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John Winchester: Daddy Dearest


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23 minutes ago, catrox14 said:

Dean could not control Sam's behavior when Sam ran away. What should Dean have done to stop Sam running away?  Essentially, he punished Dean for not controlling Sam

Agreed. But, to my recollection, we have very few details of what happened. For all I know, Dean was out with friends or a girl when he was supposed to be watching Sam. Maybe that's why John felt Dean deserved to be ripped a new one. 

Its also the curse of the oldest sibling to be left with the responsibility for the younger ones when the parents are gone. On the one hand you're, "large and in charge", but on the other hand, you catch shit if anything goes wrong. 

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1 hour ago, catrox14 said:

Dean could not control Sam's behavior when Sam ran away. What should Dean have done to stop Sam running away?  Essentially, he punished Dean for not controlling Sam. I  can't think of a situation in which John punished Sam for Dean's behavior.

Of course, that's essentially what John did--punish Dean for Sam's behavior--but, in John's mind, John wasn't punishing Dean for Sam's behavior, but punishing Dean for not following his order to take care of Sam. It was that black and white for John, IMO. And, IMO, if the situation had been reversed, if Sam had been tasked with taking care of Dean, Sam would've also been punished in the same manner.

ETA: I'm not suggesting John was right in the orders he gave--I think it was pretty shitty he put so much on Dean's shoulders, myself--I'm just saying he gave both Sam and Dean orders and punished them each when the orders weren't followed.

Edited by DittyDotDot
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They also didn't know at that point that Sam had done anything wrong. Dean thought Sam was dead because his assumption was that a monster had gotten him. I would guess that that was John's assumption, too.

John probably thought he was punishing Dean for letting a monster come kidnap and murder his brother. Not for anything that Sam had done.

Then it turned out that Sam left of his own volition, whoops. But by the time Sam finally got home, they were probably so relieved that he wasn't dead that they just wanted to move on.

Sam was probably also full of excuses and maybe even lies when he got back, because I doubt he would have wanted to spill that he had slunk off to eat pizza and play with a dog for weeks. Maybe he even lied at the time and said a monster HAD gotten him but he'd escaped. Who knows.

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There are a lot of unanswered questions about Sam running away. 

They were in Flagstaff, AZ.  I don't think either boy had any friends to speak of when they were going from town to town.  We don't know how long they were in Flagstaff before John left them alone but given their history I doubt it was very long.  Sam was gone for two weeks.  I didn't have the impression John even knew that Sam had been gone until he came home.  Just because of the way that Dean said that he thought Sam was dead, that he had looked everywhere for him and when Dad got home... I dunno that timeline isn't that clear to me. 

I don't think Dean thought Sam was a flight risk, so even if Dean had gone to see a girl for a few hours Sam still took off  of his own accord and was old enough to know what he was doing.   Maybe Dean was sound asleep and Sam took off in the middle of the night. Maybe  Dean was off getting food for him and Sam and Sam took off. Maybe the boys had words so Sam got angry and left. Dean might have let him go, figuring he'd  come back when he cooled down.  Maybe Dean was the one that left to cool down and when he got back, Sam was gone.   Short of tying Sam to a chair, what exactly would John have expected Dean to do to keep Sam from walking away? 

If the roles were reversed and Sam was the eldest child,  I would imagine he would have been held to the standard Dean has been held to. And John would be treating them differently as he does now. 

I do wonder if the roles were reversed, would Sam still have butted heads with John?  Is that just part of Sam's personality?  Some think Dean's nature was already being kind of a caregiver  with trying to nurture Mary and comforting John after Mary died? Is that a learned behavior or innate?  Sam, certainly would have been held to the unreasonable standard just like Dean but I wonder if he would have started pushing back of his own accord.    Does Sam push back on John now because of how he sees Dean treated? 

Sorry, I went on a tangent there LOL

ETA: I wonder if Dean even called John to tell him Sam went missing. He might have been scared to tell him and just let it go thinking he would find him eventually.  I wonder if John came back before Sam came back.  Did Sam call to for them to get him when it got scary?  Did he just show up on his own? Did Dean try to find him before he told John? Did John call in  and Dean lied about not knowing where Sam was?  I just have the impression that Dean kept it on the DL until John got home.  I dunno.  So many questions.

Edited by catrox14
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2 hours ago, catrox14 said:

If the roles were reversed and Sam was the eldest child,  I would imagine he would have been held to the standard Dean has been held to. And John would be treating them differently as he does now.

I didn't mean if the roles were reversed and Sam was the eldest, I'm saying that if John had given Sam, the younger brother, an order to take care of Dean, the older brother, I believe John would've expected the same thing of Sam: to follow that order. And if Dean had run off on Sam's watch, it wouldn't matter if Sam was 4 years younger and had no means to control Dean either, I believe John would've been just as pissed and punished Sam in the same exact manner. Of course, Dean would never have run off in the first place and left Sam holding the bag, so it's kinda moot. But, I think you get my point.

Just because John didn't punish them equally in the runaway scenario, doesn't, in my mind, say he treated them differently. Sam wasn't ordered to keep an eye on Sam, Dean was. So, in John's mind, Sam wouldn't be punished. Was it an unfair order? Of course it was, but Sam got treated exactly the same way when he failed to follow John's orders, fair or not.

And, by the way, I'm guessing Sam did indeed get punished too--which is really immaterial to my point--but I'm also guessing the memory of the two weeks away from John outweighed the memory of the punishment for Sam. Punishment from John just didn't mean the same thing to Sam as it did to Dean. Some kids are that way.

My mother used to use the lecture/guilt sort of punishment on me and my siblings because, quite frankly, I was far more concerned with disappointing her than I was with a beating. In fact, I used to joke that I'd have preferred her to wail on me and get it over with than living with the guilt that I'd disappointed her and all that crap. I remember this one time my cousin got my grandmother--who I can only remember losing her temper this one and only time--so angry she spanked him with a plastic plate. I was so horrified at the idea that Grandma would be angry with me, let alone spank me; my cousin just laughed at her and the broken plate.

Edited by DittyDotDot
Because was and wasn't kind mean the opposite.
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5 hours ago, DittyDotDot said:

Was it an unfair order? Of course it was, but Sam got treated exactly the same way when he failed to follow John's orders, fair or not.

And it's likely Sam got his own fair share of unfair orders as we saw in that flashback (forget the episode now, but I think it was in season 9?) about Sam being expected to do the research for John and Dean when he was a teen even though Sam also had a bunch of homework, too - which John didn't care about, since he thought the research was much more important. So we had a nice throwback to Sam's tendency to go for the "Triple Red Eye" to stay awake, in that case so he could pull a late night and get both done to avoid John yelling at him for not doing the research fast enough.

I can easily imagine that if the hunt went wrong somehow because Sam didn't get the information John needed in time that John would have somehow blamed Sam - even though John potentially could have just as easily waited until he had the information himself before going on the hunt - but since he gave Sam that order, it would instead be Sam's fault and Sam probably would have been in trouble. John's consistent that way... just like Sam not shooting him. Since John gave that unfair order, and Sam didn't follow it, in John's messed up logic, it then became Sam's fault that the demon got away and Dean was injured - not John's for having a crappy plan and being stupid and/or careless enough to get possessed in the first place.

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On ‎10‎/‎4‎/‎2016 at 3:01 AM, AwesomO4000 said:

Warning: My opinion below...

I'm not sure what you are referring to here. Dean putting Sam in the panic room was shown by the narrative to be the correct course of action to take, not the "wrong" thing to do. Both Bobby and Sam were proven wrong when Sam raised Lucifer. And Sam putting Dean in the panic room wasn't entirely his decision, so I'm not sure how Sam was supposedly right when Dean was wrong there.

Similarly in season 8-10 - especially 9 and 10 - when Dean and Sam did similar things, it was usually Sam who ended up being shown as wrong. Example: Gadreel vs getting rid of the mark of Cain. Sam even got dressed down - making sure to mention Sam's past "misdeeds" - and shot by a snotty British woman as punishment. The one thing Sam did during that time that maybe wasn't addressed later on was the Benny/Martin incident, but that was an unusual exception. The show was still pointing out that "Sam hit a dog" two seasons later, and Sam had to learn his lesson - from Lucifer of all "people" - and apologize to Dean. (Don't get me wrong, I liked the episode and the scene, but why make Sam's character have to go through that character damage in the first place.)

Sorry I just saw this...

Dean putting Sam in the panic room wasn't shown to be the correct course of action in PONR, IMO; and this was only one of the things about that episode that, in hindsight, has turned it into one of my least favorite episodes of the show. This, along with two other S5 episodes, Metamorphosis and Fallen Idols, is when, IMO, the writers decided that to make the Sam character somewhat sympathetic again, after the debacle of the demon blood drinking and Sam choosing Ruby's words over Dean's time and time again in s4, they would silence Dean, for the most part, in the brother confrontations. They took his voice away in those episodes and in PONR he told Sam that Sam would have never locked him(Dean) away the way that he had done to Sam. Dean(or to be more specific, the writing) also downplayed Sam's S4 betrayals in PONR, IMO;  and Sam said nothing while Dean apologized for not trusting him-not even a "You had every right to not trust me, Dean. You still could be feeling that way and it wouldn't be wrong." because, again IMO, Dean had every right and reason not to trust Sam for all of S4 AND! for most of S5. Again IMO. Maybe that's an unpopular thought here. It likely is. But IMO, and again, in hindsight, the writing in PONR made Sam out to be the only wounded party in S5 simply because Dean couldn't trust Sam up until this episode AKA Sam's strangely written "apologies" didn't do the trick this time for Dean. The narrative in PONR had Dean apologizing and/or feeling guilty over things that didn't warrant it at all, IMO. And Sam said very little to dispel Dean's guilt or regret. It was as if the writers wanted everyone to think that Dean was wrong for every feeling that he had in S4 and 5 and he should have just trusted Sam more and/or sooner. Or Dean was being MEEN! for not forgiving Sam sooner or quickly enough, whereas personally, I might still be side-eyeing Sam to this day, if I were Dean. Of course, now since S9  they might believe that they've shown us Dean as having walked in Sam's shoes and Sam as having walked in Dean's, it's all good. That seems to be how these writers operate to me.

