“The Purge” final scene: A Lesson in Miscommunication
I’ve been thinking about the fallout from the final scene in “The Purge” — fallout that’s being felt between Sam and Dean and within the fandom. Everyone seems to be focusing on that last exchange where Sam says he wouldn’t do the same for Dean. It got me thinking that Sam’s statement and how Dean took it might just be important within the overall conversation; so, I decided to take a look at the transcript and include some reaction as I go along.
Dean [softly] You know, Sam, I saved your hide back there. And I saved your hide at that church… And the hospital. I may not think things all the way through. Okay? But what I do, I do because it’s the right thing. I’d do it again.
[Saving people, hunting things, the family business. Saving Sam is #1. That’s Dean’s prime directive, and it isn’t something he’s ever questioned. He believes that the impulse is the right thing no matter what. He and Sam are looking at this issue from completely different perspectives. It’s like they speak two different languages.]
Sam: And that… is the problem. You think you’re my savior, my brother, the hero. You swoop in, and even when you mess up, you think what you’re doing is worth it because you’ve convinced yourself you’re doing more good than bad… But you’re not. [Dean ‘s blank eyes stare at him] I mean, Kevin’s dead, Crowley’s in the wind. We’re no closer to beating this angel thing. Please tell me, what is the upside of me being alive?
[This right here reminds me of the scene at the end of the end of “I’m No Angel” when Sam is upset over Tracy attacking him, Dean said, “You have helped a hell of a lot more people than you have hurt.” Sam doesn’t protest, but he doesn’t believe it either. Despite all the people they’ve saved, Sam thinks they’ve done more harm than good. He’s tried to change that by dying, but Dean doesn’t even get it. In Dean’s defense here, it’s hard to hear someone you love and think is worthwhile say that they and the world would be better off with them dead.]
Dean: [shocked] You kidding me? You and me — fighting the good fight together.
[This makes me think of “What Is And What Should Never Be” when Dean is at the cemetery crying over everything they’ve lost and sacrificed and why does it have to be them. Dean has given in. He is the sacrifice. They both are. Their lives, their souls, everyone they’ve ever loved – none of that is too high a price to fight this fight against evil. This is what they do. It’s what Sam chose in “Sacrifice.”]
Sam: [sighing in frustration almost leaves but then decides to explain. He come into the kitchen and sits down across from Dean, who draws back unconsciously] Okay. Just once, be honest with me. You didn’t save me for me. You did it for you.
[I remember when watching this scene how hurt and frustrated Sam was at this point. It was as though he thought that Dean was being willfully obtuse, but I think Dean’s reaction was sincere. He really doesn’t understand where Sam is coming from.]
Dean: [totally confused] What are you talkin’ about?
Sam: I was ready to die. I was ready. I should have died, but you… You didn’t want to be alone, and that’s what all this boils down to. You can’t stand the thought of being alone.
[Hm, he was alone when he went to Hell. He was alone when he let Sam jump in the Pit. Yes, there’s an element of not wanting to keep going without Sam, but Sam knows it’s more than that. But Sam is hurt, and Dean is unapologetic for hurting him. Sam hurt Dean right back. Jared has said as much.]
Dean: [drawing back and standing up] All right.
[The arrow hit its mark. Sam meant to hurt, and Dean reacted accordingly.]
Sam: I’ll give you this much. You are certainly willing to do the sacrificing as long as you’re not the one being hurt.
[You know I remember watching the scene when Sam confronted Dean about his demon deal in season three and how he called Dean selfish and Dean shrugged it off with an “I can live with that.” I wanted to smack Dean upside the head for being so callous, but Dean was willing to face eternity in hell because he’d failed to protect his little brother. A lot of fans villainize Dean for that act now because Sam was better off in heaven (Maybe, I don’t know, is that what happens to guys with demon blood in their veins? Somehow I’m pretty sure Azazel wouldn’t have allowed Sam to go to heaven. Remember, Crowley re-routed Bobby.) Anyway, right or wrong, Dean spent thirty years being tortured, and he did it because he’d let Sam down. “I always let down the people I love.”]
Dean: All right, you want to be honest? If the situation were reversed and I was dying, you’d do the same thing.
Sam: [very softly] No, Dean. I wouldn’t. [He looks up and meets Dean’s shocked eyes.] Same circumstances…I wouldn’t. I’m gonna get to bed. [Sam leaves and the camera fads to black on Dean’s devastated face.]
[Fans have tended to focus on that last bit of the conversation “same circumstances” and how Dean didn’t pay attention to that, but let’s look at what Sam has said in this conversation – or more accurately, what Dean has heard:
- You think you’re a hero, but you’re not.
- You think you do more good than harm, but you don’t.
- You’re selfish, weak, and cruel
- You don’t care about people
- You aren’t worth saving
Given how devastating Sam’s entire argument was, why is anyone surprised that “same circumstances” went right by him?
I have to add that I’m frustrated this season by how the boys’ conversations keep getting cut off, here by Sam, or interrupted or just peter out. It’s a pretty heavy-handed way to draw the conflict out.]