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And now we return to our regularly scheduled program of Winchester's ripping our hears out....

My choice for S9 is probably not that big of a surprise, given that I love pre-series/wee-chester stuff.

S9 - John shows up to collect 16 year-old Dean from Sonny's

Why I chose this scene:

Surprisingly enough, I think this was backstory that I really needed on Dean - to me, it explains just WHY Dean was so devastated by Sam leaving for Stanford. It also humanizes Dean to me, in a weird way... in that we see that Dean also had a chance to escape, like Sam did, and clearly WANTED to take it, but in the end chose not to... and chose not to not for the reason of "hunting is awesome and Dad knows best!" which is a lot of how Dean came across in the early seasons (when we were seeing him mostly from Sam's pov.) This complicates that. This chose that even before S3's revelations of Dean's resentments towards his father - Dean KNEW about them and struggled with them. I don't know if I'm articulating this correctly, so apologies if now - but to me, this really enriches an already rich character, in that it takes his internal character struggles back even further, which in turn makes them even more impactful to me. It also makes Dean's comment in Scarecrow about being PROUD of Sam for leaving, for being who he is, stand out all the more... because YES, Dean resents Sam for it, because Sam was the reason that Dean didn't leave, but Dean is also PROUD of Sam, because Sam did something Dean ultimately wished he could have done, but felt he could not. (Just, without even arguing which decision was the right decision - I don't think Dean leaving would have made him a bad person. It's that thing about affixing your own oxygen mask before helping someone else, in my opinion. Dean's tendency towards martyrdom is a debate all on its own though.)

But, this scene tells me why Sam leaving was so devastating to Dean - because Dean stayed BECAUSE of Sam. (Regardless of whether Sonny would have been successful with the petition) Dean gave up his shot at freedom and a second chance at life, because he didn't want to leave Sam behind. Of course, by nature and circumstance, it's impossible for Sam to return this gesture of devotion - because a)Sam didn't get his chance until Stanford, and b)Dean is his older brother, who was always firm in his decisions, who - more importantly - got ALONG with their father, and who didn't seem to need protecting. So, we really only see Sam return this same level of devotion when he has to save Dean from death (and we shall not speak of S8, which was a writing travesty).  I also think that it's unfair for anyone (possibly Dean) to consider Sam ungrateful for Dean's decision, because a)Sam never asked him to make it, and b)I think Sam WAS grateful that he had Dean, but Sam didn't realize that Dean needed him when they were traveling with their dad just as much as Sam needed Dean. We see a similar thing happen with Dean at the end of S2, when it's only when Sam bluntly ASKS him "what do you think my job is?" that Dean realizes that, at least n the absence of their father, Sam considers it his job to protect Dean as well.

ANYWAY, this is all a really long winded way to say that I love the character exploration that occurs in this mostly silent scene. I think the actor, whose name I momentarily forget, did an amazing job with Dean as well. I know some people disagree, but I think definitely acting-wise, he's the best young!Dean we've had. Just the way he plays this highly emotional scene, is so reminiscent of scenes we've seen Jensen do...like Heaven and Hell, and just that..."I want to cry, but I'm not going to cry, but I'm crying, but I just won't mention it and no one else mention it either please" and yeah.

The final thing I love about this scene is the ways you can read it. Like, the fact that we see everything from Dean's POV, so - is Sam seemingly acting too young for his age? Well, I think that's frankly how Dean sees him. I know, originally, they were going to play this episode as Dean being 14 and Sam being 10, and then they aged Dean up to 16, making Sam supposedly 12. But I love that we can also use this kind of clumsy script change as an amazing work of unreliable-narrator... because I remember when my little sister was a young teen (we're six years apart), and whenever she wasn't directly infront of me, I would still remember her as a child. And, while it's not related to this scene in particular, I love how we can contrast Dean in this episode (at 16) to Dean in After School Special (at 18) and the VAST DIFFERENCE, and then realize that After School Special was told from Sam's POV, and of course Dean would be this adult-looking Lothario of a guy. But that's all off topic.

I also love Sonny in this scene, because he's a good dude, and he's the kind of person that Dean needed more of in his life.

ETA: Oh man, I also forgot that this is the SAME YEAR that Dean "embraced the life" according to what he told Gordon in S2 - which to me makes perfect sense. Because if you make a decision to be trapped somewhere, you're going to change the story to be one where you PREFER to be there, rather than a story where you wish you could have left. You rationalize it to be something you want, so that you don't have to admit to being miserable. We do it all the time. So, this scene just completely fills out that story too. It could have very well been the hunt directly after this... Sam waiting in the car, Dean and John killing a werewolf, and Dean is like "yeah, what other kids get to kill werewolves, really, I should find this awesome, and ignore the fact that we live out of abandoned shacks and cheap motels, and I've been practically a single-parent to my little brother since I was at most 8 years old."

