To say that this season was complicated for Dean Winchester is quite an understatement.  Like he told Sam in “Sharp Teeth,” someone changed the rules.  In Dean's case, that rules change resulted in the worst case example of what happens when your life is devoted to others but not yourself.  Did the punishment fit the crime?  All depends.  Based on his one very questionable act in season nine, absolutely not.  But when looking at the history of the show and seeing how much Dean has messed with the natural order and the amount of personal guilt he takes on for all the misfortune of this world, suddenly the consequences of his actions were bound to catch up with him eventually.  But we know Dean’s acts weren’t malicious or cruel.  No, everything he’s ever done has been for love of his family, blood and otherwise (I know that word makes Dean squirm, but it’s true!).  

Dean did what he’s always done, find ways to survive, for both he and Sam.  It’s always been his job.  He gave up on his obsessive vendetta to close the gates of Hell because he wasn’t willing to see Sam die in the process.  But Sam was dying anyway.  He failed Sam before, and he wasn’t about to let it happen again, especially after promising in that church he would find a way.  But what happens that in the process of coming through for Sam, other lives are catastrophically affected?  Dean’s downfall happens, that’s what.  

Before digging in and going through Dean’s progression in each season nine episode, I have a disclaimer.  The purpose of these “Deeper Looks,” something I’ve been doing since season three, is to interpret how the writers have handled characterization for the season.  The effort of individual writers is put to a collective test so to speak.  I’ve heard plenty of complaints that in my “Deeper Look at Sam Winchester” series for this season that I didn’t paint Sam in a very favorable light.  Well, that’s not true.  The writers didn’t paint Sam in a very favorable light and I called them out on it.  This isn’t about how much we love or respect a character, it’s about taking a look at what we’ve been given and seeing if it fits.  In Sam’s case this season, it didn’t fit very well at all.  Luckily things worked out better for Dean, for the most part.  There were still some glaring issues, but overall his arc made more sense and followed a more logical path.  So lets take a look at that troubled path.

I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here

Dean is scared.  I know that’s a simplification of what’s happening, but it’s the basic truth.  Fear drove his decision to go to extremes to save Sam.  Fear of losing his brother, fear of being alone.  It’s the same decision he faced at the end of “Two Minutes ‘Til Midnight.”  As you all recall in the next episode, “Swan Song,” he followed Sam’s play even though it went against every fiber of his being.  He let Sam sacrifice himself for the greater good.  He lived for a year in misery, grieving over his brother and living with that feeling of extreme loss and regret.  No doubt that was all circling in his mind when he saw his comatose brother on that hospital bed. 

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“’Inevitable’ – that's a fightin' word where I come from. There's always a way.”

Dean did a desperate act for sure by tricking Sam into being possessed by an angel.  Were his motives selfish?  They could be perceived that way, but Dean didn’t believe that.  His reasoning goes all the way back to the pilot.  He didn’t want to fight the good fight alone.  He could, but he doesn’t want to.  That’s not a bad thing though and he has sound justification for it.  They are soldiers at war.  They save people.  They save the world.  They’re needed.  Someone has to have his back and Sam is the only guy he trusts.  As Dean has proven time and time again, even forgoing the chance to close the gates of Hell to save Sam, family comes above all.  “There ain’t no me if there ain’t no you.”  This statement has never rung more true in this entire series than season nine.  

Dean is an act first, deal with the consequences later kind of guy.  But no, he wouldn’t have guessed where this deception of not telling Sam he was possessed by an angel would lead.  Sure, he knew Sam would get mad and wouldn’t approve of this at all, but he was willing to do whatever it took, hoping that Sam would eventually come around.  If he knew ahead of time the chain of events his act set off and Sam’s reaction afterward would he have done it?  Would he have let Sam go?  No, he probably would have done the same thing.  This isn’t the first time he’s messed with the natural order and deep down what he did feels right. 

Devil May Care

“Yeah, it's just that, uh... this is on me. I was the one who talked Sam out of boarding up Hell. Okay? So every demon deal, every kill that they make... well, you're looking at the person who let it happen.”

Dean still isn’t very comfortable with this whole arrangement and deception, but Sam’s life depends on it so he must play along.  That doesn’t mean the guilt isn’t eating away at him.  Running into demons reminded him of the consequence of letting Sam live, Hell is still in business.  Zeke was right, he did do it out of love.  That’s been the underlying motive for everything he’s done.  He lost his parents tragically, he lost Bobby, who was like a father to him, he won’t lose his brother.  It’s his job no matter what to protect him.  It goes back to that scared 4 year old kid carrying his baby brother out of the burning house.  He now has to rely on Zeke though, an angel he barely knows, to keep Sam alive and that doesn’t make him feel easy at all.  Still, he knows keeping Sam alive is vital.  We see his justification in his closing conversation with Sam.  

Sam, listen to me. You have helped a hell of a lot more people than you have hurt.

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One other thing did happen in this episode that reminds us how important family is to Dean, using the family card to prevent Kevin from leaving.  He includes Kevin and Castiel in the family now.  This is kind of important for later, because one thing that tends to push Dean to his dark spot is the fear of his family leaving him.  

I’m No Angel

Not much to see here, except for a dumb continuity thing.  Meg has been calling Castiel Clarence since season five.  Dean didn’t know that or get the reference?  No, I don’t buy it.  Nitpick over.   

Dean is still fighting for family though, this time Castiel, which is why I have such a problem with Dean choosing to tell Castiel at the end to leave.  I know, it reinforces that Sam comes first in the pecking order, but what happened to his “We’ll find a way” attitude?  Suddenly that declaration that Cass is a part of the family in “Devil May Care” doesn’t sit true for me.  He’s putting Castiel in harm’s way by making him leave the safety of the bunker immediately after he begged Kevin to stay.  It’s inconsistent.  So I’m just calling this plot twist a very contrived foul. 


Slumber Party

Charlie joins the family tree now too!  Charlie is killed and just like with Castiel in “I’m No Angel,” Dean uses Ezekiel to bring her back from the great beyond.  This weakens Zeke, which means that he has to stay in Sam longer.  Dean is really pushing things here, but he finally has a way to save those close to him and he’s not squandering any opportunities.  Again, fear of losing “family” is driving him to these actions, and it’s beginning to spiral.  Sam is starting to suspect and each lie is really starting to eat away at Dean.  This can’t end well. 

