Dean on a plane. Sorry, this title cracks me up. :) Anyway here be my PT-meta. Stow the touchy-feely crap: Dean in Phantom Traveller
Dean has been introduced in the show as a bit of a smartass, the sarcastic, tough-guy hero. Yet we`ve always gotten glimpses into his vulnerability, even as early as the Pilot and most notably in his interaction with traumatized little
Lucas in the previous episode.
However Phantom Traveller
actually give us his first real tangible phobia. And it`s one shared by many: fear of flying.
This makes sense actually, Dean is a very down to earth type. In any sense of the word. At first glance it might seem differently, Sam is the one who wants to settle while Dean for all intents and purposes seems to enjoy the wandering lifestyle. Yet the concept behind it is as old as time. If they have lived a "normal" boring life, Sam would have wanted to "leave the farm", metaphorically speaking while Dean would have stayed.
Now in their odd lifestyle, Sam still dreams of the horizon but in this reversed scenario, the horizon is college, marrying a nice girl and settling down. Equally Dean is the oldest son, who, and that is true for a lot of firstborns, is taking on the family business and honoring the family traditions. So yes, while this takes him all over the country, he has accepted it as reality. He doesn`t dream of "flying."
The most obvious reason behind this fear is the loss of control, the perceived feeling of helplessness. Of course that wouldn`t sit well with Dean. He has no trouble rushing into danger but he wants a fighting chance, no matter how small. Up in the sky he is totally at the mercy of a machine, the pilot and perhaps luck. He himself can`t do anything.
After the way his and the whole familiy`s life was destroyed when he was four and helpless, I imagine he hates this feeling with a burning passion.
The episode didn`t make it clear if Dean has actually flown before or if it was just some deep-seated fear of the unknown. His reaction once finally onboard suggests that this is new to him. The noises, the proceedings, the ducky lips. :-)
Given how the Winchesters and especially their financial situation has been presented I don`t think plane-trips were ever in the budget. It`s much more likely the family drove cross-country in the their trusted Impala. Which Dean loves and as a bit of an anachronistic guy with a taste for the classics it certainly suits him more than the more modern travel by plane.
In fact if Dean had lived a couple decades early, he could be easily seen as a lonesome rider type.
And yet the reason he overcomes this fear, at least enough to get on the plane (which in itself is huge for someone who has truly a fear of flying), isn`t much of a surprise: it`s Sam.
Sam proposes to handle this alone but Dean immediately shoots it down. He doesn`t even entertain the notion. Going onto the plane maybe nuts, and it kinda is if you take into account that they know it will crash if the demon can`t be stopped, but compared to letting Sam face the situation alone, it is still the lesser of two evils.
This also leads us to our first role reversal in which Sam has to take the lead and show protectiveness towards his older brother. And while a bit little brotherly bratty and gleeful about it :), he is also gentle and calming.
Of course Dean resents the hell out of it nonetheless. Which shows that he isn`t used to someone fussing over him. It makes him wildly uncomfortable because he can`t successfully maintain his premiere defense mechanism, aka the tough guy facade anymore.
And until the plane is actually going down he pulls it together remarkably well. If this is indeed his first plane ride and thus his first confrontation with his fear that`s no mean feat. His later little breakdown only serves to humanize the character and, pardon the pun, ground him more. *g*Phantom Traveller
also gives us a few glimpses into Hunter Dean. For one he sleeps with a knife under his pillow. Which shows us he is always ready. Oh come on, people, not like this. Well, actually... ;-)
He is also sleeping on his stomach which is considered a more guarded, protective position.
Secondly we learn how he made an EMF-meter out of a busted up walkman. Which means he is a bit of a technical whiz. Maybe if the Winchester family had played out normally, Dean would be a geek?
Anyway, it shows us Dean is pretty smart. He just likes to apply his intelligence to practical (for him) things. Which of course would result in making things for the hunt. It`s an impressive skill and he is clearly proud of it and obviously hurt when Sam sneers at the little gadget.
Thing is, it was a stroke of genius to have it look like an old walkman because think what would happen if they had suspiciously waved around some high-tech-thingie on a plane. Dean is very much right in being proud of it and right in wanting to be acknowledged for it.
Sam`s reaction also shows how much he craves his family`s approval and how much damage they can do in withholding it.
A little nitpick on the hunting front, "Christo" is not God`s name in Latin. It`s an obscure performance artist who likes to wrap buildings into paper so unless demons are afraid of him, it wouldn`t do much good to say his name. :) Since Sam brought it up, he has to take the dumb-award for it even though Dean didn`t debate it.
Another interesting thing here is the interaction with Jerry, the person with the problem here, who has interacted with the Winchesters before. While certainly not buddies he and Dean seem to be on relatively friendly terms. So it`s not like Team Winchester didn`t leave a good impression.
Jerry also mentions Dad going on about how proud he was of Sam for going to College. Presumably when Dean was standing at his side. And while Dean kind of smirks at Sam here in an "I told you so"-way, one has to wonder if he didn`t feel a bit bitter about this. Being invisible in plain sight.
Though Jerry certainly seems to have enough confidence in Dean`s ability to have called him in the first place and also later on. After all he has never seen Sam in action so he can`t guess how the younger man will perform in a crisis. Yet he seems confident in the brothers which would put a large confidence in Dean here as the new Senior Partner.
One a side note, there is another little pop-culture reference by Dean, this time to the Blues Brothers. Which totally fits with him. I`m betting he has seen all the "it"-movies from that era or other classics. With "Ghostbusters" possibly among them. ;-)