Why the SPN mixtape scene from 12x19 is screenwriting gold, and should be taught to the next generations of screenwriters everywhere - analysis

20 seconds. Two lines of dialogue, three gestures, a couple more camera angles. Episode 19, season 12 of a genre TV show “Supernatural”. A single strike of screenwriting and cinematic genius. The mixtape scene.

Robert Berens and Meredith Glynn, I bow before you.

This scene should be used as an example for future screenwriters how you can put maximum of meaning into minimal time and dialogue. Should be analyzed and taught at universities everywhere, how to achieve the most using the least. How to write for TV, where you only have less than an hour to built something spectacular.

WOW.

Let’s just peel off all the layers of these 20 seconds of footage and these 13 words. 13 WORDS.

(Cas knocks, Dean doesn’t say anything. Cas opens the door, apologizes for disturbing Dean in his room, and then takes a cassette tape out of his left inside coat pocket, and puts it on the desk, while tapping the label on it that says “Deans (sic!) top 13 Zepp traxx”.)

Cas: Um, I just wanted to return this.

Dean: It’s a gift. You keep those.

13 tracks. 13 words. The future. So number thirteen is important for the future. I mean, are you trying to tell us something here, writers?

(Dean takes the tape, oustreches his arm, and gives it back to Cas. We see Cas’ hand grabbing the tape, and taking it back.)

That tiny scene is ENORMOUS from the perspective of the narrative and the characterization. Let’s see what we can get out of it. (Prepare yourself: it’s gonna be long. Damn, how much meta can you write based on 20 seconds of television and two lines of dialogue?) (Hint: A lot.)

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Has anyone brought up differences in the Spanish translation between Cas and Jack’s “I love you, I love all of you”??

*screencaps from netflix so that’s why there is no image

Cas:

Jack:

Cuz I know they have different intensities and stuff

I don’t write meta so meta writers (if this hasn’t been brought up before), have some new material

Can we talk about...

… the fact that everyone has been saying how toxic the co-dependency is and how it has to stop, and then when Dean keeps to the plan/mission after Cas tells him they can’t save Sam, everyone is like “WTF!!!! DEAN WOULD NEVER DO THAT!!!” “That’s not the real Cas! Cas would never say that!”

Okay, yes, I hear you. I myself was taken aback by Cas’ reaction at first. I found it really striking that Cas and Dean just accepted that Sam died and was dragged off. But Bobo is fucking smart. That’s the point. That whole situation was poignant. Hell, Dean was more annihilated when he watched Cas die. So, in my opinion, what we were told from the text/subtext of that storyline is this: 

As Dean watched Sam get attacked, exsanguinate, and get dragged off into the tunnel, he freaked out wanting to save his brother. But one look from Cas, and having him tell Dean that they can’t save him/have to leave him resonates with him enough to continue on. Yes, Dean is hurting because of it- we see him cry and get angry. But he isn’t destroyed. If this were any other season, Dean would have been barreling into the tunnel, sacrificing himself to save Sam. But after losing Cas and getting him back, and then losing his mother and Jack, Dean has realized there is more than just him and Sam. And I personally really think that a lot of that shift happened because Cas means so much to Dean, and Dean has fragmented his dependency with Sam and placed it onto Cas. Dean finds strength and will to carry on in Cas. 

Destiel, Bi!Dean and preparing the audience for a “shocker”.

I just did a re-watch of 12x10 and it really got me thinking again about Benjamin and Cas’s talk in the car with the boys about Benjamin and his female vessel.

At the time the episode aired, I think I was so excited about the prospect of Cas being in a female vessel, and how this could potentially shift a heteronormative audiences perception of Dean and Cas that I didn’t realise just what else they were trying to do.

This is about reassurance.

This is the conversation that was had in the car:

CAS: Benjamin is always very careful. Long ago, he found a powerfully devout vessel in Madrid, and her faith, it… she gave him everything – her trust and her body.

DEAN: Wait. So Benjamin’s a woman?

CAS: Benjamin is an angel. His vessel is a woman. But it – it’s – it’s more than that. She’s not just his vessel.

