WARNING!!! If you haven't seen "Heartache," then read no further! There will be spoilers and discussion and talk about next week's episode preview and CRAZY theories bandied about! If you don't want to read any of that, look away now! But if you do, then saddle up because we're going for a ride!
EXTRA SPECIAL WARNING!!!! In my article tonight, I'm going to raise some points that will undoubtedly be seen as contentious to some of you. I will also present theories about why these things are happening, but I want to be perfectly clear about a few things that under no circumstances are to happen in the comments section.
1. There will be NO ATTACKING myself or other commenters for presenting our opinions. They are just that: our opinions. All points of view are welcome as long as they are stated and presented in a manner that is mature and respectful.
2. No Sam vs. Dean nonsense. Talking about a character's actions doesn't automatically equate to bashing them. Of course you're allowed to have your favorite, but that doesn't mean you get to attack the other character or attack other commenters for liking the other character.
3. The other admins and myself WILL EDIT any comments we deem out of line for any reason. Keep that in mind when you post your comments. If something you read makes you angry, take a few minutes before replying to calm down.
Okay, with that aside, let's get some bullet points out of the way before we hit the really meaty matters.
- Once again, Jensen Ackles did a great job directing. I especially liked the overhead shot of the runner on the jogging path in the opening. And I think it's a testament to Jensen's directing skills and the confidence the crew and writers and producers, etc., have in him that they didn't write him out of this episode at all. It was a very Dean-heavy episode still, so not only did he have to direct, he had to act, too. Well done!
- And he had to direct his father, too! Ha! That's great. Nice to see Mr. Ackles make an appearance.
- Inyo the Mayan had hundreds of years to come up with aliases, and Brick Holmes was the best he could do????
- The guy chanting the spell and then gouging his own eye out was really creepy!
- Is it me or did Jensen and Jared both look very wll-tanned in this episode? Summer break will do that for you, I guess!
What Is Going On With Sam and Dean?
I can understand that Dean's having lots of issues readjusting to society again, that it makes him kind of snippy and harsh and really bad at sugarcoating anything. He's not very empathetic at all right now. He's enthusiastic about hunting, though, and he's trying so hard to make Sam feel the same enthusiasm. But, Dean, honey, trying to force your brother into doing anything NEVER works out for you two. The more you push, the more he's gonna push back. And, Sam, sweetie, your brother has boatloads of abandonment issues. Telling him you're gonna leave all the time just isn't the way to go about this. If you want it, of course you deserve a normal life. But he hears normal life and thinks about the last time you left, and that ended with the two of you not talking for years and him breaking in to your apartment because he thought it was the only way you'd listen to him. You see where I'm going with this? Try a different tactic of persuasion!
I really, really wanted to get some clarity tonight with what's going on in Sam's head right now. Because he definitely doesn't seem like himself. He seems disconnected, distracted almost. Not on the case but with his interactions with Dean. He feels off, like he's half there or like he's only half trying. And there has to be a reason for that because there's no way a 100% fully cognizant Sam Winchester acts like this. Some of the things he said tonight were big clues for me. "I had something I've never had before: a normal life." (Or something like that, I didn't take notes, so forgive me if I get these a little wrong.) What does Sam consider his time at Stanford? Does Brady being around him negate that time in his head, make it abnormal again? And I'm sorry, but there's no way in hell Sam never had a birthday cake at some point in his life. If Jess didn't have one for him, you can bet that Dean figured out a way to make it happen for Sam when they were growing up. You just know Dean would do something. It may not have been a great cake, but he would have gotten a cake.
Why are they both acting this way? Never fear, I have Theories!!!!! (yes, with a capital "T"!)
Theory 1: Sam's Had A Mental Breakdown
Castiel fixed Sam last season, taking on Sam's Lucifer problem and transferring it to himself. But what if that protection ended when Castiel popped into Purgatory? What if it only worked when Castiel was on Earth, too? Picture the scene in the s7 finale when Sam is alone and turning around, looking terrified. Now imagine he's terrified and looking around not because Dean is gone but because he sees hellfire all around him and hears Lucifer taunting him. What if Sam's had an entire year of trying to deal with Hallucifer again? Maybe he just doesn't have the energy to deal with Dean coming back right now.
Or maybe the Castiel fix held and Sam's mind just couldn't handle the fact that everyone was gone, Dean was gone, he was alone again, had lost his brother, the most important person in his life. So his brain just shut down. Instead of looking for his brother, Sam created a "normal life" for himself. Maybe Amelia, Riot the dog, everything is a figment of Sam's imagination. And Sam has lots of issues, so his girlfriend in this fiction isn't all candy and roses all the time. Maybe they aren't real. And if he's hallucinating them, perhaps the reason he's not acting like his usual self around Dean is because he hallucinated Dean's return before and it wasn't true. He doesn't want to get emotionally attached to this Dean because he thinks it's not the REAL Dean. Because I think we're seeing a Sam that, for whatever reason, doesn't want to or can't get emotionally attached to his brother right now. He wants to keep him at arm's length.
Theory 2: The Brothers Have Been Reset
If you've ever read Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series, this theory will be familiar to you. Sam and Dean stopped the apocalpyse, but they didn't do it how they were supposed to. To quote Bookdal, "they were supposed to save the world, but they weren't supposed to save themselves." So the final battle, the final war, never happened. Which is good, except what if it HAS to happen? So Sam and Dean get reset to where they were when we met them in the Pilot. Sam certainly seems like Stanford Sam; wants a normal life, applying for colleges, doesn't want to hunt. And Dean seems a lot like Pilot Dean, loving the hunt, the good soldier ready to track down monsters and kill them. They don't know how to relate to each other because they've been separated for a long time. They want different things out of life. So they're similar to where they started, but with some differences, just enough to make the next try at the great Heaven vs. Hell battle more likely.
Theory 3: Michael and Lucifer Are Coming Back
This ties in with theory 2 a bit, because if Sam and Dean have been reset, then it's going to be all about getting both of them to say yes to Michael and Lucifer again. I think these new angels that will be popping up later in the season are going to bust Michael out of the box. And I think Crowley has been running the long con and is going to bust Lucifer out, too. What if that tablet he so desperately wants has instructions on how to do that? There has to be more to closing the gates of Hell forever than just a spell on a tablet, so what if the gates can only be closed if the box is open?
And with Dean acting the way he is now, all morally ambiguous, I think they're setting him up to go dark this season. Sam leaving would give him pretty much no reason not to say yes to Michael when he comes back. Maybe this season or next season will be all about keeping Dean from saying yes to Michael, like it was for Sam and Lucifer. Maybe they all have to play their roles, like Gabriel said, and Dean and Sam both say yes and fight it out as Lucifer and Michael. Cass' original job was to get Dean to say yes to Michael, so maybe he has to play his role, too.
Okay, it's getting late, and I think that's enough theorizing for one night. What do you think? Do any of these sound plausible to you? For the record, I'm leaning toward Sam having a mental breakdown and creating Amelia and his perfect normal life, that he's hallucinated Dean coming back before, and he's acting so distant right now because he's not convinced Dean is real. Again, please be respectful in the comments! It's more fun that way!
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