Here I provide my not-so-deep thoughts on Dean in Asylum. Just remember my overall Dean philosophy - I love him, but he is seriously
screwed up. You've been warned!
So, the first view of the boys in this episode is in the hotel room. Sam is angsting about Papa Winchester's whereabouts, while Dean is steadfastly trying to avoid any and all emotional trauma. He refuses to acknowledge that John could be hurt or dead, and he certainly doesn't want to talk about the events of the previous episode, Home. Dean is spared from his emotional issues by the text message from Daddy sending them off to Rockford, IL.
When they get to Rockford, Sam and Dean run a good-cop, bad-cop scam on the police officer whose partner died with Dean as the bad-cop (of course!). Dean is a little bugged that Sam shoved him so hard in the bar, but seems to gloss over it quickly. In fact, when they get to the asylum, he even seems to reach out to Sam in his own dysfunctional but good-natured manner. He starts teasing Sam about his psychic abilities, which is Dean's own way of trying to tell Sam that he's okay with the psychic stuff. Of course, Dean could never say that directly because that would definitely count as a "chick-flick moment". He then proceeds to make his Jack Nicholson joke and is just a little hurt when Sam doesn't find it funny!
Cut to the scene when Sam comes out of the psychiatrist's office. Dean really, REALLY wants to know what Sam was talking about with the psychiatrist for quite so long. While Dean is secure in his own world and life (no matter how screwed up it is), he's still pretty insecure about his place in Sam's world. Deep down, Dean still thinks that Sam is only around for as long as it takes to find Papa and that scares the crap out of him.
After their visit to the psychiatrist, there’s the serious meat of the episode – the creepy crawling around the asylum. I love and adore the scene with Sam calling “Dean! Dean! Shotgun!” Dean is always ready and willing to kill something for Sam. No questions asked. No matter how insecure he is about his place in Sam’s world, he knows that it is his duty
to protect Sam – no matter what.
Sadly, after some plot peril with the teenagers in trouble and some time spent on advancing the A plot, Dean’s insecurities about Sam come to a head when mindcontrolSam! shoots him point blank with a shotgun. Initially, Dean is more concerned about whatever is controlling Sam and insuring that he doesn’t hurt Sam in trying to subdue him. However, once the crisis passes and Sam admits that he remembers the whole event, Dean begins to wonder just how much of the episode was due to Ellicot and just how much was actually Sam’s true repressed feelings. After all if Sam could truly shoot him, then Dean’s fears about his place in Sam’s life must be valid.
However, in true Dean-fashion, he opts to not acknowledge or deal with these feelings openly, choosing instead to bottle them up tight and try to move on with their lives. Despite his doubts, Dean truly believes that if he works hard enough and tries hard enough, then he can win Sam’s respect. He’s used the same approach with Papa Winchester for years and had some limited success with it (he gets to go out on his own jobs now because Dad trusts him), so he has no reason to believe that it won’t eventually work on Sam.
So, the take home message from Asylum is that Dean is okay with Sam’s psychic abilities, but he remains insecure about his overall relationship with Sam. This insecurity is only heightened by Sam’s ability to shoot Dean, thereby providing plenty more brotherly angst to come!