Just this small exchange is important as exposition for the audience. It is about preparing the audience for what is coming up. The idea that Cas was also once ‘a woman’. Which, okay, no he wasn’t a woman, he just had a female vessel, but imagine how that would have gone down had this exchange not taken place? Imagine how a general audience would have reacted to Cas and his female vessel had Benjamin just been another angel in a male vessel?

Probably a lot like the way Dean acted here, with confusion.

By giving us the Benjamin character and this particular scene as well, the writer has successfully prepared the audience for Cas in his female vessel. Preventing raised eyebrows and confusion because the audience will remember this conversation and apply it to Cas.

“Castiel is an angel, his vessel WAS a woman. His vessel is now a man, Cas is still a dude and it’s not weird. Cool beans.”

(when I think of a general audience watching SPN lets just say that I certainly don’t think of the fandom or tumblr. I think of my brother and that is something I won’t get into here. Heteronormative doesn’t even begin to cover it.)

The fact is, making one of your three main lead male characters a woman for an episode is a weird thing to do, the kind of thing that would probably make some audience members uncomfortable. So adding in this exposition, this reassurance, removes that level of discomfort, it gets them used to the idea first, like a buffer.

See for a show like SPN, whilst its always been a bit weird with its story lines, it’s never been all that progressive. As much as we would all like to wish that all SPN viewers were like us – liberal forward thinking people who are willing and eager for TV to break a few taboos – the chances are that is very much not the case. Its an old show, it has an established audience (apparently a bipartisan audience amazingly) and therefore breaking boundaries the way more modern shows have (such as American Gods, How to Get Away with Murder and Orange is the New Black) just isn’t really in the cards. Those shows established the taboo stories, the queer main characters, the representation, from the start. They built their audience on those foundations. SPN can’t do that without isolating part of its audience – unless it thinks very carefully as to how it may present such notions.

I hope I am explaining this in a way that makes sense. See this is of course about Bi!Dean and Destiel (as if anything on my blog WASN’T about those topics). Because here’s the thing. On any other, newer show, for Dean to come out as bisexual, for two male lead characters to enter into a homosexual relationship, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Those shows could build their audience around those concepts, because they would be ingrained into the show from the start.

For Supernatural, that sadly isn’t the case. SPN didn’t clearly establish Dean as Bisexual early on, and Destiel isn’t canon, it has always been the subject to interpretation with just enough ‘no homo’ so that anyone who chooses not to see it doesn’t have to (again, excluding 12x19 but we’ll get there)

One of the biggest hurdles to getting bi!dean and canon destiel, is for the SPN creators to overcome this fear that half their audience would reject them if they actually went there. It would be seen as coming ‘out of the blue’ and all those heteronormative people would raise their eyebrows and moan and be utterly confused by it.

That’s why Supernatural needs the buffers. It needs the gradual exposition, the subtle desensitisation of a general audience to anything even mildly “progressive”. If Supernatural wasn’t putting these buffers in place already, I would think we would have a problem. I would be much more apprehensive at even the idea that destiel could be a thing that is actually happening.

