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Unabashed Spoiler Hound & Fanfic writer

Reveling in the fickle nature of fangirlishness

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After School Special: "Right. Nice shorts"
sophie_deangirl
I loved this Sam-centric episode.  Jared was wonderfully vulnerable in this episode and Colin Ford ROCKED with the quiet strength and neediness for acceptance he displayed as young Sam.  The episode showed the awkwardness of high school in all its painful clarity.  I have to admit to a few flashbacks to my time in high school.  That's how authentic the feel of the episode was.  Even though Sam and Dean's discomfort as outsiders transcends the more "normal" insecurities" that we all likely endured, their suffering is not unlike what we experienced.  I also liked that there was no true villain in the episode.  Yeh, Dirk was a bully, but we learn why he becomes one and we can understand his "coping mechanism". 

Sam is the shy, smart, young man who just wants to be like all the other kids even though he could take out a bully like Dirk the Jerk in a hot second. The idea is sweet and amusing all at the same time.  A caring teacher, Mr. Wyatt, points out to him that he can be anything he wants to be and doesn't have to do the "family business" if he doesn't want to, sparking hope in the young and still impressionable Sammy.

I loved young Sam's empathy for Barry and at the end, the grown up Sam for Dirk as well, as he talks to the possessed bus driver/Dirk and tells him that they all suffered in high school by tormenting each other, but in the end, everyone lives through it and moves on. Dirk calls Sam evil, the anger he felt in life following him into death making him an angry spirit. Sam denies it, though you can hear a touch of defensiveness in his voice.  He tells Dirk that he's seen real evil.  Sam tells Dirk that he's sorry that he and Barry didn't get the chance to move on.  Hearing Sam reach out to Barry and Dirk was a poignant moment.  You can hear Sam's regret at not being able to somehow save them in life, especially Barry, that he feels he might have helped Barry if they had stayed longer at the school, that maybe he could have kept him from killing himself, saying the words in almost the same tone as he did when he had talked about saving Max Miller in Nightmare. Dean even comforts in much the same way, telling Sam that there was nothing Sam could have done because both Barry and Max had family histories that couldn't be resolved with simple friendship. 

The moment Sam beat up Dirk, it empowered him, made him look like a hero to the other kids, more importantly he became accepted, something Sammy achingly wants more than anything.  Colin Fold was amazingly adept in the fight scene. Dirk is twice his size, but you can believe that he defeats him easily because of his training.  Later an older Sam, after talking with Dirk's father and learning Dirk's short and troubled life, realizes that he might have contributed to Dirk's downfall by beating him down and calling him that name. 

I LOVED that his "What I did last Summer" paper was about killing werewolves, every word truthful yet it would never be taken as non-fiction by anyone else. The fact that Sam would tell the truth, not make up something to satisfy a normal perception of a summer event (like going to Disneyland or something) was almost like he needed to vent and tell someone about his life. I LOVED that Sam went back to see Mr. Wyatt, to thank him for his advice, that he had gone to college based on it though he ended up doing the family business anyway, admitting it without saying it outright by using words like "people grow up", "have responsibilities".  It was a nice tribute to him. When Mr. Wyatt asks him if Sam's happy, Sam's non-answer spoke volumes.

