Sam and Dean – Guilty As Hell?
 
The Double-Edged Sword of Guilt of the Winchester Psyche
 
‘Guilt is the very nerve of sorrow’, Horace Bushnell once said. Everyone who ever felt guilty will easily second that quote, and it doesn’t matter really why the emotional condition we call guilt entered our system. We might feel responsible for negative events that have befallen others. Or ourselves. We might be certain to have violated moral standards. We might have not responded to an important situation in our typical manner – or we have, thus creating a harmful effect. We might feel shame for not having said or done something to significantly change our lives (or the lives of others). We might feel loss and pain for not having cleared a misunderstanding with a person no longer available to us.
 
Sound familiar? All those statements are definitions of guilt, and it is a deeply subjective emotion. It often bears signs of feeling inadequate, incapable, irresponsible – in short: guilt often comes with an array of irrational beliefs or negative self-scripts. Suddenly, having fallen victim to guilt, sentences like the following will pop up in our thoughts: ‘I had one job, and I screwed it up.’, ‘I’m a piss poor excuse for a son.’, ‘I guess that’s what I do: I let down the people I love.’, ‘If you’d been there to protect her, she’d still be alive.’, ‘I guess I’m not the man either of our dads wanted me to be.’… …
 
Guilt is undoubtedly one of the driving forces behind the Winchester Corporation. As long as it has been a part of their souls, it has inflicted damage on their psyche. It is fairly difficult for guilt and self-confidence to share the same room at the same time. The chinks in the armour that became visible throughout the series show us that the brothers carry still unfathomed guilt issues on their shoulders.
 
And sometimes their preoccupation with feeling guilty, as we have in particular witnessed in the first episodes of the airing season (discussing things they did or failed to do in the past) presented an unhealthy facet of guilt. Their mind became their worst enemy, tearing their bond apart, and by trying to defend what they did or did not do, they increased the intensity of guilt.
 
Sometimes it seemed almost as if the brothers had to find something to feel guilty about, which is not surprising, as that specific emotion had been a part of their lives, from childhood on. It was always there. People often fall back on emotions they know profoundly well, even if those are detrimental.
 
Dean and the continuing Dad-issue
 
One episode that shows movingly a glimpse of their childhood days is Season One’s Something Wicked. John left his kids alone every once in a while, and Dean was in charge of their safety. A heavy burden for any kid.  We learn about one incident Dean stored as a huge early failure – the moment the Shtriga almost took Sam. ‘You know, Dad never spoke about it again. I didn’t ask. But he looked at me different, you know, which was worse. Not that I blame him. He gave me an order, and I didn’t listen. I almost got you killed.’
 
Very early in his life Dean was confronted with a monstrous feeling of guilt, the kind a grown-up would have trouble dealing with, and Dean, unfortunately, never learned to handle it very well. He put it away, hiding behind his well-trained, cool exterior and wry humour. But he was never able to shed it. It might have stepped back, but it provided the fertile ground for guilt to bear fruit, and various other emotions travelling in guilt’s wake, such as anger, despair, hopelessness, fear, found room to spread.  
 
Even more so, as he realized how John saved his life – by selling his soul to a demon and condemning himself to spend eternity in hell. Although Dean was not responsible for his father’s decision, he felt guilty about being the reason John chose perpetual pain for his sake – a psychological phenomenon called survivors guilt, which is often experienced when a person has made it through some kind of traumatic ordeal while others have not.
 
People with such a history often question why they survived, even blaming themselves for surviving, as if they did something wrong. Common sense would claim that no one is to blame for that, but common sense does not apply here, as fear, agony and feeling of guilt defy reason and are able to put people through the worst possible hell in their own mind. They sometimes will try to do anything to make it right. Dean, for instance, tried to earn what his father paid – thereby focussing even more on looking out for his brother (the impossible burden John left him with always in mind).
 
But, eventually, he didn’t save Sam, Dean arrived a minute too late. It had always been his job to take care of his younger brother. As long as he did that (perhaps even more meticulously after the Shtriga-incident that fuelled his feelings of utter responsibility for his younger sibling’s life) and followed Dad’s orders, he was fine and his inner voices somewhat at peace.
John enhanced his son’s behaviour with the occasional praise and withdrawal of affection (‘He looked at me different’). Dean was a good soldier, even more so because he loved his family unconditionally. That his father trusted him with Sammy’s welfare was important to him. He became important. 
 
Whenever Sam’s life was on the line, Dean was there, not minding his own safety, desperately warding off anything that might cost his brother’s life or soul. But, although doing anything humanly possible to find Sam, he couldn’t prohibit Jake from stabbing his little brother. Sam died in his arms.
 
