First off, hot damn! I loved her then and I love her now. Thunderbird Dinwiddie as Pamela Barnes makes a glorious return, inside Dean’s mind, in 14x10 Nihilism:
And remember, she’s a part of Dean’s (sub) conscious - hence she wears that cute “To Hell and Back” vest, with a silver winged figure round her neck.
Dean literally has been to Hell and back, and he was pulled out of there by a figure with wings (”his” angel, Castiel).
So what is Pamela’s function in Yockey’s narrative?
She is Dean’s (sub) conscious and also the bearer of the episode’s romantic sub-text.
Cas and Sam discover that Dean’s imagined happy place, or rather the “contentment trap” set for him in his own mind by AU Michael, is apparently, owning Rocky’s Bar and living/ working with Pamela.
I mean, sure, Dean’s not blind and Pamela is hot, and they had a flirty history. But Dean has enjoyed the company of a lot of hot chicks along the way. Why this one?
Because Pamela is significant for another reason. Dean first met her when he first met Castiel, in 14x01 Lazarus Rising.
She, as Nihilism eventually reminds us, was the psychic to whom Bobby took the Winchesters, to try and contact the, then mysterious, entity responsible for Dean’s return from (literally) Hell.
Remember this exchange, at the contacting seance (the one that cost Pamela her sight, when she beheld Castiel’s True!form)? (script thanks to SuperWiki):
PAMELA: “Right. Take each other’s hands. And I need to touch something our mystery monster touched.”
PAMELA slides her hand along DEAN’S inner thigh. He jumps.
DEAN: “Whoa. Well, he didn’t touch me there.”
PAMELA: “My mistake.”
DEAN looks around, nervous, then takes off his outer shirt, pulls up his left t-shirt sleeve to reveal the BRAND. SAM stares at it, shocked, looks at BOBBY. PAMELA lays her hand on the BRAND.
So in subtext, way back then, Kripke established Castiel’s branding of Dean as something intensely intimate, erotic even, through this proxy, this openly flirty, touch of Pamela’s, centered around Castiel’s hand-print on Dean’s body. And Pamela was psychic, remember…
In Nihilism, Pamela represents Dean and Castiel’s meet-cute (or what passes for a meet-cute in Supernatural) in Dean’s mind.
At Rocky’s Bar, Dean and Pamela aren’t lovers, but Dean sure gets called out by her:
DEAN: “How come you always have a boyfriend?”
PAMELA: “How come you only want what you can’t have?”
PAMELA “Besides, you don’t want me - you just like to flirt!”
This is the face of a dude who has been called out by his subconscious, whilst the negative space around him howls into the void.
What is it that Dean DOES want (closely associated with his meet-cute with Cas) that he thinks he can’t have?
And then, Pamela becomes part of a classic mis-recognition trope.
Because Cas and Sam figure out that AU Michael has Dean locked in a “contentment trap” in the recesses of his mind, and when they get there, they find Dean with Pamela and of course they’re gonna assume Dean has imagined himself a sweet hetero life, banging Pamela Barnes and serving tequila shots at Rocky’s. When in fact, she’s his platonic BFF and he’s waiting for Cas and Sam to get home from a hunt.
CAS (TO PAMELA): “You’re just a complex manifestation of Dean’s memories, designed to distract him.”
Y'all didn’t miss that right? Dean literally went and bought a new drink called Cosmic Cowboy, and he was so excited for CAS to try it when he got back from his “hunt” with Sam, because he thought it was something Cas would like..
AND HE WOULDN’T STOP STARING AT CAS
“You gotta try this, I think you’re gonna like it”
I have so many thoughts and feelings from this episode, but I had to share this one immediately, because you can’t tell me this isn’t DEAN WINCHESTER TRYING TO IMPRESS HIS ANGEL. 😍
It wasn’t exactly Michael asking Cas ‘’What do you want?’’ but it wasn’t far off it
And in true Cas fashion, he evaded the question by pulling the old ‘’Let me answer your question with another question thing
(they really were having a diva off in this scene)
Michael had no compunctions with revealing his motivations, and I’m really glad Cas was the one he got to have this conversation with. I was a little worried they were going to leave the “God” of it all in the subtext, but they didn’t. Apocalypse world is what happened after the prize fight went off without a hitch, played out exactly how it should and yet still nothing happened. The dutiful son carried out his father’s wishes as instructed and it still wasn’t enough. And instead of accepting that and moving on, Michael couldn’t let go.
This has all been for Him, to get His attention and to find Him. Lucifer, Metatron, Raphael, they all went to extremes to try to get God’s attention. So did Cas in fact. When he became God, or what he thought was God, he came face to face with Death who criticised him for his stupidity. Cas’ response?
‘’Why? Because I dared open a door that he shut? Where is he? I did a service, taking his place.’’
Cas and Metatron tried to become God, Cas because he didn’t return and Metatron so that he wouldreturn. Raphael and AU Michael did what he asked, tried to abide by his plan, so that he would return. And Lucifer…he realised that God wasn’t going to return. That he lied and would do anything to get what he wanted, only to leave and ditch them the second he could.
Chuck has a lot to answer for and I doubt he has any intention in answering those questions. Michael’s determination to find God is interesting, as it’s the first time any of the angels have mentioned what they want to do when they find him. With the rest of them it was always, “we’ll find God and he’ll fix everything”, it was the “where is he?” that was as far as their plans would go. Lucifer wanted to ‘’smash Daddy’s already broken toys’’ similar to how AU Michael wanted to “burn every one of his little worlds”
But that’s not where it ends for angel who’s looking for God this time. He’s got a different endgame in mind:
‘‘Even God can die’‘.
It’s also interesting that they textually brought up the God as a terrible father parallel, just before the return of John Winchester, and again interesting that Cas was the one to hear Michael’s tirade about how terrible their father was. It’s just yet another reminder about how closely Cas and Dean’s arcs and experiences parallel each other’s and how they often understand each other on such a deep level. It’s just…interesting.