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Another excellent glance at Sam and Dean’s childhood or formative experiences in this case.
As well as a great glimpse at the hell of high school life with all the usual characters from bullies to freaks, but with a SPN twist.
So many wonderful layers here as you say, JBB, ESPECIALLY for Sam and Colin Ford is amazing in making us feel all the ups and downs.
Sam writing a “non-fiction” essay about the werewolf hunt was really telling to me. On the one side he knew no one would believe it so why not tell the truth. He believed the grade he would get didn’t matter because he wouldn’t stay around long enough for it to make any difference (and by extension, I guess, he grades were/ could be always faked to something needed when entering the next school? Yeah, yeah….John loves his boys and would do everything for them including faking school papers. LOL.). In a way it’s almost like Sam dared for someone to question it or look deeper into his background? Not to actively get away from John and Dean, but he does say that “more than anything” he doesn’t want to get into the family business. He’s just tired of being dragged around without say and without ever getting to stay anywhere long enough to make any difference.
I disagree with you, JBB, on the way Dean is portrayed here. I DO like it as it is equally telling to me. And I thought the actor did a fine job with it.
Dean is the polar opposite of Sam at the beginning. He feels superior coming into the new school. He is sure of his worth, knows he’s a hero, not JUST to his little brother. He lays it on THICK with the teachers and the girls. I can buy that from a cocky teen-aged Dean. However, I also always thought that Dean is very aware that Sam suffers from the constant change of schools and circumstances and that part of his bravado is put on for Sam’s benefit…..kinda showing his little brother how to deal with it all.
Dean’s behavior is clearly laid out to work for a specific time period. He gets in “charms” his way through a couple of weeks, impresses the girls and then plans to be out before making any longer term gestures like meeting parents etc. He says himself “he doesn’t do parents”. Being there longer than expected totally throws his plans akimbo.
On top of THAT Sam all of a sudden doesn’t seem to need his protection anymore – at least not in school. Sam stood up for himself (and Gary) and asked Dean to step off wanting to deal with it himself.
So we have a really interesting shift in the dynamic here. Sam suddenly feels seen and valued while Dean is pitied and discounted. A novel experience for them both. Sam is growing into himself and Dean’s normal M.O. is leaving him hanging for once.
Dean’s reaction once he is found out about kissing girl# 2 in the janitor’s closet and then told by Amanda that she feels sorry for him because his cool crap is just a facade is heartbreaking to me, too. She says that she thought that there is more to Dean because of the way he is with his little brother, and we, the audience, know that she is RIGHT, that he IS so much more than what he puts out for the world to see!!! So him lashing out at her and embarassing himself by shouting that he’s a hero etc is really painful to watch, but it’s also a rare glimpse at him being caught off guard and giving a raw reaction.
I thought all that was terrifically done.
And it obviously left an impression on them both as we see in the scenes that play in the NOW. After they salt-n-burn Gary Dean says that he’s amazed how many people Sam remembers from the school and that he was glad they got out of that town because he hated that school. If he didn’t remember his humiliation there he probably wouldn’t even recall details about their stay there, I would venture. Sam on the other hand laments that he wasn’t there to possibly help Gary further and maybe keep him from killing himself. And then Sam finds out that the nickname he gave Dirk stuck around and got Dirk bullied thereafter, probably making him feel a little guilty.
It is sweet and sad, but also shows an important short period in Sam’s and Dean’s development and characters.
Really good episode in my book.