1.22. The Colt’s only got three bullets left. They have no idea how to make more.
(the Colt’s as much a mystery to them at this point as it is to the BMoL and Mary in s12)
Sam wants to stay and fight (WITH ONLY THREE WHOLE BULLETS THAT WORK ON DEMONS!). Because VENGEANCE! Dad would’ve wanted them to stay and kill the thing! Even if he’s already dead as well because of it.
Dean wants to take a step back and work on a reasonable plan because if the demons got John, then there’s no way for Sam and Dean to survive facing them without A Plan. Running to the fight with nothing but their emotions dialed up to berserker mode would just result in ALL of them dead.
*resists urge to just copy/paste all the damn dialogue here, because it’s entirely pertinent to s12*
BOBBY. When their dad goes missing, they run to Bobby for help. He’s the closest thing they have to a father. He teaches them all the basic demon lore (and really, why didn’t they get these lessons sooner? John’s been tracking demons for years at this point, and he didn’t even teach Sam and Dean the very basics? Seems like a grave oversight, but John never intended to let the demons get close to his boys in the first place).
Dean as lie detector: He absolutely knows that Meg is lying about killing John.
Bobby warns Dean that exorcising the demon from Meg will probably kill her, because of the damage her body’s sustained while being possessed. Dean’s thinking is that if they can’t save the real Meg, at least they can put her out of her misery, save her from being possessed…
(interesting in light of s9, but there you go. desperate times and all that…)
And the Colt’s been tied to Sunrise again– via the apartment building where the demons were holding John and the town in Wyoming where Dean once killed a phoenix with it (6.18), and then in 12.12 Cas ordered the Sunrise Special and nearly died, while we learn that entire mission was secretly about Mary stealing the Colt.
Sam and Dean argue over whether or not to bring the Colt on a rescue mission for John:
Sam: We can’t, Dean. We’ve only got three bullets left. We can’t just use them on any demon, we’ve got to use them on the demon.
Dean: No, we have to save Dad, Sam, okay? We’re gonna need all the help we can get.
Sam: Dean, you know how pissed Dad would be if we used all the bullets? Dean, he wouldn’t want us to bring the gun.
Dean: I don’t care, Sam. I don’t care what Dad wants, okay? And since when do you care what Dad wants?
Sam: We want to kill this demon. You used to want that, too. Hell, I mean, you’re the one who came and got me at school! (Dean scoffs) You’re the one who dragged me back into this, Dean. I’m just trying to finish it!
Dean: Well, you and Dad are a lot more alike than I thought, you know that? You both can’t wait to sacrifice yourself for this thing. But you know what? I’m gonna be the one to bury you. You’re selfish, you know that? You don’t care about anything but revenge.
Sam: That’s not true, Dean. (Dean scoffs) I want Dad back. But they are expecting us to bring this gun. They get the gun, they will kill us all. That Colt is our only leverage and you know it, Dean. We can not bring that gun. We can’t.
(Oh gosh in retrospect this is such an obvious trap)
Dean (of course) brought the Colt with him anyway, and ended up killing a demon that nearly killed Sam. He’s freaked out that he’s NOT more freaked out that he’d killed the person the demon was possessing too.
John and Sam have been on this revenge quest, but for Dean it’s never been about just avenging the dead. He cares more about protecting his LIVING family members than in getting revenge for the dead.
John and Sam may be willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of revenge, but Dean’s rather unsettled that he’s willing to sacrifice perfect strangers in the name of holding on to what little family he has left. (and it’s the attitude that leads him to sell his soul for Sam in 2.22, so… it’s definitely something unsettling).
(see all the meta ever written about Dean knowing that John’s possessed because he was PROUD of Dean for “wasting a bullet” when the real John would’ve been furious with him for it… even though that bullet was “wasted” saving Sam)
And Sam is torn between who to believe, Dean or “John.”
And of course Dean hesitates actually pulling the trigger. Even knowing John’s possessed, he also knows that killing the demon would’ve also killed John… and killing John? That was probably too much to ask of Dean. He just had this morality crisis about the terrifying things he’s willing to do to protect Sam and John, it’s unreasonable to think he’d be able to kill John…
Instead, he pleads to John, trapped inside the demon, as it tortures him.
It’s like a weird version of the crypt scene. John fought down Azazel enough to let Sam break free and grab the Colt.
John begs Sam to shoot him so it can kill the demon, while Dean lies wounded across the room begging Sam NOT to shoot him… and the demon escapes. Just like Dean predicted of the “real John,” he’s disappointed.
John: I’m surprised at you, Sammy. Why didn’t you kill it? I thought we saw eye-to-eye on this? Killing this demon comes first – before me, before everything.
Sam looks in the rear view mirror at Dean.
Sam: No, sir. Not before everything. Look, we’ve still got the Colt. We still have the one bullet left. We just have to start over, alright? I mean, we already found the demon…..
and smashy smashy.
Sam’s been won over to Dean’s “there are things more important than revenge” mindset at last.
Oddly, it’s pretty much Mary’s mindset right now, too. Confronted with a yellow-eyed demon, stealing the Colt, keeping secrets (or flat out lying), putting her mission ahead of everything else… at least until after her shake-up in 12.12. Still, she doesn’t even begin to come clean to Sam and Dean there yet.
In 12.01, their first (sunrise!) conversation on that park bench:
Mary: How did he die?
Dean: He gave himself up. For me.
Mary: That sounds like John.
She smiled fondly, as if what John had done (without all the guilt and context of just how much those events screwed with Dean’s head…) was somehow a positive thing… like it hadn’t been one of the major events of his life that had scarred Dean heavily. That fully in context, it wasn’t a noble and gallant sacrifice of himself for Dean, it was just one more bargaining chip added to the giant pot of Winchesters throwing their lives away for each other.
It took Dean YEARS to get over that, and here’s Mary cavalierly implying that of course if John died hunting, it would be to save his boys…
Kinda puts a scary spin on just how cavalier Mary’s been with her own restored life, and the choices she’s making on behalf of her grown sons. Just like that choice John made all those years ago. He thought he’d been doing something “for the greater good” too…
And all of this is centered around the Colt, and sunrises, and lies, and family, and revenge.
In s12 Dean is so far past doing anything for simple revenge, but Sam’s struggling with it just like he did in s1. Only now it’s Mary instead of John, tempting him with a life beyond hunting instead of a valiant death in service to that revenge.
I swear I just want to sit everyone down and declare Honesty Hour and talk about all this crap. But no, the truth is gonna come out in horrifyingly painful ways, because we’re watching Supernatural.