What is so fantastic, is that just like in 12x10 with the fem!Cas buffer that was Benjamin, we have already been getting buffers all throughout the last few seasons.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • Jesse x Cesar – 11x19 – These guys are my absolute favourite, they were created specifically to show the audience that you can be a gay man and also a macho man. That gay men aren’t stereotypes, that hunters can be gay and settle down and especially that gay romance doesn’t change the theme of the story. The big take away from this episode is that it shows the general audience that men like Dean Winchester can be gay/bisexual.
  • Hannah – 10x17 – This was a real eye opener for any Cas x Hannah shippers. Because Cas didn’t treat Hannah any different, and he had exactly the same warmth and affection for Hannah in her male vessel that he did in her female vessel. Basically this was a nice punch in the face for any homophobes watching. SPN doesn’t care about your heteronormative ships. You wanna ship Hannah x Cas? Fine! But Hannah’s in a dudes body now and guess what? Cas doesn’t care! How do you feel about THAT?
  • God is Bisexual – 11x20 – This was just a nice big fuck you to homophobes everywhere. Don’t like queer characters? This is NOT the show for you! Because in our world even GOD is queer! Yay for LGBT representation! It works as a buffer because once again it is sending a message to the general audience that this is the kind of thing you can expect on our show. We are changed now.
  • Dean rides Larry – 12x11 – Okay so maybe it’s not an obvious buffer, but it is kind of a subliminal message so I’m counting it. Dean riding that damn bull was the most sexual scene we have had on this show in seasons (and no that god awful thing that happened in 12x02 doesn’t count – nor does the same god awful thing from 12x08). The jokes alone, the sexual innuendos. This entire episode is loaded with subliminal messages basically screaming at the general audience to maybe just consider the fact that Dean likes guys.
  • 12x06/12x20 – Max Banes – like Jesse and Cesar Max works as a buffer because he is another way to get the general audience used to the idea that characters that are similar to Dean Winchester can be queer and it’s no big deal. Max is badass, funny, smart and charming and also 100% canonically queer (whether gay or bi we know textually that he is totally into dudes). Sam and Dean don’t bat an eyelid at his sexuality, so neither should the audience. It is just one part of his character and certainly not what his story is all about. Max is proof that you can have a queer character who is a badass and a hunter whose story is basically nothing to do with their sexuality. Their sexuality just happens to be a part of who they are.
  • And finally – Destiel – season 12 – I’m making this its own buffer because honestly? There is no way to view Dean and Cas’s relationship as non-romantic at this point. I think that the writers have slowly been turning up the dial on Destiel probably since 11x18. 12x19 really drummed it in for us though. The angel/human love themes of 12x10, the textual “I love you” in 12x12, the MIXTAPE and everything else about 12x19. This is all preparation. It is indeed a build up to a reveal. Destiel is it’s own buffer and even if people do still accuse it of ‘coming out of nowhere’ once it goes canon, all the writers have to do is gesture at season 12 and the fucking mixtape scene and say to those people “in what universe does the gifting of a mixtape between people who are not explicitly related NOT have romantic connotations?” Only a fool would argue with that if they had any knowledge of pop culture history. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts on that. A show with a long established audience about to make a move that could potentially appear (but not really) out of left field would need to build up that move through a series of well thought out buffers, symbols, themes and subliminal messages before actually making it.

Like how Benjamin was the writers way of normalising Cas’s female vessel, the past two seasons have been a journey to normalise bi!dean and destiel in preparation for making both of these things explicitly canon. Yes we still have a way to go - it still needs to be stated explicitly in the text that Dean is into guys, in love with Cas bla bla bla, but we are getting there.

In summary. Destiel is endgame. Dean is bisexual. The general audience better learn to throw their heteronormative goggles in the bin because this is the state of this show right now, and it is good. 

8

Lucifer vs. Rowena: A Study in Character Development

Also known as, actions speak louder than words. Lucifer continually claims to have changed, but no one else perceives it that way because his actions haven’t changed at all. He’s still just as self-serving as he’s always been, and everyone can see it but him.

Rowena, however, doesn’t claim to have changed - quite the opposite, in fact. She calls herself “flawed, petty, and evil” - but in this case, her peers disagree. Her actions show that she’s changed, that she’s grown as a person.

Lucifer and Rowena both had the opportunity to use Sam in a ploy to get their son back, but only one went through with it. So who is the “flawed, petty, evil creature” and who has truly changed?

Mary Knows

So, I think Mary knows not just that Cas loves Dean but that Cas is in love with Dean. My evidence.

She saw The Hug and she had…suspicions. She saw the way Castiel didn’t fit and spent time with him. Then while the boys were gone she saw how it broke Castiel…Castiel who was counting the fucking DAYS since he’d lost Dean. She saw the speech to Billie, she saw the look that we all saw. She takes some time, stays in touch with everyone…then this happens.

When Dean starts pushing Cas at the waitress, Mary tries to stop him. She probably isn’t used to Dean being a performative lil bean or his regular BS. She just sees her sons telling the guy who’s in love with him to flirt with someone else and she wants him to stop.

She’s tender with Cas, understanding.

She sees how Dean reacts when Cas is hurt, there’s so much guilt in her; not just because she put her boys in danger but she knows what this will do to Dean.

When Cas says “The things we’ve shared.” She gives a look, like…”are you hearing this? Is there more to you two that I don’t know?????”

Mary knows, and you know how I was talking about Cas confessing romantic love more explicitly to a third party…If it happens I know who I want it to be.

