I haven’t seen terribly many posts on this subject, but the ones I have seen have been intelligent and balanced. I imagine there are a few posts out there that aren’t, and each to their own, but I hope I don’t run across those. My weekly review is coming out tomorrow, and I’m thinking that I left the whole John as obsessive bastard out of it because I didn’t feel that PRG was an appropriate forum for my own private views on the subject. Plus, rather than posting to this comment or that, in that I agree or don’t, I thought I’d post my own personal thoughts here.
First, the whole of Dean’s dream sequence left me rattled. Yeah, TV uses the “confronting self” technique in more than a few places, and never in such a satisfying way. I mean, yeah, I got that Dean was going to face up to himself and that revelations were going to come of it, but NOT like this. If I thought Dean was hard on himself before, man, he was downright cruel. I mean, yes, he was helping himself face what needed to be faced, but like that? Don’t know when I’ve last been so moved, to the point of standing up and shouting out loud. I don’t know where Dean will go from that point on, but I sure as heck know he’s not in limbo anymore. The whole scene was vicious and hard to watch and utterly satisfying. I downloaded it and watched this scene several times, trying to get a grip. Did he say what I thought he said? And what does it mean?
Second, yeah, what he had to say…and how he said it. In the beginning he’s all like, yeah, Dean wake up, let me snap my fingers and you’re history, wake up. Like it’s that easy. Of course it wasn’t. I think he felt like he was in real trouble when he says, “Come on, wake up,” because he could see where Nightmare Dean was taking him and he didn’t want to go. Not at all. It’s one thing to know, in the back of your head that you are messed up and your own worst nightmare, it’s another to face it. So Nightmare Dean taunts him, saying stuff that I never thought I’d hear said aloud, but that I thought.
Yeah, I always figured Dean had Dad issues, why else would he be driving his Dad’s car (and no other), wearing his Dad’s leather jacket, and listening to music that was HOT when his Dad was his age? Obviously, he adores his Dad and wants to be like him, and imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. So there’s that, and up to a point, it’s normal to admire someone and want to be like them. So that part wasn’t so bad. It was when Nightmare Dean started in with the whole “all he did was train you, boss you around,” and “Sam he doted on, Sam he loved,” and “you’re just his blunt little instrument,” and Dean’s getting steamed. I was AMAZED that Show went this direction with this, and that they said it out loud. With FORCE and INTENT. Then Nightmare Dean says the worst thing ever, “Your own father didn’t care whether you lived or died, why should you?” Which is when Dean looses it and says all the stuff about The Dad being an obsessive bastard, and the part that broke my heart full out, “He was never there! He was never there for Sammy and I always was.”
True? Obviously Dean believes it, which is what makes it hard. But it isn’t, not really. Because, as any fan recalls, John sold his soul and the Colt for Dean’s life. A father’s love will sacrifice all, so it isn’t really true that John didn’t care whether Dean lived or died. But part of Dean believes it. Hell, maybe all of him does, regardless of what actually happened. He feels unloved, he feels like his one purpose in life has nothing to do with what he wants and who he is. He’s been going on so long with his one purpose being look after Sammy that he’s forgotten to be or want anything else and it’s taken him this long to get mad. So I take this scene as less a reflection of John’s parenting than on Dean’s inabitlity to….be his own man. There’s something whacked there. (Even though I’ve heard the theories that at around 30 you kind of fall apart and put yourself back together again. It happened to me, and then I read up on it, and warned all my friends who were approaching that point so they wouldn’t think they were going crazy when it happened to them.)
I’m not saying John was inculpable here. I belive that yeah, he did train his boys and he wasn’t nice. I think that he did make Dean his brother’s keeper, that he meant for Dean to be a good solider, someone upon whom he could depend, and when Dean turned out to be the best blunt little instrument ever, it must have been rather hard for him to not use that. And keep it honed sharp. John was wrong in that his singlemindedness trained his boys to be hunters before they were old enough to determine that’s what they wanted. Growing up as a hunter? My lord? That’s no life. John had tunnel vision and his boys suffered for it. I think he suffered for it, come to that.
But I don’t, at the same time think that John meant for it to happen. (If Mary had been around, demon or no, there would have been balance.) And I don’t think he had any idea how what he was doing affected Dean, but, being the man he was and in the situation he was he NEVER LOOKED. That’s where he needs to take the blame. He never looked, he never thought, he never considered - and at the end of it all, his blunt little instrument is having nightmares where he shoots himself in the chest with a sawed off shotgun.
Dean was the kind of kid to take “look after Sammy” as the end all and be all of commands. And Dean doesn’t seem the kind to complain about it, after all, pulling your little brother out of the flames at four years, and then again when you’re 26 is going to solidify that command like cement. So while John’s intent was to keep his boys safe (if you see life as a war, you train for a war), because Dean is that kind of guy, it all went screwy. I think what Dean is saying in this scene, to himself, because no one is listening but him, has less to do with The Dad and more to do with what Dean did with what The Dad gave him.
Don’t get me wrong, when I see the effect John’s parenting had on his boys, I’m boiling over with fury and I want to spring into action on Dean’s behalf. And I think both Dean and The Dad are both responsible for what went on, not in the same way, but it occurs to me, at this point, that for YEARS Sam kept saying “THIS IS BULLSHIT,” because for some reason he could see the forest for the trees. Dad never listened because Sam was his kid and a mouthy one at that. Dean never listened because Sam was his baby brother and golly, couldn’t possibly have a sane thought in his head that made sense.
I think there’s enough blame to spread far and wide here. Blame in the sense of taking responsibility, not in the pointing fingers sense.
When I think about The Dad, I get a headache. Doesn’t help that he looks like JDM, which makes me want to think about him all the more.
Pictures (of course)
The Dad and his boys