IDK with this. The worst for me has been that as the seasons have goone on, Sam has done similar things and made similar mistakes that Dean has made, but Sam is never written to apologize for them or even think twice about them as having been wrong. That ridiculous speech in Sacrifice along with the Benny business are just two, that I can think of off the top of my head.

These hypocrisies are so exasperating to me. They are the biggest reason that I have trouble sympathizing with the Sam character to this day, and why the brother relationship no longer holds any appeal for me whatsoever. Is it writers' fault? Predominantly yes, IMO-but JP has also never been as adept at saving his character from the writers as JA, IMO. I've always felt that JP needs the writing to be there for his character  much more than any other actor on this show. Again, possibly another unpopular opinion at this site, but it's how I feel, just the same

At this point in the series, I'm not sure what the writers have been going for with Sam's almost allergic reaction to the two simple little words of "I'm sorry." with no conditions or rejoinders or buts involved or attached to them. I used to think it was just poor writing or oversights on the part of the writers, but now, and with how often it's been done, I'm starting to believe that it was intentional on their parts to show us how alike Sam and John have always been when it came to apologizing to Dean and/or owning up top their own faults and flaws. It's really all I can come up with. And again, if that's the case, I haven't felt anything even approaching like or love for the John character since Something Wicked, so IMO, painting the Sam character with the same brush as John, in this regard, hasn't done Sam any good whatsoever.

Sam treating Dean like John would have treated him only makes me feel how wrong their up-bringing was and it doesn't make me disrespect Dean for something like this that's been on-going in the family dynamic since he was small. It makes me feel bad and sad for him, but disrespectful of him? Or that his personality isn't and/or never has been as "strong" as Sam's?-No. Never-not for something that exists on such a subconscious level for him, and that's still being reinforced to this day, and that, most importantly, Sam was never subjected to as a child. It sounds a little bit to me as if some here feel that Dean should just shaken that off either back then or when he grew to adulthood, but I don't see how that can happen, even as an adult,  if every time he tries to rise above his up-bringing, something happens or words are spoken that pull him right back down. MMV, of course, but I wish for Dean to have more of a voice over this in S12-and for his mother to help him understand that it's alright for him to feel that he was cheated out of his childhood, because he was, for the most part.

Parentification of a child as young as Dean was and to such a degree IS emotional abuse and it does terrible things to people as they become adults, too. I really would like this to be acknowledged on this show and not romanticized by saying, but they love each other SOOOOOOOOOOOO! much and look how good they both turned out. Please. It might be entertaining for some, but it's crazy sad to others and much too hard to watch or find entertainment value in especially with the way it's been executed AKA they can never have anyone else of a similar importance in their lives?! That sucks to me and I'm done with watching it, thank you very much.

If this was too long for some, I'll just say that IMO and generally, Dean is written as recognizing and owning up to his faults and flaws-strictly within the brothers' relationship, that is-in a much more thorough, thought-provoking, and detailed manner than they've ever written Sam. Maybe that's because up to this point, with Sam, they've focused more on the darkness within him than on his part in the shared dysfunction of the brothers' relationship. Maybe this would be a good time for another one of those role-reversals that these writers have seemed to love so much over the seasons.

Or IDK, maybe they were going for that in s9 and 10, but it just didn't play out as well because there seemed to still be too little growth in both main characters, for me to feel like it took or worked. The more I think about it, the more I think this might have been the case and Dean's speech to Amara about family was another attempt by the writers to tell us that, yup, still no real growth or resolution on the brothers' relationship front, but being family makes that okie dokie. And as usual, some like/love that, and others will continue to just sigh and think, typical-and resign ourselves to the thought that the writers must agree with those who like the dysfunctional brotherly relationship just as it is(and as it has always pretty much been since Day One, IMO) and stop expecting them to have the characters grow out of it in any real way.

I'm kind of there now, but it's also why I'm DVRing again and skipping over the brother stuff, for the most part. My general feeling on the brothers' relationship is-wake me up and let me know when they decide to have them grow out of it-and yes, even if that means one of them developing a relationship with someone else that involves a bonding of the type that rivals the hallowed brother bond in some ways, and that won't involve the writers teasing us with it just to see the brothers rejoined at the hip again as the big pay-off to it. Ugh. I'm ready for that even if others aren't and never will be.

Fortunately, there are other things happening on this show now, that make skipping over the brother stuff no longer feel as if I'm skipping over half of all the episodes.

This post should have probably gone in the bitterness thread, so sorry about that, but to keep it relevant here, I'll just reiterate that I think the similarities between John and Sam have very much been played up, even in subtle ways, up to this point in the story.

Edited by Myrelle
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On 10/4/2016 at 5:48 PM, catrox14 said:

I do wonder if the roles were reversed, would Sam still have butted heads with John?  Is that just part of Sam's personality?  Some think Dean's nature was already being kind of a caregiver  with trying to nurture Mary and comforting John after Mary died? Is that a learned behavior or innate?

In nurture vs. nature the answer is always BOTH.  I think that Sam is naturally contrary.  He doesn't like being told what to do and he certainly doesn't like to be told what to do without being told WHY he should do it. And even then he would have had to agree with the reason and the actions.  The show clearly showed that.  He would have butted head with John no matter how normal their lives were.  Two examples I can think of of the top of my head is in Bugs when Sam identified with the son who put so much energy into being different than his family and in Swap Meat when Sam clearly stated he would have hated living up to the expectations and demands that being "normal" had.

Dean is a natural caretaker.  That's also shown on the show -- in the flashbacks were he saw his mom was sad and comforted her, in all of his interactions with children who are in danger. The situation he was in and John's expectations of him just added to that natural desire.  

I also don't think that John was quite as draconian as he's often portrayed.  In "The Things We Left Behind", Dean tells the story of how he snuck out to the club and gets drunk and drugged and John saved him.  And Dean -- ever obedient and never disrespectful Dean -- whines about John embarrassing him and how much Dean hates him.  The end of that story didn't have John slapping Dean around or leaving him at the mercies of what-ever-the-hell the people in the club were going to do to him.  There's the story of Dean running away and what happened when John found him.

I think that Dean often placed greater guilt on himself than John did and I don't think John even saw that.  In Something Wicked, when Dean says that John "looked at me different" after the Striga attack, he assumes that it's because John felt Dean failed him.  Possible.  It's also possible that John looked at him differently because he almost lost both his children that night.  He could have decided that what Dean really needs to to learn more about hunting to give him the skills needed to defend himself better against all the evil out there.  Dean would have seen this as proof that his dad thought he was weak and he would have jumped at the chance to make himself better and to prove that he was worthy of trust.  

Take, for example, this exchange in Shadow:

Quote

DEAN: Dad, it was a trap. I didn’t know, I’m sorry.

JOHN: It’s all right. I thought it might’ve been.

I believe that, to Dean, John's words are a condemnation of Dean's inability to see what must have been an obvious trap.  Since John starts out with the words "It's all right," that's obviously not what he's saying, but I'm sure that's what Dean hears.  John's great failing with Dean was never understanding that Dean took everything so very personally and internalized it into something he was responsible for.  John's great failing with Sam was that he never understood that if he would have just laid it all out on the table and constructed it so that it would be Sam's choice to do the "safe and right" thing Sam never would have fought him. 

But that type of self awareness and parental flexibility is rare, even in people who are well grounded and living normal lives.

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This is taken from the S14E13 "Lebanon" episode thread. It's really about John rather than the episode, so I thought it would go better here.

17 hours ago, ILoveReading said:

http://tippitv.tumblr.com/post/182880933345/supernatural-tippitv-recap-13-13-lebanon

This says so many things I agree with. 

In particular this.

I really like the points that Tippi makes in her recap, and when I read this, it made me crack up laughing:

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We also get a reminder of very recent episodes, including the one where Mary learns about the time John threw young Dean’s food away because it reminded him of her. It’s important to remember what an abusive, hardened asshole John Winchester was… so that we can forget it! Forget it all!

I think the show's writers/producers are completely confused about John as a character at this point. For one thing, they just seem to be throwing random new anecdotes about him out there willy-nilly, and these new anecdotes don't really hang together into a single, coherent character.

John is sometimes racing through "dirty" NYC to rescue his son from the horror of a night out at a club, and sometimes kicking out the same son into the monster-filled wilderness whenever the whim strikes. Neither of those anecdotes are patently ridiculous, but frankly, neither seem "like John" to me, either. They just seem like really generic "Dad being a hero" and "Dad being an asshole" things that the writers pulled from their own lives and/or TV stereotypes. To me, these newer anecdotes don't even seem like they're pulling from the same stereotype, let alone from the same actual character.

And a lot of these anecdotes don't hang together for me as stories within themselves, either. I think shit like John petulantly throwing out Dean's casserole because it reminded him of Mary is just stupid. Who in the history of the universe has thrown out a dinner because it reminded them of a deeply missed loved one anyway? THIS REMINDS ME OF MY DEAD WIFE I WILL NEVER EAT IT! Yeah, right.

What's interesting to me about John is that he had a hard edge, he apparently saw the whole world as a warzone and it made him this obsessive crazy person who dragged his sons into the dark with him, but at the same time, he was also a genuinely good person with a good heart. I think dismissing either side of him does a disservice to the character. And a disservice to the show in general, because dealing with John's legacy is a huge part of Sam and Dean's story, and his legacy was legitimately complex -- as the show can be, too.

Maybe we don't even need so many outright anecdotes about him in the first place, because basically whatever is said explicitly about John, I always get so much more from the subtext of HOW Sam and especially Dean talk about him than from what they say anyway. And I think Jensen has especially good instincts, because he tends to play a lot of the scenes with John or with a mention of John in a pretty counter-intuitive way that I think works better than a more straightforward take would. Like if the words that Dean is saying are sweet, Jensen will put an edge to his tone. Or vice versa, if Dean's telling a shitty story, Jensen will play it very relaxed. I appreciate that.

The choice to NOT give catharsis to the audience through Dean and John's interaction in "Lebanon" is interesting, and IMO smart and truer to the characters than a resolution between them would be. But at the same time, I am frustrated by their interactions in that episode, because Dean was the one who brought John back in the first place, so by the end of the episode, I did need to understand better what he ended up getting out of John being there. And I also wanted more of a taste of JOHN being there, not just some very passive and colorless pseudo-John.