The Fake Blade Theory

I’ve been 90% sure the blade that ‘killed’ Gabriel was a fake since it first aired and have been talking about it for years, but let’s refresh.  After Changing Channels

Gabriel switches to team Winchester while still wanting to be in the witness protection program.  His entire goal in Hammer of the Gods is to give the Winchesters the plan (with the rings)

Everything else is smoke and mirrors.  He carries a fake archangel blade.  Which Kali stabs him with and he ‘dies’ with a complete lightshow.  Then later admits to Dean the blade was a fake, he doesn’t carry his real archangel blade ‘That thing can kill me!’

So then he ends up confronting Lucifer because Dean goes back in to the hotel instead of bailing.  He has to save Sam and Dean and give them the plan.  That’s the whole goal.  So bucko, confronts Lucifer who he doesn’t want dead.  With fake blade in hand.  Pulls a trick which was a double bluff (Lucifer was expecting a trick, so Gabriel gave him an obvious one)

See?   That’s Gabe’s blade.  Lucifer didn’t bring one

Lucifer by reflex grabs Gabriel and uses Gabriel’s own fake ass blade to stab him.  Enter fake light show, Gabe gets to go back into hiding

Lucifer was never armed.  Gabriel’s trick was never the projection.   He maneuvered the situation so that Team Free Will would get the plan.   Lucifer would stab him with a fake blade and he’d go pretend to be dead

5

13x09 “The Bad Place”
Some Kind of Warding Warning….

I really really loved this scene, because for the first time in a long time angels actually to me felt exciting and otherworldly again and not just (like demons as well so often recent seasons) like some stupid schmucks. This pounding spell to me truly called back to the early seasons when we had angels like Uriel or Anna, angels that were truly warriors. And the way this moment was executed and directed to me was just very very well done. On top of all that I just adored the “not so silent” storytelling and foreshadowing through the warding that directly delivers a warning. And the way they drew attention to that over and over and over again, I think the audience and even the casual viewer was meant to take the hint about: DANGEROUS GOODS that may call the “bad place” their home…

I just need to talk about Dean saying, “This is a tough one.”

This is a tough one because Gavin chose true love over his family.

This is a tough one because Gavin chose death over life.

This is a tough one because Dean still has Cas’ dying words echoing in his mind.

This is a tough one because Dean had time, while he was watching Cas die, to consider what he would do, what his life would be like, without Cas.

This is a tough one because there are so many unknowns and no guarantees in life or in death.

This is a tough one because love - true love - is always, always worth a walk through the flames. 

This is a tough one because watching Gavin go, watching Cas die - the choice wouldn’t have been easy, but Dean would have done the same damn thing.


Yeah, it’s a fucking tough one.

Scooby Doo and Castiel

This is my biggest take away from the Scoobynatural episode:

Cas is kind of like a talking dog” says Dean.

I’d take a bullet for that dog” says Dean a bit later.

These two lines from Dean are so important that I’ve been jumping up and down since I heard him say them. 

Through Dean, Cas has textually been compared to Scooby Doo. This aint no subtextual mirror. This has been spelt out in the text by the main character. Now, I reckon that quite a few of my fellow sometimes bitter Cas girls probably took insult at that first line - how dare Dean reduce Cas to a talking dog! It does initially read as almost an insult. I see that, I hear you, and I totally understand that knee jerk reaction because it was also mine. BUT…

That second line? Along with a whole bunch of other stuff Dean said and did in this episode that clearly displayed just how much he adores Scooby? That is the biggest tell here.

There are TWO important points to take away from this Cas/Scooby comparison. One is an in-show reading/analysis revolving around Dean. The other is an out-of-show analysis about the writers and how they view Castiel. Both are extremely important to consider and get excited about. The reason why?

Because Scooby Doo is the fucking lead of the Scooby Doo show. 

It’s not the Fred Gang, or the Daphne Gang. It’s the “Scooby Gang”. On the show called Scooby Doo. This show revolved around Scooby. Scooby is the main character and without Scooby, there would be no Scooby Doo show. Are you starting to see my point here? :P

By comparing Cas to Scooby Doo, and to have Dean textually say that Cas is like Scooby Doo, is putting Cas front and center in this show within a show. 

