Jumping the shark is an idiom created by Jon Hein that was used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality, signaled by a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of "gimmick" in an attempt to keep viewers' interest, and which is taken as a sign of desperation.
- named after the actual act of jumping over the shark in an episode of Happy Days.
Good old SuperWiki informs that Kripke mentioned in an interview that he was worried fans might THINK that the show was jumping the shark by bringing in a younger brother (since this is supposed to be one of the signs of "running out of ideas" aye?) so they decided to name the episode this in order to beat everyone to the punch. Not only do they name the episode after this idiom, they have various references of the original jump the shark (water-ski pics in the diner) and others (the name of the diner is Cousin Oliver's - which is a young boy added to the Brady Bunch). To me, this just indicates some things about Kripke that I really didn't need to know to enjoy the episode itself... basically his worry that we weren't going to think much of the episode or that we were going to think that the show was going downhill and a challenge to viewers to wait and see. (On a side note, people said later that the particular act in Happy Days was not the one that began the decline in the show) But, Kripke's strong awareness of his audience is significant as we consider our previous episode TMATEOTB. I guess we can say Kripke is urging us on with this title: "come on... turn the page. I promise there is something at the end of this book. You'll see." :P
OK, enough of that. Let's get started.
"Reaching Higher" by Nathan Williams(plays when Sam and Dean meet Adam at the diner)
"A Little Bitty Tear" by Burl Ives(plays while Dean is at the bar)
We start with the MoTW chasing after a woman, who runs into her room and locks the door with her chest only to be caught by whatever monster under her bed. To be honest, this scene has gotten a bit old after numerous viewings.
But, then, we get some awesome scenery and one lone figure at the front of a shiny black classic car enjoying it all around him while brushing his teeth with his purple toothbrush.
Dean wakes up in the car with a yucky mouth and empty stomach, crawls out of the impala to Sam's cheery, fresh mint good morning. They are two hours from anywhere with just a tuna sandwich in the back of the impala. Dean does not like tuna :D I love how he reacts to the smell of it in the little brown bag. One of their many cellphones rings and Dean finds that it is dad's phone.
Adam: Uh, is this John?
Dean: He can't come to the phone. Can I help you?
Adam: No no no—I really—I need to talk to John. This is Adam Milligan. He knows me.
Dean: Well, sorry to be the one to break this to you, pal, but John died more than two years ago.
Dean: Who is this?
Adam: I'm his son.
One strange thing about this part of the episode is that Adam is talking with Dean in this scene... but he recognizes Sam later at the diner.
When they get to Cousin Oliver's, Dean quickly opens the trunk of the car and prepares everything he can think of to test this so-called brother - silverware and holy water - then gets his gun full of silver bullets. Sam on the other hand is not so sure it is a trap. He's looked up info on Adam and knows there is such a person. He also thinks it is very probable that there is a brother of theirs out there - considering dad is (handsome,) a hero and not exactly a monk.
Sam: I mean, Dad would be gone for weeks at a time, and he wasn't exactly a monk. I mean, a hunter rolls into town, kills a monster, saves the girl... sometimes the girl's grateful.
Dean: Well, now I’m thinking about Dad sex. Stop talking.
Sam: Maybe he slipped one past the goalie.
(Makes me think of all the times Sam/Dean would have experienced something similar ;) It also reminds me of Dean's speech to Sam in Provenance)
Adam is in University, most likely born in 1990 or 91, and Sam was born in 1983 so that's 7 - 8 years difference. From Sam's nonchelance, I can't help but think that Sam's probably always wanted a brother and this is an exciting prospect to him.
When Adam comes in, Sam notices first and calls out to Adam.
More to the story, Dean is extremely uptight and even acts rudely to the waitress. He has his gun under the table - ready to gank the monster... in public, which is very risky and rather foolish. We can sense the surprise he felt at Adam's admission, a whole bunch of denial, but also anger that someone is using their love of family and their dad against them to get to them. This is bothering him a lot.
Once Adam starts talking about how dad taught him poker and pool (same as Sam and Dean...) and about the Impala which Adam also seems to admire... Dean has completed all of his tests and found that Adam is not a shapeshifter or demon. (I'd like to know the test for ghouls...) and he still doesn't want to give up the idea that this is all a lie. He bursts out that Adam is lying, that THEY are John's kids not him, and tries to stomp out of the diner until Adam stops him saying he can prove it.
