Editor's Note: The WFB has a long tradition of welcoming guest writers. When Ashley first sent me a link to her review of "First Blood", I couldn't wait to share it with The WFB readers! This is her outstanding review of "Regarding Dean". I hope you like it as much as I do! - Nightsky
“Regarding Dean” was one of the most anticipated episodes of season twelve because it was known early on to be the first comedic episode in quite some time. I, for one, love the funny episodes of “Supernatural—“Yellow Fever,” “Swap Meat,” and “Changing Channels” among my favorites. However, this episode was not just created to give us a good laugh, it bore depth and meaning, and it highlighted the close relationship of the brothers, something I've been wanting to see more of, like in the good old days.
The promo revealed that Dean would begin to lose his memory, which sounded like a cross between a comedy and a tragedy; and it was. The cost of losing one's memory is not one to be taken lightly. Lending even more meaning to the episode was the plethora of Easter eggs for the fans to find. (Speaking of which, they should really have an Easter-themed episode.) I give it 10/10 shining stars, and here’s why:
Fluffy Animals and Bum Dean
One of the first scenes of the episode included Dean and a bunny. I don’t know if anyone has spent sleepless nights pondering what exactly Dean would do if he woke up outside with a bunny nestled up to his chest, but if you have, you’re in luck. You’re pondering can cease. Dean did not simply roll to the side facing away from the bunny and stand up—which he definitely could have done—instead, he gently picked up the furry critter and moved it “out of his way” while he said, “Hey buddy.” Positively adorable! Plus, Dean called Cas “Buddy” in a recent episode, so I couldn’t help but imagine already cute Cas as a cute bunny, doubling the cuteness. I’m the only one who imagined that? Oh well. Now I’ve probably forced you to, too, so you’re welcome.
I did entitle this section “Fluffy Animals and Bum Dean,” implying there must have been another fluffy animal involved in the beginning sequence, and indeed there was. While not a crucial addition to the plot, or really a meaningful addition whatsoever, I still appreciated the large, white fluffy-as-a-cloud dog accompanying the jogger that let Dean borrow his cellphone. It looked like a puffy cotton ball with legs romping around the park beside its fit owner.
Now on to the “Bum Dean” part. Who else found it comical that the woman with the stroller hurriedly handed Dean money and scurried away? I mean, come on, his jacket was a little dirty, but he wasn’t ultra disheveled and sporting a toothless smile. He just looked like an attractive man who had a rough night, and he was perfectly pleasant. I actually found it refreshing to see Dean alone interacting with strangers for a reason other than a case. He seemed normal and nice, not that I was questioning his niceness, but it felt like a non-hunter Dean, like the family-man Dean of season 6.01, “Exile on Main St.”
Waffles and Brotherly Love
Dogs and bunnies are not the only fluffy things in Dean’s life, he’s got waffles as well. It’s fitting that “Waldo’s” was the nearest establishment for Dean to meet with Sam, a diner, which by the looks of it, was a waffle paradise. In that heavenly diner, there were a few memorable moments. Firstly, how could one not appreciate Sam bringing Dean medicine for his “hangover” headache? I think it’s sweet how both brothers look after one another, switching into parental roles whenever the other one is in need. We saw it in season eight with sick Sam, and now we are seeing it again with a hexed Dean.
Secondly, Sam said he tried to call Dean. He kept his cool, but I'm guessing he didn't just try to get a hold of Dean once, I'm betting he called several times. Ah, brotherly love, nothing is as lovely as thee.
Downside of waffles: eating too many of them before examining a corpse can be upsetting to your stomach.
Upside of waffles: they might inspire you to say things like mo’ money, mo’ problems—because what sounds more hip and trendy than that? Am I right?
The Signs of Forgetting
Assuming we all watched the preview for this week’s episode, we would have known the premise: Dean will forget everything; so it was a matter of waiting for the first signs of forgetting. Dean forgets about Lucifer’s baby mama, he forgets to pay, he forgets the woman who slaps him, and he forgets the word “enemy.” Those were all sure signs that the forgetting was upon him. Then disaster struck; Dean momentarily forgot how to drive. He couldn’t figure out which key was his car key and he drove forward instead of in reverse, running into stuff in the process. Sam had to apologize for Dean’s uncharacteristic ineptitude at driving his beloved car, which reminded me of Sam apologizing for Dean’s incessant bickering with the pigeons—also in a parking lot of people to embarrass Sam—in 9.05, “Dog Dean Afternoon.”
The blurry Dean POV shots we got were really effective in immersing us in the forgetting of Dean. It helped us visualize the fogginess of losing one’s memory, and the disquieting nature of being bereft of clarity.
