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Rewatch S11: Just My Imagination (11x08)

I ended up starting this way later in the day then I wanted to, because my landlord needed to work on the electrical for "20 minutes" that turned into 3 hours and counting...

But, here we are, and I'll fit in as much as I can, while the lights go on and off, before I get too sleepy to continue...

I remember absolutely loveling this episode, so I've been looking forward to devoting time to the rewatch. Let's dive in...

Just My Imagination

Maddie's Mom: "Maddie, Daddy and I are ready to go to dinner now, so whenever you're ready, just let us know."
Maddie: "Sparkle and me aren't done with tea, Mommy."
Dad: "We have reservations."
Mom: "My manual says be patient."

- So, am I just one of those armchair (not an actual parent) who thinks that's the most ridiculus thing in the world. You know what works great with kids - telling them what to do and having them obey you because you haven't set up a precident where they think they can walk all over you. I know I don't have kids, and that's probably a good thing, because it's one of my pet peeves when parents ask their kids stuff instead of telling them. Ugh, children. I'm so glad that I don't have any, so that no one can be horrified that I'm a tyrant of a parent.

Sparkle! Sparkle is so awesome... and then dies so horribly. :(

I think I also love Sparkle's character design because he's a man mixed with something that is not considered masculine, and we also see him in a nurturing role in relation to a child. Weems also gets a nurturing role, but his character design is one of hyper-masculinity (mullet rocker), whereas Sparkle is a nurture and a unicorn who is friends with a little girl, attends tea parties, clean's up after tea-parties, and is covered in glitter... yet there's no degrading comments questioning his masculinity. Dean's joke with Sparkle is just to be amused by creating a portmanteau, but the portmanteau still includes the fact that Sparkle is a man. I know it's I'm probably making a big deal out of nothing here, but as someone who is basically solely attracted to "femme" guys (when it comes to guys), it really bothers me that men are forced to perform such a restricted form of masculinity in day to day life, and I like seeing any representation of men who defy that.

Sam wakes up at 6:30am - WHY!?!?! You don't even have a 9-5 job.

I do love sleepy Sam walking around and not even noticing all the candy.

Sully: "Surprise!"
*Sam punches him*

- This is why you don't surprise a Winchester.

Sully: "It's me, Sam! It's Sully! You remember me, right? I made all your favourite snacks! We were friends - like best friends! You remember?"
Sam: "Sully."
Sully: "Yeah"
Sam: "No, you're not real."
Sully: "How'd you punch me, then?"

- I love Sully from the jump, I mean - I love this character design. Because he gets punched in the face, but doesn't even really REACT to it. He's nervous, but not afraid, even though he COULD be - he knows he's contacting an adult hunter.

Dean: "Dude? Who you talking to?"
Sam: "Him!"
Dean: "Are you having a stroke - do you smell toast."

- I love Dean's sleepy voice. Really, my only complaint here is that if I were Dean, and had a brother who already had a history of hallucinations that led to his almost-death, I'd be a little less flippant about walking in to see him talking to thin air.

It looks like there's a bruise on Dean's face at this angle, but I think it might just be the way the shadows fall?

Sam: "Dean, this-this - I think, this is Sully, my friend from when I was a kid."
Dean: "You mean Mork from Ork here is your dumbass imaginary friend, Sully?"
Sam: "Yeah"
Sully: "Uh, I'm not dumb or ass."
Dean: "I'm going to get my gun"
Sully: "No please!"
*Dean does "Karate" move*
Sully: "Someone killed my friend!"

- Firstly, I love that DEAN remembers Sam's imaginary friend too.
- Secondly, I love Dean's grumbled 'I'm going to get my gun' - because it's so, "it's too early to be at the office" instead of "there is a Supernatural being in the Bunker messing with my brother and I must kill it."
- Thirdly, I love Dean's stupid karate move and the fact that Sully actually flinches back from it. I love that Sully loves Sam unconditionally, but is more wary of Dean.

Dean: "You mean your imaginary imaginary friend?"
Sully: "First off, Imaginary Friend is more of a descriptive term. How you just said it, that was a little offensive, to be honest. Secondly, we're Zanna! Me and - me and the victim were Zanna. We help kids! We're the good guys! Sam, tell him!"

- God, I love every line of dialogue in this episode. I love that Sully calls Dean out on saying something in an offensive manner.

Sam: "Yeah, okay, um. You know, I'm still trying to wrap my head around this whole you being real thing."
Sully: "Awww, no of course! No, that's okay, that's okay. This is all really unexpected!"

- God, I just love how Sully LOVES Sam like he's still an 9 year-old kid.

Sully: "You're hunters, that's what you do, right? I mean, you help people too!"
Dean: "Yeah, people! You are not that."
Sam: "Dean, come on."
Dean: "Come on? Are you kidding me? This- mother- You and me, library, right now. Come on!"

- I love Dean tying up his robe in anger... as well as the cut off swear word.
- I also love how Sam's childhood imaginary friend shows up, and all of a sudden he's being reprimanded like he's a child as well.

Dean: "Ah."
Sully: "Ah! Yeah, I'll just stay here. Coolio."

- So, uh... I kinda love this just because myself and my sister are the only people I know who say "coolio." :P

Sam: "Dean, when I was 9 years old, do you know what I wanted more than anything? Marshmellow nachoes!"
Dean: "Yeah, you were a weird ass kid."

