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Heavy Meta Poisoning
Supernatural is truth
Dean Meta for Hell House 
19th-Sep-2006 09:47 pm
Once Upon A Time - Orphan Hugging
Dean Meta for Hell House - "Bring it on, Baldy."

Let’s start with the first prank pulled. Sam is sleeping, Dean takes a spoon, inserts it into Sam’s mouth, pulls out his camera phone, and takes a picture.  He then cranks the music up, sings along, and air drums a little solo on the steering wheel.  The next dialog exchange is what I find interesting.

Sam: Ha. Ha. Very funny.
Dean: Sorry.  Not a lot of scenery here in East Texas, kinda got to make your own.
Sam: Man, we’re not kids anymore, Dean. We’re not going to start that crap up again!
Dean: Start what up?
Sam: That prank stuff! It’s stupid and it always escalates!
Dean: Awww, what’s a matter, Sammy, afraid you’re going to get a little Nair in your shampoo again, huh?
Sam: Alright, just remember you started it.
Dean: Ohhh, bring it on, baldy.

Okay, so they would lead me to believe that Dean hasn’t pulled a single prank on Sam since they started this road trip almost a year ago?  That he never pulled some little joke that could have been seen as a “prank”? Was there something specific about the “spoon in the mouth” joke that made Sam take the leap to “Prank War”?  I always thought it was so interesting that Sam immediately went from “Dean stuck a spoon in my mouth while I was sleeping” to an all out Prank War.  

The other interesting thing about this scene is how quickly Sam gets over the prank.  After glaring at Dean and vowing to get him back, he’s rattling off their next gig and laughing right along with Dean. Any animosity is quickly forgotten and they’re back on equal footing again.

The Prank War seems to have established rules, which shows they probably did this a lot as children.  Don’t lose focus on the job, don’t do anything that will irreparably harm the other, but anything else is fair game. The Prank War is not just a way to blow off some steam, it’s a way to remind them of their childhood.  If you look at the pranks that are played - spoon in the mouth, screwing with the car, itching powder, and superglue - they are all the level of a pre-pubescent boy. (And please don't argue with me that Sam's pranks were "classier" or more "thoughtful" - he glued Dean's hand to a beer bottle. That prank is just as stupid as the itching powder. Both boys are acting like dumb ten-year-olds and that's all we're supposed to see).  The pranking is such a BROTHER moment. I think this just continues to build on the idea that the boys are not only brothers, they're friends. 

There isn’t malice in the pranks, it is more of, “Oh, that was lame. I’m totally going to get him back for that and mine is going to be so much better”, and then on to the next prank. I like the idea of them as kids, pulling pranks on one another to keep entertained.  Again, such a brother (or sibling) thing to do.  And the fact that Dean starts it should be no surprise.  He is the one that wishes that they could go back to the way they were when they were kids.  He wants his family back.  Getting Sam to “play” with him, it just brings another piece of what their old life was like back to him. And that is what the Prank War really symbolizes.

What does Dean want? He wants his family back together.  Dean doesn't have anything else. He has his family, he has SAM, and that's it, that's the basket he's put all his eggs (happiness) into. What Dean needs more than anything else - more than girls, more than his car, more than hunting - is to have his family physically present with him. Part of the problem that will always exist between Sam and Dean is that Dean needs Sam to be with him all the way.  Dean needs his family together and physically present in his life. His definition of family means that the people in it share a physical space.  He‘s never been able to move past the idea that people leave him.  I hope someday he can wrap his head around the fact that Sam can still love him and be his brother from Ohio as well as from the passenger seat of the car, but for now, he needs Sam, and he needs him here.  And for the right here, right now, Dean has Sam.  Sam is in it completely.  He’s an equal partner, he’s a companion, he’s a brother and he’s a friend. Dean has got Sam right where he wants him with the Prank War.

If we fast forward a second to the final prank (Dean: “You didn’t”. Sam: “Oh, I DID!”) it struck me that I had never heard Sam laugh like that. Sure, he’s made that “harrumph” laugh, and he smiles sometimes, but LAUGH? Up until now he hasn’t. He’s been so caught up in Jess’s death, his new superpowers and his issues with their Father that he hasn’t been in a shining sunshine mood. But Dean did something brilliant when he opened up the door to their past by starting up the prank war again. 

