Sorry to leave everyone hanging! As promised, numbers 1-6 of the Top Ten Brotherly Moments.
#6 - Sam hugs Dean - "Mystery Spot"
#6 - Sam hugs Dean - "Mystery Spot"
There are three brotherly hugs in the series. The first is when Dean hugs Sam after he's resurrected in "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II". "Mystery Spot" is the second, and the third is the mutual hug while reunited after Dean is sprung from Hell in "Lazarus Rising". All three are great, but the one in "Mystery Spot" delivers the most impact.
A very broken Sam rushes across the room and with one bear hug swallows with those broad shoulders an unsuspecting Dean. It's the big conclusion to Sam's almost year long personal Hell that he cannot describe nor Dean is aware of, and his entire ordeal is summed up in that one hug. Both facial expressions are pitch perfect. Sam is exhausted and lost, Dean is perplexed.
Sam is not a hugging guy. In season three, he grew especially distant and reserved, so for him to do that, it reminded us just how much his brother means to him. This was especially important after all the fighting they'd been doing in previous episodes. The greatest emotional impact comes from one simple question, "How many Tuesdays did you have?" "Enough," Sam replies. What doesn't seem like much on paper turned out to be pure gold on the screen.
#5 Fixing the Impala - "Fresh Blood"
Let's face it, Sam and Dean aren't the type of brothers that are going to grab a set of poles and some lures and go fishing together. Sure, they relax with a beer every now and then, but given the horror of their everyday lives, they don't exactly partake in normal family bonding.
Except here. After Sam's heartfelt plea for Dean to be his brother again, aka, stop acting like a jerk and a martyr, Dean goes all out in a way that even surprises Sam. He shows him how to fix the Impala. You know, the sort of thing a normal big brother does. Given the significance of the Impala in their lives and how much she means to Dean, there is not one greater personal gesture that Dean could do for Sam than this.
It's perfectly done too. The way Sam's eyes light up when Dean hands him the wrench, it's a side of their brotherly relationship we rarely see. Little brother looking up to big brother, wanting to be just like him. Too often they're mired in life or death situations and trying to save one other to enjoy simple moments like this. We enjoyed it too, and yes that was millions of women collectively going "Awww."
#4 Sam and Dean's Christmas, past and present - "A Very Supernatural Christmas"
Eric Kripke claimed that they set out to do the most violent, horrific, anti-holiday holiday special on record. While he succeeded in spades for most of the episode, obviously the sentimental side won out in the end. We see two Winchester family Christmases, one past, one present. Both are the same. It's just Sam and Dean alone in the world, having nothing but each other. Both times too Sam sucks up all that pain and does something incredible for Dean, leaving us all misty. It's the classic holiday ending.
While I certainly loved the flashback, finding out that Dean's cherished amulet was given to him by an eight year old Sam at Christmas, the grown up version put that glaring lump in my throat. After we see Dean get the amulet in the past, the scene cuts to the present and he walks into the motel with the camera focused on said amulet still around his neck, all with Rosemary Clooney crooning "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." Perfect touch. A nervous Sam awaits, and he's managed to find a tree, lights, a Merry Christmas sign, and even fishing lures and pine tree air fresheners as ornaments. The best part though was he even remembered the Christmas cocktail, spiking the rum with a little egg nog. Dean's reaction to the drink and everything else was priceless.
How many of us wished after this episode we got motor oil and a candy bar wrapped in newspaper for Christmas? Or skin mags and shaving cream? Of course one message is it's the thought that counts, but for these guys, it's knowing that all that matters is sitting right next to you. Sure it's a bittersweet moment too, since it's Dean's last year, but for at least one evening, all that is put aside. They didn't succumb to a chick flick moment either, as their love for each other is declared appropriately by turning on the game.
Throw in the postcard perfect image of brothers watching the game through the window, complete with Thomas Kinkade mural in the background and Christmas lights reflecting off the snowy Impala in the foreground, and there has never been a better holiday ending that I've ever seen for any TV show or movie. I think Kripke suckered us with this anti-holiday talk, and Jared and Jensen made damn sure that even the Winchesters could tell us what Christmas is all about.
#3 Dean watches Sam exorcise Samhain - "It's The Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester"
Remember that comment a way back about Jensen and Jared finding their mastery of silent gestures to sell a powerful emotional moment? This scene was the equivalent of the freaking Academy Award of nonverbal acting. How a gut wrenching, heart breaking, totally mesmerizing struggle could be depicted just by glances, Sam's raised hand and some serious face twisting still has me in total awe.