Over the years, I've really appreciated (can't really emphasize it enough) watching Dean pull back the curtain on John -- and on his own relationship with John -- bit by bit with people outside the family, and I especially like how Dean often visibly calibrates his own reactions/perspective based on how these "outsiders" react to what he reveals. Something that I like a lot about Dean as a character is that he has very little context for what's "normal" and is constantly getting blindsided by what other people think is "normal"/"weird," so he's constantly having to assess and reassess everything -- situations, other people, relationships, himself. And since I've found that whole dynamic so compelling and satisfying, I guess I expected for more of that feeling (and complexity) to carry over into Dean's interaction with John in "Lebanon." Maybe Dean reassessing his father and their relationship (and what it could/should have been) yet again is something the episode was going for, too, by having Dean basically give John the brushoff and establishing a boundary/wall between them for the first time, but I still didn't feel like it delivered, unfortunately.

Edited by rue721
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Quote

But at the same time, I am frustrated by their interactions in that episode, because Dean was the one who brought John back in the first place, so by the end of the episode, I did need to understand better what he ended up getting out of John being there. 

I agree with this. Just by virtue of making Dean`s wish the thing that brings back John in the episode, I expected some kind of pay-off. Which I otherwise might not have. Because, why not making it happen through some other means? Some mishap with the wishing pearl. Some thingamagic from that magic vault. Some timey wimey magic from Frank the friendly Leprechaun. Anything else would have surficed if it was just the McGuffin to make a guest appaerance by JDM happen for the 300th episode.

Making it Dean`s wish for no reason that I could see in the episode was a really bad unfiring of Chekhov`s gun.

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3 hours ago, rue721 said:

And a lot of these anecdotes don't hang together for me as stories within themselves, either. I think shit like John petulantly throwing out Dean's casserole because it reminded him of Mary is just stupid. Who in the history of the universe has thrown out a dinner because it reminded them of a deeply missed loved one anyway? THIS REMINDS ME OF MY DEAD WIFE I WILL NEVER EAT IT! Yeah, right.

Well that was just Dean's "interpretation", he probably had no idea why his father actually threw it out.  The story starts out about Dean making this but not getting it right(not having the right incredients, etc) and John throwing it, then Dean basically postulates that it must have reminded John of Mary(and he's speaking to Mary at the time).  

But an emotionally abusive father throwing their child's cooked dinner because of whatever excuse they used?  That's believable.  What abusive people generally do is RUIN other people's things.  That's one thing I've seen mentioned in articles and such, that an abusive husband, for example, will seemingly lash out, break stuff etc but when the wife is asked to really think about just WHAT it is he destroys in his "out of control" temper tantrums, it's always HER stuff, never his own.  So just how 'out of control" is he that he manages to always managed to destroy only her stuff.  Same goes for parents - Dean cooked the dinner, John for whatever reason was looking to assert his dominance, so he threw out the food DEAN spent time and effort on making.

Edited by tessathereaper
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3 hours ago, PinkChicken said:

I took that scene as John throwing the food out because it was terrible and stinking out the room, because that's the picture that's painted first. The Mary comment is added on the end almost as a qualifier of just how upset John was in the aftermath, but I don't think it was supposed to be made into the reason for hating on the food that didn't taste right to begin with. 

I'd like to add another takeaway from this scene though; yet another example of the boys getting their own food in John's absence.

Why is Sam in such a sorry state pulling food out of his pants? Did Dean actually take him with him shoplifting? Did Dean tell Sam about Winchester surprise in passing and Sam decide to collect the ingredients on his own?
Since John comes back was that a complete surprise, or were they just trying to do something nice which makes everything going to crap even sadder?

This whole STORY is just awful and yet perfectly in keeping.  Dean talking up "Winchester surprise." Sammy tryng to either be like Dean or make Dean happy, gets the ingredients -- maybe snaked it from the school cafeteria.  John, being an asshole, throws out the food because it's either stinky or painful.  

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11 hours ago, PinkChicken said:

Why is Sam in such a sorry state pulling food out of his pants?

Ewwww! Who steals bologna, let alone in their PANTS? Let alone while crying or whatever.

Not trying to be a dick, but the whole mental image is making me laugh so hard.

Just steal candy like normal shoplifters!

7 hours ago, SueB said:

This whole STORY is just awful and yet perfectly in keeping.  Dean talking up "Winchester surprise." Sammy tryng to either be like Dean or make Dean happy, gets the ingredients -- maybe snaked it from the school cafeteria.  John, being an asshole, throws out the food because it's either stinky or painful.

I mean, I guess...

Maybe this is way off from what everybody else is thinking, but to me, John just seems really screwed up. Somebody who (for a long time, anyway) was too much of a mess to handle the constant demands of "real life." Or the demands of fatherhood.

To me, he doesn't come off as an asshole -- just crazy. Burying himself in supernatural shit to the exclusion of all else and losing touch with the real world, the totally unreasonable and inappropriate demands that came out of nowhere but were suddenly of life-or-death importance, the unreliable communication and flaking out, the apparently heavy drinking...that all just seems like basically typical crazy person behavior. Self-medication attempts and tantalizing flashes of competence/brilliance/normality and all.

I mean, who knows. Is there even a right answer to a Rorschach test? LOL

I just hate to condemn John as a bad guy because to me, he comes off as someone who genuinely loves his kids a lot and did try to do his best by them, but who was just really unstable and struggling and lost in his own fucked up head and fucked up little world. But at least he never gave up on trying to be a good man and a good father. Not even after he was dead, apparently!

Edited by rue721
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3 hours ago, rue721 said:

I just hate to condemn John as a bad guy because to me, he comes off as someone who genuinely loves his kids a lot and did try to do his best by them, but who was just really unstable and struggling and lost in his own fucked up head and fucked up little world. But at least he never gave up on trying to be a good man and a good father. Not even after he was dead, apparently!

I think when Dean said "'cause Dad was just a shell." that showed that at least Dean understood that John was mentally damaged by the loss of Mary.  And with the cupid intervention, I imagine worse than most.  Given the Winchester's line were all Men of Letters legacies, he had the intellect to understand so much and yet didn't (apparently) have an emotional ability to function properly.  Or maybe he was right all along regarding the threat to his family.  Look at how some of the other Special Kids turned out.  Maybe growing up as 'warriors' provided a mental toughness for Sam and Dean that gave them the advantage when the psychic shit hit the fan.  Of all the special kids, only Andy turned out 'normal' when fully exposed to his powers-- and he didn't last long against the others.  Jake was a close second (also a warrior) but he was going downhill superfast. 

I'm not saying John's treatment of the boys was remotely right.  But it was potentially fortuitous, given what Heaven and Hell had in store for them.    

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16 hours ago, rue721 said:

Ewwww! Who steals bologna, let alone in their PANTS? Let alone while crying or whatever.

Not trying to be a dick, but the whole mental image is making me laugh so hard.

Just steal candy like normal shoplifters!

I mean, I guess...

Maybe this is way off from what everybody else is thinking, but to me, John just seems really screwed up. Somebody who (for a long time, anyway) was too much of a mess to handle the constant demands of "real life." Or the demands of fatherhood.

To me, he doesn't come off as an asshole -- just crazy. Burying himself in supernatural shit to the exclusion of all else and losing touch with the real world, the totally unreasonable and inappropriate demands that came out of nowhere but were suddenly of life-or-death importance, the unreliable communication and flaking out, the apparently heavy drinking...that all just seems like basically typical crazy person behavior. Self-medication attempts and tantalizing flashes of competence/brilliance/normality and all.

I mean, who knows. Is there even a right answer to a Rorschach test? LOL

I just hate to condemn John as a bad guy because to me, he comes off as someone who genuinely loves his kids a lot and did try to do his best by them, but who was just really unstable and struggling and lost in his own fucked up head and fucked up little world. But at least he never gave up on trying to be a good man and a good father. Not even after he was dead, apparently!

Yeah John gave up, he gave up when he decided that as his little boy was a dead eye shot, he should start piling the adult responsibilities on his shoulders, including those of life and death.

Everything John was going through?  So was DEAN and he was only 5.  Dean had no one to dump things on he "couldn't handle" so right there John had one thing Dean didn't.  John may have loved his kids, when he remembered them but that isn't saying much. Because in no world is someone who is trying to do their best by their kids, leaving them alone for days and weeks at a time in motel rooms in strange towns so they can go off hunting monsters. John didn't remotely do his best by them, doing his best by them would have been putting them first, and he didn't.  He put his own need for revenge first.  That is giving up on being a good man and a good father.

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49 minutes ago, tessathereaper said:

Yeah John gave up, he gave up when he decided that as his little boy was a dead eye shot, he should start piling the adult responsibilities on his shoulders, including those of life and death.

Everything John was going through?   So was DEAN and he was only 5.   Dean had no one to dump things on he "couldn't handle" so right there John had one thing Dean didn't.   John may have loved his kids, when he remembered them but that isn't saying much. Because in no world is someone who is trying to do their best by their kids, leaving them alone for days and weeks at a time in motel rooms in strange towns so they can go off hunting monsters.  John didn't remotely do his best by them, doing his best by them would have been putting them first, and he didn't.   He put his own need for revenge first.   That is giving up on being a good man and a good father.

I think John loved his children. I think what he put his children through - particularly Dean - was more than enough for Child Services to take them away.   Child endangerment on a daily basis. The impression given is that he wasn't someone who beat his children.   But emotional abuse (like after "Something Wicked") is abuse.  I single out Dean as having it slightly worse than Sam because Dean protected Sam from a great deal of the ugliness for at least 8  years.   Certainly Sam wasn't aware of monsters until he read John's journal in 1991.   Plus Dean was parentified.  Dean protect Sam from that.  He helped Sam be more 'normal'.  Dean also, IMO, left school early to hunt.  Once John had a hunting partner, the pressure was off Sam to do the field work for a lot of cases. 

But ALL of this, IMO, is colored in Dean's mind by the notion that John WASN'T right in the head.*  Not completely.  That the loss of his wife turned him into a 'shell' and that he saw evil EVERYWHERE. Turns out, on the evil part -- John wasn't wrong. His family WAS being set up. But targeted in a different way than John undestood (I suspect). And John's solution was to try and control everything.  And apparently his faith in Dean to keep things under control was stronger than his faith in other people (Bobby, Paster Jim, Caleb) to help out in a more permanent arrangement. 

