Supernatural meta, reviews & fic recs

If It Feels Good, Dean Probably Does It

I read a conversation on Tumblr awhile back about how Dean had an eating disorder caused by his near starvation as a child. I beg to differ, like strongly.

First, I don’t think there’s any evidence that Dean really went hungry. Yes, we have the scene of him letting Sam have the last bowl of Lucky Charms, but had Dean been starving he wouldn’t have thrown the Spaghettios that he made for Sam into the trash. He would have eaten them. I will concede that both Dean and Sam probably made do quite frequently however. They didn’t get to eat whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it. It’s pretty clear that they are more familiar with convenience stores than groceries stores, and greasy spoons and fast food are more their economic level than restaurants with cloth napkins.

Second, Dean’s response to food is quite similar to his response to any creature comfort. Dean is a hedonist. Growing up with thin, scratchy motel towels, hard beds, poor water pressure; canned spaghetti or gas station hotdogs; no close friends or steady girl — it’s no wonder that he grabs pleasure where he can. He understands that it is fleeting. So whether it’s a bacon-cheeseburger or a roll in the hay with a woman, he goes for it. Sam, on the other hand, goes for quality food when he can; hence his attraction to salads and organic apples. They probably didn’t get much fresh produce as kids. For all we know however, he isn’t just being healthy. Perhaps, he really likes them.

Notice that I haven’t mentioned pie? That’s because pie isn’t just pleasure to Dean. It isn’t just a tasty dessert. It’s something that his mother made for him. He associates it with love. Frequently, we see Dean asking Sam to get pie for him. This isn’t just about wanting pie; it’s asking Sam to show him some affection. Of course, Sam doesn’t understand that because he never had a mom to make pie for him. He doesn’t get it, and that’s why he huffs about it and is perplexed when Dean looks so disappointed when he doesn’t get it for him. Remember when Sam said that cake was the same thing as pie and Dean was completely bewildered by the suggestion?

See, Dean had four years of creature comfort with a mother and father in a stable home. It’s ironic that Sam is the one that longs for a “normal” life. Maybe that’s because all he knew of normal while growing up was from watching sitcoms and as an outsider looking in at the lives of his classmates. In season 1, Sam tells Dean that going away to college wasn’t about “normal,” it was about not being afraid. Dean knew from the moment he carried Sam from their burning house that living a normal life was no reason to live without fear. Sam learned that with Jess. Dean relearned it with Lisa and Ben. Sam’s reaction to Dean’s fake text from Amelia in Citizen Fang shows that he knows it in his marrow still.

Dean’s reaction to the Men of Letters bunker is classic Dean the Hedonist. Yes, it’s about home but it’s also about the water pressure, the kitchen where he can make tasty food, the awesome memory foam bed, the Scotch, the nice bathrobe. It’s about creature comforts — pleasure. It’s as though Dean had come full circle. He’s found a place that he can relax, be with his brother, enjoy himself as he would have as a child. It is as safe a place, i.e. without fear, as they can hope for, which is why it was a mystery to me that they immediately began bringing people there. Not just Charlie or Kevin (and why didn’t they take Kevin there sooner?) or Castiel — but Prometheus and his family? And Crowley? What the hell? Ah, never mind, just one of the many things about S8 that didn’t make sense.

Point is, Dean’s reaction to his childhood is understandable and not particularly unhealthy. Sam on the other hand … It was actually interesting to see how far from true north Sam was at the end of S8. Certainly it was something that many of us suspected. Sam is good at being a chameleon, at pretending to be whatever others expect him to be. Funny that many fans think of Sam as the emotional one when that is patently untrue. Dean is the emotional one; Sam is the empathetic one, which is why he’s able to put up such a good facade. For how many seasons now have we watched him pretend to not be as wrecked mentally and emotionally and even physically as he is, so that he won’t be a burden on Dean. Even Dean didn’t suspect just how much Sammy was faking it. He had no idea — as many fans apparently didn’t — that Sam’s self-worth issues were just as huge as his own.

Not that I’m completely off topic … To conclude, Dean has 99 problems and food ain’t one of them.

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11 responses

  1. nancy

    I agree completely. Just because Dean gave Sam most of the food, didn’t mean that he didn’t eat. Sam needs to understand that Dean equates ‘pie’ with love. So, when he doesn’t get Dean his pie or he says that it is the same as ‘cake’, he is telling Dean ‘I don’t love you’. Kind of like in WIAWSNB when Dean called OtherSam ‘bitch’ and OtherSam was ‘dah’, it confused Dean. I agree, why is everybody and his mother in the bunker? It was a secret bunker for all of these years, why are Sam and Dean bringing all of these civilians to it?

