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The Dark Corners of Dean's Psyche in Devil's Trap 
24th-Sep-2006 09:58 pm
SPN angst

The Dark Corners of Dean’s Psyche in Devil’s Trap

Like everyone else, I can’t wait to see the season 2 premiere. Not just to see how they all withstand the car crash, but because I want to see how Dean recovers from all the mental and emotional trauma of this episode. Remember, as much as I love Dean, he’s really screwed up in the mental health department, IMHO. This episode points this out in spades.

At the beginning of the episode, we see Dean begin to unravel by insisting that they do nothing else besides find dad. Remember, the series started with Dean needing Sam’s help to find Dad. While he was definitely focused on finding Dad at that point, he is desperate to find him this time since this time he knows who’s behind John’s disappearance. It takes Sam to get Dean focused enough to come up with a viable plan – get to Bobby.

Once they get to Bobby’s, we begin to see exactly what Dean is capable of doing to protect his family. Dean unleashes on Meg all of his pent-up anger and frustration at the Demon for everything it has done to the Winchesters. It’s scary to watch, even for Sam and Bobby. They seem genuinely bothered by what Dean can do, when pushed to the brink. Dean has to push Sam along through the exorcism. Dean is completely focused on getting John back, and he doesn’t care who gets in his way. Then even once Meg tells them what she knows, Dean pushes Sam to finish the exorcism even though it means that Meg will die. He tells both Sam and Bobby that they need to put her out of her misery. While I do think that Dean believes that, I think that deep down, in that dark place that he doesn’t want to acknowledge, he wants vengeance on Meg for everything she has done.

Once the demon has been exorcised and Dean hears the “real” Meg, then you can see the pain in his face as he realizes that he has killed this girl. Yes, the demon tortured her and caused the damage to her body, but it was ultimately Dean who caused her death by forcing the exorcism. You can see it in his face as he internalizes one more pain and tragedy in his life.

Then, we have the fabulous scene at the car with Dean and Sam. Still angry, Dean lashes out at Sam first about drawing the protective symbols and then about not taking the gun with them. Dean confesses that he doesn’t care what Dad would want; he only cares about getting Dad back alive and in one piece. Then we get the most telling piece of dialogue about Dean. I personally think this is the deepest insight that we have into Dean’s character for the whole season.

Dean: “Well, you and Dad are a lot more alike than I thought, you know that? You both can’t wait to sacrifice yourself for this thing. You know what, I’m going to be the one to bury you!”

That one outburst sums up how Dean views his role in the family. He’s the survivor, the caretaker. He’s the one who’s going to left all alone at the end, once Sam and John have worked out their own vengeance issues with the Demon. Dean knows that’s his role, but he’s certainly not happy about it.

Now they finally go to get John, and we get the very lighthearted insight into Dean that he always wanted to be a fireman when he grew up. Somehow, I think I can believe that. I’m guessing that’s what he wanted to be when he was four years old, before Mary died. It’s a very normal career aspiration for a four year old. I think Dean just latched onto that after Mary died. If his life had been different, then he would have been a fireman.

Moving on, they find Dad, and Dean continues to let his emotions get the best of him. Sam makes the very good point that John could be possessed, and Dean acts like he’s nuts. In Dean’s very fragile mind at this point, John is Daddy, and Dean just finally found his Daddy. How on earth could anything be wrong with him? He finally sees reason and lets Sam check him with the holy water. Then Dean gets back to work rescuing John.

As they make their great escape, then we get an even clearer look at the dark place in Dean. He shoots demon dude (i.e. Meg’s brother) in the head without a second thought in order to protect Sam. He could have shot to wound him or tried to get him of Sam some other way. Dean never considered another option; he wanted demon dude dead.

Then comes the great final scene in the cabin. Dean confesses to Sam that even he is afraid of his dark side.

Dean: “ Sam, you know that guy I shot. There was a person in there.”
Sam: “You didn’t have a choice, Dean.”
Dean: “I know. That’s not what bothers me.”
Sam: “ Then what does?”
Dean: “Killing that guy. Killing Meg. I didn’t hesitate; I didn’t even flinch. For you or Dad, the things I’m willing to do or kill. It’s just ... It scares me sometimes.”


Then comes the touchy-feely conversation with Dad that freaks the hell out of Dean. Clearly, praise from Dad is an unusual thing. Dean doesn’t feel as though he’s praise-worthy at this point. He knows that John would never praise him at this point. Dean’s hunter side overcomes his inner child who wants his Daddy. I think Dean is very gratified that Sam believes him and takes his side over Demon-John.

