Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Walk In Your Shoes: A Lesson In Understanding, Acceptance and Triumph - Part One

- by Anna

Here is a piece from Guest writer, Anna. Anna has been a long time commenter on my articles and always has excellent insight. I asked her if she'd be interested in doing an article for sweetondean, and she wrote a 2 part piece about a subject she and I have discussed quite a lot, the notion of season 10 showing that the brothers are walking in each other's shoes and how that will help them gain understanding and acceptance of themselves and each other.

You can find out more about Anna on our Team sweetondean page.

Here's part one, I hope you enjoy Anna's theories. Please let her know your thoughts in the comments.


Dean Winchester is complicated. Heroism is very important to Dean. The life he chose to accept, that of a hunter, is a prime example of that. Dean has a need in him to save people. Dean also has his issues and it’s these issues that have been both a blessing and a curse. Dean’s issue of abandonment has made family very important to him. There is no doubt that he loves his brother more than he loves anyone or anything, but as with all siblings, it’s never all lollipops and candy canes. Dean’s fear of abandonment has affected his relationship with his brother in negative ways too. Dean also has issues of self loathing and self-doubt. All of Dean’s issues combined has created Dean’s personal monster, his belief that he is nothing more than a mere killer and it is Dean’s fear and inability to face this monster that nearly destroyed his relationship with his brother and has led to the current situation he’s in now.

Let’s revisit when Dean’s personal monster emerges in an effort to destroy him.

At the end of Season 7, Dean and Cas in an attempt to kill Dick Roman vanished in a sea of black goo. An emotionally unstable Sam, who had been through the psychological ringer since he returned from hell and got his soul back, was left in total shock after what he truly believed to be the death of his touchstone, his reason for putting his broken psyche back together in the first place, his best friend....his brother. He had just lost Bobby twice and now he lost Dean. Sam had no one left. He had no family. He had nobody truly close to him. He lost everything and everyone in that moment, including himself. As Sam so eloquently put it to Amelia, he imploded and ran. He ran away from the life that killed everyone he ever loved. He ran away from himself. Not too hard to understand given what he’s been through since he saved the world by jumping into the pit.

When Dean got out of purgatory, he was angry with Sam for not looking for him. Dean totally disregarded Sam when he told him that he thought he was dead and he couldn’t stay in the life that took everyone away from him. Dean accused Sam of leaving him in purgatory for a girl, a ludicrous notion that isn’t or ever could be true. Sam simply kept a promise. With all that these boys have experienced with demon deals and the consequences that resulted from it, they made a pact, that if either should die, to leave them dead. No more deals. No more trying to get the other back. This was a promise made by two brothers and Sam kept to his word. When he believed with all his heart that his brother died, Sam didn’t try to bring him back or make deals. He instead did what Dean wanted, and as such Sam grieved and broke and lived a life that wasn’t truly his, all to escape the loss of the one he loved most. Sam tried as best he could to let his brother go, because he loved him that much and it’s what Dean said he wanted.

So why then was Dean really angry? Dean jumped to the wrong conclusion not based on what Sam did, but based on his own issues and anger with himself. Firstly, Sam didn’t leave Dean in purgatory, but Cas did. Cas was the one who took off on Dean and left him alone to fend for himself. Dean spent his time in purgatory looking for Cas only to find out from Cas that he abandoned him. Cas had his reason, he was trying to protect Dean from the Levis as Cas believed himself to be a beacon, but I don’t believe that Dean saw that as anything more than Cas ditching him, leaving Dean to fight the monsters alone.

Secondly, Dean believed he left Cas in purgatory. He brought a vampire out with him, but he left Cas behind. He not only left Cas behind, but when he got out he told Sam Cas was dead. Dean never did anything to try to rescue Cas once topside.

Thirdly, Dean appreciated purgatory, even found contentment and a peace there. Sam wasn’t around to keep Dean human, so in essence, he became the killer he always believed himself to be. It wasn’t that he killed to survive, that was of course a necessity, but it was the fact that he enjoyed the kill, he found a freedom in it and an inner calm.

Dean’s resentment towards Sam isn’t because he left him in purgatory and Dean suffered down there, his resentment lies in the fact that he didn’t suffer down there. His anger at Sam stems from the fact that Sam wasn’t with him to keep him human and because of that Dean became the killer he always believed himself to be.

