karakuri_doll mentioned the violence in some cartoons, which we come face to face with in this ep. What happens if a heart really pops out of your body in real life? or if you really have a few seconds in mid-air before you fall? What would happen if a black circle in a wall really could magically make a hole for just until you removed it or if writing an X really could make an anvil fall on your or another person's head? It's funny in a cartoon because it's not real and whoever experiences these horrors can just get back up again and never die. Which also reminds me of the rules of the SPN world and how they are different from real life. I mean, we can watch all this horrific stuff and watch Sam and Dean die because we know that next ep, next season, somehow, they will bounce back up. Because it is not our RL. It's a mirror of real life that tells a story and makes us think about life and love and pain and all that stuff. It's the same with cartoons - although maybe cartoons are not as deep and religious as Cas thinks they are. There is still more than one cultural lesson in it all, if you think deeply enough. Like the fact that the weaker/smarter always wins against the bigger, stronger and possibly dumber enemy. I definitely think that is a key theme in cartoons, and in SPN. It's not brawn that wins, it's brains. Wow... way to tie it in. (wohoo)
Anyway, if I went on about cultural lessons of American cartoons, it would take up a thousand or more Anthropological theses, so let's just get on with the story shall we?
The episode starts with a guy's heart jumping out of his chest...which is gross and cute at the same time - just look at that little heart shape!
Then a cute/funny scene while Dean refills the Impalla. Sam gets a call from Mrs. Tran and passes the phone to Dean because he doesn't want to talk to her anymore, but he's too polite to say so. Dean has a better idea. He pretends they are in a tunnel and ends the call abruptly. They've found out that Garth has a "safeboat" and that Kevin and his mom are on it. Kevin is trying to translate the half-tablet, but his having a hard time with it.
Nothing special here except Dean drinking beer :D<3
Then Dean goes over to talk to Cas -
DEAN:What's the word, Cas?
CASTIEL:It's shortened version of my name.
DEAN:Yes, it is. I meant what's the word on the Word? Any, uh, tablet chatter on angel radio?
Cas taking Dean's words at face value is hilarious.
Cas then tells them that he turned the angel radio off - just the angel radio and not all the other stuff - and goes into an explanation of how, but obviously Dean is not interested. As to why he's doing that, we find out more later although he does say here that he doesn't want anything to do with Heaven anymore.
Asked what he's going to do now, Cas says he wants to be a hunter with them.
CASTIEL:Yeah. I could be your third wheel.
DEAN:You know that's not a good thing, right?
CASTIEL:Of course it is. A third wheel adds extra grip, greater stability. I even found a case. Oklahoma City – a man's heart jumped 10 feet out of his chest. It sounds like our kind of thing, right?
SAM:He's got a point.
Again Cas is funny, heee! Love Sam's shrug and "He's got a point." But that doesn't mean that he's giving Cas his seat in the car. Cas is going in the back.
When they get to the morgue, Cas starts sniffing the corpse for clues. Sam and Dean find out from the guy’s ring and his actions that he most probably is having an affair and his wife may not be very happy about it. They go looking for a witch.
SAM:So she breaks his. Sounds witchy.
DEAN:Yes, it does. Guy was living a lie, and it came back to bite him in the ticker. But nice job on the bladder infection.
Now this line by Dean reminds Sam of the time when he was "living a lie and it came back to bite him in the ticker" and we go back to Sam and Amelia organizing her stuff after she moves in to a house with Sam. Sam is leafing through Amelia's wedding photos and, I don't know, wondering what on earth he's doing maybe.
They've invited Amelia's dad over for dinner and he's very suspicious of Sam.
As with the flashbacks before, all these scenes are all fuzzy, as if to show that Sam was in his dream world.
Back to the case.
When they get to the guy’s house, however, they fiind out that the girl he was having an affair with and his wife are close friends, and his wife knew and had accepted his affair in exchange for hers. There is a bit of Cas trying to play "bad cop" then we have the funny adlib by Jensen.