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Dog Dean Afternoon


Aside from the fact that Dean was totally hilarious in this one, a couple things from  a character standpoint came from this.  First, he chose to take the potion, even though he doesn’t like dogs (or was that botched canon last season?) to spare Sam considering his state.  His lies are getting more blatant too, especially when Sam really should have figured this out by now.  What happened to him in this one was a big effing clue.  Dean is on borrowed time.  

Oh and yes, Dean let the dogs out.  

AtLastWeKnow

Heaven Can’t Wait 

Dean fascinates me in this one.  I find his behavior toward Castiel so endearing, and so part of the overprotective Dean Winchester we’ve grown to love.  He is a softie when it comes to his best bud.  There’s a very big angel threat looming, but Dean isn’t trying to drag Castiel into the fight.  He sees his pal adapting to human life, getting a job, going on a date (even if it turned out to be a date with a baby) and wants Castiel to remain safe and happy.  Sure, a lot of his actions could be guilt over having to toss Castiel out of the bunker on the insistence of Ezekiel.  Maybe by Castiel staying out of harms way like this, that will assure Castiel’s safety while he and Sam/Ezekiel figure out the angel problem.   Or maybe Dean wants to see Castiel genuinely happy after all he’s been through.  It’s very likely a combination of both.  

Whatever the motivation, Dean tried hard though to be a friend, and I loved it.  He gave Castiel advice on how to be human, and even gave him dating tips!  In the end when Castiel was feeling sad and wanting to be part of the angel fight Dean discouraged Castiel by encouraging him.  

Listen, Cas … Back at the bunker, I, uh... Sorry I told you to go. I know it's been hard on you, you know, on your own. Well, you're adapting. I'm proud of you.  

I believed those words to be sincere.   We see him using similar uplifting words with Sam in “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here,” Kevin in “Devil May Care,” and later with Garth in “Sharp Teeth.”  He cares about these guys, and a little encouragement goes a long way.  You have to feel for Dean though, offering all this encouragement while he’s struggling with his own big secret and deception.  No wonder it beats him up later. 

Bad Boys

It’s hard for me to do a proper analysis on this one.  Honestly, I hated the episode.  We got to see Dean in a flashback, but I don’t feel like I learned anything new about him.  It carries on with the theme that I eluded to in the prior episodes, Dean is doing all for everyone else and sacrificing his own happiness in the process.  Maybe he’s happier doing things for others.  The role of protector is where he feels the most comfortable.  It’s sad to see he was this way at 14 (I refuse to believe it was 16), but we knew this already from “A Very Supernatural Christmas” and even “Something Wicked.”  

Rock and a Hard Place

I’m sorry, but any time Dean gets to cross a big item off his bucket list in a hilarious way,  everybody wins.  I loved Dean in this one, but it really was just him getting in one good fling before everything goes south.  He’d earned it. 

Deanconsoles

The big takeaway is the ending scene with Sam.  Everything is getting too complex.  Sam is starting to blame himself now for what’s been happening, and Dean desperately wants to tell him the truth.  Except Ezekiel won’t let him.  That right there is a major warning sign to Dean, and it has him rattled.  I wish at this point he chose to confide in someone like Castiel or Kevin, seek advice on what to do, but I guess the point his taking on this burden by himself led to a downfall.  So he does, and the ending is the smack you in the head foreshadowing that Dean is heading for serious trouble.  

Holy Terror

It’s Dean’s worst nightmare.  Not only does he have to see an adopted family member die in front of him again (I remember his line back in season four how he was tired of burying friends!), it came from the hands of Sam, who has lost control to Ezekiel.  His desperate plan to save Sam has backfired in the worst possible way, and this is the blow that starts his long slow descent into darkness.  

Perhaps Dean fooled himself to thinking he had control of the situation.  It still infuriates me though that the writers would give him the line “Would I lie?” in the beginning, deliberately using his brother’s trust of him to diffuse Sam’s suspicions because he’s flat out lying to Sam.  That’s not Dean’s style, and Sam could have easily answered “Hell, yes” (an issue I already raised in my deeper look at Sam).  Still, being caught in such a big lie I guess also adds to the harshness of Sam’s reaction, which is a catalyst to Dean’s downfall, yada yada.  That “Would I lie?” line doesn’t feel organic though and puts a kink in the progression of Dean’s character going from the beginning of this episode to the end of the season.  It’s a contrived twist for being the early traces of what happened to Dean.  

Despite that though, Dean’s attempt to get through to Sam without Ezekiel knowing is gripping and heartfelt, as is the ending scene when everything unravels.  Kevin is dead, Sam is in the wind under control of an angel Dean let in, and Dean is left completely devastated and facing hard choices.  Everything he did made things far worse; consequences for messing with the natural order (again).  Jensen does a perfect job of leaving us a potent visual going into the break - this is Dean’s breaking point.  

DeanBrokenCrop

Road Trip

This episode is exposes Dean at his core vulnerability.  He’s emotionally wounded and very raw.  He’s ripe for manipulation, he’s ripe for taking deals that make no sense, despite having a friend around to help keep him sane.   

No doubt about it, Dean needed someone to reach out to.  Kevin’s death is killing him inside (thanks to that gorgeous opening montage) as well as the realization that the only option now is to kill Ezekiel (revealed to be Gadreel in this ep).  That means Sam will die as well.  Dean’s ready to right that wrong though.  It’s appropriate that Castiel is there to lend an ear, since Dean was there for Cass in “Heaven Can’t Wait.”  He tells Dean he did it for the right reasons, but as we know on this show, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  But, there is an option, and Crowley just happens to be the Devil they know.

You can’t blame Dean for going for the risky plan, trying to save Sam again while trying to kill Gadreel, even though the last time he tried to save Sam from death it ultimately got Kevin killed.  He’ll never be able to let go of Sam, no matter what.  Saving his brother is ingrained in his core.  It would be like cutting off an arm.  The scene that got me the most is when Crowley was pushing needles into Sam’s skull, causing great agony and torture for Gadreel.  Those cries were still coming from Sam’s mouth though, and that was enough to overwhelm Dean.  

Dean:  I can't watch that anymore. 
Castiel:   I understand. It's not Sam, but... It's still Sam. 
Dean [voice cracking with emotion]:  Pretty much, yeah. How are you doing? 
Castiel:  You want to talk about me now? 
Dean: I want to talk about anything that's not a demon sticking needles into my brother's brain. (Tears pooling in his eyes).  

