Sorry to spring theories on you so hot on the heels of the eps (I keep doing that, haha) but here we go, 2x18. Is it just me or did we see the return of performance-Dean? I had a theory. We see he's worried about Cas. Sam reminds him that Cas leaves often. That's not what Dean wants to hear - so soon after giving Cas a home. Then the sheriff talks about how people "skip town" and next we know Dean is chatting up the waitress and talking about burgers. Is Dean afraid Cas has abandoned him again?
Hey, firstly don’t apologise for that! I should be apologising for not being around much nowadays and being rather flippant with my ask answering!
Your theory is pretty much the one on my mind when I watched the episode and I have seen a few posts going around mentioning the same thing as well. This episode started with Dean in classic worry mode over Cas’s absence and complete lack of communication. We are told that he is keeping an eye out for any signs of him including him turning up dead. The fact that we get this bit of information is how this exchange differs from previous Cas mentions. Dean is actively looking for him and worrying enough to check police reports and stuff for a body. Dean is so past “Cas will be fine, he always is” even though Sam is still repeating that old mantra.
Once again we have this pattern of Dean being worried about Cas and Sam reassuring him as best he can. Once again we are reminded that the brothers have very different emotional ties to Cas. But when Dean gets to the point where he struggles to cope with his feelings what does he do? What he always does. Buries the emotion down deep, puts on his mask and throws himself into meaningless decadence.
The fact that the Sheriff just brushed off the disappearances as people getting bored and skipping town was another clue along with the “lost dog” poster about just how much of a gap Cas is making in Dean’s life. I think you have made a good point in highlighting it because the Sheriffs attitude mirrors Sam’s at the start of the ep about Cas. Of course all this makes me worry that just like the two victims of the monster of the week, Cas is so not fine. He is in trouble, and next episode will probably be emotional. Dean clearly didn’t believe Sam’s line about Cas, and he doesn’t believe the sheriff either. Could it have been another reason to encourage him to hit on the waitress? Possibly. Its just more and more elements making him think about Cas, worry, and then continue the cycle of burying his emotions and putting on his performance.
Honestly my favourite moment for its symbolism to the whole thing was the egg white omelette. I know that we get teased for our food meta but this one stood out like a neon light. Dean talks about wanting pancakes, but what he gets is a tasteless egg white omelette stolen from Sam. Does he enjoy it? Nope. Does it satisfy him? Nope. Does he have it anyway? Yeah. Why? Because he needed sustenance even if it was not enjoyable. Just like how he needed some mindless gratification even if it meant nothing to him. Its not like the episode ended with him riding off into the sunset with the waitress on his lap now is it? He ditched her like he ditches every other one night stand. Because it is all just part of his performance.
Don’t even get me started on how the waitress was basically a spitting image of Young Mary… We’ve been down this road before far too many times. What Dean needs and what he acts like he needs are two very different things.