*A realization that came years after John's death.  Maybe influence by the cupid thing.

Edited by SueB
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50 minutes ago, tessathereaper said:

Yeah John gave up, he gave up when he decided that as his little boy was a dead eye shot, he should start piling the adult responsibilities on his shoulders, including those of life and death.

Everything John was going through?  So was DEAN and he was only 5.  Dean had no one to dump things on he "couldn't handle" so right there John had one thing Dean didn't.  John may have loved his kids, when he remembered them but that isn't saying much. Because in no world is someone who is trying to do their best by their kids, leaving them alone for days and weeks at a time in motel rooms in strange towns so they can go off hunting monsters. John didn't remotely do his best by them, doing his best by them would have been putting them first, and he didn't.  He put his own need for revenge first.  That is giving up on being a good man and a good father.

💯 Exactly. In hindsight, perhaps, raising them as he did provided Dean and Sam the tools they would later need to survive - but he had no idea that is what he was doing at the time. IMO John gave up any right to be considered a 'good father' the first time he left his children alone in a motel room. He put a weapon in the hands of his child and made his responsibility to protect his even younger sibling, and punished him when he 'failed'. That is not the measure of a good man. Loving his children doesn't absolve him of culpability for neglecting, if not outright abusing, them.

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I think the take on John has been fairly consistent (until Lebanon and the whitewash/feel good thing happened)and that take showed that he loved his children and tried to protect yet at the same time was an obsessed bastard per Dean, who made terrible choices and put undue budrens on Dean. And I think he was still a dick to Dean, even in Lebanon. Sure he said, "I'd always hoped you'd get a family", which weirdly, IMO, made it seem like it was somehow Dean's own fault he didn't, and that Dean's issues had nothing to do with how John treated him.

To be fair to JDM, he might not even remember those less than stellar John moments so he only thinks about John saving the boys or giving his life for Dean's. That said , I still maintain that JDM is why John was basically a nothing burger in Lebanon because he has commented at cons that he didn't like how John was painted after he died. thanks  I disagree with JDM that John was painted any worse than was shown in Something Wicked wherein he left Dean, who was all of 9, at most, to look after Sam, who was all of 5. And could not manage to get any message to  Dean in Faith, when Dean was literally dying. Not even a text, yet he did text Dean coordinates to a hunt after he purposefully avoided them in Home. To me, John leaving Dean in a boys home, or coming to get him at a club, wherein Dean thinks he was roofied, fits. In SW, he showed up at the last minute to save Sam and somehow he blamed Dean for all of it. Same with the boys home thing. Dean stole food. And even if Dean stole something else, John could have still not let him stay there for as long as he did.

So for me, JDM seems more concerned that he's not playing a bad guy. And weirdly, he tries to defend Negan. He takes the position that villains have to see themselves as a hero in their own way. Maybe he would only return if John's failures, especially with Dean, were not brought up, and John got to boink his undead wife again (I'm kidding about that last part..)

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29 minutes ago, catrox14 said:

I think the take on John has been fairly consistent (until Lebanon and the whitewash/feel good thing happened)and that take showed that he loved his children and tried to protect yet at the same time was an obsessed bastard per Dean, who made terrible choices and put undue budrens on Dean. And I think he was still a dick to Dean, even in Lebanon. Sure he said, "I'd always hoped you'd get a family", which weirdly, IMO, made it seem like it was somehow Dean's own fault he didn't, and that Dean's issues had nothing to do with how John treated him.

To be fair to JDM, he might not even remember those less than stellar John moments so he only thinks about John saving the boys or giving his life for Dean's. That said , I still maintain that JDM is why John was basically a nothing burger in Lebanon because he has commented at cons that he didn't like how John was painted after he died. thanks  I disagree with JDM that John was painted any worse than was shown in Something Wicked wherein he left Dean, who was all of 9, at most, to look after Sam, who was all of 5. And could not manage to get any message to  Dean in Faith, when Dean was literally dying. Not even a text, yet he did text Dean coordinates to a hunt after he purposefully avoided them in Home. To me, John leaving Dean in a boys home, or coming to get him at a club, wherein Dean thinks he was roofied, fits. In SW, he showed up at the last minute to save Sam and somehow he blamed Dean for all of it. Same with the boys home thing. Dean stole food. And even if Dean stole something else, John could have still not let him stay there for as long as he did.

So for me, JDM seems more concerned that he's not playing a bad guy. And weirdly, he tries to defend Negan. He takes the position that villains have to see themselves as a hero in their own way. Maybe he would only return if John's failures, especially with Dean, were not brought up, and John got to boink his undead wife again (I'm kidding about that last part..)

ITA with this post and it's why I feel like John's/JDM's return was a complete waste and why I wish it had never happened, in all honesty.

Still(and as has been pointed out here already), it's not that difficult, story-wise, to just pretend that the familial part of this episode never happened; unless they do something REALLY stupid with it at a later date, and this not restricted to just and only the bolded part above, which I'm not ready to even contemplate a tiny bit-again, tbh. 😱

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I wonder if JDM's perspective has changed over the years.  Just like I think the show's perspective has changed over the years.

I'm fairly certain in 2005, when Kripke wrote John, he wrote him as:
- hardworking
- loved his boys but NOT outwardly showing that affection
- "asshole" from a Dad perspective -- like the 'wash the car comment' -- many sons remember asshole comments from their Dad growing up
- a product of his own environment (Vietnam Vet who was never encouraged to talk about the war ... 'we do what we do and we shut up about it')
- unusually smart (Ash's comments on the brilliance of John's research)
- generally an asshole -- "notice how everyone kinda had a falling out with Dad?"
- unable to move past his loss of Mary, 
- drank too much
But I honestly think Kripke didn't view John leaving the boys in the hotel as abusive.  I think it also reflects a different generation.  "Latchkey kids"  is what comes to mind.

Quote

Wikipedia:

 In general, the term latchkey designates "those children between the ages of five and thirteen who care for themselves after the school day until their parents or guardians return home".[3]

...

The term latchkey kid became commonplace to describe members of Generation X, who according to a 2004 marketing study, "went through its all-important, formative years as one of the least parented, least nurtured generations in U.S. history." Latchkey kids were prevalent during this time, a result of increased divorce rates and increased maternal participation in the workforce, at a time before childcare options outside the home were widely available.[5][6][7][8] These latchkey children, referred to as "day orphans" in the 1984 documentary, To Save Our Children to Save Our Schools, mainly came from middle or upper-class homes. The higher the educational attainment of the parents, the higher the odds the children of this time would be latchkey kids.[9][10]

I think in Kripke's mind, Weechesters were "latchkey kids" on steroids.  Look at the first year (when JDM was on the show): it was a few days, he gave them a list of who to call, and instructions were clear.  But add the Supernatural element: Dean was to 'shoot first, asks questions later'.  And Dean was a 'bullseye at 6 or 7' ("No Exit").  Now we've later added the 'WTF was John thinking, taking his kids anywhere NEAR the place where the monster feeds on kids.'  We've got headcanon out there that suggests he left them as bait.  But, as written by Kripke, I'm not sure that he intended for them to be bait.  More like 'John's hunt nearly cost him his son and he blamed Dean for it when in fact he put them in his life ... i.e. asshole Dad'.  

NOW JDM is a father.  Now he probably would have had a problem with the script.  In fact, in prep for the 300th, he makes it clear that John has culpbility for bringing his children into a dangerous life.  So I think JDM would accept a script that examines that in today's context. 

In short: In 2019, we look at John's behavior and say 'child abuse'.  But from 2005 Kripke perspective, it was more like the Superatural variant of latchkey kids.  I think JDM would absolutley support an exploration of the damage caused by the parentification/leaving them alone.  I think he would NOT support anything that says John hit the boys or was physically abusive. 

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8 minutes ago, SueB said:

In short: In 2019, we look at John's behavior and say 'child abuse'.  But from 2005 Kripke perspective, it was more like the Superatural variant of latchkey kids.  I think JDM would absolutley support an exploration of the damage caused by the parentification/leaving them alone.  I think he would NOT support anything that says John hit the boys or was physically abusive. 

Two problems with this (to me): 

1.  In no definition (or in any world) does "latchkey kid" mean leaving your kids alone for days at a time.  Even without a dangerous monster who preys on kids nearby.  Pastor Jim was just a few hours away, so John could have dropped off the kids *before* the shtriga attacked instead of after. 

2. JDM (or the show) *didn't* explore the damage caused by the parentification.  In fact, it ignored the whole thing.  The closest John came was saying (to Sam, not Dean) that "I screwed up with you a lot, didn’t I?"  and assuming that Dean would eventually have a family of his own.  That's not exploring (or even acknowledging) the damage, much less the cause.  

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55 minutes ago, ahrtee said:

Two problems with this (to me): 

1.  In no definition (or in any world) does "latchkey kid" mean leaving your kids alone for days at a time.  Even without a dangerous monster who preys on kids nearby.  Pastor Jim was just a few hours away, so John could have dropped off the kids *before* the shtriga attacked instead of after. 

2. JDM (or the show) *didn't* explore the damage caused by the parentification.  In fact, it ignored the whole thing.  The closest John came was saying (to Sam, not Dean) that "I screwed up with you a lot, didn’t I?"  and assuming that Dean would eventually have a family of his own.  That's not exploring (or even acknowledging) the damage, much less the cause.  

1.  I know.  I was saying that Kripke extended the concept of "latchkey" to a Supernatural variant.  I wasn't implying it was okay -- and certainly not in 2019.  But I also think it wasn't unheard of.  I think Kripke thought it was bad but not child abuse.  Not in 2005.  Personally I know that my sister and I were left alone for weekends (after my father died) when my Mom was making money in a different city as an anesthetist.  I was 12, my sister a couple years old.  It was Iowa, it was in the late 70's.  No one thought it was abuse. Farm kids had a rougher life than we did. And a helluva lot of responsibility.  Farm kids driving large combines (really sharp bladed equipment) at 14.  Driving to town at that age too.  I can see Kripke thinking that in the early 90's the only really bad element was the dangerous monsters.  Otherwise, it was the life of an 'on-the-run' family who were also poor.  Rough.  Salvation army clothes.  New schools every few weeks/months.  Living 'on the edge' when it came to lack of adjult supervision. But justified in Kripke's mind (therefore John's mind) due to risk to the kids from some evil thing that killed their mother*.  I know it wasn't that long ago, but things really WERE different (at least in the Midwest) when Kripke (and I) were growing up.  And that would reflect in how he wrote the story and how JDM would have seen it. 