He made Sam think about something other than how crappy his life is, and he reminded Sam that they had some good times when they were younger. For such a dark show, this episode was buoyed by its lightness. We got to see them both laugh and joke around and make their own happiness. They get so bogged down in “The Mission”, and “The Quest”, and the day-to-day hunts. We’ve seen them stressed, angry, mean, pissed, near-tears, in-tears, sad, broken, hurt, hurting one another and resentful. But laughing? Joking? No. At least not very often, and what little laughter we get is usually relief laughter, or dry laughter. Not laughter because of something silly and inconsequential. 

And think for a second how NORMAL the Prank War was. Yeah, yeah, haunted house, but pulling those pranks was so pedestrian. Every family in the world has done that. So guess what Sam? You already have a little bit of normal.  Now stop bitching and hug your brother. 

They were dead even in the pranking – two for each – and it was perfect that the last prank they pulled was on the Hell Hounds.  It was a nice touch to show in the end that their loyalty and solidarity still – and always will – lie with one another. Picking on those who will never know what it’s like to be them. And when they were laughing together – REALLY laughing together in the end – it was a perfect moment. They are such a united front, they don't even need to think about it. Sam can goof on Dean, but if anybody else tried it? Yeah, I don’t think so. They would be toast. 

There are a couple of other hallmark Dean moments in this episode - the first one happens when he and Sam are searching the basement for Mordecai and find a closet full of rats.  Dean confesses he hates rats and would rather have fought a ghost.  This says a hell of a lot about Dean’s character in what could be a throw away line.  There are things Dean can fight - monsters, ghosts, evil being.  But something as pedestrian and normal as rats - that he has a problem with.

And when they finally burn Mordecai’s house to the ground, Sam has the “How many things exist just because people believe in them?” line.  For Dean, that idea shakes his very core. He defines himself through two things - his family and hunting.  If the things he hunts and protects the innocent from are simply there because people believe in them, then where is his purpose?  If he is fighting against people's belief's, what happens when people stop believing? What would he do then?
Comments 
20th-Sep-2006 03:06 am (UTC)
That's deep. Haha but I actually agree. I like to remember that Dean and Sam are brothers AND friends. I love that. :]
20th-Sep-2006 01:58 pm (UTC)
I like to remember that Dean and Sam are brothers AND friends. I love that.

That's what makes the show work, IMO. Sam and Dean are brothers, which means they have to love each other, but more importantly they're friends and they like each other. That's what makes them so special. :)

And thanks. :)
20th-Sep-2006 04:16 am (UTC)
Cool meta. Your comments on what Dean wants and needs - it makes me see Dean as a tragic character, because he's the only one in the family who doesn't have a personal agenda and has assimmilated so completely with the way he was raised that if John's agenda ever ends, he probably won't know what to do with himself besides doing what he's been doing all his life.

John raised a ghost hunter, and after everything is said and done, and everybody goes home, the only way Dean is gonna be happy is if he starts his own "family business". And it's tragic because that could hardly happen. Sooner or later, Dean is going to live the rest of his life alone and still chasing ghosts - and he knows it. That's what makes that "why do you think I take you everywhere?" scene so sad to me.
20th-Sep-2006 02:00 pm (UTC)
Yeaaaah, for a Dean meta that was supposed to be just about Hell House it kinda got away from me. *L*

Sooner or later, Dean is going to live the rest of his life alone and still chasing ghosts - and he knows it. That's what makes that "why do you think I take you everywhere?" scene so sad to me.

Exactly. Dean doesn't get to have a happy ending. Which makes my heart break for him.
(Deleted comment)
20th-Sep-2006 02:01 pm (UTC)
There isn't much that was deep about Hell House so I had to branch away from the actual episode a lot ot make my point, but I think it still worked.

Thanks!! :)
20th-Sep-2006 04:18 am (UTC)
Great meta. I think you capture so much with your "Play with me Sammy" idea.
I also agree it is a way of Dean reinforcing normality for both of them. And he certainly continues to do so for Sam, as we see in Provenance, Dean is I think consciously trying to re-engage Sam in life.

And to add to your point at the end - maybe on some level Dean wonders if his "family" is just something he was created and worries that it is only his belief that gives it existence?

And I always wondered whether Dean emailed that photo of Sam around to his friends?
20th-Sep-2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
Dean is I think consciously trying to re-engage Sam in life.