Dean is the stereotypical "bad boy", a womanizer who can't commit to anything or anyone, but beneath the "Fonzie" cool is a young man suffering from loneliness and a deep seeded sadness that no one could ever understand or know about because Dean and Sam don't stay around long enough to cement into their surroundings and probably, more to the point, because Dean's afraid of getting hurt in some deeper way. He keeps himself at arm's length with people, doesn't let anyone get too close for fear that they'll see the real Dean and not like what they see. Dean's cool act is probably hiding the already growing low self-esteem in Dean.  Dean's version for the need for acceptance. Brock Kelly did a wonderful job of mixing the outwardly confident and arrogant facade of Dean's with the deeply insecure young man hiding behind what he thinks is his strong suit, seducing women and acting cool.  Yet he's also someone who deeply cares about his brother and he doesn't hide that. It's the one part of him that's open for others to view as if it's the only part of him he's proud of in himself.  It's apparent enough that Amanda even points out the dichotomy, calls him out on his cool act hiding a sad and lonely kid. Once revealed by her then being told that she feels sorry for him, Dean reverts into his defensive mode by declaring that Amanda doesn't know anything about him and that he's a hero. Though true, it's a self-proclamation that only gets him disparaging looks because no one would ever believe him if he told them the truth. In the end, all he can do as he walks through the hallway is push the pain down, pack it down with the rest of the pain he's already suffered. It was great to see Dean's moment of humiliation versus Sam's moment of acceptance and popularity played one after the other. It showed the two brothers in ways that we haven't seen before. Side note: I found it refreshing that Amanda views Dean's freedom from curfew and other parental rules as not cool.  I'm old fashioned and liked seeing a young woman adhering to her parents' rules and seeing Dean's attitude towards his father as strange.

Another "continuity" side note: I noticed that when Dean's the gym teacher, he isn't wearing his ring and yet when you see them burn Barry's remains, he is wearing it...interesting.  I find that Dean seems "naked" without his ring on.  *warning shameful DeanGirl moment: Okay, Dean in shorts!  What's  NOT TO LIKE? I died laughing when Sam made the comment. It was too good to pass up as my title.  One of the few, if any, that wasn't spoken by Dean himself.  Guess it's really appropriate, after all, it was a Sam-centric episode.

Some might think that portraying the "womanizing" at such a young age is putting Dean into a negative light, maybe perpetuating the recent buzz that Dean is a sex and porn-aholic.  I don't see it that way.  I see it as Dean's "coping mechanism".  In his own way, he seeks comfort in the arms of women and knowing he has charms and other "assets" (*blatant DeanGirl moment here) he exploits them.  If you want to get deeply psychological, there may even be an inner need for mothering. I'm not talking an Elektra complex or anything, but I can see Dean viewing women that way, filling a void that can never be really filled. My apologies  if I'm stretching.  I'm a DeanGirl...unrepentant, remember? Hee!

In earlier episodes, Dean was always hiding behind bravado, only limitedly showing his true vulnerabilities, even to Sam, sometimes especially to Sam, because, for Dean, showing them would be revealing weaknesses he doesn't want anyone to know about him. However, Dean has evolved.  Yes, he'll occasionally revert to the loving horn dog we all know and love, but we have seen in recent episodes a Dean who is revealing more of his vulnerabilities, expressing more of his feelings and is admitting many of his failings. Dean is more than just his past as Sam is too.  They have both evolved and also devolved over the years and it's added dimension and shadowing, both light and dark, to them.  I like that they aren't static characters. Yes, certain essential traits will always define them and likely will never change, but because of their experiences, they are transforming, they are not the same men we met in Season 1 and I LOVE that. Also, I have to say that whenever Dean has had sex on the show, it's always been with the utmost care and respect for the woman he's with.  Anna being the most recent example.  Sam and Ruby was raw sex, Dean and Anna was making love, a distinct difference that defines the kind of man and the kind of lover Dean really is.  

I really enjoy Sam-centric episodes especially when they reveal something about Sam that not only confirms much of what we know and believe about him, but also enlightens as to Sam's potential.  Sam lovers may disagree, but in my view, despite Sam's seeming desire to want to share feelings with Dean, to press Dean to be more open with him, there is a very secretive side to Sam, a side that is hiding things as well and that doesn't want to share with anyone, especially Dean, what he is thinking or more sinisterly what he might be feeling such as enjoying using his power over people and demons.  Another dichotomy is Dead admitting that he enjoyed torturing those souls in Hell, risking ridicule and harsh judgement from Sam. He wouldn't have done that so easily in the past.  Sam hasn't made his admission to Dean yet, maybe to avoid the same risk with Dean. Or maybe as Ruby suggests, Sam doesn't want to admit it to himself.  The closest he came was in Lazarus Rising when he said it felt good to save people.  A qualification that is balancing a very narrow edge.