2. I know they didn't explore that damage.  JDM, in an interview, said John still had to answer for that.  So I don't think JDM thinks the parentification was okay.  Thus I think, if given an opportunity to actually explore it, they would do so. It's juicy.  And they already explored it with Mary & Dean. 

*ETA: This is the KEY plot point for the entire series.  That the boys were raised as warriors because their father new what evil was out there and was worried about them.  This is not a retcon.  It was part of the argument in S1 in "Dead Man's Blood".  All John could think of was that Sammy was alone at college and unprotected.  It may not be a reasonable approach in many people's eyes but it WAS John's motivation.  He made that clear. 

Edited by SueB
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40 minutes ago, SueB said:

1.  I know.  I was saying that Kripke extended the concept of "latchkey" to a Supernatural variant.  I wasn't implying it was okay -- and certainly not in 2019.  But I also think it wasn't unheard of.  I think Kripke thought it was bad but not child abuse.  Not in 2005.  Personally I know that my sister and I were left alone for weekends (after my father died) when my Mom was making money in a different city as an anesthetist.  I was 12, my sister a couple years old.  It was Iowa, it was in the late 70's.  No one thought it was abuse. Farm kids had a rougher life than we did. And a helluva lot of responsibility.  Farm kids driving large combines (really sharp bladed equipment) at 14.  Driving to town at that age too.  I can see Kripke thinking that in the early 90's the only really bad element was the dangerous monsters.  Otherwise, it was the life of an 'on-the-run' family who were also poor.  Rough.  Salvation army clothes.  New schools every few weeks/months.  Living 'on the edge' when it came to lack of adjult supervision. But justified in Kripke's mind (therefore John's mind) due to risk to the kids from some evil thing that killed their mother.  I know it wasn't that long ago, but things really WERE different (at least in the Midwest) when Kripke (and I) were growing up.  And that would reflect in how he wrote the story and how JDM would have seen it. 

Maybe it was different in the midwest.  I grew up in a quiet suburb in NY, and even back in the 1950s and 60s, when everyone kept their doors unlocked all day and kids wandered in and out of every house in the neighborhood (and there was always some housewife around to help out a random crying child), no one would even *think* of leaving anyone under the age of maybe 13 in charge of kids even for a night out, much less a whole weekend.  Even in the 1990s, parents were arrested for leaving their kids alone to go partying (or on vacations).  

I have no problem with John teaching the boys how to protect themselves (and each other), which includes driving, shooting and even hunting.  But even in 2005, I can't see that Kripke thought it was "all right" for John to leave a 9-year-old alone and responsible for a 5-year old for a whole weekend.  I'm pretty sure he was trying to show that John was an asshole, especially when he got mad at Dean for not following his orders to the letter.  

And the very fact that Pastor Jim was so (relatively) close shows that there was no real need for John to leave the kids alone for a whole weekend, especially if he thought there was any danger. 

JMO. 

ETA a comment on @SueB's ETA:  IA that the boys were raised as warriors because John was worried about them.  But if he was so worried, and there was a logical/safe place to leave them *when he was hunting a dangerous child-killing monster,* then NOT taking them somewhere safe shows either that he was such an asshole that he didn't even think about it, or that he really was using them for bait.  Neither one shows him as father of the year, and I can't see Kripke thinking it does.  

ETA (again):  One final thought:  I'm not a John-hater.  I really do think he tried his best as he saw it.  But I hate the whitewashing of his truly bad decisions, especially when there were other options, and *especially* when the boys were too young to make their own (good) decisions.  

Edited by ahrtee
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@ahrtee I think Kripke thought John was both an asshole and someone who loves his kids. Personally I think part of John being such an asshole to Dean in Something Wicked was because he knew he (John) made a mistake.  Which makes John an even BIGGER asshole.  But that’s also a common mistake by many (parents or otherwise).  

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1 hour ago, SueB said:

*ETA: This is the KEY plot point for the entire series.  That the boys were raised as warriors because their father new what evil was out there and was worried about them. 

But he didn't know that, at least not specifically, and probably for years, and there was no indication that he ever treated Dean like a child after Mary's death. And teaching your kids a healthy fear of what might be out there is not the same as putting weapons in the hands of a young child (and if he was a crack shot by six, it had to happen before that) and expect him not only to defend himself, but his grown father and infant sibling, too.

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56 minutes ago, gonzosgirrl said:

But he didn't know that, at least not specifically, and probably for years, and there was no indication that he ever treated Dean like a child after Mary's death. And teaching your kids a healthy fear of what might be out there is not the same as putting weapons in the hands of a young child (and if he was a crack shot by six, it had to happen before that) and expect him not only to defend himself, but his grown father and infant sibling, too.

I agree.  And yet the bolded part was part of the premise of the show. Literally a line spoken by Sam (‘he gave me a 45’) It was a messed up childhood, messed up lives.  The show acknowledges this from the jump.  

But it was established by both Dean (1.08 Bugs) and (John 1.20 Dead Man’s Blood) that John’s underlying anger was driven by his inability to keep Sam safe if he wasn’t with John.  Is it rational?  No. Not remotely.  It doesn’t fit in any real world scenario.  And if the others who knew the situation were not hunters, they’d have probably intervened.  John, on purpose, kept them away from other hunters but a select few.  ALL speak to a man driven by fear.  Now, and here’s the key: rationally, we could say John’s fear and paranoia were indicators of a psychosis.  A real mental disorder.  But the show treated John like a genius.  So even if he didn’t know what was after them, they pretty much validated that his instincts were right.  Something WAS after Sam. Specifically Sam.  It’s not a stretch that he was more worried about Sam than Dean because of where the ‘evil’ visited.  Remember, Missouri told John (per ‘Home’) back in. 1983, that real evil had visited Sam’s nursery and proceeded to burn Mary on the ceiling.  So I think he was more worried about something coming after Sam again. Even if he didn’t know why. 

And he took the ‘normal’ route with Adam.  Who became ghoul scat.  

Which left Dean.  And yes, Dean is the one who bore the brunt of the damage.  He turned Dean into a ‘soldier’ as soon as he could.  Caring for Sam at 4.  Shooting at 6. Guardianship at 10 (age in Something Wicked). First monster kill at 16.  

We know Sam was ‘protected’ until at least 8.  

But it all comes back to: the show premise was they boys were raised like warriors by an asshole father who loved his boys but was driven by both revenge* and fear.  

*While the boys always emphasized ‘revenge’, I think it’s because John didn’t talk to the boys that something may be out there specifically trying to hurt their family.   I think that was a good thing.  They were already mentally scarred for life. Adding that fear would have been worse.  But that fear was stated multiple times in S1.  So that’s not a retcon.  

Edited by SueB
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11 hours ago, ahrtee said:

Maybe it was different in the midwest.  I grew up in a quiet suburb in NY, and even back in the 1950s and 60s, when everyone kept their doors unlocked all day and kids wandered in and out of every house in the neighborhood (and there was always some housewife around to help out a random crying child), no one would even *think* of leaving anyone under the age of maybe 13 in charge of kids even for a night out, much less a whole weekend.  Even in the 1990s, parents were arrested for leaving their kids alone to go partying (or on vacations).  

I think maybe it was just different in the mid 60s and 70s. I grew up in New England, so not the midwest or farm country, but also not the big city. I wasn't left in charge of my sister for say a weekend, but I would be for hours at a time from an early age (like 6). We'd often be alone in the car in the parking lot for an hour or more while my mom grocery shopped. I'd watch my sister while my mom and dad went out for dinner. I had paid babysitting jobs starting at the age of 11. I babysat for several families with multiple children, including toddlers and babies. I would feed them, change their diapers, play with them, and put them to bed... the whole thing. The parents thought nothing of leaving them with me, and I babysat many times for each of the families. It just seemed normal. We could take a babysitting course in middle school - where I learned to babysit - starting in 6th grade. They taught us all of the basics and we got a certificate. I was a latchkey kid from about 9 while my mom went to college and then a job, and I did the laundry (no dryer - so hung on the line), dishes, housework - everything but the cooking - and watched my sister. This was normal.

In the late 70s our French class had an 8th grade field trip to Quebec City, Canada for 5 or 6 days. There would be days where we'd visit a museum, fort, or church in the morning, then the teacher would say. "Okay, you have the rest of the morning and the afternoon free. Stay at least in pairs and be back for dinner...." then let us wander around Quebec City for the afternoon unsupervised. We were 13.  But that was considered "normal" and no one thought anything of it back then.

I can't imagine, though, that a lot of what I described would fly today, and likely my mom would be reported for child neglect for leaving us in the car. It wasn't hot though, and if it was really cold, we'd stay inside the grocery store at the counter where they sold  pieces of pizza and sodas and watch the dough machines knead and roll the dough into rolls and such. The counter lady didn't seem to think it was odd that two kids were sitting at the counter by themselves, but I don't think that would probably fly nowadays either.

But if Kripke grew up in a similar time, I agree with @SueB that he might not have thought of such things as extreme as it would seem nowadays.

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If there's a spin-off I'd gobble up, it would be the tragic journey  of John and his sons after Mary's death. 

John's descent into alcohol soaked revenge, Dean growing up fast and becoming father and protector overnight.  Dad learning about monsters and monster lore.  Dean in training to fight, shoot, stab, cook, steal, all the while being a dad to a brother (and to his own dad).

If only they could find the right actors and, more importantly, the right writers.  But  alas it's just a pipe dream 

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55 minutes ago, Pondlass1 said:

If there's a spin-off I'd gobble up, it would be the tragic journey  of John and his sons after Mary's death. 

John's descent into alcohol soaked revenge, Dean growing up fast and becoming father and protector overnight.  Dad learning about monsters and monster lore.  Dean in training to fight, shoot, stab, cook, steal, all the while being a dad to a brother (and to his own dad).

I know, right! Throw in some 90s grunge and I AM THERE.