Adam takes them back to his mom's house and there Dean finds all the proof he needs to believe Adam. The interesting thing to me is that we know that Dean ends up being right in the end. He should have continued to suspect this ghoul pretending to be Adam. He is quite caught up in this normal brother and the different way that dad acted toward him. He sees pictures of Adam's mom and dad, hears stories of Adam going to baseball games with dad (which he obviously did not do for them from the way Dean reacts) and we can tell he feels bitter and a bit jealous.
But, he also feels the importance of keeping this brother innocent - keep him away from the dangers in their lives as dad wished. He continues the pretense of being a mechanic.
ADAM:Dean, what else can you tell me about Dad?
DEAN:You knew him.
ADAM:Not as well as you.
DEAN:Trust me, kid, you don't want to know.
Sam comes back from asking around about Adam's mom and the previous case that brought dad to town. They find out that there had been a monster stealing dead bodies. They even find a newspaper clipping with Dad looking on in the background.
DEAN:So whatever he was after, he didn't kill it. It's back.
SAM:And, what, it's stepped up its game to fresh meat? I mean, Kate's missing, and, uh—
so is a local bartender—a guy named Joe Barton.
And Sam was right the first time, but they don't seem to figure anything out from here do they. Sam stays stumped by the fact that the ghouls have moved up to fresh meat.
Dean finds scratches under the bed and finds the duct underneath. Dean and Sam do their usual game to figure out who's going in and of course Dean... always with the scissors!
He finds the mom's "remains" in the duct and they tell Adam to call the cops, while they get out.
It's interesting to think about what the ghoul is thinking here as well. Maybe he got together with his sister after they left to make a plan to get them separated and kill them one at a time... Adam comes to visit them at the motel as Sam is researching at the computer and Dean is cleaning weapons. He begs them to tell him what's going on, and Sam gives in in spite of Dean.
As Sam gives Adam the speech on monsters being real, Dean is in the background a bit farther away - like he's not endorsing this - and Dean is surprised by how Adam believes Sam.
ADAM:Okay, so...basically, you're saying that every movie monster, every nightmare that I’ve ever had, that's all real?
DEAN:Godzilla's just a movie.
SAM:We hunt them. So did Dad.
DEAN:"Okay"? That's it?
ADAM:What am I supposed to say?
DEAN:That we're liars, that we're crazy. Nobody just says "okay."
ADAM:Well, you're my brothers. You're telling me the truth, right?
(We know now that Dean should have suspected Adam here as well.)
When Adam tells them that he wants to help, Dean is against it - considering Adam's safety and dad's wishes. Sam focus' more on Adam's wish for revenge, which he himself can understand.
SAM:He lost his mother. Maybe we can understand what that feels like.
DEAN:Why do you think Dad never told us about this kid, Sam? Huh? Why do you think he ripped out the pages?
DEAN:Because he was protecting him!
SAM:Dad's dead, Dean.
DEAN:That doesn't matter! He didn't want Adam to have our lives, okay? And we are gonna respect his wishes.
ADAM:Do I get a say in this?
This part is very interesting to me - because despite all that happens, this idea stays with Dean. That ignorance protects. Which we know is just not true - for anyone connected with the Winchesters anyway. It also makes me remember the argument that John was wrong to raise Sam and Dean as hunters and into the harsh life, training them in the militaristic fashion. I've suggested before that raising Sam in Dean in ignorance would have lead to Sam and Dean being killed because of the YED's plans and because of them being angel vessels - But Adam is the best example ever of how that would not have worked. Adam was raised by his mother for the first 12 years of his life, so during this time John did not even know he was alive. Even after this, there seemed to be no fear of a monster coming after him or his mother. It seemed safe. But Adam was always in danger just because he was John's son. He was cursed but he was not prepared for it. If anyone wants to blame John for anything, it would be this. That he made a mistake by keeping Adam ignorant.
Dean cannot stand listening to Sam teaching Adam. He has his point of view for which we cannot blame him. For him it is vital that everyone is kept safe and happy through his sacrifice. He wishes that Sam had been able to live a normal life and in the same way, he wishes that Adam could stay innocent and safe as much as possible. Adam now knows what they do, and what John did. That does not mean that Adam needs to join them in this endless cycle of revenge. This reminds me of our recent episode with Cole in Season 10.
