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Heavy Meta Poisoning
Supernatural is truth
Dean Meta: Bugs 
29th-Jun-2006 10:53 pm
Twelfth Doctor
...was kinda lame, but wow, characterization out the ass. Fake spiders were worth it for the juicy stuff we got for Dean, Sam and John.

I saw two aspects of Dean in this episode. There’s the law vs. lawless (or at least Dean’s idea of what law is). The other is family, and Dean’s view of what he knows of their dad vs. what Sam saw/experienced. In a way, both relate to John and each boy’s interpretation of John’s parenting.

Dean hustling pool is canon in this episode. Obviously good enough, too, to come out with that much money and no bloody nose. Dean shows no remorse for hustling, or for the credit card scams, stating their “day job” is hunting, the pay is crap, and he’d rather get money the “fun and easy” way than honestly. He even states it was the way they were raised. Add in here Dean’s justification of questioning the neighbors at a free BBQ. He makes a flip comment about being a “professional”, yet later that night, he steers Sam into squatting in one of the empty houses so he can try the steam shower. Are Dean’s morals actually skewed to believe that hustling and cheating and lying are okay, as long as no one gets hurt, or the ends justify the means? It is because he took after John so well, that even Sam says dad saw Dean as “perfect”? (aaaaaaaaaargh, not to be able to talk about future episodes is killing me here!)

“Law”, as defined by Man, doesn’t seem to hold much sway for Dean. (I’ll note a sidebar here and say Dean didn’t seem overly concerned about breaking into a church to melt the silver items in “Hook Man,” so maybe his lack of morals extends to religious laws as well?) He taunted Sam for calling in a false 911 in the pilot (‘Oooh, illegal’). He’s impersonated countless law officials, up to the FBI (as noted by the glovebox box in the pilot). He learned evil things=bad, dad&Sam&him=good. He has the ability to stop evil, and that’s enough for him. The flirting and the lying and everything society defines as “breaking the law” are deemed necessary in his eyes to carry out his protection of the innocents.

Another sidebar here about Dean’s comment on the “normal” neighborhood. He’d have blown his brains out rather than have the white picket fence? He’d rather have their family than “normal”…so he does recognize that their life isn’t normal, but he’s comfortable with it. This also ties back to his comfort with breaking the law.

The second aspect of Dean aligns with Sam and their views of John. Sam relates to Matt and his strained relationship with his dad. Dean literally gives Sam a blank stare when Sam remarks that the yelling between Matt and his dad looked familiar. Dean states that dad had to raise his voice at Sam when he was out of line, but dad never treated them “like that”, I assume with disregard for how it looked to outsiders to haul your son away from neighbor’s eyes and berate him quietly (though still in plain view). To Dean, dad never disrespected them. “Respect” is noted several times in relation to Sam and John by Dean, and it’s almost a puzzle to Dean how Sam could have thought otherwise. Dean’s idea of respect probably stemmed from their early “weapons training”, being given responsibility at a young age, trusted with guns and bow hunting.

The amount of layers in Dean’s expression when he tells Sam that dad (not “dad and he”, just “dad”) used to drive by Stanford whenever he could to make sure Sam was all right…I just can’t pin down what’s going through his mind. That almost-soft-snort, with the “yeah”…was it jealousy of some kind? Disbelief? Wonder that Dad would care so much about Sam being by himself, but not even giving notice before leaving Dean for weeks (or whatever the established canon is for John’s disappearance) in the pilot? His eyes have a sheen on them during this entire exchange of Sam’s belief that their dad may not want to even speak to him when they find him, and Dean’s rebuttal that Dad was never disappointed in Sam, and respected Sam. Did John just go off for a day or two up to Stanford, not telling Dean he was going, then when he returned, just casually saying that Sam was okay? (and wouldn’t that seem like a non-sequitur!?) Was Dean in the car with John when they drove by the school? Was it a realization that John and Sam are so far apart, yet are so similar, and that’s what keeps them at each other’s throats?

Annoying quibble. Dean says he remembers “that fight”, when Sam says their dad tossed him out when Sam told him about getting a full ride. And a few choice phrases coming from Sam’s mouth. In the pilot, Dean implies that Sam “ran away” to college to have a normal life. Are these the same fight, or because of the “at each others throats within five minutes”, that there were multiple fights about college?

