that stuff doesn't matter but it typically does.  Same with Mother/Daughter.  And then theirs the opposite gender rites of passage.  It's freaking complicated but our relationship with our parents still affects our adult lives. It's MOST PROFOUND as a child thru late teens. But it doesn't actually go away.  Like ever.  

Edited by SueB
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Thank you, SueB!  That was really interesting.  I'll have to check out that book too--my dad died when I was 20--not exactly early in my life but early enough.

 

And now I'm even madder at John for going on a revenge hunt instead of trying to give his sons as much of a normal life as he could.  At least Dean tried to keep Sam from knowing about monsters--tried to keep him a kid for as long as possible.

 

 Even today, knowing she made the Deal that set off the sequence.... Dean has nothing but empathy for her.  I don't know if he could ever ascribe anything but "love" to a memory of his mother. 

 

And I've never really thought about this before but you're right.  It's telling how easily Dean forgives Mary for making a deal when he gets so very angry at everyone else who does does it.  *sigh*  It's all so sad--I think I need some comforting pie.

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I thinkbbecause Mary was so young when she made that deal that Dean is more able to forgive her, plus he doesn't WANT to be mad at mommy forever. I think he gets mad about the deals made now because of the knowledge and pain really it brings. And John making the deal for Deans life put Dean in a horrible position so I think he has anger from that. Is it hypocritical? I dunno.

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I think Dean has forgiven John for that at this point.  It's like a family weakness. Mary, John, Dean.  They've all made a deal. And Sam has tried but no one deals with Sam because it's usually more fun for them if they don't.  And Dean admitted in S2 it was a selfish act so he's never ever said "I went to Hell for Sam" like it was a good thing.  It was just what he had to do. But he doesn't want anyone else to do that.

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I don't think it's hypocritical that Dean tries to stop people from doing something he did and knows it can only lead to more bad. I would find it hypocritical if he continued to make deals, and lecture other people about it at the same time, though. I think Dean has forgiven John at this point too, but he'll never see Mary as anything but innocent even though she was far from it when she made her deal too. She will always be the woman she was to him at 4-years-old--the woman who sung him Hey, Jude and made him tomato rice soup and pie.

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And now I'm even madder at John for going on a revenge hunt instead of trying to give his sons as much of a normal life as he could.  At least Dean tried to keep Sam from knowing about monsters--tried to keep him a kid for as long as possible.

 

I think it's like SueB said, John was scared. He grabbed the kids and basically went underground, like something was after them. I think the revenge stuff probably started with him wanting to make sure that whatever killed Mary didn't come back for him and the kids, and that grew into him hunting and the life they ended up leading. Sam said (while soulless, in S6) that John always said it was temporary. I think he thought that maybe once they killed what killed Mary, they'd be safe -- but then as he found out more about the supernatural it seemed like they would never be safe. I think he became obsessed and lost sight of everything else.

 

He also seemed pretty depressed, like he thought that he and the kids were already doomed/ruined and all they could be good for was as sacrifices. I mean, at the end, when he wasn't even bothering to answer his calls and seemed to just assume that dying going after YED was his (near) future, and didn't seem to envision a future for himself past killing YED -- that doesn't seem like somebody who has any hope left imo. I think he still had some hope that his sons could be useful, as hunters, protecting other people as well as themselves (though not useful to him, for some reason, to him I guess he just figured they were a liability? isn't that why he didn't want them hunting with him when he went after YED or even Meg at the end of S1?). Even in their own right, though, it seemed like he seemed like he thought his sons were living on borrowed time, though of course if he could buy them some extra he'd go for it, too. I think that's why he didn't worry about their futures, like he didn't respond to the call about Dean dying or try to spare Sam from living with killing him. Imo he thought they were basically already dead.

 

What's interesting imo is the period between Mary's death and the family leaving Lawrence. What did John find during that time? How did he even know to go to Missouri? It's to bad they fumbled on her character, there's a lot of story there that imo would be great to know more about.

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What's interesting imo is the period between Mary's death and the family leaving Lawrence. What did John find during that time? How did he even know to go to Missouri? It's to bad they fumbled on her character, there's a lot of story there that imo would be great to know more about.

 

And how much time was that?  I just rewatched "Home" because I thought John's buddy at the garage said he started seeing psychics plural, but he said "he started going to see this palm reader".  So, yeah, either somehow he knew to go straight to Missouri or he lucked out and got answers at the first psychic he tried.  Or maybe he tried a bunch of them and kept going back to Missouri because she was legitimate?  So they must have stayed in Lawrence for enough time for his friend to grow worried about him and know that he was reading "strange books" and repeatedly going to a palm reader.  

 

And he went to Missouri and learned the truth.  The truth about Sam?  The truth about the special kids?  Did he learn that something was after Sam and that's why/when he decided to pick up and leave town?  John knew Missouri long enough to have her come to the house and presumably meet the boys (if she knew Dean was a goofy looking kid).  And if she's the one who told John to get the hell out of Dodge then his life choices make more sense to me--if he did it because Yellow Eyes wanted Sam rather than doing it because he was hell bent on revenge. I agree--there's should be a lot of good backstory there that they haven't tapped. 

