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Heavy Meta Poisoning
Supernatural is truth
Family Portrait: John in Provenance 
15th-Sep-2006 10:53 pm
Pomegranate


There’s not a whole lot to meta about for John in Provenance. He’s not in the episode, and his presence via the thoughts of Sam and Dean seems to be minimal. Nonetheless, there are a few things to note in relation to John in the episode.

The closest the episode came to an explicit reference to John was in the scene where the local historian was telling Sam and Dean about Isaiah Washington. Isaiah was the father of the family depicted in the haunted painting, a man who was assumed to have killed his family and himself.

The historian told them that Isaiah Washington was reputed to have a “stern and harsh temperament,” and that he “controlled his family with an iron fist.” At that, Sam sort of twitched his mouth and cut a look down at Dean, and Dean glanced up at Sam, as though expecting some sort of look or comment. This would seem to follow up on Sam’s complaints in other episodes (such as Bugs) that John was overbearing and wouldn’t let Sam go his own way.

Sam’s look at Dean may also be in reaction to the revelations in the previous episode, Something Wicked, of John’s reaction to young Dean’s failure to protect little Sam. In any case, Dean was clearly expecting some kind of guff from Sam about Dad in response to the description of Isaiah Washington.

Another way that John fits into this episode are in questions of how his training and influence affects the way they handle the case. In the scene where they climbed over the wrought iron fence, I thought about the military-style obstacle courses he probably had them practice on. When they disarmed the electronic alarm system, I wondered if John had taught them that skill or if it was something that Dean had picked up and passed on to Sam. In the boys’ first visit to the auction house, I thought that perhaps rude, grouchy Dean represented John on a bad day, and smooth, charming (or attempting to charm) Sam represented John on a good day.

Finally, I heard an echo of John in Sam’s words to Sarah. Sam said, “The pain that I went through. I can’t go through it again. I can’t.” By all appearances, John never moved on after losing Mary--never remarried, still wears his wedding ring. Also, in Dead Man’s Blood, he said that his priority after Mary’s death was keeping Sam and Dean safe and that putting the boys in the demon’s path scared the hell out of him. As Sam will tell John in Dean Man’s Blood, they’re a lot alike.
Comments 
16th-Sep-2006 03:25 am (UTC)
Great meta. I hadn't picked up the nuances around the Conversaiton of Isaiah but you are so right. I think your are also spot on with your observations about the echo of John in Sam's words.

Dean's talk to Sam about Sarah also makes me wonder whether he ever had a similar conversation with John?

Also I think John's training shows up not only in the physical side of training, but one thing both the boys repeatedly demonstrate while hunting is the ability to make difficult decisions quickly. Despites Sam's later protestations to Dean about John's style, he and Dean (at elast in the heat of a hunt) often make decisions without long consultations.
16th-Sep-2006 03:30 am (UTC)
Despites Sam's later protestations to Dean about John's style, he and Dean (at elast in the heat of a hunt) often make decisions without long consultations.

Oh, yeah. As much as Sam may gripe about it, that training is deeply ingrained in both of them. Thanks, I'm glad you liked the meta!
17th-Sep-2006 02:44 am (UTC)
I think that's totally different though, because Sam and Dean act as partners. Dean clearly listens to and respects Sam's suggestions most of the time. So there is good reason for them to respect each other in the heat of the hunt, they know they will be listened to when there IS time. Whereas John just expects "I said it, do it" "I said it, I won't explain it". Even when he has time to do it, he won't. So Sam reacts against all the time, even when there is good reason to listen in those 'heat of the hunt' moments because when there isn't a need for it, it was still expected.
16th-Sep-2006 11:03 pm (UTC)
Dean's talk to Sam about Sarah also makes me wonder whether he ever had a similar conversation with John?

oh--oh, this is VERY interesting. I am going to have to think about this A LOT. *g* oh dean, you are such a complicated delicious boy.
17th-Sep-2006 12:26 am (UTC)
Yes, i am sure the years Dean and John spent together without Sam, Dean wasn't all just "yessir nosir". They would've shared a lot beyond just hunting. Besides the father/son, drill sargeant/private, aspects of the realtionship were there, i think they also became mates. Dean wouldn't be the man he is without John. Aside from hunting they would've shared laughs together, drinks, games of pool. I think this aspect of their relationship is much underexplored.

And I wonder what was John's reaction to Dean and Cassie?
17th-Sep-2006 12:31 am (UTC)
*nod* i don't know about...'mates' exactly, but i certainly think they have to have had a close loving relationship, in that strange no-communication way men do. *g* honestly, I think this fic, and stele3's "1300 days" pretty much sum up how I imagine that period. Which is helpful as then I don't have to actually explain *myself,* but can just point. *hee*

and specifically, now i'm all wondering about how dean would react if john really hit it off with some woman during a job--would he encourage it, or not? i can see either way, really, it all depends on what particular view of dean I have at the moment, which depends on, like, the phases of the moon. so. *g*
17th-Sep-2006 01:00 am (UTC)
Thanks for the recs. *headdesk as I hate missing good fic* I've read 1300 days, but missed <lj user="monkeycrackmary>'s piece. It's so spot-on. As to Dean's reaction, I think <i>generally</i> he would put what John wanted first, even if he hated it.
16th-Sep-2006 03:42 am (UTC)
Good meta. Thanks for putting this together.
16th-Sep-2006 04:09 am (UTC)
Thanks! It's funny how you can find John just about anywhere once you go looking for him.
16th-Sep-2006 07:29 am (UTC)
Oh that little moment jumped out at me when I first watched this ep. The look the boys exchange is wonderful - I hadn't connected it to Something Wicked though, I just thought that Dean would expect sam to react to the stern father comment. But after Something Wicked, that makes so much more sense.


Love that the boys are various versions of John - that's a great observation. Good stuff!
16th-Sep-2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
But after Something Wicked, that makes so much more sense.

I'm not sure if it had anything to do with that--just a thought.
16th-Sep-2006 08:18 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading this.

In any case, Dean was clearly expecting some kind of guff from Sam about Dad in response to the description of Isaiah Washington.

I had totally forgotten that moment, and I agree.

16th-Sep-2006 03:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading! :)
16th-Sep-2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
In any case, Dean was clearly expecting some kind of guff from Sam about Dad in response to the description of Isaiah Washington.

Interesting observation in an observational kind of way. ;) But I hadn`t picked up on that. And it`s telling how Dean may have expected it, but it didn`t come. At least not verbally. Back in Bugs everybody might have gotten an earful with a reiteration of "How can you always defend the guy" and "How can you always attack him."

While I guess John`s rep with Sam took a nosedive after the revelation in SW, he isn`t as angry anymore.

One thing I would have liked to see would have been John`s reaction to the Saturday Night Fever motel room. *g*
16th-Sep-2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
One thing I would have liked to see would have been John`s reaction to the Saturday Night Fever motel room. *g*

Oh, yeah, I would love to see that! Some sort of snarky comment in that gravely voice...*swoons*
17th-Sep-2006 12:17 am (UTC)
or he'd just strike a John Travolta Saturday Night Fever disco pose!
17th-Sep-2006 12:22 am (UTC)
*dies*
(Deleted comment)
16th-Sep-2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
With this show and these guys, I really think that if you go looking for the influence of Daddy Winchester you will find it.
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