Sam’s death served as a catalyst to get Dean’s doubts and self-image to the surface: ‘You know, when we were little, you couldn’t have been more than five, you started asking me questions. Like, how come we didn’t have a mom? Why we always have to move around? Where’d dad go? Why he’d take off for days at a time. I remember I begged you to quit asking, Sammy, you don’t want to know. I just wanted you to be a kid, just a little while longer. I was trying to protect you, keep you safe. Dad didn’t even have to tell me, it was just always my responsibility. It was like I had one job. I had one job and I screwed it up. I blew it. And for that I am sorry… I guess, that’s what I do, I let down the people I love.’
 
So much culminated in this moment – the unbearable notion of John selling his soul for Dean (another guilt-inducing factor: feeling responsible, however irrationally, for John’s deal and hell-time), all the little moments Dean probably wasn’t one hundred percent there (he might have gone out more often than we know of and leaving little Sammy alone for an hour or so – he was a kid once, after all), and this one devastating inability to protect Sam.
 
The only logical step for Dean at this point became seeking a deal of his own to bring Sam back, again following an order given by dad, one he had internalized – protect Sam, at all costs, eventually saving Sam from going ‘dark side’, kill him, if necessary, not get him killed. According to his mind-set and his personality, Dean saw a huge failure, one he had to pay for.
 
Probably he had never felt alone and terrified like this, and he couldn’t bear the pain of losing his brother. He had no tools for this. His purpose in life – protecting Sam – suddenly was gone. Of course he didn’t know what to do. All he ever did cling to – hunting and looking after his brother – was taken.
 
At that moment, fuelled by anguish and hope lost, he for certain did not take into account one important fact: that he would pass on the dark ghost of guilt onto Sam. Guilt being born out of the knowledge that Dean had sold his soul for him (the kind Dean felt after finding out that John did it for him), intensifying Sam’s own guilt issues. I’ll get to that in a moment.
 
Not being able to save his brother from his deal, Sam made a pact with Ruby. Dean had not achieved his goal of keeping Sam safe – his younger brother did head down the dark path their father had warned him about. During Dean’s time in hell, Sam saw no other choice but to take the direction Ruby pointed him at. Dean wasn’t there, couldn’t stop him, and even after he was brought back, Dean failed to find the right words to get through to his brother (again: taken from Dean’s perspective. From a human and vulnerable standpoint utterly understandable).

Then he missed the chance to stop it all by taking a celestial delorian back in time. He was, again, too late and Mary made her deal with Azazel, thus beginning the Winchester tradition of selling their souls for some greater good and for their loved ones’ sakes.
 
The more devastating blow came with finding out that Sam had been keeping secrets with Ruby, obviously having grown to a team, working smoothly together, just like Dean and Sam used to do. For a young man who had done everything to stand by his family, in particular his brother, this was more hurtful than he probably expected. This was high treason, and it came like an echo of the painful words John/Azazel had given him: ‘Truth is, they don’t need you, not like you need them’, a confirmation of Dean’s deepest fears and wounded self-esteem which resulted in his first impulse: to leave: ‘You don’t need me. You and Ruby go fight demons’.
 
His disappointment prevented him from finding the words to reach out to Sam and convince him of Ruby’s poisonous nature. In fact, Dean acted just like John would have – too harsh, forceful, calling Sam a monster. That he used the ultimate weapon against his brother clearly indicated his high level of despair.
  
The confidence Dean had gained in Season Three, was fatally wounded in Hell. He came back as another person, essentially still Dean, but altered after decades of torture and terrified of the deeds he had to commit in hell. ‘You ask me to open that door and walk right through it, you will not like what walks back out.’   We often find a modification in a person’s personality after experiencing a long period of traumatic events, such as years of war, genocide, perpetual torture or abuse. When that happens to a child, it can lead to a personality disorder, with an adult it sometimes results in profound changes of important aspects of their character – altering their self-image, their self-esteem, frequently enhancing their feelings of guilt, anger, shame and self-loathing. The consequences often being depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide.  We find signs of this with Dean – he probably was depressed (he was often tired, unable to get out his anger to fight, feeling more resignation than ever) and he wasn’t able to forgive himself, and he probably, deep down, never will, which would be necessary for his hidden wounds to heal eventually.
 
Alistair’s disclosure about Dean’s purpose in hell ‘And it is written that the first seal shall be broken when a righteous man sheds blood in hell. As he breaks, so shall it break. When we win, when we bring on the Apocalypse and burn this Earth down, we’ll owe it all to you, Dean Winchester.’ poured more oil into the fire. Realizing what he had done, however unknowingly, was a blow that almost destroyed his spirit entirely.
 