Once Demon-John finally shows his true colors and begins to torture Dean, then we get to see a clear view of Dean’s inner four-year-old. He begs John not to let the Demon kill him. He begs Sam not to kill John, not to kill his Daddy. Dean’s adult hunter side knows that Sam should kill the Demon, but his inner four-year-old just can’t do it.

As they make their get away in the Impala, Dean lays quietly in the backseat, not contributing to Sam and John’s conversation. I think Dean is trying to hold it all in and not lose it in front of either John or Sam. Then the crash happens.

So, bottom line, Dean has some really dark corners in his psyche that he’s now had out on display for Sam to see, and I think he really, really wishes that Sam had never seen that part of him. I’m hoping that we get to see some resolution of the Dean emotional angst/damage in the Season 2 opener. I’m hoping that Kripke won’t just leave us to fill in the blanks with fanfic and meta discussions!
Comments 
25th-Sep-2006 03:08 am (UTC)
He’s the survivor, the caretaker.

So true.

Oh, Dean. :)
25th-Sep-2006 03:43 am (UTC)
He does need a really big hug, doesn't he?

**wibble**
25th-Sep-2006 03:09 am (UTC)
Kripke needs to let Sam actually hug Dean, that would help imho.
25th-Sep-2006 03:42 am (UTC)
Awww, that would help on SO many levels. *g*
25th-Sep-2006 02:54 pm (UTC)
Amen. It would help Dean, help Sam, and help me a WHOLE lot. ;P
25th-Sep-2006 03:17 am (UTC)
He tells both Sam and Bobby that they need to put her out of her misery. While I do think that Dean believes that, I think that deep down, in that dark place that he doesn’t want to acknowledge, he wants vengeance on Meg for everything she has done.

Hmmm. I don't think so. I think for Dean, this is a very black and white issue. He can't understand anyone who would think living while possessed by a demon is better than dying, and so for him it's simple: even if she dies in the process, she has to be free. Simple as that. However, I do think he thought her life was an acceptable price to pay for sending the demon back to hell, and that's an entirely different issue. Similar, but different. He didn't want revenge on Meg at all, but he has already made up his mind that he's doing her a favor, and that's that. Even when he's faced with the human cost of it, he doesn't waver in that opinion at all.

FOUR DAYS!
25th-Sep-2006 03:48 am (UTC)
He can't understand anyone who would think living while possessed by a demon is better than dying, and so for him it's simple: even if she dies in the process, she has to be free.

I think this is absolutely true. When thinking with his conscious brain, he absolutely believes this, and I think many of us would agree with that sentiment. However, I think in his deep dark brain (the one that none of us ever want to acknowledge), he still wants revenge on the Demon, no matter the cost. Just my opinion. My Dean is maybe just a little darker than yours. *g*

FOUR DAYS!

Whee!!!!!!!
25th-Sep-2006 03:54 am (UTC)
Oh, no no. I absolutely agree he wants revenge on the demon, no matter the cost. What I'm saying is, I disagree that he wanted revenge on Meg in any way, which is what you said above. However, as I said, and we are saying the same thing on this point -- he felt her life *was* an acceptable cost for revenge on the demon, and that's where the difference (and the darkness) lies. He's willing to sacrifice her life in a heartbeat to get revenge on the demon, but I don't think he was willing to do that because he wanted revenge on *her*. She's just a casualty of war. Sorry if I wasn't clear. (I like Dean nice and dark, so there's no difference there at all. *g*)
26th-Sep-2006 07:52 pm (UTC)
But she had NO life. She was literally only alive because the demon inside her was keeping her that way, it was simply using her body. It was either keep the body alive(with Meg's consciousness completely trapped) by allowing the demon to remain and do damage to her(by keeping her prisoner) and everyone else or get rid of the demon and let nature take it's course. They really didn't have a choice as I see it. It wasn't helping Meg or anyone else allowing the demon to remain in the body.
26th-Sep-2006 07:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's true. But it's not my point. My point is about the semantic difference between Dean wanting revenge on Meg the human person who hosted the demon (which I don't believe he did) vs. wanting the demon destroyed and what Dean considers an acceptable cost. Her life or lack thereof is only relevant inasmuch as Dean didn't care if Meg-the-human lived or died as long as she was freed in the process, which is an entirely different issue. The cost of freeing her was peripheral to freeing her and banishing the demon.

