For me this show just wouldn’t be ‘Supernatural’ without Jensen and Jared as their respective characters, Dean and Sam. And I’m a happy camper when an episode is filled to the brim with them. ‘Dream a Little Dream’ is just such an episode. I mean, where do I begin? My cup runneth over! We get to see some of the their best acting and a broadening of their characters like no episode has ever done before. I never appreciated how thirsty I was for a long drink of the Sam & Dean storyline persuasion until I saw this episode. TO THE BRIM – I TELLS YA!
Food. (Hmmmm… maybe it’s time for supper. Can’t stop! Must finish!) This episode has so much food for thought that I could spend the next month thinking and writing about it and still not plumb its’ depths. So, rather than attempt that, I will instead focus on some of the highlights. Although, to be fair, this whole episode is highlightful. Is that a word? Not to worry. We’ll just take it as it comes.
It’s always nice to have Bobby in an episode because I think he brings out the best in Dean and Sam. He’s sorta their guiding light, so to speak. But, here, in the episode’s opening scene, he’s in a dark place himself, lost and trapped and scared out of his wits. Not the usual set of circumstances we normally find him in. And it’s because he’s not really there. Not really. Just caught in a nightmare he can’t wake up from. And a Demon at his heels. And so it begins…
From there we find Sam in a bar. Dean spots Sam drinking whiskey at in the afternoon and reprimands him. Poor Sammy’s all sad and pouring out his feelings about his perceived failure at helping Dean and tells him: “I tried to save you. I mean…. where you’re going?..... what you’re gonna become?… I can’t stop it. I mean… no one can save you because you don’twanttobesaved…... how can you care so little about yourself?” That’s a great question. You can tell that Sam is heartbroken and at this point, so am I. He just wants so much more for Dean but Dean isn’t cooperating. And when he’s exposed to this honesty, Dean has little to say. But, you see all kinds of emotions cross his face. Bewilderment. Denial. Resignation. Maybe a little belligerence. And I’m thinking – ‘How the Hell does he do that! How can Jensen do that?’ I mustn’tponder it too long because I can get lost in the reverie that is ‘Supernatural’. . . so, onward and upward. Sam’s queries are interrupted when Dean receives a call, so off they go and we next find them in a hospital room with Bobby lying comatose in a bed, looking pretty helpless and vulnerable. I thought it was a wonderful revelation to find that Bobby had chosen Dean as his emergency contact. Gives us just a little bit more insight on their relationship. He has no one else but those boys.
When we next find Dean & Sam, they’re in Bobby’s hotel room trying to make some sense of his predicament, and in usual hunter fashion they swiftly find the clues they’re looking for in his closet, hidden behind his hung-up clothes. So, they’re off and runnin’ to find the cause of Bobby’s present state. Sammy works on the research end of this ‘dream root’ that Bobby’s notes and pictures mention. And Dean?Well, Dean’s doing his ‘detective’ gig and, man, he’s getting very good at it. From Bobby’s notes Sam spotted an obit about a Sleep Disorder doctor who died after falling asleep and never woke up. Kinda like the sit’iation Bobby was in. Dean’s whole ‘tough cop’ thing when confronting the late Doctor’s sleep lab assistant was a joy. She wasn’t very forthcoming with the info he needed until he threatened her with the prospect of taking her in for questioning. Took some testicular fortitude. But it got her to spill her guts. Who said Dean can’t think on his feet. See?...... He uses his upstairs brain!
The next stop in his investigation takes him to one of the good doctor’s test subjects, Jeremy Frost.
There’s another small revelation here, this time about Dean’s past, when Jeremy tells him that the elixir he had to take to get him into a dream-state caused him very vivid dreams. “Like a bad acid trip, you know? And Dean responds: “Totally! …I mean…. No!” Naughty Dean.
So, armed with all this information, Dean and Sam come to the conclusion that they will need to score some ‘African dream root’ ifthey’re gonna be able to help Bobby. When Dean realizes that Bela is their only hope to get their hands on some and will have to ask her for help, his statement to Sam sums it up pretty good. “I feel dirty just thinking about it.” But you gotta do what you gotta do. So….It’s Bela or squat.
This is where I’m going to mention an odd scene in this adventure.
I kinda got the impression that the crew were not sure just where to put Sammy’s dream about Bela so they just tossed it at this point. It would have fit in better after Sam’s little afternoon bender except.. there was no mention about soliciting Bela’s help until after Dean and Sam had visited a sleeping Bobby in the hospital and Sam seemed sober by that time. But, never mind that. Sam’s hidden (maybe even to himself) crush on Bela was wonderful. Just the way I would imagine it would be if I were a 20 something guy and someone like her always skirting around my subconscious mind - even if she was a pain in the ass. Or maybe because she was. Who the hell knows. I just thought it was a delightful little scene that gave us just a small window into Sam’s slightly elicit desires. I just have to say here, to give Jared his much-deserved due, that he was incredible with HIS range of emotions after waking up from his lustful dream fantasy. Embarrassment and horniness and obfuscation about the state he was in was exquisite. Too precious for this world!
