My sisters been sending your (amazingly) written metas, but I'm still confused as to what "Performance!Dean" is. Could you explain? ❤❤❤❤❤❤
Hi! Thank you!
Performing!Dean is a tag that many of us use to explain the way that Dean portrays himself to the outside world, suppressing parts of himself that he doesn’t think should be outwardly shown.
It’s a form of SUBLIMATION (a psychological term meaning to repress emotions / a part of oneself), a term which he actually uses in 12x05.
It’s a great example. The writers KNOW that we associate Dean’s love of pie with women / being comfortable / the home and family feeling, and cake with the repressed side of him (it is repeatedly used in this context, Dean really wanting it but never allowing himself to have it or just nibbling at the edges). It’s quite a famously known concept.
So… when Sam asks Dean if he wants pie and Dean says no, which basically never happens, when Sam then looks so DONE and starts talking about how Mary is gone and… (the implication being he is about to mention Cas being gone too)… then Dean says nope nope I am FINE and Sam FINALLY calls Dean out on it, saying “Dean, it’s called SUBLIMATION”.
And Dean finally relents and says “Yeah, its kinda my thing”. (And then later in the diner he is seen to have eaten a whole slice of cake in front of Sam and no-one makes a big deal out of it….)
WE ALL SCREAMED. DEAN ACTUALLY IN THE SCRIPT, OUT LOUD, HAS SAID THAT HE SUBLIMATES.
Because THIS is Dabb again taking what has been IN THE SCRIPT and in the show for 12 years and building on it, making it BLATANT. Because we are building to endgame now, SPN isn’t likely to last past season 13-14, so the character arcs that were set up in season 1 (and 4 for Cas) need to be tied up, so we, the audience NEED it to be made obvious when it has just been in the subtext. THAT IS WHY SO MUCH IS SO BLATANT THIS SEASON. Ie Performing!Dean, Destiel, Sam and the MoL story, Mary being the catalyst for Dean’s self acceptance arc and Sam’s self forgiveness arc around Lucifer (which I think will be much more blatant next season re: Jack as his mirror).
With Performing!Dean it started to be made a bit more obvious since Sam told Dean that he was ‘kind of butch’ and people probably thought he was ‘overcompensating’ in season 2 but it still stayed subtext, Dean checking out a few guys here and there, only really getting with women when he was having his ‘I’m going to go to Hell and need comfort’ or ‘Sam is dead, Cas left’ moments or since he met Cas, whenever Cas had left, making Dean feel crappy and rejected or had just DIED, using it as a coping mechanism, even blatantly role playing in season 9 after he feels so bad about kicking Cas out of the bunker etc to the point that in 12x18 it is so blatant that this is what it is about, they even have Dean saying outloud that he is settling for Sam’s omelette mere seconds after clearly having settled for the waitress because she wasn’t what he really wanted on top of all the other give aways…
Anyway, it’s not just about his sexuality or feelings for Cas, there are many other aspects too, and those are the ones that are cemented in seasons 1-3. Most of these seem all to stem from John and if you see snippets from John’s journal it makes sense.
John says he is proud of Dean when he kills monsters, womanises, drinks etc etc. So guess what a young impressionable Dean learned was the best way to act in life?
Now, over the years bits have come out here and there. Every time we see Dean with a sexual partner he has been the submissive one, he is clearly an extremely giving lover and very caring. He is not a dude bro womaniser at heart, he cares for all the women he sleeps with enough to be kind and gentle with them, even the waitress in 12x18 who really he doesn’t REALLY CARE about, she’s just a coping mechanism, but he is still extremely sweet with her.
He drinks for years of course, he is a functioning alcoholic for most of the show, but lately he has switched to coffee… unless something really bad is going down. Like when we saw the empty bottle in his room in 12x19…
He listens to old rock music because it reminds him of his mom and dad, not because he is a real metal head. Yeah absolutely he loves it too I’m sure, but really it’s the emotional pull. And we haven’t heard him do so since 12x07. Just saying. He also admits to liking Taylor Swift in season 10, after firstly saying HELL NO, same with the cucumber water in 12x07. It’s not the music or the water or whatever as such, that is absolutely NOT what we are saying is making us feel Dean is bisexual or has a hidden side to himself, its the fact that he HIDES it first then admits to it afterwards, that is the essence of Performing!Dean.
