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Heavy Meta Poisoning
Supernatural is truth
John Meta - Hookman 
28th-Jun-2006 09:02 pm
Once Upon A Time - Orphan Hugging
As with most of the early episodes, John Winchester does not appear in this episode, but his presence is felt none the less. In fact, from the first scene with the boys, he is present. 

Sam has been calling around trying to get a lead on their Father’s location. Dean asks him if he’s found anything yet, and Sam says he hasn’t. He’s checked the FBI missing person’s data bank and ran their Father’s license plates for traffic violations and found nothing. Dean listlessly admits that he doesn’t think their Dad wants to be found. 

This is a very telling moment. We learned in Phantom Traveler that the boys have been leaving John messages, and that he hasn’t returned their calls. I think that means we can assume John is actively ignoring his children. John is wrapped up in his hunt and does not want his boys involved. So far we have seen the boys searching for him through their normal routes - mainly following leads they think he may also have followed. I think we can assume they’ve also contacted any mutual hunting associates and have checked up on all the places they’ve known their Dad to hide out. And after all that, they still haven’t found anything. Not a trail, not a clue, and not a single lead. So the idea that Sam is turning to more standard or “normal” routes of searching shows just how desperate he is becoming. John seems to have instilled in his sons a distrust for authority (as illustrated in the Pilot) so Sam going to the FBI shows a high level of desperation. 

Dean then tries to distract Sam from their continuing hunt for their Dad by getting him up to speed on the possible case he’s discovered. Sam’s reaction is less than enthusiastic. 

Sam: One freaked out witness doesn’t mean it’s the invisible man. 
Dean: Dad would check it out. 

Now, Dean could be bringing up John for a couple of reasons. No matter which reason it is, Dean’s motivation here is clear - to get Sam to go along with him. So Dean saying “Dad would check it out” could be his way of planting the idea that they may bump into him while investigating this gig. If Dean believes that this “invisible man case” is something John would check out, then it would be worth looking into if only to see if they could meet up with their Father. After all, as illustrated by Sam’s phone calls, they are running out of ideas. 

Another reason could simply be Dean’s deeply ingrained duty to be his Father’s son. If a case would be good enough for John to check out, then it is good enough for Dean. Since both he and Sam hold their Father on a bit of a pedestal, Dean using his Father’s opinion as backup should be enough to get Sam on board. 

During the rest of the episode, as the boys are investigating the Hookman, there is one more mention of John - during their first excursion to hunt for the Reverend Carnes down on 9 Mile Road. 

Dean hands Sam a shotgun full of rocksalt. 
Sam: If it is a spirit, buck shot won’t do any good. 
Dean: Yeah. It’s rock salt. 
Sam: Salt being a spirit deterrent. 
Dean: Yup. It won’t kill ‘em, but it’ll slow ‘em down. 
Sam: That’s pretty good. You and Dad think of this? 
Dean: I told you. You don’t have to be a college graduate to be a genius. 

Now, this is the first we’ve heard of the rock salt loads (although we‘ve seen them used before, mainly in the Pilot). The way Dean phrases his answer to Sam’s question of who came up with loads leads me to believe that it was Dean, and not John, who fashioned them. This matter still directly involves John though, since the invention of the rock salt loads took place during the time Sam was away at college. John and Dean would have been hunting on their own, each trying to pick up the slack Sam’s absence caused. What John’s reaction to the salt load idea was we don’t know, but I would assume Dean’s creative thinking and practical application of his knowledge would have met with John’s approval. This could also be an example of Dean’s ongoing attempt to win John's praise. With Sam gone, Dean probably felt that he had to be the best son he could be to try and keep his Father happy. He was showing John he was committed to their life by taking an active interest in the “how’s” of hunting. 

