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SAM: I know. I'm just saying, what if we did? What if this whole thing was over tonight?
Man, I'd sleep for a month. Go back to school - be a person again.
DEAN: You wanna go back to school?
SAM: Yeah, once we're done hunting the thing.
DEAN: Huh.
SAM: Why, is there something wrong with that?
DEAN: No. No, it's, uh, great. Good for you.
SAM: I mean, what are you gonna do when it's all over?
DEAN: It's never gonna be over. There's gonna be others. There's always gonna be something to hunt.
SAM: But there's got to be something that you want for yourself—
DEAN: Yeah, I don't want you to leave the second this thing's over, Sam.
SAM: Dude, what's your problem?
DEAN: Why do you think I drag you everywhere? Huh? I mean, why do you think I came and got you at Stanford in the first place?
SAM: ‘Cause Dad was in trouble. ‘Cause you wanted to find the thing that killed Mom.
DEAN: Yes, that, but it's more than that, man. You and me and Dad—I mean, I want us….I want us to be together again. I want us to be a family again.
SAM: Dean, we are a family. I'd do anything for you. But things will never be the way they were before.
DEAN: Could be.
SAM: I don't want them to be. I'm not gonna live this life forever. Dean, when this is all over, you're gonna have to let me go my own way.
 
Even their father, bloodied and beaten like his sons, says as much: "You've got to let me go," literally and symbolically. It's slowly becoming evident that the expectation of not surviving is beginning to seep into the veins of John's soul and he wants his sons, his heirs, ready to take over.

Death to the suitors, part one

After a few exceptional standalones, one of which brilliantly fleshes out those early days of war, we begin the endgame with Daniel Elkins, a Promethean figure, which both taught John much about hunting and also had the object of the quest within the Quest, Samuel Colt's mystical gun, the bow of Odysseus bow, if you will. And, at last, the sons are finally reunited (permanently, it would appear) with their wandering father.
 
"He took his fast ship down the gulf that time
for a fatal drug to dip his arrows in
and poison the bronze points."
- Athena, The Odyssey, book I
 
See Sam, you should ask those vamps if they think bowhunting is an important skill. Another important antithesis comes when exploring the sons' differences. Whereas Telemachus expresses doubt to his father in the ultimate success of their plan to take on the suitors, Sam and Dean are the ones that convince their father that only by working together can they eliminate the threat to their ‘home.'
 
On the surface, it would seem readily apparent that, prior to this moment, Dean was ready to assume the mantle whereas Sam was not, but the older sibling demonstrates a willingness to assume his younger brother's view on family, on home, and the accepted course of action to protect that home. We recognize a growing complexity of personality types and thus, a graduation from being merely a child to the heir(s) apparent. Dean, with his youthful, irreverent energy and commitment to combat discipline and Sam's external maturity and rebellion have inverted, Dean now openly disobeying his father, Sam following orders as demonstrated in the closing scene of Salvation. And now father and son(s) are ready to take on the suitors:
 
JOHN: You ignored a direct order back there.
SAM: Yes, sir.
DEAN: But we saved your ass.
JOHN: You're right.
DEAN: I am?
JOHN: It scares the hell out of me. You two are all I've got. But I guess we are stronger as a family. So, we go after this damn thing. Together.
SAM and DEAN: Yes, sir.

 
In Salvation, John demonstrates his Odyssean cleverness, channeling the successors to both ‘nobody' and waxed up ears through an impostor firearm and making the factory's water supply nice and holy. Epic heroes find cunning and unorthodox ways of defeating their adversary and if one wishes to further peel away the layers of myth, one could compare Odysseus being tied to the mast in order to gain information from the sirens (while, thanks to those waxed ears, his crew avoids their fatal spell) with Odin hanging from a tree, perhaps the World Tree itself, Yggdrasil, for nine days to gain wisdom. John's wife Mary was ‘hanging' from the ceiling in between wooden beams and this sacrifice propelled John to a greater understanding with the ultimate goal of recapturing whatever he could of what he had lost: "No, Sam. I want to stop losing people we love. I want you to go to school. I want Dean to have a home. I want Mary alive. I just….I just want this to be over. "
 
This deeply-held, visceral sentiment dominates the thinking of both sons.
 