More and more of that side of Sam is showing, like his nocturnal escape with Ruby in Criss Angel is a Douche Bag. Jared plays this conflict extremely well.  I LOVED Born Under a Bad Sign  and consider it Jared's best episode.  I have liked others, but seeing Sam both as the Sam we know and love and then as the possessed-by-Meg version which one could see as a foreshadowing of the dark Sam to come was a tour de force for Jared and he showed that both sides of Sam are probably warring with each other for control as we speak, as the season progresses along towards whatever is his inevitable fate.  Sam wants to do the right thing, wants to save people, tries to convince himself that all that he's doing is for that purpose and that purpose alone, but deep down, you wonder if he also wants to be powerful, to exert his power over others, to be in control of his destiny even though he doesn't know what that is yet or won't admit to it yet. He's admitted that he likes the feeling using his powers gives him and Ruby is doing her best to capitalize and reinforce that admission.  Just as young Sammy did with Dirk, he would have been happy to have just blended in but by defending Barry and himself against Dirk, by beating him up, he got a rush of acceptance that felt even better.  You can see the look of satisfaction on young Sammy's face.

This episode was a great blast from the past and revealed more about our wee Winchester boys. True happiness didn't come easily, if at all, for our boys in their childhood.  We know that they took whatever happiness they could from each other.  However, when Mr. Wyatt asks Sam if he's happy, he doesn't answer, but we all know that an Apocalypse is looming unbeknownst to Mr. Wyatt.  Not only one where Lucifer dominates a Hell on Earth, but even sooner perhaps, is the war happening deep inside Sam.  A war between the Sam who wants to do good and the one who wants to control his own life.  Depending on who wins that war might determine who wins the war between good versus evil.

I can't wait to find out.  Though I just found out from Buddy TV that once again, Supernatural (and Smallville) are taking a break until March 5...why oh why must they torture us like this!!!  Well, best enjoy Sex and Violence this Thursday.  From the clip they showed, it's going to have some funny moments and maybe a little foreshadowing about Dean and Sam duking it out under the Siren song's spell.  Yum, more revealing to come, I suspect.

Thanks for reading.  Comments welcome as always.





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Hello again.
I love your comments in the episode, as ever. Even if I don't read them totally, because here in Spain we only have had the first season and a couple episodes of the second season on TV, ans I have to see the show in DVD. I'm seeing season 3 now. I'm very spoiled in the personal and myth arc, but I try to be unspoiled in the cases and monsters.
I'm an unashamed Deangirl too (and I think my sister is even more) and I agree with you in your view of Dean's relationships with women. He likes to irk Sam with jokes, but we always have seen him being respectful with women. He respected Ellen, and Jo too. And Jo had a big crush on him, probably he could have taken advantage with her; and she was inexperienced in the hunted bussines, yet he worked with her without being condescending. I haven't seen the Anna scene, but I liked the one with Cassie, it was sweet and loving. When he flirts with a girl I have an impression of a funny boy, even a bit childish. And in Tall Tales, when the boys "remember" the scene in the bar, Dean recolection show the woman he was flirting with as inteligent and classy, not a brainless bimbo like Sam's. (I didn't liked that episode very much, but some of the "remembrances" were hilarious). Of course, if you are lazy and want to increase the visits in your site, you can write stupid articles about sex-addiction. Even if, if I remember correctly, it was sam who was seen surfing for porn in an episode. Whatever.
I agree with you about Sam. I think he has the best of intentions, but as they say, the road to hell... Actually, and relating to some things you said in your previos review, I don't think that any of the boys are going to turn darkside "for real". At least not by choice. The truth is that I would be very disappointed if they make Dean turn, because it would be totally against all we have seen and have been told until now, and the actual. It would be like a cheap trick: "look, we got you". I don't think the people in the show that lazy and uncreative. I hope.
In regards to Sam, I have a little teory that relates with The Lord of The Rings. I think that Sam's powers as like the One Ring. They corrupt even the best people, because they are made by the Enemy and to serve his dark goals. In LOTR the oldest and wisest don't dare to touch the ring, because they know that even the best of intentions and goodness can't win against the dark nature of the ring. I find Sam a little arrogant thinking that he can control the powers, giving that all the other special children were corrupted by them. I think he can be overconfident, and he is convinced that he is stronger that them. So I think that Sam can get turned by the powers, but that doesn't mean that he turns evil, and he can be himself again, just like Frodo was free when the ring was destroyed.
Thank you for your comments, and please forgive me my language mistakes and too long post.
Almu