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I love this scene, because it paints Dean as a very sympathetic character, something the writers have often failed to do recently (for both Sam and Dean).  All he wanted to do was save his brother, the one that matters to him more than anything.  Sure he created a real mess, but saving Sam will justify the means.  This is the real Dean Winchester and it’s rare anymore to see him open up this side of himself.  It’s poignant and so heartbreaking so see him this way, especially when we know what’s coming.  It’s also why Dean will deal with Crowley rather than let Sam go. 

This just plain hurts.  We know how much Dean has agonized over everything, but Sam was understandably angry.  Let’s go through the ending scene again.  Sam has been saved, but the brotherly bond didn’t make it out okay.  

Dean:  All right. Let me hear it. 
Sam:  What you do want me to say -- that I'm pissed? Okay. I am. I'm pissed. You lied to me. Again. 
Dean:   I didn't have a choice. 
Sam: I was ready to die, Dean! 
Dean:  I know. But I wouldn't let you, because that's not in me. 
Sam:  So, what? You decide to trick me into being possessed by some... psycho angel? 
Dean:  He saved your life. 
Sam:  So what? I was willing to die. And now... Kevin... (eyes fill with tears)
Dean:  No. That is not on you. Kevin's blood is on my hands, and that ain't ever getting clean. I'll burn for that. I will. But I'll find Gadreel. And I will end that son of a bitch. But I'll do it alone. 
Sam:  What's that supposed to mean? 
Dean:  Come on, man. Can't you see? I'm... I'm poison, Sam. People get close to me, they get killed...or worse.  You know, I tell myself that I-I -- I help more people than I hurt. And I tell myself that I'm -- I'm doing it all for the right reasons, and I -- I believe that. But I can't -- I won't... Drag anybody through the muck with me. Not anymore. 
Sam:  Go. I'm not gonna stop you. 
(Dean walks away)
Sam:  But don't go thinking that's the problem, 'cause it's not. 
Dean:  What's that supposed to mean? 
Sam:  Just go. 

Oh Dean, there’s your tragic error right there.  Thinking you have to do this alone.  You know that’s not a wise idea, especially when you did all this just so you and Sam could fight the good fight.  

I didn’t care for this twist at all.  I know Dean is in self loathing mode right now, but walking away from Sam like this doesn’t make a lot of sense.  What happened to the promise he made in “Sacrifice?”  Dean was sticking with that promise when he went to extremes to save Sam, why leave now?  Why not stay around, explain himself to Sam a bit better, see how his brother’s healing goes?  Yes, he was leaving Sam in Castiel’s angel healing hands, but he just got his brother back.  Dean’s act here pretty much wiped out the end of season eight.  I get it was a setup for the next episode, but I still think there were other ways to go.   

First Born

The pivotal episode.  The one that pretty much doomed Dean for eternity and it left us all pretty shocked.  All because he left Sam and went off with Crowley on an adventure.  You know Crowley was waiting for that perfect opportunity to get his hooks into Dean, but it must have been demon Christmas when emotionally raw Dean walked off on his own leaving a wounded moose behind in the bunker.  He had Dean hook, line, and sinker with the perfect premise, a way to kill Abaddon.  Given Dean’s mindset for revenge, Abaddon was the perfect bad person to take on.  

Before getting to the character study portion of the episode, a side note.  Who didn’t enjoy seeing Dean get to do a good ole fashioned ass kicking of three demons, at once!  It made me grin like a fool.  Dean was itching for a fight and he got one!  If there was ever a more worthy test.  

Now, the encounter with Cain.  

Your problem, mate, is that nobody hates you more than you do. Believe me, I've tried.

Oh Dean, Dean, Dean.  It’s interesting how eager he was to take on the Mark of Cain, not heeding the warning from Cain calling it “a great cost.”  It’s that problem Crowley said, that Dean hates himself more than anyone, that causes Dean to not even ask what that great cost is (now we know, it’s his life then his soul).  He takes the Mark of Cain willingly (and hastily) like he was receiving a gift.  Whatever burden it brings, the end justifies the means.  Plus he doesn’t think of himself to be like Cain, because he saved his brother instead of killing him.  Different circumstances, so he won’t make the same choices.  I always keep that in mind, because season 10 hasn’t happened yet, and I do wonder if that will come into play.  Would Dean kill his brother to save him?  

Why turn the obsession to kill Gadreel to Abaddon though?  Isn’t that Crowley’s fight?  Well, it goes back to “Devil May Care.”  Every demon roaming the earth is on him.  Top Hell bitch must go.  He’s already promised Crowley he’ll be next.  So Dean is already carrying an extraordinary burden, he probably figured what could the Mark of Cain do to him?  It’s giving him the power to kill all these demons and level that playing field.  That was exactly the mentality that Crowley counted on.  He knows how to play weaknesses, and no Sam around to keep him in check makes Dean an easy mark.

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I often ask myself, if Sam was with him, would Dean have taken on the Mark of Cain?  I’m going to say yes, despite Sam’s protests.  It’s Kevin’s death that’s really burning him right now, not Sam.  The way he sees it (right now), Sam will get over what happened to him.   Of course he’s about to find out how wrong he is, and that’s where the MOC will take hold and never let go.  

Coming up in part two, Dean is overtaken by darkness and it’s as scary as crap.  Plus Sam’s choice to keep him at arms length emotionally really takes its toll.  It’s pretty sad.    

Comments  

elle2
# elle2 2014-08-04 23:37
I always love these, Alice. You make the season almost make sense when you write these. Yes, the writers did a poor job with Sam, again, and I read your Sam Deeper Look fully aware that you were calling out the writers for their poor efforts. It isn't ever one character over the other, it's how the writers present them that is the issue. Here, Dean's journey is better mapped out and progresses more logically -- albeit with some bumps that do good job of nearly derailing the whole thing. Thanks for writing this up. I am looking forward to part two whenever it comes.

:-)
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-08-05 00:23
Thanks Alice I enjoyed this very much and look forward to part 2. I agree with you about Dean's mindset at the hospital and in the later days. There was nothing malicious in what he did. He did not feel he was doing a "vile" thing as it is been characterized. He was frantic and worried sick as he sat at the bedside watching Sam slip away by the second. Was it wrong? Yes! Did he compound it as time went on? Yes. He was trying to keep Sam from ejecting Gad/Zeke thus insuring his death (maybe not true in hindsight). Was Sam wrong to be so upset and to feel so deceived and violated? No. I also agree that Dean is probably incapable of watching Sam die if he can save him. His whole life has been geared to that objective. At least up to this point. It all went horribly wrong. He heard what he expected to hear in Sam's anger not necessarily what Sam was really saying. Not that Sam got to say a hellava lot. Dean did set all those events in motion. Again unwittingly, but his actions and bad subsequent decisions started a bad chain reaction that led to Kevins death and a twisted soul. Which I am sure we will hear about more in the second part of this article.
Lilah_Kane
# Lilah_Kane 2014-08-05 08:52
Really nicely written Alice. It is really hard sometimes to watch the brothers and what they go through. I think it also effects and takes toll on the mood of the viewer too.
I have always seen Sam to be slightly the stronger one. If you look at what he has gone trough and survived. He also tries to talk things that bother him and Dean not so much.
What has happened to Dean and what all he takes on his shoulders hurts. I don't remember where it was but I think Dean won a the reward: "A character that most is in need of a shrink in tv series" or something like that it was. And I can't really blame him winning it.