Interesting also that Sam is learning what their dad thought of him through Dean. Is Dean the keeper of the truth for the family? “Phantom Traveler” gave us more insight into Dean and John’s life without Sam. Yeah, I know, the show is from Sam’s POV, and this way, as Sam learns, so learns the audience, but the exposition is coming from people who knew the Winchesters before (the series, anyway), or from Dean himself. So, is everything we learn twisted by Dean’s POV? Do we trust Dean’s comments of their father treating them with respect, or Sam’s view of John as a man who threw him out because he wanted a normal life? Or is it just a case of a father and son so at odds with each other that they may never agree on anything? Except killing a Demon, that is. (cue evil music crescendo and metal “chomp” here.)

 

 

Comments 
30th-Jun-2006 03:02 pm (UTC)
He learned evil things=bad, dad&Sam&him=good

You're right, this is why Dean can't take time for society's niceties - he and his family have to deal with things that general society has no idea about. In Dean's mind, because he is already operating out of society, their rules shouldn't apply to him. I think in his mind it is justified - if he has to take a month out of his life to hold down a job then that's one month he's not out fighting evil on a full-time basis and who knows how many people could be hurt/die.

That almost-soft-snort, with the “yeah”…was it jealousy of some kind?

See, I think from any other character it would have been jealously, but I just don't think Dean has ever felt jealous about Sam, not in relation to their Father. I know in Skin Shapeshifter!Dean tells Sam that Dean had dreams of his own and was jealous that Sam got to have a life and friends, but I think a lot of that was just Shapeshifter!Dean trying to hurt Sam. I don't doubt that Dean may have considered a life outside of hunting, but he seems to be truly content with his lifestyle. And...holy crap, now I want to talk about future episodes. *L* Wow, that really does sort of suck, doesn't it? Anyway, I think the soft "yeah" is about Dean still being pissed at Sam for not appreciating their Father. You're right when you say for Dean it is all about respect, and Sam's lack of it towards their Father. (Although I think Dean is a little biased - taking off without warning and leaving your son with only a extremely vague voicemail doesn't equal a whole lot of respect in my book.)

Dean says he remembers “that fight”, when Sam says their dad tossed him out when Sam told him about getting a full ride. And a few choice phrases coming from Sam’s mouth. In the pilot, Dean implies that Sam “ran away” to college to have a normal life. Are these the same fight, or because of the “at each others throats within five minutes”, that there were multiple fights about college?

I took it to mean Sam "ran away" from their life as hunters to go to college. I never took it to mean he literally packed up his bags in the middle of the night and caught the first bus out of town. In my head, Sam had mentioned applying to college, he and John argued about it (more than once) and then when Sam finally decided he was going and that was that, he and John had "the big fight" and Sam stormed out.

So, is everything we learn twisted by Dean’s POV? Do we trust Dean’s comments of their father treating them with respect, or Sam’s view of John as a man who threw him out because he wanted a normal life? Or is it just a case of a father and son so at odds with each other that they may never agree on anything?

Again, it's hard to talk about this without bringing future episodes into it, but I think we have to take everything with a grain of salt. I think Sam and John as so alike, and Dean can see that. But I also think Dean's vision is clouded by his hero-worship of John.

You raised some interesting questions. Nice job, considering the episode you had to work with. Once you get past the plastic spiders there was a lot of good family dynamic stuff scattered about. :)
1st-Jul-2006 06:26 am (UTC)
Wonder that Dad would care so much about Sam being by himself, but not even giving notice before leaving Dean for weeks (or whatever the established canon is for John’s disappearance) in the pilot? His eyes have a sheen on them during this entire exchange of Sam’s belief that their dad may not want to even speak to him when they find him, and Dean’s rebuttal that Dad was never disappointed in Sam, and respected Sam. Did John just go off for a day or two up to Stanford, not telling Dean he was going, then when he returned, just casually saying that Sam was okay? (and wouldn’t that seem like a non-sequitur!?) Was Dean in the car with John when they drove by the school? Was it a realization that John and Sam are so far apart, yet are so similar, and that’s what keeps them at each other’s throats?


Annoying quibble. Dean says he remembers “that fight”, when Sam says their dad tossed him out when Sam told him about getting a full ride. And a few choice phrases coming from Sam’s mouth. In the pilot, Dean implies that Sam “ran away” to college to have a normal life. Are these the same fight, or because of the “at each others throats within five minutes”, that there were multiple fights about college?


