This is the second part of my post about symbolic mirroring in SPN, following on from my analysis of the gravesite and crossroads shots in Season Four.
If you’ve seen episode 2×1, In My Time Of Dying, you’ll recall John Winchester’s death scene- Sam saw him lying dead and then there was a shot, in slow motion, of his coffee cup falling to the floor (Kim Manners, I salute you).
Then, in episode 7×10, Death’s Door, Bobby is in a coma and we are in one of his flashbacks- his younger self knocks a glass of milk off a table, and in slow motion we see it fall and shatter on the floor. Bobby’s father dies minutes later- and at the end of the episode, Bobby himself, the boys’ surrogate father, dies also.
Thus does the image of dropped cups immediately become associated with the death of father figures. But this is SPN, so of course I think there’s more to it.
It’s worth noting that in Bobby’s flashback, he’s not a father figure; he’s a frightened child, like Sam appeared when he dropped that cup in IMTOD. The dropping of the glass in Death’s Door is really a foreshadowing not of Bobby’s death, but of Bobby’s father’s- so perhaps it isn’t Bobby and John’s deaths that were linked at all, but Bobby’s father’s and John’s.
Taking into account that Bobby’s father is abusive, and was killed by Bobby, this link takes on a whole new meaning. SPN could be trying to imply, through this link, that John was also abusive- given what we’d heard earlier in Season Seven, in the flashback when Sam told Amy ‘You don’t want to see him when he’s drinking’, this seems likely.
The link is solidified when we find out that, just as John and Dean both died as a result of demon deals, Bobby and his father were killed in the same way- as Bobby’s reaper says, ‘You’re the only person I’ve met to have died of a heriditary bullet wound to the head’. It seems more and more likely that we are meant to equate the relationships of Bobby and his father to Sam, Dean and their father.
The reason Bobby didn’t originally want children was because he was afraid of treating them the way his father treated him- after all, he reasons, they were both alcoholics- and here we have another link between the relationships, as Dean becomes a noticeable alcoholic in Season Seven- once again bringing to mind what Sam said about John’s drinking.
But of course, Bobby’s fears were unfounded, as he became- in my opinion- a better father than John Winchester ever was when he took Sam and Dean under his wing, just as Dean became a better parent to Sam than John was.
From this link, I can see a line drawn from Bobby to Dean- both had abusive fathers (assuming for the sake of this meta that JW was abusive) and both, though plagued with more problems than their fathers ever were, and though both alcoholics, managed to overcome these odds to be SPN’s idea of a good father figure. It’s thus implied that Dean was a parent figure to Sam, and a better one than John had been- and given the way we see Dean mothering Sam over the seasons, I’m inclined to accept this idea.