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All Episodes Talk: Saving People, Hunting Things

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A place to discuss particular arcs and moments from the show's run. Please remember this isn't a complete catch-all topic -- check out the forum for character topics and other places for show-related talk.

 

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Does anyone else find that Season Three improved vastly with repeated viewing and the passage of time? Anyone? *crickets chirping* ;) For whatever combination of reasons, that season has become a favorite of mine, right up there with S1 and S2, and sometimes, depending on my mood, even higher. Mystery Spot and Bad Day at Bad Rock are both two of my four or so most frequently rewatched episodes.  Even the episodes that most are meh on have some surprisingly stellar scenes and moments for me. Maybe I've come to appreciate it more in retrospect based on my feelings about the relentlessly gloomy, quasi-'epic' angstfest that we've gotten in more recent seasons---I get so excited at reminders that the brothers, despite frequent conflicts, actually LIKED each other. And Sam used to be allowed to actually smile! My admittedly weird, mostly inexplicable fondness for Bela doesn't hurt my opinion of S3 either.  

Edited by mstaken
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I have a real fondness for s3 once we get past the first 3 episodes. Of course, I resent the Kids are Alright because it introduced Lisa and Ben....(I'll gripe about that in the s6 thread).

It was hard for me to warm to Dean in s3 at first, because he seemed like way more of a dick than he ever was before but then once we get to Sin City everything changes. That episode did wonders to reset my viewpoint that Dean was acting out of character and that the writers were engaging in character assassination with Dean. He was actually acting just like a terrified Dean projecting onto everyone and everything would behave. But I didn't ping that until the conversation with the demon in Sin City. And even then he was 'all nope, not scared' when his face has terror written all over it. Such is the Ackting at work.

I liked Bela and Ruby and their interlopery (is that a word) into Dean and Sam's lives. We get 'Mystery Spot','Bad Day at Black Rock' and demon!Dean in 'Dream a Little Dream of Me'. I quite liked 'Red Sky at Morning'and I loved 'Long Distance Call' because of the wonderful performance from Jensen as Dean's hope slowly disintegrates into despair. The final scene when Dean admits to Sam that he is 'really scared' simply breaks my heart. Jensen just killed me with that line and the look on his face and his voice.

And finally the fact that they really most sincerely killed Dean and sent him to Hell in brutal fashion was just flat out ballsy. So yup s3 remains my favorite overall.

Edited by catrox14
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I've always liked S3 anyway, but I definitely think it holds up even better when compared to the kill-me-now-and-make-it-stick angst of the later seasons.  And that's not to say I dislike the later seasons, but there's a comparative innocence in the first three seasons that I find easier to watch. And that's saying something, since S1 has the deaths of Mary and Jessica hovering over it, S2 has John's death and his special secret last words to Dean practically as a passenger in the car with them, and S3 has Dean's impending eternity in hell coming up.  Still, good times.

 

Thing is, I like Castiel and Bobby, and while I'm not especially fond of Crowley or Zechariah I LOVE Mark Sheppard and Kurt Fuller (though I prefer Kurt Fuller as Woody in Psych and Mark Sheppard in any of the hundred other things I've seen him).  But they're part of an overarching story that's so heavy that I feel smothered watching it sometimes.

 

I love that Sam and Dean are hunters. That's the show I loved from the start. Scary and creepy and fun.  So when they're supposed to be vessels for angels in a War and they have to stop the apocalypse and die and die again and suffer and fight with each other and almost die and be separated and hurt SO MUCH HURT and there are angels and demons and purgatory and doom and despair and STRONG JAWS AND SINGLE TEARS and oh no will they ever have a happy moment that doesn't only exist to be snatched away or sacrificed for each other or the world and oh the humanity, well, it's a bit much sometimes. 

 

Who knew back in S1 through S3 that saving people and hunting things was the EASY part of their lives.

 

So yeah, S3 gets better all the time.

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Innocence is a perfect way to describe how I feel when watching the first three seasons. Originally, I liked S3 fine, but thought it's getting cut short due to the writer's strike left me a bit wanting. In hindsight though, I find it to be a joy to re-watch. I don't think it will ever top my love of S2, but it's moved up above S1.  When I look at a list of episodes there's only one or two that I could live without and I usually find something in all of them that I wouldn't want to live without--a lot like how I feel about S2. Whereas, the current seasons 90 percent I could live without and there's only one or two that I find myself re-watching.

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When I look at a list of episodes there's only one or two that I could live without and I usually find something in all of them that I wouldn't want to live without--a lot like how I feel about S2. Whereas, the current seasons 90 percent I could live without and there's only one or two that I find myself re-watching.

 

Right there with you!

 

I've always liked S3 anyway, but I definitely think it holds up even better when compared to the kill-me-now-and-make-it-stick angst of the later seasons

 

Amen! I'm so excited to see fellow S3 fans here.

 

the first three seasons that I find easier to watch. And that's saying something, since S1 has the deaths of Mary and Jessica hovering over it, S2 has John's death and his special secret last words to Dean practically as a passenger in the car with them, and S3 has Dean's impending eternity in hell coming up.  Still, good times.

 

It's so true! The show always had a tendency to wallow in angst a bit, but that used to be counterbalanced by a far stronger sense of adventure, redeeming flashes of hope and joy, and just plain fun. I also think the S1-S3 episodes did a much better job of balancing elements of light and darkness in the *same* episode, while starting in around S4 it felt like there were some episodes designated as the 'wacky', over-the-top humorous episodes and others dedicated to being as wrist-slittingly grim as possible. It just makes for a more uneven, tonally jarring show IMO.

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Season 4 runs a close 2nd or 3rd because I think it produced some of the flatout best episodes of the entire show IMO

Lazarus Rising

On the Head of a Pin

Yellow Fever

In the Beginning

Monster Movie

Jump the Shark (which I love just for the scene of Dean skulking about the mausoleum)

I really never liked the demon blood storyline for Sam and realllly disliked Ruby 2.0. I despised the idea that Dean broke the first seal because he was tortured into. I liked Anna and I loved Dean's confession to Sam in Heaven and Hell. I love the angst myself to a point. But the entire sum of season 4 feels lesser than the individual parts whereas I thought some of the lesser parts of s3 didn't ruin the whole.

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Jump the Shark (which I love just for the scene of Dean skulking about the mausoleum)

 

That episode has so many great scenes of quietness that I adore. What's funny is I never really had it on a favorite list until I re-watched it a month or so ago. Man did I forget how well this one was directed.

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I hope there is a better plan because his speech at the end of season 8 ties into his whole development. That there is nothing he would put before Sam.

 

Supposebly, you bring up an interesting point.

 

I think Dean absolutely meant all of his speech and that is why he ended up with the entire Gadreel possessing Sam mess.

 

I think Dean now believes that Sam has rejected him beyond being more than working partners and that Sam doesn't actively love him as his brother anymore. Sam has not directly said to Dean "Yes you are my brother. I love you. I will help you".  Even in the car conversation at the end of the "King of the Damned", Sam kept referring to them as partners vs brothers. And IMO for Dean being brothers means everything still and I think until Dean hears those words out of Sam's mouth, he's going to take this path alone.  Full stop.  

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I think Dean now believes that Sam has rejected him beyond being more than working partners and that Sam doesn't actively love him as his brother anymore.

 

I'm sorry but that seems rather childish. So, Sam is pissed that Dean had him run around with an angel inside who erased parts of his mind and killed Kevin and it's all about Dean? How about an apology for that instead of saying he would do it again?

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I'm sorry but that seems rather childish. So, Sam is pissed that Dean had him run around with an angel inside who erased parts of his mind and killed Kevin and it's all about Dean? How about an apology for that instead of saying he would do it again?

 

If Dean apologized for doing something he thought was right(regardless of whether Dean is right or wrong, Dean believes he did the right thing and would do it again, isn't that a meaningless apology? If Dean doesn't get it because his raison d'etre has been 'Save Sammy' and 'Keep Sammy Safe' at all costs what difference does an apology make?  If Sam can't live with thinking Dean doesn't get it, then Sam does have the option of leaving.

