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In my original episode reaction, I thought S4...but then monicawoe  made a good point in comments, and I actually consulted my timeline, and rewatched the episode, and now I'm leaning more towards S3.

So, I just thought I would lay out the facts, and see what you all thought...

The original case for S4:

1. Dean is TORTURING without batting much of an eyelash about it. Hell, even Sam is on board (that's very S4+ Sammy.)

2. I'm pretty sure in S3, Sam and Dean were still in the "avoid Lilith" strategy right up until No Rest For the Wicked, which was the first time we saw them actively go after her.

3. courtesy of borgmama1of5 - In the teaser we get two shots of Dean's eyes in Hell from the end of 3.16, so I am going with this flashback was in season 4. (We also get Lilith from S4 clips.)

ETA: 4. If Dean was interrogating the demon about Lilith and Dean's deal...then Jeffrey should have expected Dean to be dead, not alive. So, that's a point in favour of S4. Instead he mentions how Dean wanted to "save the world", which would make sense in terms of S4. (liliaeth) Also, Jeffrey says "or should I say it killed you" - which could mean that Jeffrey knows Dean has died once before, a fact that he could have only found out during his original possession. (borgmama1of5)

ETA: 5. According to Todd Aronauer (producer), the scene took place after Dean learned how to torture (source). That's a pretty goddamn strong vote in favour of S4.

The new case for S3:

1. It was most likely set between 3x15 and 3x16. They learned Lilith's name from Bela at the end of 3x15 and were easily that desperate for information on Dean's contract holder. Dean tortures a demon rather thoroughly at the beginning of 3x15 actually. (monicawoe) (I have checked the timeline, and she's spot on here...it fits in perfectly between 3x15 and 3x16.)

2. That was NOT season 4 Sam. Season 4 Sam was a very different animal, and would not have shown even a hint of intimidation. In season 4 his whole posture was different. (monicawoe)

3. Weaponry: Dean does not use Ruby's knife. In S4, it was a regular tool of theirs - and Dean definitely would have brought it with him as an implement of torture. They did not acquire Ruby's knife until 3x16, which means that monicawoe's setting of the story between 3x15 and 3x16 holds water. They know Lilith holds Dean's contract, but they do not have possession of the demon-killing knife yet.

4. Dean's attitude towards torture:
"In On the Head of a Pin, Dean had SUCH an issue torturing Alistair for information. It's always struck me how, in S6 for example, he's so cavalier about doing it now when back then it was so much harder for him." - morganlucas41
"I'm thinking it has to be Season 4, but then I'm wondering why Dean is so cool with torturing-in The End he was mad at his future self for torturing people again. Back in season one (with Meg) Dean wasn't that opposed to torturing (demons) if it had to be done, but after Hell and Alastair he really didn't want to do it again." - katsheswims

5. Sam is wearing a crew-neck white t-shirt, a light blue shirt, and a beige jacket. I kinda breezed over the wardrobe in my first watch, but on my second watch, I couldn't ignore it. The whole outfit SCREAMS S3 at me. By S4, Jared had bulked up to the point where he favoured v-necks. Also, Sam tended to wear darker colours in S4, far less light blue, far less white t-shirts.

6. In the flashback, there is this exchange:
Dean: "You ain't the first demon we've tracked down on this safari"
Sam: "That's right, as a matter of fact, I think you put us over half a dozen"
Now...ONLY a half dozen demons? In S4, I'm pretty sure they went through way more demons than that - and Dean wasn't interrogating them...that was just killing. In S3, however, 3x15 opens with them torturing a demon for information on Dean's contract...that could have been one of the half dozen, especially given that in S3, the month of March is largely unaccounted for.

7. Why would the writers acknowledge "the year that wasn't" now? They've ignored that year between S5 and S6 so consistently until now, I really don't think they'd start paying attention to it now.

Conclusion?
So, yeah, as you can see...S3 is winning by a landslide. It just fits better. When I go to my timeline and try to wedge in these events, they fit perfectly into S3, and they don't fit at all into S4...seriously, try to figure out what episodes they would fit between in S4 and still have those episodes make sense? Whereas it slots in between 3x15 and 3x16 perfectly.

