The episode Home
, for Dean, is a journey. In many ways, it's a journey that most people have to make at some point, mother shish-kebabed on a ceiling or not, there's always something that you don't feel you can deal with, or somewhere you don't want to go back to, fearful of what might be there when you arrive.“Especially when...I swore to myself that I would never go back there.”
It's notable that when Sam gives Dean a 1-2 punch of going back to Lawrence and Sam having dreams that sometimes come true, Dean is far more concerned with the idea of going to Lawrence than he is about Sam's burgeoning psychic abilities. Dean emphatically does not want to go back to Lawrence. It's a place where his good memories were destroyed in one night, where he lost his mother and where his life changed forever. As much as he likes his life as it has come to be (and I do believe he does), to go back to what made that life come about? To go back to somewhere he left behind many years ago? To confront his past? The thought of that terrifies him It's obvious he has a minefield of unresolved issues when it comes to Lawrence, but, at the same time, the hunter in him knows he has to do this because it's what he does. He will not let people get hurt if he can stop it.“Are you alright?” “Let me get back to you on that.”
Once they've made it to Lawrence, Dean's uneasiness only increases. Sam picks up on it and takes the lead in the investigation. When Jenny opens the door to them, Dean immediately goes to put on a character as he would in any other case. Here, however, it could mean more. Does he feel like it might be easier if he has to maintain a different persona? It's possible that it's such a reflex for him now that he doesn't think about it, that it's a type of security, a way of maintaining his distance and he feels that he needs to do that with this case or else he'll fall apart.
Where Sam is curious about the house, walking right in as soon as Jenny invites them in, Dean is wary, a few seconds behind Sam. The explanation for that is simple; Dean remembers, Sam doesn't. Dean's tight smile when Jenny mentions 'happy memories' is another indication that, yes, Dean almost certainly does have happy memories, but not from this house because one incident blocks everything else out.
While talking to Jenny, the charm and finesse that Dean has previously displayed when talking to 'civilians' almost vanishes. His questions have no preamble, he wants to find out what is wrong with the house, fix it and then get the hell away from there as quickly as possible. The longer the conversation goes on, the more uncomfortable he is. He looks in different directions, fidgets and gives the impression that he could bolt for the door at any given time. Also, considering he has been shown to have a rapport with children, he is not the one who tells Ceri that there were no monsters in the closet when they lived there, it's Sam. Of course, for Dean, there were monsters in that house when he lived there, so maybe he just doesn't like the idea of lying to a child.“Or maybe it's something else entirely Sam, we don't know yet.”
As they leave the house, it's obvious what Ceri has told them about a 'figure on fire' has freaked Dean out a lot. When Sam is questioning him about what he thinks it could be, Dean is getting more and more frustrated because he really doesn't know what it is and therefore, doesn't know how to fight it. It just being a malevolent spirit is too vague to fight, he needs details in order to do that. While Sam seems willing to contemplate the idea that it's the same thing that killed their mother, Dean is less so, possibly because their father isn't there. It would almost certainly feel wrong to Dean to even try and fight what killed their mother without John there.“Does this feel like just another job to you?”
Just before Dean starts to talk about the night their mother died, there's a slight shake of his head and you get the impression that if it was anyone else but Sam asking him to talk about it, he would refuse. This, along with the Journal knowledge that in the aftermath of Mary's death Dean didn't speak, implies that there are probably very few people to who Dean has actually spoken about the events of that night to. Even when he talks to Sam here it's in as little detail as possible, the basic facts of what happened. Considering the way he almost breaks down when leaving a message for John, it's likely that he knows if he talks about it in any great detail while working this job, he will not be able to get it done.
The message he leaves for John is interesting in many ways. If we didn't have the visual of Dean's face, it wouldn't actually be that emotional until the last few lines. Before that, the message is just informing John of where they are and what they're doing. It's only with the “I don't know what to do.” that Dean shows how lost he is feeling being back in Lawrence and having to face all kinds of mental demons he was probably hoping never to deal with again, or, at least not without both his father and brother there. The fact that he makes the phonecall away from Sam shows a conscious decision not to show Sam how close he is to breaking because he's the older brother, he's the one that has to be strong for their family and who has to take care of Sam. Dean is obviously aware that the last time they were in Lawrence and that house, Sam almost died and he does not want that to even have a chance of happening again. He feels vulnerable in Lawrence, it's a place that took away everything he knew up until he was 4 years old and he doesn't want it to take away the few things he has now, namely, Sam and John. Yet he knows he can't get through being there without them.“I always thought he meant the state.”