 

Sam didn't just leave it at that incident though. He outright said to Dean "You think you're doing more good than bad, but you aren't". He didn't qualify that as only about the Gadreel incident.  He went on to say that Dean only sacrifices when it's not Dean doing the sacrificing again not qualified to just that incident.  Both of those pronouncements by Sam are demonstrably false.

 

Now whether Sam intended it as a repudiation of Dean's entire life as a hunter and a brother/surrogate father, it's pretty clear Dean took it that way, IMO.  Was that childish? I don't think so.

 

Should Sam apologize for saying those things which are clearly not true. If Sam really believes those things of Dean should he apologize anyway? Wouldn't that be as empty of an apology as Dean's? 

 

After the conversation in the Purge, Sam told Dean they could work together as partners and outright rejected the relationship as brothers. Dean was crushed by that. And IMO he's still crushed by that. I don't think it's a childish thing to feel rejected by a sibling at any age but these guys have been joined at the hip for their entire lives. So Dean not knowing who he is without being Sam's brother seems pretty realistic and human. I won't assign childish to either of their behavior here.  I will assign resentment, anger coldness and frustration to both of them. But childish? No.

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Sam didn't just leave it at that incident though. He outright said to Dean "You think you're doing more good than bad, but you aren't".

 

I'm not sure that was the only thing he said but from Sam's POV, I think this was more about telling Dean that while it is all good and wonderful, Sam tends to suffer from the aftermath. They both and others do. It's actually something Dean said himself at the end of Road Trip when he goes on about how toxic he is.

 

 

He went on to say that Dean only sacrifices when it's not Dean doing the sacrificing again not qualified to just that incident.

 

While this one is certainly not true, I think it's come out of his frustration with Dean not seeing the problem. Dean is fine with blaming himself and making sacrifices to make up for everything he does in the name of "Saving Sammy" but he is not ready to change the pattern, when he outright says he would do it again. He does not care that he isn't the only one who suffers when he saves Sam because "it's the right thing to do". And he is the one to decide what that is.

 

While my choice of words was probably somewhat harsh, but maybe immature would be better.

Edited by supposebly
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I agree that Sam is frustrated that Dean doesn't see it as a problem and Dean is frustrated that Sam doesn't understand why Dean did it. That's why I say they are at an impasse about the Gadreel matter.  IMO neither should apologize if neither really believes they were wrong. It's hollow and meaningless and IMO dishonest to apologize for something you really don't believe you were wrong about. IMO, they both harbor a lot of anger and resentment towards each other for a lot of things.  So they either both decide to apologize for whatever it is that hurt the other person and try to make amends or don't apologize, stow their crap and move forward with killing Metatron and then part ways.

 

At this point, Dean is absolutely correct that he is the only one that can kill Metatron because he has the Mark and the FB, regardless of how he got it or the negative consequences.  So Sam is going to have to accept that for now and then try to help Dean get free of the Mark once Metatron is dead....assuming that happens this season.  I wouldn't be a bit surprised for it to come down to Sam having to make a similar choice that Dean made with the Gadreel possession.  Will Sam try and save Dean against his will or not?

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Hey all, this thread is to talk about shows that have already aired.  These last few posts fall into speculation territory.  I was going to move them to the speculation and then realized you guys may not have posted there because our current speculation thread also contains spoilers.  Please let me know if that's the case or not.  Thanks.

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Oops. It did start out as an evaluation of their respective states of mind now and in seasons past. Sorry about the speculations. No, I don't want to go there since I'm entirely spoiler free and hope to remain that way. I don't tend to speculate normally but it just sort of happened to draw parallels with similar issues that came up in season 4.

 

Sorry!

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Oh man, I rewatched First Born last night.  And all I can think is....Dean....please don't do what you are about to do....what have you done? It just hurts me that he just was so distraught, empty, grief stricken and determined to make Abaddon pay that he just didn't care about the consequences.

 

I am also reminded that Jensen Ackles is an acting god. I really think that was the last time we see our snarktastic Dean in full flower.:(. Jensen really has done a great job, slowly deconstructing Dean. And he's done such a good job, that I almost can't stand it.

 

I was struck by Cain asking "So where is your brother now" after Dean says you never give up on family. Dean's response was "I don't what kind of game you're playing...and I don't really care" I just want the Blade.  Cain at first refused to tell Dean where the Blade was but when the demon horde attacked Cain offered to transfer the Mark to Dean.  But I don't think it was a transference so much as creating a new one from Cain's for Dean, since Cain was still able to kill all the demons without the Blade. I remember thinking that Dean would never be so stupid to not ask about consequences. I then I remembered I am talking about Dean Winchester here and that is kind of Dean's MO when he feels desperate and alone.  

 

Oh...Dean....the road to hell ....:(.  Just ....no:(

Edited by catrox14
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After the pointless death of Tessa, I decided to go back and watch "Death Takes a Holiday," which was next on my list anyway, oddly enough.

The little boy was a good actor.

I'd almost forgotten how ethereal and mysterious the order of death was on this show before Death himself appeared and the whole thing became yet another installment of "snarky white dude who gives Sam and Dean a pass." What worked in this episode, and in Tessa's first episode, was that the order of death had no particular interest in Sam or Dean or anything else, other than reaping. I really enjoyed the conversation Tessa and Dean had here where Dean confided in her that he had spent a year feeling empty and that it was because he'd wanted to die and should have died. Dean and Tessa had such a unique relationship. I liked the way Lindsey McKeon played the cool, detached nature of Tessa. This episode got her just right. I'm sorry we never got to see more of this Tessa, instead of Death's underling, or a suicidal Dean mirror who appeared for about 2 minutes. It upsets me to think about it.

Alastair said that he got the scythe from Death. Was he implying that all of the Horsemen wanted the apocalypse to start? Or was he just saying the other three did?

I still don't understand, all these years later, who decided that Alastair needed to talk like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz in a remake of the Godfather. He's so physically imposing and Chris Hederyall and Jensen Ackles work so well together, and then he opens his mouth and I keep expecting him to say, "Put 'em up, put 'em up."

The scene where Sam lies to the little boy that it's fine if he stays behind (and eventually turns evil and destructive), lying because he needs to get info on the demons, is one of those moral choices that the show rarely delves into, a moral choice that isn't about becoming a monster, but about the choices you make for the greater good that you know are hurtful but you feel you have no choice but to do.

The "comedy" scene of the boy beating up Sam and Dean feels really out of place, and makes them look like idiots, because they focused on this, yet they didn't even consider that the demons would have a quick, efficient way of holding them prisoner (iron chains).

Speaking of idiot plotting, since Ruby's Knife was of no use to them, why didn't they leave it with Pamela? Why was she killed at all? Did it do anything to move the plot along? Was this supposed to be suspenseful (as Sam and Dean clearly weren't going anywhere, for me it didn't work)? And why, other than her brief scene with Sam where she warned him about what he was doing, were these scenes so poorly done?

The bit with Tessa, Dean and the boy was probably the strongest part of the episode. Dean convincing him to accept a happier fate he doesn't even believe in, and one he likely knows he won't ever see himself.

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Does anyone else find that Season Three improved vastly with repeated viewing and the passage of time? Anyone? *crickets chirping* ;) For whatever combination of reasons, that season has become a favorite of mine, right up there with S1 and S2, and sometimes, depending on my mood, even higher. Mystery Spot and Bad Day at Bad Rock are both two of my four or so most frequently rewatched episodes.  Even the episodes that most are meh on have some surprisingly stellar scenes and moments for me. Maybe I've come to appreciate it more in retrospect based on my feelings about the relentlessly gloomy, quasi-'epic' angstfest that we've gotten in more recent seasons---I get so excited at reminders that the brothers, despite frequent conflicts, actually LIKED each other. And Sam used to be allowed to actually smile! My admittedly weird, mostly inexplicable fondness for Bela doesn't hurt my opinion of S3 either.  