Really, tonight, it was looking at Sam's outfit that really did it for me.

And on that note: Did any of you realize that Dean was wearing the Red Plaid Shirt of Angst!?! I love that shirt!

ETA: S4 has made a comeback in comments!! I am, once again, undecided (though I still maintain that Sam is wearing a S3 outfit through and through.)

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Comments

( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
liliaeth
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:40 am (UTC)
I don't know, personally I'm going with s4 and probably late s4 at that. S3 simply doesn't fit, esp. because the demon is talking about Dean trying to save the world and in s3 they weren't doing so. S3 was about trying to find a way to end Dean's deal, and cleaning up after s2, saving the world didn't come into the picture until s4
hells_half_acre
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:52 am (UTC)
It's Jeffrey that talks about saving the world...that's true, but we don't know if Dean used those exact words - Jeffrey may have just been waxing poetic. But, you can find two episodes in late S4 for this event to slip between, please let me know.

You do bring up a good point: If Dean was interrogating the demon about Lilith and Dean's deal...then Jeffrey should have expected Dean to be dead, not alive. So, that's a point in favour of S4.

missyjack
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:41 am (UTC)
Great reasoning! Two things to complicate matters -1) the Impala has its spotlights, which it lost in 3.10 2) Jim Michaels implied it was Season 4 " saying it was "after Dean learned how to torture"
hells_half_acre
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:54 am (UTC)
Ooooooo....I did not see that info from Jim Michaels...that's a very strong point in favour of S4.

Did the Impala have it's spotlights in S4? Or is that just a continuity "mistake" all'round?
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Feb. 19th, 2012 08:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - missyjack - Feb. 19th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Feb. 19th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
quickreaver
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:49 am (UTC)
Wow, lotsa deep thinking on this but I kinda dig it! (I keep waffling, so I'm totally not committing to either season. I'm so fickle.)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:56 am (UTC)
Hmm, I am waffling yet again myself! :P
baruchan
Feb. 19th, 2012 09:55 am (UTC)
Really, tonight, it was looking at Sam's outfit that really did it for me.

I love that this is the clincher for you. :D
hells_half_acre
Feb. 19th, 2012 10:33 am (UTC)
It really is...I can't get over it. It's a complete S3 outfit. I almost don't want anyone to prove me wrong, because it'll drive me crazy that the wardrobe is incongruous with S4! :P
borgmama1of5
Feb. 19th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
Not disagreeing, just playing devil's advocate (I sincerely am undecided,) but when Jeffrey is monologuing to Dean, right after he comments about Dean wanting to save the world, he says that it kills Dean how he can't save people, "or should I say, it killed you?"

Now the demon would know that Dean had gone to Hell--but he could only haven given Jeffrey that knowledge during the original possession.

(And yes, I did notice the red plaid shirt of angst.)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Ooo...VERY good point on the dialogue.
monicawoe
Feb. 19th, 2012 12:48 pm (UTC)
I love this post!
I just can't accept that as anything other than late-season 3 Sam. (despite the non-season 3 hair)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
I did notice that that parted his hair in the middle, and let it curl more than they usually do. So, they tried their best without cutting it!
(no subject) - monicawoe - Feb. 19th, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Feb. 19th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
morganlucas41
Feb. 19th, 2012 04:35 pm (UTC)
Okay, can I just say that I love this analysis? I love how you've really considered all the details here and laid them out like this!

I think at this point, for me, it's just really not clear whether it was S3 or S4. There's strong evidence on both sides. I really wished, even when first watching the ep, that they'd had just one line clarifying that - oh, we were trying to get Dean out of his deal, or oh, we were trying to stop Lilith from breaking the seals.

But, given the show's issues with continuity in general, I'm just not sure if we can decide for sure. This frustrates neurotic me greatly! lol.

I just rewatched the scene from the beginning of 3.15, and it does seem more in line with the way they were torturing in 7.15. Plus, it does seem like it fits with the events between 3.15 and 3.16 the most. But like I said...I'm really not sure! And I know this is going to continue to bother me, lol.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm back to being undecided as well. So many good points!