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She will always be the woman she was to him at 4-years-old--the woman who ... made him tomato rice soup and pie.

 

Out of curiosity, what episode was the tomato rice soup mentioned it? I remember seeing it a lot in fiction at one point, but I have no memory of it.  Was it the episode where they were in heaven and he saw Mary as a 4-year-old?  Is that the episode where he saw Mary that time?  

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And how much time was that?  I just rewatched "Home" because I thought John's buddy at the garage said he started seeing psychics plural, but he said "he started going to see this palm reader".  So, yeah, either somehow he knew to go straight to Missouri or he lucked out and got answers at the first psychic he tried.  Or maybe he tried a bunch of them and kept going back to Missouri because she was legitimate?  So they must have stayed in Lawrence for enough time for his friend to grow worried about him and know that he was reading "strange books" and repeatedly going to a palm reader.  

 

There's a deleted scene, or I should say a longer version of that scene with John's old garage worker, on the DVDs. I can't remember it all, but he basically states that John started to get real paranoid, collecting books and such. The friend got worried about the boys he called social services and John picked them up and ran. It's kinda a shame it got cut because there's a great reaction from Dean when the guy says "What else could I do," (or something like that) and Dean starts to get pissed and tells him he should've stuck by his friend. There's also some stuff in John's journal apparently of how they were staying with this guy and his wife after the fire and Dean didn't talk, but would curl up with Sammy and stuff. If you check out SupernaturalWiki's page for John's journal, there's a lot more background that never made it into the show--if you're interested in stuff that didn't make it into the show anyway. It's really a shame because it's really some interesting story and important story also, IMO.

 

 

Out of curiosity, what episode was the tomato rice soup mentioned it? I remember seeing it a lot in fiction at one point, but I have no memory of it.  Was it the episode where they were in heaven and he saw Mary as a 4-year-old?  Is that the episode where he saw Mary that time?  

 

Dark Side Of The Moon--where they go to heaven--is where we saw Mary ask Dean if he wanted pie. In The Song Remains The Same--where they went back in time to save their parents from Anna--Dean starts telling Mary of things he remembers to convince her he really is her son. He tells her she used to sing him to sleep with "Hey, Jude" because that's her favorite song and she used to make him tomato rice soup when he was sick because that's what her mother made her.

Edited by DittyDotDot
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And how much time was that?  I just rewatched "Home" because I thought John's buddy at the garage said he started seeing psychics plural, but he said "he started going to see this palm reader".  So, yeah, either somehow he knew to go straight to Missouri or he lucked out and got answers at the first psychic he tried.  Or maybe he tried a bunch of them and kept going back to Missouri because she was legitimate?  So they must have stayed in Lawrence for enough time for his friend to grow worried about him and know that he was reading "strange books" and repeatedly going to a palm reader.  

 

And he went to Missouri and learned the truth.  The truth about Sam?  The truth about the special kids?  Did he learn that something was after Sam and that's why/when he decided to pick up and leave town?  John knew Missouri long enough to have her come to the house and presumably meet the boys (if she knew Dean was a goofy looking kid).  And if she's the one who told John to get the hell out of Dodge then his life choices make more sense to me--if he did it because Yellow Eyes wanted Sam rather than doing it because he was hell bent on revenge. I agree--there's should be a lot of good backstory there that they haven't tapped. 

 

Or just the truth that Mary had been killed by a demon, or that demons and the supernatural even existed? I would think he went to psychics, etc, in an effort to contact Mary after her death. Maybe Missouri was able to somehow see what had had happened to Mary (that she'd been killed by a demon), took pity on John, and told him about the existence of the supernatural? How did John know how how to do research or that he should keep a journal and how did he get in touch with other hunters (like the Harvells or Bobby) -- did Missouri show him the ropes when it came to that, too, or was it another hunter (Mr. Harvell, maybe?)? What's funny is that John had a completely different path imo than his sons did. I think that whole "origin story" for him is really interesting because it seems like he went through so many changes as a young man.

 

You know what would be a cool spin off? Or at least one that I would watch (lol)? If some kind of copy/alt-universe version of young!John were dropped into the present day, and we could watch this ordinary guy learn how to be a hunter, pretty much on his own or with the help of people he meets on the way. He could be trying to get back to (his version of) Mary and the kids, too. And they could bring in Sam and Dean from time to time, they could be the grizzled old vets who mentor John here and there! :P Dude, I even like the actress who plays young!Mary a lot, so if she showed up in the present day at some point, and could partner up with John for hunting (not at the very beginning, though, I'd want to see him learn at least the basics on his own!), that would be pretty fun, too.

 

Anyway, I would think that he'd have to have spent a fairly significant amount of time in Lawrence, because who was caring for Sam during that time? It must have been a friend or a babysitter. He was a very young baby. Also, settling Mary's affairs, going through the insurance and paperwork rigmarole, repairing and selling the house, selling the garage, etc -- all that would have taken a fair amount of time, I would think?