- It IS pretty weird. Also, more than ANYTHING, really?

Dean: "I don't know man - maybe this is just one of your visions."
Sam: "Yeah, except we're both seeing it - and it doesn't involve the cage or Lucifer or me having to talk to Lucifer in the cage."

- Man... I love that when Sam is distracted by a mytery, he can just lay it all out there - like, those are basically ALL his worst nightmares, and he just says them so matter of factly, but then we also know that he's continually having visions of those things. Talk about PTSD inducing stuff.
- Also, Dean is ridiculous for suggesting it could be a vision when he is also seeing it. I blame it on Dean still being sleepy. Also, why is DEAN getting up at 6:30am? I mean, seriously, I do not understand these too. I don't think I've willingly got up at 6:30 in YEARS.

Dean: "No, someTHING is dead - fairy godmother getting capped. That ain't our beat."
Sam: "I know that, Dean, but as messed up and insane as this sounds - Sully helped me."

- I love Dean's reaction, because I don't think he EVER considered Sam to be a "lost child" or anyone in need of outside help - mainly, because why would Sam feel lost or neglected when Dean loved him SO MUCH.
- Also, I really love the idea of Sam and Dean also being investigators for Supernatural forces. Because honestly, if they can't deal with it internally, who ARE they going to turn to?"

*Sam and Dean outside the victim's house*
Dean: "Alright, what're you thinking?"
*cut to: Sam and Dean getting out of the Impala wearing cardigans.*

- How the heck did they change?! Did they drive away, change at the side of the road, and then drive back? Or did they change "beach style" in the front seat of the car, in between cars driving down the road? (uh, that's the way *I* sometimes change at the beach. I've also got a "outdoor concert style" where you change in the middle of a crowd...very carefully and slowly.)
- I also love how Dean asks Sam what the plan is - mainly, because back in S1 it was Sam who started dressing them in "costumes" in the first place. I think John always just pulled the FBI badge.

Dean: "What did you need Drop Dead Fred for in the first place?"
Sam: "I was kind of a lonely kid, Dean."

Dean: "You weren't lonely! You had me!"
- Like I said, Dean loves Sam so much, it's pretty much impossible for him to comprehend that Dean's love wasn't enough to give Sam companionship 24/7. I do wonder if Sam was enough for Dean, in terms of companionship... or more likely, it was that Dean was never left on his own. He was with Dad and Sam, or just with Sam, until Sam was old enough to stay on his own - and then Dean was either with John or with Sam, there wouldn't have been much reason for Dean to be left anywhere, like Sam was. Once Dean was old enough to hunt, he was hunting. Wheres Sam still had to wait a few years... and we've seen him before even older on his own.. I think, the last time he was 13? Left behind to do research? So, from the age of ~9-14, Sam was left home alone a lot. Probably with orders not to leave the motel room, or to stray further from the coner store, who knows. So, you have the lonely childhood of Dean and Sam together, where they learn to be codependent, and then you have the even lonelier childhood of just Sam, who doesn't even have his brother for companionship anymore.

Flashback time!

I love little Sam!

Sully: "Go on, Bud. Whatever happens, it's cool beans."
- Awww, I love Sully just because he's supportive.

Sam: "Dean, did you ask?"
Dean: "Yeah, it's not going to happen."
Sam: "Come on, you said!"
Dean: "Look, I said I would ask. Dad said no, what do you want me to do about it?"

- I love both these actors. So, Sam would have been 9 here? and Dean would have been 13? I think...I'm blanking on his name... I think the actor who plays Dean looks a little too close to 16, which would put Sam at 12. Maybe Sam looks older than 9 too though, it's been so long since I've seen a 9 year-old. Anyway, despite young!Dean looking a little too old, he does such a great job of Dean's voice, I don't even care.
- I read a theory once on the actor choices for the flashbacks, and how they actualy sync up well with perspective. We get older, cool looking, Brock when the flashback is Sam's POV. We get too-young looking Sammy, when the flashback is Dean's POV. This one could be a mix of that too, with the flashback being Sam's POV - he's remembering himself as a young vulnerable kid, and Dean as an older teenager - always older and more adult than Sam is.

Sam: "But, I've been shooting! I can run two miles! I know silver kills werewolves..."
Dean: "Sammy."
Sam: "No fair, you started hunting when you were younger than me!"
Dean: "Yeah, well I never had an imaginary friend!"

- Awww... and you wonder why they never questioned that Sam had an imaginary friend even though they deemed him too old for one. :P
- Also, this answers another question of how old Dean was when John started to take him on hunts... 9 or younger! I'm sure they dropped Sam off at Pastor Jim's or Bobby's during those times, as Sam would have been only 5. Probably most of the time, Dean was still staying home with Sam when John went off alone, but then increasingly, as Sam aged and could be trusted to be on his own, Dean started hunting more and more with John.
- Fun fact, apparently in a lot of places the rule for what age you can leave kids home alone is "whenever they are mature enough to be left alone" with no set age... so, that's a loophole for neglegent parenting if I ever heard one! Though, I'm sure, as paranoid as John was about his kid's safety (from the supernatural), he waited until Sam knew about monsters and had been trained to handle a firearm.
- And we do know from the Pilot episode that when Sam was 9, John gave him a .45, so he wouldn't be afraid of the dark... so as much as he's not trusted yet with hunting. We know that he's trusted with self-defense.

