Dean feeling the weight of the world, accepting death for his guilt, Sam trying so hard to save his unwilling brother... It reminds me of some previous episodes - especially Crossroad Blues, Dream a Little Dream of Me and Are You There God, It's Me Dean Winchester. The scenes between Dean and Jo are just soooo beautiful. I am so in LOVE with them.
All of the people targetted by Osiris in this ep have "paid" for their crime, whether that was through time in prison or volunteer work. And despite ... or because of it, they now feel guilty for it and feel that they have to keep paying for their wrongs somehow. Guilt is a sign that a person has (learned to feel) compassion, whether that be for fellow man or animal. But once they have that guilt, it is hell to live with. They might actually feel more at peace if someone would judge them as harshly as they judged themselves and just pull the switch. Osiris uses that guilt against them to get the sacrifice he needs to survive. He almost makes them feel more guilty by dredging up these old hurts, and makes them feel like they deserve to die. This is not about just punishment at all. It is about the way one monster uses human weakness/compassion against them to get what he wants.
So let's get started right away!
"Down South Jukin'" by Lynyrd Skynyrd(plays at the bar)
"4 am Blues" by Barrett Johnson(plays when Osiris is drinking at the bar)
The first scene is of the MoTW - a car chasing after a guy who ran over a girl while he was driving drunk. Anyway, running - a lot of running through the streets - also reminding me of Sam in a future ep. The guy runs into his apartment and is just catching his breath and telling himself he's OK when, splat, the car gets him.
Next scene, Dean and Sam are dressed up as FBI at the crime scene, remarking on how they haven't been on a regular hunt (together) for so long because of the Leviathans. Sam turns to Dean and thanks him for letting Amy go
SAM: It was the right thing to do.
Interesting that right before this Sam is touching his hand again, which means he is seeing Lucifer.
Sharp pain in Dean's heart. He's feeling pretty bad about keeping his secret from Sam. They go up to the room to talk to police then break up to cover more ground after finding that he was a part of AA and he was sending flowers to someone. Funny little conversation about how Dean gets the "jeebs" from AA people.
DEAN :I gave up AA for Lent.
SAM :We're not Catholic.
DEAN :Always with the details. AA gives me the jeebs.
SAM :Wow. Shocker.
DEAN :Shut up.
SAM :Fine. I'll hit the meeting, you go hit on Jane.
So, Sam goes to the AA person, Dean goes to the florist. The AA person tells Sam that "Something was eating at him," and that she had just walked him back from the edge.
WOMAN :Just before he died, I guess. Called me from Neal's Tavern. Said he was an inch away from drinking. So I ran over, talked him off the ledge.
The florist tells Dean that he's been sending flowers to a grave and paid for continued deliveries for 20 years just a day ago.
On a rewatch, I totally think of Dean with the "Something was eating at him" remark, and of course all victims are in the same boat in that sense. They've all spent time paying for the wrong they did, they've changed and become better people but now they are stuck with the guilt.
Anyway, Sam and Dean think it's the ghost of the girl he killed who haunted and killed him, so they go dig, salt and burn the bones. Dean though is a bit reluctant and is grumbling a bit as they go.
Next, a guy is chewed to death by an invisible dog. They find that the guy was arrested for dog racing.
DEAN :You know what does make sense? Vengeance on the guy that Michael Vick'd you. I mean, I'm no one to judge, but it sounds to me like that guy had it coming.
But Sam points out that the guy not only completed his term as volunteer at the shelter, but continued to do it afterwards and worked so hard he was commemorated by the shelter for his work. As with the guy who continues to send flowers to the grave above, this guy continues to work with dogs because he genuinely feels bad for what he had done.
SAM: People change.
DEAN: Tell that to ghost dog.
Sam tells Dean lets check out the body of the guy but Dean is very reluctant and Sam can't figure out what is wrong. Seems that maybe Sam checked on his own because he's telling Dean after the fact that he found red dirt under the guy's finger nails and on his shoes, just like they found at the crash guy's house.
Sam finds out that red dirt is used at apple farms - and one abandoned farm nearby in particular.
SAM :Yeah. Apparently whatever's in red dirt makes great apples.
DEAN :Wow. I'd be so interested in that if I ate apples.
They are on their way to the farm when a guy jumps out on to the road in front of their car. That again reminds me of another ep(Roadkill) <3 And I think of how this might not be such an unusual occurrance for Sam and Dean. Love the car wheels squeeling and Dean leaning back in his seat as he puts the breaks on full throttle. I also love that view from between the guy's legs!