When Sam drinks the cucumber water, no-one batted an eyelid, that means nothing to us, because Sam is super comfortable with who he is in THIS respect, even though he carries guilt etc, but that is another subject. But because Dean made a huge deal about how uncool and basically unmanly it was, after all we know of him over the years, THEN went and drank it anyway, saying “shut up” when Sam is like “seriously?!” THAT is where the Performing!Dean meta comes from. And Sam is the same as us, he doesn’t care if Dean is bi, or if he likes Taylor Swift or cucumber water or WHATEVER, what he DOES care about is the fact that Dean feels the need to hide it from him.
There are so many small points along the series that point to a lot of Dean’s persona being fake or exaggerated and how sometimes Sam knows and sometimes he doesn’t, it would be funny if it wasn’t tragic.
Deep down Dean Winchester is a soft, kind and generous soul who just wants to be loved and to help people.
WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT WE SAW IN 12x11. THIS IS THE EXPOSITION EPISODE FOR PERFORMING!DEAN AND THE CORE OF THIS WHOLE SEASON BECAUSE THE WHOLE SEASON HAS BEEN ABOUT THIS, WHICH IS WHY 12x22 IS THE CHARACTER LED FINALE, BECAUSE IT IS WHERE THIS FINALLY COMES DOWN.
So yeah, the fact of the matter is that Performing!Dean has been there all along, since the PILOT, over the years it has been showed to us that it exists then some of the walls have started coming down. If anyone dares to tell me that Performing!Dean isn’t a thing (which I was told earlier this season, lmao) then I will kindly point them towards 12x11 and 12x22.
Also, let us not forget that even though 12x11 was mostly an exposition for Performing!Dean when he lost his memories, again harking back to the HEART is the person, NOT their memories theme of the season, we also were given the golden snippet that DEAN RODE LARRY BEFORE HE GOT WACKED WITH MAGIC. This is to show us that Dean’s walls are coming down this season. When Sam called him up on it in a way that seemed to be taking the piss, Dean, rather than attempt to deny or tell him to shut up actually embraced it and gloated about how GOOD he was at it. ATTA BOY DEAN!
With the resurrection of Mary and Dean’s near - complete death experience it seems that Dean got to the point in season 12 where he just didn’t want to hide from himself anymore and so let these walls down further, there were small snippets of this in nearly EVERY episode.
12x11 was the exposition for casual viewers to see this side of him more clearly (in the same way that 12x19 was for Dean and Cas’s clearly more than platonic relationship, which will not be built on with HUGE LEGO BRICKS since Cas died), and now with the grenade launcher as a metaphor, Dean literally blew down his walls in 12x22. The culmination of this story was his confrontation with Mary where he explains WHY he always had this facade, because he had a shitty childhood, had to be a parent to Sam and that it wasn’t FAIR and he didn’t cope with it well at all.
So. There we have it. Performing!Dean is REAL, it was there ALL ALONG, we were RIGHT in seeing it because it is confirmed in 12x11 and then addressed and to some extent dismantled in 12x22, and the meta idea that the grenade launcher is associated with Performing!Dean was ALSO used.
I don’t expect Dean to suddenly act completely differently now, he won’t, there are just some aspects of him that will be slightly more obvious or he won’t hide certain parts of himself. He still isn’t completely done with this, as Jensen himself said that there will be more of this to come in season 13…
I expect him to perhaps once or twice order a slice of cake or an ice cream sundae, to listen to the radio and not turn it over if a pop song comes on, to be more open with his feelings towards his family (and yeah, Destiel is a part of this for sure), a nice turn around but also not jarring, because it’s just a PART of Dean, not his whole self, a lot of what we see is really fully him, so it’s not that he is going to completely radically change!
Anyway, its all very exciting as the metaphorical death of Performing!Dean is just a part of what most of us see as a positive endgame for TFW and it is all looking pretty good so far :D