If Season three was about the self-actualization of Dean Winchester, then what was Season four about? A self-actualized man must face his character tests. Dean's ultimate season four test ends up being the test of faith. Not faith in God or angels, but faith in everything he believes to be right and what matters to him the most, family. No matter what situation he faces, he has to keep honoring that humanity rulebook, not gray the line between right and wrong, and be willing to die over what he believes no matter what or who tells him otherwise, including the angels. Including Sam.
Test of faith are one of the most infamous trials faced by common man. What makes Dean's case so extraordinary is that he never had faith in God before. He only believed what he could see. So when he's pulled from Hell, resurrected by an angel, called for duty by Heaven to prevent the apocalypse, forced to deal with his PTSD from life in Hell, and watched his brother transform into a monster, it's incredible any faith at all grew from that. Somehow, it got stronger.
Here's a rare treat at The Winchester Family Business. We have a guest columnist! Faellie posted this on her livejournal site and was kind enough to share it with me. Then, she was even kinder to let me repost it here. Yes, its that good. The title will certainly catch you. A disclaimer that I make with guest posters is to please not repost this elsewhere. Please provide a link to either this page or at http://shopstewardess.livejournal.com/618.html.
Thanks much Faellie, and I'm curious to read everyone's thoughts.