supernutjapan (supernutjapan) wrote,

Rewatching 4-17 It's a Terrible Life

So let's get started on this before I get swamped by RL. This episode is to On the Head of a Pin as In My Time Of Dying is to Devil's Trap, or Lazarus Rising is to No Rest for the Wicked. I just have to watch the one after the other because otherwise it's just too painful and unfinished and basically leaves a hole where my heart was. This episode is also one of my most memorable - if not most favorite - episodes of Season 4 because it's what made me remember the show and go search for it two and a half years ago. One thing I can say from this rewatch... there is something about watching the boys rediscover hunting while experiencing a version of normal life that is really refreshing as well as thought provoking, and boy, is it fun!

"A Well-Respected Man" by The Kinks (plays over the opening Dean montage)
"Hollow" by Brian Tichy"(The rock music that briefly plays on Dean's radio and interrupts "A Well-Respected Man")

We start with the THEN, where we are reminded of how beat up Dean was at the end of the previous episode and of course Cas' thoughtful expression as Dean tells him he has to find someone else.

NOW, Dean is turning off his alarm... which totally reminds me of Mystery Spot but on the first watch is like... what the hell? But on a rewatch I'm wondering WHEN IS THIS? Probably while Dean is hospitalized, maybe even just a few hours after that THEN scene, when we consider Dean's condition. Maybe Zach healed him as he plopped both of the boys in this reality.

Marketing Manager Dean drinks his latte then puts on his jacket and is out the door... to get into his low-emission Prius - as opposed to a "gas-eating" classic car *smirks*. He then changes the radio station and grins to a bit of rock music before turning on the financial news.
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So there is a little bit of real Dean peeking through and it's kind of cute. He gets out of the elevator, popping some bun or doughnut or something in his mouth as he goes to the office with a shiny name plate - Dean Smith, Director, Sales and Marketing. He goes through this typical business man day, crunching on salads, talking about diets on the phone, typing away... His boss (Zach) comes in to tell him he's doing great... And he totally fits in to the life - it is hilarious and hot at the same time.
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(Kind of makes me think it'd be cool to see Dean/Jensen in a show like Sex and the City or something.... mmmmmmm...)

He's getting on the elevator again to go home when he meets Sam and Sam knows instantly that he's seen Dean somewhere while Dean is totally clueless and thinks Sam is some weirdo or that he's hitting on Dean (gay reference?!).
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DEAN:Save it for the health club pal.

Then we have Sam Wesson's typical day in tech support.
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First, lovely T-shirt*smirks*! Seems they don't have to wear them, but the proper ones do. Or maybe Sam is just being proper because it's only been two weeks at the job? We have the monotony of the job shown through the cycle of sharpening pencils and making copies. The phone conversation always revolves around everything being fixed by just turning the printer on and off. And Sam is bored out of his mind. He's bonking his pencil on this little vampire toy. What were those things called?! But he seems to have a friend already, to whom he has admitted he's been having weird dreams of killing monsters. This is another thing that puzzles me on rewatch - the various differences in Sam and Dean. What's with Sam's dreams? Does Zach give him the dreams so he can figure out that something is not right? Or is it that the memory number Zach does on Sam is not as deep as with Dean so Sam has glimpses of real life? Or maybe Dean forgets everything because he had given up while Sam has these dreams because his mind is resisting? There is a big difference between Sam and Dean here even not considering the crappy job Sam has...We also have a mysterious view from inside of the microwave as someone makes popcorn, and later as Sam and Ian are talking.
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I really like those frame like shots... but we see the reason for this later (It totally reminds me of little fairies... microwaves do that to me...).

Sam and his friend Ian notice an older colleague, Paul, is acting a bit weird and they don't think anything of it except that maybe HR put the "fear of god in him" because he was surfing the internet during work.