CASTIEL:So she's not a witch.
DEAN:Just the best wife ever.
CASTIEL:Then what killed her husband?
DEAN:Who gives a-
Then a guy tries to commit suicide on top of a building and floats in midair for a minute before falling from the building. The cop they asked for information if anything weird happens calls them to the scene.
They find out that the guy had invested everything with Dick Roman and had lost (a funny tidbit from last season), and Sam and Dean get how all these deaths remind them of cartoons - another funny scene with Cas.
DEAN:She's right, you know. I mean, the whole heart jumping out of the guy's chest, the – the – the delayed fall – that's straight-up Bugs Bunny.
CASTIEL:So we're looking for some sort of insect-rabbit hybrid? How do we kill it?
SAM:No, we don't, Cas. That's a character, like, uh – like Woody Woodpecker or Daffy Duck.
DEAN:They're little animated movies. You know, uh, the coyote chases a roadrunner, and then the – [laughs] the anvil gets dropped on his head. [SAM smiles.]
CASTIEL:Is it supposed to be funny?
DEAN:[unsmiling] No. It's hilarious.
Then we have Cas studying up on cartoons and getting it all wrong (maybe LOL) while Sam and Dean research.
CASTIEL:I understand. The bird represents God. And coyote is man, endlessly chasing the divine, yet never able to catch him. It's... It's hilarious.
OK, but as I often say about art, it's up to the viewer to find the significance or humor in whatever has been created, so if that is what Cas got out of this cartoon, and he thought it was funny... I guess it's ok? :D It's also interesting why he'd think that way. Obviously he feels like maybe this whole life is futile. He just continues to try to be good and never achieves it. Funny in a very dark way, don't you think?
Dean asks Cas if he’s going to stay there all night - and another funny scene.
DEAN:All right, well, I'm gonna call it. Cas, you gonna book a room or what?
CASTIEL:No, I'll stay here.
DEAN:Oh, okay. Yeah. We'll have a slumber party, braid Sam's hair. Where are you gonna sleep?
CASTIEL:I don't sleep.
DEAN:Okay, well, I need my four hours, so...
CASTIEL:I'll watch over you.
DEAN:That's not gonna happen.
Love the "Braid Sam's hair" line - that was adlib too right? And Dean refusing to be "watched over," is again a reminder of The End and Cas waiting for Dean's four hours on the side of the road. Come on Dean, let him watch over you the poor guy. But before it comes to that, Cas hears something on the police radio, which he has not turned off like he has the angel radio.
There’s been a looney bank robbery and they are again on their way to the bank, where they find a round black ‘thing” on the wall and an anvil on the floor. This whole scene... it's just like some scene in a Looney Tunes movie. Sam goes with the cop to study up on what the cops have got on the case, while Dean and Cas stay behind. Dean gets Cas to lift the Anvil and they find an X that marks the spot - below all the guard goo. Funny that even the goo is not actually the gross, realistic stuff they could have made for the scene - it's "goo."
Then a great scene in the motel while Cas is on one of the beds studying dad’s journal and commenting on the handwriting. For some reason, this line about fathers and handwriting reminded me of the cartoon interpretation earlier. Is this all about the tablets? God's handwriting. Do you think that Naomi has put the search for the Angel tablet in Cas' subconscious and Cas is reacting to that in various ways here?? Interesting to think how John wrote his own journal, but God got Metatron to write his so it's not really his handwriting.
Anyway, back to the story. Dean is doing research at the table. Dean asks Cas why he has cut off the angel radio and shouldn’t he go back, and Cas gets defensive. Figuring there is something wrong, Dean goes over to talk to Cas.
DEAN:Talk to me.
CASTIEL:Dean, I... When I was... bad... and I had all those things – the... the leviathans... writhing inside me... I caused a lot of suffering on earth, but I devastated Heaven. I vaporized thousands of my own kind, and I – I – I can't go back.