 

My problems with season 3 mostly involve tonal issues (way too much time spent in the early episodes on forced comedy), ill-fated attempts at showing us how "edgy" the writing was going to be (yay, more women being called bitches and sluts and whores...and let's throw in a homophobic remark too), and the very confused writing for Bela, where they seemingly had no idea whether she was a sex object, a smart schemer, a smug and silly twit who was in over her head, a lost little girl, or a nasty thing who was mean to "our boys" and therefore deserved to burn in hell. 

 

There are certain episodes that hold up well ("Mystery Spot," "No Rest for the Wicked," most of "The Kids Are Alright," "Long Distance Caller," "A Very Supernatural Christmas"), and I think they did a great job with Ruby, and with the arcs for Sam and for Dean, but overall I see season 3 as the start of most of what has significantly hurt the show since that time. Pointless misogyny. Rushing through interesting concepts and tarnishing them in the process (Seven Deadly Sins). Excessive gore (the hunter's death in that episode). Pointless deaths of interesting characters (Victor Henriksen). Pointless misery. Meandering tone (I think "Bedtime Stories" is the worst at this...to me it's just a huge mess and is very uncomfortable to watch).

 

For me it's not really so much about season 3 being bad as it being the death of what Supernatural could have been.

Edited by Pete Martell

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the very confused writing for Bela, where they seemingly had no idea whether she was a sex object, a smart schemer, a smug and silly twit who was in over her head, a lost little girl, or a nasty thing who was mean to "our boys" and therefore deserved to burn in hell.

 

 

Most of it I wouldn't attribute to confused writing as much as to most of those things just being parts of who she was.  She was smart and sexy, sometimes arrogant, and we find out eventually that she because of that contract she was essentially in over her head.  And yes, she was willing to try to save herself even if it meant being  selling out the boys.  I wouldn't put it down to being "a nasty thing who was mean to our boys" so much as self-preservation being much more her driving trait.   I don't personally think she came across as a silly twit at any point, but YMMV.

 

 

For me it's not really so much about season 3 being bad as it being the death of what Supernatural could have been.

 

 

I love Season 3 but I can see how it could seem like the death of what the show could have been.  To me, it would specifically be in the death of Agent Henriksen.  I've always felt that killing him off was a mistake. (I know, I've gone on about that before.)  I know the angel/demon arcs of S4 forward have been generally popular, but a part of me mourns what I think could have been even better, and that would've been arcs in which the brothers had to deal long-term with the repercussion of being identified by law enforcement.  Instead of trying to work with demons and angels they could've had the occasional law-enforcement agent who knew the truth about them (like Henriksen, eventually, or Linda Blair's cop character in Usual Suspects) to turn to. And there could still be other hunters, good and bad. And still all kinds of supernatural creatures to hunt - and some of those could have been hunts that weren't wrapped up in a single episode. And instead of Dean or Sam in hell or purgatory, there could've been Dean or Sam in jail for a bit.  If S3 hadn't gone the route of killing Henriksen and actually sending Dean to hell, the show might even have been less angsty.  (Then again, maybe not.  The writers do seem to love pouring on the angst.)  I love S3 because their problems are still their own.

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I still don't understand, all these years later, who decided that Alastair needed to talk like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz in a remake of the Godfather. He's so physically imposing and Chris Hederyall and Jensen Ackles work so well together, and then he opens his mouth and I keep expecting him to say, "Put 'em up, put 'em up."

 

I'm not sure but I thought it was because the first Alastair had that kind of voice, so I think Heyerdall was trying to mimic that.  It was weird for sure, but man those moments between Ackles and Heyerdall are some of the best in the show's entire run IMO.  Jensen should have had an Emmy nom for at least 3 or 4 scenes from season 4 including On the Head of a Pin and Metamorphosis with some Yellow Fever thrown it because those 3 episodes just highlighted how much range he has. Fucking crime right there.

 

I will say as you all know, I am just devastated by the advent of demon!Dean.  I fucking hate it so much on every level. That said, if Jensen taps into torturer!Dean with a mix of hard core Endverse!Dean with maybe some ruthless and smarmy Leviathan!Dean thrown in I think that would work.  I will still think it's our Dean buried in there somewhere.  Otherwise I just can't with demon!Dean.  :(

 

ETA:  I should include the closing scene from Wishful Thinking when he first tells Sam that he remembers  Hell but won't talk about it. And of course Heaven and Hell with the scene with Anna when she tells him she knows what happened and the closing scene.  So much good stuff

Edited by catrox14
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I love S3 because their problems are still their own.

 

I hear ya...I'd say this is why I also have a certain love for S2.  It's like S4 starting grasping for bigger and bigger straws and even though they might be able to suck more story, they never really fit the lids quite right. Oh, look at me an my really bad metaphors and such, someone should really stop me from doing these things, right?

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I'd go for remake of the Godfather. Alistair's voice always reminded me of the ancient Dueling Brandos skit on Saturday Night Live.

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"Put 'em up, put 'em up."

Great.  Now THAT earworm is going to be with me for ETERNITY.  Arrrrrrgggggg!

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Brought over from the Unpopular Opinion Thread:

 

I'm doing a S4 rewatch with another site and they really do Sam a disservice.  Seeing S4 Sam through the eyes of the S9 Dean arc, my heart just breaks for Sam.  Short short version:

- I think Sam rationalizes going this path at the start out of pain and revenge (so VERY John-like)

- He drops Ruby for a while when he sees the slippery slope out of Metamorphis-

- I think he got back on the bad path at the end of Criss Angel is a Douchebag because of many reasons but protecting Dean is actually one of them

- His asshole rant under the Siren's influence feels real but the audience doesn't know about the junkie issue (whereas we saw Dean with the MoC influence)

- While Dean's personal weakness is enjoying killing things, Sam's is enjoying power.  BOTH are dark but Dean's is built up more understandably than Sams.

And I'll take the longer version to the All Seasons equivalent.

DISCLAIMER: If I make a generalizing statement and failed to put a "IMO" in there, please presume it's there.  This is all opinion and interpretation, there are very few unambiguous facts. I'm not trying to state opinion as fact and it's an error on my part if it appears that way.

 

Re-looking at Sam's dark-arc in light of Dean's MoC arc, I find much more empathy for Sam and I'm kinda pissed at the writers/Kripke for failing to pull off Sam's arc in S4 with as much empathy (IMO) as they are Dean's in S9.

 

What I think are the pertinent character building blocks for Sam before and during S4:

- Sam's biggest fear is being the "freak". Demon blood in his system, Mom and Jessica die because YED wanted Sam to do evil things.

- History of outsider status, low-income Salvation Army clothing kinda life. Dad praises him for killing skills that he doens't really like (so he doesn't fit in with the Family Business).

- Good at school, positive feedback and admiration for his intellect from externals (Jess, teachers, society).

- Daddy issues: doesn't want to be what Dad wants him to be, doesn't respect Dad's choices (like not showing up for Christmas). Feels second priority to Dad's need for revenge.

- Despite being unable to stay in a room for 5 mins without a fight; he internalized John's revenge-motivation (certainly a helluva lot more than Dean)

-Cared for by his older brother his entire life, rides shotgun to his brother (literally and virtually for most things)

- Traumatized by loss of his mother, loss of Jess, loss of Father, loss of Dean.  REALLY traumatized IMO by seeing Dean die 100+ times. Went RoboHunter to reverse Mystery Spot (I contend this is the turning point for Sam in terms of feeling like he HAS to save Dean, that Dean needs saving).

 

Building blocks for Dean's S9 dark arc:

- Worth comes from "Saving People, Hunting Things, The Family Business."

- Always showed stress relief from a little violence (smashing the car in S2E2, saw to the vampneck S2 Bloodlust, excited about a zombie hunt S3, etc...)

- Tortured for 30 years, started torturing in Hell for 10 years -- and got relief/pleasure from it

- Admitted to Veritas that what he's good for is slicing throats, told Ben he was not good enough to sit at their dinner table

- Felt "pure" in Purgatory at a RoboHunter

- Taking the lead in torture since S1

 

Now look at the parallel plot points of S4/S9 for Sam and Dean:

- S4 Sam starts out wanting Lillith's head on a plate - bloody but once the Angel's reveal that Dean has to stop the Apocalypse SOMEHOW; he also has the threat of Dean at risk AGAIN as he takes on a power much stronger than himself. So as S4 progresses Sam has not only the revenge motivation but protect Dean motivation.