Then we have another elevator scene, where Sam and Dean just happen to be there together again. Everyone just leaves on a certain floor, leaving them together (why does that always happen on drama shows!) Sam can't help but ask Dean if he believes in ghosts because he's been having weird dreams.
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SAM:Because I've been having some weird dreams lately. You know what I mean?
DEAN:No. Not really.
SAM:So you've never had any...weird dreams?
DEAN:All right, look, man, I don't know you, okay? But I'm gonna do a public service and, uh, let you know that—that you overshare.

And Dean is frantically pushing the button for the next floor so he can get away from this weirdo LOL.

Again tech support- the repeat of copies and pencil sharpening and asking whether they've turned the printer off and on... Ian seems to have had an e-mail from HR. Paul is panicking because the stuff he was working had disappeared.

Sam tries to calm him down, but he gets more and more panicked - it gets later later and the guy is the only one in the office. He suddenly stands up saying that he's failed the company and sticks his head in the microwave and kills himself *skips scene*. (question: So... did his brains boil? or was it electrocution?) Love the little note above the microwave not to warm fish in the microwave because it stinks. Very black humor.

As the dead guy is carried away, Sam and Dean see each other again.
We see Sam and Dean looking at each other. Some instinct in Dean is also telling him something is not right.
(And I notice that Dean's cheeks are smooth and he looks so young and... ehem... go ahead and click on that pic... hehe!)
DEAN:Something about this seem not right to you?
SUIT:Uh, yeah, try the whole thing. I'm telling you, man, I'll never eat popcorn again.
DEAN:Yeah, right.

Dean's researching on Paul and finds out it was only two weeks until he was supposed to retire. Sam thinks it's strange too. He also notices that Ian is wearing the shirt and acting all panicked.
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He is called up to Dean's office because of a simple form mistake, he panics, talking of affecting profits,
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and then goes to the washroom and sticks a pencil in his neck. I guess that's supposed to mean something? Like he's killed by the very thing he was stealing from the office? Wait... So Paul sticking himself in the microwave... ? Anyway, it's really gross and Dean first feels the air grow cold (his breath turns white) and then sees the ghost in the mirror.
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So while Dean is explaining things to the police, Sam and Dean share looks again.
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Soon after, Dean calls Sam up to his office.
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DEAN:Who are you?
SAM: I don't know.

Sam is having serious doubts that this is really his life, which is again proof that there is some difference in Sam and Dean whether it's how they are reacting to their surroundings, or how Zach set them up. Sam's already checked his background - he's called his "ex girlfriend Madison" and gotten an animal hospital. (got to hand it to Zach - he does have a sense of humor and he's really done his research. And we can tell he doesn't like Sam much and is totally bullying him. No wonder Sam is resisting.)

And I love the way that Sam just knows Dean has seen a ghost. It's like he is the experienced hunter while Dean is the victim/witness like they've interviewed so many times before. The difference though is that Dean also feels that this might really be a ghost. Sam gets excited and shares about the ghost dreams he's been having and I have a little laugh at Dean's reaction.
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SAM:Seriously? You know those dreams I was telling you about? I was dreaming about ghosts.
SAM:And then it turns out that there's a real ghost.
DEAN:So you're telling me that your dreams are special visions and you're some kind of psychic?
SAM:No. I mean, that would be nuts.

*smirks* Like, how many times have they had this conversation before?!

I also enjoy them trying to scope each other out on whether to check out the room now or not.
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DEAN:Should we go check this out?
SAM:Like right now?
DEAN:No. No, it's getting late. You're right.
SAM:I am dying to check this out right now.

So, they end up going to room 1444 just as another employee hasbeen sucked in.
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Sam kicks open the door on instinct (Dean: WOW!) and then Dean finds a wrench and kicks ass (Sam: How did you know?) and the employee kind of disappears - he doesn't even stay to say thank you... which is a bit weird)

Anyway, Dean calls Sam back to his place and Sam feels like a beer but there isn't any because Dean threw out the carbs *smirks* Dean gives him a bottle of water instead.
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SAM:No. I—I just can't shake this feeling like I—like I don't belong here. You know? Like I should do something more than sit in a cubicle.
DEAN:I think most people who work in a cubicle feel that same way.
SAM:No. Well, look, it's more than that. Like, I don't like my job. I don't like this town. I don't like my clothes. I don't like my own last name. I don't know how else to explain it, except feels like I should be doing something else. There's just something in my blood. Like I was destined for something different. What about you? You ever feel that way?
DEAN:I don't believe in destiny. I do believe in dealing with what's right in front of us, though.