20 hours ago, ahrtee said:

I have no problem with John teaching the boys how to protect themselves (and each other), which includes driving, shooting and even hunting.  But even in 2005, I can't see that Kripke thought it was "all right" for John to leave a 9-year-old alone and responsible for a 5-year old for a whole weekend.  I'm pretty sure he was trying to show that John was an asshole, especially when he got mad at Dean for not following his orders to the letter.  

I think the point wasn't that John was an asshole, it was that these were some badass kids. I don't think it was meant to be strictly realistic. I mean, it's realistic and reasonable for a nine year old to be babysitting his brother, but the whole thing about them being holed up in this motel room for days, listening for John's coded telephone ring but otherwise isolated in a strange town, a gun at hand in case things go haywire with the child-killing monster on the loose? No, that's obviously over the top LOL I mean, it's a fantasy. It's supposed to be adventurous and exciting and larger-than-life. The reality of being a nine-year-old with too much responsibility sucks, but the fantasy of being a proto-monster-hunting badass as a grade-schooler is fun to imagine anyway.

ETA:  And within Something Wicked itself, Dean at first is indulging in the fantasy that he's a hotshot hunter at nine, he blows off John's rules to go play at the arcade, he doesn't take his responsibilities seriously -- and then BAM he nearly sees his brother killed right in front of him while he's helpless to stop it. That's when the fantasy crashes right into the reality that he's a kid who doesn't know what the hell he's doing. And it's that that scares him straight, not John's dirty look afterward.

I honestly think we're not even supposed to consider the story from the angle of "WTF was up with John's parenting decisions?" We already know from the pilot on that John is pretty nuts. The show is pretty explicit about it. Sam has a whole laundry list of complaints -- and those complaints also explain why he left. But then the question becomes, so why did Dean stay? Why didn't Dean leave this lunatic, too? And the answer is that he learned the hard way (in Something Wicked) that John knows what the fuck he's doing, and Dean shouldn't blow him off.

Later on in the show, it turns out that Dean's reasons for staying were more complex than that, and John's legacy is more complex than just the hunter training. But I think that the show has actually under-explored that even now. I wish they would do more with it, because I think John and Dean's relationship is fascinating.

Edited by rue721
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I think Kripke pretty well indicted John's behavior as being terrible. I don't think he was saying it was okay for the boys to have been raised that way. He drew a parallel between John and God and I don't think either were painted as good fathers. IMO, the story has always been about how Sam, and especially Dean, survived in spite of John. He may have given them tools necessary to survive their weird existence right along screwing them up. Both things happened.
For me, I will never forgive John for not communicating with Dean at all when he was literally dying from an actual broken heart in Faith. If that wasn't a metaphor for Dean and John, in general, I don't know what was. John was never there for Dean emotionally after Mary died. He still isn't.

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10 minutes ago, rue721 said:

Why didn't Dean leave this lunatic, too? And the answer is that he learned the hard way (in Something Wicked) that John knows what the fuck he's doing, and Dean shouldn't blow him off. 

I didn't get that at all from that. To me that was about Dean feeling like he failed John. He was scared of John. I never once took it that John was a badass. I don't think that episode portrayed him as such either. Dean wa obviously scared of John and felt awful... For being a kid and doing a kid thing.

IMO, John is no hero. Protecting children is what a parent is supposed to do. He did that and failed at the rest of parenting after Mary died. Screaming at a child for not making a meal perfectly or because it reminded him of his dead wife, and throwing it out, is emotional abuse and I think that was intended to be seen that way. And also to show how Dean is still suffering from John. I will say that I think that was one moment from Mary where I think she got a hint that John was a jerk to Dean.

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3 minutes ago, rue721 said:

I think John and Dean's relationship is fascinating.

So do I.  And bloody brilliant actors in the roles too.  I honestly don't mind that John was a bastard.  It made for good television and  a change from the usual fare.  I didn't ever want explanations or apologies.  Life isn't that way. Writing was good, we saw the arguments and we witnessed the sacrifices.  The family dynamic was screwed to hell but still fascinating (to me, anyway). And we learned why Dean was the way he was.

But now John's been whitewashed along with the rest of them.  I'm assuming they'll have him skipping through the tulips like a floaty ghost in the final episode. 

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I think Mary is too self-involved to care. John went gaga over losing her which is flattering for her. What he did to the kids and especially Dean is was unimportant compared to that for her.

It's actually why I prefer John now as a parent. I think he was a complete jerk but at least he appears to have been genuinely too screwed up and frankly too weak to not lean on Dean as parental help and comfort. He seemed incapable to be the strong one for his children in that. To me that's different than just thinking of yourself first, second and third.    

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2 hours ago, Aeryn13 said:

I think Mary is too self-involved to care. John went gaga over losing her which is flattering for her.  

Sam Smith as much as said this in her panel in Toronto. It confirmed for me that she is playing this role exactly as she means to, an it's why I will never warm up to her Mary. 

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On 2/20/2019 at 10:19 AM, SueB said:

I think John loved his children. I think what he put his children through - particularly Dean - was more than enough for Child Services to take them away.   Child endangerment on a daily basis. The impression given is that he wasn't someone who beat his children.   But emotional abuse (like after "Something Wicked") is abuse.  I single out Dean as having it slightly worse than Sam because Dean protected Sam from a great deal of the ugliness for at least 8  years.   Certainly Sam wasn't aware of monsters until he read John's journal in 1991.   Plus Dean was parentified.  Dean protect Sam from that.  He helped Sam be more 'normal'.  Dean also, IMO, left school early to hunt.  Once John had a hunting partner, the pressure was off Sam to do the field work for a lot of cases. 

But ALL of this, IMO, is colored in Dean's mind by the notion that John WASN'T right in the head.*  Not completely.  That the loss of his wife turned him into a 'shell' and that he saw evil EVERYWHERE. Turns out, on the evil part -- John wasn't wrong. His family WAS being set up. But targeted in a different way than John undestood (I suspect). And John's solution was to try and control everything.  And apparently his faith in Dean to keep things under control was stronger than his faith in other people (Bobby, Paster Jim, Caleb) to help out in a more permanent arrangement. 

*A realization that came years after John's death.  Maybe influence by the cupid thing.

I'm not sure what you are saying?  John loving them, IMO, is neither here nor there with regards to whether he was selfish bastard or abusive.  And IMO whatever Dean thinks about why John did, also isn't here nor there when considering whether John was abusive.  I also don't think Dean thinks John was crazy or that what happened to Mary is any kind of legitimate excuse for his actions.  It may have played a part but I think he knows it was his father's own CHOICES and what he's come to terms with is that it happened, it can't be changed and he just has to live with it.  

Also I disagree about how Kripke viewed it.  Just because Kripke didn't bang it on a mallet in Season 1 doesn't mean he didn't know he was writing about something that was really really wrong.  It being the premise of the show, imo, doesn't mean it wasn't mean it wasn't meant to be terrible.  Kripke was showing they turned out well in spite of John, IMO, not because of him and Kripke knew that.  

Kripke was there until the end of Season 5, so he was there when Dean was screaming to his dream vision self about what an obsessed bastard his father was, he was there when John was leaving a 12 year old alone to watch an 8 year old for 2 weeks in a motel room over Christmas with no contact, he was there when he left teenage Dean and Sam alone for a month(or 6 weeks?) in high school.  He was there when it was rather heavily implied that when Sam ran away Dean took a heavy dose of John's rage about it which certainly may have included hitting. 

Unless Kripke is truly messed up, he knows John was abusive and that was well beyond "latchkey on steroids" and that John actively made choices that made his kids lives worse than necessary.  There really is no excuse for what John did to his kids.  He can teach them to shoot, he can teach them to know what is out there, he can teach them to protect themselves WITHOUT leaving them alone for weeks at a time, without making them feel like failures, without pretty much everything else he did. 

If John was REALLY concerned about protecting his kids first and foremost, and not his own selfish revenge, he would NOT have left them alone the way he did.  That right there puts a lie, IMO, to any reasoning that he was all that interested in protecting his children. 

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6 hours ago, rue721 said:

ETA:  And within Something Wicked itself, Dean at first is indulging in the fantasy that he's a hotshot hunter at nine, he blows off John's rules to go play at the arcade, he doesn't take his responsibilities seriously -- and then BAM he nearly sees his brother killed right in front of him while he's helpless to stop it. That's when the fantasy crashes right into the reality that he's a kid who doesn't know what the hell he's doing. And it's that that scares him straight, not John's dirty look afterward

6 hours ago, rue721 said:

ETA:  And within Something Wicked itself, Dean at first is indulging in the fantasy that he's a hotshot hunter at nine, he blows off John's rules to go play at the arcade, he doesn't take his responsibilities seriously -- and then BAM he nearly sees his brother killed right in front of him while he's helpless to stop it. That's when the fantasy crashes right into the reality that he's a kid who doesn't know what the hell he's doing. And it's that that scares him straight, not John's dirty look afterward.

That wasn't what I got from that at all, IMO it wasn't played that way at all.  Dean was scared and John was wrong, that was the point of that scene and episode IMO.  Dean was terrified of his father.  How did he "blow off his responsibilities"?  He spent 3 days alone in a motel room at 9 years old with his 5 year old brother.  That already showed him being way more responsible than his father - who left his two young kids alone in a motel room with a child killing monster around, never mind anything else.  After 3 days he finally thought, well it's been quiet for 3 days and I'm going nuts cooped up in this motel room, I'll walk across the parking lot and play a video game.  Nothing showed Dean not taking his responsibilities seriously, he'd have been doing that way sooner if that was the case.  But he was only NINE.  I didn't see Dean doing any fantasizing, he was left alone as he clearly had been left alone with Sam before, it was a slog because no one relishes being cooped up in a room for 3 days with nothing to do.

There is nothing responsible about what John did.  There was nothing badass about what John did and it certainly didn't show John knowing what he was doing.  A guy who knows he's doing isn't leaving his 2 young children alone for a weekend with no way to get in touch with him, the nearest sanctioned help hundreds of miles away, with a child killing monster around.