The In-Show Reading

So focusing on the in-show reading for a bit, why is this so significant? Because it is all about Dean. Dean is the one who put Cas in that lead role. Dean lovingly dubbed Cas as their talking dog, and whilst at first I grumbled a bit at how I thought it was kinda mean to reduce Cas to a talking dog, it is then reiterated constantly throughout the episode just how much Dean looks up to, and adores Scooby Doo. He’d take a bullet for him after all. Dean sees Cas as the most important character in their own Scooby Gang. For Dean, making Cas the talking dog is actually a huge compliment, because he’s not just any talking dog, he’s their Scooby Doo, and I guarantee that Dean would agree with me when I say that the show just wouldn’t work without Scooby Doo. (all you gotta do is watch the first 5 episodes of season 13 to see how true that is for poor Dean.) 

It’s what ties those two lines together. “Cas is kind of like a talking dog” and “I’d take a bullet for that dog” because the lines blur here. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s potentially foreshadowing for what may be coming by season end. Dean can barely cope without Cas, let along watch him die again… and given all the rumours we’ve got I wouldn’t be surprised if Cas being in danger is what prompts Dean to make a very rash choice in the coming episodes… It would make sense narratively given the way the season started, and it all needs to be tied back together by season end (and address the elephant in the room.)

It’s interesting how Dean views each of the Scooby characters in the episode because whilst he lusts after Daphne to an extremely comic and overdone extent - to the point that his total inability to seduce her becomes the primary joke of the episode (and probably a very interesting thing to meta in itself) - It is Scooby Doo who he most reveres. Scooby is the one he would die for, the one who he must protect at all costs. It’s the “talking dog” who is the most important to Dean. Doesn’t that just ring rather true to life right now as well?

Season 13 has a huge elephant in the room. The elephant being what has been left unsaid between Dean and Cas. Scoobynatural surprised me by just how much it kept on topic with these underlying themes. Dean viewing Castiel as the Scooby Doo of their own Scooby Gang, means that he puts Castiel in the lead role - perhaps not the role of leadership (which is Fred’s place in the gang and Dean’s place in his own story) but as the primary focal point, and the most important thing in Dean’s own story (no matter how much he may pursue the distraction that is Daphne).

I think overall it all just reiterates where Dean places Cas in his life. In a place of great worth, and in extremely high regard.

The Out-Of-Show Reading

The Out-of-Show reading is simply where the writers now view Cas. I’ve been saying this since the end of Season 12, but Cas is extremely important both in show and out. The writers aren’t idiots. They know that Cas brings in the viewers, more so than any other characters or episode types. Over and over again the writers have repeated how important Cas is, how Misha saved the show, how much Cas means to the story. It’s almost like they are trying to tell us something?!? Hmmm…

This makes me think back to the beginning of the season and how the season opening song was Nothing Else Matters by Metallica. With carefully chosen shots of Cas after every time the line “ and nothing else matters” was played. I don’t know how many times the writers can reiterate this point both in show and in PR right now, but Castiel is important should be screamed from the rooftops.

The writers cleverly assigned each member of the Scooby Gang with their own TFW counterparts. Sam is obviously Velma, Dean is both Fred and Daphne (and yeah there is so much to meta about that), whereas Castiel is Scooby Doo (and to a lesser extent Shaggy - the goofy best friend). But come on, be honest with yourselves, when you think of Scooby Doo the TV show, whats the first image that comes into your head? Is it sexy Daphne with her purple dress? Fred with his ascot? Or is it a big brown animated dog? You may think of those other characters as well, but Scooby Doo himself is the first thing you see. 

By comparing Cas to Scooby the writers are once again telling us that Cas is the most important thing this season. Also, just that he is extremely important and integral to the show. There can be no Scooby Doo without Scooby himself, just like nowadays, there can be no Supernatural without Castiel. 

There can be no denying, by anyone, that Cas isn’t a fundamental character, both in show and out. This episode, and many others before it, have proven this point. 

In show - Cas is everything to Dean. To the point that Dean views him as the “lead” in his own story.

Out of show - Supernatural can never exist without Castiel, and right now he is of a fundamental importance.

youtube

Here is the Metallica “Nothing Else Matters” intro section to 13x01 Lost and Found (and the season’s opener) thanks to Wayward Winchester on YouTube.