Dean: "So, Sparkle is a unicorn and also a man?"
Mom: "Yeah"
Dean: "So, a manicorn?"
Mom: "I... I guess?"

- Oh Dean, how I love your love of portmanteaus.

Sam: "Wait a second, so, his blood is glittery?"
Sully: "Even when he's dead. Sparkle can't stop shining."

- HA! Love it!

Sully: "It's on her face, Sam! It's on her face! She's got Sparkle on her face!"
- So, this whole part is hilarious, but I'm going to use this line to talk about how much I love the fact that throughout the episode, Sully constantly just addresses Sam. Whenever he needs help, or wants assistance, or wants to talk - he names Sam while he's talking. It's a really great subtle character note, but it reinforces the relationships that we're seeing (or not seeing), and it's fantastic.

Dean: "You know, the family thhat showers together..."
Sully: "Pull up! Pull up!"

- Haha, oh man.

TELL HER TO CLEAN THE ROOM! But they don't... Hopefully Sully will get a Zanna cleaning crew in there ASAP.

And then the mermaid dies... so sad.

There's a way Jared holds his hands that always looks so frickin' unnatural and awkward to me - but he does it SO OFTEN that I actually think that's just what his hands look like when at rest. It's really weird though.

Sully: "It's a bloodbath!"
Dean: "Alright, just let it out."
Sully: "No, no, I gotta stay strong for Sam."

- Again, I just love that Sully, no matter what age the "kid" is - is on the job whenever he is in the "kid"'s presence.

Sully: "We can't just leave her here, it's disturbing for the kid!"
Dean: "Well, what do you want us to do? Find a giant toilet and flush it?"
...
Dean: "You're right. That was- *indicates crossing a line* What would you like us to do?"

- I love what Dean does with his body-language here. I also love that there's this whole underlying storyline with him where he's trying to get over his resentment towards Sully, because he sees Sully's presence as an accusation that Dean wasn't good enough for Sam when Sam was a kid. Oh, Dean's self-esteem issues...you never go away, and you are always a constant battle.

Dean: "Well, Totoro really cares for you, huh?"
- Awww...

Flashback!
Sam: "Ever think you can fly?"
Sully: "Sometimes, like on really windy days. You?"
Sam: "I used to, but I broke my arm."

- Awww, I love that story though.

Sam: "Ever think... about running away?"
Sully: "From you? No way."
Sam: "No, I mean, from here - all this? The hunting life?"
Sully: "Do you? Hm. Ever think that maybe you want to go to school, make some friends?"
Sam: "I have you."
Sully: "Yeah you do, but one day you won't. Sam, I want you to listen to me. You can be whatever you want to be. You're not Dean, you're not your Dad, you're Sam - and Sam is so awesome!"
Sam: "Can you imagine, running away? My dad would kill me!"
Sully: "It's your choice, Sam. It's your life. I mean it's all up to you!"
Sam: "Okay."
Sully: "Okay?"
Sam: "Let's go!"

- So, I know I've seen criticism that if Sully had Sam's best interests at heart, or was tasked with protecting him, he would never have encouraged him to run away - as that's very poor guardianship of a child. But, I don't agree with that at all. I think Sully is brilliant here and exactly what Sam needs... and that INCLUDES allowing him to run away and not arguing against it.
- Firstly, he ascertains that Sam has been thinking of running away - because Sam tells him. And his response is to try to get Sam to think of forming social bounds that will improve his life without him running away (seriously, most of the time the only reason I'm still in Vancouver is because I like my friends here.) Getting Sam to be less lonely is also Sully's job, but this will kill two birds with one stone.
- Then when Sam is satisfied with just having Sully as a friend, Sully pushes against that, but then addresses the running away thing by making Sam feel less trapped PSYCHOLOGICALLY. He reminds Sam that he can do whatever he wants, that he's not bound by the Hunter life - not because of location, but because he's SAM, and that he doesn't have to be or do what his father and brother are and do.
- And when Sam presses about running away, Sully reinforces that idea that Sam can make his own decisions. When Sam decides to run away, Sully is excited not because he succeeded in getting Sam to runaway, but because he succeeded in getting Sam to make a decision FOR HIMSELF based on Sam's own desires and personality, rather than Dean and John's wishes. And that trumps everything, because what Sam lacks most in life isn't necessarily companionship, it's agency.
- I mean, what did we see before this - in the first scene with little Sam? We saw Sam waiting by the phone for John to make a decision for him. And we also had Sully telling him, even before anyone had said anything, that "either way, cool beans." To Sully, it doesn't matter whether Sam chooses to stay or chooses to run away, what Sully is excited about is that it's Sam that makes the decision.

End Flashback

Sam: "How are you holding up, Sully?"
Sully: "I'm fine! How are you, Sam?"
Sam: "Aces."

- Again, I just love the acting in this episode. It's clear that Sully is not fine, but Sully turns the question back around on Sam. It's just.. he's such a child-therapist type, and I love it.

Then we have Weems, hanging up the laundry for his kid... do the parents question how the sheets got on the line? I guess, not considering the parent is an alcoholic.

Weems: "It went right through my love-handle. My fat save me! Can you believe that?"
Sully: "Fat is the best!"

- I just love that exchange, because it's so rare to have a healthy layer of fat celebrated on TV.

Dean: "No, this is a great thing - I mean, a manicorn, a freakin' mermaid - what am I supposed to do with that? But a chick in a car? That's terra firma, I'm home."
- I really just love Dean's use of "terra firma."