Dean was shattered. Finding out that he had broken the first seal after finally succumbing to the pain of thirty years of torture, thus being supposedly weaker than his father, did irreparable damage to his soul. ‘I guess I’m not the man either of our dads wanted me to be.’ The conviction not to be good enough in his father’s eyes he had carried from childhood on came back, painfully so, while having been made aware by Alistair that he didn’t stand comparison with John, that he wasn’t like his father, something he had striven to be his whole life.
 
In fact, he was more than that – a man his father never was. A man who was able to muster up the courage to finally embrace Sam as his brother, again, allowing him to grow up, after fighting issues of trust and disappointment, which was essential to somehow save his sanity, as people he loved were getting hurt or killed – Pamela lost her eyes and eventually her life while helping them, Bobby lost his ability to walk in an attempt to save Dean’s life (and Dean did not say Yes to Michael, when being tempted ‘say yes, or your friend Bobby will never walk again’), Jo was wounded saving him and finally came up with the heroic plan to sacrifice herself to save the Winchester brothers and Ellen remained with her. More deaths, and Dean incapable of saving his friends. His family. More guilt.  We yet have to learn how big a damage this will cause, but it is safe so assume that Dean’s sleep will be troubled by even more feelings of blame and doubt. If he was a lesser man, he probably would have given in long ago.
 
Sam and the demon-blood power-cocktail
 
From childhood on Sam felt to be different. He was never able to put a finger on it, but he knew there was something about him that distinguished him from other kids. At the time he attributed that notion to his resistance against the family business. He hated being raised into a life as a hunter, which eventually led to his belief that John was disappointed in him, ‘because I didn’t wanna bow hunt or hustle pool. Because I wanted to go to school and live my life, which, in our whacked-out family made me the freak.’
 
He felt like a freak in his own family and he felt like one in school. ‘I didn’t want to be the freak for once, Dean!’ It was a heavy burden Sam carried. The idea of not being good enough in his father’s eyes applied to Sam as well, just as it did to Dean – in a different manner though. I believe, he was not convinced that his father truly loved him, because from the moment he became old enough to realize what their life was really about, he questioned his dad’s authority and rebelled against it, and his idea of how his own life should look like was never accepted by John. Eventually, John pushed his son away (or, let him believe that he did, while secretly driving out to Stanford whenever he could).
 
Leaving his family in order to pursue another life did not sit entirely well with him – he slipped into a state of denial, not talking about it, not even to the woman he intended to marry. Jessica knew about his problematic relationship with his brother and father, but she was completely unaware of the life Sam had led before becoming a pre-law student.
 
He also withheld the most important information: his visions, then only nightmares, the fruit of Azazel’s blood. He had seen Jessica’s death several times in his dreams, and dismissed it. But his reaction at illusion-Jessica’s remark ‘you knew there was something dark inside you, even at Stanford you knew’ allows us to assume that she did strike home here.
Sam in all likelihood tried to protect Jessica from what he knew about what was lurking in the dark, but he was proved wrong in the most horrific way possible: after coming home to a hopefully safe life and a future in law, he found Jess pinned to the ceiling, engulfed in flames. 

‘If you hadn’t run off with Dean, if you’d been there to protect her, she’d still be alive!’ Sam realized that instantly, and he hadn’t yet been able to handle that profound feeling of guilt that haunted him and made him vulnerable. Like John, Sam tried to find consolation in revenge, but it didn’t work. He was still drowning in self-reproach, and after years of living on the road with his brother, the same guilt came haunting him while being imprisoned in Bobby’s panic room.
 
Earlier, in season two, losing his father had broken Sam more than he himself believed possible: ‘I’m sorry that the last time I was with him, I tried to pick a fight. I’m sorry that I spent most of my life angry at him. I mean, for all I know, he died thinking that I hate him… What I’m doing now is too little. It’s too late. I miss him, man, and I feel guilty as hell. And I’m not alright. Not at all.’

What could he do? After his father’s death he tried to be a good son, because he didn’t believe he had been one before. Posthumous trying to do something right, but not succeeding in relieving himself of the burden he felt, even more so as Dean disclosed John’s last words – thereby lodging another fear in Sam’s mind: that their own father had believed there was a chance Sam would go dark side. Why else would he have ordered Dean to kill his own brother if it was to happen?
 With the demon blood in his body, having sensed it for a long time, Sam was terrified. His own father obviously had not trusted him.
 