Dory, Rowena’s Ringtone, and a Bull Named Larry
Dory is a world-renowned fish with short-term memory loss, loved by children, me, you, and...Dean Winchester? Yes. Dean is in fact a fan of Dory and he is “not going to apologize for loving that fish.” Keep being you, Dean. It was especially ironic that Dean, as he was experiencing memory loss, ended up remembering the one fish known for that problem. Dory will keep swimming and Dean will keep shooting, but I guess he’ll have to do it in the dark since he couldn’t remember what a lamp was. On the subject of lamps, I think we should all start calling lamps “light sticks.” It’s way more fun and sounds kind of like light sabers.
Let’s discuss Rowena. I love her, I really do. But why would she help Sam and Dean? They aren’t “besties” as Crowley would say. I guess, based on her comments in this episode, helping Sam and Dean meant they’d owe her a favor, which doesn’t seem that valuable since she’s a badass, powerful, capable witch, but if she’ll help the Winchesters to have them in her pocket for later use, then I’m all for it. Who knows? Maybe she secretly cares for them.
When she asked Sam if she had a ringtone, I couldn’t help but think of that song Ruth Connell sings at conventions, “Flawless, Absolutely Flawless.” It suits both her and Rowena. Also, I thank her for blessing us with that awkward and hilarious scene of Sam insisting he would not, under any circumstances, check to see if Dean’s body was smooth like a candle. (He didn't say it in so many words, but it was clear he would not be up for the task.)
Larry is the next thing we should talk about because Larry unleashed country Dean and eye-rolling Sam. To learn about Larry, Sam and Dean first had to retrace their steps: Sam went to “hit the lore” while Dean “went out for burgers.” No shocker there. The burgers led them to a certain bar in which Dean decided to be called “Springsteen,” funny since he kind of was born to run, to and from monsters, but still, the connection is there. Slap-happy lady turned out to be the waitress at the bar that “blew off some steam” with Dean. Her sympathy for Dean when they convinced her he’d been roofied along with her admiration for Dean’s bull-riding skills was a laugh and a half because of Sam’s massive eye-roll. I swear, those eyes rolled up to Heaven and back. Exasperated, fed-up-with-Dean Sam is the best. (We got a lot of him this episode!)
Later on, Dean told Sam that he was “like a god on the bull,”—ring any bells? Or any whistles? (Pun intended.) Dean said, in episode 4.13, “After School Special” (one of my favorites), that the whistle made him the god of the kids in his gym class. I thought it was a hysterical little throwback.
A Reversal of the Teacher and the Student
Memory loss brings out Dean’s silly side, something I greatly miss. I related to Dean on a spiritual level when he tried—and failed—to read lips. “Now salsa you mittens” is most likely the best I would have done had I tried to read his lips, too. It is a skill I have yet to acquire, and probably never will. Then I related to Dean even more when he brought up Netflix, the very black hole to which I sold my soul for hours to catch up on “Supernatural” many moons ago.
It was only a matter of time before Dean had to be given “the talk,”—the monster one, in case you were thinking of something else. Once Dean exclaimed, “I know how to shoot a gun!” you knew it was almost time. Back in 3.8, “A Very Supernatural Christmas,” we got to witness a young Dean admit to a young Sam that “monsters are real.” Now we got to see a role reversal with Sam telling Dean, “Witches are real...vampires, werewolves, witches, they’re all real, and we kill them.” One detail I particularly liked was the parallel between young Dean and present-day Dean. Young Dean, in that Christmas episode, said to Sam, regarding John’s job as a hunter, “We have the coolest dad in the world, he’s a superhero.” Present-day Dean, upon hearing he and Sam hunt, thought it was “awesome” and the “best job ever,” and that they were like “heroes.” Dean followed in his dad’s footsteps, and still finds hunting a cool job. But no, Dean, Sirens are not all hot chicks, and unfortunately, Djinns do not grant wishes, as wonderful as that would be. But you do have an angel as a best friend.
An Ode to Yellow Fever
Dean manning the flashlight with a boyish smile was a one hundred percent intentional reference to episode 4.06, “Yellow Fever.” A lovely nugget that evoked thoughts of one of the funniest episodes of “Supernatural” to date.
Bouncy Hair Enthusiast
Contrary to Sam’s wishes, Dean sauntered over to the door and pulled it open without checking to make sure no evil being lingered on its step. What he found was Rowena, the witch whose name he finds weird, but whose hair he finds bouncy.
Why Do Bathrooms Make Me Emotional?