Finally, we have Dean’s friendship with Benny. The origin of their bond came from blackmail. If Dean wasn’t Benny’s ticket out of purgatory, Benny would’ve drank Dean on the spot. They used each other as a means for survival, if you think about it, that’s not unlike the relationship between Sam and Amelia. Dean and Benny were a kindred spirit. Benny is nothing like Sam. Where Sam would’ve kept Dean’s humanity intact, with Benny, Dean can kill without remorse, or guilt. He was free. There was a bond between the two. When Dean was topside, he needed to believe that Benny was more than he truly was. Dean needed to believe Benny was the exception to Dean’s very own monster rule, because if Benny wasn’t, then Dean would have to face his own dark self. He needed to believe that Benny who was a human, still had humanity left otherwise Dean would be nothing more than a monster himself.

Dean nearly destroyed his relationship with his brother in his attempt to deny the truth. When Sam couldn’t take Dean’s emotional abuse anymore, and when Dean, in his effort to keep Sam and Benny apart for fear that Sam would learn the real truth about what happened in purgatory, Dean sent Sam that despicable text, ultimately causing Sam to give Dean an ultimatum. Dean had to choose what valued most to him and of course he chose his brother. This ultimatum of course angered Dean, not so much because he had to let Benny go, but because he was forced to face the truth, a truth he has spent the first half of the season avoiding.

Dean’s inability to face his own demons has led to his current situation. Dean left Sam on that bridge and sought to punish himself rather than face his fear head on. Sure he knew Sam would be angry, but he never dreamed Kevin would die by Sam’s hands. The trickery and deception to keep Sam with him has completely gotten out of his control. The consequences of his actions were more than he can take and with that Dean ran. He ran from his brother, he was once again running from the truth. Instead of dealing with his fears, he punished himself for them and took on the Mark of Cain and the burden that comes with it.

Sam asked Dean in The Purge what the upside to his being alive was. Dean answered that it was the two of them fighting the good fight. Nowhere in that answer did Dean give Sam what he needed to hear. Sam needed to know that Dean kept him alive because he mattered to Dean. Dean’s answer made it seem like Dean only wanted Sam around because he feared being alone. This of course is in part the truth. Dean’s fear of what he would become without Sam in his life is one of the main reasons why Dean goes to the extremes he does. What Dean failed to let Sam understand was that it’s not the only reason. Sam does in fact matter to Dean more than anything, because he loves him more than he loves anything. Sam’s hurt leads him to telling Dean that he wouldn’t save Dean the same way in the same circumstances. Sam would never go against Dean’s wishes. Dean’s low self esteem misconstrues Sam’s words and has Dean believing Sam wouldn’t save him at all. Dean is so blinded by guilt and self pity, that he doesn’t notice that contrary to what Sam said, Sam’s actions illustrates the complete opposite. What happens to Dean next is his worst nightmare come true. He becomes the very thing he’s always feared himself to be. He’s become the very thing he’s always fought against being. He became the very monster that killed his parents. The thing is, had Dean been able to face his fear, to deal with his monster head on, to stay on that bridge and talk to his brother, to admit to Sam what and why he did what he did, he wouldn’t be in the precarious situation he is in now.


  1. Wonderful article. Love the insight. Spot on.

  2. Thank you so much. I really appreciate not only the compliment, but the fact that you actually took time out of your day to read it in the first place.

  3. Excellent. Looking forward to Part 2!

  4. Anna, your insight is always so clear and heart warming and also hopeful that I always love to read what you say. I hope you do continue to write these. And also even if I know your heart is more with Sam the same that I am for Dean you enjoy and love both boys and Supernatural in general. The boys are not perfect. They make mistakes like us all do but that makes their character rich. They are different as individuals but they are family and their relationship is the thing that makes it all great.

    It is not what the fans sometimes want it to be and because of that relationship and because of the show it shouldn't matter which character you like to support the tv show where your favorite character is and his story. Without Supernatural we wouldn't have them now would we? I am glad you are there to discuss with us about Supernatural and do it in such away that digs into the heart of the show.

    - Lilah

  5. Very nice Anna, I have read and appreciated your posts for years now. It is great to see your thoughts fleshed out in this article. I find myself in agreement with you on most things and wish I could be as articulate and thoughtful in the way I express myself. It has been fun getting to know you a little in another forum that we share. Very much looking forward to pt 2.

    <3 Leah