I love the air guitar solo. I know people thought it was out of place and ridiculous, but those people have no soul. :P (just kidding, I love you... even though you are soulless.)

Sully: "I'm going to go get bandages. Oh! I'll be right back, Sam."
*Sam nods*

- I'm so redundant, but again, I just love the attention Sully gives Sam. I love that he makes sure Sam knows he'll be right back, because that's the type of thing you tell a little kid who is afraid of people leaving them. And Sam was way too old to still have that fear when Sully knew him, and yet, I bet he did. I bet that Sully had to reassure him any time he popped off somewhere.

Weems: "Wait, you're not THAT Sam? Sully's Sam?"
Sam: "I guess I would be, yeah?"
Weems: "So, like, now you and Sully are back together?"
Sam: "What?"
Weems: "How old are you?"
Sam: "Wrong!"
Weems: "Look, I get it, we all need a tune-up from time to time. It's okay."

- So, I love that at first Weems IS judgemental, because Sam is too old to have a Zanna, but even he goes for the understanding-route - there's no shame in seeking therapy. But we see the difference here, in that Weems speaks to Sam like he's an adult when he says this.

Weems: "Sam Winchester, I mean... wow. Hey, just so you know, Sully - you broke his heart man."
- Awww.... sad flashback time.

Sully: "Ready to hit the road?"
Sam: "No, my dad just called. He changed his mind! He wants me to come with him!"
Sully: "On a, on a hunt?"
Sam: "Finally, he thinks I'm ready. I have to catch the next bus to Milwaukee."
Sully: "Are you sure this is what you want?"
Sam: "I'm a Winchester. I hunt monsters. Why would I want anything else?"
Sully: "Well, I'm not sure it's you."
Sam: "Why can't you just be happy for me, Sully?"
Sully: "Listen, Buddy, I'm just afraid you're going down a path you might be better off not going down."
Sam: "Yeah, but I'm not afraid."
Sully: "I know you're not. You're one of the bravest kids I know! It's just - this whole hunting thing - it's not the only way. There are so many other ways, and you can find one Sam, you can leave right now!"
Sam: "I don't want another way. I want to be with my dad, and Dean!"
Sully: "Look, Sam, I'm just saying this because I'm your friend."
Sam: "Pretend friend! You're not even real."
Sully: "Well, I'm here as long as you need me."
Sam: "I don't need you anymore, Sully. I don't know why I made you up in the first place. I wish I could un-make you up!"
Sully: "If that's what you want."
Sam: "It is, okay. Just go."
Sully: "You have a good long life, Sam."

- I guess it's this scene that people take issue with, because it seems that Sully is activily encouraging Sam to run... but it's more that he's activily encouraging Sam to make his own decisions and to listen to his own desires about what he wants from life, rather than believing that because he's a Winchester, he must hunt.
- And I think Sully would have followed Sam on the hunt, after this conversation, if Sam hadn't wished him away. Sully was attempting to point out that this WASN'T what Sam wanted, not really... because he knew Sam wanted out of the hunting life, or at least a part of him did. There was obviously also a part that just wanted to be with his dad and brother, even if it meant Hunting. And we see that even with adult Sam... Sam will choose to hunt, but only with Dean (as he told Charlie in S10). We don't know if, when Sam was at Stanford, he missed hunting... we only know that he still felt like a freak and an outsider, but that's not uncommon with anyone raised outside of the social narrative of what constitutes "normal". I mean, I ended up in the same boat because of the confluence of a few different factors, none of which were Sam's reasons.
- And even when disagreeing with Sam, Sully is supportive - Sam can do anything, and Sam's brave, etc.
- I think the main reason Sam wishes Sully away, is because he doesn't want the reminder that he's not living his own life. He likes the ability to be in denial, and a best friend prevents you from having that. I remember talking to my BFF once about something, I can't even remember what anymore, but I spun him this long explanation of how I felt about something, and he just responded with "That's not true." and he was right, but up until he said that, I fully believed I was telling the truth... but nope, I was just in hardcore denial, or trying to spin something positive that had no positive spin. Another time, I was talking to my other BFF about uh, well, sexual habits (without getting into too much detail) and I declared something, and they just laughed and said something very similar to "That's not true" and they were right, even though they've never even had sex with me to verify... and BOTH times, I was a little angry at my friends, because GODDAMN IT, I had a great lie to myself going there, and now I have to admit to things that I don't want to admit to.

Post-Commentary Add-in:
- So, Jenny Klein pointed out in the commentary, and this is really something that I should have picked up on, that this is Sam's FIRST HUNT. Up until this point, he was always left behind, and this is the first time that John agreed he could come - perhaps the danger was small enough in John's mind, perhaps it looked like it was going to take more than a couple of days - who knows.
- But this is becomes more monumental in that context. Sully is literally the only person to say "perhaps Hunting is not what is best for this child" and maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong... but I think it's important that he's there, and that Sam had that, even if he sent it away.
- It also becomes monumental in the context that, with his first hunt, Sam must put away childish things. This is, essentially, the end of Sam's childhood that we're watching. That innocence that Dean so protected in young Sam (pre-8.5 years-old), and the innocence that qualified Sam to receive the help of a Zanna, is about to be erroded completely.
-Little Sam slinging that heavy bag onto his shoulder, and leaving the motel room with only a small backwards glance, is Sam walking out of childhood and into adulthood - at the age of 9 years old.