Due to his gentle nature – which was to change under the burden of the extreme stress he was going to live with during seasons three and four – he got himself killed. Only after he was brought back and ‘van dammed’ up, he was able to kill Jake. Death had changed Sam – and here one important question arises: where was Sam during those days of being dead? What did he experience that might have influenced his further courses of action? Did he go to heaven or did his demon blood condemn him to hell? (a question I hope to ask at the Con in L.A, should I have the chance)
 
Sam’s death resulted in a string of events leading straight to doom – beginning with Dean’s deal for Sam, thereby multiplying Sam’s feelings of hopelessness and guilt: ‘How did you feel when dad sold his soul for you? ‘Cause I was there. I remember. You were twisted and broken and now you go and do the same thing. To me.’ Even though it was Dean’s decision, Sam felt responsible, just like Dean had when John did it for him.

So Sam felt compelled to set out and do anything necessary to prevent Dean from going to hell, even being ready to profoundly change into a more reckless person, much like Dean – ‘If I’m going to fight without you, then I gotta change … into you’ – and beginning to consider to follow Ruby’s advice. Despair is undoubtedly one of the most haunting forces there are.
 
The Mystery Spot experience was Sam’s breaking point. Watching Dean die over and over and being incapable of preventing it became a knife in his gut he was not able to get rid off. He tried everything, but Dean died – he had begged the guy-formerly-known-as-Trickster to turn Wednesday on, and still Dean died in the parking lot.
 
Seeking revenge became his salvation, but only on the surface. Underneath he was ridden by guilt and loneliness, two emotions that should not share the same mind as they often lead to irreparable damage. Sam changed. Profoundly. He hunted the Trickster down, ready to bleed an innocent person dry if necessary. He began to consider alchemy, forming a pact with Ruby, anything that would save his brother. He failed. Nothing he did or tried to do saved Dean from Hell.
 
So he did what he had done from the moment Jess died – try to make it right. After having gone through the terrible agony of losing Dean countless times, and then again, one last, horrific time, Sam saw no other choice – twisted, broken, at his wits’ end. He tried ‘everything. That’s the truth. I tried opening the Devil’s Gate, hell, I tried to bargain, Dean, but no demon would deal, all right? You were rotting in hell, for months. For months. And I couldn’t stop it. I’m sorry, it wasn’t me, all right? Dean, I’m sorry.’
 
He again felt intensely guilty for not being able to stop Dean’s ordeal, which provided the ideal fertile ground for Ruby’s offer.  Revenge, again, was one part of it, the other - experiencing that he was able to kill demons without having to use the knife. A reflection of the tender Sam we encountered in the beginning. This, at least, put his inner demons of guilt at peace once in a while. He managed to do something good in the midst of all the ‘poison and more evil’ he was sucking down.
 
But guilt is indeed a double-edged sword, and so are the means we try to overcome it. Sam knew what he was doing. He knew that sucking blood was wrong, but he also needed the power it gave him. He was not able to shed that inner conflict, even more as he found the change in Dean. Though Sam might have considered to say good-bye to Ruby at some point, he proceeded on this dark path, because he wanted to kill Lilith, of course, but also because he was trying to protect Dean from having to do something Sam believed he wouldn’t be capable of – and, according to Ruby’s lies, stop Lilith from breaking the last seal.
 
The profound truth of Sam’s loneliness became entirely evident in season four – no one he knew was able to relate to what he was going through, as he was ‘a whole new level of freak’. His brother often looked at him in a strange manner that indicated Sam was different (and he dreaded that). Confiding in him became more and more difficult, as Sam didn’t find the right way to explain himself to Dean in a manner that would make his older brother understand. Sam believed to be cursed, plagued by a ‘disease pumping through my veins, and I can’t ever rip it out or scrub it clean. And I’m trying to take this curse and make something good out of it.’
 
He had to try, since he felt responsible for Jessica’s death, for his father’s disappointment, for not being able to save Dean from hell, and – perhaps – for not being strong enough to withstand the lure of the demon blood and its power, going for it based on good intentions while still knowing that what he did was not entirely okay.
 
Sam had been ready to die in the attempt to stop the apocalypse. He did not plan to start it. The realization of his crucial part in raising the devil crushed him. The strength he had mustered up, although feeling despicable for what he was doing, was diminished.
 