-S9 Dean starts off with Sam near death and a shitty option to save his life.  So Dean TAKES the shitty deal because he thinks it's not Sam's time to die nor is it "in him" to let him die.

- S4, driven by Revenge (thank you Daddy John!) and grief, he starts working on his powers and drinking demon blood.  Key audience point: we don't KNOW about the addiction until EP16. We seen some of Ruby's manipulations but not all.  By that time, Sam has already pissed many off.  But between EP4 and EP12, Sam is on the wagon.  He gives up using his powers because the events in Metamorphosis convince him he's on a slippery slope.

- S9. driven by grief and loss, takes on the Mark of Cain without asking about the consequences. Key audience point: we've SEEN Dean lose contact with Cas, the death of Kevin, and rift with Sam. We've SEEN Crowley saying that people die around him get translated by Dean that he is "poison".  For taking away Sam's agency and failing to warn Kevin, we should be pissed at Dean.  But I know I am not.  I saw Dean struggle with his decisions. I saw him motivated by love. I know Crowley is feeding his fears and manipulating him. 

- S4: Sam drops his powers/blood drinking up until EP12.  But it's in EP12 that I think Kripke and company drop the ball.  They wanted the demon blood addiction to be a big reveal later. So we have a short scene with Ruby suddenly dropping by for 2 minutes to remind Sam that the world is ending and he's the only one who can stop it.  We get the hint that it's more than the psychic powers that he's playing with and that it's something he 'enjoys' but shouldn't (easy misdirect to sex w/ Ruby but also kicks off the 'what is it' mystery). Now Sam rejects Ruby when she shows up but WE DON'T KNOW that this is his junkie enticing him to another hit. We just see her appealing to his ego.  What's worse, we never hear Sam talk about Dean being damaged by Hell and yet later on we find out that is a motivation.  It's in THIS episode that Kripke & Company fail us. There's a second key conversation where Dean demonstrates complete confidence of dying young and bloody. That he has no desire to grow old. Sam tries to lobby for hope and repeats a veiled argument that Ruby gave him.  Sam is looking to SAVE DEAN from Dean's self-appointed wretched life.  Worse, Dean thinks he's talking about the eternal monster mash while Sam is working the Apocalypse.  They talk past each other and I think Sam leaves the conversation thinking that Dean just doesn't want to live.  But if you look back at the events of EP6-11, Sam has also seen Dean is a seriously damaged person post Hell.  And THIS is what Kripke should have brought out.  This kinda crappy episode (Criss Angel is a Douchebag) is the turning point in the Sam dark arc and WE DON'T SEE WHY. All we needed was a phone call b/w Sam and Bobby where Sam is talking about Dean being emotionally shaky and not ready for what the Angels have planned for him.  All he had to say is that 'Dean told me he remembers Hell and it's bad Bobby. i think Dean will let the Angels get him killed because he's pretty messed up by what happens." It doesn't matter if we even hear a platitude from Bobby.  We just needed to know that Sam was not simply motivated by his addiction or the need for power.  THIS is where the empathy could have been so easily garnered and it not achieved. Instead we get Sam calling Ruby at the end and saying "I'm in". We don't know how big of a step this is.  Even worse, he states that his motivation is "I don't want to be doing this when I'm an old man." What the hell?  Not good enough.  They should have been more on the nose to parallel the Jay/Charlie problem: "I'm not going to ignore a gift, even if it's dangerous, because there's too much at stake."  They made Sam's motivation seem selfish when it was really more altruistic.  Personally I think Kripke was trying to be edgy and make us question Sam's motivation.

S9: Conversely we NEVER question Dean's motivation. They don't play coy with what is going on.  We see Dean starting to crawl back into the bottle.  First Born is immediately after the grief-filled Holy Terror where we devoted the entire teaser to Dean's unspoken grief.  We hear his heartbreak in his confessions to Cas, we see him unable to watch 'Sam' be tortured, and we see him declare himself "poison" plus destined to go to Hell for what happened with Kevin.  Holy Terror leaves us with a completely gutted Dean so his motivation to do ANYTHING in First Born is a natural fall-out.  It's Dean 101.  Now Dean's empathy also benefits from 5 more years of character development but even without that, the writing is TRANSPARENT. So Dean gets empathy for doing an incredibly stupid thing.  He took on the Mark of Freaking Cain.  A Mark given to Cain by Lucifer. He's blatantly playing with supernatural forces sourced from EVIL.  Dumb dumb dumb.  And yet we feel for him.  His altruistic goal of killing Abaddon seems worthy.  And we're so thrilled he's getting some mytharc.  But really, Dean is just reckless here and yet we are empathetic. I know I am at least. 

S4: Sam becomes a rage monster and it pisses us off because he's raging at a PTSD Dean who doesn't seem to deserve it.  At first (for example the horrible rant in Siren) we don't know that the junkie situation is affecting him.  Later he's so far gone that no matter what Dean tries, the physical changes are overpowering (recall him flying around the Safe Room). Plus Zachariah sends a false message that pushes him further over the edge.  While we see that trick, in general it just looks like Sam got snared by the demon blood and lust for power.  We can be somewhat sympathetic but with Dean fighting him every step of the way, it's hard to not see him as undone by arrogance.

S9: Dean tells Sam about the Mark right away.. He doesn't tell him about the hyped up activity but he doesn't hide things. Which is more sympathetic.  They have this on-going fight which has Sam saying something horrible. Sympathy for Dean.  Even though Dean did something horrible to Dean, it's Sam who makes the most hurtful statements in The Purge -- so we have less sympathy with Sam when Dean is douchey to him.  Sam talks Dean down when he first kills with the Blade and Dean looks scared.  Dean demonstrates fear of what the Blade is doing to him multiple times, even though he doesn't express it to Sam. But we see Dean's POV.  Sympathy again.  By the time he's in full douchebag mode, we KNOW it's the Blade amping up his feelings.  We worry, we are not pissed. 

 

In short - we are with Dean every step of the way of his DarkArc versus the intentional mystery of Sam's downfall.  So we sympathize more with Dean in S9 than Sam in S4.  At the 50,000 ft level both are going down a dark path that has some altruistic justification but exploits inner darkness (desire for control, desire to hurt).  The approach they took with Sam was far less sympathetic than the approach they've taken with Dean IMO. 

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Oh SueB, now you've gone and done it...my Bizarro Supernatural radar has now been suffiently pinged...expect a long post on that in the near future. ;)

 

They made Sam's motivation seem selfish when it was really more altruistic.  Personally I think Kripke was trying to be edgy and make us question Sam's motivation.

 

You make some very fine points SueB, and I totally agree they blew it with Sam's motivations in S4. I could follow along and mostly understand him, but really was hard to stand beside him sometimes. I think they were trying to be so very coy and cute and mysterious with Sam in S4, so the big revel would be ever so ::gasp:: shocking, but they had to sacrifice Sam's character to do it.

 

I wish I had the time and energy to discuss all your points, but I'm afraid with my meandering mind it wouldn't make sense anyway. ;)

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I always thought Sam's motivation and overall arc in s4 was pretty straightforward.

 

He was motivated by vengeance. He wanted Lilith's head on a platter. Bloody. I thought he was going to do whatever it took to make that happen. But what he didn't expect was for Dean to come back from the dead much less for Dean to tell him to stop doing what he was doing, much less to have an angel be in their lives telling Dean this is wrong. I think by the time Dean showed up again, Sam was already too far gone in his vengeance path to turn back.  And then every step he took just made it worse.

 

ETA:  Ruby's machinations also pushed Sam in the direction Ruby wanted but it was never unclear to me anyway, why he was doing it.  Sam tried to convince himself that he was doing it for the greater good but IMO it was vengeance because that was the only thing he could have control over since no demon would make a deal. 