I gotta tell ya, when the brothers set off on their journey in their quest to come rescue Bobby, kick-started by some of the awful-tasting ‘dream root’ elixer with just a dollop of Bobby’s hair, I knew we were in for one helluva ride. Their jumping-off point was in Bobby’s rather gaudy hotel room and they landed….. in Bobby’s house, minus the books and dust. Let me tell you about the separate paths Sam and Dean took from there. Dean stayed back in the house, a house full of shadows and fear… and Sam….well, he went to explore outside and found himself in a bright and beautiful garden and an insane Jeremy (apparently the doctor’s star pupil) intent on doing him harm. Not sure what to make of that. I’ll just put my two cents worth in here. Actually, I have more questions than answers but I’ll give it a shot. Dean stayed inside, doing what he does best. You know, helping people and hunting things. Falling back on the kind of behavior that his Dad trained him to do so well. Whereas, Sam went off, outside his customary place next to Dean, beyond his comfort zone, exposing himself to a greater unknown. Where things aren’t always as they seem. Bigger and brighter but unexplored territory that contains more unpredictability. Kinda like where Sam is headed as YED’s chosen one. Maybe that’s why Bobby, later, when revived from his ‘sleep’ with the help of the boys, asked Sam if his dream experience had anything to do with his ‘psychic stuff’. And Sam answers: “No….well, I don’t think so.” And Bobby responds: “Good.” He hasn’t forgotten about Sam’s supposed ‘destiny’.
I’ll back-track at this point to bring us to Dean and his mission to bring Bobby out of his dream (actually a virtual nightmare considering that the Demon pursuing him was his wife and… had been dispatched by him because of an unfortunate demonic possession. It’s no wonder he never remarried and… it’s no wonder she was pissed) and back to the land of the living. And this he accomplishes by convincing Bobby that ‘this is ONLY a dream’ and tells Bobby: “You’re not gonna die. I’m not gonna let you die. You’re like a father to me.” With those stunning words, Bobby is able to break free from his nightmare and awakes from his dark slumber. With Dean’s task successfully completed, the brothers are brought back as well.
So far, so good. But now they must find the purveyor of death and nightmares and stop him before he kills them. We find out that Jeremy has disappeared and the only way to find him is to use the ‘dream root’, let down the barriers and put themselves in mortal danger. Guess who decides this course of action? Why, Dean, of course. He tells Sam: “I can handle it.” Sam responds: “Not alone, you can’t.” And with that, proceeds to rip some hair off Dean’s head. Too cute and so brotherly. Dean’s none too thrilled with the prospect of having Sam ‘digging around’ in his head. But Sam will not be deterred and follows Dean like the good brother he is. Sleep overtakes them and the first vision from Dean’s mind that they encounter is Lisa Braeden. She is ensconced on a picnic blanket with wine glasses held in anticipation of Dean joining her before they ‘have to pick Ben up from baseball’. Sam looks on, incredulous. All Dean can say is: “I’ve never had this dream before.” Which is probably true, but, it brings to the forefront Dean’s hidden desires and regrets. Feelings that he never dared express consciously but were tucked away deep within the recesses of his heart of hearts. A son to carry on his legacy. The love of his son’s mother. His dream-state laid bare, everything that he tried to keep hidden, even from himself is brought into the open.
When they both finally spot Jeremy, they sprint after him only to get separated again – following their own paths – dutifully intent upon executing their pursuit of the ‘evil’ that must be dealt with.
Sam first. He is the one who confronts the culprit that’s been causing
all the trouble. Jeremy wants to knock him down and keep him down.
Which he does. He’s becoming more powerful and restrains Sam to the ground with stakes and as we see Sam from above it strikes me that he is held in check in a manner reminiscent of Christ on the Cross.
And to reinforce that image, Jeremy puts great effort in beating Sam’s legs. That was the method used by the Romans to speed up the death of those they crucified. Will Sam be the savior that sends all the Demons, loosed upon an unsuspecting world, back to Hell where they belong?Will he be the one that saves Dean from his almost certain fate?
Dean, meanwhile, finds himself in a long hallway cleverly disguised as the woods he was just running in. And notices the door at the end of the hall. As he walks closer then pushes the door open, he finds someone sitting with his back to him. Dean calls out Jeremy’s name but the person sitting at the desk turns around and Dean realizes that this person is…him.