Exactly. EXACTLY! That's what I wanted to say!! :) The front part of the season was all doom and gloom and trying to just stay alive but this is the first time they sort of relax a bit. Dean even tells Sam, "You're too tense. You need more laughter in your life." Above all else he wants Sam to be happy. He is just such a great guy. I think we need a group hug. *hugs group*

</i>...maybe on some level Dean wonders if his "family" is just something he was created and worries that it is only his belief that gives it existence?</i>

I was trying to the old, "ask a bunch of questions ar the end of your essay" trick to because I couldn't figure out answers for Dean's weird look at the end of the episode. I like your idea! :) I think once you start questioning what's real and what MAKES IT real - there is no spoon and all that - you begin to shake the very core of your belief structure. And I always wondered at that line - if it will come back to haunt us later.

And I always wondered whether Dean emailed that photo of Sam around to his friends?

I wondered that too. Who on earth did he send it too? "Look, Pastor Jim, I took a funny picture of Sammy!!!" Or was it just for blackmail later? *L*

20th-Sep-2006 04:59 am (UTC)
Love this meta. It's all so true. Thanks for taking the time to do this, I really like looking deeper into things in the show than what lies on the surface.
20th-Sep-2006 02:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading!! I think it's neat that we can take a funny episode like Hell House and still be able to find a deeper meaning in it. :)
20th-Sep-2006 05:37 am (UTC)
*gets warm fuzzies for Dean and Sam* This is really nice.
20th-Sep-2006 02:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks!! :)
20th-Sep-2006 06:07 am (UTC)

This made me all weepy and happy and and bursty.

I'd never really thought about the pranks as normal pedastrian type activity. Mostly because I get stuck on the whole spoon thing and think, 'What does that MEAN?'

I like that Dean needs and wants his family (his brother) physically close to him. It makes me love him more.



*gently points out a couple typos*
Don’t loose focus on the job -- lose

He’s definition of family means -- His

20th-Sep-2006 12:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks for finding the typos - once I read something six or seven times I can't see the mistakes anymore and there are some things spell check can't fix. *L* Also, that's the THIRD time I've spelled "loose" instead of "lose" this week. Twice in PWT and once here. *shakes brain*

Mostly because I get stuck on the whole spoon thing and think, 'What does that MEAN?'

This was one of the harder metas I've ever written just because a lot of this episode is surface stuff. I'd love for the itching powder to be a metaphor for Sam and how uncomfortable he is in the hunting life but...no. *L* Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. :)

I like that Dean needs and wants his family (his brother) physically close to him. It makes me love him more.

I love this too. It makes me sad though, because Dean is never going to get what he wants. And Hell House sort of points that out in gentle ways. Yes, they are taking a break and laughing and having a good time - but don't get used to it. Because this episode is the exception to the rule.
20th-Sep-2006 11:23 am (UTC)
Awesome meta. You touched on some very interesting points here, and I agree that both the boys pranks are juvenile.
Dean and his family issues are ever present, but I think this little prank war did both him and Sam some good.

Food for thought. :)
20th-Sep-2006 02:11 pm (UTC)
I think this was a break they both really needed, and they took advantage of it to get back in tune with one another.

Thanks for reading. :)
20th-Sep-2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
Awesome meta.
I totally agree that all the pranks were right on Police Academy level. And they were even at the end of the day.

Getting Sam to “play” with him, it just brings another piece of what their old life was like back to him.

Hadn`t thought of that but it makes total sense. Anything that sells Sam on being with him/in this life, he will do.

Every family in the world has done that. So guess what Sam? You already have a little bit of normal. Now stop bitching and hug your brother.

So say we all. ;)

I also loved their united front-moments. Even before the prank at the end whenever they interacted with the Hellhounds they had this little glances going on, the half-smiles and eye-rolls. They were so on the same page regarding these guys, like "Can you believe it?"

Dito at the beginning when they questioned the witnesses Twin expressions of: "WTF?" *g*

I gotta say I had trouble with the end line here because, and Sam had this idea in the first place, it wasn`t just a question of believing something into existence, it did require some kind of spell with symbols etc. So am I to believe that any demon, werewolf, ghost or Supernatural beastie ever was created because someone somewhere carved a Tulpa symbol in a wall and started believing in them?
Little bit of tongue-in-cheek by the writers I thought.
20th-Sep-2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
I also loved their united front-moments. Even before the prank at the end whenever they interacted with the Hellhounds they had this little glances going on, the half-smiles and eye-rolls. They were so on the same page regarding these guys, like "Can you believe it?"

Man, that is one of my favorite scenes of the episode. There was something I had wanted to say more on, about how it's okay for Dean to tease Sam and for Sam to tease Dean and for them to tease other people together. It's all about the unit. The little smiles and the repressed laughter of this scene in particular reinforce how singular their experience has been. No one knows what the their family has been through and all the things they've seen - it's something that's only shared between the brothers.