 

There's a deleted scene, or I should say a longer version of that scene with John's old garage worker, on the DVDs. I can't remember it all, but he basically states that John started to get real paranoid, collecting books and such. The friend got worried about the boys he called social services and John picked them up and ran. It's kinda a shame it got cut because there's a great reaction from Dean when the guy says "What else could I do," (or something like that) and Dean starts to get pissed and tells him he should've stuck by his friend. There's also some stuff in John's journal apparently of how they were staying with this guy and his wife after the fire and Dean didn't talk, but would curl up with Sammy and stuff. If you check out SupernaturalWiki's page for John's journal, there's a lot more background that never made it into the show--if you're interested in stuff that didn't make it into the show anyway. It's really a shame because it's really some interesting story and important story also, IMO.

 

Thanks for the info! I wish they'd left that in, John's process of going from being clean cut type with a successful business and a young family to being a scam artist hunter neglecting his kids because he's so obsessed with fighting demons is just NUTS/fascinating imo and I would love to know more about it tbh. It's not like John was living on the fringes of society before Mary's death, he seemed to be Mr. Upstanding, his tendency to be selfish or a jerk notwithstanding.

 

Also, I think the social services thing is interesting, frankly, because I always think it's interesting how this whole time they *kind of* live in normal society, even though they're trying to be underground. It's like they're in this *slightly* parallel universe. I'm always fascinated by the idea that the guys somehow went to public school the whole time growing up instead of doing correspondence school. This is so minor, but I think it's really interesting that Dean bothered to get a GED. The only people who bother to get that ime are people who need to leave school for some reason but are reasonably good/conscientious students and would be getting their diploma if their life circumstances were different, middle class slackers whose parents are trying to keep them from "ruining their lives," or people who dropped out back when they were idiot kids but want to start taking some post-HS classes to earn some credential or maybe start working toward their AA/Bachelors (and ime it's actually pretty difficult at that point. I mean, the tests aren't crazy hard but they're not nothing, a GED is still supposed to be equivalent to a diploma. Tbh, I've personally never known anybody who actually managed to get it once they'd been out of school more than a couple years). Something like getting a GED just seems so...Idk, "optimistic" isn't *quite* the right word. Earnest, maybe?

 

I guess what I think is interesting about that whole issue is that John grew up in the "regular world" and lived in it as an adult, and assumed that's all the world was afaik. So even though he fled from it, went underground, and tried to create this other little "exile" world for himself and his kids, and raised them as far outside of the "regular world" as he apparently could in order for them to be as successful as possible in the world of the supernatural, he still carried a lot of "regular world" assumptions and ways of doing things with him and didn't manage to completely sever the ties he (and therefore they) still had to it. It's sort of like Sam and Dean are 1.5 or 2nd gen immigrants (into the world of the supernatural) and they're *basically* assimilated into the world of the supernatural at this point, but there's still something that connects them to their version of "the old world" (i.e. "regular life"). That's why I keep thinking of the exile issue w/r/t the MoC, because the Winchesters seem like they've always lived as exiles kind of? All the hunters kind of do, they always have some kind of story about how they got forced out of their homes and fled into the new world (of the supernatural). Even how the hunters interact with each other are like fellow exiles trying to keep a low profile or who are half-assimilated but half not, imo.

Edited by rue721

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Checked out the transcript over at SuperWiki:
 

 

SAM: Okay. So, our dad –- when did you first meet him?

MISSOURI: He came for a reading. A few days after the fire. I just told him what was really out there in the dark. I guess you could say…I drew back the curtains for him.

DEAN: What about the fire? Do you know about what killed our mom?

MISSOURI: A little. Your daddy took me to your house. He was hopin’ I could sense the echoes, the fingerprints of this thing.

SAM: And could you?

MISSOURI: I….[she shakes her head.]

SAM: What was it?

MISSOURI: [softly] I don’t know. Oh, but it was evil.

 

later she says .....You see, all those years ago, real evil came to you. It walked this house. That kind of evil leaves wounds.

 

So it seems to me John knew pretty quickly that it was a demon, presuming Missouri pulled back the curtain far enough to explain demons.  And he was researching for a while until the garage owner called CPS.  Apparently he was half-owner of that garage and he just up and left it.  Now that causes a problem for the owner in terms of paperwork and keeping the business going, but ultimately, if John had been planning on leaving, I think he would have sold the business first.  Since the boys termed it a 'disappearance', everything suggests that hitting the road was not Johns first plan.  Sounds like he might have taken the time to wipe out the bank accounts (since he spent their college fund on ammo) and then just headed out.  If that garage guy hadn't called CPS, I wonder if John would have done the nomad thing.

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So I found that deleted scene...I didn't have all the dialogue quite right, but the intent was pretty much the same. He says that John sold his half of the garage and bought guns. Anyway, here's the scene for any that's interested.

 

 

 

 

So it seems to me John knew pretty quickly that it was a demon, presuming Missouri pulled back the curtain far enough to explain demons.  And he was researching for a while until the garage owner called CPS.