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45 minutes ago, tessathereaper said:

That wasn't what I got from that at all, IMO it wasn't played that way at all.  Dean was scared and John was wrong, that was the point of that scene and episode IMO.  Dean was terrified of his father.  How did he "blow off his responsibilities"?  He spent 3 days alone in a motel room at 9 years old with his 5 year old brother.  That already showed him being way more responsible than his father - who left his two young kids alone in a motel room with a child killing monster around, never mind anything else.  After 3 days he finally thought, well it's been quiet for 3 days and I'm going nuts cooped up in this motel room, I'll walk across the parking lot and play a video game.  Nothing showed Dean not taking his responsibilities seriously, he'd have been doing that way sooner if that was the case.  But he was only NINE.  I didn't see Dean doing any fantasizing, he was left alone as he clearly had been left alone with Sam before, it was a slog because no one relishes being cooped up in a room for 3 days with nothing to do.

There is nothing responsible about what John did.  There was nothing badass about what John did and it certainly didn't show John knowing what he was doing.  A guy who knows he's doing isn't leaving his 2 young children alone for a weekend with no way to get in touch with him, the nearest sanctioned help hundreds of miles away, with a child killing monster around.

I was referring to Dean being shown as a badass little kid, not anything about John.

Dean came THIS CLOSE to watching helplessly as a monster murdered his brother right in front of him. This is also a child who had been in the house when a monster murdered his mother. John was easily the lesser of two evils at that point, because he wasn't going to literally suck the life from his kids' bodies or steal their souls the way these monsters were. (Well, maybe metaphorically, but that's a whole different thing -- and actually, I think a subtext of the episode).

I think that Dean was scared of the monsters way more than he was of John, and in fact his fear of the monsters is what drove him back to John within the context of that flashback/story. Based on Dean's fixation with following John's thoroughly cryptic and bizarre directions to the letter in the "present day" (meaning S1), his takeaway from the whole incident was apparently:  he didn't listen to John's directions as a child and it almost resulted in his brother being killed, so he was going to follow John's directions to the letter from then on.

*I* don't think that Dean was being irresponsible or that it was a sensible situation for John to put them in, but I think *Dean* (of S1) thought he'd been irresponsible and that he'd been scared straight. This was also all going on in the S1 context of Dean being very afraid that John was either dead or in mortal danger and reverting to being obedient as a (literal) way of keeping the demons at bay.

Whether he was ALSO afraid of John -- maybe? I feel like it gets difficult to parse a lot of Dean and John's relationship (and John's characterization in general) because so much is left to interpretation, so what each person sees is very dependent on their own personal experiences and baggage. Virtually all we know comes from random things that Dean has said, practically none of their dynamic was onscreen or even discussed among the characters straightforwardly.

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1 hour ago, tessathereaper said:

Kripke was there until the end of Season 5, so he was there when Dean was screaming to his dream vision self about what an obsessed bastard his father was, he was there when John was leaving a 12 year old alone to watch an 8 year old for 2 weeks in a motel room over Christmas with no contact, he was there when he left teenage Dean and Sam alone for a month(or 6 weeks?) in high school.  He was there when it was rather heavily implied that when Sam ran away Dean took a heavy dose of John's rage about it which certainly may have included hitting. 

I can agree that John was not presented as a good father. He was utterly unreliable, unreasonable, and harsh from day one of the show. Why Dean especially was so forgiving of that for so long -- obviously we all have our theories.

But that makes me think...hmm it will be really hard for me to shift my perspective to see John as abusive, I apparently have some kind of mental block about it. Everyone describes him as abusive and I just don't see it. Sincerely. I don't dispute any of the facts, but somehow I see him as manageable, salvageable. More good than bad. Like a road with a bunch of potholes. Or a ladder with a bunch of missing rungs. Difficult to navigate but maybe still able to take you where you need to go. But I'll try to shift my perspective because obviously I'm missing something that everyone else sees perfectly fine. Maybe five years ago, I would talk about SPN pretty incessantly with one friend of mine, and he had to tell me (multiple times, unfortunately) that I needed to stop talking about John because it was starting to be triggering. Jeez. I need to put a moratorium on myself. Sorry, guys.

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1 hour ago, rue721 said:

But that makes me think...hmm it will be really hard for me to shift my perspective to see John as abusive, I apparently have some kind of mental block about it.

I didn't see him as physically abusive either. John might have been abusive in other ways - emotionally, by being neglectful, etc. - but physical violence wasn't one of the things I got out of what I saw from the show.

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I bet that he hit Dean a time or two or three.

But not Sam.

I think that Sam wouldn't have said what he said in Nightmare if dear old dad had hit him. 

But Dean's reaction told me that it might have been a different story for him.

Same with his reaction in DSOTM when he recounted what had happened when dad came back and learned that Sam had run away on Dean's watch. 

If the first time made me think that thought, the second one just cemented it.

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10 hours ago, catrox14 said:

I think Kripke pretty well indicted John's behavior as being terrible. I don't think he was saying it was okay for the boys to have been raised that way. He drew a parallel between John and God and I don't think either were painted as good fathers. IMO, the story has always been about how Sam, and especially Dean, survived in spite of John. He may have given them tools necessary to survive their weird existence right along screwing them up. Both things happened.
For me, I will never forgive John for not communicating with Dean at all when he was literally dying from an actual broken heart in Faith. If that wasn't a metaphor for Dean and John, in general, I don't know what was. John was never there for Dean emotionally after Mary died. He still isn't.

I agree, I don't see anything in the show as saying that what John did to his sons was okay, or any indication that Kripke thought of him as a good father. As catrox says, I think that what we saw was that his sons survived and turned out as well as they did in spite of John, not because of him. And to say that we only know of the relationship between John and Dean "from random things Dean has said" is untrue; I think we saw a lot of their interactions, both in flashbacks and the present day, and it was completely sufficient to reveal the family dynamics.

10 hours ago, rue721 said:

Why didn't Dean leave this lunatic, too? And the answer is that he learned the hard way (in Something Wicked) that John knows what the fuck he's doing, and Dean shouldn't blow him off.

Again, this is incorrect. First off, we didn't see anything in Something Wicked, (or in my opinion in any other episode with John) that framed him as someone who knew what he was doing and so should always be obeyed. Let's face it, John failed in Something Wicked  -- he never did get the monster -- and almost got his sons killed. Of course Dean never saw it that way, because he loved and looked up to and relied on his father -- I mean, after all, who else did he have? So of course Dean saw him as a brilliant hunter, "the best". But I don't recall seeing anything of John that made him appear superior to the average hunter.

But setting that aside, the one lesson Dean learned so well in Something Wicked was this: that his value to his father depended completely on how good a job he did of taking care of Sam. And no matter how unfair and wrong it actually was of John to demand that a child like Dean carry this burden, if Dean did not carry out that responsibility perfectly, his father would hold it against him and think less of him. That is the lesson that Dean learned about his worth to his father. And Dean did not leave because from the time he was just a child, John made Dean believe that Dean himself was the one at fault whenever he couldn't do what John demanded of him.

It is what led, tragically, to Dean selling his soul to bring back Sam. That is John's twisted legacy as a father.

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4 minutes ago, Bergamot said:

I agree, I don't see anything in the show as saying that what John did to his sons was okay, or any indication that Kripke thought of him as a good father. As catrox says, I think that what we saw was that his sons survived and turned out as well as they did in spite of John, not because of him. And to say that we only know of the relationship between John and Dean "from random things Dean has said" is untrue; I think we saw a lot of their interactions, both in flashbacks and the present day, and it was completely sufficient to reveal the family dynamics.

Again, this is incorrect. First off, we didn't see anything in Something Wicked, (or in my opinion in any other episode with John) that framed him as someone who knew what he was doing and so should always be obeyed. Let's face it, John failed in Something Wicked  -- he never did get the monster -- and almost got his sons killed. Of course Dean never saw it that way, because he loved and looked up to and relied on his father -- I mean, after all, who else did he have? So of course Dean saw him as a brilliant hunter, "the best". But I don't recall seeing anything of John that made him appear superior to the average hunter.

But setting that aside, the one lesson Dean learned so well in Something Wicked was this: that his value to his father depended completely on how good a job he did of taking care of Sam. And no matter how unfair and wrong it actually was of John to demand that a child like Dean carry this burden, if Dean did not carry out that responsibility perfectly, his father would hold it against him and think less of him. That is the lesson that Dean learned about his worth to his father. And Dean did not leave because from the time he was just a child, John made Dean believe that Dean himself was the one at fault whenever he couldn't do what John demanded of him.

It is what led, tragically, to Dean selling his soul to bring back Sam. That is John's twisted legacy as a father.

I still can't watch that episode without misting up at the end when Dean wishes that Sam had his innocence back, but never for a minute thinks of wishing it for himself.

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12 hours ago, Pondlass1 said:

So do I.  And bloody brilliant actors in the roles too.  I honestly don't mind that John was a bastard.  It made for good television and  a change from the usual fare.  I didn't ever want explanations or apologies.  Life isn't that way. Writing was good, we saw the arguments and we witnessed the sacrifices.  The family dynamic was screwed to hell but still fascinating (to me, anyway). And we learned why Dean was the way he was.

But now John's been whitewashed along with the rest of them.  I'm assuming they'll have him skipping through the tulips like a floaty ghost in the final episode. 

2

By today's standards, many of the things that occurred before the '90s wouldn't be tolerated by today's standards.   Dean's need for his father in Faith, told me that his relationship with his father wasn't all bad.  Did his Dad give Dean what he really needed of course not, but he wanted a relationship with his Dad.  If John was ONLY abusive, Dean would have found it easy to walk away when John had left him alone so often.  But he couldn't, so it was a mixed-up relationship that had some positives.

My relationship with my mother wasn't good as a child and it was easy to walk away.  Then because I didn't want it to end that way, I started working to heal the issues.  We now have a much better relationship.  I still have the moments where she hurt me deeply, emotionally but never felt she did it physically.  If I were to tell the stories now, others might believe I had both.  I learned to forgive and move on.  But I wasn't fighting monsters or having a parent afraid that the bad guys might kill someone I love. 

I think Kripke planned on John being a messed up dad but I don't think he saw what others took from his choices, he created for John.

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4 hours ago, Bergamot said:

But setting that aside, the one lesson Dean learned so well in Something Wicked was this: that his value to his father depended completely on how good a job he did of taking care of Sam. And no matter how unfair and wrong it actually was of John to demand that a child like Dean carry this burden, if Dean did not carry out that responsibility perfectly, his father would hold it against him and think less of him. That is the lesson that Dean learned about his worth to his father. And Dean did not leave because from the time he was just a child, John made Dean believe that Dean himself was the one at fault whenever he couldn't do what John demanded of him.

