Secondly, thank you so much for your participation in the poll for this episode! Part of the fun of sharing these rewatches with you is finding out different views. It's a way for me to rethink my own views and thoughts and appreciate the variety of people we have in the Supernatural fandom and even just within my group of awesome friends<3
Exile on Main St. put Dean's fear of causing the hurt or death of people close to him on speakerphone. That's basically the main theme of the whole episode. I also truly enjoyed seeing all the indications of our mysteries - Sam's soullessness and Samuel hiding that he is collecting monsters for Crowley. It excited me to imagine what fans must have thought on first viewing. I can just see the posts - Why is Sam acting so cold? That face while Dean hugged him... something is wrong! And then Sam talking about not being sympathetic to others but Dean is?? What is he talking about? And then of course, more obviously, who brought Samuel and Sam back, and why??
And then there is the man Dean. Did anyone think he looked different from Season 5? More stable and grown up? It could have just been good acting and that darn dad-jacket he had on but it seems to me that Jensen's marriage in May of the same year may have prepared him for that domestic situation and helped him look the role.
Well let's get started with Season 6!
"Beautiful Loser" by Bob Seger (plays during the opening montage of Dean's "new" life)
"Neighbors" by Swank (plays while Dean and Sid talk at the bar)
First of all, I paid lots of attention to the music again this episode. Beautiful Loser is not only one with a good beat but some thoughtful lyrics, and the second, Neighbors, is pretty hilarious considering the scene it is heard in. Let me put the Beautiful Loser lyrics here for reference, because it is of course the background music for Dean in his normal apple pie life vs the life he used to have with Sam.
He wants to dream like a young man
With the wisdom of an old man.
He wants his home and security.
He wants to live like a sailor at sea.
Beautiful loser, where you gonna fall?
You realize you just don't need it all.
He's your oldest and your best friend,
If you need him, he'll be there again.
He's always willing to be second best,
A perfect lodger, a perfect guest.
Beautiful loser, read it on the wall
And realize, you just don't need it all.
Hey - you just don't need it all.
You can try but you can't have it all, oh no, no.
Oh, oh, can't have it all.
He'll never make any enemies,
He won't complain if he's caught in a freeze.
He'll always ask, he'll always say please.
Beautiful loser, never take it all
Cause it's easier and faster when you fall,
You just don't need it all
Oh, oh, you just don't need it all.
There are several points made by the song. First, Dean longs for that old hunting life even as he enjoys the family life (He wants his home and security. He wants to live like a sailor at sea.).Secondly, deep down Dean has the fear that something will go wrong with this life and it won't work out (You can try but you can't have it all, oh no, no. Oh, oh, can't have it all.) And finally, he is trying not to get too attached to the life and Lisa/Ben so that when he does have to give it up, it won't be so painful. (Beautiful loser, never take it all Cause it's easier and faster when you fall)
The present life is shown in color alternately with the old life in black and white. We have some awesome scenes of Dean cooking breakfast vs pouring salt along the doors and windows on a hunt, working on a construction site vs cutting off a vamp's head (Season 2), then of Sam and him drinking beer while fixing the impala up in Season 3 as opposed to Dean giving his neighbor a beer at a barbecue now, and Dean fixing his truck with Ben as opposed to the Impala with Sam. We also have an indication that he is having nightmares by the way he wakes up and Lisa asks him if he is OK.
Of course, what does not change is the vigilance as he checks all the doors and windows, and checks on Ben before he cuddles with Lisa over his holy water and salt gun.
He's out for drinks with his neighbor when the next song begins.
The song is actually about how you shouldn't trust your neighbor because they are probably drug dealers or something LOL So I don't know if the song is pointing to the neighbor and saying he shouldn't trust Dean, or how they both shouldn't trust the waitress, but either way, it is very humorous.
Dean has an interesting way of describing his previous work - pest control. I love the way he's not lying but not telling the truth either! Then comes the waitress and when she leaves her number on the bill they totally think she has the hots for Dean, but on a rewatch we know she is a djin who just touched Dean to infect him with her poison.
Dean starts having hallucinations right away.
He sees scratches that remind us of Windegos but he can't find anything to substantiate what he is seeing. He goes home and phones I don't know who... a detective friend? or the police station? A hunter? Wouldn't the police suspect someone asking questions like that??
Lisa comes in to check on him and he lies, but she probably suspects something. Again, Dean does his rounds, but this time, checks under the door mat for the devils trap before going off to sleep.