 

I don't think John knew it was a demon, Missouri says she didn't know what it is, but it was pure evil. I think John just knew it was supernatural and evil and all the researching was to find out what it was. However, I'm of the opinion that John knew more than he ever shared, so I don't think we'll ever know if John knew whether  Sam was fed demon blood as a baby or when he knew anything unless they find a way to bring him back to speak for himself.

 

A random aside: They don't need to bring back Jeffery Dean Morgan at this point--I know he's a rather busy guy--Matt Cohen has also continued to age, I bet he could pull off a reasonable John from about the time of Mary's death now. 

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Thanks for the video!  I can't remember if I ever bothered to watch the deleted scenes.  If I did it was years ago.

 

 

Anyway, I would think that he'd have to have spent a fairly significant amount of time in Lawrence, because who was caring for Sam during that time? It must have been a friend or a babysitter. He was a very young baby. Also, settling Mary's affairs, going through the insurance and paperwork rigmarole, repairing and selling the house, selling the garage, etc -- all that would have taken a fair amount of time, I would think?

 

In "I Believe Children Are Our Future" (the one with Jesse the Antichrist) Dean's talking with the kid in the opening and tells him, "Most of [his] babysitters sucked.  Especially Ms. Chancey.  She only cared about two things: Dynasty and bedtime."  So, assuming he's not making it up to bond with the kid, they had babysitters at some point.  But, since Dynasty was on from '81-'89 it could have been when Mary was still alive.  On the other hand, the odds of Dean remembering his babysitter's name and favorite TV show from when he was about 4-years-old are slim.  So I'd guess the boys had a babysitter sometime after Mary died but before Dean was old enough to take care of Sam on his own.

 

 

 

This is so minor, but I think it's really interesting that Dean bothered to get a GED.

 

I always think of this when they write Dean as dumb.  If the guy made the effort to get a GED he had to have had some sort of scholarly ambition.  Or maybe he was envious of Sam going to college and wanted to at least finish high school.  But I guess that's a discussion for the Dean thread….

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A random aside: They don't need to bring back Jeffery Dean Morgan at this point--I know he's a rather busy guy--Matt Cohen has also continued to age, I bet he could pull off a reasonable John from about the time of Mary's death now. 

 

Yeah, Matt Cohen would be perfect, imo. I agree that he's the right age now to play John from back when the kids were young, too. John was born in 1954, so in 1983 he'd have been 29ish, which is close enough to Cohen's age. I'm always happy to see Jeffery Dean Morgan, but I liked Cohen as young!John and would be happy with him taking up the mantel for John-from-the-pre-show-era (in general, I think the casting on this show tends to be really good, one of its real strengths). Young!John seemed like kind of a drip to me in the time-travel episode(s), but that actually fit the character well (at that point in his life) imo, and I liked how Cohen managed to pull off seeming clean cut but with the (as-yet-unrealised, maybe) potential to have more of a dark/intense side than that, too.

 

Amy Gumenick was good as young!Mary, too, imo. In an interview I read pretty recently, she was talking about how she'd pushed very hard (by her own admission) to get the part of Laurel on Arrow, though obviously it ended up going to Katie Cassidy instead. So I think she'd probably be amenable to being a regular on another CW show (i.e., a John/Mary spinoff for SPN). She also killed it as Cupid on Arrow the other week, I thought. She seems like a strong actress. Well anyway. That spinoff concept is yet another idea for the Fantasy Staffing game, I guess.

 

Thanks for the link to the deleted scene, DittyDotDot! Too bad that it *was* deleted, I think that's pretty useful/interesting information about John and how he was perceived by other people. Presumably, his business partner was someone who knew him well and was on reasonably good terms with him, so if he was worried enough to call the authorities, that's pretty bad. Not just from that, but from everything we've heard about it in general, John sounds to me like he did have somewhat of a breakdown when Mary died. Even if he knew about the supernatural, why would that necessitate spending thousands of dollars on *guns and ammo*? How would he even knew that guns would be effective on supernatural creatures? He could have saved himself a lot of money and just gotten some iron rods and bags of road salt to start with, lol. I wonder if John traded his life for Dean's for basically the same reason that Dean made the deal of his life for Sam's -- because he couldn't stand to see another one of his family die, he couldn't stand to survive them?

 

If losing Mary caused John to crack to the extent that it did, what would losing someone else, and one of his children, too, have done to him? On the one hand, I think that he basically saw them as doomed, like he thought that one day no matter what, the same thing that happened to Mary would happen to them all because how could it not (his worst nightmare imo). On the one hand I think that sense of doom made him apathetic and reckless/lacking in perspective toward them (and himself), but the other hand, I think that he was also paranoid and anxious and obsessed with shoring up their ability to protect themselves and his ability to protect/shield them. That's from how he gets described in general, always very uptight and demanding and prone to drinking himself into a stupor or losing his temper/flipping out. And also from how bizarre his responses to danger were. A social worker might want to talk to him, so he takes his small children and flees their home and goes into hiding forever? His wife dies, so he dedicates not just his life but the lives of their small children to stopping her killer and anyone like her killer? Then, when he or his sons *are* in serious danger, he just blows it off like it's a totally normal day and rides his sons for petty, foreseeable stuff or doesn't even bother talking to them at all? That's just so unstable/unpredictable and so extreme -- it sounds *so* stressful to deal with imo. 