It is what led, tragically, to Dean selling his soul to bring back Sam. That is John's twisted legacy as a father.

This is why I'll never be able to muster up much sympathy for John. Whatever he went through, Dean also went through, and as a vulnerable, impressionable child rather than a mature adult. 

Dean's self worth has always been tied directly to his usefulness to others. As recently as 13.05, Dean thought that he might as well die since he was apparently holding Sam back and incapable of saving anyone anymore. John instilling this mindset in him was unacceptable. Either he was too ignorant to notice what he was doing to his son or he thought it was justified. Neither option makes him look like anything approaching a decent father, even considering the circumstances they were in. 

There were also the unnecessarily petty moments, even in season 1. Browbeating Dean over the car after having an argument with Sam springs to mind. It revealed so much about Dean's thankless role as both the perpetual mediator and the emotional punching bag whenever Sam and John pissed each other off. Dean never stood up for himself and always just took it. Going by John's surprise when he finally dug in his heels a bit in 1.21, it must have been one of the first times that had ever happened. 

John didn't deserve a loyal, compassionate, forgiving son like Dean. The whole emphasis on saving innocent people and sparing them the Winchester family fate was all him. Revenge was John's singular motivation for hunting, with little indication otherwise. 

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I've always had a complicated relationship with both John and Dean, because I think I can understand (and empathize) with both (though I identify pretty strongly with Dean).  My family dynamics weren't nearly as dysfunctional as the Winchesters, but there were a lot of similarities, and it's taken a long time to understand and accept.

Yes, I do believe that John loved and worried about his sons.  I also think he had no clue how much damage he was doing (or even necessarily that he *was* causing damage) to Dean.  Sam would fight back and John could understand (and even, to some extent appreciate) that, because it gave him something to fight against.  Dean just being patient and taking care of them (and being stuck in the middle) made him invisible, more taken for granted.  Someone screaming at you and stalking away shows their wounds.  Sam certainly let John know exactly how he'd failed him, and everything he'd done wrong. 

The ones fighting rarely (if ever) see the hidden wounds of the ones who try to fix things.  Part of that is the nature of the peacemaker:  they don't want to show their damage, whether to not appear weak or not wanting to add more pain to the ones fighting.  (Remember Bobby's zombie wife not wanting Bobby to know that she remembered what happened, even though she was the one who was killed!)  

When it's a child, though, things become more complicated, because they tend to absorb the guilt that should be on the adult.  And when the child is overly dependent on the adult--remember, Dean had just lost his family, his whole sense of security, and had learned in the most horrible way how fragile and dangerous life was--then it makes sense that he would cling to his father as the only one who could protect him from the bad things out there.  When you get that indoctrination at such a young age, it sticks with you, even when you're old enough to know better and to take care of yourself.  I'm speaking from experience here (unfortunately.)  

And so you forgive, accept or ignore things that would have others shouting "abuse!" because you're afraid of having that one last bit of security taken away.  And Dean had one major thing that made him more vulnerable to the threat of losing his dad--and that was Sam.  He'd been given the task of protecting Sam, and then told that he wasn't good enough/strong enough to do it, and that Dad had to be there in the background to step in if he failed.  And that's why he never would have walked away, even if he had somewhere to run to.  He wouldn't leave Sam.

Dean also felt the need to protect John, because of that screwed-up need to have John around.  John hunting alone was too dangerous.  Dean knew he was good backup, even if he didn't think he was strong enough on his own, and, even if they weren't together, he needed to know that John was all right, that he *could* just swoop in and save the day if he had to.  We saw that faith in John's abilities all the way through season 1.  I can see that Dean might have justified John not helping them in Home, because he was showing that he trusted Dean to do the job; but I think it really shook him that his dad didn't contact him in Faith.  It wasn't till after that that he started challenging John and disobeying his orders; not that he was necessarily angry or disillusioned, but that he finally realized that his dad *could* be wrong.

Bottom line (TL: DR):  John thought he was doing the right thing to protect his boys and was completely unaware of how it was affecting Dean because he had an entirely different character and couldn't understand it.  When his bad parenting was pointed out to him, he either got angry/justified it as necessary to keep them alive and/or felt guilty (but was unwilling to admit it and so got even angrier).   (TMI:  that was my dad, exactly)

Dean put up with what we see as emotional abuse because he thought it was necessary to protect Sam (by keeping John safe and the family together) (he knew no other way/had no other options) and usually believed it was justified because he wasn't good enough to do it himself and/or deserved to be punished for his weakness or failures.  

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8 hours ago, ahrtee said:

I've always had a complicated relationship with both John and Dean, because I think I can understand (and empathize) with both (though I identify pretty strongly with Dean).  My family dynamics weren't nearly as dysfunctional as the Winchesters, but there were a lot of similarities, and it's taken a long time to understand and accept.

Yes, I do believe that John loved and worried about his sons.  I also think he had no clue how much damage he was doing (or even necessarily that he *was* causing damage) to Dean.  Sam would fight back and John could understand (and even, to some extent appreciate) that, because it gave him something to fight against.  Dean just being patient and taking care of them (and being stuck in the middle) made him invisible, more taken for granted.  Someone screaming at you and stalking away shows their wounds.  Sam certainly let John know exactly how he'd failed him, and everything he'd done wrong. 

The ones fighting rarely (if ever) see the hidden wounds of the ones who try to fix things.  Part of that is the nature of the peacemaker:  they don't want to show their damage, whether to not appear weak or not wanting to add more pain to the ones fighting.  (Remember Bobby's zombie wife not wanting Bobby to know that she remembered what happened, even though she was the one who was killed!)  

When it's a child, though, things become more complicated, because they tend to absorb the guilt that should be on the adult.  And when the child is overly dependent on the adult--remember, Dean had just lost his family, his whole sense of security, and had learned in the most horrible way how fragile and dangerous life was--then it makes sense that he would cling to his father as the only one who could protect him from the bad things out there.  When you get that indoctrination at such a young age, it sticks with you, even when you're old enough to know better and to take care of yourself.

ITA with everything you've said here. ahrtee, but especially with the bolded parts.

8 hours ago, ahrtee said:

And so you forgive, accept or ignore things that would have others shouting "abuse!" because you're afraid of having that one last bit of security taken away.  And Dean had one major thing that made him more vulnerable to the threat of losing his dad--and that was Sam.  He'd been given the task of protecting Sam, and then told that he wasn't good enough/strong enough to do it, and that Dad had to be there in the background to step in if he failed.  And that's why he never would have walked away, even if he had somewhere to run to.  He wouldn't leave Sam.

Dean also felt the need to protect John, because of that screwed-up need to have John around.  John hunting alone was too dangerous.  Dean knew he was good backup, even if he didn't think he was strong enough on his own, and, even if they weren't together, he needed to know that John was all right, that he *could* just swoop in and save the day if he had to.  We saw that faith in John's abilities all the way through season 1.  I can see that Dean might have justified John not helping them in Home, because he was showing that he trusted Dean to do the job; but I think it really shook him that his dad didn't contact him in Faith.  It wasn't till after that that he started challenging John and disobeying his orders; not that he was necessarily angry or disillusioned, but that he finally realized that his dad *could* be wrong.

IA with some of this, too, but I DO feel that Dean felt very early on in life that the possibility was always there that John just wouldn't be able to swoop in and save them if something nasty came calling-because, in his mind, John was out there being a superhero and saving the world, so I think that even from the time of A Very Supernatural Christmas, Dean often felt that he was the only line of defense on the home front(he and Sam)-at least until dad came back-which I do agree with you there-was probably young Dean's greatest fear-that dad wouldn't ever come back(I think Dean's abandonment issues started here and arose out of this specific fear-that John would be killed on a hunt leaving him to care for and protect Sam all on his own-and that's why, to me, even when he became older and was "abandoned"(in his mind, and by both John and Sam) for reasons other than this, it hurt him so deeply and made him so angry). But getting back to YoungDean-I think to defend against that fear he had to think of John as a superhero who couldn't be killed by the baddies out there(he even said this as an adult to Gordon after John's death-"Nothin' can kill my dad." and then Boom. John was gone). 

It was a strange combination of intense and fierce love for the family and the deep and intense fear that went along with the thought of losing any of them again after Mary's death that has, IMO, driven Dean's entire life and hunting was his way of dealing and in some small way of making as sure as he possibly could, that that wouldn't happen to not just his family, but to others out there, too.

And because of that, John's death was a huge turning point in Dean's life-it was when he first became tired and disillusioned with the life and realized that he could just be fighting a losing battle all the way around.

As for the bolded part, I also think that John not coming after the phone call in Home was rationalized away by Dean, but yes, not the one Sam made to him in Faith-that one hurt and especially when John showed up after hearing that Daniel Elkins-the last holder of the colt had died-that to me was when the abandonment issues became about something different to Dean and he started questioning just how much and how often his family truly "saw" him or understood him or thought of him at all as anything more than simply the one they could count on to keep the family together and "first" in his life and when he first started wondering where and how he, himself, fit into theirs. We saw him question that angrily in Dream a Little Dream.

But by breaking John's rule no 1 with Cassie-a rule that Sam wouldn't even think to break with Jessica-I think we were shown that Dean questioned John's rule and "rules" sometimes even pre-series as an adult and my guess is that he began questioning that rule and those rules even earlier and likely as a teenager when rebellion becomes the norm and I'd bet that would have been the case even for a budding hunter and I'd bet it was in those teen-aged days that John was most tested by Dean as a parent, too-and when any possible physical abuse might have become more probable and possibly  brought into play by John, on some rare occasions when he just couldn't control his temper with Dean-because I'm sure it wasn't on-going-but even when the culprit was Sam, it would be Dean who would catch John's wrath more often than not-because he was the older one and, as such, was supposed to be the more "responsible"one, too.

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Oh, and I wanted to add that I don't think John really saw what he'd done to Dean as a child until right before the YED took him, but by then it was too late to do anything about it other than offer an apology to Dean for it all while laying the worst possible burden that he could on him also-and THIS! more than any other reason is why I feel that Dean still needs better and more closure with and from his father-and I don't think it's just me who needs it, I truly think that Dean needs it, too, and I always will and Lebanon did nothing to change my feelings about that, tbh.

Edited by Myrelle
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