Dean is pretty messed up and not in a good way and I love his character. Like you wrote we did see few glimpses from old Dean. Him helping Castiel seemingly no worries on his shoulders was nice to see even if it was hiding how bad Dean was feeling. I guess the end result is not even one I would wish to a worst enemy and Dean didn't deserve it nor Sam loosing his brother like that.

I guess I am still not over the final. :)

- Lilah
MaddieMoreland
# MaddieMoreland 2014-08-05 09:56
I'm a lurker, but I wanted to come out of the shadows to tell you how very much I enjoy these "Deeper Look" recaps you do. They are so thoughtful and insightful! I've been looking forward to this one for weeks and I cannot wait till Part Two.
Alice
# Alice 2014-08-13 21:08
Thank you so much! It's always hard to tell if lurkers enjoy this sort of thing or not. I really appreciate the comment! Part two is going through the final edit right now and should be out the early part of next week.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-08-05 12:29
Thank you Alice I have been looking forward to this look into Dean. Carver said before the season began that Dean's choices would drive the story and boy did they. Dean was operating on false information when he had Sam possessed but he was on his way to make a deal with Crowley so I don't think it would have mattered. I think he felt so guilty about essentially bullying Sam into finishing the trials, and then hearing Sam tell him he would rather die than let him down, that the guilt of watching Sam die was too much to bear. I think he had every intention of telling Sam right away but Gad/Zeke was holding Sam hostage right from the get go.

When Gadreel told Dean to have Cas leave I always thought that Gad was afraid that Cas would recognize him. Again it was a no win for Dean. Cas already proved that he could survive (sort of) on his own but Sam would certainly die. I just hope that Dean gave him a credit card and showed how to use it.

Dog Dean Afternoon....I don't know Hellhounds, killed by Golden Retriever, terrorized by a yorkie....I think Dean really didn't like dogs very much.

I know you hated Bad Boys but I always thought that Dean's decision to go with his family was explained by his smile when he saw Sam. I think he knew he could only really be happy with Sam. I didn't see it as a sacrifice and I don't think Dean did either.

Holy Terror Dean and his need to know attitude he learned from John. It didn't work out very well but his desperate attempt to get through to Sam was all he was really thinking about. How would he guess that Kevin would be in danger? The angel and Kevin had been together in the bunker for months. Dean couldn't have seen that coming. Would it have changed what he did? I'd like to think that Kevin wouldn't be worth the sacrifice but we'll never know.

Road Trip Jensen was heartbreaking in this episode. From burning Kevin to torturing Sam, Dean went through it all. Cas was there but it seemed to be of very little comfort to Dean. And yes Dean it never is a good idea to separate from your brother nothing good ever comes out of it. You might wake up... oh I don't know... a dam demon.

First Born....I think Cain asked Dean that same question "where is your brother now". Would Sam have let Dean run off with Crowley in the first place? Hard to say but your right if Sam had been there he couldn't have stopped Dean but at least he would have understood better what was going on and not pushed Dean away. And yes kick ass Dean is always awesome.....fro m the one of the top action heros in all of TV history.

Looking forward to part two....
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-08-05 18:21
Quoting Cheryl : "I know you hated Bad Boys but I always thought that Dean's decision to go with his family was explained by his smile when he saw Sam. I think he knew he could only really be happy with Sam. I didn't see it as a sacrifice and I don't think Dean did either."