 

It's always fascinating getting views on John from outside the Winchester family, though. The perception within the family and the perception outside the family are always so extremely at odds.

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Also, I think the social services thing is interesting, frankly, because I always think it's interesting how this whole time they *kind of* live in normal society, even though they're trying to be underground. It's like they're in this *slightly* parallel universe. I'm always fascinated by the idea that the guys somehow went to public school the whole time growing up instead of doing correspondence school. This is so minor, but I think it's really interesting that Dean bothered to get a GED.

 

[...]

 

Something like getting a GED just seems so...Idk, "optimistic" isn't *quite* the right word. Earnest, maybe?

 

Home schooling is really a relatively "new" thing. I mean, people have done it forever, but the rise in popularity for it started more in the '90s. This is probably another one of those things that make this world feel a bit before it's historical time. But regardless, you still have to do the work, turn it in and stuff and many places you are required to do some socializing too. I think they only went to public school because John would be gone for weeks sometimes, who was gonna make sure they were doing their correspondence studies and who was gonna help them with their homework? I just think it was easier for John to send them to school than try and actually "educate" them himself. Plus, even as paranoid John was, I think he wanted them to have an education, just wasn't very proactive in making sure they got one.

 

As far as the GED, I knew a couple kids that did it when I was in high school. One kid dropped out his senior year and got his GED because he had a job opportunity and didn't see the point in passing it up for a regular diploma. Another girl was pregnant her senior year, and the baby came in December, so she did her GED studies at home (home schooling wasn't really an option then) so she could be home with the baby the first couple of months. And a third did it years after he dropped out because it's really hard to find employment with out either a high school diploma and/or a GED--I don't recall why he dropped out in the first place, maybe he just needed to make some money and an education was secondary in terms of survival. Again, the GED thing was more common when I was a kid and is another one of those things that kinda sets it out of the shows "real" time.

 

Anyway, so, I imagine Dean decided there was no point in continuing to go to school every day when he knew he was gonna be hunter and did the GED thing so he could drop out--maybe after his experience in After School Special he didn't want to return to any school, but John wouldn't let him totally drop out without the GED. I don't know, there's lots of reasons people have GEDs instead of diplomas and most of them have nothing to do with those folks being dumb. Or that's my experience anyway.

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Kripke stated that John was an excellent hunter and knew what the  YED knew.  How much we really never stated but a spin off of the young John as a father with 2 little kids would be a gold mine I think with the right Casting.

 

Kripke stated on one question and answer panel, that John had found out about it all, and the comic books have a section on him pointing a gun to kill a young Sam but just isn't able to do it.

 

They have such a rich history to explore and it is a shame that they don't do that.  I wouldn't mind seeing John shortly after he lost Mary with 2 kids.

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I presumed Dean wanted to quit and John insisted he at least get a GED. So Dean got a GED and stopped wasting time at school (in his mind).

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I presumed Dean wanted to quit and John insisted he at least get a GED. So Dean got a GED and stopped wasting time at school (in his mind).

 

Anyway, so, I imagine Dean decided there was no point in continuing to go to school every day when he knew he was gonna be hunter and did the GED thing so he could drop out--maybe after his experience in After School Special he didn't want to return to any school, but John wouldn't let him totally drop out without the GED. I don't know, there's lots of reasons people have GEDs instead of diplomas and most of them have nothing to do with those folks being dumb. Or that's my experience anyway.

 

You can't even start testing for your GED until you've already dropped out, though, so how could Dean dropping out be contingent on him getting a GED? I had assumed sort of the opposite, that John wouldn't want his sons wasting their time in school when they "should" have been training/hunting, which he obviously thought was more important than studying (or anything). From his perspective, that makes sense, imo, since (especially once they were basically grown) whatever time they spent studying algebra or reading Gilgamesh or whatever was time not spent saving people or training to save people (or to protect themselves). How could John or Dean justify people dying so that 17- or 18 y/o Dean could sit in World Civ II? So I figured John would have pressured them both to drop out as soon as they legally could -- not that I think Dean in particular would have had a problem with that (for himself) anyway. But Dean also apparently went ahead and earned his GED at some point, for whatever reason (because John insisted? just in case he ended up wanting to do something other than hunt someday? for the pride of the accomplishment? Idk). I thought that was an accomplishment, anyway. I know plenty of people who have *claimed* they're going to get their GED, basically everyone who doesn't have their HS diploma claims that, but tbh none of them has actually gone through with it and actually gotten it (and none of them are stupid, nor did any of them leave HS in the first place because they were too stupid to continue with their schoolwork). It's hard for me to believe that the show mentioned that Dean got his GED as a (roundabout and rude) way of saying he's dumb. Wasn't that line "GED and a give 'em hell attitude" about him being tenacious (and the implication was that the hard work/resourcefulness/tenacity that usually got him through wasn't going to cut it with the angels or whoever they were fighting at that time)? To be fair, I don't really see it when people say that the show makes him look stupid, though, he always comes off as smart to me.

