Vivisecting Supernatural- The Endgame As Glimpsed In Season Ten

So I’m back for the weekend before going off to the next leg of my holiday. Have an essay with the chef’s compliments.

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Having just finished Season Ten, there clearly aren’t going to be that many seasons of SPN left. At a guess I’d say they’ll stop after twelve or fifteen. And with Season Ten I saw them driving towards an endgame, as things began to change between Sam and Dean- over this season they have become once again compatible, even though the season began with Dean as a demon and Sam desperately trying to save him.

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As Dean’s death scene was a visual mirror of Sam’s in ABHL- I explain this in more detail here– we’re clearly supposed to link Sam’s transformation in the early seasons, as his psychic powers developed, to Dean’s transformation. Before Dean was the angelic vessel, the good soldier, the righteous man, while Sam was the boy with the demon blood. Now Dean is literally a demon, and Sam- possessed by an angel at the start of Season Nine- is working with Cas, another angel, to save him. And Cas points out the truth- if they can’t save Dean, they must kill him. Remind you of anything?

Many people have also linked Dean saying that if detoxing killed Sam, ‘at least he dies human’ to Sam saying to Demon Dean ‘because you’re my brother, and I’m here to take you home.’ Unflattering as the comparison is to Dean, it does illustrate one thing- Sam still believes that monsters can be saved, and against all odds he cures Dean. ‘I’m past saving’, Dean says in Girls, Girls, Girls, and in The Executioner’s Song the thing that Dean cannot be saved from is given a name- fratricide. Without Sam, Dean would eventually become a demon once again. He would lack someone to pull him back from the edge.

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As for Sam, at the very beginning of Black we saw him torturing a demon, and it was pretty clear that Sam had gone into the same state of mind as in I Know What You Did Last Summer- totally off the rails without Dean as compass. In fact, the opener was filmed in such a way to suggest that Dean the demon was doing the torturing, when in fact it was Sam- clearly both brothers are off the deep end of the deep end, and the question is begged- which of them is the real monster?

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The difference is that in Black, Reichenbach and Soul Survivor you feel for Sam in a way that you don’t for Dean. In our eyes, it’s Dean who’s the monster and Sam the victim- being chased round by a psycho with a hammer counts as victimization, right?- but objectively speaking, Sam has also done terrible things. And in a way, Dean is a victim too- okay, so taking the mark without reading the fine print was stupid, but not evil. It was the action of a desperate man. If anything, Dean is the victim of Crowley’s manipulations, just as Sam was the victim of Ruby’s in starting the apocalypse.

After becoming human once more, Dean is ashamed. Worse, he’s ’embarrassed’. The man who in Season Eight twice blamed Sam for losing his soul- which only happened because Sam jumped into Hell to save the world, and thus wasn’t Sam’s fault- has had his own experience of ‘waking up to find out [he] burnt the whole city down’. I think it’s safe to assume that neither of them’ll be blaming the other for their stints as amoral/evil beings anymore. If nothing else, the Demon Dean arc will presumably have led to a greater understanding between the two. The divide has been narrowed- they understand each other now, and this could help them live with each other.

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Then there was Sam’s single-minded devotion to saving Dean; both worrying, since he clearly wasn’t eating or sleeping properly, and cathartic, given the Season Eight arc about Sam not looking for Dean when Dean was in Purgatory. But it told us that despite everything that happened in Season Nine, Sam is still not willing to give up the commitment they made in Sacrifice.

Sam’s attitude in Season Ten is linked by Crowley to that of Season Eight- ‘thought you’d hit another dog,’ says Crowley, prompting Sam to fume. It highlights how much has changed since then- Sam is no longer able to detach from Dean. Dean, on the other hand, is only able to seek out an independent life after his soul has been twisted beyond recognition. Codependency may be dangerous, but Season Ten seems to be saying that it’s the only way the Winchesters can stay human.