The Sam we met in the first episodes of season five was a young man devastated, afraid and shattered by what he had done, those emotions fed by Dean’s rejection – ‘I just can’t pretend that everything is alright, because it’s not and it’s never going to be. You chose a demon over your own brother, and look what happened. … You were the one that I depended on the most and you let me down in ways I can’t even… I don’t think that we can ever be what we were, you know, I just don’t think I can trust you’ – and Horseman War’s observation – ‘You’re my poster boy. You can’t stop thinking about it, ever since you saw it dripping off that blade of that knife. … I can see inside your head, and it’s one-track-city in there: blood, blood, blood. Lust for power. Same as always. You want to be strong again. Not just strong, stronger than everybody.’
 
Realizing that both hit the truth, Sam chose to leave Dean. What he felt inside ‘scared the hell out of me’, and he had to understand what was going on. It might well be that he felt some kind of resonance of risen Lucifer, as Sam is the intended vessel for him. His powers gone or merely dormant, Sam still felt something inside of him which Ruby had thrown in his face: ‘You didn’t need the feather to fly, you had it in you the whole time, Dumbo.’
 
Her words, Lucifer’s announcement that ‘it always had to be you’ and his own insecurities about how he might cope with whatever was still existing inside of him, keep fuelling Sam’s profound feelings of blame, inadequacy and fear.
We yet have to be informed what this might do to him in the course of this season. Taken from his previous experiences with the matter, he most likely will go through an ordeal, provided by the harmful force of this own guilt. 
 
Both brothers have found a way to again be brothers, on a more mature level and wiser than before. But their wounds have not yet healed, as they are being ripped open repeatedly by the loss of friends dear and encounters with demons that remind them of what they did – break the first and the final seals. Another evidence of how both brothers are two sides of the same coin. Alpha and omega. Something angels and demons rely on when toying with the burdens the Winchesters carry, as it is a weapon that never misses.
 
Their issues of guilt are heavy, and hopefully they will find a way to fight and overcome them eventually, in the course of the battle that might follow – and they carry important resources in their souls.
 
The brothers have all the tools to rise like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes of their real or imagined guilt, and save the world in the end, and Winston Churchill’s famous word could ring true for Sam and Dean Winchester: ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’
  

Comments  

Faellie
# Faellie 2009-12-04 23:35
Jasminka, this is a great article. Your analysis explains so clearly how what has happened to Sam and Dean is "a river of crap that would send most people howling to the nuthouse". Thank you.
Ardeospina
# Ardeospina 2009-12-04 23:36
Wow, really cool article, Jasminka. Sera Gamble said in her interview that Alice posted a few days ago that the writers talk about the brothers' psyches, and it really shows when these characters can withstand such intense analysis and remain true to character and true to life. Very interesting stuff, and thanks for sharing it!
trina
# trina 2009-12-05 00:03
This was great. I am fascinated with the idea that the brothers are two sides of the same coin, and that by removing one you can rather easily control the other. They are each others checks and balances.
Tigershire
# Tigershire 2009-12-05 00:14
I second that. Excellent analysis. Such an interesting read. Thanks Jas.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-05 03:28
Pete, Faellie, Ardeospina, trina and Tigershire, I’m so honoured – thank you for your comments.
I love to sometimes treat these characters – for discussion’s sake – like real people, and they are indeed so well drawn that the psychological continuity never falters, a fact not easy to achieve. I was so happy that Sera decided to answer that question of mine, as I remain in never-ceasing awe considering the writers’ talent concerning these issues. Many shows I’ve watched in the past haven’t accomplished that.
Thanks again, Jas
Freebird
# Freebird 2009-12-05 08:19
Wow Jasminka, great article. It's amazing how fictional characters and story can make people wonder about real life. It was very interesting to read this, thank you.
Karen
# Karen 2009-12-05 09:03
Hi Jasminka
Now just because I was in your mind, doesn’t mean you can go into mine.
You just wrote down everything I always felt and thought. :lol:
Seriously though…Fantas tic article.

Thank-you for sharing your(our) thoughts.
:D :D
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-05 09:08
Goddamn, you're on a roll, this was stellar. Great analysis and you're 100% correct that they can be treated as real people for reasons of examination precisely because that's how they're written and acted, so rare in any kind of serial. Ain't no yin without its yang.
Bevie
# Bevie 2009-12-05 15:46
Jasminka I am in awe of your ability to put into words the feelings I and many others have regarding the Winchesters. This was a fascinating essay and I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Thank you.

Just want to say that in my belief, when Alistair taunted Dean with the story that John had been the first righteous man and had lasted a hundred years, he was merely twisting the knife of guilt into poor Dean's broken psyche. I think that Dean was the target to be the righteous man from the beginning.