These season openers often narrate the thematic arc and its threads to come, and this one does so beautifully.

Firstly, there is an extended sense of family here. So when Metallica croons “Nothing else matters,” that is, thanks to the image juxtapositions, clearly a reference to family, but that family includes Bobby, Jodie, Eileen, Cas, Jack (ambivalently of course)  and even (for Dean) Crowley, as well as Mary, Sam and Dean. 

Family don’t end in blood = a key season theme. And one that also nicely sets up Wayward Sisters, as we get both Jodie and Claire shots.

We see first of all what has been lost and found (the episode is, after all, called “Lost and Found”).

Firstly, Dean finding Mary thanks to Amara’s resurrection, at the start of the previous season:

Then Castiel, also from 12x01 Keep Calm and Carry On, crashing to earth through the mystery spot sign after an angelic banishing.

These are the key figures who have been previously found (both resurrected after death, Castiel several times, Mary once) and are now presumed dead again, but will, of course, eventually be found by Sam and Dean once more as S13 progresses. 

Losing and finding Cas and Mary = emotionally central to the season.

“So close, no matter how far” croons Metallica, as Dean and Mary embrace.

 Yes, we know about Dean’s special connection to his mother and all the changes that connection has been through following her return from the dead, as Dean has had to confront her as a living person, not an idealised memory, but how he loves her still no matter what, and now longs for her once again.

This theme about growing emotionally through revisiting family trauma as an adult, a key theme last season, will continue to be key this season.  

“Forever trusting who we are,” sings Metallica as we get first a Sam/ Eileen hug and then a Dean/ Cas hug immediately following. 

Subtext alert - this direct parallel positions the two relationships as equivalent and therefore equally coded as romantic. Although, hello heteronormativity, this relies on the previous textual signalling of a Sam/ Eileen romantic interest, which took all of 5 seconds for the general audience to get and it’s 9 seasons and counting for Dean/ Cas subtext. However, the parallel is edited in here deliberately. Carefully juxtaposed with the words, “Trusting who we are,” which have a special meaning for LGBTQ+ people, because… that’s always a journey.

This Metallica song is, by the way, a love song, written by James Hetfield whilst on the phone to his girlfriend (see the Wiki page). 

Dean/ Cas continues as a subtextual thread this season (no surprises there, and no promises it will do anything except remain subtextual, but hey, I’d rather have you, cursed or not).  

“And nothing else matters,” Metallica continue as we get Winchester family photos, Sam, Dean and Mary hugging at the bunker, and both Sam and Dean helping Cas to his feet after he almost died following the stabbing with the Michael lance. 

Family is what matters and Castiel is included in the Winchester family. 

Metallica continues, “I’ve never opened myself this way,” as we look straight into Dean’s face.

Uh huh. This both references Dean’s “profound bond” with Cas, and his bond with his mother. The textual covers the sub-textual, as the next shot we get is of Mary. 

Sam’s grief at losing Eileen, is once again paralleled with Dean’s grief at losing Cas, as the song continues, crooning, “Never cared for what they say,” as we see Dean yelling “Nooooooo” at losing Cas to Jack’s power and then Eileen dead with Sam leaning over her sorrowfully.

We also see Cas’ death at the hands of Lucifer and Dean yelling “Nooooooo” again…

Key takeaway - the subtext is strong with this season… (although isn’t it sad that the trope of grief for a dead “buddy” as a permissible way to show masculine love persists, whilst a simple, living, reciprocated declaration remains so hard). 

The final shot of Jack, immediately follows Dean kneeling by Cas’ body, making it clear that, as far as Dean is concerned he lost  the love of his life his best friend and all he got was a shitty Nephilim in exchange: 

This places Dean, of course, in John Winchester’s shoes, who lost the love of his life, Mary (however much their relationship was full of fault lines) and had to become a sole parent to two traumatized boys. Dean is filled with resentment towards Jack, just as John clearly was about his situation, which, as we know, led to some bad parenting. 

So, the Sam and Dean parenting dichotomy - another key theme of S13  - is clearly set up here too and carries on as the episode progresses, with Dean wanting to kill Jack and Sam wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt. Because being parents themselves is bound to bring up A LOT OF OLD STUFF, such as Dean having had to be Sam’s parent and Sam feeling “tainted” with demon blood, hence his empathy for Jack as Lucifer’s son.