Anyway, the other problem with this scene is that there's no way a bus service would sell a ticket to an minor that young. But, I'm guessing Sam has also been trained in catching buses without having to deal with a ticket agent.

Sam: "You know, it's pretty awesome, how you help everyone around you."
Sully: "It doesn't always work, but I try."
Sam: "Sully, I feel awful about how we left off. I'm sorry. I was kid. I was a jerk kid, and you were trying to help and..."

- Again, I love how Sully whips around when Sam says he feels awful.
- And aww, Sam's apologizing.

Sully: "You know, I'm not going to lie to you - when you went off to hunt, I considered that one of my biggest failures. It just seemed to clear to me that you wanted something else. But, I was wrong, it all worked out, didn't it?"
Sam: "I don't know about that."
Sully: "Come on! You're a hero! Sam, you saved the world. I keep track of my kids. You did really good, Sam."

- Awww, I love people giving credit to Sam where credit is more than due.
- I also like Sully admitting that even if hunting wasn't what Sam really wanted at the time, or for a long time, in the end it worked out, probably, for the better.

Sam: "Well, not all good. There was some bad, and some really bad. Sully - I screwed up. I let something out into the world that wasn't-"
Sully: "You mean the Darkness? That's what others are calling it. I've just heard rumours."
Sam: "I'm going to fix it! I am! Dean and I, we're going to fix it! It's just-"

- I love how Sam just turns into a child here. This whole episode, Sully has been treating him like he's still a child in therapy, and here - perhaps BECAUSE Weems mentoned a tune-up - Sam just, becomes one - and he does it so brilliantly that even thoughh he's 6'5'' and huge, he becomes the same 9 year-old boy that Sully knew.

Sully: "What is it?"
Sam: "I think God wants to help us fix it. But, I don't think I can do what he's asking?"
Sully: "How bad is it?"
Sam: "There's this cage in Hell, and it's where they keep Lucifer, and I've been in it, and it's- And I think God wants me to go back."

- The way Sam can't even finish describing the cage is brilliant. They so seldom address Sam's trauma from that, now that it's so many seasons in the past - it was neat, for the hurt!Sam fan that I am, to revisit it in the run-up to 10, if only a little. (And don't worry Dean fans... you don't have to remind me that Dean's hell trauma hasn't been revisited since S4, even though it fundamentally changed his character.)

Sully: "Ever think about running away anymore?"
Sam: "I did, I mean, I have. But not in a while, not anymore."
*Sully raises eyebrows*

- I think it's a fantastic irony that Sully gets it wrong twice (at least in my opinion). But, both times, he gets it wrong for the right reasons - because both times, he's basing his arguments on what Sam's desires and decisions are. When Sam wanted to run away, Sully favoured that decision. When Sam wants to stay, Sully treats that like it's the answer. Both times he gets it wrong, it's because he doesn't have all the facts though - doesn't know the inner workings of Heaven and Hell. Sam was better off hunting as a kid, because the training sure as hell comes in handy when the road to the apocalypse starts escalating (as it inevitably would, whether Sam hunted or not), and now, Sam's better off running away from the visions, because they aren't at all what they appear to be. Really, each time, it's both Sully AND Sam's desires that are "wrong" or perhaps "not the easy road" - but, I still like that Sully HONOURS Sam's desires and decisions based off of them.

Sam: "Ever think about hotwiring a minivan?"
Sully: "In my dreams?"
Sam: "Let's do it."

- Awww, so cute!

And then we find out what the deal was...

Sully: "Reese and her sister - they were my first kids afer I thought I screwed it up with you."
Reese: "So this his fault!"
Sully: "No! No, Reese, I'm the one that bungled it. It's on me."

- Awww, I like the Sully explains what happened, but he refuses to let his explanation be an excuse.

Sam: "Yes, and Zanna are good."
- I love the way Jared says that line.

Reese: "So, maybe I'll take something you love - a real person."
Sam: "That's not going to happen."
Sully: "Will killing me make you feel better?"
Sam: "No, Sully, that's not the answer."
Sully: "This is what I do. Whatever's best for the kid. Reesy, if this is what you need. I'm okay with it."

- Seriously, Zanna are way too good.

I also want to talk about "what's best for the kid" versus "what the modern ideal is for parenting/guardianship" because I think this is another stumbling block people have when it comes to Sully. Parenting styles change over the years - the freedom that 80s kids enjoyed was taken away in the 90s-00s and onward, as media became more sensationalist with reporting danger. Parenting methods differ country to country or culture to culture. You have some kids who have padded/sterilized everyting, and some kids that are running around naked in a field of mud somewhere - and both kids are happy and healthy and loved... and both kids' parents think that the parenting method their using is the best one and the other parent is insane and damaging their kids. On top of that, there's the fact that Zanna are not parents.

It's like parenting 101 not to play near the street with your kid, but Zanna operate not as a responsible adult, but as a companion - so their level of play gets in the way of being sticklers for safety. They do what's best for the kid - even if that means supporting their desire to run away from their family at the age of 9, just because that particular kid needs someone to listen to and support their desires. Zanna aren't parents or babysitters, they're friends.

Dean: "...But when I wasn't there for my little brother - Sully was. Now, I'm not saying that he didn't make a mistake - but you know that there is not a monstrous bone in his body."
- Awww... Dean gets it.