Missouri's treatment of Dean gets criticised a lot. I think she can sense just how close to breaking he is, and by scolding him, she gives him something else to think about while in Lawrence so he doesn't implode. If he was just focusing on what happened to Mary, he would not be able to keep his mind on the job, and the hunter in him knows he has to do that in order to help Jenny and her children. It's worth noting that Missouri's comments ease off once they find out that what is in the house is a poltergeist due to the fact that Dean has something he knows he can fight and that occupies his mind. He has something to do now, he's not just in Lawrence for some abstract reason, there's something for him, the hunter, to get rid of in order to save people.
The only time Dean actually seems to take offense is when Missouri comments on his EMF reader, calling him an 'amateur'. The fact that he's back in the room his mother died in while trying to do a job is one reading of it, or it could just be that he objects to being called an amateur after having fought numerous evil beings and dedicating his life to that.“Nobody's dying in this house, ever again.”
Again, Dean's reluctance to step into the room where Mary was killed speaks volumes. He knows that the room was Sam's nursery before Missouri says it and he barely steps past the doorway. Once he finds out that the thing in the house isn't what killed Mary, his demeanour changes, he becomes far more focused on the job. This is his job, he's a hunter. This is what he can do for Jenny and her family to make sure no one can ever die in that house again. While making the sacks to put in the walls of the house, he constantly asks Missouri questions about what it is they're going to do, he's adding to his knowledge as a hunter in case he ever comes up against this again. Of course, being that he's Dean, he also has to taste some of the dirt, which to no one's surprise except his, tastes gross!
The fight is where Dean is most confident. While in the kitchen to do his part of the ritual, his senses are alive and he's aware of everything around him. He hears the knives before they launch at him and is able to get the table up to protect himself. Once he knows the poltergeist is attacking them and he's finished his part, his thoughts immediately turn to Sam and he races up the stairs to find him. As a brother, he's goes to save him, but it's his hunter's instinct that makes his head think that he has to finish the ritual in order to get rid of the poltergeist that's attacking his brother.“What are we still doing here?”
What it comes back to is that Dean trusts Sam implicitly. When Sam asks Missouri if she's sure that it's over, Dean can see that something is bothering him. It doesn't, however, stop him from wanting to leave Lawrence, because to his mind, the job is over and Jenny and her children are safe. It's only Sam's sense that something is wrong that keeps him there. When it becomes clear that it's not over and that something is still there, Dean goes right back into hunter mode, giving orders to Sam and kicking doors down in order to save lives.“He's inside, something's got him.”
Dean immediately races to the trunk to get the weapons. Sam being trapped in that house is probably the worst thing Dean could think of happening while in Lawrence. As I said before, being there makes him vulnerable. His life after 4 years old was ruled by what happened in that house, he cannot forget it. He saved Sam from that house once before and he has no intention of having him die in it now, especially after he's just got him back. The level of violence from Dean in order to get into the house is something that hasn't been seen before. Sure, he's been violent at other times, but not with such a desperation behind it.“Because, I know who it is.”
As soon as Dean sees his mother, he changes. His hands shake as he lowers the shotgun and his face loses it's hardness, he's mesmerised by what he sees. This is a person he hasn't seen for 22 years, who he probably only has vague memories of and she's there, in front of him. He cannot take his eyes off her at all, he watches her constantly, even when she destroys herself in order to save them, he watches her. The silent, mouthed 'Mom' after she does this is heartbreaking because he's still looking for her. His eyes search the room with a look of disbelief on his face. After 22 years, part of him is still a little boy looking for his mother.
Dean does get to come to a sort of resolution. When he thanks Jenny for the photos, he means it. He can look at the photos now and even possibly remember good times they had in Lawrence. Even when Missouri tells them not to be strangers and Dean answers that they won't, you get the idea that he means it. They might not stop by on a regular basis, there's obviously still painful memories associated with Lawrence, but one day they'll be back, just to check in. Dean's managed to confront part of his past and while it's not over, and might not ever be, he's able to carry on now.