 

I didn't think Dean's arc in s9 was clear at all until he took the MoC and even then I think it was left to the viewers to interpret why he did it, and thank Gods for Jensen's acting skills because he said it all with his face and his demeanor because IMO they sure didn't spell it out with much dialogue, well except for the idiotic apology to a fucking coffee maker (/head desk).  That tells you how good Jensen is that he could sell that shit. :( Poor guy.

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It's not that I couldn't understand Sam's motivations in S4--and yes I think it was mostly about vengeance and him being tired of being a pawn for demons--I just had a hard time sympathizing with all his decisions. It's hard to sympathize with someone who is sneaking around behind his brother's back and lying to him so that he can get vengeance and feel in control of his own life. Especially when we never see him feeling bad about the lying and sneaking.

 

Even though I didn't agree with many of Dean's decisions this season, I still almost always could sympathize with him. It's easy to sympathize with someone who is lying and sneaking around behind his brother's back when he does it mostly because he doesn't want to live without his brother and wanted to save him. Especially since each and every episode shows how all this is tearing him up and how much he hates the lying and sneaking.

 

I think it would have been much easier to sympathize with Sam in S4 if we had had some actual POV of his time without Dean earlier in the season. I realize they were trying to hold out until fall sweeps, but it really would have helped me to remember that it all started because these demons had taken Dean away from him. For me it was so hard to understand why he still so vengeance-y thinking when Dean was back and standing right beside him. I mean, intellectually I get it, but it's harder to feel all that sympathetic about it.

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I think part of it is that IMO Jared played it pretty straight without much nuance that Sam was troubled by his choices or that he was crushed under the weight of it. I always assumed that was the effect of Ruby's machinations and ego stroking.   So I"m not sure I necessarily needed to feel sympathy for Sam because he was going to do what he as going to do.  I didn't hate Sam at all but I hated what he was doing. 

 

I've seen reviews and commentary elsewhere this season that Dean allowing Sam to be possessed was the literal worst thing he ever did and that whatever he gets is proper comeuppance. I guess I'm saying that I don't think Dean had all that much more sympathy based on actions than Sam did in s4.  However Jensen played the growing addiction with more sublety and the writing made it less obvious than Sam sucking on Ruby's arm. Thank gods we never saw Dean suck on the Blade (that sounds dirtier than I meant).

 

I just wish we would have seen more of Dean's transformation and growing addiction over the season instead of the staring in the mirror and leaving the coughing up blood to the last episode of the season.

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I guess I'm saying that I don't think Dean had all that much more sympathy based on actions than Sam did in s4.

 

I don't either, I think they both were crappy actions. But the fact that we got consistent sympathetic POV on Dean this season makes it easier for me to feel for him...in S4, we rarely saw Sam's actual POV. We saw Sam sneaking around and lying through Dean's POV, which means I felt Dean's betrayal not Sam's lack of self-worth. They purposely were withholding what was going on and Sam's POV for the mystery of it all.  Not until Sam got locked in the panic room (the second to last episode of the season) did we ever see things through his eyes. We didn't even see him sucking on Ruby's arm until On The Head Of A Pin (16 episodes in), up until that time we had no idea that he was under the influence of demon blood. We never saw how he felt so worthless after Dean died; we never saw how he felt like an outcast and a freak; we never saw it as Sam saw it. Again, I understood it and could infer it intellectually, but I didn't feel how it was weighing on him like I did with Dean.

 

BTW: I never once hated Sam or Dean; but I have hated what they were doing many, many times.

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we are with Dean every step of the way of his DarkArc versus the intentional mystery of Sam's downfall.  So we sympathize more with Dean in S9 than Sam in S4

 

 

I totally agree the way the S4 arc unfolded didn't do Sam any favors.

 

But I think that even before S4 Sam came across as a less sympathetic character.  From the beginning, Sam was the one who would walk away.  He left Dean and John behind in order to have a normal life.  Mind, I'm not saying that's a bad thing - it's far healthier emotionally than his life with Dean.  He and Dean both should want to start building their own lives.  But from S1 we get the depiction of Dean as someone devoted to his family, and Sam as someone who had to be convinced to go with Dean when their dad went missing.  In Scarecrow, when the boys argue, it's Sam who walks away again. 

 

In S2, when Sam knows Dean is keeping a secret (John's last words), Sam gets aggravated and angry.  His frustration is normal, but it still expresses itself as anger.  When Dean is equally angry over something (in any season), his frustration eventually defaults to a broken voice and the word, "Sammy."  There's a lot of love expressed in that nickname, a nickname that only Dean gets to use.  It's Dean's way of saying I love you, and Sam knows it as well as the audience does.  Sam doesn't have an equivalent way of expressing the concern under the anger when he confronts Dean about stuff, let alone expressing affection for him in general.  We know Sam loves Dean, but we don't get the constant little reinforcements of that love. 

 

Sam, on paper, should be easy to sympathize with in the first few seasons.  He's the one who tried to have a normal life but was pulled back into one he hated.  The one who finds out he's got this terrible curse of being YED's special favorite - a connection that may have led to the deaths of his mother and his fiancée - and would be carrying all kinds of guilt and fear.  And the one who's afraid that keeping him alive may end up costing his brother his soul.  Even back in what - Shadow? Home?  (Good grief, I can picture Dean's red plaid shirt and him standing at the dresser but I can't place the episode) - it's clear that Dean is hoping he can drag Sam permanently into a life that Sam doesn't want.  But even before the S4 arc, I think Sam didn't translate on camera as being as sympathetic as it seems he should have.  (I'm trying to decide how much of that may be due to JA's acting, which elevated Dean from what on paper in S1 could sound like an obnoxious character at times.  But I know that not everyone loves Dean, so it might be like cilantro - some people fall in love with it and others aren't susceptible to it at all.)

 

Anyway, I love both of the brothers, but sometimes I love Sam almost in spite of the way he's written. Naturally, mileage may vary.

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I don't either, I think they both were crappy actions. But the fact that we got consistent sympathetic POV on Dean this season makes it easier for me to feel for him..

 

For me I thought Dean garnered sympathy purely because he was so alone.  Sam had Ruby in s4 to lean on. Dean pretty much had no one which Crowley took advantage of .  Ugh fucking Crowley.

 

For me, Sam was the more sympathetic and more straightforward character out of the gate. He was kind and empathetic and earnest.  I thought Sam was the mainstream audience way into this show, that we were seeing it from his perspective.  I felt like I understood Sam right away and that is a credit to Jared for establishing that early on. I thought Sam was the 'normal' brother and son that wanted to just live a 'normal' life by going to college and having a girlfriend and being more mainstream.  Jared made him a fairly typical young man living a fairly typical life. He made it clear that going back to that life was temporary and it wasn't wrong to do that. But then when Jessica is murdered just like his mom, his world goes upside down at that moment and he's dragged back into this life.

 

IMO Sam was kind of what you see is what you get at least for the first two seasons. Even the Azazel child thing didn't really alter who Sam Winchester was for me, it was just this thing that happened TO him not BECAUSE of him.  When he made the choices in s4, I would have liked see more of Sam's struggles with his decisions or the angst in it. Maybe Jared just played it straight and maybe Sam wasn't angsty but was just moving forward which is why maybe Sam came across as less sympathetic? I'm probably not articulating that very well. LOL

 

I don't think Dean was supposed to be as complex as Jensen made him. Dean was the 'loyal' son, kind of a jerk, the womanizer, the roughian, the cold hearted but caring hunter, kind of a bully initially and judgmental about Sam leaving for school. He was kind of fun in a dickish way but he veered on being unlikeable for me initially.  But then as things progressed Jensen brought a lot of pathos and charm and likeability and angst to make me think "Huh, this guy is not quite in that box the pilot put him in". 

 

All of this is to say that I think POV of the characters flips back and forth in this show a lot, so it's hard for me to say whether it's a disservice to one character vs the other.  I will say that it's nice to see Dean get something that's pretty much his own personal issue like Sam had with the demon blood thing.  Of course, I clearly despise it's current status LOL.