Dean leaves the room determined to figure out the monster and kill it on his own so that Adam does not have to get involved at all.
He goes to a grave yard that had been desicrated recently. He hears that not only were the bodies stolen, they were opened up... probably eaten. But he can't find anything else. While he's doing that, Sam is enlightening Adam on the use of a gun. This whole episode is full of little instances where we see the brothers "Sam and Dean" and Adam finding out about their little quirks. I love how they do their janken game in front of them with Dean showing his frustration for putting out scissors, how they say "no!" to Adam together, how when Dean stomps out the door Adam asks Sam, "Is he always like that?" and Sam answers, "welcome to the family." It would not be surprising that the real Adam would feel jealous of this kind of brotherly banter/closeness since he never had even a brother, let alone a dad.
We also see similarities between Adam and the boys, in this ep - in his eye and reflexes when Sam teaches him how to shoot later on - and his smart brain with which he is studying pre-med at University.
After checking out the graves, Dean goes to a bar to ask about the disappearance of Joe Barton. The bar tender, who turns out to be Joe's wife, gives him his first beer on the house because of his "law and order" vibe. We don't find out much except that Joe had told his wife that he had had some help with the grave robbery case from a professional. We see Dean gazing at the newspaper clipping. His expression is more of pride than any feelings of bitterness regarding Adam.
Sam and Adam are talking about dad and how he died. It is interesting to listen to this remembering that this is the ghoul asking. They talk about revenge. How Dean had killed the demon who killed their dad and mom. But how it was never over. The ghoul has already killed the girl and child of the hunter who killed his father. For him it is not over either, even though he may think that it would be over once they killed Sam and Dean.
Suddenly, there are noises and the lights go out and Sam is sure that the monster is there. It is the ghoul's sister, coming as planned to see if they can get Sam. Unfortunately, or not - this may have been the plan - Sam takes Adam out of the room and goes over to Adam's car for their get-away. Sister-ghoul is waiting for them under the car. If Dean had not come up just in time, they could have gotten Sam right there. Instead, Dean is able to hurt Sister-ghoul. "Adam" is left worrying for his sister, hoping that she is ok.
SAM:All right, so, we don't know what it is, but we do know who it's going after. Joe Barton, Adam's mom—DEAN:And Adam. It was under his truck, just waiting for him.
SAM:It set a trap, and I walked right into it.
(Which pretty much sums up the whole situation. They walked into the trap the moment they walked into that diner.)
DEAN:At least we know why it's back.
ADAM:It wants revenge.
(and here we know on rewatch he is talking about himself and his sister.)
Now, Dean, who wants to keep Adam safe, suggests they drop Adam off at Bobby's and come back to clean up the mess themselves but Sam suggests they use Adam as bait since they "know" the monster is after Adam.
DEAN:He could die, Sam.
SAM:We could all die, Dean. Even if we do kill this thing, there are tons of other freaks that want revenge, on Dad, on us. What if they find the kid instead and he's not ready?
Dean refuses, until Adam comes and tells them that he'll do anything it takes. And we have that cute little scene with Sam teaching Adam how to shoot.
We can tell how Sam must be loving this. The opportunity to be the big brother. Teaching what he knows, just like he was taught by Dean and by dad.
ADAM:That is some job you got, man.
SAM:Being a hunter isn't a job, Adam. It's life. You're pre-med. You got a girlfriend, friends?(Adam nods)
SAM:Not anymore you don't. If you're really gonna do this, you can't have those kinds of connections, ever. They're weaknesses. You'll just put those people in danger, get them killed.
SAM:That's the price we pay. You cut 'em out, and you don't look back. There's only one thing you can count on. Family.
Dean doesn't like it one bit. He recognizes that lecture. Hell, he's given that lecture to Sam in Skin. And he remembers how Sam fought against it when he was younger. I think more importantly he is still against Adam being trained as they were. He takes Sam asside and asks him why he's quoting dad when he rebelled against it before.
SAM:Yeah, well, turns out Dad was right.
SAM: Dean, when I look at Adam, you know what I see?
DEAN:A normal kid.
SAM:No. Meat. Because the demons and monsters out there, that's all he is. I hated Dad for a long time. I did. But now I think I understand. So we didn't have a dog and a white picket fence. So what? Dad did right by us. He taught us how to protect ourselves. Adam deserves the same.