They take the guy, Warren, back to a motel room... or his room?... Not quite sure, and he tells them that he has seen something crazy that no one would believe. Dean says, "Try us." As he usually does, but when what Warren says fails to make sense, Dean is quick to give up, which is rather weird. He is acting strangely.
Sam, however, is on it. The situaiton is this. The guy, Warren, had robbed a liquor store and killed the owner and his wife in the process. He was convicted and had done 30 years. He had just got out of jail. But then he was put to trial (by the Egyptian God Osiris) and sentenced to death. When Sam asks him if there was anything noteworthy at this trial, he mentions some symbols. Sam asks him to draw them.
Dean takes Sam aside and goes, hey, this guy has done some seriously bad shit. Why do we have to help him?
All this talk about people not deserving of their help totally reminds me of Crossroad Blues. There are other similarities. In the case of Crossroad Blues as well, the death of his father is eating at Dean. Dean feels it's his fault that dad is dead - he feels he should have died instead, naturally. Which doesn't give him much patience for those people who made deals with demons - because he instinctively knows that that is what his father had done and is upset that his dad did it for him.
Anyway, he's not very convinced of the importance of helping such people and tells Sam that he's going to check out the bar that all these victims had been at while Sam finds out what the symbols mean and who the monster is.
SAM: To drink or work?
DEAN: I haven't decided yet.
So he goes to the bar and finds a nice bartender. So reminiscent of Sin City! And I LOVE the song as well - Down South Jukin' <3 When Dean hears that she wasn't working at the time the victims were in the shop, he gives up and takes a whiskey double and downs it. Bartender is liking the man in front of her and tells him she's interested in hearing what is bothering him.
DEAN: Ever done something you had to, but felt bad about it later?
BARTENDER: Why would you feel bad about it if you had to?
Here Dean is obviously talking about Amy. He believes strongly that he did the right thing, he feels he has wronged Sam by keeping it secret from him. But there are also many other things that are bothering him. Remember him telling Bobby how he was "Not Good?" on the phone 2 episodes ago? He is now blaming himself for Sam's sickness as well... because he's the one who begged Sam to go with him to find Dad in the first place. He was supposed to take care of Sam.
Not only that but, since Season 5, he has blamed himself for the death of Jo and Ellen. We see it quite clearly in Sam, Interrupted. And now he's blaming it all on the fact that he had not made Jo go home that first time. It was all his fault.
Of course there are many other hurts he feels responsible for, but as he explains later, Jo and Sam are family - Jo, "the sister he never wanted" and Sam are people who he feels it's his duty to protect and care for and has failed completely at that.
Osiris says later that Dean talked quite a bit with the waitress, but I'm guessing it was all shrouded in the usual half-truths. The god sees into Dean's heart, and he becomes the next victim. He is snatched right off the street as he waits for the waitress after her work. The little scene as Dean is waiting outside for the waitress is rather cute though.
DEAN: It's been a while. But you owe yourself. It's nothing but a ground ball – you just got to put your mitt down. You are Dean Winchester. This is what you do.
(awwwww <3 ) And then we see the shadow of a hand on the wall and he's snatched. Quite a nice scene!
Meanwhile Sam has left Warren, the guy that ran in front of their car, in a circle of salt in front of the TV to go check out the farm. While he's there, he gets a phone call from Bobby telling him who the Monster is. Bobby tells them both to get out of there because they are most likely to be the next victims.
SAM (on phone):Yeah. We've got to find him before he goes underground again.
BOBBY (on phone):No, you idjit. It means you two got to get the hell out of Dodge. This guy hones in on people who feel guilty. Who does that sound like to you?
And suddenly Sam's face changes as he thinks of Dean in that Bar... I love that change in expression. He tries to call Dean to warn him but of course Dean has already been snatched.
Finally after the third call, the waitress picks up the phone and Sam goes to pick it up. He knows exactly where Dean is, and when Dean wakes up sitting in front of the judge in chains, the judge calls out to Sam to come out and show himself.
DEAN :You want to fill me in?
SAM :Osiris. He's an Egyptian God.
OSIRIS:Ta-da! Now, go about your business, Sammy.
SAM :Look, if anyone should be on trial, it's me.
OSIRIS :That's for me to decide. Now go away.
I love Osiris. He's quite funny. Love how Sam tries to take Dean's place too.
When that doesn't work, he asks to represent Dean and Osiris allows it, because he thinks it will be fun - not because he's going to listen to a damn word Sam says.