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All of this is to say that I think POV of the characters flips back and forth in this show a lot, so it's hard for me to say whether it's a disservice to one character vs the other.  I will say that it's nice to see Dean get something that's pretty much his own personal issue like Sam had with the demon blood thing.  Of course, I clearly despise it's current status LOL.

 

I do agree that the POV started with Sam, but I feel like it shifted in S2 and I've never really felt like I've seen much through Sam's eyes since then. I'm pretty firm believer that TPTB disservice both characters fairly evenly and routinely, just in different ways.  It is funny that they give Dean his own personal issue and it turns out to be totally nonsensical and kinda sad and depressing...I guess its a be careful what you wish for scenario.

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Jensen has stated that the show started out as Sam's POV.  And most of Season 1& 2 follows Star Wars.

 

Jensen was a stronger actor than they thought, I think.  I brought something they hadn't expected and suddenly they started writing for him thus the Pov sort of shifts.    The writers suck at giving both POV and that would be a lot more powerful I think.

 

I still think that none of them get what made Supernatural popular in the first place.

 

Plus I felt they could relate to Sam as they were Sam.  They had been picked on by a bully Dean but Jensen added heart to the role and everything got mixed up. 

 

One thing that is difficult to understand, you have an idea in your head, you think it is going the way you intend and then people have to go and add different meanings and now you can't see their version because you're still creating yours.  Plus I think they get into group think, too many thinking alike and the person that thinks differently isn't allowed or doesn't express another solution.    So they get into let's fix this issue, that will work, oops that made it worse.  Okay try this, scratch head, why didn't that work?

 

I get it from a beginning writer's viewpoint and director and actor viewpoint.  the fact that they can't surprise us blows their minds.  Ruby 2 comes to mind.  She was suppose to make us believe she was really helping Sam so we would be blown away by the betrayal but we kept figuring out the clues and they couldn't figure out, HOW???  JMV

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I get it from a beginning writer's viewpoint and director and actor viewpoint.  the fact that they can't surprise us blows their minds.  Ruby 2 comes to mind.  She was suppose to make us believe she was really helping Sam so we would be blown away by the betrayal but we kept figuring out the clues and they couldn't figure out, HOW???  JMV

I didn't watch the show real time back then, but did they really think it wasn't clear that Ruby was up to no good?

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Eric Kripke stated it in an interview.  I thought he was dumb not to catch that none of us were buying it at the time.  Plus he was told that the brother's moments were what was selling the show, not the monster of the week story.  It's why I don't think of him as the Great God of Supernatural, he lucked into a lot of it...IMO

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I tell you what IMO, the only reason Supernatural worked was because of Jensen and Jared.  There is no two ways about that IMO. He was blessed with that pairing. 

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Sam, on paper, should be easy to sympathize with in the first few seasons.  He's the one who tried to have a normal life but was pulled back into one he hated.

I agree he should've been, who wouldn't want to live a monster/revenge chasing free life? Unfortunately 2 things happened early on to make Dean more sympathetic and Sam less so IMO.

1 Sam spends part of the pilot and later eps criticizing his dad for chasing revenge, so what does Sam do after his gf is killed (not his wife and mother of his children btw) he sets out for revenge. It makes him look like a hypocrite to me.

2 Dean is almost idealistic in his views on the family business,(in early seasons) he doesn't see the revenge aspect in regards to his father or brother, just the saving people part. He thinks his dad is a hero, he relates most with kids in peril, it gives us a look into his childhood mind.

 

For me those things told me who Sam and Dean were.

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For me I can point to Wendingo as to when Sam started becoming less sympathetic than his brother. Dean is all saving people hunting things and wants to stick around to find the missing kids and kill the monster. Sam was all Dad's not here let's leave who cares if people are dying. Variations of this theme have been played out over the last nine seasons, with Sam being less concerned generally about collateral damage as long as he gets to his goal. Dean has tended to be more concerned about the big picture and minimizing the harm to everyone along the way.

One of the positive things about the Mark of Cain story line, is that it changed this dynamic. Over the course of the season Dean has gotten to a point where he has no fucks to give about much of anything. Saving people and hunting things has been replaced by "kill now and often". I'm guessing that demon Dean will have negative fucks to give and won't even understand the concept of collateral damage. I'm not saying he'll end up doing utterly unforgivable horrible things but the likelihood is he won't care how the job gets done and if anyone get hurt along the way.

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I think on paper both characters started out thin and cliché. That early draft by Kripke? Horrendous. Gladly someone reworked it but Sam was so clearly the pimped-out Sue and Dean so clearly nothing more than the dumb jerk who was held as a negative mirror for Sue!Sam. It`s also uncanny if you read some of the tie in scripts. Both characters are completely unlikeable and flat. You hate Sam for his Sueness and Dean for being a dumb jerk.

 

Where I think Jensen excelled was taking a character like that and bringing enough charme, fun and charisma to the role that it softened the edges. The writers also gave him more emotional exploration and layers and he ran with it.

 

However, I never doubted that Sam was the main character early on. He was at the center of the plot and had the destiny and the powers and the angst coming from it. Unfortunately they both overpimped that aspect of the character too much and Jared didn`t really play against it so the combination didn`t work for me.

 

Surprisingly, I found myself Sam liking more and more over the course of Season 1 and 2 regardless (whenever the Sue-plot didn`t rear its ugly head) because I felt his growing relationship with Dean, them learning to be brothers again was really heartfelt and touching. And my issue with the character having a certain sense of superiority was neither so bad that it tarnished my enjoyment nor had I lost hope they were going to address it. I mean, I expect characters to be more flawed early in the show, that`s what the show is for, to mature them. Dean had his fair share of flaws I wanted to see addressed, too.

 

Season 3 was iffy but it`s hard to truly judge it because of the writer`s strike curtailing it. I know the original plan was Sam Sue-saving Dean, though, and having once more everything in the history of ever be about him and I would have hated that.

 

Season 4, I felt Sam was at his worst in a way but I didn`t mind it. I didn`t find the character too unsympathetic while it happened. Sure, his superiority shtick grew five sizes but I was so confident that it would lead to the betterment of the character. And his motives weren`t unrelatable or anything. Then Season 5 happened and wow, talk about: hope. dashed. Dean gets the blame for Season 4 Sam and Sam gets the ultimate Sue-save. That broke the character IMO, not his dark arc.

 

Compared to Dean`s dark arc this Season, Dean`s flaw which led to the bad decisions was actually the one that always bugged me as much as Sam being smug. The family patheticness. You wanna talk about having no sympathy for a character? I had none, none whatsoever when Dean made the deal. Like foaming at the mouth mad at the character. This time around I was admittedly happy that he got the mytharc for a change, no matter what shape it took and I didn`t hate it like I hated the deal. We`ll see if at least this will be used for the betterment of the character.

 

In general, though, while there was always more emo-stuff for Dean then for Sam - and I have to say, in lieu of Sam hogging all the plot, what else would anyone have given Dean to justify his screentime? Nothing? I hated that stupid divide of only plot vs. only emo (and since I prefer plot, I hated that Dean was at least on the wrong end of it) but Sam couldn`t have all - I don`t agree that there wasn`t any POV of Sam. In fact, there have been episodes set entirely in his head. No other character, to my knowledge, has gotten that. The problem was just that these episodes didn`t help me make the characters more relatable. Quite the opposite in fact.

 

I mean, imagine you go "hm, I wonder what Sam is thinking?" and the answer is "oh, his version of his Mom tells him how cool he is and how much better than his dumb weak brother" or "oh, Death is fellating his wonderfulness". The hell? Without knowing what the character thought for sure, I betcha even the most unfavorable thoughts wouldn`t have made him out to be THAT dickish. What were these writers thinking? 

 

I remember an old Star Trek TNG episode featuring a "what if" scenario for Picard on what his life could have been. Now the Picard we know is large and in charge, wise but tough in his own quiet way, a leader. The episode had him be a low-ranking timid Lt. who never went anywhere. That endeared viewers to a character. If the SPN writers had gotten their hands on it, it would have probably featured him as the High Admiral of the Federation who just negotiated a universe-wide peace treaty. With Sam, they seem kinda tone-deaf in their attempts to make the character more beloved. 