I gotta say I had trouble with the end line here because, and Sam had this idea in the first place, it wasn`t just a question of believing something into existence, it did require some kind of spell with symbols etc. So am I to believe that any demon, werewolf, ghost or Supernatural beastie ever was created because someone somewhere carved a Tulpa symbol in a wall and started believing in them? Little bit of tongue-in-cheek by the writers I thought.

The ending struck me as strange as well, mainly because it seemed they tried to make the episode more "serious" all of a sudden. "There is no spoon" and all that and trying to shake their belief structure. It is a goof, because Sam already argued why ANYTHING couldn't just "be" (i.e. Santa Claus). *kicks writers*

Thanks for reading!! :)
20th-Sep-2006 06:05 pm (UTC)
I hope someday he can wrap his head around the fact that Sam can still love him and be his brother from Ohio as well as from the passenger seat of the car, but for now, he needs Sam, and he needs him here. And for the right here, right now, Dean has Sam. Sam is in it completely. He’s an equal partner, he’s a companion, he’s a brother and he’s a friend. Dean has got Sam right where he wants him with the Prank War.

Interesting thoughts!
Somehow, though, i'm not sure Dean will ever get there. He tells Sam in 'Skin' that you can't tell anyone their secrets - you can't trust anyone and you can't have friends because it just never works out. I think above and beyond everything else, Dean needs his family physically there because otherwise he's horribly, deeply lonely. He follows the 'rule' - he doesn't get close *and when he did, once, she bailed* - and other than his Dad and Sam - and the occasional fellow hunter - Dean is totally alone.

I think that was probably the worst thing for him when Sam left and his Dad decided he could hunt on his own. It's obvious Dean is a gregarious kind of guy - likes to talk, have a beer, have fun. Alone, he's got silence, the car, the job, and that's *it*.

Unless or until he finds someone else to share his life with, he *has* to have Sam and his Dad, because i think he really doesn't do well alone *at all*.

Which makes me wanna snuggle him.
:)
20th-Sep-2006 06:26 pm (UTC)
I think above and beyond everything else, Dean needs his family physically there because otherwise he's horribly, deeply lonely.

That is the truest sentence anyone ever wrote about Dean.

he *has* to have Sam and his Dad, because i think he really doesn't do well alone *at all*.

Again, that is so true. He doesn't do "alone". When his Dad left to chase after the Woman in White/Ceiling Demon, what did Dean do? Make a beeline for Sam. He admits to Sam early in the Pilot that he CAN do it alone, he just doesn't WANT to.

Man, this is great. Thank you for bringing that up. :)
21st-Sep-2006 01:18 pm (UTC)
"...kay, so they would lead me to believe that Dean hasn’t pulled a single prank on Sam since they started this road trip almost a year ago? That he never pulled some little joke that could have been seen as a “prank”? Was there something specific about the “spoon in the mouth” joke that made Sam take the leap to “Prank War”? I always thought it was so interesting that Sam immediately went from “Dean stuck a spoon in my mouth while I was sleeping” to an all out Prank War. ..."

I think Dean has pulled pranks, but until then, Sam wasn't up to the ritual bonding. Then the spoon came. It needs to be bronzed, or something.
Totally, that Dean got sam back, there.

And that laugh? That wasn't just happy Sam, that was happy, evil Sam.
That was evil prank. Tiny, smallscale evil, but evil indeedy.
But, for Dean's merit, the itching powder was mean too.
Dean is a little of the vaudeville, yanno? Actually, a lot. Fits with his sense oriented perspective.

You used the word solidarity! I love that word. Totally the truth, here.

Dammit. You lured me to heavy meta. I hope I can escape without actually reading everything else, because... I could loose days of spare time here alone. I just know it. The time I went cracktastic with insomnia on supernatural_tv was too much time spent. *cries softly*
22nd-Sep-2006 01:50 pm (UTC)
I think Dean has pulled pranks, but until then, Sam wasn't up to the ritual bonding.

Ahhh, the Prank War couldn't start until SAM was ready to play along. Yup, I agree with that.

And that laugh? That wasn't just happy Sam, that was happy, evil Sam.

Yes, Sam is evil. What have I been saying all along? *L* But he was ENJOYING his evilness, and that's why it made me happy. I swear, that kid could smile while he was killing me and I'd smile back. *L*

Dammit. You lured me to heavy meta.

Mwa-ha-ha. Next I'll have you WRITING the heavy metas. It is all part of my plan to take over the world. :)
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