Demons lie! And he knew exactly what that information would do to damage Dean even further. IMO of course.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-05 16:49
Freebird, Karen, Randal and Bevie, this is overwhelming, folks, thank you!

Freebird, the best and most tragic stories are written by life, and rarely a tv-show is able to meet the challenge of conveying life-issues in such a moving and real manner.
Actually, I think this is one of the aspects that make this show so popular and exceptional: almost everyone is able to relate to some facets of it, be it loving a sibling, having experienced something terrible and/or loss, etc. as it is so well-written.

Karen, dear, maybe we should apply for a patent for exchangeable cortex?
;-) I'm so touched.

Randal, what can I say – this is the best show on tv which makes it fairly easy to get to the heart of it… I owe it to the amazing writers and awesome actors. You’re right, I second your opinion about yin and yang. Apart from logic, it is poetic as well. I’m a sucker for that.

Bevie, I only wish you were right about Alistair playing with Dean, and it might well be that it was Dean from day one. It doesn’t matter really, though, as the result is the same – the mere thought of what he did puts him in agony.
On the other hand – Azazel himself proposed that John should ‘sweeten the pot’ with his soul… Gosh, demons are twisted. Interesting point, perhaps we’ll learn the whole truth in the upcoming episodes. Oh, dear, is it January, yet…?

Thanks for your generous comments, guys.
Love, Jas
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-12-05 17:57
Hi Jas, Great article.

Hi Jas, Great article. Survivor’s guilt affects everyone and Sam and Dean are no exception. Dean and Sam felt guilty at their father’s death, and at Ashe’s death, Pam death, Ellen and Jo. and so on. All died for them and they survived. That is how heaven and hell wants it. It’s a tool of manipulation that is why the boys are where they are. Dean’s time in hell brought him back with such remorse, that he couldn’t be the brother Sam had looked up to for so many years…and Sam set off to make it right. Exactly what Dean would have done, if the situation were reversed.

In the beginning of s4, Sam was written as suicidal and with alcoholic tendencies. In the Mystery Spot, Sam NEVER displayed those tendencies. Even after seeing Dean die 100 times, and being without Dean for 6 mos. In fact he was just a killing machine, much like Dean was in FTBYAM…withou t Sam. That would have been the Sam after Dean’s death if not for the manipulation of Ruby. Ruby helped push Sam in the dark direction, and still he never completely gave into it. Even with the assistance of a renegade band of angels…Did he kill Lilith, yes...,he had too. Did that push him to the dark side…no….mu ch to Lucifer’s distain. Sam was supposed to accept Lucifer in the chapel…but he decided to go with his brother instead…. Who was supposed to have been pushed into accepting his brother as a monster…but that didn’t work either.

For all intents and purposes, Dean and Sam never had a chance to be Dean and Sam. They always had someone pushing them in some direction…And it’s to their credit that they have held it together like they have….and that was solely because of the strong bond they have. That is what the demons have been trying to break since this started.

I really can understand Dean’s idolizing his father. He had a very normal family in his earlier years…both a loving mother and father for 4 years. It is very normal for sons to idolize their dads, and John was a very loving father. Dad changed after mom died and Dean could accept that because he DID love his family unconditionally . And because of that love he accepted the responsibility of someone else’s happiness at such a very young age. Any person of lesser quality would NOT have taken on the job, no matter what ‘training’ he had received. And make no mistake; Dean made a conscience acceptance of raising Sam. He would not have been a ‘good little soldier’ if he hadn’t wanted to be. He could have just given up on the family as Sam and John did. But that was not Dean's personality. That’s what makes a leader…..and as long as Dean leads, Sam will follow. And that combination is unstoppable!

Just my 1.5 cents worth.
joelsteinlover
# joelsteinlover 2009-12-05 18:49
You're so ridiculous. I wish I could write like you.
Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2009-12-06 03:51
Oh, Jas I *love* this. Just pure awesome and brilliance :-)

Hm... the Winchesters and Guilt. Now THAT is a neverending story, their cup runneth over and so and so. But I hope that by the end of this show both MEN (I will ditch 'the boys' permanently one day but just a glimps here lol) will find a little serenity and peace.
I'm suprised that this hellatus isn't killing me as much as I feared... hmm... maybe I'm finally starting to man up or something... or maybe I'm still in denial and the shit will hit the fan later :D

Still, a great piece, thanks.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-06 07:10
Supernarttu, joelsteinlover and sablegreen – thank you so much, guys!

Hey, Supernarttu, they are men, sometimes silly, behaving like boys (and don’t we just love that?), but they are, unmistakably, men.