A concerned Sammy sitting on the edge of the tub. An agitated Dean with his head in his hands, sitting on the toilet. “It’s not gonna happen,” Sam said as my heart did a somersault. “We’ll figure it out, we will,” he continued, as my heart literally split in two. How can two guys sitting in a stinkin' bathroom make me so emotional? It’s absurd! Sam's vehemence in his claim that they would figure it out tore me to shreds.
Then Sam had to further wound my heart as he said to Rowena, “I’ve seen my brother die, but watching him become not him...this might actually be worse.” I wanted to comfort him, but of course, he’s a fictional character, so I could not. Woe is me.
That was not all because when has “Supernatural” ever spared our feelings? (Yet I love it not despite that, but actually because of that.) The mirror scene. You know what I’m talking about. Dean recited his life to himself in the mirror: “My name is Dean Winchester, Sam is my brother, Mary Winchester is my mom, and Cas...Cas is my best friend.” Such a powerful scene! Dean’s voice breaking, his chin trembling the further he got, and then his despair as he faced the torment of losing his sense of self were heart-wrenching moments.
Next came the dreaded “I don’t know,” when he literally forgot his own name. This scene was redolent of the mirror scene in 10.23, “Brother’s Keeper,” when Dean had the Mark of Cain and was also struggling with maintaining his sense of self. In that instance, he was losing his goodness, while in this past episode, he was losing both the good and bad inside of him; he was losing everything.
I retract my earlier statement, I do know how two guys in a bathroom can make me emotional, they are portrayed by some seriously talented, superb actors. Kudos to Jared and Jensen! They are unbelievable, especially at portraying intense emotions!
A Wee Bit of Rowena’s Past
Rowena indulged herself by telling Dean a bit about her past, since she figured he wouldn't remember anyhow (though based on the ending, I think he did). We learned that the British Men of Letters ran her out of her homeland, so she begged to be taken in by a witch family, including the three siblings present in the episode: Gideon (the deceased), Boyd, and Catriona. They cast her out, seeing her as unworthy and not “up to snuff.” Although, who cares what they think? Dean told Rowena that he thinks she’s “got plenty of snuff.” That should be enough; it certainly got Rowena to smile a big, genuine smile.
Boop (And Killing People)
Dean has once again been booped. Booping sounds cute, and it is. I believe the first booping, the booping that started it all, was in 5.11, “Sam, Interrupted.” Sam and Rowena have partaken in the booping-of-Dean trend, who’s next?
Dean and Sam’s killing habits are straddling a very foggy line, one in the middle of just and unjust. How can they say for sure everything they do “is for the greater good” as Rowena said? Their intentions are indubitably pure, but the repercussions of their actions are often severe. I love the boys, but even I'll admit they've caused a lot of harm. Granted, they do always attempt to right their wrongs, an admirable quality in and of itself.
Dean Remembers Sam!
Dean forgot his name. Let me repeat that. Dean forgot his name! But as soon as he heard his little brother scream out in agony as his ears bled, he instantaneously said, “Sam?” Wow. If that isn’t a testament of their incredible brotherly bond, then I don’t know what is.
I'd be interested to know what Dean remembered. Did he hear Sam scream and impulsively blurt out "Sam," somehow knowing the person in pain was someone he loved. Or did an image of his little brother flash through his mind, the name coming with it?
The Stupid Impala
Rowena left a note in the Impala that included a line about the Impala being a “stupid car.” This is a minute detail that I’m probably too happy about, but I think that Dean said “stupid” in a bit of a dumbfounded tone, as if he couldn’t believe anyone would call the Impala stupid and was offended at the prospect of such an asinine belief.
Catriona, whose delicate butterflies clash with her insane personality, sang a twisted “Raggedy Ann” song to Rowena as she threw shards of glass at her like darts. Here, Rowena was stuck to the wall, elevating her above the height of Catriona. Oppositely, when they were standing earlier on, Rowena was clearly much shorter than Catriona, as shown by shots seen over Catriona’s shoulder looking down at Rowena. The switch in dominance foreshadowed Rowena’s triumph in the end (or it’s just me over-complicating things).
Dean in Wonderland
Dean did not fall down a rabbit hole to find instructive notes, he mistook the name of a lamp. And, No, Sam didn’t write “drink me” or “eat me” on anything (that we know of), but he did write things like “open me” and “No!” The “No!” was attached to the grenade launchers Dean has so desperately wanted to use, which was super funny. One thing I am still unsure of is whether or not Dean chose to ignore the “stay” note or if he forgot what the word “stay” meant. I guess we’ll never know for certain.
The best use of the sticky notes was when Dean held up the “witch killing bullets” before shooting Katrina.
Succeeding in killing the first, he killed the second, and then he gave Sam a thumbs up. I will miss that extra-cheery Dean.