    September 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    • I think for Sam to understand the significance of pie to Dean though, Dean needs to express it. He needs to tell Sam about Mary making pie for him. Sam is empathetic but he isn’t psychic — not now and not in that way anyhow.

      The bunker visits make no sense. The one person they should have taken to the bunker to protect — Kevin — they didn’t, but then they turned around and took Prometheus et al there. There was way too much sloppy writing in S8 for my taste though. I can’t believe that Gamble caught all the crap she did, but then Carver is really getting off pretty much scot free. I hope he learned from the mistakes he made last season — like not having Sam look for Dean — and does better in S9.

      September 8, 2013 at 11:45 am

      • nancy

        True, Dean has to have a chick flick moment and tell Sam that ‘pie’ is more than just a food he likes. Sam will then get him all the pie, his little heart (and stomach) could want. If Sam was willing to kill ‘Bobby’ for Dean, then going to a bakery and getting his big brother pie, will be a no-brainer.

        Right, instead of putting kevin on a boat with Garth (where Crowley was able to grab him), his butt should have been safe and sound in the Bunker. As for Prometheus and family, I don’t see why they couldn’t have stayed in the motel and figured out what was going on. They were not important enough to go to the secret bunker.

        Season 8 lacked canon, pure and simple. The whole Amelia crap, from the not looking for Dean to the picnic with the birthday cake, made me want to slap Carver all the way back to ‘Mystery Spot’ (which he wrote). THAT Sam wouldn’t have sat around for a year and not looked for Dean. Sam is smart, he would have figured out that Dean was in Purgatory in minutes, if not seconds. As we saw in ‘Taxi Driver’, it was THAT easy to get into Purgatory and Hell.

        Now we find out that they went to the Grand Canyon when they were kids? **rolls eyes**

        Gamble may have done a lot of crap in the time that she was in charge, but the canon in her seasons was perfect. Carver seems to want to retcon stuff, but doesn’t realize that we, SPN fans, know our canon. That is why we were unforgiving with a lot of the crap he was pulling. But as you said, he got away with that crap.

        I do hope that season 9 is better canon-wise than season 8. I also would like to see an end to the angel storyline. Considering that Kripke said right from the beginning that there would be ‘no angels in SPN’, they have been around way too long.

        September 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm

        • Exactly! Having written Mystery Spot, Carver of all people should have known Sam better. I really don’t understand where that came from. Jared even told him that fans wouldn’t like. Jared clearly didn’t like it. It was as though Carver and Robert Singer (he was in on it too) had this agenda that they were committed to canon and character development be damned. I wonder if the way S8 was handled had anything to do with Edlund’s decision to leave the show.

          “As we saw in ‘Taxi Driver’, it was THAT easy to get into Purgatory and Hell.” Right?! If only Crowley and Castiel had known in S6 that there was a door in Crowley’s basement! *facepalm*

          I agree that the angel storyline was played out back two or three seasons ago. The end of S6 would have been the perfect time to let Castiel leave the show and move on to other monsters and mythos.

          September 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm

          • nancy

            Hmm, maybe Edlund didn’t like a lot of Carver’s ideas, including ‘the whole ‘not looking for Dean’ concept and figured that it was time to move on. If JARED says that something is OOC for Sam, then you would think that the PTB would fix it.

            Even before that, If Sam knew it was that easy to get into Hell, he would have just walked in and gotten Dean himself. There would have been no need for angels in the first place, and Kripke could have kept his word.

            Exactly, Castiel has become more of a crutch than Bobby ever was. Now with the ‘angels falling down to earth’, I am afraid that we are going to have the angel storyline upfront for most of season 9. Hopefully, Sam and Dean will figure out how to get them all back up to Heaven (including Cas) and then season 10 can be the return of the ‘family business’.

            September 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm

  2. grean

    Spot on. Our Dean gets as much physical pleasure as he can grab on the fly.
    He certainly doesn’t look like someone who was undernourished as a child. They may not have had much but I’ve no doubt they were fed.
    All I really want is for Sam to get Dean his damn pie just once. Pretty please .
    No matter how much Carver has tried to ruin the boys relationship in season 8, Jensen and Jarad managed to pull off , with looks and simple gestures the brotherly love we all know consumes them.