So I think I'll bow out of this conversation, 'cause I'm having trouble making myself understood, and I'm sure that's on me for not being clear. *g*
25th-Sep-2006 03:23 am (UTC)
Yeah. He's definitely the survivor, who also puts the rest of his family's needs above his own.

But I do think that once Dean realized that there was a human girl in there with demon!Meg, he backed off on the physical damage he could have inflicted and concentrated on getting his revenge by making the demon get out of her. Even knowing that it probably would kill her...I think Deam just thought she was better off dead than possessed.

(In fact, I wondered what Sam and Bobby were thinking. It's not like they could have released demon!Meg back into the world, after all. That girl had two options--being trapped in her own body with the demon in control or getting it out and risking death. I suppose there was a third option...they could have left her stuck in Bobby's living room in the demon trap, but that seems a little awkward for Bobby's social life...)
25th-Sep-2006 03:40 am (UTC)
But I do think that once Dean realized that there was a human girl in there with demon!Meg, he backed off on the physical damage he could have inflicted

See, I really don't see that. As I rewatched the episode to write the meta, I was really struck by his anger and how he pushed onward. Sam seemed rather horrified in response, IMHO.

I think Dean just thought she was better off dead than possessed.

Absolutely. In his conscious brain, he absolutely believes that and believes that he was freeing Meg the girl from the Demon. However, in the dark scary place of his brain, I think he still wanted revenge. Just my thought. Guess your Dean's a little nicer than mine. *g*
25th-Sep-2006 03:45 am (UTC)
sorry - just butting in to say I agree with you about the WTF do we do with Meg? Lol at the thought of her becoming Bobby's new roomie * has idea for wacky sitcom spin-off*. But seriously Dean, by Meg's own admission, made th eright choice.
25th-Sep-2006 03:50 am (UTC)
Absolutely. He didn't have another choice (although I do like the image of her trapped in Bobby's living room *snerk*). However, I think what scared Sam and what I was noticing was his lack of remorse about proceeding. Just my opinion.
25th-Sep-2006 04:07 am (UTC)
Oh I agree - I think the irony being that in Salvation it was Sam's intensity that scared Dean and it's the other way round.
25th-Sep-2006 03:24 am (UTC)
Wonderful meta - almost enough to keep me going until Thursday!

he wants vengeance on Meg for everything she has done.
You've really hit on something here - Dean taps into a whole new level of emotion here. I rewatched this ep last night, and was stunned at the level of hatred in Dean during this scene. This is the uncontrolled rage of a child whose Daddy has been taken away - and damn its scarey!

The other telling piece of dialogue b/w Sam and Dean when they are at the car, is when Dean calls Sam selfish for wanting vengence - because I think that is how exactly how Dean sees himself.

One line that also intrigues me is when Sam says “You didn’t have a choice, Dean.” Well, um, yes he did Sam. Its just that he chose to shoot the guy and save you. I think Sam here doesn't want to acknowledge the role he, and Dean's love for him, have played in Dean ending up in this dark place.

25th-Sep-2006 03:41 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for the compliment!

I think Sam here doesn't want to acknowledge the role he, and Dean's love for him, have played in Dean ending up in this dark place.

Ooo, I really like that idea. I hadn't thought of that before, but I could completely buy into that idea! Thanks for stopping by!
25th-Sep-2006 09:28 am (UTC)
Hmm. I don't know if Dean wanted vengeance on Meg-the-demon. Dean sees himself as the protector of his family, and the eroding glue that holds them together as a unit and as individuals who need protecting from physical injury. This is part of his core identity, and is something he took to, fish to water, when he was four and Sam was thrust into his care.

Dean's a hunter, a family guy, a father (Sam's) in spirit, and a caretaker. These are roles that naturally extend outside of his family circle because this is who he is. His core identity. Dean feels duty-bound to protect those who need it; fate has assigned him the role, and Dean has taken it up whole-heartedly. There is nothing he won't do to protect his family, and he will do whatever is possible to protect others (civilians) where doing so will not overly jeapordise his family beyond the regular dangers of their job.

I think his motivation in having Sam continue the exorcism is as stated by Dean himself. Protecting his family and saving Meg from the cruel fate of being alive as a passenger in her own body. Front row, center stage, with a clear view of the death being dealt by a demon wearing her own face.

