Cast a giant shadow - John in Asylum
After getting our first glimpse of present day John in the flesh in Home, he once again remains physically absent in this episode.
Yet his presence is felt throughout nonetheless, putting a strain on the brothers`relationship. In a way John has always been the biggest point of contention between them and here they literally come to blows over him.
A slow building trend over the last few episodes has been Sam getting impatient in their search for John while Dean remained relatively laid back about it.
Then the boys receive a mysterious text message, Dean immediately suspects is coming from John. Say what you will the man has some great dramatic timing. *g*
Interestingly enough Sam isn`t on the bandwagon with this. Once he gets the drift that this is just another job, he is pretty dismissive of the possibility the co-ordinates were sent by John. Despite that simply screaming John, what with the already established Marine way of leaving them co-ordinates as messages and being their first solid lead in weeks. He either can`t or wont believe the callousness of this way of contacting them.
Curious here is Sam`s line: "The man can barely work a toaster, Dean."
We learned in Home how John co-owned a garage with his partner, so I guess it can be safely inferred that he is proficient with repairing cars and perhaps other machinery? Yet he can`t work a toaster? That`s a bit hard to believe.
Could this be just due to Sam`s frustration about the whole situation?
The episode never really clarifies if this particular message came from John but I think it is heavily implied. It is however interesting to note that even such a vague message which can`t be traced back to John 100 % is enough to create a pretty hostile atmosphere between the boys.
The man is clearly enough of a red flag for both of them that even such an implied connection is enough to get them up in arms over it.
Sam also refers to Dean`s phone call to John and him not answering it, at least not to the boys knowledge. We of course know that he was there in Home and was pretty adamant about not contacting his sons despite his obvious wish to see them.
Which of course leads to the question why John chose to contact them at that time and in this particular manner. Was it meant as some reassurance after Dean`s tearful phone message and after what they went through in the previous episode? Is this an attempt to take care of them, even if it is rather clumsy in nature? Did his proximity to them create a longing to get back in contact with them, however tenuous?
Or did he come to the decision that their search for him is too dangerous and sending them on random jobs is his way of distracting them for the time being? I mean surely in the months since he went under cover there have been other jobs cropping up. So while he may have been distracted by his overriding quest to find answers about the Demon, he still noticed the Asylum-incident. So it stands to reason he noticed other potential jobs before.
If we`re going with the notion that he tries to throw the boys off his trail for a while, his manner in doing so also tells us a thing or two about John.
One, he is not above sending his children into danger per se. Apparently he trusts them enough to handle the job he has trained them to do all their lives. In a way he looks at them as soldiers in the war of good vs. evil and he is willing to send them into battle as soldiers. Which I`m guessing would always be warring with his instinct as a father to protect them from danger and not throw them headfirst into it. Here, the military commander seems to win out on these internal arguments.
He is also apparently a leader who believes very heavily in giving knowledge on a need to know basis. And he seems to trust that the boys will pretty much fall in line, carrying out the jobs without question.
Certainly he has reason to believe Dean will behave like an obedient soldier but what about Sam? Does he understand so little of Sam`s personality or think that Dean will simply make him do it?
It also shows a certain stubbornness and mulish belief of being in the right on John`s part to not let his sons help him right now or at least give them a choice in the matter.
In this ironically I see the father winning out who still views his boys as kids to be protected and not as soldiers who can be helpful to him.
Even more ironically it makes him a bad commander seeing as knowledge is power and the boys pretty much flying blind right now puts them in a greater danger from the Demon. It also shows a decidedly lack of respect for them as fellow adults and hunters who simply have a right to being part of this quest.
John is caught here in a dangerous conflict between being their Commander and being their father and him trying to fulfill both positions to the best of his abilities. Sadly it`s such a conflict of interest that having your cake and trying to eat it too is doomed to failure on both fronts. After all, there is a reason why in the military you`re not supposed to be too emotionally close to your subordinates. However John can`t help it seeing as his "subordinates" are also his family.
Not to mention the fact that it sends a picture to his children of him not caring enough about them to contact them, to be there for them. Just sending them on jobs. His intentions may be of the best here but he can`t help but present a not so loving picture to his children. And I wonder how he feels about that if he even acknowledges it to himself?
Meanwhile things between the brothers escalate, with Sam being more and more resentful of Dean ordering him around in his mind. Making Dean even more of a Dad-extension to Sam.
It culminates in a possessed Sam berating his brother for too blindly following their father.
Sure the insult is directed towards Dean here but it all harkens back to Dad and what I believe is a deep seated frustration in Sam not being able to understand why Dean lets himself be treated like that. And unfortunately for Dean (and fortunately for John) he is not present right now, so Dean becomes the stand-in for a lifetime of pent-up anger.
It`s interesting how the man can be miles away for all we know, hasn`t spoken to Sam for 4 years and to Dean for about 6 months now and yet he remains such an overwhelming presence in both their lives all the time. Whatever their feelings about him, indifference is certainly not one of them.