I'm glad that you enjoy my neurosis of having to lay out my arguments in point form ;)

I really think it fits into S3 better, but a lot of the dialogue does point to S4 - not to mention once of the producers said that it was after Dean learned how to torture. And it's true, we never saw him pull that holy-water-on-a-knife trick until after he came back from Hell.

I'll probably never be able to do decide...or maybe, I'll sit around wishing they had clearly stated it was S3, but acknowledging that it could very well be S4.
(no subject) - morganlucas41 - Feb. 19th, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Feb. 19th, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
katsheswims
Feb. 19th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
What? Dean was wearing the shirt of angst?! In the flashback or later? I didn't notice at all...

But timline issues-yes, after considering everything I'm sure it's season 3, even though a couple of things don't fit exactly.

Edited at 2012-02-19 06:55 pm (UTC)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 19th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
He was wearing it in the flashback. Then he switched to a blue shirt for the present. :)

I'm really siding with S3 too...just because it fits in so well, but...some people above really do make a good point about the dialogue perhaps referencing S4. Not to mention apparently one of the producers on twitter...

But, you are probably right and not everything is going to ever fit exactly. I'll probably still end up putting it in two "optional" places on the timeline.
franztastisch
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
I've finally watched the episode so I'm going to butt in here. I think it's season 3 because: Dean didn't really want to do stuff related to Lilith in S4 because of Sam's obsession with her. If it was something to do with Lilith I think it would be Sam and Ruby trying to find stuff out. In S3, Dean would have been more inclined to go after Lilith as he saw her as a threat to Sam (Ruby [3x12]: "her name is Lilith and she really, really wants Sam's intestines on a stick").

ALSO, they had to find Lilith for 3x16 to happen. And that information wouldn't come in a week. They'd have had to work at that. Dean wasn't the one who wanted to find Lilith in S4, that was Sam. And you don't get the impression that he would have helped Sam. If it was S4 and they were looking for Lilith, Sam would have been the one in charge. And I also think Ruby would have been there.

Also I thought this was less "torture" and more "beating the shit out of someone". It was rather less methodical than Dean with Alastair. Also, as you pointed out, no Ruby's knife.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
Agreed on all points. The more I think about it, the more it just screams S3 to me - and really, what clinches it is the lack of Ruby's knife, Sam's outfit, and the way it just SLOTS to perfectly into the attitude and timeline of S3.
(no subject) - franztastisch - Feb. 20th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Feb. 20th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - franztastisch - Feb. 20th, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Feb. 20th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - franztastisch - Feb. 20th, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
morganlucas41
Feb. 27th, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
I just saw this and thought of you:

http://twitter.com/#!/WinchesterBros/status/173579352481595392

Another strong indication that it was S3...which I'm leaning towards again anyway, lol.
hells_half_acre
Feb. 27th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Yes, I was leaning that way myself, of course. I'm really glad, because it just fit better into S3. :P
marlowe78
Mar. 1st, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
Huh... I actually never even thought about it being set in s4. I mean, as you stated, that was Sammy-Sam, not demonblood-Sam. Or even early-s4-Sam where he still had his mind in mostly the right place. That was s3-Sam, through and through.

And I don't know about Dean being s3-Dean so much, but yeah, I'd say that was NOT s4-Dean with all his baggage. So it never even occurred to me that it could be any other season than s3 :-D

I also think it had the desperate need of finding the demon to hold Dean's contract in it, Sam being desperate enough to forgo his pity and fight with tooth and nail to save Dean. Sure, that would apply to saving the world as well... but it feels more right for s3, I think. There is also no mention whatsoever about angels, and not even a small debate whether Sam should or shouldn't use his powers.

So I'm sticking with my initial gut-instinct on this issue :)
hells_half_acre
Mar. 2nd, 2012 05:47 am (UTC)
Your gut instinct is spot on. Apparently Jim Michael's confirmed somewhere that it was S3. I have yet to hear the source (I think it might have been WinchesterRadio?)..because I don't have internet access at the moment, so I can't investigate. (I am speaking to you now through magic).

But yes, I agree with you for all the reasons you state - this was S3 through and through, and though MY initial gut instinct was S4, the more I thought about it, the more S4 didn't feel right at all.
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )

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