DEAN: It's suicide.
SAM: I don't care.
DEAN: I do!
 
Sam appears to be the external simulacrum of his father, combining proper kingship and a willingness to finish the war once and for all. Contrast this against Dean as the episode wraps up and their original places way back in the pilot. The fluidity of emotions, one dominating before the pendulum oscillates back with changing forture, the pressure of the Quest and the primal desire for home:
 
DEAN: Sam, I wanna waste it. I do, okay? But it's not worth dying over.
SAM: What?
DEAN: I mean it. If huntin' this demon means you gettin' yourself killed, then I hope we never find the damn thing.
SAM: That thing killed Jess. That thing killed Mom.
DEAN: You said yourself once….that no matter what we do, they're gone. And they're never comin' back.
SAM: Don't you say that! Don't you—not after all this, don't you say that!
DEAN: Sammy, look….the three of us—that's all we have. And that's all I have. Sometimes I feel like I'm barely holdin' it together, man. Without you and Dad….
 
At the end of the season finale, we will see Sam's state of mind swing back once he witnesses the terrible situation they are in, and the wavering health of his older brother.

Comments  

Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-18 19:48
I’m singing your praises, Randal – this is fantastic!

The Odyssey is one of my all-time favourite books, and that you decided to connect it to this show is, well, extraordinary. Or, well, you didn’t even have to find a connotation; it was always there, as you wonderfully point out.

So many of the great pieces of world literature have drawn from antique writers, and Homer provided the world with archetypes in abundance. He is to be found in Tolkien’s books, the Arthurian legends, I guess almost every European legend or myth has some kind of root in Homer’s works (and there is Ovid, Euripides, well, many others), and some poets needed to paraphrase the works of old and compose fabulous poetry, like Tennyson with ‘Ulysses’†¦

I do agree with your assumption that every piece of literature might hold a different meaning for different people, based on personal experiences or preferences or… or…, but the almost divine quality of immortal words will never be diminished. Which is a very hopeful thought.

Would you really compare John’s memory of Mary to Odysseus’ brush with Calypso? She was ordered to let him go by Hermes (who acted on behalf of the Gods’ council, if memory serves), John, however, did not seem to be ever free of remembering Mary’s horrific death. How could he? No one who experiences something like that will ever be free. Not entirely.

Thank you so much for this! Loved every line of it. This time *your* words brought an old dream of mine back to mind – to get to Turkey one day and to sit down where Troy used to stand and read the Illiad where it all happened… and I’m sure, if the Gods allow, that it will happen….

Love, Jas
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-12-18 20:56
WOW, Randal...this is great. I love the Odyssey, but never compared it to Supernatural. It’s fitting...the Odyssey is a classic and so is Supernatural. ;-)

I can tell you really had fun doing this. So much work too. Thanks so much.
Freebird
# Freebird 2009-12-18 20:56
"I see the bad moon a-rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin'
I see bad times today
Don't go around tonight
Well, it's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise
I hear hurricanes a-blowing
I know the end is coming soon
I fear rivers over flowing
I hear the voice of rage and ruin
Hope you got your things together
Hope you are quite prepared to die
Looks like we're in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye"

Creedence Clearwater Revival's song was the closing song for the Season 1 finale, remember, when that truck hit the Impala with Sam, Dean and John in it? Watching the story develope, this particular scene and song come to my mind quite often, and I can't help thinking that it is a landmark of the Winchester myth arc. Bad moon rising? From that point on, definitely.

Thanks, Randal, for this wonderful review! It's amazing to see how the same story can be presented in so many ways during different times of human history and civilization.
Gotta read Homer again, it's been a while.
Lara
Suze
# Suze 2009-12-19 06:51
Randal, you are a git. Sneaky Odysseus was always my favourite out of all the warmongering gung-ho greek hoards and now you've gone and tied him in with my love-to-loath man Big J in a more than slightly convincing fashion so I'll have to have a rethink and give myself brain strain. Curse you for a smarty-pants swot. ;-)

Jas, there's not much left of Troy now but it's well worth a look if you can time yourself to miss the coach-born multitudes ... Stand on the ruins and look out over the Dardinelle straits and shiver ...
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-19 07:18
alice, thanks for adding the screen caps. Nice break for the readers wading through such rambling text. 8-)

Jas, thanks, and don't forget nigh unreadable stuff like Joyce (he's alright, but some of those linguistic inventions put a strain on my eyeballs.)

