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Dean Winchester: Countdown to Heroism
An Old TV Guide blog:

hero noun ( pl. -roes)


a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities


• the chief male character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities, and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.



Joseph Campbell said, "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."


Andrew Bernstein said, "The hero is valorous because he stands up to every threat directed against his values. A hero has faced it all: he need not be undefeated, but he must be undaunted."


Felix Adler said, "The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by."


Emily Potter said, "Heroes never die. They live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who would follow in their footsteps."



Okay, I bet you can't guess where I'm going with this, huh? Well, as we countdown to the Final 4 as it has been so lovingly been referred to, commences the nature of heroism will be imprinted on every episode to come and me and my little old vivid imagination wanted to "come out and play" in the "prison yard" for awhile. Hee!

I was also inspired by the DCs for Folsom Prison Blues. No spoilers here, just quotes that don't reveal what we don't already know about the episode, but does speak volumes for Dean's perspective on the work and his values on loyalty. This episode could be a great expostion into the final 3 episodes to come from a philosophical perspective.

I know that we've talked about Dean's heroism in lovely ad nauseum (I've been the worst offender, hee, hee), but when I saw the DCs for Folsom Prison Blues I began to formulate Dean's allegiance to hunters like Bobby and to the other people who have passed through their father's life. I also began to understand his affinity for outcasts or for being considered crazy all the time for the work he does that saves so many. He doesn't look so crazy after he saves them. He also feels an obligation to honor a debt that needs to be paid back and most importantly, I began to see his view on how he judges and assesses people.

Night Shifter was a good example of Dean's affinity for the disenfranchised and giving credit where credit is due. Case in point, Ronald Resnick. He said:


"I liked him. He's not that different from you and me. People think we're crazy."


Sam rationalizes his treatment of Ronald as protecting him because the less he knows, the better, but Dean's instincts about Ronald were spot on and unfortunately because of being treated as crazy, not being acknowledged for his theory, mandroid notwtihstanding, Ronald decides to take the matter into his own hands, feeling no one else will. Sadly due to his inexperience, he is killed as Sam had predicted, but not because he knew too much, but because he was dismissed. Sam's theory didn't hold true. Maybe if they had gone Dean's way, Ronald would have worked with them and been happy to have stayed on the sidelines. Ah, the lovely "What ifs" of Supernatural.

Now, in the DCs of tonight's Folsom Prison Blues, Dean comments on the prisoners as innocent victims being killed by a spirit and Sam scoffs about whether the prisoners can be considered innocent. Dean is surprised by his reaction and defends them:

"Just cuz these people are in jail doesn't mean they deserve to die. And if we don't stop this thing, people are going to continue to die. We do the job wherever it takes us."


"Saving people, hunting things. The family business". It resonates again.


Then we find that Dean also lives by a code of conduct that encompasses repaying a debt, being loyal when loyalty has been given, and the honor that comes from that:


"We know he was in the Corps with Dad. We know he saved Dad's life. We know we owe him."


Sam thinks that there is limit to honoring a debt, but Dean doesn't see it that way:


"We may not be saints, but we're loyal and we pay our debts and that means something to me and it ought to, to you."


Dean lectures to Sam that honoring those commitments should mean something to him because it's a code they both learned from their father.

Dean understands that they are no better than those prisoners on many levels. They have committed crimes, a litany of which was expressed by FBI Agent Hendrickson in Night Shifter. Dean doesn't consider himself better than them. There might be a part of him that thinks if hunting hadn't entered their lives, provided him with a positive outlet for his skills, he could have easily ended up in prison. "All things considered..." thinking back to Nightmare

Still, Dean views every life as innocent as worth saving. A heroic notion. Also, whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?

Sam's reaction to being in prison also seems uncharacteristically unfair. He, too, understands all the crimes that he and Dean have committed, more worrisome of which is Dean's unjustified murder rap and though I know that he worries about being kept in prison because of those crimes, his judgment about viewing the prisoner victims as not innocent because they are in jail seems narrow-minded. You'd think his experience with most things supernatural as well as with the hunters who were a part of his upbringing (Pastor Jim, Caleb, Bobby) would give him a more "enlightened" outlook or at least a more forgiving perspective of crime and criminality.

Sam's hasty assessment of Andy in Simon Said was also unfair. He viewed Andy killing Anson as murder, but Dean viewed it heroically because he did it to save someone he loved as well as saved Dean. How can Sam not be grateful for Andy's actions when he saved Dean? Sam, instead, postulates that anyone is capable of murder if pushed to the limit. True, but Dean caveats it by saying that there's a difference between murder for no reason other than to cause pain and suffering and saving someone by having to kill another. Or more recently, to prevent someone who's largely innocent from killing others. Sam was driven to kill Madison, not out of hate, but out of love. Does that make him as "evil" as he painted Andy when he killed his brother to save the woman he loved?

Dean wouldn't think so.

Being a hero and being heroic means making hard decisions. Those decisions of life and death, that Sam pointed out to Dean in Croatoan, are supposed to be hard. They are supposed to struggle with them. Well, as we face the last 3 episodes of the season, there will be plenty of hard decisions to make with much struggle, pain, and suffering to endure in order to make them.

Andrew Bernstein said it eloquently when he said that, "The hero is valorous because he stands up to every threat directed against his values. A hero has faced it all: he need not be undefeated, but he must be undaunted."

Both Dean and Sam will have to face threats to their particular values and make choices that may not be the ones that they want to make, but may be ones that they will have to make in order to save others, each other, and maybe even the world at large. I particularly like the notion that a hero doesn't have to be undefeated to be a hero. It's enough to be undaunted in your beliefs, face the unfathomable and come out of it whole with your values, convictions and with any luck at all, your life and the life of a loved one still intact.

Here's to Folsom Prison Blues tonight and to bracing ourselves for the ride of our lives with the 3 remaining episodes in our countdown.

Enjoy everyone!


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