And they let Reese go - which I also know that everyone has a problem with, because she did straight up murder 2 people and attempt to murder a 3rd, and threaten to murder a 4th, and hold Dean hostage... but, again, what else could they do? They can't have her arrested, because there's no evidence. And they can't kill her, since I doubt Sully would stand for that. Hopefully, they made her promise to go back to therapy... and that's all we can hope for. Really, it's Reese who has to live with the fact that she straight up killed 2 innocent creatures who had never wronged her.

Sully: "So, now that you know about Audrey, you probably never want to see me again."
Sam: "Ever think maybe you're a hero to me? Sully, one thing I've learned - Heroes aren't perfect."
Sully: "Sometimes, they're scared; but that just means the thing that they're facing, it's super important, and nobody else is going to go for it, because nobody else has got the balls."

- I LOVE THEM BOTH SO MUCH! even though given that Sam is being lied to by his visions, this is bad advice... or, bad advice in this instance... it's actually pretty good advice over all. Often, we're afraid of things because they're important, or because they'll create a massive change in our lives, and people are afraid of change, even when it's positive.

Sully: "And Dean, thank you for looking out for Sam. You are not a germ at all!"
- Aww, and Sully recognizes that Dean deserves to have the sentiment he extended earlier returned to him.
- This is also, I think, the only time that Sully directly addresses Dean by name.

Dean: "Thanks? You know you're never going to get me to admit that you're not the weirdest thing out there - but you're a good weird."
Sully: "Hm." *to Sam* "Good luck, buddy."

- Love that parting line too.
- Also, Dean, really, SULLY is the weirdest thing? You once were thrown into a parallel universe where you were an actor!

Sam: "Dean, we need to seriously discuss me going to the cage."
Dean: "Okay, not happening. Good talk... Sam - even if these visions are real..."
Sam: "Yeah, it's Lucifer, and me, and the cage... I know. But this, this lump in my throat, it's not an excuse, not anymore."
Dean: "We'll find another way, okay? There's always another way."
Sam: "Okay, then tell me. What is the other way?"

- I like the blooper version of this scene better, because I think it's a little saccharine. (I might have spelt that wrong.)
- I do love that Sam says the fear isn't an exuse though. I wish he were right about the visions, because he's making the decision on what needs to be done on MOSTLY good principles - but alas, the visions, they are a lie and a lure.

COMMENTARY

(It's the next day! For those curious - my landlord is still working on the electrical. He has electricuted himself at least once)

Commenary is by writer Jenny Klein (oh how I will miss her) and director Richard Speight Jr. (Yay!)

Richard thinks hooves for hands are creepy. Richard tells Jenny that hair and make-up loved doing sparkles and manicorns for a change instead of just gore.

Richard also loved the misdirect of Sully following Sam around in the dark.

Richard and Jenny both decide that Sam was probably hung over and that's why he didn't notice the treats right away and was so groggy.

Richard and Jenny both praise Nate Torrence, and how amazing his audition tapes - which were filmed on an iPhone in his kitchen in cleveland, OH. And he was so amazing he got the part right away.

Richard jokes about how fans thank him for showing Jensen's knee. And then Jenny talks about how the fans get excited for "single layer Winchesters". Richard hadn't heard that one.

Richard then chastises Jared for thinking that he's not good at comedy.

Nate did a bunch of improve that didn't make it - like yelling "I'll just box this up then" whe Sam and Dean leave the kitchen.

Jenny talks about the genesis of the idea... and how they wanted to do the imaginary friend episode, and Jenny also wanted to write a flashback episode of Sam's first hunt(!). So, she managed to kinda do both with this episode and was super excited.

Richard bothered Jeremy and Bob Singer for 2 years about directing and they finally gave in.

Richard continues to praise the fact that he got to work with three guys (Jared and Jensen and Nate) who all really know comedy.

Richard also points out that Sam and Dean apparently changed clothes in a parked car in front of someone's house.

Richard talks about the framing of Sam in the motel room, and how he shot through the motel room divider to show that Sam was in a little kid prison.

Jenny then talks about how she wanted to explore how lonely Sam's childhood would have been in the years when Dean was hunting but Sam was still too young. Richard then brings up the question of whether it was appropriate to leave him behind - and they figure it's he lesser of two evils.

There was an oil painting of the little girl over the mantelpiece, but they had to cut the shot for time - but they gave the girl the oil painting at the end of the shoot, because Jerry's team did a great job on it.

Jenny talks about the brilliance of the glitter-blood, which was Jeremy Carver's idea.

Jenny is so thrilled that they did a full mermaid, because she thought due to budget that they might only do a suggestion of a mermaid.

Richard praises Brad Creasser for framing the shot with the bloody mermaid tail in the foreground.

Richard used to have upsidedown conversations with his cousin when he was a kid. He talks about how he felt that Sam would be coming up with creative ways to have fun in the confines of the motel room he was stuck in.

Jenny talks about the Pilot line about dad giving him a .45 when he was 9 and scared of the thing in his closet - and how she always wanted to explore that line - what was the thing in the closet? How did Sam enter into hunting? So, this fills in part of that story of how Sam came to eventually leave and go to Stanford and Sully being the catalyst for that. She also had the idea that maybe Sully was the monster in the closet and you scare the kid into leaving, but she went with the softer sweeter story - because the other version would have been much darker.

Richard thinks it's very honest to what Sam has become - that the young boy did a great job of capturing Sam's sensitive, empathetic nature.