I feel the same about this hiatus, and I think it’s not killing us as much as I actually feared, because we are having so much fun here… This site is our survival kit.

joelsteinlover – highly appreciated, thanks!

Sablegreen, the only true leader is a person others follow out of respect. Leadership on the grounds of blind obedience is worthless. Dean is the kind of man I would follow, too. I would trust him with my life in an instant.

Thanks for all the fish, y’all. Love Jas
Thunderstruck
# Thunderstruck 2009-12-06 09:08
Wow the articles on this site are so involved. Sometimes too involved I almost can't read them. This is a TV show and it amazes me how much time people devote to it. I love the show and all but geez is it necessary to go into such depth about these 2 fictional characters??
Faellie
# Faellie 2009-12-06 10:39
Well, Thunderstruck, there could be an emperor/new clothes issue here I suppose. But by coming here I've learnt about TV production and sales from Alice, psychology from Jasminka, literature from Randal, reviewing from elle and elle2. There aren't many TV shows that could support that range of activity, so in my view that makes this TV show a bit special. And it's such a pleasurable way to learn!

Plus, I normally get my storytelling from books. The fact that this time I'm getting my storytelling from a TV show doesn't, in my view, reduce the quality of that storytelling, or suggest that it shouldn't be subject to analysis just as written literature is. Although, as with great literature, one can also just read for the story without stopping for the analysis - much of the great literature of the past was written for mass market enjoyment. So nothing wrong with just enjoying the show if that's what you want to do.
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-06 12:19
Jas and Bevie, since it's a fictional epic (and that's what the show has become), I can get on board with the whole destiny thing, but I wonder if the question of who the righteous man is was nothing more than a matter of throwing stuff against the wall (innards? ha!) and hoping at least one thing would stick. Six billion folks, I imagine a few more than John and Dean were righteous in hell. I don't think that's really hinted at, just a thought.

sablegreen, great points about Sam and Dean, but I have one minor quibble with something you said, mainly because I think it's a sentence that disagrees with your premise (though I know what you're saying and this is probably more semantics than anything), that Dean and Sam never had the chance to be Dean and Sam. I think they never had a chance at a normal life, but I think they are exactly who they are through their actions. Sure, they've both made mistakes (oh, apocalypse? Though I still blame the not-that-heaven ly host for a crappy set of locks), but the lengths they'll go for each other and third parties, their strong moral centers. Yeah, I'm just arguing semantics. Beats thinking about the crappiness of my Browns. ;-)

Faellie, well said. TV is just a different storytelling medium. There's plenty of garbage 'lit,' too. One can dissect a groovy piece like Don Quixote, or read it for sheer pleasure.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-06 18:28
Thunderstruck, Faellie and Randal, you can’t imagine how much I appreciate your comments.

You know, Thunderstruck, I haven’t forgotten on moment that we’re dealing with fictional characters. For the sake of discussion and debate I love to treat them like real people, which is easy as they are incredibly well-written.

For me it relieves my mind, as I’m confronted with all kinds of cruel reality in my line of work. Juggling Sam and Dean’s history and their ordeals in my mind is harmless pleasure, as here are no lives at stake. Something I’d love to say about my work. When I get called to an emergency – often a suicidal person on some roof or bridge or a knife at his throat – I cannot fail to find the right words… I haven’t lost a patient so far, but that danger is always there.
So, I’m putting my knowledge and passion into a fictional story to have fun and relax (as writing is indeed relaxing for me). It might not be necessary on some larger scale, but it is fun for me (and, I think I can speak for the other writers here, for everyone who feels compelled to put down what’s going on in their minds).
You don’t have do delve deep into analysis to enjoy this show, of course not. Just do what you feel best with.

Faellie, I’m honoured. Well said, indeed.
Good storytelling is good storytelling. We’re lucky to be able to choose whether we want to read a book or watch a movie/tv-show (and it is not exclusive, you can easily love both. At my home I have countless books and dvds… I need a bigger place, damn). Sometimes the story will be foreground, sometimes analysis, probably depending on the reader’s or viewer’s mood.

Randal, I really like your point of more righteous souls in hell… oh dear, so much torture going on down there… This idea could provide some interesting storylines, but, alas, I don’t think Kripke intended that… Spin-off, perhaps? ‘Lucifer’s Kitchen’ or something like that..?

Cheers, Jas
Suze
# Suze 2009-12-07 06:52
I think you've got them bang to rights, Jas, well done!
They could do with listening to a bit more New Model Army ... Who needs to torture themselves, when there's plenty eager to do it for them?
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-07 09:47
Oh, yeah, Suze,didn't wonderful Morticia Addams once sigh so aptly 'Don't torture yourself, darling, let me do that'...