There is a final bit that I wanted to mention, about how extremely well the boys work together in this episode. They are constantly bouncing ideas off one another and using each other to figure the case out. They are completely on the same page here. When they realize that the source of the Hookman’s power comes from his hook and that they need to destroy it, they come to the realization at the same moment and speak in unison. Later, when the Hookman is threatening Sam and Lori, Dean yells out, “Sam, drop!” and without a moment’s hesitation, Sam drops. He trusts Dean completely. And later still when they realize that Lori’s necklace is the last bit of silver they need to destroy, Dean and Sam perform a perfectly choreographed toss and switch. They don’t need words because they are thinking the exact same thing. 

All of this togetherness leads me to wonder if John appreciates the team that he built. I’m sure things were different when John was with them and was the one clearly in charge. But without him there, Sam and Dean have filled in the gaps left by their Father with each other. They don’t need John to hunt - he’s trained them well enough that they can function independently from him. But the way they work together, the way they can fight as one unit is remarkable. 

The episode ends with Sam and Dean continuing their search for John. Another town, another gig, another chance to reunite their family.
Comments 
29th-Jun-2006 01:51 pm (UTC)
The way Dean phrases his answer to Sam’s question of who came up with loads leads me to believe that it was Dean, and not John, who fashioned them.

I`ve gotten the same impression. Dean is a smart guy and he likes to apply his intelligence to a practical level. Right now that would mean mostly the hunt, just look at his little home-made EMF-meter which shows serious skill.

This could also be an example of Dean’s ongoing attempt to win John's praise. With Sam gone, Dean probably felt that he had to be the best son he could be to try and keep his Father happy. He was showing John he was committed to their life by taking an active interest in the “how’s” of hunting.

Absolutely. Dean`s world is made up of and around a grand total of 2 people and with one down, he would have done everything to hold onto the other.

All of this togetherness leads me to wonder if John appreciates the team that he built.

Interesting question, I think he would be proud as a commanding officer for having the boys work together like a well-oiled machine which can save your life in their line of work. And he would also be proud and glad as a father for seeing his son`s closeness.
I think his approval comes to a screeching halt however when the dream team stands united against him like in DMB. *g*
29th-Jun-2006 03:36 pm (UTC)
"I think he would be proud as a commanding officer for having the boys work together like a well-oiled machine which can save your life in their line of work. And he would also be proud and glad as a father for seeing his son`s closeness."

I agree. I wish we could have saw John's reaction to watching the boys work together on a mission. I would think he would have been really, really proud. Because once the three of them get back together, the Sam&Dean dynamic is thrown off.

"I think his approval comes to a screeching halt however when the dream team stands united against him like in DMB."

That was one of my favorite scenes. John has trained his boys to be these amazing hunters and along the way he allowed them to form this...I always think bond isn't a strong enough word but it'll do. And when Dean - the "good" son, the one who follows orders, the one John can always count on to have his back - when Dean is the one that starts questioning John's plan and siding with Sam, that must have been quite a moment for him. He thought he was training them to back him up, but in fact, he trained them to back one another.
29th-Jun-2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
Because once the three of them get back together, the Sam&Dean dynamic is thrown off.

John`s problem is demanding respect without showing them much in return. Why couldn`t he take 2 minutes to explain the drill to them in DMB? He would have spared himself (and Dean) a lot of fighting with Sam.

when Dean is the one that starts questioning John's plan and siding with Sam, that must have been quite a moment for him. He thought he was training them to back him up, but in fact, he trained them to back one another.

That would have been a nice wake-up call to both the commander and the father, forcing him to see them as the adults they are and no longer as his "boys".
And Sam`s face during Dean`s little rebellion was hilarious. *g*
30th-Jun-2006 03:15 pm (UTC)
John`s problem is demanding respect without showing them much in return. Why couldn't he take 2 minutes to explain the drill to them in DMB?

