Here, have some scattered thoughts on, idk, stuff.
On Growing Up
and I have talked a lot about how the SPN arc for the brothers should include Sam and Dean becoming the hunting old guard. Like, they started out as the kids who were still learning lore and inventing salt rounds, and now they’ve now become the expert hunters that have been there, killed that, and literally started and stopped the apocalypse. So I think that’s the transition we’re seeing happen now, beginning with 8.12, “As Time Goes By,” and the Men of Letters reveal, but most specifically in 8.13, “Everyone Hates Hitler”—Sam and Dean as the seasoned experts (and before middle age to boot!). Given that season 7 was all about killing off the boys’ entire safety net, they are literally the only humans left that were part of our story pre-apocalypse, and now we see that they have Charlie and (ugh) Garth and Kevin and Aaron. They are already building a new generation of supernatural experts. And that makes my heart full to bursting. I really, really hope that’s what the show is trying to give us—Winchesters who are again the center of something, and maybe a little more in control this time, with decades of their own experience and plenty of new raw energy at their backs. (Plus one angel rockin’ some free will. Of course.)
On Having a Home
At the beginning of 8.13 I was nettled by the “batcave” because the justification for burning down Bobby’s place (and killing Bobby) was that it was too easy on the boys to have a place to go that had all the answers, and now voila! A not-so-sneakily-hidden cave of wonders and endless knowledge. But then it occurred to me that the existence of the batcave vs. the burning of Bobby’s house shows us the very different direction from Gamble that Team Carver/Edlund is taking. Gamble was out to tear it all down and strip the show back to just the boys in the name of drama and in service to the god of angst. Carver/Edlund seem invested in something sustainable. And for sustainable, let’s face it, you need a home base. A home base CONVENIENTLY LOCATED IN KANSAS, I’d like to point out. That makes me want to facepalm a little, but hey. Maybe they Men of Letters chose the location for their epic library based on projections of places likely to survive a nuclear attack on the U.S., in which case, okay, I accept your extremely coincidental location choice, writers. And now that Dean has decorated his own room (IN WEAPONS—oh, Dean *chinhands*), I just can’t take that away from him, you know? And I hope the writers don’t for a while either.
Also (as I’ve said elsewhere), if this were the last-ever shot of the series as a whole, I would be toooootally okay with that:
How amazing was Sam in 8.14? SO AMAZING. His final speech(es) made my heart swell. Because, yes, Sam wants to give Dean belief in a future, in a peaceful ending, and that’s really sweet and hits all our angst Dean buttons, but Sam is also INCREDIBLY COMPETENT HIMSELF and that deserves to be recognized by Dean. Sam might be the brains of the operations, but he also knows how to put his book learnin’ to good use. I was also swoony about how Sam’s undertaking the tasks means there’s a legit reason for Dean to worry about him again. He was driving me nuts with his mother-henning and becoming very unsympathetic in his selfish badgering of Sam re: staying in the hunting life. So as much as Dean’s a broken record about protecting Sam, I appreciated that he at least has cause to be that way.
And then the end of 8.15 happened. *sigh* Once again we have Dean offering an olive branch of trust and again we have Sam scared that showing any weakness will crumble Dean’s faith in him and therefore keeping his mouth shut when he shouldn’t. WHY, SAM, WHHHHY. I was so hoping that this time it would be different. I mean, Dean is kind of a new Dean now, right? He’s been way more honest with himself and others since returning from Purgatory and in 8.7, “A Little Slice of Kevin,” he was record-breakingly prompt in telling Sam about the visions of Cas that were troubling him. So I thought maybe Sam was on board with the new openness thing too. But, nope. And now we get to beat the dead horse of distrust for the millionth time. Personally I think it would be some pretty new and interesting drama if Sam said, “Holy shit, I’m coughing blood,” and Dean said, “Whaaaaat? That’s bullshit. Let’s figure out why so I can shepherd you through this like the overprotective asshole I am,” and then they skipped off into the next adventure on a mission as a united front. But apparently the show disagrees with me. So. Rinse and repeat with silence and secrets it is. Psychic visions and demon blood redux, here we come. Try not to almost end the world again this time, boys.
Also: “You know, maybe I’ll actually pull this one off,” says Sam.
Ugggggh, Sammy, I want that to be true for you so hard. And yet I still think it’s a terrible idea to close the gate of Hell? So you are kind of doomed to fail? Again? Arrrrrgh. SHOW.
On Free Will
Again, we’re at a point where there’s not much to be said until the Cas action picks up, but there was a Life Lessons with Dean Winchester kind of line in 8.15 that gestures toward the show’s verdict on free will. Quoth Dean: “Benny? Kate? They were forced to be what they are. James chose this.” So, in The World According to Dean, monsters who were made monsters—and, by extension, let’s also say those who were controlled or manipulated into being or acting unnaturally—are not at fault for their nature. But those who seek out the supernatural to use/abuse its power, they are entirely culpable. In saying “James chose this,” Dean is saying He abused his free will. James, being a conscious, rational agent in the world, actively chose against what is right/natural (those two concepts being conflated in Dean’s mind). Dean’s citation of Benny and Kate as examples of people the Winchesters have given free pass to is interesting too, because those are the (most recent) characters they’ve encountered who have chosen against acting in accordance with their monsterous drives. So there’s a line for Dean: Evil on accident? Choose to try not to be and we’re cool. Evil because you decided to be? Prepare to be ganked.
I think this explains Dean’s beef with Sam in seasons 4 and 5 (Sam choosing to side with Ruby, drinking demon blood) and Cas in season 6 (his choice to work with Crowley, planning to open Purgatory). It doesn’t, however, at all explain why Dean killed Amy—she couldn’t help what she is, she was born into it, and she was fighting her nature as best she could. So, in fact, by Dean’s own current standard, he shouldn’t have killed her. That he did I’m still putting down to (when I’m being kind) his extreme grief and effed up headspace and/or spectacularly shitty writing and show direction. But that’s an old argument and not actually my point.
My point—as always—is that according to SPN, free will is a thing you have to be vigilant about. Just because you can do whatever you want doesn’t mean you should. And for certain folks there are consequences for choosing poorly. And those consequences are named Dean and Sam.