:lol:, Jas
Suze
# Suze 2009-12-07 14:40
Oooh, Morticia ... I really want to be her when I grow up ... :D
Dany
# Dany 2009-12-21 13:07
Hi Jas!

Yes, I'm still way, way late on my reading and comments, but I'm getting there (slowly like a snail ;-) )

Anyway, just wanted to say that I loved this little "analysis" of yours, it's a great reading and I love to read about the boys psyche, and you're great on writing it!
elenaM
# elenaM 2009-12-22 12:46
I love how you turn your professional eye to these characters to give us the benefit of your insight.

I do wonder how much actual withdrawal of affection there really was on John's behalf after the Shtriga incident... I got the feeling that at least some of Dean's sense of "he looked at me different" was Dean projecting his own feelings of guilt and self-loathing onto John...

Supernarttu, I love how everyone still calls them "the boys"! Bobby, Eric Kripke--he created them so I guess he's like a father, but also the other writers, even TV critics like Matt Roush. They're, what, 26 & 30 now? And been through so much. But they'll always be "the boys" to me!

Sorry I'm so behind on reading articles, this comment's so late I'm probably talking to the air :D
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-22 16:49
Cathy1967, Dany and elenaM, thanks so much for reading this and taking the time to comment!

You said in another comment that you’ve somewhat fallen behind with reading what’s been posted here – well, it’s great that even older articles are available (and in contrast to the news business yesterday’s news are not always old…) Take all the time you need. I’m happy you liked what I put together here!

elenaM, the air has ears, though…. Or in this case eyes and a computer…
it might well be that Dean was projecting his own feelings onto John to some extent, alas we’ll never know for sure… Great point, you know!
However, the significant criterion is usually the way we perceive a moment, that will determine how we feel about it. And even if we project something of our own onto someone else, the outcome in regards to the emotion felt might well be the same. I’ve experienced that quite often, with patients but also with myself.

About ‘the boys’ – I think it is a lovely term of endearment for the Winchester brothers. I don’t see boys anymore there, both have grown into fascinating men (and I wonder how it will go on when they get older…. Hopefully it will be like with good wine or whiskey, getting better with age, Sean Connery, anyone?... I hope to grow old with ‘the boys’, you know, taking my grandkids to the movies one day, going ‘you see that guy there, I used to dig him when I was your age’… okay, I’ll shut up now…)

Again: Thanks, and have blessed and peaceful holidays.


:-), Jas
elenaM
# elenaM 2009-12-22 17:18
Ha--"how much withdrawal there really was"--there I go, talking like the Winchesters are real again. It is academic isn't it? Again, lovely and thought-provoki ng piece
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-05-20 14:42
Awesome stuff. Read it through twice and a few 'ah ha!' moments occured. Have to confess that through most of season 4 I wasn't feeling all that empathetic with Sam. Mostly wanted to slap him up side of his pretty head. Put more thought into it since and this article helped.

One thing though to add to Sam's current guilt state. (Not sure how right I am with this since we haven't seen anything in the show to validate it...but I think/hope it makes sense.)

Sam had a relationship with Ruby. A real one, at least on his end. I suspect that in some ways he really loved who he thought Ruby was. Her betrayal and the loss of that relationship has to be traumatic. No matter that she was an evil piece of....ahem. Anyway, there has to be some grief involved in loosing Ruby. But since she was evil he is not allowed to grieve her. And so comes guilt.

She was such a huge part of his life during a very difficult time. She helped. Gave him at least some relief (in more ways than one) and offered solace and comfort. The Ruby he believed her to be was a friend, lover, comrade in arms and his supplier. Who wouldn't grieve the loss of someone so important? Even if she wasn't, technically, real, he still lost her.
In 'The Devil You Know' we actually hear Sam admit that he trusted her. "Like I trusted Ruby?"
How awful to lose somone so important and feel guilt over grieving them.

I hated Ruby like I've never hated another TV character. (Big props to Gen for that!!) But Sam didn't. I sometimes wonder if he has ever learned to. Or does he simply put blame for the whole thing on himself and still hold some affection for her?
Nough rambling.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-05-20 17:05
Thanks Yvonne - great aspects, really. Jared once stated that he believed that Sam loved Ruby in some way, and I agree that she helped him going through that time. I addressed that in 'Last Night a Demon Saved My LIfe' (sorry, just leading you through this maze, ;-)), Can't shoot everything in one load, right?

Thanks so much for coming and raising your voice! I do appreciate it so much, CHeers Jas