Ok I admit: I really liked this episode and not just because the upstate New York setting reminded me a lot of where I grew up. (and well... my first kiss was with a girl named Robin too)
I liked not!Josh Brolin in this. He did a good job coming across as a someone stern but warm, the kind of guy boys would gravitate towards and look up to as they grow into men. He reminded me a lot of Lawrence from Office Space and now I want to watch a buddy comedy of those two, with their epic mustacheos.
I thought Dylan Everett did a pretty good job as young Dean and I think I may have to vote for him over Brock Kelly's previous portrayal (though it's a close race). He definitely looks like he could play the part of Matthew Cohen's son and I'm even a little bummed they didn't bring him back if Jeffery Dean Morgan was unavailable. Also, I notice Dylan has the same last name as the guy who played old Dean in the Curious Case episode. Any confirmation on if they're related? (if so, that was a BRILLIANT stunt of meta casting, kudos)
Also a major thumbs up to the actresses playing Timmy's mother who did an excellent job conveying a lot without lines. Though I am really curious why they split the role between two actresses instead of just using one. Speaking of which, it was nice to have a good old fashioned ghost story again (weird how those have become "comfort food" to us fans) but I am slightly bugged by... well why haven't we seen this before? You'd think ghost moms attached to their kids would be a LOT more common (then again, maybe they're not as murderous).
I wasn't happy with the lighting choices in this episode either as even with all the lights off and streaming to my HD TV I STILL couldn't see some scenes in this episode.
Now onto the rest...
I found myself liking Robin and thought both actresses playing her had good chemistry with the actors playing Dean. Though it did come off a bit like Lisa 2.0... eh I can't complain that much since I'm a sucker for young love reclaimed stories. To the point that I guess Robin now replaces Lisa as the 2nd place on my Dean shipping manifest. (hang on... I seem to have mixed metaphors)
I'm not going to fret about the timeline for right now though between this and that time Dean drove across America (when he met Lisa) and when Sam ran off and got a dog... at some point you start wondering how in the world the guys ever had any time left to do any boding! Or sleep. Heck given everything that we're told John tried doing with Adam and all this other stuff we keep finding out, I'm starting to think he must have had his soul removed because there's no way he got to sleep any himself.
Speaking of John... Look, I have a cousin who was a bit rambunctious growing up who didn't really mature or calm down when he reached adulthood but kept going down what you might call "the wild path". Of course one night he ended up in jail and my uncle decided to let him sit in there for a day or so (I never heard how long it really was). After that my cousin straightened up, got his life on track, and married a beautiful, awesome woman. So yeah, I don't entirely blame John for his choice here (plus now we know why Dean was so adapt in jail). We know from the A Very Supernatural Christmas that this wasn't the first time Dean had stolen something and with a father forced to be gone a lot, it's reasonable to assume the kid was heading down an even worse path than that of the hunter's life. Hunters have to skirt the legal bonds of society as it is, it's a very fine line that keeps them from being out and out petty criminals.
Still, 2 months? Why 2 months? I'll set the meta question aside (I think they could have done just as much with only 1 month) and look at it in story. First of all, given the injuries Dean suffers in their life, John probably has to deal with a lot of scrutiny from society. I don't believe he was ever physically abusive to him (any more than any father is when having to teach their sons hard lessons about life) but how could he explain that to anyone? The truth certainly won't keep the state from taking away his sons. So when Dean ended up in the home, it's probable that John decided he needed to lay low for awhile.
Second, I think John was giving Dean a chance. Going by his speech in The Song Remains the Same, we know that there was nobody on earth who was angrier with or hated John Winchester more than... John Winchester. He wants to give his sons a stable home and normal life but he just can't. It's not just about revenge, but also the wider world, they have a duty to others. Like I say, hunters are like cops and soldiers, they are needed to keep the rest of us safe and the gears of society from getting jammed by intrusive elements. The only problem is that hunters do not have the wider support of society as the latter two do, which also means they don't have the "comfort" of knowing that if their children don't take over the role, another person's child can. No, hunters must pass on their duties to their family else the monsters go unchecked and other families are torn apart. It sucks but what's the alternative? Letting hundreds die in a plane crash?
Still, although the accounts vary, it seems John did encourage Sam to go to college, so maybe this was the time John did that for Dean. Leave him in a normal place for 2 months then give Dean a choice on whether he wanted to stay or continue the hunter's path. Had Sonny "fought" for Dean, I don't think John would have fought back that much, just enough to make sure the other man would care for his son as much as John did. After all, he left the wrestling certificate with Sonny instead of putting it with Sam's trophy. Yet deep down, Dean wants to be a hero. To others. To his little brother. And so he takes the path less traveled.
It could also be John got caught up in a hunt, but I prefer the more poetical interpretation.
So far looks like this will be the best episode of the season.
Though does anyone else find it interesting that while younger, Dean had some habits that he seemed to "grow out of"? I'm actually rather surprised we don't see them still carving on beds and salting the door. A sign they're overconfident now or they have a bit of a death wish? Or something else? Hmmm...
(cross posted @ http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/episode-review-bad-boys/)