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I hated that stupid divide of only plot vs. only emo (and since I prefer plot, I hated that Dean was at least on the wrong end of it) but Sam couldn`t have all - I don`t agree that there wasn`t any POV of Sam. In fact, there have been episodes set entirely in his head. No other character, to my knowledge, has gotten that. The problem was just that these episodes didn`t help me make the characters more relatable. Quite the opposite in fact.

 

I mean, imagine you go "hm, I wonder what Sam is thinking?" and the answer is "oh, his version of his Mom tells him how cool he is and how much better than his dumb weak brother" or "oh, Death is fellating his wonderfulness". The hell? Without knowing what the character thought for sure, I betcha even the most unfavorable thoughts wouldn`t have made him out to be THAT dickish. What were these writers thinking?

 

Yeah, I don't think it's that Sam's pov is never given, it's that it's usually unlikeable as hell. He gets things revealed about him, it's ugly most of the time. I feel like I know the character, he's a raging narcissistic asshole who looks down on most people, especially his own brother/caretaker. I think the writers don't think things through and/or think it makes him look good.

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This kinda crappy episode (Criss Angel is a Douchebag) is the turning point in the Sam dark arc and WE DON'T SEE WHY... [snip]... We just needed to know that Sam was not simply motivated by his addiction or the need for power.  THIS is where the empathy could have been so easily garnered and it not achieved. Instead we get Sam calling Ruby at the end and saying "I'm in". We don't know how big of a step this is.  Even worse, he states that his motivation is "I don't want to be doing this when I'm an old man." What the hell?

 

I completely agree, SueB, and I liked all of what you said up there. That episode was so bad at doing what it was suposed to be doing, but I guess because it also helped to keep the big "surprise" in the bag, Krikpe didn't care. Fortunately for me, I still got it and understood even the first time I watched season 4 what was going on inspite of that. And sadly I think Krpke had a chance to fix it, but the whole "mysterious" thing and lack of POV on Sam's motivation reared it's ugly head. Because where I think they could've saved things was in "On the Head of a Pin," but they stuffed so much into that episode, that the Sam stuff got lost.

 

There were a few critical scenes there which pointed to what was going on. First being the scene where the angels took Dean. Sam was furious. When he called Ruby for help, despite what we had seen in "Chris Angel...", Sam still apparently did not seem to be "in." He says that it's been weeks since he's had demon blood and as Ruby notes, he's not happy about "needing" it now. The reason he needs it, is because as he says - and although his words are not delicate, they are true - Dean can't do what the angels need. Sam can - if he gets pissed and stops pussy-footing around about the demon blood. He doesn't really want to ("This is the last thing I..."), but he feels he has to because the angels are pushing he and Dean into a corner and forcing Dean to do things Sam feels he shouldn't be doing and can't do. (I think he is somewhat lying there to Ruby that he's not concerned about Dean torturing and what that might do to Dean.)

 

And of course what happens with Alastair just suports everything Sam thought. Dean got hurt, Castiel "can't" heal him, and as Sam said it was "pointless" doing that to Dean. And now he's even more pissed and thinking that if he doesn't do something, Dean's going to get even more messed up.

 

This point was reenforced for me by Sam's talk with Chuck in "Monster at the End..." two episodes later where Sam mentions wanting to help Dean and do the heavy lifting fo once. Chuck turns this around into Sam just wanting to feel powerful and in control, but I don't see why the two don't go together in a way. And then Chuck encourages him in that regard. (When someone asks you "does it all rest on my shoulders?" telling him that yup that's the way the story - that I'm getting from on high - appears to be headed is not going to discourage him, especially if they already have that notion in their head. I think Chuck sucks at advice. Except about hoarding toilet paper.)

 

But back to "Head of a Pin." So even though I got that from the episode concerning Sam, the episode had so much going on emotionally with Dean and Alastair and Castiel and Anna and Uriel that it was overload in my opinion. Here was this "big mystery" they were supposedly holding back all this information from us for - though why I don't know since it had already failed somewhat starting from the first episode of the season where they had that whole confusing "who is the woman in the hotel" and that awkward reveal there - and they put the big "reveal" in an episode chock full of at least 3 other big "reveals." By the end of that episode I was so shell-shocked with "Uriel was a badder bad guy than I thought" and "oh crap, poor Dean broke the first seal and how is Dean supposed to stop it" and "why can't Castiel heal Dean" that "oh, so Sam has been addicted to demon blood all this time," kind of got buried in the avalanche of angst. So was waiting for that big reveal about what was happening to Sam instead of showing us his progression and stuffing it into that episode full of so much stuff already worth saving the "mystery?" In my opinion, hell no.

 

No other character, to my knowledge, has gotten that.

 

"What Is and What Should Never Be" was almost entirely in Dean's head and "The Man Who Would Be King" was an episode almost entirely in Castiel's headspace. To a lesser extent "Sam, Interrupted" was also a lot in Dean's head. The therapist was actually an imagined person in Dean's mind, and that was a featured part of the episode. The episodes where scenes are set in Sam's head generally have other plot going on as well. In my opinion, this was the case for "Two Minutes to Midnight," (where we also explored Dean's and Bobby's feelings on the detox) "The Man Who Knew Too Much," (where Castiel was doing his thing with Crowley and Dean and Bobby were preparing to fight him), and "I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here."

 

For me "The Man Who Knew..." was my favorite of those, with both good and bad things learned about Sam. It's too bad that Dean would never know the tough decision that Sam made, because "I'm not leaving my brother alone out there."

 

What were these writers thinking?

 

For me it was that if "Mom" or "Death" didn't use those arguments, what would really be the conflict inside Sam's head? What would be the point? The whole idea was that Sam's head "Mom" and Sam's head "Death" were Sam desperately trying to justify what he was doing. One while being under the influence of a terrible drug withdrawl and the other trying to finally let go. It's self-delusion and a coping mechanism, and regular, fallible people are sometimes a victim of it. I don't look at these two instances (or any handful or other instances) - both of where Sam was under duress - as representative of the way Sam always thinks.

 

If I took every look these writers had inside a character's head/ point of view as what they always think, what would I have thought of what Dean thinks of himself based on that bar scene from "Tall Tales?" I knew it was a mostly overblown farcial scene, because I already knew Dean, but if that had been the first episode I'd seen of the show... (and even then that scene had me thinking for a moment - hmm maybe Dean really does think he's God's gift to women sometimes, but then I said nah, and gave Dean the benefit of the doubt.)

Edited by AwesomO4000

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"What Is and What Should Never Be" was almost entirely in Dean's head and

 

I have a bit harder time including this episode as being in the same category  Head!Sam in "I Think I'm gonna like it here"  or Head!Dean in Dream a Little Dream (fuck that now with the s9 finale /commences with gross and never ending sobbing). :(:(:(

 

Dean said it was just a wish (that Mom had never died) and that the djinn used that one wish to construct a wishverse that contained details of things Dean had in his brain that weren't necessarily what Dean really thought or believed or wanted in the dark corners of his mind. I doubt that Dean wanted to marry the beer girl from the magazine, but his brain registered her face as a beautiful woman that the djinn twisted into this fantasy. I think the one part that was true and still remains true is that Dean just wanted his family intact, including Sam, John and Mary.  Everything else was the details that the djinn used to lure Dean into the happy place so he wouldn't care if he was dying.

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Everything else was the details that the djinn used to lure Dean into the happy place so he wouldn't care if he was dying.