The next day, he again sees those scratches and follows them through some laundry - reminding me of Sam in Dream a Little Dream(which is also a reference to some film, I think...) and to a shed which he opens, gun in hand, to find a YORKIE - Which is totally Yellow Fever. All these hint that they are all hallucinations, and also that this is all about Dean's fears. His deepest fears. That is what the guy in Dream a Little Dream set out to do to them - show them their worst nightmares - and also yellow fever was all about fear turning around and biting dicks in the ... you know?(LOL) And this is so important to keep in mind when we see Dean's reactions later.
His neighbor just happens to see him pointing his gun at the yorkie. Dean gives the excuse that he thought it was a possum but the neighbor is worried enough that he tells Lisa about it. Dean goes straight to the Impala to take out some supplies and also to a chest in the corner to look up monsters in his dad's journal. We have a moment where he pets his dad's leather jacket as well - which might indicate excitement of getting back to hunting as well... When Lisa comes in, he pretends to have just come to get a hammer, but Lisa knows that something is up. Dean can't keep up the pretense, but instead tells her to go to the movies while he just checks to make sure everything is OK. And Lisa agrees. I really do love this relationship. She just seems to understand him and of course she also trusts him.
As soon as Lisa is gone everything goes haywire in the garage. Sounds in the corner, lights flickering and as Dean is getting all worried, he turns around to find the YED. And what the YED says here is also important when we consider (as Sam says later) that these hallucinations are Dean's worst nightmares and it is actually Dean's fears talking to him.
AZAZEL: You never been what I'd call brainy, but did you really think you were gonna get to keep all of this? You had to know that we were coming for you sometime, pal. You can't outrun your past.
Another reminder that (as indicated in the song above) Dean did not think he could outrun his past. He had always had the fear that it would come back. These words by Azazel are actually Dean, telling himself his worst nightmare, just as he saw Sam with yellow-eyes in Yellow Fever (just noticed... yellow/yellow :O) .
Anyway, this is where Dean is choked by the poison (Azazel's imaginary hands) and Sam injects some antidote into Dean (with imagery of Sam stabbing Azazel in the back) before Dean faints.
He wakes up to find Sam sitting in front of him.
Dean: So I'm dead? This is Heaven?
We figure out later that Sam actually carried Dean to his car and away to the Campbell hideout. Samuel and/or others were probably there with him and left one of them behind to keep a look out for Lisa and Ben's safety (The poor guy - we never even learn his name :P) I do like this view from Dean's perspective though, first seeing Sam sideways then upright as Dean sits up. Sam's little smile is spooky and on a rewatch, I can already totally tell the difference. The soulled Sam would have been way more excited to find Dean waking up. He might have rushed over and grabbed Dean's shoulder going "Dean! You're awake! I was so worried!" or some such and pulled him into a hug. This Sam looks like he is waiting to see how Dean reacts - like he has no feelings on the matter but is curious about Dean.
Soulless Sam is expecting more of a reaction from Dean - a hug or a splash of holy water - but Dean is too shaken and bewildered and Sam does the honors of cutting himself and drinking some holy water with salt in it.
Dean goes up to Sam to hug him, but he looks a bit hesitant and unsure, and Soulless Sam is indulgent as he lets Dean hug him. It is truly a very uncomfortable looking hug.
Sam explains that he had been pulled out of the cage by something only minutes after he fell in and that he had been hunting with family - the Campbells - for a year. When Dean asks him why he had not come for Dean -
Sam: You finally had what you wanted, Dean.
Dean: I wanted my brother, alive!
Sam: You wanted a family. You have for a long time, maybe the whole time. I know you. You only gave it up because of the way we lived. But you had something, and you were building something. Had I shown up, Dean, you would have just run off. I'm sorry. But it felt like after everything, you deserve some regular life.
I want to say here that I'm pretty sure this is not soulless Sam's sentiment. All this talk about what he deserved is not sincere. I'd guess that Sam thought at first that he didn't need Dean. He could do better without all the feelings and the sympathy etc. But something happened - maybe he sensed Samuel's distrust after those heartless hunts together - that made him realize that he needed Dean. I'm going to be thinking about this as we continue on with Season 6. I really don't know if Soulled Sam would have made the same choice - leaving Dean thinking that he was still dead - Although it is true that people like Bobby actually agreed with this decision or justified it in their minds at least.
I also think that Dean is not convinced that anything is alright about this situation. He is quickly suspicious of who may have brought Sam back and why, and his distrust can be seen in the hug he gives Sam. When Sam takes him out to meet the Campbells, even more alarm bells are ringing in his head. He's not going to trust anything to have happened for the good, because it never has. His own being brought back from the dead was solely for the angel's purposes. Everyone had tried to convince him that it was for the good then too, but Dean had been right to be suspicious.