    September 8, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    • I don’t even understand what Carver was trying to do in S8. It’s like he screwed up their relationship for the pleasure of bringing them back together. It’s been done before better and ad nauseum. I hope he doesn’t go down that road again in S9.

      September 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm

  3. Hi, long time watcher, first time writing blah, blah, blah, I just wanted to say I agree with your analysis of Dean as a hedonist. He’s a sensualist through and through.

    But what really struck me was where you said that Dean in the emotional one and that Sam is more a chameleon who gives back what people are looking for. I was having the discussion with someone just the other day. for all his ‘no chick flicks’ and the canon/fanon that Sam is always the one pushing for them to talk, the fact is, Dean opens up to pretty much and male substitute figure he can find, regardless of how short of a time he’s none them. The most obvious examples are Gordon, Frank, and Eliot Ness. And he tells Sam what he is feeling many times, especially how he is tired and wants out of the life.

    Not to mention that Jensen lets every single thing Dean is thinking and feeling show in his face and his body.

    Sam, on the other hand, almost never says anything honest. He keeps his fears and emotions deep inside, unless it is anger and rage – which is consistent with his character and the effects of the demon blood. He’s a much more reserved, introverted character. As viewers, we don’t really know what Sam even likes – music? movies? food beyond salad?

    I’m not even going to touch the cluster that was Season 8. it was so OOC, canon-retconning that it was hard to watch. I only hope the next season is better.

    anyway, thank you for taking the time to write up your thoughts!

    September 17, 2013 at 7:44 am

    • Yes, it’s true that Sam does try to get Dean to talk but he rarely reciprocates. When Sam has tried to open up, Dean doesn’t want to hear what he has to say or he cuts him off. When Sam tried to tell Dean what it was like after Dean went to hell, Dean didn’t want to hear it. The end of S8 is a perfect example. Dean didn’t listen to Sam. He cut him off and told him he was wrong. Sam has learned that Dean doesn’t want to hear how he feels, so he quit trying. Maybe one of the reasons that Sam’s emotions come out in rage is because first his dad, and then Dean, wasn’t interested in how he felt. I remember Dean giving him the very bad advice to just push his emotions down and drown them in bouts of alcoholism. He’s taken the hiding his emotions part of that to heart. He lets it build up till it comes out in bursts of rage and violence. I think too that Sam knows that Dean feels responsible for him, and he doesn’t want to be a burden on his brother.

      For all the talk from Carver that the boys had emotionally matured while apart, I don’t see it. They still don’t really listen to one another when they do talk. I don’t think that Dean really heard what Sam was saying in Sacrifice, and I doubt that the incident is revisited in a meaningful way in S9. Like you I hope that S9 is an improvement. If not, I doubt there will be a tenth season.

      September 17, 2013 at 8:40 am

      • i totally agree. I was going to bring it up but my comment was so long already. As in the case in many tv shows/movies/books a lot of trouble could have been avoided if the characters would just freaking *listen* to each other. At least SPN, particularly in the first five seasons, makes it plausible that they don’t listen to each other, not just making it a plot device that something keeps interfering. The boys, Dean especially, have these set visions of themselves and each other that result in some seriously selective hearing. They hear the words, but the interpretations are so twisted through whatever issues the brother listening has. I’m sure sam feels like he’s shouting into the wind. and Dean has learned from his Dad that it doesn’t really matter what he wants.

        I also think that it’s Sam’s pride. Sam doesn’t really second guess himself. He is the living embodiment of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. A lot like John as the show points out.

        One of the most satisfying thing about the show is how their flaws just lock the boys tighter together.

        that was one of the most frustrating things about Season 8. It was like all the character development and the emotional the boys had done was just…disappeared. We were having Season one arguments again. Whatever happened to Dean’s blanket apology? It just hurts to go back and see how it used to be.

        September 17, 2013 at 9:25 am

        • It’s really heartbreaking how they both have taken on both positive and negative aspects of John’s personality — Sam and his pride and good intentions, and Dean with his petty criticisms and guilt, and yet both are so brave and self-sacrificing too. I wonder to what extent John would be proud and horrified at how he’s influenced them.

          Yes, the worst thing about S8 was how it reset them at S1. It was frustrating and not enjoyable. Especially with Sam, it was painful. He’d been through so much and sacrificed over and over. He’d come to accept life as a hunter back in S6 and chosen to be with Dean. To have that tossed out in favor of him trying to have a normal life and hurting Dean that way … As a writer and a fan, I’m still bewildered by the choices that Carver made.

          September 17, 2013 at 9:43 am

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