Then there’s the more balanced roles they’ve taken on, which could assist in the formulation of an endgame. One reason that the Winchesters’ relationship was unbalanced in previous seasons was because of Dean’s preoccupation with taking care of Sam- to the point that he didn’t care if he died as long as Sam was the last man standing. In Trial And Error he tells Sam that Dean’s idea of happiness is Sam having a family and normalcy, and that’s all he wants- which is why Dean intended to do the Three Trials alone, no matter whether it killed him.

Later in that episode Dean finds himself in a familiar position- pinned by a hellhound- and Sam takes it upon himself to protect Dean for once, attacking and killing the hellhound himself. Sam then refuses to let Dean do the trials as a way of protecting Dean, since he knows that Dean’s going on a suicide mission. The horrible irony is that the very nature of the trials will not allow Sam to survive them, but Trial And Error showed a shift in the relationship- Sam protects Dean by taking on the trials, and then Dean takes care of Sam during the onset of Trial sickness. The Winchesters began to learn to look after each other, rather than Dean being the sole carer.

Season Ten continued on that trajectory. This time it was Dean who was in trouble, and Sam repeatedly comforted him- citing The Executioner’s Song- and even tried to sacrifice himself for him in The Werther Project. In Inside Man, Sam caused a full-scale revolt in Heaven because Dean had a nightmare. In Brother’s Keeper, they saved each other- Sam got through to Dean, and Dean took action against Death. The Winchesters have been finding ways to care for each other this time, and that balance could allow them to, one day, have some sort of stability.

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This advancement suggests to me that the endgame will involve Sam and Dean together, learning to live with each other, rather than off having normal lives- which, let’s face it, they’re probably way too traumatised for at this point- or dead.

Then there’s the suggestion that their attachment has grown to the point where Sam is just as desperate not to let Dean go as Dean is with Sam. At the end of Season Two, when Sam died, Dean sold his soul to bring him back- eventually leading to the apocalypse. Sam’s death in AHBL and Dean’s death in Do You Believe In Miracles were, I believe, visual mirrors of each other, suggesting that the effects of one could foreshadow the effects of the other. And indeed, in Paper Moon it’s revealed that Sam sold a soul to get Dean back- not his soul, granted, but the symbolism’s there- and having Dean back eventually led to the unleashing of the Darkness. All this suggests that Season Eleven will be as apocalyptic as Season Five.

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But more interestingly, there’s the clear turnaround in Sam’s views. If Dean had been the one to die in Season Two, Sam would clearly have been devastated. But would he have sold his soul to bring him back? I rather doubt it. Obviously this changes by I Know What You Did Last Summer, as shown during a flashback to the months where Dean was in Hell and Sam tried to trade places with him- but even that was less based on them being unable to part, and more about relieving Dean’s suffering. (Also, that scene kills me. Kills. Me.)

And then of course there’s that time Sam, ahem, hit a dog. Dean felt betrayed, and it nearly drove them apart. There would definitely have been no soul-selling going on on Sam’s part then. But over the Demon Dean arc, Sam sacrifices his morality and, according to the demon he tortures, his humanity- he symbolically sells his soul, and then there’s the actual soul-selling going on with Lester.

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It seems that Dean’s death also helped Sam understand why Dean let Gadreel possess him- they have been more forgiving of each other of late, now that they both know how that desperation feels. And when Dean tries, fumblingly, to thank Sam for curing him, Sam responds with, ‘You don’t ever have to say that. Not to me.’ That’s the level of understanding they reached in this season.

Sam and Dean seem to have been learning to understand each other recently- the kind of grounded understanding that sets up long-term commitments. This points to the Winchesters-driving-into-the-sunset ending rather than any kind of separation. More Fan Fiction than Swan Song. In Season Five, the Winchesters’ fractured relationship was only really mended during Swan Song- it was fixed by Sam’s death, which was the tragedy of it. In Season Ten, the whole thing has been carefully rebuilt from scratch, starting from Paper Moon. They’re learning a new way of doing things that might help them last as a pair.

Like marriage rehab. And there we go with the romance tropes again.

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The built-to-last nature of the Season Ten relationship suggests that the endgame will be Sam and Dean together in the long-term- probably in life, possibly in death, as they share a Heaven, after all. But I like the driving into the sunset thing. They seem to have moved past tragedy by now.

