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.