Dark Dean greets him: “Hey, Dean.” And our Dean, offering a typical rejoinder answers: “Aren’t you a handsome son-of-a-gun!” But Dark Dean is not put off: “We need to talk.” With that, our Dean (still in smart-ass mode) says: “I get it. I’m my own worst nightmare.” A very atsute declaration considering the terrifying circumstances. I am going toput forth the rest of their exchange verbatim. This amazing showdown needs to be posited as it was spoken. My paraphrasing could never, ever to it justice.
Dark Dean: “I know how dead you are inside….how worthless you feel. I know how you look into a mirror and hate what you see. You’re going to Hell and you won’t lift a finger to stop it.”
Our Dean (under his breath): “C’mon, Dean. Wake Up!”
Dark Dean: “ After all, you got nuthin’ outside of Sam. You are nothing. As mindless and obedient as an attack dog.”
Of course, our Dean denies that. Fight back, Dean!
Dark Dean (we only see his cruel mouth): “What are the things that you want? What are the things that you dream?”
Now the camera pulls back a little so we see a little more of Dark Dean as he continues to torment our Dean. He says: “I mean… your car? That’s Dad’s. Favorite leather jacket? Dad’s! Your music? Dad’s. Do you even have an original thought? No!” And to further twist the knife, he barks out a Dad-like order: “Watch out for Sammy! Look out for your little brother, Boy!” But he’s not finished… “You can still hear your Dad’s voice in your head, can’t ya? Clear as a bell.”
Our Dean: “Just Shut Up!”
Dark Dean: “I mean…think about it. All he ever did was train you. Boss you around. Sam? Sam he doted on. Sam he loved. Dad knew who you really were. A good soldier and nothing else. Daddy’s Blunt Little Instrument. Your own father didn’t care whether you lived or died. Why should you?” Now I know that Dark Dean was only speaking to our Dean’s self-hatred but his dad DID care if Dean lived or died. He traded his life for Dean’s. But when all was said and done, it was too late to heal the damage his Dad had done to him. The result was a broken and ravaged soul.
Up to this point, our Dean has reacted only minimally. But his face speaks a thousand words. I’m stunned. I’m mesmerized. I can’t begin to imagine the agony he is going through by this time. And my heart is breaking for him. (Jensen made mention of this scene at a question-and-answer session at Chicago Con in November. When he was done filming that segment, he called home to talk to family and to tell them to remind him why he had chosen this career. I can understand his anguish.)
But Dark Dean finally pushes our Dean beyond passive listening.
He finally pisses our Dean off and we see a glimmer of the rage he’s been hiding for so long. The rage he subdued so he wouldn’t have to confront his own fears. And I rejoice! This show is ….. remarkable!
Our Dean finally fights back!: “You Son of a Bitch! My father was an obsessed bastard! All that crap he dumped on me about protecting Sam? That was HIS crap! He’s the one who couldn’t protect his family! He’s the one who let Mom die…..who wasn’t there for Sam! I always was! He wasn’t there! I didn’t deserve what he put on me and I don’t deserve to go to Hell !!!!!!”And I’m cheering for our Dean. Devastated by the power of his devastation. And I think again – ‘How does Jensen do it? Incredible!’
I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that this would have put an end to Dark Dean’s taunting, but it was not meant to be. His threat cuts right to the bone as he turns into Demon Dean: “You can’t escape me, Dean! YOU’RE GONNA DIE!AND THIS…..THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE GONNA BECOME !!” And then it’s over. Dean and Sam wake up. But…Now…Dean might just be ready to talk to Sam about his fears.
When they’re throwing their stuff in the trunk, Dean questions his little brother: “Hey….Sam….I was wondering…. When you were in my head, what’d you see?” Kinda feelin’ him out to see if Sam knew what had happened to him? Maybe? Sam: “Ahh…just Jeremy. He kept me separated from you. Easier to beat my brains out, I guess. What about you? You never said.”Dean: “Nuthin’…I was looking for you the whole time.”
Once in the car, though, Dean hesitantly decides to open up to Sam just a little. A baby step. A giant leap for him.
“Sam?” “Yeah?” Dean clears his throat. Attempting to tell Sam of his new commitment to start fighting for his life. “I’ve been doing some thinking. And….Well, the thing is…. I don’t wanna die. I don’t wanna go to Hell.” And Sam doesn’t know if he can believe what he’s hearing. And with a quiet voice he says: “All right. Yeah. We’ll find a way to save you.” A flicker of emotions cross Dean’s face. Most pre-dominant is just a hint of relief. And all he says is: “Okay. Good.” Two words that speak volumes.
BUT THAT SON OF A BITCH IS STILL INSIDE HIS HEAD - TAUNTING HIM!