 

Anyway, maybe you guys are right and John would have insisted on him getting it for some reason? But you can ostensibly get your GED anytime, so even if John wanted him to have it in theory, why would he care about Dean getting it while Dean was already hunting and would be hunting for the foreseeable? I can completely see Dean refusing to enroll in any more schools and insisting on going with John on more hunts after what happened in After School Special, which I don't remember exceptionally well except that Dean started yelling at everyone in the hallway that he's a hero (LOL). Plus, at that time, I would assume that Dean would want to be doing whatever John was doing, he was basically trying to make himself into John, so I'd think he'd want to just stop with school and partner up with John full time in any case. I just can't imagine John having an issue with Dean dropping out to commit to hunting or John putting (academic) conditions on that, though -- why would he?

 

This is also why I was thinking that Sam getting a diploma was kind of a big deal -- you can't get a huge scholarship to a university without a diploma, so pressuring Sam into not getting one would have preemptively solved a pretty big problem for John, lol. And just in general, I was like, "John was OK with his strapping and trained 17- or 18-year-old son just sitting at home studying instead of going off on hunts and putting hunting first? Wow!" I figured that had to have been a result of Dean helping to persuade John to allow that, because if Sam had had nobody in his corner, I would have thought that the big "your future is hunting, not school" blowout, and Sam leaving the family, would have happened when Sam was sixteen wanted to continue going to school to get his diploma, rather than at eighteen when he wanted to leave for college. But eh. I don't think that was such a big deal thing, that's just what my assumptions were.

 

Home schooling is really a relatively "new" thing. I mean, people have done it forever, but the rise in popularity for it started more in the '90s. This is probably another one of those things that make this world feel a bit before it's historical time. But regardless, you still have to do the work, turn it in and stuff and many places you are required to do some socializing too. I think they only went to public school because John would be gone for weeks sometimes, who was gonna make sure they were doing their correspondence studies and who was gonna help them with their homework? I just think it was easier for John to send them to school than try and actually "educate" them himself. Plus, even as paranoid John was, I think he wanted them to have an education, just wasn't very proactive in making sure they got one.

 

Honestly, I disagree with the "out of its historical time" thing, but that's already been hashed and rehashed enough, probably (lol).

 

I was thinking correspondence school because it would have been easier on John. Constantly enrolling the kids in new schools and getting their records and grades transferred every two or four weeks seems like a nightmare, especially if they're all paper files. How could he even prove residency when the kids are just staying in a motel? It also doesn't seem like a good idea to keep enrolling your kids in public schools all over the country if you're trying to live under the radar -- the transcripts are a pretty easy-to-follow trail, aren't they? Not that I can even see how a kid could *have* grades if he moves ten or fifteen times in a year. That's a handful of moves in just one grading period! It seems really hard on the kids in terms of keeping up in class and turning in work, too. No idea how that could work, logistically.

 

Anyway, correspondence school can be "real" school if the family actually cares about education and the kid(s) put in the effort, but tbh it doesn't have to be. My cousin*** did correspondence school to get around truancy laws from when he was ten or eleven until he could legally drop out. He was born in '87, so I guess this was the mid/late nineties? His mom wasn't "educating" him or looking at his homework or anything, he just had to be enrolled somewhere so that he was in compliance with the law/not truant. Actually, he studied pretty hard of his own volition and would have rather continued, but once he could legally drop out, his mom wasn't paying the fees anymore, so *shrug.* That's why I'm like, "Why would John keep making this big effort to enroll the kids in a zillion different schools? Just pay the fees for some correspondence course until they turn 16 and be done with it." I had assumed the crux of the issue w/r/t John was him not wanting to pay the fees, tbh. But maybe he just cared more about their education than that and wanted them going to a "real" school despite the risk and inconvenience? But why bother, since I would think that in his perspective, their "real" education was the training he was giving them and they were missing out on by being in class?

 

I just watched The Song Will Remain the Same yesterday, and it got me wondering about John again altogether, because in that episode, John flips out about how it's wrong to raise children to be hunters. I didn't understand that, tbh. How did such a strong instinct on his part end up getting so completely turned around once Mary was killed? And seemingly overnight?

 

***Thinking about it, that same cousin also loves SPN.

 

ETA:

Can't believe that after all that babbling, I forgot to clarify the reason I thought the GED thing was even interesting/a nice touch. I heard it as Dean (and maybe John, on his behalf) holding out some hope for a life beyond hunting. Because it's really only useful in "regular" life, not hunting life. Monsters wouldn't care if someone's officially a HS grad or not, no need to pour over GED study guides and take a bunch of subject matter tests for them! It seemed to me like a way for Dean to keep the door to "regular life" ajar. So that's a reason I found it endearing and interpreted it as a sign of optimism on his part.

Edited by rue721

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Honestly, I disagree with the "out of its historical time" thing, but that's already been hashed and rehashed enough, probably (lol).