We saw it coming. The setup was pretty contrived. Sam was going to have to use his powers to exorcise the higher level demon Samhain. What we didn't expect was Dean walking in on it, freezing at the end of the corridor and watching with stunning results. His troubled stare contained a swirl of terror, concern, heart break, and just plain sadness. He hated watching his brother forced to do this, and couldn't do much except watch.
On the other end, Sam is fighting and fighting hard, pushing his abilities to the limits while Samhain inches closer, not easily caving. He notices Dean but doesn't back off his fight or ask for help. He carries on, even when he's hit with a spiking migraine and a bloody nose. Eventually Samhain does succumb, and we are left with both Sam and Dean maintaining their positions on each end of the chamber, both glaring at each other horrified, both realizing that turning off Sam's switch was no longer going to be easy. The result, deep sorrow for both. For us, we're picking our jaws up from the floor and wondering how they managed that incredible scene without saying a word.
#2 Dean's words of wisdom before midnight - "No Rest For The Wicked"
We had all of season three to visualize the last moments, what would be said to each other, how the brothers would say goodbye when Dean's deal came due. Nope, I didn't call this one. Only one minute to midnight and Lilith has disappeared. Sam turns to Ruby and is ready to go against Dean's wishes, to use his powers to save his brother. A vehement Dean stops him. "I'm not letting you go to Hell" "Yes you are" Dean declares, and that's when the reality strikes. Dean is going to die.
Oh man did they knock it out of the park (pardon the overused clichÃ©) on this one. Dean faces up to his actions and apologizes, accepting this was all his fault and what Sam wants to do won't save him. A teary Sam asks what he's supposed to do, and Dean comes up with the perfect set of words that aren't lengthy, cheesy or sappy. "Keep fighting. Take care of my wheels. Sam, remember what dad taught you, okay? A weepy and devastated Sam nods. "Remember what I taught you." Now Dean has tears in his eyes. Those aren't sappy words? Why am I bawling then?
Just then the clock strikes midnight and while the chimes ring in the background, a ready for his punishment Dean turns to his teary brother and gives him a brave smile. Those heartbreaking glances are Sam and Dean's way of saying goodbye. How does this show keep doing this? How do Jensen and Jared come up with these fresh, incredible, utterly amazing ways to leave us sloppy messes by night's end?
To think, this wasn't even the death scene! We are already pouring through the Kleenexes when Dean meets his demise and Sam has to cry again. Dammit show, way to leave us completely wrecked and then force us to live with that all summer. No wonder I keep coming back for more.
#1 Sam dies in Dean's arms, "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1"
Remember, this was a time before Winchester deaths were clichÃ©. We weren't exactly hanging on the edge of our seats with the setup. Only one psychic kid would survive. We knew it had to be Sam. We sat there for an hour watching them get picked off one by one, wondering how Jake would bite it in the end and Sam would walk away. After all, they wouldn't kill off one of the two leads. They wouldn't leave Dean to carry on without Sam.
Holy crap! They did kill him! The knife goes through Sam's spinal cord and is twisted by Jake, all while Dean watches in horror. He runs to his mortally wounded brother, who for all practical purposes is dead before he even hits the ground. We watch the lights slowly fade in Sam while Dean examines the fatal gash and gives desperate assurances, more for himself than his deteriorating brother. Then Sam quietly slips away, unable to utter a single word of goodbye, leaving Dean to grasp tightly onto his fallen sibling in the mud. The somber score plays while the camera pans overhead for the epic snapshot of the two locked in a final embrace. Then it goes back to Dean, who cries out "Sam" before letting his tears fall.
Watching the lights go out in Sam and Dean's devastated reaction over losing his baby brother trumps anything these two have experienced. The death was shocking, unexpected, and so damned emotional we as fans were left immobile from shock in front of our TVs for hours after it aired. Some of us were able to hit the rewind button several times afterward only to be more crushed with each viewing, the sad reality of Sam's demise hitting us hard.
More importantly, this one moment set off the turbulent chain of events, defining everything Sam and Dean have been through since then. Sam's death left its impact on us too, especially those of us whose stomach turns into knots when re-watching the death scene on DVD. This was the scene where this show officially owned all of us.
That's it! Feel free to share any brotherly moments that I've missed, or if my ordering was off. What would your list be?