okay but considering this. the scooby gang having a mario kart tournament. who'd win?
i love this ask i’m going to go into detail with this ask
-buffyhas no mario kart skills whatsoever and it frustrates her because she was expecting to be really good, but she can’t figure out how to steer for the first two hours especially since everyone else is doing better than her and it’s hard to pay attention to the game when that’s going down.
-when she Finally gets a handle on it, she’s bumped off the road by xander. xander has literally never won any mario kart game because he’s too busy trying to sabotage everyone else. sort of an “i know i can’t do this so i’m taking you all down with me” kind of strategy
-willow is pretty good!! usually if it’s just the three of them she wins, because buffy and xander are getting fiercely competitive and trying to bump each other off of the road and meanwhile she pulls neatly into first place
-they drag giles into it and they’re all expecting him to be really bad, but he gets the hang of it unnervingly quickly and suddenly he’s destroyed all of them and won first place five times in a row. he still doesn’t get what’s going on. it’s just a fun little driving game why are buffy and xander so upset
-cordelia likes to pretend she’s too cool for video games but she’s really, really not and usually she and xander get caught up in trying to sabotage each other. these are the few games that buffy actually wins
-oz just watches and provides taciturn commentary
-jenny is very strategic. she doesn’t say a word about how far ahead she is and she lets the kids distract themselves while she pulls ahead of them. really it’s a competition between her and willow
-faith plays for fun and actually isn’t very competitive about it. she really enjoys messing with buffy and xander, and sometimes giles. she’s the only one who ever ran him off the course and he was so taken aback that he had to stop playing for a while
-tara only really wants to play with willow because she knows how competitive the scoobies get, so usually she’s the one making snacks and giggling when buffy and xander yell at each other
-oh my god. anya. anya fucking dominates mario kart. they had to stop her from playing with all of them because she’s so good and she’s so competitive. she fights dirty. one time she tried to tickle xander while still steering her own car so she could distract him. anya doesn’t play to “have fun,” anya plays to Win
After I stumbled across this post on my dash with gifs of the references to Dean’s insomnia this season, I can’t stop thinking about how important these little hints might be to his larger problem.
Now Dean has never slept much. There are several quotes throughout the series that highlight this lack of healthy sleep, “Damn it, Cas. I need my four hours." In my opinion though, the following conversation in Sam Interrupted (which has been edited to contain only the parts relevant to Dean) gives us one of the best ideas of what his sleeping pattern looks like.
Dr. Cartwright: "How many hours a night do you sleep?”
Dean: “Three or four, every couple of nights.”
Dr. Cartwright: “How many drinks do you have a week?”
Dean: “Well, I gotta sleep sometime. So, uh, what’s seven days times–somewhere in the mid fifties.”
A couple of times throughout the series we have seen Dean exhibit similar patterns of behavior, particularly when he is afraid or depressed (Season 7 for example). However, he has usually been able to at least drink himself unconscious in the past. In Mother’s Little Helper though, we saw him drink an absurd amount of liquor and he didn’t seem to be affected intoxicated by it at any point. Despite having lowered his alcohol intake in the past season and a half, all the alcohol doesn’t seem to be able to drown out the pain and (more to the point for the purpose of this meta) doesn’t seem to be able to help him sleep.
There are a couple of possible reasons for this. The first is that his alcohol tolerance has made it almost impossible for alcohol to affect his system anymore, as Sam asks in Party On, Garth, “I mean, can you even get drunk anymore? It’s kind of like drinking a vitamin for you, right?" Since we’ve seen indications of more healthy sleeping patterns in Dean throughout season 8, particularly since they found the bunker, I find this to be a rather unlikely option.*
On the other hand, perhaps the Mark of Cain is giving him a higher than normal alcohol tolerance, which is causing him to not be able to feel its effects. Or if he does, they are barely felt because they are being drowned out by the Mark. Either way, it is obvious that he is trying, unsuccessfully, to drown out his new addiction to the Mark of Cain with the use of his old one.
I would like to propose a third speculation which would explain both the higher alcohol tolerance and the lack of sleep. What if Dean is losing his soul?
We’ve been seeing callbacks to the importance of souls throughout the season, which could be a narrative setup for this to happen later in the season. (I mean, we literally just an entire episode devoted to Sam discovering a town where people were losing their souls, with cuts to Dean as he is beginning to slide down a path of moral ambiguity.) So maybe the Mark of Cain is draining him, not just of his humanity, but is also literally draining away his soul. As we found out in Season 6, Soulless Sam never slept - he said he didn’t have to, but I suspect that he wouldn’t have been able to even if he tried. Literally the only time that we have seen Dean sleeping since he got the Mark of Cain (or even had any indication that he slept) was in The Purge when he was roofied…and that’s definitely not the same as falling asleep.