In response to the second, in the Pilot Sam also states that Dad threw him out so there isn't any contradiction here. "Running away" to college was about Sam, in his pov, going to college to "run away" from who he is, his past, his family, etc. But we've known since the pilot that Dad told Sam if he left don't come back.

I'm sure there were multiple fights about what Sam wanted to do with his life but there was the one final biggie fight and both the Pilot and Bugs are referring to that one, as they also do in Shadow and Dead Man's Blood. However that wasn't the only thing they fought about or their only fight. They apparently, once Sam reached a certain age, fought ALOT--given the pattern they all fell into in Dead Man's Blood, Dean in particular reacted with the weariness of someone who had gotten in between Sam and John a hundred times before in one form or another and Sam and John reacted to him in the same capacity.

In response to the first, I took Dean's expression to be one of irony. Dean's sort of snorting at the irony of Sam claiming Dean was such a golden boy and talking about Dad not wanting to see him and not caring(which was actually kind of odd considering it came after Phantom Traveller in which Jerry told Sam about John telling him how proud he was of Sam), when in fact Dad used to check up on him at Stanford(my impression was that John did this more than once and that Dean was with him at least some of those times) and how Dad overreacted to Sam's leaving because he was scared for Sam and was worried he wouldn't be able to protect him if he moved away. I didn't get the sense of jealousy in this scene, more regret--regret for their misunderstandings of each other brought about mainly due to them being so much alike AND regret that John, from Dean's pove, didn't seem to care as much about him as Sam seemed to think he did. Sam got checked up on, Dean got ditched.
1st-Jul-2006 01:58 pm (UTC)
Are Dean’s morals actually skewed to believe that hustling and cheating and lying are okay, as long as no one gets hurt, or the ends justify the means?

I think Dean is intensely pragmatic about these matters. They have to get by somehow to keep on hunting. It is a job that is both necessary and not done by many because not many people even know about the Supernatural. I guess he grew up with it so now he doesn`t even question it.
Also while Dean regards his Dad authority as absolute, he makes up for that by denying all other authority, law, religion etc. It`s a bit of overcompensating.

He’d have blown his brains out rather than have the white picket fence? He’d rather have their family than “normal”…so he does recognize that their life isn’t normal, but he’s comfortable with it.

After their nomadic existence I guess he views that as being buried alive. He`d be like a tiger in a cage and he can no longer envision living like that.

That almost-soft-snort, with the “yeah”…was it jealousy of some kind?

I took it as slight bitterness. There he was doing everything his father asked and he got ditched without further notice. Sam always rebelled and still Dad cared enough to check on him. Which I think either Dean did too on his own or with Dad. Anyway I believe when Dad went to a Stanford trip, Dean knew about it. I think even when they separated they maintained steady contact.

As for the big College fight, I always imagined Sam spoke about going there a lot and subsequently had fights with Dad. But until he sprung the acceptance letter on him, John probably dismissed this as a "phase."

So, is everything we learn twisted by Dean’s POV?

I guess it`s a typical matter of how your viewpoint color your memories. Dean looks back on their Dad (and still does) with rose-tinted glasses. Sam looks back with tons of resentment. The truth is probably in-between.
3rd-Jul-2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
Is Dean the keeper of the truth for the family?

That so well put. I also really liked your point about POV. A Winchester tells us something and we believe it but then it seems like we get another Winchester telling us more and the picture changes. Sam says Dad was always criticizing him and thought Dean was perfect; then Dean tells us how Dad went to check up on Sam at Stanford (and in Something Wicked we learn that Dean thought "Dad always looked at me different" after the shtriga incident, that Dean thought he'd let John down and it was in John's looking at his son--but that's highly subjective, Dean POV). The image of John Winchester keeps evolving as his sons reveal more things to the viewers. And eventually we get John's POV on Sam. So maybe a lot of the emotional content of the show hinges on who's doing the talking, and none of the Winchesters are objective about each other.
5th-Jul-2006 12:58 pm (UTC)
See this is why I love metas. I read this when you first posted it, and I've just now had a d'oh moment. Obv the main points of contrast in this ep between Sam and Dean are their perceptions/experiences of John. But another point of contrast is the law/lawlessness thing. As you point out Dean - not so much with the lawabiding, while Sam - was about to study law. While Sam is hardly actively resistant to their dodgy methods of obtainng money and steam showers, he is notionally on the side of law. Was his decision to study law another rejection, even on a subcon level, of what eh thought his family represented?

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