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Dean Winchester: Honor, Duty, Superhero
Old TV Guide Blog

An old TV Guide blog:

Over the weekend, I was indulging in a little repetitive viewing of What Is and What Never Should Be and was taken by the some of the nuances that I wanted to mention in preparation for Part One of All Hell Breaks Loose this week. No spoilers, but a lot of speculation.

We've all talked lovingly and admiringly about the whole of the episode and the wonderful picture of Dean that it painted. What I came to discover at the very end when Dean "killed himself" to return to the real world was how that last battle with the Djinn defined Dean more heroically than I had caught the first time around.

At the grave site, he says:

"But why? Why is it my job to save these people? Why do I have to be some kind of hero?"

Though Dean questions why he must save people and be a hero, at the end of the episode we see that the answer is right in front of us, even though he doesn't see it or understand it. He can't NOT be a hero because he could never walk away from saving someone in peril. He could never ignore someone in need if it's witin his power to help them, to save them, sometimes even if it isn't within his power, he stills tries and tries hard.

While in the dream world, the flashes of the Djinn's lair interrupt his "happiness". He sees the other victims, long out of his reach to save, as well as one who seems to be "haunting" him. He doesn't know what she means or wants of him. at first, when he's talking with his father, but later, when he's back in the lair in his dream world with the AU Sam, he sees her there and he makes the realization that maybe he was somewhere in the lair, catatonic, taking in his surroundings, but being unable to snap out of it. Dean is processing everything as his hunter's instincts normally would.

The drive to to save anyone in need is strong with Dean. Even after he's back in the real world and Sam is trying to cut him down, weak as he was, when Sam found himself losing his battle with the Djinn, Dean pulled on his ropes to free himself, a burst of strength found somewhere in a well of reserves that no normal person under those conditions could find. The ropes looked pretty thick and Sam didn't get to cut through all of them so, for me, watching Dean pull and free himself seemed almost superhuman. He then kills the Djinn, twisting the knife for good measure, saving Sam.

After all that, he still looked for the girl who kept appearing in his dream world. When he finds her, you can see the sadness on his face that maybe he didn't make it in time to save her. There's this look of disappointment there that speaks volumes. Here he was, he had just given up his dream of being with his family and yet his mind was still on saving this one girl and when he thinks he hasn't, instead of being coldly detached, he looks crushed that he might have been too late to save her. Then he finds that she's alive and after Sam cuts her down, again, as weak as he is, Dean grabs her, keeps her from falling and comforts her:

"I gotcha. I gotcha. We're going to get you out of here, okay? I gotcha. I gotcha."

Sam looks on in awed sadness, watching his brother hold this girl and how he comforts her maybe amazes him a little. After everything Dean has gone through, he still finds the compassion from within him to offer comfort and reassurance to a stranger. This is the Dean who can't walk away from being a hero. I can interpret his barely audible "yeh" at John's grave as his way of saying "Yeh, I know. I can't let those people die. I have to kill the Djinn." Resignation? Absolutely and no one could blame him for feeling that, but I also think that when he's doing the"job", as much as he can rightfully protest the thanklessness of it, he couldn't let an innocent suffer or die even if he wanted to. The real burden for him is that it's not within him to be a bystander.

Mary said it best in her blog:

This was Supernatural at its very best, exploring the soul of Dean Winchester and the self-sacrifice at the heart of a hero, even the most reluctant one.

Self-sacrifice...Dean's heroism so comes from his aching ability to put others before himself. It's these actions that make him noble, maybe to his own detriment, but it's that quality that makes him worthy of the job he does. He has done it even in his most darkest of days. It's innate. Dean may question why he has to be the hero, but he doesn't see that he can't be anything less. He's the embodiment of honor, duty, and, of course. sacrifice. Lessons taught well by his father and learned well by him. Yes, he wants to walk away, who among us hasn't wanted to quit a job that we disliked or thought we were being taken for granted doing, but Dean knows in his heart that he can't. He knows that he has "unfinished business", harking back to Roy LeGrange in Faith. He's got a job to do and he needs to finish it.

Which brings us to the finales, the ultimate test of his resolve and heroism. Again, as weary as he is, physically and spiritually, he goes into this battle with the firm determination that he will not sacrifice Sam. He will save him. Still, as we saw in the trailer for this week's Part One, it "looks" as if he "fails" Sam and Sam seems to have been "sacrificed", but we all know that the world of Supernatural holds no such kinds of guarantees or assurances so there may be more sacrifices to come. Higher prices may yet be exacted.

It will soon be revealed to all of us and I know I can't wait.

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I have always felt that this episode defined Dean as a hero, and I am glad to see someone else sees it too. The painful decision to return to the hunter life, to give up happiness because others need saving--that moment spoke to me the most eloquently.

Excuse me, I pressed the wrong key and my comment was sent before being completed.
Thank you for posting this commentaries from past seasons, I loved them then and love reading them again now. They have a love for the show that I miss sometimes today. I have stopped reading some sites because all the whining and even hating was making me angry. On the other hand, your analysis are always a pleasure to read.
Again, thank you.

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