I agree Cheryl. Nicely said.:)
nappi815
# nappi815 2014-08-05 22:40
i agree as well cheryl. the way I see it, it's not as black and white with dean as it seems to be. i know dean loves sam and i agree that for dean, as a parent that he's been to sam, there's no way sam's dying while dean's living. i get it i really do. i know dean has made sacrifices for sam and he feels responsible for him...again the role of both older sibling and parent....i take none of this away from dean, but, and this is a big but, to say dean isn't selfish would be a fallacy . dean's love for sam is in fact a selfish love. it goes to dean's core issue of not liking himself and his belief that everyone leaves him. i just watched skin...and shapeshifter dean said it...he told sam that dean had issues with sam. he got to have friends. dean had dreams of his own, but he had to stay. then he said no matter what he did everyone leaves him, mom left, sam left, he did everything his dad asked of him and he left too....this is the basis of dean's motivations. his belief and fear that everyone will leave him and he'll be alone, so he ensures that it doesn't happen.
sam left for college...a normal act by most every kid his age but he was seen as a deserter both by his father and brother. dean didn't chase sam down though because he had his dad. but when his dad took off and he was all alone, he went and got sam. he admitted to sam....when sam said he could do it alone, he didn't want to. i really believe had jess not died in that ep, dean would've found another reason to come back for sam. once sam was with dean, he was ok. do you remember how upset he got when sam spoke of going back to school once they got the demon? dean's automatic response was to make sam feel bad about thinking about that. dean was devastated when his dad died, but he had sam and sam gave him strength. he was ok. but when sam died, dean sold his soul to get him back. dean took sam out of heaven, because he couldn't live in a world that sam wasn't in. he couldn't do it alone. he didn't want to. but not because he wasn't capable, but because he didn't trust himself... dean played at being ok with sam leaving in ftbyam. he even bull shi**ed cas telling him he was great, better than ever being alone. to continue that lie he told sam they needed to pick a separate hemisphere...un til dean saw himself in the future, what he becomes...the very thing he feared he would be and realizing this he calls sam back. they keep ea. other human....this is a very true statement. i think ever since this eppy, dean really believed that he was basically just a killer. i think it was from this moment on that he truly believed that he needed sam with him because without sam dean is basically a monster. this is what i believe dean believes about himself....and it's this belief that has influenced his actions when it comes to sam. sam loves dean as much as dean loves sam...but i really believe that a lot of sam's actions are influenced by the responsibility he feels towards his brother. sam has always desired to be safe and normal, yet he's still to this day at his brother's side. i really believe that sam stays with dean, not only out of love but because he feels a responsibility to the person who's always looked out for him. there is that codependence. dean is selfish with his pov...dean sees how things should be according to the way he believes they should be....but other people have a pov as well and it's just as important to them as dean's is to him. dean's pov is influenced by his issues which is not a good thing, especially given the consequences of his actions and the innocents who are affected by them. dean has to face his issue of lack of worth. he has to learn to accept who he is, flaws and all, but also come to love who he is and the good that is in him. when he does this he'll be able to accept himself and more importantly accept others, especially sam. he'll recognize that sam has a pov too and just because it's not the same as dean's, it doesn't make it wrong....especi ally for sam. if dean can conquer his monster... i truly believe that this selfish love he has for sam will just be love....and they will be able to relate to ea. other as equals, with their own perspectives, their own desires, their own hope and with that they can relate with ea. other on a brand new level....a brother relationship that's strong and mature and based on mutual respect...inste ad of a relationship based on fear; fear of losing ea. other, fear of losing themselves; fear of disappointing the other....;)
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-08-05 23:16
You know Anna much of what you say is true but where I see it a little differently is that Sam was Dean's EVERYTHING growing up. I think caring for him gave him purpose and still does. Sam and a distant father was all he had. Plus he just flat loves having his brother around (yes he can be a d*** to Sam at times, he is a controlling big brother). Sam hasn't always been a saintly brother himself though I concede he is the easier one to like sometimes. Is Dean selfish? Yes. Aren't we all to a certain extent? I don't think he does want to navigate this life without his brother. Sam has been there for him all his life too, the difference is Sam is more independent, always has been. Dean takes that personally, as he did when Sam left. So he is one messed up guy. I get it. But you can't remove the love from the equation as some posts do. Some people just like to say how selfish Dean is and poo poo any idea that he ever does anything out of love and that to me is not an accurate appraisal of Dean as a character. He is selfish at times but I do think if Sam had even the slightest chance of ever having the safe and normal life he wanted I think Dean would walk away no matter how much it tore him up! In Scarecrow for instance, he got past his anger and wished Sam well on his departure. Told him he was proud of him. He was very happy to see him come back but he was trying to let go. That is the Dean I love.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-08-06 04:51
For Dean a dead Sam is never going to be acceptable. As screwed up as heaven is can you blame him. Dean doesn't want to be alone and he does do things to Sam at times that are selfish but for Dean being alive on earth fighting the good fight is all that makes sense to him. At the end of DYBIM Dean finally realized that there were worse things than death and he is going to find that out in S10. But Sam wasn't going to turn into a demon or a monster if Dean saved his life and he couldn't have known how far sideways it was all going to go. All he knew was that Sam was dying and he could do something about it. As he said he doesn't think things all the way through. Dean acts and worries about the consequences later. Sometimes he's right and sometimes he's wrong but what he does he does out of love. Gadreel saw that in Dean and he knew that was how Sam felt about Dean. As we are going to find out Sam is going to go to extreme lengths to get Dean back. He isn't going to let Dean die or kill him in order to save him. Sam can't let go of Dean any more than Dean can let go of Sam. The co dependent relationship that these two have is born out of necessity. The life they live and the job they have puts them at a greater and weirder risk than any other human being. For them the rules don't always apply. They need each other to survive and to save the world, neither can do it alone.
nappi815
# nappi815 2014-08-06 07:43
i agree sam was dean's everything growing up. dean's mother was dead. his father all but left them...sam was the one person who was there. he does give dean purpose. even to this day, sam gives dean purpose. that's both good and bad though. what's bad about it is that sam ends up unwillingly responsible for dean's actions. because sam is dean's everything, dean will do whatever it takes, and I mean whatever it takes to keep sam with him...with him as in alive. dean goes to these extremes and then sam ends up feeling responsible...r esponsible for any negative consequences, such as dean going to hell or kevin dying...and responsible to his brother. i'm not denying sam's love for dean....he'd die for him, hell he has died for him...he put his broken psyche together so not to leave his brother alone out there...he jumped in the pit for dean, he took over the trials for dean...he'll do anything for him....and i'd say 70% of that is because sam loves his brother....i'd say 30% is because sam feels a responsibility towards dean..for all that dean has done for him.....but all that dean has done, i'd say that 60% is because he loves sam and a good 40% is because he needs sam. I understand that what they do, the life they lead, is different than the life of others. I do understand that for them the rules don't always apply. I get that for them, in order to survive they need ea. other. but here's the fly in that ointment...sam didn't want this life as a child. he feared it. it killed his mother. it took his father away from them. they grew up in motels, going from school to school, no friends, no family...just ea other. sam didn't want it. he wanted to be a regular kid. more than anything, he didn't want to be in the family business...he had no choice as a child, but when he came of age, he went to college. he found a girl he loved. he was ready to get into law school... then one night his brother came back for him, hitting sam in his heart, where dean knew sam would never say no....I can't do this alone...yes you can...yeah, but I don't want to. so out of love and duty he went with dean, of course he would. at this point it wasn't about the life and the need for survival for both of them, it was about what dean needed from sam. it was about dean's ulterior motive as he confessed in shadow....why do you think I got you from school....dad was missing, to help you find dad, yeah but it's more than that, you, me, dad, hunting together....I just wanted us to be a family again. dean didn't see them as a family, his idea of family is staying together in the same vicinity....he said it in bugs....the kid should stick with his family, when sam said the kid could go to college and get away from his domineering father. sam always saw them as family regardless of what they did with their lives. sam loves his brother regardless if they're in the same car or he's in law school. sam's love wouldn't change if they weren't constantly together. the mutual need for survival exists between them, but it didn't come until sam was brought back into the life, and him being brought back in the first place had more to do with how dean wanted things to be, how he needed things to be...and that was from his own selfish point of view. it wasn't a bad pov, but it was what he wanted and I don't think he would've given up on it even if jess hadn't died that nite. there's just one other problem with that, and i'm not here trying to knock dean down, i'm not making him the bad guy because he's not. but the problem with dean's perspective is that he doesn't allow for other people's perspective and sometimes that leads to him controlling others or taking away their own choices...as he did with lisa and ben, swiping their memories. dean just has to come to accept that he can't always do what he wants because he believes it's the right thing to do. because what's right for him isn't always what's right for others. his love is strong, they're love is strong, but they have to change a few things about the way they see ea. other and see themselves.