You're 100% correct that Odysseus (thanks to the reason you laid out) did escape Calypso, whereas he'll never get over Mary's death and hey I *did* say it wasn't point-by-point ;-) - poetic license, right?) but I think there is a shared sense of imprisonment. And I wonder, given the intervention of the 'gods,' both in ancient Greece and Supernatural, if John wasn't 'rewarded' at the end of 2.22 with a trip to those fields of the lord that Castiel spoke about, and perhaps a reunion with Mary, a return, at last, to home. At least we can hope so.

Speaking of hope, I hope you get to see Priam's town, and if you do, make sure you take LOTS of pictures for us, especially us stuck across the pond. 8-)

sablegreen, thanks, and it was indeed enjoyable to put together, but I wondered if I wasn't just blowing smoke out of my ass, another case of "Marxist Readings Of Chaucer." :D

Freebird, that was the perfect choice of song, and completely foreshadows the bleakness that lay ahead. I watch that finale now and it still moves, Sam's in the middle of his speech - BLAM!

As Jas said, there's an immortal quality, and their universality is why we love and retell them to ourselves.

pete, thanks, I think the show is worthy of such analysis, but to me, it's never strictly, I don't know, 'scholarly.' There's such a visceral quality to what Kripke & Co. have created. It's so human.

Suze, HA! That certainly wasn't my intention - or was it? ;-) No, John is still a bit of an ass, and made some parental choices that a few of us wouldn't have, but he loved his kids, kids who just might end up better than their pop, which is what all us parents want for our own.

Be glad John wasn't not Goya's Saturn. ;-)

As for Troy, you've been? How close can one get, given the archaeological digs (which I assume are still going on - didn't they start back up in the 1980s?)
Suze
# Suze 2009-12-19 09:57
Yeah, back in the mid '80's ( '86, I think ... Brain scrambled by interviening eons of abuse ... :oops: ) There were a few trenches but nothing keeping you from climbing all over everything and fantasising wildly, it's a big site but the actual city seems really small compared to what we term a city now and there's not much left above ground ... Still go though, let your imagination fill in the blanks ...
Bevie
# Bevie 2009-12-19 14:51
Speechless here with admiration Randal!

Haven't read the actual Odyssey, but remember the kiddie version. Fascinating analysis as usual. Bravo!
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-19 20:18
Hey Randal and Suze, well, to my chagrin I won’t be able to go to ‘Troy’ anytime soon. All the money I save for vacation will flow into my US-trip next year....

But according to a friend who’s been to Turkey, they made a huge tourist attraction of it, you know, horse and all… Lucky Suze, having trodden the paths of old… I wouldn’t care, actually, if there was nothing to be seen. To stand on that ground alone where Hector and Achilles fought, where Aeneas had his hour… oh that would be enough to fill in the blanks…

Went to Tintagel last year (basically we did an Arthur-tour, visiting many places from the legends, even found dosmary pool), and the experience was intense and rewarding. There is magic in life, indeed.

Randal, I know you said your piece was not to be a point-to-pointâ €¦ I just love to challenge you once in a while a bit. ;-)I mean that nicely, though, you know I do. And, ahem, I confess I’m not exactly a fan of Joyce. But I do love Tennyson… Ah, Tennyson…

Guys, grrrrrr, it’s even colder tonight. -21 C (how much is that in Fahrenheit?)… I need to stock up that hot chocolates and socks…. A little sympathy, please?

freezing, but kicking Jas
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-20 05:42
suze, didn't think there'd be much left of Troy (or Troy II or VIa or however many there are) besides an army of archaeologists with farmer's tans. ;-) But oh, to see those lands anyway.

Bevie, thanks! There's a kiddie version? Man, now I'm wishing that Shel Silverstein did one, that would've been groovy.