OSIRIS :... stop objecting, or I'll find you in contempt – that is, kill you. So I advise you to let me move it along. The prosecution calls Joanna Beth Harvelle to the stand.
Jo's testimony is cut short when Osiris fears Dean might be influenced to feeling better. Then it's Sam's turn.
OSIRIS :But don't you think that your brother dragged you back into that catastrophic mess because he'd rather damn you with him than be alone?
SAM :No. One way or another, I'd have gotten pulled back in.
OSIRIS :You know that for certain?
SAM :Pretty sure.
OSIRIS :Pretty sure.
SAM :I'm positive.
OSIRIS :I believe you. Hey, if it was about convincing me, I would say...
OSIRIS :I don't decide anything, Sam. I don't decide Dean's guilt. I just weigh the guilt that's already there. This is solely about how Dean feels, way down deep. Them's the breaks.
SAM :Wait. So, if Dean believes he's innocent, then he is?
OSIRIS :If. A big if. Why do I bring up the past? To see if he feels like dog food about it. People want to be judged. They really do. When your heart's heavy, let me tell you, real punishment's a mercy.
And this is the most important point here as reinforced in the lyrics of 4am Blues we hear later as Osiris finds another victim for his judgement.
(as transcribed by me :P)
I know my steps are numbered
And I march into your snare
So many miles in my traveling shoes to where I don't know where
Sometimes my feet get heavy but I know it won't be long
So meanwhile we wait and we sit and sing our father's father's song
Singing Lord I get weary, Lord I get weary, Lord I get weary
I just need a place to lay my head.
My sleep's all toss and turnin' and I dream in black and white
Oh I just can't shake this fever Lord that wakes me every night
And sometimes my thoughts get heavy trying to walk this line of mine
I'll settle my debts and just get some rest from my weary weary mind.
Singin' Lord I get weary, Lord I get weary, Lord I get weary
I just need a place to lay my head
Awesome song, and amazingly fitting to the situation - both Dean and all the other people.
After Sam finds out that it's Dean's perception that matters, he tries hard to convince Osiris that Dean doesn't feel guilty but it all sounds contrived even to our ears.
SAM :Isn't it true that you don't feel guilty about her – that you're just... sad she's dead? That it just... blows?
DEAN :Actually... Maybe, yeah.
(Really Sam? "Blows" ??)
Sam's efforts are completely wasted. But it's during this trial that we find out the two main things that are making Dean feel especially guilty - Jo's death and all that Sam's had to go through because of the hunting life in general. And when Osiris asks Dean if he'd like to try another witness, Dean immediately thinks of Amy - again not because he feels guilty for killing her, but because he feels guilty for doing it behind Sam's back. And because he knows that whether Amy is brought forward or not is not going to change his feeling of guilt, Dean gives in to Osiris and Osiris sentences him to death.
OSIRIS :The court's reached a verdict. I find you, Dean Winchester, guilty in your heart... and sentence you to die. I'd suggest you get your affairs in order quickly.
Sam and Dean are returning to where Sam left Warren and find that he had broken the salt line and got himself killed. Sam is frustrated they couldn't save Warren, but Dean is fatalistic.
Finally Bobby comes through and Sam finds out he just needs to stab Osiris with a Ram's horn. The significance of the ram's horn is that it has the meaning of atonement in a Jewish ritual. Interesting that they fight an Egyptian god with Jewish ritual object.
Sam asks Dean for the keys to the car so he can go steal a ram's horn from a synagogue and Dean is being pessimistic and fatalistic. Sam also finds confirmation that Dean does actually think he killed Jo.
DEAN :You're gonna steal from a temple? Well, that's a new low.
SAM :You're on death row, Dean. Quit joking around. Here. Keys. I'll be back.
DEAN :The dick's gonna sic Jo after me, Sam.
SAM:You're a hunter, Dean. You know how to deal with ghosts.
DEAN :So, you suggesting I kill her again?
SAM :You didn't kill her, Dean. I'll hurry.
This is the thing. Dean can't kill Jo. It's actually very similar to Are You There, God? It's me, Dean Winchester as well, in which Bobby, Sam and Dean all had a hard time fighting the ghosts of those people they let die for some reason. Meg and Henriksen being two people they felt guilty for. This ep focus' on Jo and Sam but as Dean confirms later, there are plenty of other people's deaths he feels responsible for.
As soon as Dean encircles himself in salt, he calls to Jo to come out.