now I think dean meant it when he said it, but in all honesty I don't think dean would've been able to hold out when he wished sam good luck in finding his dad in scarecrow. firstly, sam didn't want to leave dean, he just wanted to go to sacramento to find dad. I don't know that dean was truly sending sam on his way...:) but given dean's attitude when sam spoke of going back to school in shadow, which came after scarecrow, it leads me to believe that dean would've most likely followed sam to sacramento, after he helped with the scarecrow thing. (i don't think dean realized his goose was cooked when wishing sam well). I know that's an assumption on my part, but it's one I firmly believe given what he said in shadow. ;)


skipping the part where the show wouldn't exist if it went down this way.....for argument's sake...let's say that mary never died. if dean hadn't lost his mother and thus he didn't have an absent father, then i'm guessing that the relationship between the boys would be very different. the fan girl in me believes they still would've been close, but I don't perceive that there would've been such a codependency. dean would've done his thing, sam his and they still would've loved ea. other even though they didn't do the same job.
the point i'm not making very well is that had mary not died and the father not left....dean would most likely not have issues of abandonment or feel he's basically a killer and no good ..thus sam most likely wouldn't be his everything...hi s purpose....sam would just be the brother he loved, which is why I go back to dean's own issues having influence on how he feels about his brother....and vice versa of course. ;)


I agree that dean is a messed up guy...he has a heart as big as texas...but he's really got to confront his inner demon and kick it's ass once an for all.... sam has to do it too. he has to deal with his inner demon as well, because as you said, now sam will do whatever it takes to save his brother. I think sam's need to save dean any way he could and i mean any way will comes from about 70% love and 30 % atonement from the guilt he's most likely feeling for lashing out at dean and not being able to emotionally connect with dean as he's been trying to deal with his own pain and hurt. so the question is...in s10 will the boys be able to change the part of themselves that leads to such extremes or will they just come to accept that this is who they are and what they will always do for ea. other, so deal with it. :) i'm hoping it's a little of both. :) sadly the Winchesters would never end up on a shrinks couch, though sam did for a few minutes in asylum:), so the only alternative was to in fact turn dean into a demon....Winche ster therapy....they really should've opted for the couch. :p:D
Prix68
# Prix68 2014-08-06 10:50
I have to disagree with you nappi. A perfect opportunity for Sam to call it quits was the second half of S9 but despite his talk of normal life, through all the seasons, when push comes to shove Sam always finds a way (excuse) to stay with Dean hunting. There have been times when Dean wanted to quit and Sam talked him out of it. There have also been many examples of Sam actually embracing the hunting life. In FTBYAM I think Dean meant what he said to Cas. I don't think Dean is selfish or afraid to be alone when it comes to Sam but sees Sam as his responsibility. A responsibility he has had his whole for someone he loves. What they both need to accept is they are two sides of the same coin, more alike then they are different. IMO. Everyone is co-dependent in some ways with people in their lives they care about, unless they are hermits living alone. Sam and Dean just have a very different life from normal so their issues are magnified because they are always in close contact.
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2014-08-06 14:21
I viewed the season 8 discovery of the Men of Letters, Sam's discovery of this, and to a lesser degree, the trials, as Sam coming to terms with, and acceptance of his life as a hunter. I don't think getting out of the hunting life is in the cards for him. Also remember that Dean was the one that took off this time; in the past I think Sam would have split.
nappi815
# nappi815 2014-08-06 21:45
i'm not exactly sure what you are disagreeing with.

I believe I did say that sam loves dean and ultimately will always choose dean. sam hunts with dean not because he loves hunting and uses dean as an excuse to do it...he hunts with dean because he loves dean. sam won't leave dean and live normal just because he's having issues with his brother. sam will always fight for his brother, even if he has to fight with him to do it. as far as sam hunting, well just because he still does it doesn't mean that he still doesn't have the desire to quit and live normal. it's still a dream he holds dear to his heart and something that he aspires to do one day. let's say living normal is on sam's bucket list. :D sam always had reasons that he stayed in the hunt, but I don't believe he ever really claimed it was something he loved doing, that it was who he was and something he embraced...dean said that, but I don't recall sam ever saying anything to that effect. first he hunts out of revenge, not unlike his father ironically. in s2 he hunts out of guilt...it's what dad would have wanted..s3 was all about saving dean from hell...s4 was about revenge for what happened to dean...s5...ato nement...s6 he was soulless and that's when he embraced hunting...when he was soulless sam...the second half of s6 was about stopping cas and dealing with his wall...s7 sam had a breakdown and was dealing with cas the new God...s8, sam broke and ran from the life. he stopped hunting for a year. he lived normal..but it wasn't his real life...Amelia was something to hold onto because they both suffered a great loss, but when don came back, sam left...it's not that he didn't love her, but I don't think he was in love with her. he loved her for saving his life, for giving him something to hold onto and focus on when all he loved was gone, but once her loss was found, his reason for being with her was gone. he knew it was time to deal with his life again...we just didn't get the chance to see what his next move would've been because dean was in the cabin and of course with dean back, sam knew where he had to be...where he wanted to be, but it wasn't because of sam's love for the hunt...it was because of his guilt...guilt for making the mistake believing dean died, guilt for not being able to find kevin...for imploding and running...it's not as though sam missed hunting...he missed his brother...and I agree with njspnfan that sam finally found a place in the hunting world when he discovered he was a men of letters. even though he came to accept his life as a hunter, he still didn't give up the dream that he and dean could have normal one day...which is one of the reasons he took over doing the trials.