Overall, this is going to be an emotion focused season… 

Oh balls, here we go…..! 

Dean isn’t a dick - he’s a textbook case of grief. The anger, the withdrawal, the lashing out. This isn’t out of character, it’s a reflection of a human being in pain. It isn’t pretty but it’s real.

And their argument at the end? Remember that Sam is the only safe “spot” for Dean to show his emotions - even Jody only gets the “things are dandy” response. Being the recipient of that anger and pain isn’t easy but it’s real.

I’m glad for Sam saying what he did. It’s about time he lost his cool and showed some anger. When Dean loses himself in emotion or denial, Sam counter balances it too far at times by being Supportive and trying to solve the Problem (whether it’s to remove the Mark or train the Nephilim).

The angrier Dean gets, the more supportive and/or accommodative Sam becomes, like an emotional seesaw. Sam pushing back and getting angry means the dynamic is changing.

This kind of conflict is why I watch. If Sam and Dean were always perfect and in sync with each other, the show would be pretty boring.

Obviously the ‘Tombstone’ scene with Dean and Cas has been yelled about all weekend, but one thing I’m super surprised I haven’t seen discussed is the way it blatantly uses polysemy and then destroys it as this was the first thing out of like a million in that scene that had me silently screaming.

Like, as soon as the name of the episode was released, everyone latched on to the fact that, especially as it was about cowboys, it could be a reference to the movie or to the town. A third reading is that it’s an episode about ghouls. This is not a new thing: Supernatural has always used polysemy, but especially in the last four or five years it’s been an increasingly important part of Destiel discussion. Almost every single scene with Dean and Cas has had multiple readings, to the point where we’ve had to literally discuss what qualifies as ‘canon’, because by so many definitions, it’s literally already canon.

So I pretty much expected them to lampshade the ‘Tombstone’ movie and move on, kind of as a wink wink nudge nudge to the audience, because this is the usual move. Veiled acknowledgement, but nothing more. BUT OF COURSE, in this GLORIOUS season where there is literally no sub to that text anymore, Davy Perez went straight past wink wink nudge nudge to a fucking “I’m your Huckleberry” god bless this season.

Dean brings up ‘Tombstone’, and then Cas says, “The city?” This is literally Perez pointing out the two readings of the title. (And like, look. It’s not a coincidence that one reading is pretty obvious and the other reading is literally a queer-coded one.)

Then Perez has Dean go, no, not the obvious one. The queer-coded one.

And then makes it gayer. Not just ‘nope, the queer-coded one’, but ‘the queer-coded one that we watched together’.

And then makes it even gayer. ‘The queer-coded one that you made me watch with you (singular) and will now use a reference to in a deep voice and you’ll have to swallow and look away.’

The “I’m your huckleberry” line has also been scrutinized like hell, but something that’s really, really interesting to me is, as pointed out in this great post by someoneworthfinding, it’s not a romantic-coded line. It’s a taunt. It’s a dare, and Cas watches Dean’s reaction to it very closely.

And Dean looks away, swallows hard, licks his lips, and then tells Cas honestly, without any posturing or nicknames or jokes, that he’s glad to have him back. This part of the scene, more than anything, feels like testing the waters and a huge step forward.

3

12x15 “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell”
Silent Storytelling Galore: When Expressions Say Much More Than Words

This is a face of utter defeat. A face of complete disillusion and seeing things exactly for what they are: freaking sad. Dean has been shown done with lieing a multitude of times this season, but this moment like no others before drive home, just how done Dean is with them. I don’t think he was truly surprised when Sam told him where he got the phone calls and jobs from at the end of the episode. It was more like a sad: “I thought so.” Dean isn’t on board. He’ll never be on board. His entire body language screams that. And that’ll pose issues further down the line. Will Dean become the next “rogue hunter” the BritMoL may think they need to deal with? I personally hope that come whatever the narrative will focus on how Dean cannot “be tamed” or “controlled” - because that’s in the end what the BritMoL want, utter and complete control over them - he is the ultimate symbol for free will after all.