There's probably much more I want to say about this, but it's nearly dinner time and I'm getting hungry and it's hard to think. So, discuss with me more in comments if you feel the urge!

This entry was originally posted at https://hells-half-acre.dreamwidth.org/561192.html.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 18th, 2018 12:52 am (UTC)
The backstory we get in this episode just was so emotionally fulfilling! And I also think Dylan Everett was nearly perfect in his portrayal. I do wish they had kept the younger ages because Dean in After School Special was in such different space, though I can accept your explanation.

Loved this episode, love you analysis!
Jul. 18th, 2018 02:08 am (UTC)
Yes, I think it would have equally worked with Dean as 14 and had the same effect. We're all used to having older actors play young teenagers by now, so there was no need to age Dean up for Dylan...furthermore, I think the next time Dylan came back, he was playing 14 year-old Dean anyway.

BUT, as I said, I do like the way the sort of clumsy writing decision made for a great commentary on the use of perspective in both this episode and After School Special. Because, of course, Brock being a 20 something playing an 18 year-old was ridiculous too.

I'm glad you liked the analysis! I feel like I wanted to be more articulate, but I was interrupted when I was writing it by a work-meeting and lost my flow a little (though, one could argue I didn't have a good flow in the first place.)
Jul. 18th, 2018 07:14 am (UTC)
Agreed. There was a lot I didn't like about S9, but this? This ep, especially this scene, was good.
Jul. 18th, 2018 04:07 pm (UTC)
Yes, I had initially struggled to think of a scene from the season - until I read an episode list and realized that this gem was in there!
Jul. 18th, 2018 11:22 am (UTC)
Such a heartbreaking but pivotal moment, and Dylan really did knock it out of the park.

I love the idea that the casting ages change can be read an unreliable narrator; viewing your sibling either as a child or more as an adult, depending on your viewpoint. That's fascinating and not something I've thought about before.
Jul. 18th, 2018 04:09 pm (UTC)
I wish I could take credit for that idea, but I saw it elsewhere on the internet - most likely tumblr, where it's harder to know who actually originated an idea.
Jul. 18th, 2018 08:14 pm (UTC)
I agree wholeheartedly! This was such a satisfying filler for Dean's character and motivations, and I too thought this young actor was absolutely the best young Dean we've had. I remember Jensen saying that Dylan Everett did his research and watched how Jensen played Dean so he could use some mannerisms - and he did an awesome job.
Jul. 18th, 2018 10:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, it really shows that Dylan put the time in.

Glad you liked it and agree! :)
Jul. 20th, 2018 06:46 am (UTC)
Dylan Everett is definitely my favorite Young Dean as well. You can tell that he really put the time in to understand the character, and understand the way Jensen PLAYS the character, both of which are really important.

Michelle forced me to skip ahead to this episode after 9.01, because I couldn't stop crying after Dean's betrayal of Sam's own BODY. This one hurt too, but in a different way. It's full of shmoop, but it still holds a special place in my heart.

I didn't know that Dean was originally 14 for this! That makes soooooo much more sense. (Dean Winchester not getting his first kiss until 16 is very sweet and very implausible.) I wonder why they aged him up? Because I think that actor could easily pass for 14, at least in TV-world. But like you, I do like the immediacy with which Dean "embraced the life" after choosing to leave the Boys' Home - it makes a lot of sense.

I agree with everything you wrote for this scene! You KNOW I love justifying their casting changes using POV headcanon! Whoever wrote that original Tumblr post was brilliant. And great connection about why Dean would feel abandoned when Sam left for Stanford, after Dean basically sacrificed his own chance to "get out" so as not to abandon Sam. For some reason, I had never thought to connect those two events. Also, crazy to see Dean /without/ Sam for such a significant period of time, even if it's just through flashback. I need to watch this one again.
Jul. 20th, 2018 06:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm not really sure why they aged Dean up either - because I'm pretty sure when Dylan came back, he was playing Dean at 14. Moreover, I think he did a brief cameo in S11 where he was playing Dean at 12 or 13... I mean, I know that Dylan is over 18, but he's a short babyfaced guy and they obviously decided that he could play pubescent teenagers. So, I'm not sure why they decided against that here. Maybe, because he IS over 18, when he's NOT acting he seems much older and they got confused.

I'm glad you liked my "embraced the life" theory. I sort of ALWAYS figured that Dean was doing that, but it's really wonderful to see this little possible prologue to that mind-set decision that he made at 16.

Definitely the biggest impact this made for me was understanding Dean's anger at Stanford-attending Sam. It also makes a lot of sense if Dean IS 16 here, because Sam would have been only 16 or 17 when he decided to attend Stanford (there's the application process to consider too, it's not like Stanford is Hogwarts and you just get a letter one day.) So, when Sam decides to leave, he's nearly exactly the same age as Dean was when Dean decided that he couldn't leave (because of Sam.)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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