 

I was thinking correspondence school because it would have been easier on John. Constantly enrolling the kids in new schools and getting their records and grades transferred every two or four weeks seems like a nightmare, especially if they're all paper files.

 

If you set it more in the '70s it's really not that hard to understand. It was fairly easy to enroll your kids in school without all the hoopla that goes on now. Mostly you just showed up and signed a few papers and promised to get the records transferred, but I imagine they left town most times before the records even arrived and/or the school got too worried about it. This whole paper trail thing is a thing of the computer age. One could easily pick up and move and recreate themselves somewhere new with relative ease. This is why I say it has a sense of time screwiness.  It's not that I don't buy it could work in the '90s, but I have a lot of logistics questions about how they'd pull these things off, but it actually makes sense if it's set in the '70s.

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How did such a strong instinct on his part end up getting so completely turned around once Mary was killed? And seemingly overnight?

 

Trauma. Fear. Panic. And the soldier in him. He must have eventually realized that Sam was the target. So, you get moving. Present a moving target as opposed to a static one. I think most people would have gone crazy if they had seen their wife stuck to the ceiling with a slash through the stomach and then a fire erupting out of nowhere. He must have gone crazy to a point. Until he took them and left. Taking control of the situation. It could have been worse.

 

If he had stayed put, did not become a hunter, ignored it all, what would have happened? What would YED have done? Would Sam have grown up "normal" and then be as surprised by it all like some of the other kids in All Hell Breaks Loose? He might have died even faster. Or become like the guy in the opening scene in Hunted.

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If he had stayed put, did not become a hunter, ignored it all, what would have happened? What would YED have done? Would Sam have grown up "normal" and then be as surprised by it all like some of the other kids in All Hell Breaks Loose? He might have died even faster. Or become like the guy in the opening scene in Hunted.

Yes this.  There are days I hate John Winchester. But not so much for the nomadic life. I hate that he instilled a sense of worthlessness in Dean.  There are three moments that crossed the line for me:

- When he bitched out Dean for not taking care of the Impala -- that criticism was given and taken so EASILY

- When he bitched at Dean about not calling about Sam's visions and Dean reminded him that he failed to call back when Dean was dying

- When he bitched at Sam for not taking the shot

 

So, it's not the nomadic lifestyle, it's that he treated them more like warriors than a father (by his own admission) and that he was so CRITICAL of them.  Some of that comes from knowing that tiny details get you killed. But not washing the car? Bitchy.

 

The other bit is Sam going to college. If he thought Sam was at risk, he needed to say something THEN. If he just was pissed Sam was abandoning the family mission then he can jump off a pier.

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John is an interesting, complex character, and I wish we'd seen more of him. That being said, I don't get the claims that the later seasons 'ruined John'. We learned in the pilot that he disowned Sam for accepting the scholarship to Stanford. The rest of S1 showed us John not bothering to return Sam's frantic calls when Dean was dying in Faith, the flashbacks to the Shtriga episode where we found out that John routinely left Sam and Dean alone for days in sleazy motels when they were under 10, and he was probably using them for bait, and John not helping them in Home.

I don't buy that John was against eighteen year old, combat trained Sam going to college to 'protect him', seeing that he'd leave five year old Sam in the care of a nine year old.

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John is an interesting, complex character, and I wish we'd seen more of him. That being said, I don't get the claims that the later seasons 'ruined John'. We learned in the pilot that he disowned Sam for accepting the scholarship to Stanford. The rest of S1 showed us John not bothering to return Sam's frantic calls when Dean was dying in Faith, the flashbacks to the Shtriga episode where we found out that John routinely left Sam and Dean alone for days in sleazy motels when they were under 10, and he was probably using them for bait, and John not helping them in Home.

I don't buy that John was against eighteen year old, combat trained Sam going to college to 'protect him', seeing that he'd leave five year old Sam in the care of a nine year old.

 

I don't buy it either. After we learned that John "knew something" concerning Sam in "In My Time of Dying," I concluded that he was really more worried he couldn't keep an eye on Sam and make sure he wasn't going to "go evil." I think that's also why he checked up on Sam in Stanford without Sam knowing - to make sure that Sam wasn't doing anything to indicate he was going bad. I think it had less to do with John directly wanting to "protect" Sam and more to do with him wanting to have control over Sam and keep an eye on him in case he "went evil."

 

Unfortunately, SueB, I also think that John was partially "hurt" that Sam was "abandoning the family mission" since he refers to this, I believe, in one of their reunions (i.e. that Sam was the one who left and abandoned them). And especially since John gets pissed off that he "let Sam be a part of this" (the again is implied) and Sam screwed up by not shooting John. Screw you, John, for that.

 

Also I'm sometimes surprised that Dean lets what the demons say concerning John and the supposed "John loved Sam best" stuff get to him, because as was seen in the season 1 finale episodes (especially "Devil's Trap"), Dean figures out that John is not John but possessed, because he knows that John would be angry about Dean wasting a bullet which Dean had used to save Sam. So if Dean knows that in John's thinking using a bullet to save Sam = wasting it, what does that say about how Dean thinks John thinks about Sam? Unless Dean thinks that John thought Dean should've found another way to save Sam if possible - which seems odd considering that there wasn't much time to do so and it would have at the very least resulted in Sam getting beaten even more, perhaps injuring him more severely. In any case, it seems that Dean thought that both he and Sam were less for John than "the mission," so I'm sometimes surprised he lets those demons tell him something that likely isn't true.