going to agree to disagree here, because when it comes to sam, dean can commit selfish acts.
it wasn't just that dean sat by sam's bedside and did what he had to do to save him. that is totally understandable. the selfishness stems from the fact that dean was aware of what sam wanted and because dean didn't like sam's decision, he took that decision away from him. he did so by trickery, followed up with lies. basically dean took advantage of sam's love and unconditional trust. do I understand it..yes...do I fault dean for it...I should but I can't. was it wrong....yes... am I glad he did it....of course. was it selfish....yes.
dean's big mistake....the lying...the lying which inevitably led to kevin's death by sam's hands. this is the bump in the road to forgiveness.... I get that dean felt he couldn't tell, because he was convinced sam would eject gad...there's that selfishness again....sam had the right to choose whether or not he wanted gad in him to heal him...If he did eject him, it was his choice to make, not dean's...but who's to say that sam would've ejected him had dean just told sam the truth...if only dean trusted in sam in the first place....
I get that dean couldn't risk it...I understand....b ut do I think it was wrong...yes... by the time we get to rock and hard place, dean should've told sam the truth instead of letting sam believe there was something wrong with him...afraid or not, it was time....but the selfish part of dean still kept silent...
then it's too late...kevin ends up dead and sam is the one who kills him. yes dean feels guilty. he screwed up and kevin is dead and gad takes off with his brother. ....all of this could've been avoided if dean had just told sam the truth.
here's where dean is selfish once again.....inste ad of being there for his brother, he walks away from him, leaving him alone to deal with everything that's happened to him. instead of owning up to what he did that hurt sam, dean instead wallows in his own self pity. instead of acknowledging sam's feelings, dean declares he did the right thing and would do it all again. dean is selfish because he only sees things the way if affects him and not how it affects his brother. his only acknowledgment to sam was when he said I know I took a piece of you...and soon after that acknowledgement he goes on to say they just need to put it all behind them. the second half of the season really had dean focusing on dean and at no point did dean ever acknowledge sam's feelings in regards to kevin or the possession.

so even though his original action was done out of love...and I agree it was....it imho is still a selfish love. but then again, who out there doesn't love selfishly at one point or another.

It's the dean thread, so I know I didn't focus on sam, but like you said and I do agree, sam has a selfish love for his brother as well...I do agree that they are more alike than not. I agree also that they are two sides of the same coin.

so I guess I agree and disagree. :D
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-08-06 22:01
:D
Prix68
# Prix68 2014-08-06 22:13
Not a big deal, nappi, I just don't see Dean's love for Sam as selfish.
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-08-06 11:15
Honestly they are both pretty screwed up and I agree had their life gone differently, had they lived a normal life things would have been a lot different. I do think Dean would have been protective and bossy anyway.:) But the codependency was/is something that is strong and deep-seated. Dean's father drilled it into Dean at an age when your ego is being formed that your main objective is save Sam, watch Sam, be ever vigilant. The only time I would imagine Dean getting pats on the back were when that was accomplished or anything hunting related. Honestly I think that is what allowed Sam to be a little more normal. So yeah Sam and "family" are abnormally important to Dean causing him to make some poor choices. My feeling is when he went to get Sam at Stanford it was 50% worried about his dad, 30% missing his brother and 20% hoping Sam would stay with him, especially if dad was dead. No he didn't want to be alone. Selfishness is definitely a factor. I feel there is way more love and obligation than selfishness but we don't think that much differently on the subject. But if the arc the last few years brings Dean to a place of better understanding of the bad consequences of his actions then I will be pleased. However I am not sure Dean will ever be able to sit back and watch his brother die. I just don't think it is in his power to do that. If it was a natural death and not something brought about by violence or supernatural influences he may be willing to let go. I don't know, neither Sam or Dean seem able to let the other go easily. I love their need for each other even as I know it is messed up!:)
Prix68
# Prix68 2014-08-06 12:48
Dean has gone to extremes to save Sam and Sam has gone to extremes to save Dean. Admittedly they have different ideas of what constitutes family. Dean has a broader view of what family is. Sam sees Dean as all that is necessary for family and he is secure in the knowledge that Dean loves him. Think about his reaction to Benny who he saw as usurping his place with Dean. The normal sympathetic to monsters Sam became consumed with proving that Benny was bad. Amy had killed but he was willing to give her another chance with no hunter trailing her. Benny he had trailed in case he slipped up. Something not done before or since. I believe Sam felt threatened by that relationship. Sorry, I just don't see Dean's actions as selfish. Bossy and controlling, yes. He is that way pretty much with everyone he cares about. Remember his reservations about Charlie going to Oz. He tends to be controlling and bossy with Cas. Actually with everyone he cares about. The Father Knows Best " syndrome.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-08-06 13:56
Benny was a little different because Dean lied about him. Sam was never introduced or given any explanation. And as Dean has told Sam and Cas both if it was so wonderful why lie about it. Sam never trusted Benny because he was a monster from purgatory that Dean wouldn't talk about. He had killed countless people before he was sent to Purgatory so there was no reason to believe he wasn't still doing the same now. Sam found out later because he actually got to interact with Benny that he really was a straight up guy. And with Amy as with Benny she saved Sam's life as Benny saved Dean's. So both guys should have come clean about their monster friends. It would have saved an unnecessary storyline that kind of went nowhere.
Prix68
# Prix68 2014-08-06 14:13
Dean had never met Amy and Sam did try to keep her a secret. Neither Sam nor Dean really knew the fat sucking monster and if she would later turn as Benny may have under certain circumstances, as Amy may have, as the student who became a werewolf may have. Benny had stopped killing before he went to purgatory. Sam and Dean are two sides to the same coin but with different personalities. If both boys just told the truth there would be no show or drama . Lol
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-08-06 14:50
:) Yes as I said they both needed to come clean about their monster friends. Secrets and lies guys, guys, guys will we ever learn.
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-08-06 17:17
Anna this video says visually and musically everything I feel about Dean. Sam. And this show.:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agBGdtS5_EE&feature=youtu.be
galen
# galen 2014-08-05 14:19
Beautifully written as usual. Cannot wait for part 2. You always give more insight into these complex characters and the yearly recap of Sam and Dean are some of my favorite articles. Dean's descent made sense to his history. I have been doing a complete 9 season rewatch and its always amazing to see old episodes in the light of the new season. Hopefully we will see a better written Sam in season 10
Prix68
# Prix68 2014-08-05 14:40
Thanks for the article, Alice. Dean has definitely paid the price for his hasty decisions this season since they all seemed to go sideways on him in the end. Eagerly awaiting S10.
novemberschild
# novemberschild 2014-08-05 20:46
Thank you for taking the time to do this, Alice, I don't post a lot on these type of articles but I do enjoy them very much.