The Campbells, especially Christian(the demon), are making fun of Dean a bit. They think he's soft because he has been living a life outside of hunting. Interesting though that Gwen mentions Sam having talked about Dean a lot. I wonder what he had said about Dean? Maybe about how emotional he was? Or, maybe he hadn't said anything but Gwen was just being polite? When Samuel makes his entrance, Dean is so flabbergasted he is in no mood to hug his grandfather. Samuel tells the others to leave and tells Dean his little lie about how he doesn't know who pulled him down from heaven. Question though. We know Crowley told him he'd bring back Mary if Samuel did as he was told, but did Crowley actually bring Samuel back? From HEAVEN? Can a demon (aka King of Hell) do that?? Or did Cas actually do the pulling down and Crowley make him the deal afterwards? hmmm.
Dean then asks about how Sam knew Dean was going to be infected and Sam tells Dean what he should have known already - that he was basically on the djin's hit list after having killed one previously, and that they had hit on Sam first so they had known the djin would come after Dean next.
Dean: Djinn? I thought those were -- were cave-dwelling hermit-type. That's pretty exotic.
Sam: Not anymore, at least. These...look like regular people. They can blend in. And all they got to do to kill you is touch you. Their toxins get in your system, all of a sudden you're hallucinating your worst nightmares, and pretty soon you O.D.
So we get a bit of an indication of how things have changed since a year ago. More interesting is imagining how Sam would not have been affected by those "worst nightmares" he mentioned.
As they are talking, Dean remembers Lisa and Ben (forgetting that he had sent them to the movies in his panic) and rushes home to find the Campbell(I assume?) dead in his car and no one in the house. Lisa and Ben walk in the door to a panicked Dean and as he tells them that they need to leave the house, Ben also notices Sam in the back.
Lisa: Oh, my God.
Dean: Lisa, Ben, I don't know if you remember --
Lisa tells Dean later that as soon as she saw Sam she knew that their "normal" life was over and that Dean would want to leave with Sam.
I do love the scene of Dean arriving at Bobby's and introducing Lisa and Ben in the doorway. It's a total father/husband moment for me - maybe the last we see. More important is that after Lisa and Ben are sent upstairs to their rooms, Sam comes in and Dean's expecting all kinds of surprise from Bobby but he's not. What a shock. I thought about this at the end of Swan Song, wondering how long after Dean left Bobby there in his parking lot did Bobby find out that Sam was back.
Dean asks Bobby why he let Dean be in the dark and he gets a similar answer as from Sam.
Bobby: And I'd do it again.
Bobby: Because you got out, Dean! You walked away from the life. And I was so damn grateful, you got no idea.
Dean: Do you have any clue what walking away meant for me?
Bobby: Yeah -- a woman and a kid and not getting your guts ripped out at age 30. That's what it meant.
Dean: That woman and that kid -- I went to them because you asked me to.
Dean: Good for who? I showed up on their doorstep half out of my head with grief. God knows why they even let me in. I drank too much. I had nightmares. I looked everywhere. I collected hundreds of books, trying to find anything to bust you out.
Sam: You promised you'd leave it alone.
Dean: Of course I didn't leave it alone! Sue me! A damn year? You couldn't put me out of my misery?
Bobby: Look, I get it wasn't easy. But that's life! And it's as close to happiness as I've ever seen a hunter get. It ain't like I wanted to lie to you, son. But you were out, Dean.
Dean: Do I look out to you?
First I want to concentrate on Dean's words, because they tie in with Dean's nightmares and how he feels about Lisa and Ben. Basically he's telling Bobby that he really put Lisa and Ben through a lot because of his PTSD if you will. He felt as if he was a nuisance to them with the nightmares and alcoholism and grief. Bobby tells him that that is as close to happiness as a hunter can get, but Dean is not thinking about himself. He's thinking about Lisa and Ben. And most importantly, he wasn't able to get out of the life - he ended up pulling them in with him instead and putting them in danger.
Bobby, of course, loves the boys and wants them to be able to have a normal life. He's always wanted that. I don't know what he thought of Sam hunting while Dean didn't, but at least Dean was out.
And we again have a telling conversation between Dean and Lisa. First we can tell Lisa's resignation as soon as she hears Dean is going to be going with Sam. Again the understanding that it's over. That this is goodbye. And then again, we see Dean basically beating himself up for believing that he could get away from the hunting life, and putting Lisa and Ben in danger because of it.