This is in line with what Sam said to Dean in Wishful Thinking isn't it? That he didn't want a normal life anymore. Since dad's death, Sam has also been able to view what dad taught them from a different light and appreciate it.
SAM:You think I’m wrong?
DEAN:I think it's too late for us. This is our life. This is who we are, okay? And it's fine. I accept that. But with Adam, he's still got a chance, man. He can go to school. He could be a doctor.
SAM:What makes Adam so special?
DEAN:What, are you jealous of the kid?
Dean tells Sam what is important to him- saving others so at least they can have a normal life. It reminds me a bit of what he said back in Windego...
SAM:How do you do it? How does Dad do it?
DEAN: Well for one, them. I mean, I figure our family's so screwed to hell, maybe we can help some others. Makes things a little bit more bearable.
I stop to think... is Sam jealous of Adam? Is Dean? I don't know. I don't think so.
SAM:Dean...all this...it's not real. The dad Adam knew—he wasn't real. The things out there in the shadows—they are real. The world is coming to an end. That's real. Everything else is just part of the crap people tell themselves to get through the day.
DEAN:Dad didn't have a choice with us, okay? But with Adam, he did. Adam doesn't have to be cursed.
SAM:He's a Winchester. He's already cursed.
And here Dean says what I said earlier - that John didn't have a choice with Sam and Dean. But he thought he had a choice with Adam and so he took it. Dean is also thinking, if they get the monster, Adam can continue to have the normal life. He doesn't have to get sucked into the revenge cycle like they are. Dean doesn't realize as Sam does that he is cursed already by being related to them by blood. And they both don't realize that Adam was tortured to death by the ghouls because of his innocence, and that he will be used by the angels for the same reason.
Dean stomps out again, hoping to get a lead on the monster so that they don't have to involve Adam. And he gets stuck in the underground ghoul nest (after shooting at what may have been the sister ghoul) , finds the two bodies, puts it all (except the ghoul part) together and somehow gets out of there on his own.
Sister ghoul comes into the house for their little drama to trick Sam and they have Sam tied up and are just cutting him up and it's just gross and OMG... just thinking about it. I can't stand seeing people get cut... Sam finds out a bit that they are ghouls and there's lots of blood and the ghouls are talking about how their dad didn't do anything to hurt anyone except for the dead. The monster was John Winchester himself. And they do have a point. It reminds me of Gordon a bit in Bloodlust. I doubt that John went in with the same single minded obsession, but the result was the same. He killed a "monster" not for what it did, but for what it was, and he made real monsters out of it's children as a result.
Dean comes in just in time and after Sam's shouted warning, is able to kill sister ghoul with a head shot. He starts untying Sam without taking care of Adam first though, so of course he gets attacked from behind and there is a fight. And boy does Dean really go for the kill here. He ends up hitting Adam-ghoul in the head so many times that I wondered if he was just doing what was necessary, or something more. He forgot for a bit that Sam was their bleeding as he did and needed Sam to call him to be reminded.
DEAN:Come on. Come on. Come on. Hang on. All right, here we go. Here we go. Hang on, buddy. All right.
DEAN:That's what family's for, right? Keep pressure on that.
DEAN:Adam was our brother. He died like a hunter. He deserves to go out like one.
SAM:Maybe we can bring him back. Get a hold of Cas, call in a favor.
DEAN:No, Adam's in a better place.
It seems that Dean agrees now that Adam is cursed and that if he lived his life would be a struggle as is theirs.
DEAN:You know, I finally get why you and Dad butted heads so much. You two were practically the same person.
DEAN:I mean, I worshipped the guy, you know? I dressed like him, I acted like him, I listen to the same music. But you were more like him than I will ever be. And I see that now.
SAM:I'll take that as a compliment.
DEAN:You take it any way you want.
We have heard similar acknowledgement from Sam and from dad and even Dean in Season 1. That time it was about dad and Sam's single mindedness when it came to revenge. I'm not quite sure what it is about this time if not Sam's view of Adam just being meat if he can't protect himself... and possibly trying to use Adam as bait instead of protecting him by sending him away. But the whole idea behind this ep to begin was that dad had tried to protect Adam by keeping him ignorant. And it hadn't worked. So I'm left wondering what Dean was trying to say here in this crucial last scene.