Now this talk by Sam is a little fishy... like someone is putting words in his mouth. It almost sounds like it's not really Sam, which is wierd... but Sam is not one to be talking about destiny, you know? I don't like it. But I do like Dean's reply so I forgive the writers if that was what they were trying to build up to. Dean does not believe in destiny - that has not changed even in this life, which makes me think that this is at his very core.

They start to do some research and one of the best scenes of the ep. THE GHOSTFACERS LOL
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Love how they make fun of Sam and Dean while admitting that they were pretty cool :D And love how Sam and Dean are wondering how they can get shotguns for salt rounds. Anyway, now that they know who/what the monster is, they get their salt and iron and go back to the office.

But while they are searching the former president's office, A guard comes around and catches Sam. Dean stays hidden as Sam's taken away and we have that uncomfortable elevator scene. Just... ug.
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Did Sam actually wait until the people came to fix the elevator? How on earth did he get out of there?! But he is back with Dean with blood splattered all over him and Dean's like "Woh... that's a lot of blood." ?? Did he hear about what happened from Sam already? Maybe he just doesn't want to know what happened. While they are talking about the glove that Dean found, the ghost finds them and we have a neat scene as they play some golf ;).
But Dean gets thrown and is about to be touched with that bolt of something or other... reminds me of asylum... and Sam burns the glove just in time.
And they just turn to each other and...
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SAM: That was amazing.
DEAN: Right? Right?

Once they are back at Dean's office, Sam's like we should keep doing this.

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SAM: I mean it. There gotta be other ghosts out there. We could help a lot of people.
DEAN: Right, we'd be like the Ghostfacers.
SAM: No, really. I mean, for real.
DEAN: What? Like, quit our jobs and hit the road?
SAM: Exactly.
DEAN: How would we live?
SAM: Uh...
DEAN: You gotta be kidding me. How would we get by? With stolen credit cards? Huh? Eating diner food drenched in saturated fats? Sharing a crap motel room every night?
SAM: That's all just details.
DEAN: Details are everything. You don't wanna go fighting ghosts without any health insurance.

So this dialogue is kind of strange, because if Dean has forgotten their life he wouldn't be so precise would he? I guess we could explain it away that his brain is putting words in his mouth just like Sam is having those dreams, but maybe it's more than that. Maybe there is a point to be made with those words? Maybe it's connected to the final decision he makes later. Maybe we need to know that he knew exactly what he was getting into. That he was going to be fighting monsters without any health insurance. That he was going to have to live on stolen credit cards etc. And he still thought it was better than the normal life he had.
SAM:Yeah, 'cause I only moved here 'cause I just broke up with my fiancée, Madison. But I called her number and I got a damn animal hospital.
DEAN:Okay. What are you saying? Are you trying to say that my family isn't real? Huh? That we've been injected with fake memories? Come on.
SAM:All I know is, I got this feeling in my gut. And I know—I know that deep down, you gotta be feeling it too. We're supposed to be something else. You're not just some corporate douchebag. This isn't you. I know you.
DEAN:Know me? You don't know me, pal. You should go.

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Looking back on this and the former conversation knowing what Dean decides in the end, Dean must be overwhelmed by the idea that this life might be a lie, that Sam might be right. He especially reacts to Sam telling him "I know you." and throws him out.

Sam, though, has had enough. He doesn't care that Dean's not going with him. He's quitting. I can't help but think that this has to do with his job. And I wonder what it would have been like if Sam had been at a different job... something a little less monotonous and a bit more challenging. I also wonder if Zach knew this and gave him the crappy job on purpose...
As to Dean, he looks content when Zach comes in and gives him the figure for the bonus. It's only after Zach tells Dean what success in this job entails that Dean turns in his resignation. Do you think he had decided this beforehand? or if he realized just there how boring this job was? and how much work?