Dean: Me and Sam, we're gonna head out.
Lisa: For how long?
Dean: I'm so sorry, Lisa.
Lisa: For what?
Dean: Those things were coming for me. And I should've known.
Lisa: How could you know a monster was gonna show up?
Dean: I should've known. I should've known that if I stayed with you that something would come, because something always does. But I was stupid and reckless and...You can't outrun your past.
Lisa: You're saying goodbye.
Dean: I'm saying I'm sorry... For everything. Everything.
Lisa: You're an idiot. I mean, I know it wasn't greeting-card perfect, but we were in it together.
Dean: I was a wreck half the time.
Lisa: Yeah, well, the guy that basically just saved the world shows up at your door, you expect him to have a couple of issues. And you're always so amazing with Ben. You know what I wanted, more than anything was a guy that Ben could look up to like a dad. So, you're saying it's all bad, Dean? 'Cause it was the best year of my life.
He apologizes to Lisa for ruining their lives for the whole year, basically. And Lisa is so frustrated with him :D I just love her so much for telling him what an idiot he is - to not realize what a wonderful father figure he had been to Ben and how happy Lisa had been. I get teary just reading that last bit by Lisa and feel like slapping Dean in frustration. Bobby and Lisa here are saying similar things here, that Dean should not think that it was a mistake just because it wasn't perfect.
After that Dean's off to catch the djin with Sam. They first go off to the Campbell stronghold to find out the plan... and then find that there really isn't any plan. I really like this scene of Dean being snarky with Christian <3
Christian : Relax, Dean. We got it handled. Djinn are hard to draw out. Now, you've been out of the game for a while. Leave it to the professionals.
Dean: Yeah. Sure. Tiny suggestion. You see, djinn are easier to draw out when you got bait. They want Sam and me. They know where I live. Now, I haven't been hunting in a while, but I'm gonna stick my neck out and guess that's a pretty good place for us to go. See? It's almost like I'm a professional.
Hehe! It so reminds me of the scene with Samuel in In the Beginning! I also love Samuel grinning at this along with Gwen <3
So they are back at the house and everyone takes a jab at the normalness of it. A girly magazine, golf clubs (which is also a jab at Jensen, according to superwiki), happy family photos etc. The Campbells, despite having had the family thing, had never indulged in such nonsense I guess, but their jabs are a bit tiresome. Samuel comes up to Dean in the kitchen and suggests that this is not the life for him...
Samuel: You know, believe it or not, I...I get it, Dean. You wanted a normal life. Your mom wanted a normal life, too. You remind me of her, actually. The attitude, for one thing. Your brother tell you what we been dealing with the past few months?
Dean: No, not really.
Samuel: I've never seen anything quite like it. Been working 'round the clock.
Dean: So what's going on?
Samuel: We don't know. But whatever it is, it goes way past a couple of djinn acting off -- Nocturnals attacking in broad daylight, werewolves out on the half-moon, creatures that we've never even seen before. We don't -- we don't even know what they are. I'm knee-deep in half-eaten human hearts and exsanguinated 10-year-olds, and it's all making me.. Uneasy.
Dean: So what's your theory?
Samuel: You tell me. All we really know is it's all hands on deck. We're counting on each other right now. That's how it is with Campbells. We need you, Dean.
Dean: Look, I hear you, but...
Samuel: You don't know what you're part of, Dean. You know, you had ancestors hacking the heads off vamps on the Mayflower. What I'm saying is that we're your blood. And we're out there dying, trying to get in front of whatever this is. Maybe not the best time for golf.
...which seems rather strange since Dean had not chosen this life to begin with, and he would have come with Sam if Sam had come to get him at the beginning and it seems that Dean had already indicated that he was joining Sam. More importantly though, Samuel is explaining the situation they are in now with the various monsters acting out of character. ALSO, we get mention of Mary, whom Samuel is doing this for in the first place. I don't like him comparing Dean with her, but the fact she is mentioned is significant. Obviously, she is on Samuel's mind a lot. Another thing, of course is that Samuel appeals to Dean's sense of BLOOD. We see later that this blood bond is not as strong as family created out of love.
After that lecture, Dean goes out to see how the other Campbell, Mark, is doing. Mark is a silent dude. I personally like those types - in movies, they usually end up being pretty darn smart and quick. He shows Dean the djin in the trees and Dean realizes that the djin are not going to attack unless they reduce their numbers. So he goes back inside and tells everyone to leave Sam and him alone in the house.
We then have a little talk between Dean and Sam regarding the cage.
Dean: Do you remember it?
Dean: The Cage.
