1.21. AKA Things both come together and fall apart…
We finally meet John’s friend Pastor Jim only for him to die in the cold open…
Truths come out, and have consequences.
Sam and Dean finally stand up to John. We know he’s known about Sam’s psychic abilities since 1.09, yet when Sam has a vision in front of John and the boys just accept it as part of their lives (because hey it’s been happening for a while now), this goes down:
JOHN: (Flatly) A vision.
SAM: (Slowly, painfully) Yes. I saw the demon burning a woman on the ceiling.
JOHN: And you think this is going to happen to this woman you met because…
SAM: Because these things happen exactly the way I see them
DEAN: It started out as nightmares. Then it started happening while he was awake.
SAM: (Wincing) Yeah. It’s like the closer I get to anything to do with the demon the stronger the visions get.
JOHN: All right. When were you going to tell me about this?
DEAN: We didn’t know what it meant.
JOHN: All right, something like this starts happening to your brother, you pick up the phone and you call me.
DEAN: Call you? Are you kidding me? Dad I called you from Lawrence all right? Sam called you when I was dying. I mean, getting you on the phone? I got a better chance of winning the lottery.
JOHN: You’re right. Although I’m not too crazy about this new tone of yours, you’re right. I’m sorry.
Sam and Dean DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THESE VISIONS MEANT. They didn’t know they were connected to the demon who killed Mary and Jess… BECAUSE JOHN NEVER GAVE THEM REASON TO THINK THAT. He kept all the information about it so close to his vest because he thought he was protecting them, but all along they had information that maybe could’ve helped stop the thing sooner. But having been kept in the dark, having been LIED TO all these years, even the lies of omission about what John was after, stymied all their efforts in the end.
It’s only coming entirely clean with all the details that allowed them to see the entire picture and effectively begin hunting the demon.
John runs off to play decoy, bringing a fake Colt to his meeting with Meg, while Sam and Dean stay in Salvation :
JOHN: I just…I just need to buy a few hours, that’s all.
SAM: You mean for Dean and me. You want us to stay here, and kill this demon by ourselves?
JOHN: No Sam. I want to stop losing people we love. I want you to go to school, I want…. I want Dean to have a home. I want Mary alive. It’s just….I just want this to be over.
*screams for eternity*
This is the ridiculous impossible wish that Sam tries to push onto Dean (go have a home) at the end of s5. And now it’s the lure Mary’s dangled in front of Sam (you can go back to school!) in 12.14.
And it all revolved around The Colt.
DEAN: This thing goes south just…get the hell out. Don’t get yourself killed all right, you’re no good to us dead.
JOHN: Same goes for you. (There is a long pause) All right listen to me. They made the bullets special for this colt. There’s only four of them left. Without them this gun is useless. You make every shot count.
SAM: Yes sir.
JOHN: Been waiting a long time for this fight. Now it’s here I’m not gonna be in it. It’s up to you boys now. It’s your fight, you finish this. You finish what I started. Understand?
JOHN hands DEAN the colt.
JOHN HANDS DEAN THE COLT.
Yet somehow it’s Sam who ends up with the gun when they break into the house to save the baby and kill the demon. Dean’s relegated to holding off the homeowner while Sam runs upstairs to the nursery.
I normally remove the extraneous stage directions for the purposes of these meta posts, but in this instance, the stage directions say it all:
SAM hesitates, frozen and staring.
SAM raises the Colt and pulls the trigger. The demon disappears into smoke.
SAM HESITATES. It’s only Monica calling out to her baby that spurs him to action, but by then it’s already too late. Sam was FINALLY face to face with the thing that killed his mother and Jess, and he froze.
(funny how it’s Dean in the end who manages to kill the thing… Dean being the one of the three of them who was willing to lay the vengeance aside…)
SAM: Dean let me go, it’s still in there.
DEAN: No. It’s burning to the ground, it’s suicide.
SAM: (Yelling) I don’t care.
DEAN: I do!
and then we hit the very painful core of 12 years of Winchester Family Dynamics:
SAM: If you had just let me go in there, I coulda ended all this.
DEAN: Sam, the only thing you would have ended was your life.
SAM: You don’t know that.
DEAN: So what, you’re just willing to sacrifice yourself, is that it?
SAM: Yeah. Yeah you’re damn right I am.
DEAN: Well that’s not going to happen, not as long as I’m around.
SAM: What the hell are you talking about Dean, we’ve been searching for this demon our whole lives. It’s the only thing we’ve ever cared about.
DEAN: Sam I wanna waste it. I do. Okay? But it’s not worth dying over.
DEAN: I mean it. If hunting this demon means getting yourself killed then I hope we never find the damn thing.
SAM: That thing killed Jess. That thing killed Mom.
DEAN: You said yourself once, that no matter what we do, they’re gone, and they’re never coming back.
SAM: Don’t you say that, not you! Not after all this don’t you say that.
DEAN: Sam look. The three of us…that’s all we have…and it’s all I have. Sometimes I feel like I’m barely holding it together man…and without you or Dad….
*resists urge to just bold that entire conversation*
Sam sees getting his revenge as the end of the line. To him it means getting out of hunting, but he’s reached a point where nothing else matters to him at all.
This really puts into context what Dean said to Mary in 12.02:
Dean: You know when you died, it changed Dad. I mean he was hell-bent on finding out what happened. The hunter life, it just took him over. I guess I was the same. But, Sammy– Sammy, he was different. He wanted out. He went to school, he went to Stanford.
Mary: Sam had a chance to get out, and he came back?
Dean: When Dad disappeared, Sam and I looked around and something became very clear. The only thing we had in this world – the only thing, aside from this car – was each other.
Because without each other, the only thing they would’ve had was that revenge, and that’s just no fucking way to live.
At that time, it wasn’t a depressing thing to think that all they had was each other. It’s what SAVED THEIR LIVES. It’s what gave them something to live for when they were at a place where it seemed like the only solution was to die. I mean… yeah, it’s still not a happy solution, but it was better than the alternative.
Live for the living, instead of dying for the dead.
And Mary just didn’t have the context to understand it. It’s like she’s picked up the other side of their s1 revenge quest, picking up right where she’d left off in 1983. She’s taken on John and Sam’s mission to destroy the Great Evil Thing as a sort of revenge for her loss of her babies, and for everything they’ve been through since her death. She’s willing to put her own life on the line over and over again. Someone needs to give her that little speech Dean gave Sam in 1.21.
No matter what you do, those little boys are gone and they’re never coming back. But the men they grew into have done incredible things, and they haven’t asked to have their lost childhoods and innocence avenged. They came to terms with their lives a long, long time ago.
It’s okay to let go and start living for the living.