“Father, Son and the Holy Ghost” - On Visions and Framing in 11x04 “Baby”
Two men - father and son - behind the steering wheel of a 67 Impala. Not just any car, but pretty much “the most important object in the entire universe”. The small toy soldier crammed in the ashtray, the legos in the vents, the initials “D.W.” and “S.W.” carved into the hat rack - as Chuck Shurley, creator of the Winchester Gospel, once wrote, “all these little blemishes are what make her beautiful”, make this car truly the Winchesters’ and much more than that: a home when they truly didn’t have anything else but the open road and the stars as their guide. He did not just write that though, but also mentioned that the “devil doesn’t know or care about what car the boys drive”. And as we know this was his undoing. Five season later we start of into an episode with exactly these little blemishes, because the devil’s in the details. And in this case maybe quite literally.
Not only do these little things provide a cue for the audience to remember what exactly was so important about these objects and the car itself, they also subtly introduce a character back into the narrative without even needing to mention his name (though it was done in the episodes prior): Lucifer.
This season has introduced the two main characters receiving visions as a structuring element and with that not only picks up the thread about perception, but also poses the question whether these visions are relating to the past, the present or the future. Dean’s talk with the woman in the eye of the storm more and more shapes up to have been a vision of the future. Possibly of the end of the season with Dean heading into battle against the Darkness, reuniting with it and ending up locking himself away with it in the Empty - much like Dorothy didn’t find any other way to overpower the wicked witch than to seal her soul with the soul of the witch away, for eternity. Since Dean and the Darkness are bound, much like Charlie and Dark!Charlie, it’s only logical to assume that whatever harms the Darkness will also affect Dean, which is why they “help one another”. Sam’s visions too, seem to be visions of the future rather than flashbacks to the past and his time in the cage and with that possibly indicative how the season may end for him.
In terms of framing, this episode certainly set up or rather emphasized a couple of possibilities in the way it showed Sam and Dean. Especially in the scene leading up to and leading out of Sam’s dream.