I’ve written some stuff recently about how the Journal hasn’t really been John’s journal for a long time. Since s1, it’s been referred to as “John’s journal,” but really, Dean has taken over conservatorship of the journal. He’s the official curator, and we’ve been led to believe that he’s, for the most part, the one who has continued keeping it current.
When we first saw it in the pilot, this is what it looked like:
Only a day or two later, in 1.02, the journal has already been transformed. All the photos, all the other loose bits of paper and clippings and things just stuffed in there have been reorganized, removed, refiled. It’s been pared down substantially.
Dean’s spent the last 11 years slowly transforming John’s original journal into something entirely different. We know he’s been continuously adding to it, especially after 7.11 when a lack of the most updated information on Vetalas nearly cost Sam his life. I’m pretty sure if nothing else, THAT would’ve inspired Dean to update the journal and keep it current, you know?
This is what it looks like today:
All the loose newspaper clippings have been tidied up. From what I remember in the early days of the show, those were mostly John’s unsolved cases. Things that had been left hanging that he was using as a distraction to keep Sam and Dean busy enough to stay out of trouble while he hunted for Azazel on his own.
The Woman in White had been a long-term open case. The Wendigo, too, was a generational case that John distracted Sam and Dean with, which they’d found IN THE JOURNAL.
Strangely enough, the first case that Sam and Dean found on their own, independent of John’s journal, was 1.03 Dead in the Water. With a little boy named Lucas (just like the little boy in 12.03). Dean found them that case. On his own. Lest we forget the gift that is Dean circling potential cases in the paper:
It was the first time they went literally off book. They’d already ditched all the research and extraneous notes from the two unsolved cases John had sent them on. Dean had already begun the process of making that journal his own. Beginning with THIS CASE in 1.03. With a boy named Lucas, a mysterious reference to a “bike” (which I think is another reference to the black motorcycle that Dean commented on in passing in 12.03. And rather than make yet another post about that bike, it was also a reminder of 1.03, and another case that revolved around parents and children and lies and secrets and untold truths and “the story became the story” until the dam broke and the lake drained and all those hidden things from the past suddenly returned to the surface…) I mean really. PARALLELS TO THE PAST! But in a decidedly more mature fashion. The bicycle in 1.03 and the motorcycle in 12.03. Things are similar, but not the same now.
Sam and Dean spent the next little run of episodes finding their own cases again, adding things to the journal, updating it, making it more relevant to THEM (I say Sam and Dean but it’s usually Dean we see with the journal, and attached to it more personally than Sam).
It becomes painfully and personally relevant again in 1.09 Home. And then again in 1.10 Asylum (yet another of John’s old cases he sends them to solve for him). Same in 1.11 Scarecrow. At this rate they’re really beginning to tidy that thing up. 1.12 Faith brings the journal up in a new way. Sam was using it as a resource to help him find a way to heal and save Dean. We have no idea of knowing if the hunt for the rawhead that injured Dean had been another of John’s cases, but considering their previous run, it’s not unlikely.
Sam and Dean, toward the end of s1, then began learning more about demons, predominantly from Bobby. Which leads me to assume that there hadn’t been much in the journal about demons at all. Which is kind of odd knowing how much of John’s search for the thing that killed Mary had been focused specifically on the fact that he KNEW it was a demon. Yet Sam and Dean had been sidelined with all the cases in the journal that John had conveniently left lying around a motel room for them. Almost like he’d specifically left out a lot of crucial data.
He didn’t want them involved in the hunt for Yellow Eyes. He wanted to protected them by sending them out on hunts he knew they could handle. But the demons came after THEM, and when they needed fast help to learn wtf they were doing dealing with demons at all, they turned to Bobby.
I’m SURE that Dean has added pages and pages of useful info on demons. Because I’m equally sure that JOHN never included it.
What I’m getting at here is that it fundamentally irks me every time we call it “John’s journal.” It hasn’t been Johns since he left it behind for Dean in 1.01. After 11+ years, Sam and Dean (but especially Dean) have made it their own.
What Mary’s reading isn’t so much about John as it is about Sam and Dean. Yes, there seems to be a portion of it at the beginning where he recorded everything he went through after Mary’s death and his first forays into the supernatural, what life was like for him and the boys over the intervening years, but I think it’s been a LONG time since it was used as a journal in that sense, of recording a single person’s personal thoughts and feelings and observations.
When we think of the journal now, how it’s evolved over the course of the series, it’s become more of a handbook on the supernatural than a reflection on John.
I almost said “its original owner” there in the previous sentence, but changed it to John. Because John wasn’t even the original intended owner of that journal. It’s Henry’s initials inscribed inside the cover, and he’d ordered it to be his journal as a Man of Letters. Strange, though, how over the years it’s finally evolved to serve its original purpose. John may have used it as a means of recording more personal events in the beginning (taking Dean shooting, and eventually taking him out drinking…), but that’s not what the journal is today. Dean’s accepted his legacy, and made it a repository of knowledge.
No wonder Mary’s having such a hard time reconciling its contents with the husband she lost.
No I haven’t watched this season yet, cuz yes I am still bitter.
But I swear I see a parallel here.
Where Skye left the group because she doesn’t want to have anything to lose, any more attachments. Feeling for Ward and how that turned out, her thing with Lincoln and losing him, and so she’s off on her own trying to shut off all those feelings, and to protect them.
And isn’t that exactly what happened with Ward.
He had real feelings for Skye, lost her. Developed that unhealthy relationship with Kara, but he still felt that loss, and it turned him so cold and angry he went off on his own, doing the Hydra thing but he had no attachments anymore, just a vendetta.
The difference really being, Ward was pushed away and beaten down after every tragic event, nobody was there for him the way he needed. But Skye, she has all of them waiting for her, ready to comfort and support her, even when she’s pushing them away. They might be hurt or angry, but they will eventually get through it, and she will still have a home to go to with them.
Please don’t latch onto this to spew stuff about how Ward didn’t deserve it and he was evil and blah blah blah. I don’t pretend to understand what the writers were trying to prove here.
I’m just pointing out a possible parallel if there’s any other Skyeward fans out there that want to keep crying over this ship with me.