I tend to look at Dean and Sam a little different, I don't think either one is any better or any less than the other, I like them both the same and they have both done good and bad things for each other and to save each other. Do they always make the right decision, No, do things always work out, No. But the fact that they always try, and try and try some more for each other and in some cases their 'extended family" is one of the big reasons I still watch this show, they do what they can for Family. That is what keeps me coming back to this show. I will watch most shows for a while and then get bored with them and stop watching, but not this one.
I am in this for the long haul, and the biggest part of why is Sam and Dean.
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2014-08-06 14:40
nice article, Alice. I really didn't have many serious issues with Dean Winchester's characterizatio n in the first half of S9. There were a few things here and there but you mentioned them in your article. The second half is another matter entirely. Bad Boys was an OK episode for me but we really didn't learn anything new about Dean. I guess it was there to reenforce what we already knew. And you're right, I think Dean would have taken on the Mark of Cain even if Sam had been with him. I found a lot of Dean's journey mirrored Sam's in S4. Just as Sam's arrogance and hubris in trusting a demon and taking on Lillith alone led to his fall and kick started the apocalypse, Dean's self-loathing and insistence on going it alone, both when taking on the Mark of Cain, against Abaddon, and finally against Metatron led to his undoing. Sam has learned the lesson that they're better working together, I hope Dean remembers this in S10 after he has been cured or partially cured.
Ginger
# Ginger 2014-08-07 09:25
I've stayed away from everything Supernatural this summer, because I am really upset that the writers took everything about Dean Winchester as a character -- his devotion to family, to saving people, to his loyalty family and friends -- and used it against him, turning him into the very thing that ruined is life and that he has fought against, and that turned him into a warrior for humanity. I know that I am in the minority, but I don't like it one little bit.

I just wanted to pop in and tell you Alice, that I really appreciate the time you devote to these season views of the two Winchesters. It's no little feat, and you should know how much they are appreciated.

As a side-note, maybe I can appreciate Bad Boys if I, too, refuse to believe that Dean was 16 in that episode. I am without hope that S10 won't be more episodes about side characters with the two Winchesters as eye candy. Let's hope the writers do find some interest in furthering the Winchesters as characters.
Prix68
# Prix68 2014-08-07 10:29
Ginger, I felt similar to you at first but I have decided not to give up on Dean Winchester that easily. He may be down but he's not out. I have hope that season 10 will finally bring our brothers back together again where they belong and will be the pay off we all deserve after the last two seasons. Sam and Dean never give up and you shouldn't either.:)
Ginger
# Ginger 2014-08-07 18:17
@ Prix68: I'm not going to give up on Dean just yet, but I have given up on the showrunner and the writers. IMO, Carver is the biggest hands-off showrunner in history who shows up for one meeting, throws out a couple of ideas, agrees to write the first and last episode, and then he disappears. He shows up at the TCA's and Comic Con and gives interviews that don't make any sense to what I watched in the season, giving the appearance that he does not understand the concept of 'show don't tell' in writing.

And this stable of writers? They give every appearance of caring about their support characters and have little understanding of the two Winchesters at all. Besides Bad Boys, there was Rock and a Hard Place. Since when has Dean Winchester ever, when on a job, been more interested in his little man than the case?

I am not expecting anything better from S10 than we got from S8 and S9, but JA has made Dean an iconic character in a show that has given me nine years of enjoyment. My bit of hope is my faith in JA and his ability to make something enjoyable to watch, despite the writing. For that reason, I have hope that Dean's character is not going to go down the path of ruin like Sam's has been over the years, I still have control over the remote. (And I'm not real happy about what I have heard is in-store for Sam's character.)

Let's hope that we all find something that we can enjoy in the new season.
SueB
# SueB 2014-08-07 23:27
I've been trying to get to this for 2 days! Finally got to enjoy it. Excellent in-depth look at Dean. I'm looking forward to pt 2.

A few comments:
- I think Abaddon's threats to use Dean as her vessel put her high on Dean's priority list. I'm confident that if he had equal leads on Gadreel and Abaddon, he'd have gone after Gadreel first. But with no leads on Gadreel and a shot at Abaddon, I can see him making the choice to go after the Knight.
- Bad Boys: this didn't bother me at all. I guess I felt it was less about Dean's character and more about Sam seeing how Dean is 'wired' to be there for Sam. How it's not even a question. It's not that Sam didn't know this on some level, but I think he blamed John for trapping Dean. Here he got to see that even if he had a chance to escape, it was not in Dean to leave Sam alone.
- I think the single most significant line in S9 for Dean in the episodes you've discussed so far was his comment: "I'll burn for that." This is a guy who knows EXACTLY what that means. He's convinced that what he did means he will go to Hell. When you have that kind of an attitude -- it's easy to see why he's so reckless in First Born IMO.
dewwmelon
# dewwmelon 2014-08-08 12:26
I totally agree with everything you wrote. Its interesting how an episode can be viewed so differently. I loved Bad Boys because we got to see how Dean thrived away from his responsibilitie s and was able to be a kid for once. But in the end he still gave that up for Sam. It was also nice to see Sam acknowledge these sacrifices at the end.
dewmelon
# dewmelon 2014-08-08 13:00
This was in response to SueB.
Prix68
# Prix68 2014-08-08 14:58
SueB - I liked your comments as well.
Fazzie
# Fazzie 2014-08-13 02:24
Hello Alice.

Have finally caught up with your indepth looks and look forward to your next part. Agree with a lot of what you have said about the way both boys have been written but actually I think I kind of get what the writers are trying to do, even though it seems a lot better executed for Dean than Sam. It is simple deal with the arrested development for both boys without having the fall back of having a supernatural mcguffin being responsible for their decision.

The mcguffin maybe there to explain the action but it isn't being held responsible for the decision and the repercussions of it because with Dean's personality there is no way he is going to let anyone not hold him accountable for DemonDean's actions or say that Crowley was solely to blame for taking the mark. But by the same token it also means that he can deal with the fact that the people around him, even though they care, kind of take it for granted that he will bury his feelings and just get on with things because that is what Dean turning nursemaid in season 8 and both Sam and Cas' seemingly getting on with their business as Dean trotted around with the mark of Cain on his arm kind of implied. Cas just assumed that Sam would be looking into what was happening with Dean and Sam just held onto to his pain while Dean fell apart in front of him, where as we have seen Dean put his pan on the back burner to the point he lets other people's problems become his responsibility when they are in truth not wholly. Sam agreed to did the trials that wasn't on Dean. Sam blindly said Yes to Gadreel, tricked or not that was not addressed if he was so willing to die.

Even with Sam, he's human now. The not looking, the actions with Benny (as admitted by Scarifice jealousy did play a part in his actions) and now the holding on to his anger while Dean was falling apart. They all made him look like a dick but were needed for emotional growth because it is has become too easy for Sam's choices to be simply explained by something supernatural made him do it. Even with whatever he is going to do that means Carver says may make him a monster, it is human Sam that is going to do it, not anyone one else making that choice for him or manipulating him or some grand quest because Dean's personality and low self worth would never let a quest for him to be called a grand quest even though it is nice to know that if you disappear it is nice to know someone would care enough to try to look for you.