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DEAN:No. I've—I recently—uh, very recently realized that I have some other work I have to do. It's, uh, very important to me.
ADLER:Other work? Another company?
DEAN:No, I—it's hard to explain. Um. It's just that this—this is—it's just—it's not who I'm supposed to be.

(And Zach laughs.)
ADLER:Dean, Dean, Dean. Finally.

(Love how the color changes here - does that remind anyone of Changing Channels? Interesting the use of color in the change from normal life to Supernatural?)
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DEAN:What the hell? Why am I wearing a tie? My God, am I hungry.
ADLER:Welcome back.
DEAN:Wait. Did I—did I just get touched by—you're an angel, aren't you?
ADLER:I'm Zachariah.
DEAN:Oh, great. That's all I need is another one of you guys.
ZACHARIAH:I'm hardly another one, Dean. I'm Castiel's superior. Believe me, I had no interest in popping down here into one of these smelly things.
ZACHARIAH:But after the unfortunate situation with Uriel, I felt it necessary to pay a visit. Get my ducks in a row.
DEAN:I am not one of your ducks.

(Yeah, Zach.)
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ZACHARIAH:Starting with your attitude.
DEAN:Oh, so, what? This was all some sort of a lesson? Is that what you're telling me? Wow. Very creative.
ZACHARIAH:You should see my decoupage.
DEAN:Gross. No thank you. So, what? I'm just hallucinating all this? Is that it?
ZACHARIAH:Not at all. Real place, real haunting. Just plunked you in the middle without the benefit of your memories.
DEAN:Just to shake things up? Hm? So you guys can have fun watching us run around like ass clowns in monkey suits?
ZACHARIAH:To prove to you that the path you're on is truly in your blood. You're a hunter. Not because your dad made you, not because God called you back from hell, but because it is what you are. And you love it. You'll find your way to it in the dark every single time and you're miserable without it. Dean, let's be real here. You're good at this. You'll be successful. You will stop it.
DEAN:Stop what? The apocalypse, huh? Lucifer? What? Be specific, man.
ZACHARIAH:You'll do everything you're destined to do. All of it. But I know, I know. You're not strong enough. You're scared. You got daddy issues. You can't do it. Right?
DEAN:Angel or not, I will stab you in your face.

Several important points here... First, that Zach put them in a real situation. That this isn't a dream. But he put himself in as Dean's boss too, so you've got to wonder how he did that... But, that's not as important as what he has to say about Dean and how hunting is in his blood. That he loves it. That he would chose it over anything else. Then we have those mysterious two words that Cas has been saying to Dean all along. "stop it"... STOP WHAT?! After Tessa's warning, Dean is not about to assume anything.

I love Dean's warning that he will stab Zach in his face, since he does end up doing just that :D
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ZACHARIAH:All I'm saying is it's how you look at it. Most folks live and die without moving anything more than the dirt it takes to bury them. You get to change things.
ZACHARIAH:Save people, maybe even the world. All the while you drive a classic car and fornicate with women. This isn't a curse. It's a gift. So for God's sakes, Dean, quit whining about it. Look around. There are plenty of fates worse than yours. So are you with me? You wanna go steam yourself another latte? Or are you ready to stand up and be who you really are?

This is a message that the boys are going to be needing, and getting a lot in this and the next season.

You know, when I first saw this episode, I really liked the idea that an angel taught dean a lesson on who he was and also gave him the strength to carry on.  Now, I look at it with mixed feelings because I know what Zach wants Dean to do in the end, and I know Dean will not agree to it...  and yet, Dean does need that reminder of who he is to get him back on track - not necessarily toward the destiny the angels want for him but to fill that emptiness and despair after On the Head of a Pin and give him purpose and a reason to keep going.  Saving people, hunting things.
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