I love this talk - first for Dean's "talk to me" and also for Cas being honest about his fear. It shows how close they really are. And thinking of the parallel with Sam here, Cas knows inside that he should be dealing with these feelings and what happened in the past, but is in his own little world pretending that he can just forget and be a hunter with Sam and Dean. Sam also knows that his time with Amelia was his dream world - that's why he keeps having these memories at the times he does. But he still wants to hold on to the hope that he can forget about the rl and go back to a normal life.
At this point, Sam comes in and tells them that little bubbles of weird are happening all around one old people’s home.
DEAN:All right. Well, let's gear up. It's wabbit season.
CASTIEL:I don't think you pronounced that correctly.
So they go to talk to the residents. They question a cute little lady, who tells them about the diamonds she hid under her floorboards, all the while thinking that Cas is her husband, and then tells them about a cat that can talk. Cas goes to interrogate the cat, while Dean goes to find out more. (HEEE!!)
CASTIEL:Hey. I'm not through with you.
Love how the cat really CAN talk, obviously because of Fred.
Sam is talking with the orderly who tells him that many of the residents are in their own little worlds. Then Sam has a flashback again, to when he met Amelia’s dad. Dad having been in the army, knows the look of someone who has seen terrible things. He asks what Sam is running from.
STAN:The one a lot of guys get after they've been through the meat grinder – the one that lets you know they've seen a lot of crap they can't forget. The second their feet hit solid ground, they start running, and they don't stop – not till they find something to hold on to.
SAM:You think that's what I'm doing here? Just holding on?
STAN:I think the two of you are holding on to each other, yeah. 'Cause I know she's scared. After what happened to Don, I don't blame her for taking off. Needing to run away and hide – I know why she did it. The question is – what are you running from, Sam?
This dad is so perceptive. And Sam's like, ow. right in the heart.
Dean bumps into Sam at the bulletin boards, where they find a picture of a person they are familiar with. An old friend of dad’s who was psychic. It seems he lives here now, all wrapped up in his own little world like many of the residents. He is watching cartoons and Dean does a little test to see if he is the one making the bubbles of weird. Hehehe! He sees little birdies as he bonks his forhead with a book :D
But let me stop here and contemplate how so many people in this residence are in their own little worlds, but only this guy Fred is influencing the world around him because of it. By escaping the real world, he is shaking it up because he has this special "psychokinetic" power. Sam, and Cas also, escaping their real life issues, also have caused damage to the real world because of their special gifts. Especially Cas, who has given over power to Naomi, just like Fred gave over power to the home administrator, and I guess Sam also threw down his hunter skills and gave power over to Crowley by ignoring Kevin's calls and leaving him on his own. I'm sure this somehow relates to Dean in some way too - how his preoccupation with Benny is detrimental to their cause but it seems that this ep is not really about Dean's issues.
The point is, these three are all really important to this little world of SPN. As long as they are going through life doing their jobs it's ok, but if they start wanting something else so they don't have to deal with real life, then they influence the world around them and not in a good way.
Cas asks if they need to kill him, just as the residence manager comes in and they get kicked out of the home.
Luckily, Cas can still watch the home because he can become invisible. I always remember the gag reels in this scene and it makes me smile even more than it should.
Later that night, the residents are having a birthday party for the cute little lady. Frank the psychokinetic finds a channel with cartoons that just happens to be doing an episode where a big candle just happens to be a bomb and blows up -- of course, the whole cake blows up in everyone’s faces.
Dean and Sam are called back by Cas and, as they are assessing the damage, one of the workers (Dean was eyeing while they were talking with the little old lady) comes up pushing the lady’s wheelchair and tells them they shouldn’t be there. Then the little old woman notices her diamonds on the woman and points them out to Cas, whom she mistakes as her husband again.
MRS TATE: Charles, she's wearing my diamonds.