Edited by AwesomO4000

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- When he bitched at Dean about not calling about Sam's visions and Dean reminded him that he failed to call back when Dean was dying

 

I love it so much when Dean calls him on his bullshit for that.  I seriously hate John for doing nothing when Dean was dying (the first time).  And he pisses me off the second time in that he didn't try any other way to save Dean except make a deal.  Before selling your soul wouldn't you try a little magic first?  Just for the hell of it?  Maybe try anything else before you condemn your soul to hell and put that kind of burden on your poor kid?

 

 

- When he bitched at Sam for not taking the shot

 

If the roles had been reversed and Sam got possessed by YED would John have been able to shoot him?  I would lean towards no, when it came down to it, which would make his bitching at Sam even worse and hypocritical.  And if he were able to shoot Sam, well, that's a whole lot worse.  Either way he pretty much sucks.

 

I'm sure he loved and cared for his sons but more often than not he was just a dick.

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I think that's also why he checked up on Sam in Stanford without Sam knowing - to make sure that Sam wasn't doing anything to indicate he was going bad. I think it had less to do with John directly wanting to "protect" Sam and more to do with him wanting to have control over Sam and keep an eye on him in case he "went evil."

 

Is it actually a fact that he went and checked up on Sam at Stanford? I just don't see how Dean would even know if he did, I thought it was a white lie that Dean told Sam because Sam was about to see John again and was nervous. Not that it couldn't have happened, it sounds plausible (considering that John did similarly when Dean called for his help in "Home") and it would make sense if it did, but it's unsubstantiated, I think? Are we supposed to take it as a given?

 

Although I think saying that John knew what had been going on with Sam while he was away was comforting/nice in the context of Sam being about to see John again, in general, I find it even more hurtful for your parent to come spy on you without actually contacting you, than for them to tell the truth and not be willing to come at all. Sam said it was John who was the one who was pressing for estrangement because Sam wasn't doing things his way (staying with him and hunting), and everything John said seemed like it corroborated that, so I don't think that Sam would have rejected John if he came and visited him for real. So John was willing to travel that whole way, he was RIGHT THERE but he still couldn't stand to talk to Sam? He couldn't stand to even show that much love or approval? That's why I thought "Home" was so hurtful. Is it just that John doesn't want to speak to them?! I think in John's head at that point he was thinking they would make him too soft/be liabilities to him, so he didn't think he could risk being around them. So I guess I can be a John apologist if I want to about that. But if I were in Sam or Dean's shoes, that would be something that would really hurt tbh.

 

Also I'm sometimes surprised that Dean lets what the demons say concerning John and the supposed "John loved Sam best" stuff get to him, because as was seen in the season 1 finale episodes (especially "Devil's Trap"), Dean figures out that John is not John but possessed, because he knows that John would be angry about Dean wasting a bullet which Dean had used to save Sam. So if Dean knows that in John's thinking using a bullet to save Sam = wasting it, what does that say about how Dean thinks John thinks about Sam? Unless Dean thinks that John thought Dean should've found another way to save Sam if possible - which seems odd considering that there wasn't much time to do so and it would have at the very least resulted in Sam getting beaten even more, perhaps injuring him more severely. In any case, it seems that Dean thought that both he and Sam were less for John than "the mission," so I'm sometimes surprised he lets those demons tell him something that likely isn't true.

 

Do the demons (and Gadreel?) tell Dean that John loved Sam best, or do they tell him that John didn't really love him? From what I remember of the YED, what he was hammering away at was that John (and Sam) didn't love or need Dean the way he did them. It might have been different in different scenes, though.

 

I don't think that there's any reason to think that John loved Sam *more* than Dean, but I think there's plenty reason to think that John's love for either of them was contingent on them doing everything his way and that if Dean had stopped being obedient, he would have been out of John's good graces just as fast and thoroughly as Sam had been. I think Dean actually knew that better than Sam, which is why he worked so hard to be obedient, he was scared of what would happen if he wasn't (that he would lose John, and he needed him because the world sure is a frightening, hostile place when monsters are real).

 

The thing with the "wasted bullet," I don't think the problem would have been that Dean had used a bullet in a situation that John definitely wouldn't have, I think it would have been more about Dean being uppity by making the decision to use one of the remaining demon-killing bullets. In John's POV, I think that whether or not John would have used a bullet is kind of immaterial, because when/how to use the bullets was *his* decision to make, since he's the boss. Dean making that decision at all is insubordinate, because he's not the boss. So he'd get raked over the coals for "wasting" a bullet whenever/however he chose, i.e., for using a bullet without John's permission/direction. Not that John definitely wouldn't have given that permission/direction in that situation, but he didn't.

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