 

Oh I agree that this wasn't a fantasy Dean constructed himself. I meant more that the episode was - literally - an episode in Dean's head, but for me it also qualifies as a look into Dean's though processes as well, because even though it wasn't necessarily Dean's fantasy, we got a lot of insight into what Dean was thinking as he lived in this construction in his head. Even though Dean might not have necessarily wanted to live with Carmen specifically before this, Dean did say "I can see why you're the one," so he did recognize some things in her that he might have longed for and/or been happy with. In order for Carmen to "fit" and make Dean happy in his fantasy, she had to be someone that Dean would like and be interested in. Similarly, I don't think that the djinn could just create any old Sam. It had to be a Sam that Dean would belive and/or be happy with, so the djinn must have used things that Dean thought about Sam or imagined Sam would be like if Sam hadn't hunted at all. It was in the other details that the djinn incorporated that things began to break down.

 

I  wasn't surprised, for example, when Dean researched the plane crash and then all of their other cases when he saw the news report, because that is what Dean would do. Same with "I can fix things with Sammy." A very Dean thing to do in that situation in my opinion - hold on to what he could in the fantasy and make the best of it and try to fix the rest. All of the details of the "hunt", his interaction with Sam, having to find out the truth even if it meant giving up this dream life: these were all things that Dean would do under those circumstances. So for me, this episode was very much in Dean's head, not just literally, but as a look into how Dean thinks and the way he looked at the world at that time in his life. So for me, it very much qualifies as the same category of episode.

 

As for if I thought that these were things that Dean always thought and/or would want for himself or Sam, I'd say no. And that's because as I said about Sam above, even if that was at that moment what Dean may have wanted or thought, I'm not going to take what Dean is thinking in a moment of weakness or temptation and judge him on just that moment and conclude that is what he would always want or think about himself or Sam. That, in my opinion, wouldn't be fair to Dean as a character or to what I know about him.

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I wonder, as I mentioned to someone else, if the writers looked back at Purgatory Dean and said, "If they loved that, imagine how much they'll love Demon Dean!"

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I don't look at these two instances (or any handful or other instances) - both of where Sam was under duress - as representative of the way Sam always thinks.

 

I always thought it was something he doesn`t want to be thinking. He pushes down and is in denial about. And he is able to compartmentalize that when Dean is in danger of dying/dying/dead. It`s like a rose-tinted-glasses view sets in rapidly then. But once the crisis is averted, the glasses come off and the same issues remain. It only comes out really badly when his inhibitions become lowered or for the first time most recently "sober" when he was too angry. Day-to-day, though, it comes out in little ways and that is an acting tic for me.

 

But it has become a point for me where the "I`m the least of you" speeches are the aberration and sorry, I can`t buy them. Not after how the character usually comes across to me. And even then it`s usually immediately followed by either by "and that is why I think I can handle Lucifer so this is my plan" or a version of "it`s my fault because you acted/reacted wrongly". 

 

Now I do believe the character has issues and emotional hang-ups but that version of low self esteem is just not one I see. Maybe in a way that for good or ill John shaped his world-view in terms of certain relationship dynamics. Sam is trying not to have the same dynamic he hated during childhood. To the point where IMO he has become near paranoid about it. Until recently where he got amped up due to the MOC, Dean didn`t consistently pull John-behaviour. Though in all fairness, even John never got a "everything about you is shit" speech. No matter how angry Sam was. Meanwhile Dean is chasing after some "family over everything" dream where he measures his only worth by how he can service the good of the family and does stupid shit doing so. 

 

It`s like they are each living with the ghost of John instead of each other.  It is one of the reasons why I`m not sure they can work out their problems while remaining in close quarters 24/7. There was a slight chance mid-Season 8 but nope, could not have that.

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I wonder, as I mentioned to someone else, if the writers looked back at Purgatory Dean and said, "If they loved that, imagine how much they'll love Demon Dean!"

 

I could almost believe that would be their motivation. Of course, they dumped Purgatory!Dean's story like a hot potato :(.  Sadly, IMO, what they would be failing to account for is that  Purgatory!Dean was acting heroically the entire time by staying in Purgatory to find Cas. In order to survive Dean had to put aside any qualms about killing because it was kill or be killed. IMO that's why he called it  'pure', akin to  Dean saying  he "liked' torturing when he was in Hell.  To me, that was Dean having an outlet for his own pain and suffering and it was satisfying his need to get back some power and control after having NONE for 30 years in Hell.  Of course Dean was killing monsters in Purgatory which IMO should never be equated with what demons do to humans.

 

So for me, aside from giving Jensen something interesting to do, I fucking hate the idea of Demon!Dean with the fire of every Hell dimension and every sun in every universe.

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But it has become a point for me where the "I`m the least of you" speeches are the aberration and sorry, I can`t buy them.

 

I can see this point of view, but for me it's the other way around. For every "Fallen Idols," I see a "Free To Be You and Me" and an "I Believe the Children..." or a "Good God Y'all" and a "Sam, Interrupted" when Sam knows the truth and he does want to fix it. But then he gets into an anger situation or a frustration situation and he resorts to denial and deflection. It's usually a momentary "fix" for him though, because then he'll return to feeling badly (in my opinion) and taking his role behind Dean as status quo again.

 

I'm a big sister, but I could see similar things in my sister when we were growing up (and when you're together constantly as you said it's hard to break those kinds of patterns). It's tough and frustrating being the younger one and always "wrong" (and this show seems to like making Sam "wrong" and feeding his insecurities) and feeling like you're always in a sibling's shadow. I see Sam often as just wishing someone would see his side (even in season 4 this was a big part of it. Much of his argument in "When the Levee Breaks" was "please just this one time trust me and back me up." Which of course, duh, Dean couldn't really, but that was part of Sam's frustration there) and oddly Castiel is often the same way. They both want Dean's approval, and when they can't get it - usually because they are doing something that's going to go badly - they resort to not so good things in frustration.

 

And for every Sam "The Purge" and whatever that crappy episode in season 8 was about Sam wanting to kill Benny there's a "Point of No Return" or a "Hello Cruel World" where Sam shows immense faith in Dean. And a "Mystery Spot" or a "Man Who Knew Too Much" or a "Time After Time..." or an "A Very Supernatural Christmas" where Sam would do almost anything for his brother. (Unfortunately, Dean doesn't always get to see those.)

 

So I guess I see those good and more self-aware things as more the usual for Sam and the others as often frustration (sometimes at Dean, but often at life in general) and feelings of failure coming out inappropriately. The show used to have Dean do similar things - such as when he'd beat up on his Baby or hit Sam - and actually I think not having Dean do that kind of thing anymore was a mistake for me. (It made him look too balanced and less fallible and relatable for me). They sort of changed it to drinking - which while believeable, is easier to overlook as a crutch and is perhaps more excuseable as a coping mechanism than Sam's crappy, hurtful outbursts. My favorite Sam coping mehanism was his Lucifer hallucinations and I would've liked season 8 to have Sam with a Soulless Sam delusion or something like that as a coping mechanism instead. I actually thought at first - and actuallythought it for a while - that that's what Amelia was: a delusional coping mechansim. I was disappointed when she turned out to be real.

 

Until recently where he got amped up due to the MOC, Dean didn`t consistently pull John-behaviour.

 

He may not consistently pull it, but I'm not so sure it's not there inside him. In my opinion, it does tend to come out - his "I'm the oldest, so that means I'm always right" satement early on, when he returned from hell and despite not being 100% (Sam wasn't either of course, but...) expected Sam to fall back in line, in "Fallen Idols" when he expected Sam to leave town with him right away because Dean said so even though Sam didn't think the case was over. Often there's no problem for Dean, because Dean goes "Plan? Burst through the door guns blazing (duh, of course often implied)" and Sam's "Okay, how fast?" But when Sam doesn't fall in line, Dean often, I think, has a problem handling it, since he doesn't expect Sam not to fall in line. The John/Dean dynamic was likely similar, just that Dean didnt tend to rock the boat (and the father/son dynamic factored in).

 

So for me, aside from giving Jensen something interesting to do, I fucking hate the idea of Demon!Dean with the fire of every Hell dimension and every sun in every universe.

 

There are many ways for it to go wrong. What I would think of as "going wrong," though, the writers might think is just the right thing to happen. That's the thing that kinda worries me, since almost everything I didn't want to see happen this past season and/or was afraid would happen - did. So that's not very promising for me for next season.

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