Jas, bah, go to Troy, nothing to see here besides Wal-Marts. 8-)

Please, challenge me, tell me when I'm full of shit, which is probably often! And I'm certainly with you on the Tennyson. And Swinburne, and Browning and a bunch of others who probably didn't rewrite ancient Greece either, ha!

-6°F or thereabouts? Which is, F-ING COLD. Stay warm!
Suze
# Suze 2009-12-21 04:31
Poor Jas, only -2ish here which is bad enough! Tintagel's awesome ... It's just down the road from my sister, fantasic place, just don't wear high heels!

Randal, there's loads of good stuff in Turkey ... Lots of Roman bits and bobs and Ephesus, which is well worth a look ... Parts of Istambul are straight out of Shehezerade too. You guys have given me itchy feet! ( probably an improvement on frozen feet, though ... :lol: )
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-21 11:24
Suze and Randal, thanks for the consoling words, they drove the cold away, well, a bit, it’s a few degrees warmer now….much obliged….

Randal, I’m not interested in Wal-Marts, so I don’t care how many of those will try to capture my attention… Initial plans were to take a road trip along the Pacific coast (don’t try to tell me that’s not beautiful), but our plans have changed. So, I’ll be going to the con in March (and, frankly, I’m so damn curious about the whole thing and I haven’t looked forward to do so crazy a thing for a long time) and then to the capital, visit a couple of friends and see the sights (my hotel is in walking distance from the Smithsonian and various libraries, come on!).

Challenges coming up, as soon as I deem them necessary, don’t worry… hehehe….

What, Suze, your sister lives nearby Tintagel?! Oh, sigh, I’m having a heart attack. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in a long time, and it’s magical (had an experience there I’d file under ‘paranormal†™).
And you’re right – it was wise to leave those heels at home… (how did you know I wear those, anyway?)

Couldn’t the writers think of some ancient Greek ghost or whatnot and send the brothers over the Atlantic to investigate? I bet Jared and Jensen would welcome the warm weather, the great food and all those nice folks… (just don’t go swimming, guys,… sharks,…)

The cold is slowly freezing away my brain cells, all I’m coming up is nonsense…. (btw: itchy feet are far better than frozen ones, believe me, right now I’m doing studies on the matter)

Crazy, Jas
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-21 13:31
Suze, freezing feet? That's what giant moon boots are for. ;-)

Ah, Sheherezade, always makes me think of Rimsky-Korsakov . I could listen to that all day.

Jas, don't worry, America has some lovely bits, but you know how it is when you live somewhere. Every place that isn't home always seems more exotic and magical.

Hmm, given that the apocalypse is planet wide, I'm sure Vancouver could easily pass for various European cities. Of course, they'd have to take the TGV instead of the Impala.
Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2009-12-21 17:44
Krhm. Allow me to form my own intelligent quip:

WOW. 'nuff said :-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-21 18:20
Well, if the TGV comes in black... 8-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-21 18:29
Randal, you're right - other places than home often seem more exotic or magical... Now, I somehow couldn't accept that, so I found a couple of places that meet those qualities (here it's a Celtic grave mound and the five hundred year old oak growing next to it, and a moor where I like to go for a run) - when I wish to travel to Troy (since I've read your article again and again felt transported to an ancient world mingling with Midwestern US), but cannot, for whatever reasons, then the mind must provide opportunities - even if it was to cook a Turkish meal... well, who said you couldn't visit a place or time culinarily?
Thanks again for this article. I'm going to read HOmer again as soon as I have him unpacked (I know it's a sacrilege that he is still in some box, but, you know, working hours...)
:-) Jas
Hayley McCuan
# Hayley McCuan 2009-12-26 17:58
Hey, I 'm writing a report for school and I need to pick a t.v. or movie that relates to the Odyssey. I picked Supernatural as my choice-- and I need to write 3 ways on how it relates to the Odyssey.. so I was hoping you could help me out?? You know so much about them both.. obviously.
elenaM
# elenaM 2010-01-01 22:08
Even Dean's read the Odyssey! I hadn't, though-- til now. Another great article, Randal.