Jenny talks about how Dean and Sully are both sharing Sam and trying to find their place together and in relation to Sam - since Dean is realizing that there was someone else looking after Sam and not just him... and coming around to appreciate him.

Fletcher was named after Richard Speight's son - though they clarify that Richard's son doesn't wet the bed. Richard confesses that he has.

Richard talks about how he gave the "happy young lady" with the mermaid the nice swingset and Fletcher who has the crappier life also has a shitty swingset.

The barn is on a soundstage. Jenny didn't even know.

Richard praises Jenny for creating very different imaginary friends for different kids, and how diverse and dynamic they are.
Jenny: "Just a taste of wide world of Zanna."

They laugh about the air guitar and how Sully is like Weem's number one fan. And how hilarious it was to watch the actor do air guitar in complete silence on the set.

Richard continues to tell us that Jared is funny.

Jenny talks about how all creatures know about the winchesters. She talks about how Zanna are one of the only creatures that can teleport - and she considers them a subsection of fairies, and they can go to different dimensions - and even there, they know about the Winchesters and what they've done for humanity, so to meet them is like a star-struck motion.

Richard put legos and army men in front of the phone in the motel room. (I didn't even notice, wow.) The detail was pitched by Robin in the prop department. He praises having a crew that have been there so many years and know the show so much, and can give that emotional continuity.

Richard also tied the shot of the motel room in with the barn with a phone.
- So much detail that you don't even really notice.

Richard praises Jared more. And how the Sam - Sully scene was like theatre, and Richard just had to keep the camera out of the way.

They talk about the staging of the conversation, and how Richard wanted to have Sam look up, because to look up is to be vulnerable, and it would reconnect with how he felt as a boy.

Jenny: "How heartbreaking must it be for Sully to hear about what's happened to this kid..."

Richard praises Jared and Nate more. They agree that the glittery blood scene is their favorite scene, and the conversation between Sam and Sully is their favourite "heart."

Richard: "[Jared and Jensen] are so good. I mean, they've been doing this at a high level for over a decard."

Richard: "In the Supernatural universe, this is a unique ending to an episode - Jared and Jensen don't leap in and do their thing." In the end it's emotional.

Jenny talks about how in earlier drafts, Reese ended up dead - but she wanted there to be another an emotional resolution instead.

They both praise Nate and Anya (Reese).

Sully's rainbow suspenders were a tip of the hat to Robin Williams.

Richard talks about the choices he made in the final scene to both do the transition on Sam with the red light behind him, and also to stay on Jensen for the final shot, instead of racking the focus back to Jared.

No Quick Reaction this week, because of American Thanksgiving! So, I'll most likely see you again on the weekend for another rewatch. :)

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
supernutjapan
Nov. 22nd, 2016 11:59 am (UTC)
Love your thoughts on how Zanna are friends not parents, and how Sully tries to help Sam know and act on what is good for HIM and not what is expected of him.

Your first frustration with modern parents, and your thoughts on parenting later kind of contradict each other ;D Still, I totally get it.

One thing about how the parents were treating the girl though - I think her situation was special. Maybe she had a traumatic experience or something which made her start to see her Zanna to begin with and they are "treating her" for it, so it's a special case. The manual they are talking about is probably for that, rather than just child-rearing in general.

If I personally was put in the situation they were in, and it was one of my kids (without any trauma), I'd just tell them that they could stay home and finish their tea party. I was going out. They know I'm not messing around so they finish off quick and come along. I'm sure there are people out there that'd find something wrong with that too :P
hells_half_acre
Nov. 22nd, 2016 09:10 pm (UTC)
Your first frustration with modern parents, and your thoughts on parenting later kind of contradict each other ;D Still, I totally get it.

Is it because I complained that modern parents are annoying and then I said that parenting is subjective and as long as the child is happy, healthy, and loved, there's no wrong way to parent? Because, that's not a contradiction - that's just me saying that modern parents are annoying, not that they're bad parents because of it! ;P

One thing about how the parents were treating the girl though - I think her situation was special. Maybe she had a traumatic experience or something which made her start to see her Zanna to begin with and they are "treating her" for it, so it's a special case.

Good point. Zanna ARE for kids that NEED them - lost and lonely kids. So, obviously there's something about that girl's past that we don't know about. Sam with the girl in the swimming pool. We don't get the back story there - we only get to see why Fletcher and Sam were in need of Zanna.

If I personally was put in the situation they were in, and it was one of my kids (without any trauma), I'd just tell them that they could stay home and finish their tea party. I was going out. They know I'm not messing around so they finish off quick and come along. I'm sure there are people out there that'd find something wrong with that too :P

Yeah, same. That's what my mum used to do - and if that didn't work. It was "You better have your shoes on and be out the door by the count of 3! ONE! TWO! TWO AND A HALF! TWO AND THREE QUARTERS!..." and by then I'd be scrambling with my shoes and yanking open the door... and also learning fractions! Hahaha
borgmama1of5
Nov. 23rd, 2016 04:07 am (UTC)
I also notied that Sprakles and
I know most everyone loved this episode, and I appreciated how the writer took the time to align her story with what had already been given in cannon.

I struggle with the whole idea of 9 yr old Sam a) being left in a motel room and b) being told to get to his dad and Dean on his own.