Since the only person without a soul that we’ve had any real time to study was Sam, I am going to compare some attributes of Soulless Sam from Season 6 to Dean since he acquired the Mark of Cain:
Allowing someone innocent to be hurt for the sake of information: Dean first becomes suspicious of Sam in The Third Man when he raises no objection to Cas reading Aaron’s soul even though it will be a very painful process for the kid. Similarly, even though he was stopped from doing so, in Sharp Teeth Dean was ready to inject an unconscious Garth with adrenaline (which could have been very harmful to his system depending on what drugs the doctors had him on).
Lack of empathy: Soulless Sam would kill without any hesitation or regret, and we are beginning to see Dean follow a similar pattern of behavior. In #THINMAN, Dean stabs Roger coldly and without remorse - even though in the past he has usually allowed humans that he fought against to face punishment from other humans, usually law enforcement.
His brother providing a conscience for him: Soulless Sam could not distinguish between right and wrong, so he allowed Dean to be a moral compass for him. Similarly Sam is finding it necessary to remind Dean this season of right and wrong. In The Purge, Sam had to remind Dean that not all monsters are not evil and need to be killed.
Returning to previous patterns of behavior for lack of something better to do: Soulless Sam returned from the pit without the desires that made him who he was before, so he fell back into hunting monsters because it was what he had done his entire life and he was good at it. Similarly, Dean his fallen into several of his old patterns of behavior after pushing himself away from those he cares about. First he tries to start hunting with Sam again, then he allows himself to become obsessively focused on finding and killing one Supernatural being (Does this remind anyone else of Dick Roman?), and of course there are also the behavioral and psychological issues of drinking, depression, and suicidal tendencies that are starting to emerge again.
Allowing the other to face danger alone, even when called for help: Soulless Sam allowed Dean to get bitten by a vampire, merely because he was curious to see if the cure would work and because he simply doesn’t care if his brother get hurt in the process. Dean has rather the opposite problem, as he is currently finding it too painful to work with Sam (as well as dealing with his addiction to the First Blade and wanting to find Abaddon as soon as possible so that he can get his hands on it again). So even when Sam calls him for help in Mother’s Little Helper, he lies and says he is busy, which leads me to my next point…
Lying for convenience: Soulless Sam lied so many times to Dean’s face before Dean eventually found out the truth (just watch You Can’t Handle The Truth for an abundance of examples), although Sam began lying to Dean the moment he showed up. Dean has lied to Sam several times this season, although the best example of this would be Mother’s Little Helper because he knows that Sam won’t approve of his drinking (although I doubt that there is any way that Sam doesn’t know) and also about how the Mark of Cain is affecting him. Dean knows that he is slipping, but he doesn’t want Sam to find out if he can prevent it.
Following the advice of someone who they know is advising them to do the wrong thing: When faced with something that they don’t want to experience (for Sam it was getting his soul back and for Dean it is being alone), both allowed themselves to be guided by a being whose advice they knew would lead them down a wrong path. In the same way that Sam followed Balthazar’s advice and tried to kill Bobby so that his soul wouldn’t be able to enter his body again, Dean has been following Crowley’s advice ever since he separated from Sam at the end of Road Trip - getting the Mark, seeking out Abaddon, and very soon I think that will escalate into giving in to the Blade’s call to kill and trying (possibly succeeding) to kill a member of his family.
The main difference is that unlike Sam, Dean isn’t soulless yet. As dustydreamsanddirtyscars beautifully pointed out to me, "his soul isn’t gone at this point, but rather fading away with each kill." I theorized here that when Dean picked up the Blade, it pushed out of his head all the doubts and fears that constantly plague him (and are much stronger without his support system are him), leaving only a single-minded purpose to kill. However, now that he is without it, those feelings have come back stronger than ever. The craving for the Blade is growing every day as the effects of the Mark exacerbate the horrible feelings that came from his fallout with Sam after the incident with Gadreel.
As a last point, even though one of the most memorable things about Soulless Sam is when he fought against getting back his soul and tried to kill Bobby, I think it is very important to note the following statement that he made in All Dogs Go To Heaven:
"I don’t know if how I am is better or worse. It’s different. You get the job done, and nothing really hurts. That’s not the worst thing. But I’ve been thinking. And it was… it was kinda harder. But there are also things about it I remember that I… Let’s just say I think I should probably go back to being him.”
If Dean is in the process of losing his soul, I think it will be essential for him to want to get it back before that can actually happen and he will be able to overcome the effects that have been brought on by his choice to take on the Mark of Cain.