Episode 09×07 AKA the Episode with Winchester Feels
This week I’m struggling to write about this episode. Not because I didn’t like it, on the contrary, but because the episode hit a little too close to home. So forgive me for stilted angsty writing this week; I’ll be back to my snarky self next week.
The writers made a brilliant choice this week in keeping the plot simple. Dean receives a phone call from a man named “Sonny,” who is revealed to be the man in charge of a boys’ home. Dean reveals to Sam that he spent two months there when he was sixteen, and that John Winchester had lied to Sam about it. Dean plays it off nonchalantly, like it wasn’t important, when in fact, it may have been the most significant two months of his childhood. But more on that later.
Sonny calls Dean because of a death on the farm–a man has been skewered by a forklift that no one was driving. Definitely a case for the Winchesters.
As the boys investigate the mysterious death, Dean has flashbacks to his time in the group home. Sixteen-year-old Dean (played by Dylan Everett) is still a smart ass and still following in John Winchester’s footsteps. We see that Dean was not miserable in the group home; Sonny gave him the support, encouragement, and paternal guidance that John Winchester couldn’t; Dean fell in love with a girl named Robin. Sam slowly pieces together what Dean’s life was like on the farm, solving the case of Dean Winchester while Dean hunts down the ghost.
After Ruth, a woman who lives/works on the farm , is killed in a bathtub, and a young boy is injured by the lawnmower, the Winchesters realize that they’re dealing with a rather vengeful ghost who is very protective of one little boy, Timmy.
The ghost is Timmy’s mother, and in one heartbreaking moment, Dean and Sam realize that the ghost isn’t tied to an object. The ghost is connected to Timmy, and Timmy has to let go of his mother so that she can move on into the afterlife and he can move on with his own.
What This Episode Reveals About the Winchesters
This episode was extremely difficult for me to watch. I have two brothers, and sometimes the Winchesters’ childhood rings a little too true to what my brothers and I went through. Not that we hunted werewolves and demons, mind you, but living in musty hotel rooms and having emotionally unavailable parents? I can relate.
We already knew that we would never take a parenting class from Daddy Winchester, but last night’s episode revealed how cold John could really be. He left Dean behind because his son lost the money for food, saying that Dean could “rot in jail.” His abandonment of Dean stretched past the emotional and into the physical. The worst part? He probably thought he was doing Dean a favor by getting him “straightened out.”
He did do Dean a favor: he unintentionally gave him two months of a real childhood.
“Sometimes you gotta do what’s best for you, even if it’s going to hurt the ones you love.” -Dean
The writing in this episode was poignant and pointed; it gave us new dimensions of Dean’s character, which, after nine seasons of the show, is pretty damn impressive. In this episode, Dean reminded me so much of my own older brother that I promptly called my bro up when the episode was over, cried into the phone, and told him how grateful I was for him. In the season 8 finale, we had an emotional powerhouse scene where the Winchesters bare their souls to each other in a cataclysm of angst and repression that will have repercussions for the rest of the series. If you don’t remember that scene, here is a refresher:
In this episode, we see how much Dean meant it when he said, “Don’t you dare think that there is anything, past or present, that I would put in front of you. It has never been like that, ever.” We see that he gave up his chance at a ‘normal’ life to take care of Sammy.
And this is the point where I sobbed, like the small little girl whose big brother used to scare away the monsters at night. If you have siblings that you’re close to, perhaps you can relate.
This episode was very Dean-centric, but I empathized with Sam. He’s beginning to put together the pieces of a Dean-shaped puzzle, and realize that his dad and brother haven’t always told him the truth. Sam is beginning to see that Dean is accustomed to lying to protect him.
While new aspects of Dean were revealed more obviously through flashbacks, Jared Padalecki once again proved his abilities by giving Sam so many levels of emotion through body language and small facial expressions. The look on Sam’s face when he sees the bed that Dean slept in was a combination of sadness, surprise, regret, and love for his brother.
It’s not everyday that you realize that almost everything you assumed to be true about your brother could be a simple distortion of the truth. He had assumed that Dean was miserable, but as he puts together the pieces of Dean’s time with Sonny, he realizes it was just the opposite. When Dean says, “It was just two months,” Sam hears the implied, “I can’t dwell on how good it was because it only two months of my life.”
The Big Picture
By the time we reached the end of the episode and Sam tries to tell Dean how grateful he is for him, it becomes apparent that all the years of not saying anything made it impossible for them to tell each other how much they mean to each other. Maybe for them it doesn’t need saying, but for as for me, I grabbed my phone and called my older brother–who has never sold his soul to a crossroads demon for me or made a shady bargain with an angel to save my life–but nonetheless has saved my ass in less supernatural ways more times than I can count.
This is why I watch the show. Supernatural can be fun, campy, and snarky or dark, gory, and spooky, but at its core? It is the story of two brothers against the world. I’m glad that the showrunners reminded us of that this week.
Disclaimer: I own none of the images or film clips used in this post.
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