ABSOLUTELY. John and the complete lack of respect he shows his kids makes me want to throttle him. Yes, they are his children but they are no longer "children". They are adults. And if he expects them to go around hunting and putting their lives in danger, then he needs to show them the respect of a fellow man-in-arms and explain the "why's" of what they're doing.
30th-Jun-2006 02:32 am (UTC)
Dean yells out, “Sam, drop!” and without a moment’s hesitation, Sam drops. He trusts Dean completely.

That's such a telling moment, isn't it? I loved that.

They don’t need John to hunt - he’s trained them well enough that they can function independently from him. But the way they work together, the way they can fight as one unit is remarkable.

This seems like something Dean and Sam worked on themselves. I'm sure John did a lot of the training, but at a certain point, Dean might have become Sam's main teacher and the boys probably sparred all through childhood into young adulthood together. I don't think John built that team-work; the boys did.
30th-Jun-2006 03:10 pm (UTC)
This seems like something Dean and Sam worked on themselves. I'm sure John did a lot of the training, but at a certain point, Dean might have become Sam's main teacher and the boys probably sparred all through childhood into young adulthood together. I don't think John built that team-work; the boys did

I think you're probably right. John gave them the basic mantra - "Look out for your brother" - and they both just took it and ran. They were expected to work together and function as a team, but I think it is the boys love and respect and friendship with one another that makes them so effective. And John didn't have a lot to do with that. Except for, you know, giving them a matching set of genes. :)
3rd-Jul-2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
Nice job! :)

And this is totally OT, but you pointed out something that has bugged me: Now, this is the first we’ve heard of the rock salt loads (although we‘ve seen them used before, mainly in the Pilot).

That's totally true, and when I think of that in relation to Something Wicked, I'm so very very glad Dean froze up when he did, rather than going ahead and shooting the Shtriga with whatever was in that sawed-off shotgun. Can you imagine the damage to Sam?? I wonder what was in the gun back in those days...

[/pointless comment]
3rd-Jul-2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
I'm so very very glad Dean froze up when he did, rather than going ahead and shooting the Shtriga with whatever was in that sawed-off shotgun. Can you imagine the damage to Sam??

Oh, absolutely. The load would have sprayed everywhere and would have undoubtedly struck Sam. Which makes me wonder why Dean did hesitate. Was he was thinking about the damage that shotgun blast could do? Was he trying to come up with a Plan B?

I wonder what was in the gun back in those days...

See, but I wonder that too. They use the rock-salt loads so frequently now and have become so dependent on them I really wish they'd have a "back in the olden days we had to throw handfuls of salt at the ghosts!" conversation. Not because it'd advance the plot, but because I'm curious. ;)
3rd-Jul-2006 11:24 pm (UTC)
Was he trying to come up with a Plan B?

Poor little!Dean. If only his actor had been slightly more skilled (say, a young Elijah Wood), we might have been able to understand his hesitation there a little better. That's a good idea about him trying to come up with Plan B, though. Dean's a quick thinker on his feet, so it's neat to think of the scenario in that context.

I really wish they'd have a "back in the olden days we had to throw handfuls of salt at the ghosts!" conversation. Not because it'd advance the plot, but because I'm curious. ;)

Oh, word to that. I'm curious, too. I don't mind the plot stalling at all, when we get great character insight and/or history lessons about the Winchester family. :)
4th-Jul-2006 02:26 am (UTC)
"Poor little!Dean. If only his actor had been slightly more skilled (say, a young Elijah Wood), we might have been able to understand his hesitation there a little better."

Absolutely. I was looking sooo forward to those flashback scenes but I found them nothing but painful. And Little!Elijah!Wood!! OMG, I'm so there.

"I don't mind the plot stalling at all, when we get great character insight and/or history lessons about the Winchester family. :)"

And a giant *WORD* to that too. Sometimes I read a fic and think "this would make the best episode ever" until I realize the entire thing is just character development and that none but the hardcore would sit around and watch the Winchester's work through some of their issues for an hour. But we can always hope, right? :)
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