Sully's interaction with young Sam bothered me too, and maybe it's because I am a parent. I understand Sully encouraging Sam to think for himself, but encouraging him to run away seemed terribly not thought out. A parent's job is to teach good decision-making--and yeah, Sully wasn't Sam's parent, but wouldn't helping the child include guiding decisions, especially because a Zanna has such power imbued by the child's trust.

I also noticed that Sparkles and the mermaid encouraged their child to go along with the parent...Weems, OTOH, was actively doing something to help Fletcher's situation. Sully's interaction felt like it was on a different level of helping...Does that make any sense? I'm having trouble explaining myself because right now I am so tired...

I always enjoy reading your reviews and seeing things I never thought about!
hells_half_acre
Nov. 23rd, 2016 06:15 am (UTC)
Re: I also notied that Sprakles and
I struggle with the whole idea of 9 yr old Sam a) being left in a motel room and b) being told to get to his dad and Dean on his own.

Well, like I said - a lot of places there isn't a set law for when you can leave your kid alone. It's to the discretion of the parent. So, while understand the disbelief of Sam being able to buy a bus ticket without raising suspicion - I think the other stuff depends on your view of John Winchester. If you tend to think of John as a good non-neglectful parent, and are not happy with the way the show has painted him in later seasons, then yeah - Sam being on his own at 9 is unbelievable. But, if you see John as an extremely flawed individual, and take the writing of his character from S3 onwards as canon - then I fully believe that Sam would have been left on his own at the age of 9. Whether that's GOOD or not, is another matter altogether.

A parent's job is to teach good decision-making--and yeah, Sully wasn't Sam's parent, but wouldn't helping the child include guiding decisions, especially because a Zanna has such power imbued by the child's trust.
...
I also noticed that Sparkles and the mermaid encouraged their child to go along with the parent...Weems, OTOH, was actively doing something to help Fletcher's situation. Sully's interaction felt like it was on a different level of helping...Does that make any sense?


I think part of the problem is that we're seeing the other Zanna work with kids who have regular lives. Whatever troubles they had that caused them to need Zanna (we really only see Fletcher's reasons), they're NORMAL troubles. I think just as you struggle wih the whole idea of 9 yr old Sam being left in a motel room and being told to get to his Dad and Dean on his own... so too would have Sully.

How do you be a companion to a kid like that? What's the best course of action?

But, most importantly, it really is important to remember that despite looking like an adult, Zanna are NOT adult humans. They are supernatural creatures with their own laws and customs. So, would their help of the child include guiding decisions? We don't know. We see Sparkle gently tell the kid that it's okay if she goes with her parents, and he'll clean up, but is that guiding her decision because keeping her parents waiting is rude? Or is it simply seeing a potential future conflict and avoiding it? The child needs to eat as well, after all - or Sparkle would have been trying to avoid the child's parents from eventually getting annoyed.

The mermaid, I'm not including, because her exclamation of "isn't it time for gymnastics?" wasn't in response to the child resisting gymnastics. She was just going along with the child's usual schedule.

My point is that I view Sully as a companion, not a guardian. Yes, Zanna are known for guiding lost children back from he woods, but even at the base "I must keep this child from physical harm" level, what's the best for a kid like Sam Winchester? A NON-NORMAL KID. Is he really safer hunting? Or is he safer running away, eventually getting picked up by CPS, and put into foster care? It's hard to say!

But, anyway, I do understand, that you, as a parent, have a particular view on children. But, you have to remember that a)Sam is a really really weird. Young or old. and b)Sully is a supernatural creature who follows different laws and customs than we do. If I dropped you into an indigenous village in the middle of the Amazon, you might be perplexed by a lot of their parenting techniques too. Even more so, if I dropped you into a house where a kid was being looked after by an older cousin or an uncle, who knew it wasn't their job to raise the kid, it was just their job to keep the kid happy and unharmed.


khek
Nov. 29th, 2016 04:09 pm (UTC)
Re: I also notied that Sprakles and
I think the other thing to remember about Sully in this scenario is that, even if Sam ran away, Sully would be with him. Now, he might not be visible to other people, but he would be there. And we know from this episode that Zanna can interact with the real world. A runaway Sam would have not been alone. (And, if he hadn't chased Sully off at the end, he would have also had a companion on his trip to get to John and Dean.)

I loved this episode, and I loved the Zanna. I have a few kids I think could use one. (I work with kids and parents, and I regularly see lots of different parenting options. Not so in-depth as to see all the nuances, but enough so that I can tell which kids could use a "real" imaginary friend.)

I would like to think that Sam can call Sully to alert him to kids who need help...kind of like the kid who Amara orphaned in season 11 in the Lizzie Borden episode. If anyone needs a Zanna, it's that kid!
hells_half_acre
Nov. 29th, 2016 04:51 pm (UTC)
Re: I also notied that Sprakles and
Oh man, I want THAT fic, where Sam sends Sully to "Mike"... Jordy! His name was Jordy in the episode.

Someone could do a crossover fic where Sully gets sent to Mike too, but that'd be a bit ridiculous.
khek
Nov. 29th, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the rewatch! As always, you make me want to go back and see the episode through new eyes. And also, I need to watch the commentaries without falling asleep. :)

(I did notice the soldiers and legos. I thought it was a good shout out back to season 2, where we saw that the impala had a toy soldier stuck in the vent)
hells_half_acre
Nov. 29th, 2016 04:52 pm (UTC)
Yup... very cute little shout-out.

I'm glad you enjoyed the rewatch! :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )