So that, coupled with a four-week hiatus, generated this little article: A look back on some memorable brotherly hugs.
I’ll state up front that I have a wee bit of a loose interpretation of a hug, sometimes the hug is while one brother is dying *wibble* and sometimes it’s not so much a hug as it is – well, something else. You’ll understand as I get going.
First up, ‘death hugs,’ which are brutal:
The first ever still stuns me every time I watch it: "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1", Sam, fatally stabbed in the back by Jake, falling to the ground and Dean racing to grab him before he face plants. The entire scene of Dean trying to reassure his dying, and then dead, brother, as well as himself, is heartbreaking. Since it was the first of such moments, its impact resonates even to this day.
In "Do You Believe In Miracles", we were treated to the reverse, near identical moment, as Dean, fatally stabbed by Metatron, seeks to impart one final brotherly sentiment to Sam, who has done his best to half drag/half carry his dying brother from the warehouse and, in so doing, is trying to reassure Dean. Whereas the ‘death hug’ of "AHBL Part 1" carried only a one-week break, "Do You Believe in Miracles" ‘death hug’ carried the dreaded summer hiatus, 20 weeks. Wow!
We’ve had hugs upon reuniting, such as Sam and Dean reuniting in "Lazarus Rising". At that time, we were left with the image of Sam somewhat cradling the hell hound-ravaged, and very dead, body of Dean while copious tears flowed in "No Rest For The Wicked". (I give kudos to Jared for being so vulnerable with Sam and pouring out his character’s grief in such a raw manner.) Then, some 19 weeks later, "Lazarus Rising" premiered and we were treated to not only a fabulous hug between Sam and Dean, but to this fan’s Bobby-loving heart, an equally satisfying Bobby and Dean hug.
There have been other return hugs: "Exile on Main Street" showed Sam and Dean hugging, although that one, to me, is tempered by the fact that it wasn’t really Sam; no soul after all. However, later that season, in "Like a Virgin", we get a hug that is all kinds of awesome as Sam awakens from his coma and finds Dean and Bobby in the study talking. Sam’s soft-spoken and incredulous “Dean” followed by his intense, almost frantic and clinging hug just punches me in the gut. From there, he goes on to give Bobby a similar hug; although Bobby, visions of Sam nearly killing him still fresh on his mind, is a tad more reticent about receiving it. Still, those two images are glorious.
We’ve had some great ‘death hugs’ and returned from the dead (or hell or the cage) hugs. We’ve also had some pretty spectacular hugs that seemingly come out of nowhere – that is, to the one receiving the hug.
The first ever was "Mystery Spot". It set the bar very, very high. Who can forget that moment when Sam, awakening after his confrontation with the Trickster, sees Dean and realizes that not only is he freed from the time loop, but that his brother is alive and well after half a year of separation – well, half a year in groundhog’s days, that is. Sam, ignoring his brother’s teasing about music and sleeping all day, flings back his blanket and sheet and strides purposefully across the room and envelopes his brother in a massive hug. Dean is stunned and caught off guard at his brother’s actions, but he allows Sam to cling to him for a moment before asking him just how many Tuesdays he had.
This was the first episode I ever watched, and this moment remains as powerful today as the first time I watched it. In fact, it actually increases in power.
Similarly, Dean gave such a hug to Sam in "Pac-Man Fever". Sam is physically suffering due to the trials and Dean is beside himself as he can do nothing but watch. Dean and Charlie have just realized that their greatest fear is losing the one they love the most, but both have come to realize that sometimes you do have to let them go. Dean returns to the bunker, after seeing Charlie off, and finds Sam. Sam starts to apologize for not being honest with Dean about the effects of the trials but Dean cuts him off, without saying a word; simply walking across the room and enveloping Sam in a bear hug. No words need to be spoken; Dean’s motives are clear: I’m here, Sam, and I support you. (Too bad the writing kept vacillating, but that’s another article (one I never intend to write, either. ;-)
We also have Dean returning after he makes the deal with the Crossroads Demon and finds Sam alive and well. Dean has been holding vigil for a couple of days, likely, over his dead brother’s body and then, in an instant – and after a really bad deal, but who is to quibble when it comes to a dead brother or a live brother? – Sam is alive and well. Dean hugs him so tight that poor Sam winces as the contact is painful with still healing wounds.