Dean saves Meg by condemning her to die, and I think he is very aware of that fact. It's hurtful for him to see her as Meg-the-human, but to Dean the situation is black and white. Meg's very being, her soul, needs saving from a fate worse than death, and Dean needs to save her as much as he needs to find and save his father. The end outcome of exorcising the demon in Meg accomplishes both goals. Meg's soul is saved and she is given peace, and Dean has the lead he needs to save John.

As Dean the hunter, he is probably also aware of how dangerous it is to leave an enemy, a demon, alive. Meg-the-demon is part of a group of demons with designs on Sam, one that holds John captive. Keeping it alive is whimsy. Romanticism. Bad hunting. And really, Sam and Bobby should know better. It is not a realistic option. Sam and Bobby might not be able to stand the thought of having Meg-the-human's blood on their hands, but Dean is, because that's who he is. The guy who protects his family and the guy who saves innocents any way he can.

(If he can't save the body, he can save the soul.)

Yes, Dean would walk right into hell and slaughter Meg-the-demon's entire family if John died, and he would do it for vengeance, but this is not that scenario, Dean is not yet at that point, and in Bobby's house Dean is capable of making the distinction between demon and human, necessary and not, and right there, in that moment Dean would not take vengeance on a demon at the expense of a human life. The protector in him would not allow it and Dean is bull-headed enough that he would find another way if one was available. To condemn Meg-the-human for vengeance is to betray Dean's core being, and I don't think he's capable of doing that.

Not yet, anyway.

My 2c. :)
26th-Sep-2006 03:16 am (UTC)
As Dean the hunter, he is probably also aware of how dangerous it is to leave an enemy, a demon, alive.

And yet, he begs Sam not to kill Demon!John at the end of the episode.

To condemn Meg-the-human for vengeance is to betray Dean's core being, and I don't think he's capable of doing that.

I disagree, but then I wrote the thing that prompted this comment in the first place! Your point of view is definitely running in the majority among the comments though. I'll just keep my Dark!Dean over here in the corner. *g*
26th-Sep-2006 03:24 am (UTC)
Yes, but Dean's first priority is keeping his family alive, which will sometimes contradict what's considered smart hunting. It's not logical, it's emotional, and yes, really, Sam should have pulled the trigger and killed John (because that is smart). At this point though, Dean is on the edge, his family is being threatened and bending the rules, being illogical, is pretty much a foregone conclusion when acting out of emotion.

Aww. :) I think your Dark!Dean might show up in the second season. He's been pushed enough and suffered through enough that it really is personal now, where the lines Dean's had are blurred and he's less concerned about others than he is his own family. How much of his feelings will be tempered by his core self, who knows, but I imagine that he's got some very large dents in his psyche right now.
25th-Sep-2006 11:59 am (UTC)
While I agree that Dean was scarily and sexily unhinged in DT, I thought he made the right call with killing the Demon`s children.

There was no option for Meg either way and when Bobby and Sam voiced their reservations about finishing the excorcism, I actually shook my head at them.
"What are you gonna do with her? Release her or let her spend eternity or whatever a demon`s life-span is under that sigil? Are you braindead?" *g*

And with demonic Cade Foster, it was a call of either him or Sam. Seeing as the guy had flung Dean away like a rag doll with telekinesis, I personally wouldn`t have risked anything other than a killing blow either.
What if a shot to, say, the leg didn`t detain him and he calls the Colt to himself or something? Or throws Dean into a wall to kill him. Too risky. That was a cold and rational hunter`s decision, even if executed in the heat of battle.

Where otoh I totallly agree that when it came to Daddy, Dean reverted back to a little boy here and was totally in denial.

I think Dean is trying to hold it all in and not lose it in front of either John or Sam.

And just imagine, the demon told him, Sam is John`s favorite and even when they fight, he shows Sam more consideration than he`s ever shown Dean. Fast forward to the car, John fights with Sam and ignores Dean bleeding in the backseat. Holy moly, talk about rubbing it in.
26th-Sep-2006 03:12 am (UTC)
And just imagine, the demon told him, Sam is John`s favorite and even when they fight, he shows Sam more consideration than he`s ever shown Dean. Fast forward to the car, John fights with Sam and ignores Dean bleeding in the backseat. Holy moly, talk about rubbing it in.

Dude!! I didn't even think about that angle. That's an awesome take on the situation. Poor Dean!!

**snuggles Dean**
(Deleted comment)
26th-Sep-2006 03:11 am (UTC)
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the compliment. It seems that the vote is running in your favor for Dean's motivations! That's why we discuss things, right?
(Deleted comment)
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