This whole scene is so beautiful and heartbreaking as Jo tries to convince him that he deserves better. He's not responsible for her and he's carrying a lot of crap he doesn't need to but Dean is so low at this point that he's ready for the inevitable.
DEAN :You and Sam. I just – you know, hunters are never kids. I never was. I didn't even stop to think about it.
JO :It's not your fault. It wasn't on you.
DEAN :No, but I didn't want to do it alone. Who does? No, the right thing would have been to send your ass back home to your mom.
JO :Like to have seen you try. He was right about one thing.
DEAN :What, your massive crush on me?
JO :Shut up. You carry all kinds of crap you don't have to, Dean. It kinda gets clearer when you're dead.
DEAN:Well, in that case, you should be able to see that I am 90%... crap. I get rid of that, what then?
JO :You really want to die not knowing? Dean.
JO :It's time.
If you or I was there, we could tell Dean that he indeed thought about how hunters were never kids - all the time. He always wanted Sam to be a kid for as long as he could as can be seen from the little speech at the end of Something Wicked. He also did try to send Jo home in No Exit - not by telling her mother, but trying to convince her - telling her how she has a chance at a normal life. Maybe he feels he didn't do enough to convince them, because he didn't want to go it alone - that part at least is true. But ultimately each person made their own decision to join him and their lives or deaths or pain is not his fault. This "I didn't want to do it alone" reminds me of the Pilot scene which I love so much, but it also reminds me of a scene in Season 9 in which Sam turns it against Dean, blaming him for everything that went wrong in their lives. It hurts me to think of it, even though I know it was said in anger because of his own insecurities and he didn't mean it. Because Sam knew, and we know that this was the biggest reason that Dean felt guilty for what happened to Sam and what happened to Jo. Because he had wanted them - especially Sam - to be by his side.
And Jo goes over to the stove to turn on the gas and Dean realizes that he's going to die like Jo did. ... And that face ...
Meanwhile, Sam has gotten the ram's horn. I don't know how he convinced the rabbi, but he goes to kill Osiris just as Osiris is about to attack a lady outside the bar.
And I don't know if Jo senses Osiris releasing her before this but Jo gently strokes Dean's cheek (And I'm reminded of Amara :P), drops the lighter and disappears.
Dean is left searching the room for her, wondering what happened. He was so sure he was going to die that he is surprised that she disappears.
Later we see Sam and Dean by the car at the side of the road with their regular end-of-hunt beers which also sometimes includes a bit of truth and lying to each other and themselves.
DEAN:I got a question. So where the hell did that come from, volunteering to defend me?
SAM:He was gonna kick me out.
DEAN:I don't know, man – in another life, you uh... you might have made a pretty decent scuzzbag.
SAM:I'm 0 for 1, Dean.
DEAN:Ah, it's not your fault. You were pretty convincing.
This is a painful conversation when we think that Dean feels it's his fault that Sam didn't become a lawyer to begin with, even though it also shows Sam's determination to save his brother no matter what.
Sam is also curious about how Jo looked when she disappeared - if she was in pain - as well as of course the last witness.
SAM :That whole final witness thing.
DEAN :No idea. Honestly, that could be just about anybody dead we know.
Dean can't be honest about it and he diverts the question by asking Sam why he wasn't targetted. Sam gives a little speech about how he feels he paid for all of his guilt in hell being tortured by Lucifer and it makes sense. He doesn't have the guilt of having had to torture other innocent souls like Dean did in hell and he is still suffering the effects of the cage so, there is really no room for feeling guilty about anything. Plus, of course, he's not an older brother ingrained with the notion that he has to take care of family.
SAM:Sometimes I see Lucifer when I friggin' brush my teeth, but, I don't know, I guess I just finally feel like... my past is my past, and I can move on with my life. You know, hopefully.
DEAN :Well, I don't know whether to be, uh, jealous or weirded out.
SAM :You'll get used to it. I mean, I don't want to sound lame, but... I kind of feel good, Dean.
DEAN :Well, you are going to be a pleasure to ride with.
I want to know what exactly he feels good about. He's still seeing Lucifer as attested by him rubbing his hand at the beginning of the episode and as he mentions here. Does he feel good because he is seemingly in control of the situation, like he told Dean last episode? Or maybe the fact that he is still suffering makes him feel like he is paying for his past 'wrong doing'? Or maybe because he was able to save Amy, and now Dean, he feels like he is saving himself?
Dean is still left with his feeling of guilt and the secret he is keeping from Sam and he's going to continue to be tortured by that.