When they ask her where she got the diamonds, she tells them that her bf gave them to her - so off they go to the boyfriend’s house, thinking he is the culprit. But he’s there shot in the stomach. Cas heals him, which spooks him LOL, and they find out that it is Dr. Mahoney (LOVE THE NAME LOL!!!) of the home who’s been manipulating Frank so he could rob the old people of their fortunes. Off to the bank and find the van where Frank is hiding nearby.
Here, Cas asks if they think Frank knows what damage he is causing, and Dean answers that he is probably in his own little dream world.
Then, Sam has a flashback again of washing the dishes while Amelia and her dad talk in the other room. Dad calls Sam a mess, and Amelia points out that she is also a mess, and they want to be messes together and to please be nicer to Sam. He goes over and wipes the dishes with Sam, and they talk cordially about the Impalla. We see Sam rubbing his “scar” here.
In the real world, Dean finds the black “hole” so off he goes to investigate the bank, while Sam and Cas find Frank’s van and try to get through to him, but they can’t until Cas puts them both in Frank’s head so they can talk to him directly.
So Dean is trying to stop the bad guy under cartoon conditions/rules:
while Sam is finding out about Frank and giving him a little lecture on escaping reality, which is something he is and has taken to heart himself.
FRED:Cartoons – yeah, yeah, I always loved them when I was a kid. [The background changes to black and white circles and patterns on the walls.] They made me feel... happy – safe. They were...
SAM:Something to hold on to.
SAM:Look, it can be nice living in a dream world. It can be great. I know that. And you can hide, and you can pretend... ...all the crap out there doesn't exist, but you can't do it forever because... eventually, whatever it is you're running from – it'll find you. It'll come along, and it'll punch you in the gut. And then... then you got to wake up, because if you don't, then trying to keep that dream alive will destroy you! It'll destroy everything!
So normal life is "something to hold on to" in Sam's case, aye? The thought of it makes him feel happy and safe. So, does he ever escape that? Does he ever wake up? In a way, he decides that he has to finish what they started, but he still has this as his light at the end of the tunnel, doesn't he? So, he stops being inside his head all the time, being immersed in the dream, but he saves the dream for those times when he needs something happy to think about, like Frank did when he was small and he couldn't deal. Sort of a coping mechanism, isn't it.
Finally, it seems Sam convinces Frank to stop what he is doing, because all of a sudden, the Dr. and Dean are not under cartoon rules. Unfortunately, by this time the Dr. has the gun though and he is just about to shoot Dean when Frank comes to the rescue and kills Dr. Mahoney, reminding me of Nightmare. But Frank is scared that he is going to lose it again, as he gets older and senile. Cas suggests he can do something although it might be very painful and Frank agrees.
We never see the “painful”bit, only Frank sitting in his chair listening to Ode to Joy in his head. We don’t really get what Cas did to Frank but it seems very peaceful. Dean starts to say that Cas has earned the right to be shotgun, but then Cas tells them that he has taken this case to heart and realized that he has to deal with what he’s been avoiding - go to heaven and pay for the wrongs he has done.
Just as he tells them that he can’t stay with them anymore, Naomi calls him into her little room and tells him that he can’t come back. That he is paying for his wrongs by NOT coming back… which is puzzling again, unless she is talking about this unconscious search for the Angel Tablet. She sends him back and he changes his story to being with Frank for a bit.
CASTIEL:I, um... I want to stay with Mr. Jones. Someone should watch over him for a few days just to be safe.
DEAN:Okay, and then what?
CASTIEL:Then I'm not sure. But I know I can't run anymore.
Then we have another flashback by Sam, remembering telling Amelia's dad about losing Dean, then suddenly Amelia gets a phone call telling her that Don was back from the war.
This parallels the talk by Sam about reality punching you in the gut and having to deal with it. I have Sam's words echoing in my mind here - "Trying to keep that dream alive will destroy you. It will destroy everything!"