Dean: You want to --
Dean: Well, if anybody can relate...
Sam: Dean, I don't want to talk about it. I'm back. I get to breathe fresh air, have a beer, hunt with my family, see you again. So why exactly would I want to think about Hell?
Dean: And you really think...
The hilarious thing about this is, that Sam is acting exactly opposite of Dean in Season 4. While Dean had told Sam he didn't remember anything, Sam says he does... he just doesn't want to talk about it. Wait, do we ever really know if Soulless Sam remembered hell or not? Didn't he say somewhere later that he didn't remember? We'll see. Either way, Sam obviously doesn't have any feelings for Hell so the reason he doesn't want to talk about it is not because it's hard to.
Just then, Dean notices his good neighbor and wife being attacked by the djin. It is an obvious ploy to lure him and Dean falls right for it. He knows, but he can't help himself from going to help.
Sam: Dean, they're already dead, and you know it.
Dean: This is happening because of me!
Again, we see Dean feeling responsible for the monster attacks - because they were coming for him.
I'm not sure why it takes Sam so long to go after Dean here. He has to go to another room to get the antidote from another bag, which seems rather stupid, but when he's ready to go, he's blocked by one of the djin. Dean is caught by two at his neighbor's house. Just as Sam had said, his friend and wife are dead already. He couldn't have done anything.
The two djin attack from in front and behind and it looks pretty bad. I don't think it would have been surprising if Dean had died on the spot. His neighbors did after all... But he doesn't. He starts hallucinating again. First he sees Lisa and Ben outside. Ben couldn't sleep at Bobby's so they had come back home. Then Azazel appears again.
Dean is suddenly in Ben's bedroom on his blue bed, staring at the blue star covered ceiling and he really looks like a little kid - I like the imagery of that scene. It shows maybe how helpless he feels, sort of like he would have felt as a four year old. But then he sees Lisa being flung to the wall and dragged up to the ceiling while Azazel gives Ben his demon blood to drink, and Ben is drinking hungrily and Lisa is screaming and shouting at Dean that it was all HIS FAULT... Even Azazel turns to him with a grin and tells him that it is his fault.
Again, remember that all this is Dean's biggest fear come true. That the people he loved would be marred and killed BECAUSE OF HIM.
Meanwhile, Samuel and Christian come and help Sam with the one he is fighting (the girl that touched Dean at the bar) and tell Sam to go help Dean. They then secretly capture the girl and take her to the van. It is pretty obvious here that Sam is not in on this plan - whatever it is. When Dean wakes up, Sam tells him that Samuel and the others had left in a hurry and that he was going to go and meet up with them. He asks Dean what he is going to do, and Dean tells Sam he's going to stay with Lisa and Ben.
Dean: No. No, I'm going back for Lisa and Ben.
Sam: I thought you said --
Dean: I did. I changed my mind.
We didn't actually hear it, but Dean has indicated somewhere along the line that he was going with Sam. The talk with Lisa had been a goodbye as she suspected. But after those hallucinations the fear comes to the surface that they are going to get hurt because of him, and he has the urge to stay with them instead of leaving. He has put Lisa and Ben in the line of fire by having them in his life and he doesn't want to leave them unprotected.
Sam tries to convince Dean to come and hunt. This is just too weird after a year of leaving him alone but maybe we will find out why it was so important now. One thing I know is that Sam is telling the truth here:
Dean: ...you know plenty of good hunters. I'm rusty. I did something seriously stupid going out there. I almost got us both killed.
Sam: And that's exactly why I want you.
Dean: What are you talking about?
Sam: You just went. You didn't hesitate. Because you care, and that's who you are. Me? I wouldn't even think to try.
Dean: Yes, you would.
Sam: No, Dean. I'm telling you, it's just better with you around. That's all.
Dean tries to get Sam to take the Impala, but Sam refuses. Not because he feels bad for taking the Impala, but because he genuinely doesn't want it. He has his own modern car all set up the way he wants it! It pains Dean, I think, that Sam refuses here :P
Dean: She should be hunting. Take her.
Sam: Thanks. Really. But I already got my car set up how I like it. I should hit the road.
Soulless Sam tries his best to be very polite about not accepting but...Awww... look at Dean's pained puppy eyes...
Then they say goodbye outside -
Dean: I'll walk you out. Keep in touch, you hear?
Sam: 'Course. It was really good to see you again, Dean.
UG. What a goodbye full of things unsaid.
And Dean watches Sam drive off in his compact car -
Wait... is that Dean thinking, "Man, why would anyone want that car over the Impala?!" LOL