(X)

I want to point this scene out. When TFW come back from Scooby Verse, there’s a reappearance of the Negative Space between Dean/Cas and Sam that we’ve been seeing ALL season.

I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure that TFW were standing together when they got zapped back. And it’s not like they were put In the place where they first disappeared. No. The writers/directors/TPTB are putting space between Dean/Cas and Sam AGAIN, reiterating that there is a gap between Dean/Cas as a unit, and Sam.

Plus, Dean mentions taking a bullet for Scooby Doo, in the same episode that he directly compares Cas to Scooby Doo.

I’m not saying that Destiel is going canon any time soon, but uh, we’re pretty fucking close to it.

2

Cas pops into Scooby world and immediately examines his hands, turning them over. He makes the exact same gesture when he’s sucked back into our reality. It’s a lovely bit of character continuity, and unless it’s scripted that way, is an excellent touch by Misha.

It harkens back to 4x20 when Castiel first took Jimmy as a vessel:

He does the same thing precisely two seasons later in 6x20 as everything was falling apart:

I’m sure there’s all kinds of hand meta out there, especially the handprint and hands on shoulders and whatnot. I don’t have anything particularly profound to offer, but wanted to point out these screenshots in case others have thoughts to add. 

I do think hands have been a prominent motif throughout supernatural, and we’ve been reminded of that recently with the shedim hand coming up from the earth much like Dean’s in Lazarus Rising.

For Cas specifically though, focusing on his hands seems to be a sort of grounding exercise when his reality or perceptions are altered. The gesture also speaks to his liminality. On the one hand (heh), hands connect him with humanity. With hands he can experience what he couldn’t as an angel: touch and sensation. He can feel and interact. But conversely, looking at his hands like that is surely a reminder of his otherness. Castiel’s hands are powerful: they heal and they smite. 

Thoughts?

Y’all know what I love so much about the mixtape?

It is now canon that at some point, Dean Winchester sat down and recorded all of that music, thinking very carefully what to put on it for Cas. Then he went and gave it to Cas.

Let me stress this, at some point Dean Winchester gave Castiel a gift and he was probably all grumpy about it and trying not to make a big deal out of it, but he still gave Cas something for his truck, something to remember him by when he is on the road. That is such a sentimental (dare I say romantic) gesture.

This fact is now canon and it opens the door to so many more scene like this.

There is so much more to their relationship than we get to see.

4

12x11 “Regarding Dean”
“Your brother’s been kidnapped by a witch. Found your stupid car and left you here.”

One of the things I really liked about the episode is how despite the tragedy of Dean forgetting everything including himself - though it really imo does only serve as a pretty fitting metaphor for Dean’s life as a whole in which he stood back, put his wants and needs last and made sure everybody else was okay, basically disappearing as a person himself and completely “forgetting” about his own wishes and what he would want and need over “looking out for Sam” or “help dad” - is how this episode also showcased a lot of Dean’s character traits and bits and pieces that just make him “Dean Winchester” shine through a bit more unfiltered. Things like his childlike glee for example or his sense to comfort and support those who have been treated badly and have been wronged. Yes, to me the episode captured who Dean is at his core - a good man - and what will never change no matter how many losses he had to face or how many more traumas he may be burdened with.

And that is why I did really enjoy this small scene in the car, because even though at this moment in time Dean’s “dementia” for lack of a better word had progressed a lot and yet again (and Sam was convinced that even though Dean didn’t know and remember himself anymore, he would possibly at some point open the trunk of the Impala) after taking just a short moment to ponder what to do Dean - of course, cause he is Dean Winchester - gets out of the car. Even though Rowena left him a note telling him to “stay”. It was a neat way to bring back and work in the whole long standing theme and thread with Dean and dog metaphors (x, x). Because even though in S3 Dean’s own dark self, his demonic self, his inner negative self talk embodied so to speak told him that he was just a “mindless and obedient attack dog” and we saw Crowley throughout the entire MoC arc try and control Dean and approach him with demands such as “sit” and “stay” (which is why it is interesting this is coming from Crowley’s mother here with the “stay”)  Dean proves himself (without realizing of course) that he has never been what the evil little voice in his head told him, but someone so much better. Someone, who deeply cares, someone who follows his instincts and with that yes, his heart.