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27 thoughts on “Vivisecting Supernatural- The Endgame As Glimpsed In Season Ten

  1. I love this meta. I still contend that this show has always been about Sam growing up and maturing as seen through Dean’s eyes, or as told by Dean, since his is the most prominent point of view.

    Its great to see Sam becoming more assertive towards Dean over the seasons, even if the decisions they both make still break the world. I do like the new dynamic between them. It is a rebuilt relationship.

    Im also going to assert that it is this new balance between them that will serve them very well during whatever new apocalypse they’ve caused.

    I also agree with your driving into the sunset ending, seems the most likely scenario. I prefer that ending above all the others (although I still like the fighting their way of of Hell or something, ending.) And Fan Fiction may well have been the precursor for that ending which may be echoed later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s a great way of seeing the show. And that’s definitely reflected by the shift in viewpoint- s10 felt more from Sam’s POV- I checked and 13 eps end on Sam- perhaps as a way of balancing the very Dean-centric s9, but still, it’s a nice shift.
      And yeah, it’s a new dynamic. Hopefully a stronger one.

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  2. But more interestingly, there’s the clear turnaround in Sam’s views. If Dean had been the one to die in Season Two, Sam would clearly have been devastated. But would he have sold his soul to bring him back? I rather doubt it.
    I think he would. If you remember that clip Children shouldn’t play with dead things, when they are talking by the Impala Sam wants to understand what Dean’s feeling. That their Dad sold his soul to save him. Sam has always understood what the life is all about. EXCEPT when Jeremy Carver took over the helm and made Sam NOT look for DEAN S8. Which was totally so wrong. It destroyed Sam in so many ways. JC really did Sam a dishonour because Sam has always looked for Dean when he’s been in trouble every single damned time. So I think if situation were reversed and Dean had died in Season 2 Sam without hesitation would have looked. Your comment makes Sam sound uncaring, when he’s not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, and thanks for commenting and stuff. I think you kinda got the wrong impression- I didn’t really explain what I meant enough- I think Dean selling his soul was at least partly from a place of selfishness. He felt like he’d failed Sam, he couldn’t go on without Sam. He knew what the idea that Dean had sacrificed himself for Sam would do to Sam, but he sold his soul anyway.
      I don’t think Sam would have done that to Dean, after seeing what effect John selling his soul had on Dean. I definitely didn’t mean to make him sound uncaring- I’m Sam-sympathetic like 98% of the time actually. Even Season Four. Especially Season Four.
      As for the whole thing in s8- I swing back and forth as to whether that was a good decision or not. I think Sacrifice definitely wouldn’t have had such an impact without that decision and the remorse from it making Sam suicidal. The way I see that s8 arc, though- Sam thought Dean was dead and saw an opportunity to get off the Winchester hamster wheel of sacrifice/going to Hell, and he took it.

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    • I wrote a meta about the whole Sam-not-looking for Dean thing actually, though it was written on a day when I was in favour of the decision- check it out if you like.
      Oh and I kinda like your blog.

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      • Thanks for the replying and that you like my blog, feel honored. I get what your saying and will check out how you felt about Sam not looking for Dean. I still get so angry about this even now, sorry for sounding as if I might have been a bit snappy. 😉

        Bella xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • Haha don’t worry 🙂 I get on the defensive sometimes where Sam is concerned too. I still find it disgusting how he gets blamed for the apocalypse that Dean broke the first seal of. And that was like 6 seasons ago.

