2.03 - The wheel in the sky keeps on turning…
I think we’ve already been pointing back to this episode A LOT during s12, what with the parallels between Gordon and the attitude of the BMoL to monsters of all sorts (and vampires in particular, since that was their first monster slated for genocide).
Humans become the true monster here again, but instead of just being monstrous toward other humans, this is the first episode that deals with a HUNTER specifically being worse than the things he hunts.
(since I’ve taken to referring to the music cues, I’m enjoying the Baby Restored Montage to Back in Black, but this really is the first time we’ve seen Dean really happy in a while. He loves his baby:
DEAN: Whoo! Listen to her purr! Have you ever heard anything so sweet?
SAM: You know, if you two wanna get a room, just let me know, Dean.
DEAN: Oh, don’t listen to him, baby. He doesn’t understand us.
SAM (laughs) You’re in a good mood.
DEAN: Why shouldn’t I be?
SAM: No reason.
DEAN: Got my car, got a case, things are looking up.
SAM: Wow. Give you a couple of severed heads and a pile of dead cows and you’re Mister Sunshine.
DEAN (laughs) How far to Red Lodge?
SAM: Uh, about another three hundred miles.
DEAN: Good. (he floors it)
That’s all it takes to make Dean happy. Which is relevant to several moments in 12.11, 12.14, 12.15…
Gordon’s stalking Sam and Dean, but they eventually get the drop on him first… which happens for a lot of the rest of the episode.
Gordon is one of those hunters who revels in the job. Dean does, to an extent. He does enjoy it, but he doesn’t LIVE for it, he doesn’t have this indiscriminate need to kill out of this hollow sort of vengeance like Gordon does here:
DEAN: Yeah. Yeah, you know. He was just one of those guys. Took some terrible beatings, just kept coming. So you’re always thinking to yourself, he’s indestructible. He’ll always be around, nothing can kill my dad. Then just like that (snaps) he’s gone. I can’t talk about this to Sammy. You know, I gotta keep my game face on. (clears throat) But, uh, the truth is I’m not handling it very well. Feel like I have this -
GORDON: Hole inside you? And it just gets bigger and bigger and darker and darker? Good. You can use it. Keeps you hungry. Trust me. There’s plenty out there needs killing, and this’ll help you do it. Dean, it’s not a crime to need your job.
No, it’s not a crime to need your job, it’s a crime to take it to that extent where it’s ALL you need. Because what Gordon hungered for there was nothing more than the next kill.
GORDON: It’s all black and white. There’s no maybe. You find the bad thing, kill it. See, most people spend their lives in shades of gray. Is this right? Is that wrong? Not us.
Lenore the vampire takes Sam and gives him the truth, about the choices they made to not feed on humans. She told Sam that she and her vampires have a right to live, because they’re not hurting anybody, and to prove it she lets him go (even after Dean and Gordon killed their friend and then celebrated his death).
Dean doesn’t want to believe at first. I think I’ve quoted this exchange in meta on a recent episode (probably 12.14..)
DEAN: What part of ‘vampires’ don’t you understand, Sam? If it’s supernatural, we kill it, end of story. That’s our job.
SAM: No, Dean, that is not our job. Our job is hunting evil. And if these things aren’t killing people, they’re not evil!
DEAN: Of course they’re killing people, that’s what they do. They’re all the same, Sam. They’re not human, okay? We have to exterminate every last one of them.
SAM: No, Dean, I don’t think so, all right? Not this time.
And then when Gordon runs out to kill the vampires by himself (because hey, he lives to make that kill), he steals the keys to the Impala and poor Dean has to hotwire his own car…
Dean’s already beginning to change his mind about Gordon just from this, but the way he was torturing Lenore when Sam and Dean found him pretty much seals the deal for Dean. Gordon didn’t just want to make the kill, he wanted to drag it out, make the vampire suffer. And he was so cavalier about it.
DEAN: That vampire that killed your sister deserved to die, but this one…
GORDON: (laughing) Killed my sister? That filthy fang didn’t kill my sister. It turned her. It made her one of them. So I hunted her down, and I killed her myself.
DEAN: You did what?
GORDON: It wasn’t my sister anymore, it wasn’t human. I didn’t blink. And neither would you.
SAM: So you knew all along, then? You knew about the vampires, you knew they weren’t killing anyone. You knew about the cattle. And you just didn’t care.
GORDON: Care about what? A nest of vampires suddenly acting nice? Taking a little time out from sucking innocent people? And we’re supposed to buy that? Trust me. Doesn’t change what they are.
This was a huge moment for Dean. The world isn’t just black and white. He’s not just a killer. He’s not Gordon, and now in s12, he’s not Ketch. Sam scene, different year.
GORDON: What are you doing, man? You doing this for a fang? Come on, Dean, we’re on the same side here.
DEAN: I don’t think so, you sadistic bastard.
And that’s the difference between them.
DEAN: Think about all the hunts we went on, Sammy, our whole lives.
DEAN: What if we killed things that didn’t deserve killing? You know? I mean, the way Dad raised us…
SAM: Dean, after what happened to Mom, Dad did the best he could.
DEAN: I know he did. But the man wasn’t perfect. And the way he raised us, to hate those things; and man, I hate 'em. I do. When I killed that vampire at the mill I didn’t even think about it; hell, I even enjoyed it.
SAM: You didn’t kill Lenore.
DEAN: No, but every instinct told me to. I was gonna kill her. I was gonna kill 'em all.
SAM: Yeah, Dean, but you didn’t. And that’s what matters.
So Dean finally acknowledges that he was raised and trained to have that instinct to kill monsters on sight (shoot first, ask questions later), but this is a huge turning point for Dean. Not only that, but with the ongoing Special Children storyline with Sam in s2, Dean’s instincts are even further tested while he gets some new lessons in tolerance of the supernatural. He really doesn’t want to have to kill Sam…
But this is a turning point for Dean, where hunting becomes about something more than killing the monster, but about killing the right monster, the one that deserves killing.
By the end of s8, he’s even giving Cas the exact opposite advice of shoot first, ask questions later:
Dean: Whoa - talk first, stab later.
After Benny, after Kate the Werewolf, after Garth… well… he’s really not that killer anymore. And he hasn’t been for a long, long time.