Thanks for your comment as always

Almu,

Thanks so much for commenting again. It's very much appreciated. There's no need to apologize. Your love for the show speaks volumes. I loved your point about Jo. It's very true. He treated her like a little sister, wanting to protect her, but scolding her and rightfully so for her blind desire to be a hunter. I loved your point about Tall Tales. It's been so long since I've seen the past episodes. Excellent point you made that Dean imagined a smart woman and imagined himself to be very suave in his telling of the story and Sam, his view of Dean being a womanizer, imagined something else, Dean as a drunk and going after a bimbo. I TOTALLY AGREE and LOVE your LOTR comparison. EXCELLENT POINT!! I also agree that Sam sees resisting becoming evil as only a matter of will and that he has the will to fight becoming evil, maybe even resents Dean for not thinking he could resist it. He doesn't see that "slippery slope" that Dean does.

Wonderful points! Thanks again!

I have to admit to a few flashbacks to my time in high school. That's how authentic the feel of the episode was.

I agree, they did do a wonderful job capturing the harsh reality high school can sometimes be.

I also liked that there was no true villain in the episode. Yeh, Dirk was a bully, but we learn why he becomes one and we can understand his "coping mechanism".

I liked that too. The writer's of SN always seem to come up with villains that have depth. They became what they did because of how they were hurt in life.

Later an older Sam, after talking with Dirk's father and learning Dirk's short and troubled life, realizes that he might have contributed to Dirk's downfall by beating him down and calling him that name.

I loved that twist too, that Sam was in large part, responsible for what happened, even if he'd never meant for any of it to turn out as it did. It's very poignant.

Sam's non-answer spoke volumes.

So true! It really did.

He keeps himself at arm's length with people, doesn't let anyone get too close for fear that they'll see the real Dean and not like what they see.

I LOVE this point!

Yet he's also someone who deeply cares about his brother and he doesn't hide that. It's the one part of him that's open for others to view as if it's the only part of him he's proud of in himself.

Again, so well said!

I found it refreshing that Amanda views Dean's freedom from curfew and other parental rules as not cool.

I did too. :) It was very nice to see that.

I noticed that when Dean's the gym teacher, he isn't wearing his ring and yet when you see them burn Barry's remains, he is wearing it...interesting.

Hmm...that is interesting... Maybe they thought the ring didn't fit with the gym teacher outfit, lol?

I can see Dean viewing women that way, filling a void that can never be really filled.

I agree with you! I think that is a big part of it. I also think in a way, Dean believes he'll never be able to marry, never have the family he wants, so he takes what he can get while he can.

Sam lovers may disagree, but in my view, despite Sam's seeming desire to want to share feelings with Dean, to press Dean to be more open with him, there is a very secretive side to Sam, a side that is hiding things as well and that doesn't want to share with anyone, especially Dean, what he is thinking or more sinisterly what he might be feeling such as enjoying using his power over people and demons.

I agree with you completely!

Sam wants to do the right thing, wants to save people, tries to convince himself that all that he's doing is for that purpose and that purpose alone, but deep down, you wonder if he also wants to be powerful, to exert his power over others, to be in control of his destiny even though he doesn't know what that is yet or won't admit to it yet.

So very true! As always, you make such awesome points in your blogs!

*goes happily to read the next one* :D

-Laughter

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