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  3. I was talking to my son about this and looking at it, there was some long term planning it seemed going at least from 8-10 (Given the Leviathan awfulness they probably needed a plan to save the show) but with the trials, they learned how to cure a demon, and not just that as sam is dying through the trials he says he feels like they are purifying him… well with Gabreel using him as a vessel he is left with some grace in his blood because Cas wouldn’t kill him to take it all out… so has the Grace Cancelled out the Demon blood? Are now both boys free of their curses … Sam forced upon him as a baby and Dean unknowingly removing it in a coma and Dean choosing without thinking and Sam removing it while Dean is trying to kill himself? If they hadn’t gone through the trials, Demon Dean would have been just that a Demon, and he would have killed Sam or Cas would have had to kill him..So that makes me wonder… as we still have not heard of any contract signing how far have they really planned out? Is this an end game scenario? a good hard fought win, is a long term win for the Winchesters?
    The other thing I noticed about Season 10 is that JP looks really Skinny…I know last year was not easy for him with loosing a friend to suicide and his existing battle with depression but 11 years ..23 episodes per year in Canada when you have a wife and two young children and your home is in Austin Texas..That’s a lot to miss.. Vancouver is not Austin! and his babies are so young I’m sure it sucks to be gone as much as you have to be when you work on a television show. Like I said if there aren’t contracts signed by the time the season starts, I can almost guarantee you this will be the last.. and story wise maybe thats not the worst …and spin off from it may be the best…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, there was kind of a role reversal- whereas once Sam was the devil’s vessel addicted to demon blood and Dean was the angelic one, Sam now has angel grace in him and Dean was a demon…
      I like the 8-10 plotline- it felt really macro for the first time in a while.
      And I noticed that about JP. It made Sam look really vulnerable, especially in those first three episodes… those first scenes with Cole are so disturbing.
      Hey, maybe it will be the last. Still a very long run I guess.

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  4. I agree that Sam and Dean’s relationship is now stronger than ever and will serve them well in is what will surely be the madness of season 11. This show is just as good as it’s ever been and in fact may be at it’s best right now. The writing is awesome, so unless the writing falters, it may take someone moving on to bring this show to an end. I totally get JP wanting to spend time with his family and would not fault him for deciding to leave. It’s really important to bond with your children while they’re young. That being said though, there will definitely be a hole in my life when this show ends.

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    • Yeah, I don’t think they’re going to fall into the trap of one of them taking all the blame this time. Like, ‘okay Dean, you beat me to a pulp and I reduced you to tears with my puppy eyes, so how about we call it even?’
      And yeah, ten is definitely one of my favourites. Along with six and two. It’s great how they’ve lost none of their step- the level of fury at Charlie’s death proves that. And even when they screw up, they REALLY screw up. Like, they do nothing by halves. Which is so great considering how long they’ve gone on for- you’d think it’d’ve got tired, but they continue to delight and infuriate weekly.
      And yeah, any of the actors would be totally entitled to leave. They’ve devoted years of their life to the show. (But I kinda hope they don’t. I really really kinda hope they don’t.) Seriously, I’ve only been watching since February, and I feel the same- when it ends it’ll leave a hole in my life.

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  5. Everything that ever happened (at least majority) was because Dean brought back Sam by selling his soul. It created a domino effect of one trying to save the other and created a bigger mess. It reminds me in some ways of The Butterfly Effect and Donnie Darko. Sometimes some people just have to not be a part of others lives or it creates a negative effect, no matter the persons feelings or intents.

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    • Yeah, in a way ABHL was the pivot-point for the entire series.
      But at the same time Sam and Dean, if we accept the implication that they’re soulmates, are incapable of being apart.
      What did you think of Brother’s Keeper?

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      • I think they are capable of being apart, they choose not to because of their codependency. Jimmy and Amelia must have been soul mates because they were in heaven together after Amelia died (which was sweet and I cried). Jimmy was able to separate from Amelia and let Castiel use him as a vessel.

        The end of Brothers Keeper was confusing to me. I know Dean summoned Death to kill him but he told him why he couldn’t kill him, only take him far from there. Then he has Sam meet him, I thought to say goodbye. Though he was going to kill him, which was very hard for me to believe. I guess because Sam was never going to stop trying to find him. Then Dean kills Death. Maybe I missed something but it all seemed weird and out of place. I know Dean would never kill Sam. He always has protected him. Though why he why he thought he needed to kill Death? Death is truly neutral and not evil. Plus Dean has seen what it is like to be Death. Makes no sense.

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