On previous watchings of this episode I always felt “uncomfortable” with Max. For the same reasons you mention, kate38. I was supposed to feel bad, BUT to me he came across as a weak minded murderer.
Only THIS time watching I felt incredibly SAD for him. He was, as a child, trapped in a horrible situation and I can understand that it somehow dealt a blow to his psyche and emotional state that he could not overcome even as an adult.
YES, he could have left as an adult, but without some serious help and therapy he would have never been alright.
THAT made me sad this time around.
However, I still can’t condone any of his actions.
The other parts of the episode I liked a lot.
I thought Jared did really well at conveying Sam’s growing anxiety and confusion about his situation and condition. And Jensen did amazing at playing Dean’s put on nonchalance and confidence, when you could also plainly see that Dean was worried. Especially that very last scene where Dean makes a joke about going to Vegas next but then when Sam huffs and walks out Dean’s face changes to a deep concern….SO WELL ACTED!
The back and forth between visions and reality were interesting and are still well done even though no longer surprising, of course. And I will ALWAYS be jarred to see Dean die. Even if it’s just a premonition.
ONE qualm – When Dean says “You have one thing Max never had” it never made sense to me that the writers had Sam conclude he meant JOHN at that point! In my understanding of Sam’s character at that time Sam would have totally gotten Dean’s point and agreed. But….I know….good conflict.