There’s also Dean’s return from Purgatory accompanied by a brotherly hug – after some holy water, a silver blade, and some Borax. Sam was very confused, not only at seeing his presumed-dead brother alive and well, but also by Dean’s near maniacal state – something understandable since Dean had just spent a year in Purgatory where it was war 24/7 with 360 degrees of combat. Sam’s confusion was multiplied many times as not only was he reeling from the revelation that Amelia’s husband, thought killed in battle, was alive and well, so, he steps aside to assist Amelia in her decision, but now he is rudderless and alone again, facing the prospect of reintegrating, possibly, into hunting, so he opens the door to Rufus’ cabin and finds Dean. They hugged, but it wasn’t the same as some of the others as both brothers were reeling from recent events.
I’d include the photos, but this article will simply be way too long. I suggest you go to Home of the Nutty (where most of these photos came from, thank you!) and look at the files for "We Need to Talk About Kevin". Dean’s face is a mixture of desperation and relief. Sam’s face is a mixture of surprise, joyous shock, and confusion. There is so much these two men reveal in their eyes – even when their eyes are closed.
Throughout the series – still ongoing, lest you think I’m eulogizing or anything here – there have been some other notable moments, to me at least. The first is in "The Pilot". This is absolutely not a hug, but it does show us brothers being, well, brothers: Sam and Dean stumble upon their missing father’s motel room. Sam picks the lock while Dean keeps lookout and then, as Sam enters the room he reaches back and grabs the back of Dean’s jacket and physically yanks him into the room. I love that moment. It is so Sam and Dean. (Boys will be boys.) On the episode commentary either Kripke or David Nutter (the director) offer the insight that they told Jared to be very real with that pull and surprise Jensen. He did, and it works.
There are another couple of hugs that my nostalgic, sentimentalizing mind adores, and they come in "Shadow". We’ve spent over two-thirds of the season learning how much Dean idolizes his father and how much Sam feels separated from his father. We’ve watched Sam come a long way in understanding his father and wishing desperately to find him, not only to join up and hunt the demon but also to try to make amends for all the hurt between them, and then there is a moment at the end of "Shadow" when Sam and Dean return to their motel room and see a strange figure silhouetted by the window: Dad. In one instant Dean says Dad and strides across the room into his father’s strong embrace. Each man is clearly overcome with emotion for a few moments, but then they gather themselves and there is a chance for Sam and his father to face each other. It’s awkward, but then love overcomes and Sam and John are each in an embrace. It’s a wonderful healing moment for these three strong men – and this fan melts each and every time.
As usual, Kim Manners is a master at staging the scene. At the moment when Dean and John hug, Sam is still hanging back at the entrance to the room. He watches from several feet away as his brother and father reunite; true to how he feels about his place in the family: the outcast. But, when Sam and John hug, Dean is standing very close watching his brother and father start to mend their troubled relationship; true to his place in the family: the glue that keeps them together.
There have been other moments to enjoy, such as Dean checking Sam’s injuries after Sam and Gordon fight in "Hunted", then there’s Sam checking Dean’s injuries in Wendigo after rescuing him, or Sam helping Dean to their father’s room as the doctors work on him in "In My Time of Dying". The list could go on. (Feel free to add others.)
One of my other favorite moments comes during "Lucifer Rising". After the entire Season 4 was spent slowly but surely dismantling the brothers’ close bond due to separation, differing ideas on how to go about stopping Lilith, lies about memories and about Ruby, and so much more, there is that moment after Lilith and Ruby are dead and Lucifer is about to rise that the brothers realize they have to escape, and they each simultaneously grab the jacket of the other. It’s a beautiful moment that cements the fact that no matter what – and there has been a lot of what over the years – they will not leave the other behind.
Feel free to add your other favorite hugs or such moments between the brothers. While I love a good hug, I do appreciate the restraint the show uses to not give us such a moment every few episodes – it would lessen the impact.
This, however, was pretty darn good.
As always, thanks for reading, Elle2