Overall, I thought Sam was a sweetheart for labeling everything for Dean. But then again, when is Sam not a sweetheart?
Why Can No One Tie A Durable Knot?
Sam is tied to a chair, his soul about to be swapped for a dead man’s. His situation must be dire, right? Wrong, because every opponent Sam and Dean face cannot tie a knot that actually debilitates them. Maybe Sam and Dean are just masters at untying knots, but come on, can’t one bad guy do it right?
Why Does Sammy Take My Heart and Crush It?
Sammy, Sammy, Sammy...oh how you yank at my heartstrings. When Dean walked down that staircase and said, “Who’s this hippie,” Sam looked devastated. Okay, yes, Dean calling Sam a hippie was funny, but I couldn’t concentrate on the comical aspect of the moment because of Sam’s crumpled face. He thought it was over. He thought his brother was gone for good. No more reminiscing about tough old John Winchester saving a drunk Dean. No more Dean teasing Sam about his past experimentation with weed. Dean wouldn't even know who he was, and soon, Dean would die. He would be alone. His worst nightmare realized.
Then Dean, stupid, lovable Dean smiled his million dollar smile that let Sam know he was there, and made it clear he was cured by mentioning the time he ate all of Sam’s Halloween candy (which I could totally see Dean doing because we sort of did see it in the Halloween episode, 4.07, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester").
Sam’s face here was priceless and precious. First angry, then trying to be angry, but too happy to actually make it convincing, then incredibly grateful and overall ecstatic. He could finally breathe again. In the midst of this series of Sam-expressions, one crushed my heart the most. It can be best described as Sam’s endearing I-thought-I-lost-you-for-good-but-now-you-are-back-and-my-happiness-and-relief-is-truly-immeasurable-I-love-you-more-than-words-and-need-you smile. (Wordy, I know, but pretty accurate.)
Another time Sam had this relieved smile was in 10.3, “Soul Survivor,” when Dean was cured of being of demon. In both cases, Dean lost himself, worrying Sam to no end, so getting Dean back was the best thing that could have happened to Sam.
Side note: why, oh why were we deprived of a brotherly hug? A golden opportunity missed. I still have hope for one this season, but seriously? As Dean descended the stairs, he could have walked right into his brother’s arms. I’ll try to channel Elsa and let it go, but it will be difficult.
Though this might be a stretch, for some reason, all I could think of as Sam and Dean were talking over Baby was episode 1.18, “Something Wicked this Way Comes.” Why that episode from way back when popped into my head, I have no idea. In it, Sam says, “I wish I could have that kind of innocence,” and Dean replies with, “If it means anything, sometimes I wish you could too.”
Now, years and years later, Sam seems to wish for it again in saying that he was “jealous at first” of how happy Dean looked due to temporarily losing the “weight” that they’ve always had to bear. The ostensible happiness Dean felt could be equated to the innocence Sam referred to in season one, since he forgot about monsters and all of the bad stuff. However, like Dean said in “Regarding Dean,” “It wasn’t just the crap that got lost...it was everything.” He went on to say, “It was us. It was what we do...all of it...so if that’s what being happy looks like, I’ll pass.” It was us. It was us. Sam is the most important person in Dean’s life, so losing the us is just as unthinkable as losing the me, to Dean.
Some may have been frustrated by the repetitiveness of the ending montage of Dean riding the bull coupled with clips of him from the episode, but I adored it. Why did I love re-watching the same stuff I had just watched, you ask? It’s simple: the song and the implicit (at least, to me) meaning. Bobby Goldsboro’s “Broomstick Cowboy” released a sense of nostalgia that pervaded the entire montage. It was the perfect ending to the episode, tying it up with a neat, albeit sorrowful, little bow. It spoke of “rocket ships,” “sunny days,” and “chocolate candy bars” being lost to adulthood. In the episode, Dean regained his innocence, he smiled more than he’d smiled in years, which we see emphasized in the scenes replayed with the music, such as the one of him grinning like he just won a year’s supply of pie, while watching Scooby Doo on the TV.
In a sense, he was “riding the bull” throughout the episode, something wildly freeing, but fleeting—he couldn’t stay on forever. As the song ended, these melancholy words were sung, “For soon you’ll be a dreadful thing, my son, you’ll be a man.” Dean finished by laying down on the bull, his ride done, symbolizing his blissful innocence stripped of him once more. I thought it was absolutely beautiful.
Season 12 has just begun and I am in love. Keep 'em coming!
Ashley's original post can be found at https://www.theodysseyonline.com/dean
Gif credit: Some were created by Ashley, She found the rest on Tumblr & Giphy. Credit and thanks goes to those sources.