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Supernatural S09E15: "#THINMAN"

Oh glob, so torn. On one hand, I love the Ghosfacers and I love parallels and I love when the Winchesters get smacked in the head with the Startling Realization stick. On the other hand: That was some really ham-fisted paralleling, yo. 

Supernatural's ode to Slender Man began with the worst selfie session ever and ended with yet another bromance on the outs, but where Harry and Ed are just starting their long journey toward not being horribly co-dependent and destructive in the name of love, watching the walking punchlines of the hunter world fall apart in front of them seemed to nudge Dean and Sam toward something resembling reconciliation. Almost. Maybe we'll get there next week, but probably not, and perhaps we shouldn't. This conflict has been stretched out so far (without turning the entire season into a mope-fest) that to simply have the Winchesters cave to one another because freaking Ed and Harry broke up would probably feel rushed and a little shallow. Season Fine has repeatedly made it clear that this is the fight to end all fights between Sam and Dean. It's not as big as the apocalypse or that time Sam banged a demon while his brother hung out (literally) in hell for a few months/decades or even as big as the implied trauma that Stanford was all those years ago. It's all of that plus a generous portion of deepest fears, busted coping mechanisms, and likely chemical imbalances. For as big a deal as the Ghostfacers' self-destruction is, it's got nothing on nine seasons of steady Winchester meltdown.


Maybe that disproportionate scope is the reason why the focus on Ed and Harry's conflict—which tried so so hard to mirror the one between Sam and Dean—felt so condescending. By some miracle, Ghostfacer Harry, who I've always found to be the least tolerable of the two, managed to find himself a girl who actually seemed to like him and make him happy. It's true, she didn't much care for Ghostfacers, but eh, you can't win every battle, and as with the rest of the team, Harry's enthusiasm for the project seemed to be waning and the allure of a more boring life was calling. In an effort to save Harry from making a terrible mistake, Ed created the entire mythology of the Thinman, watched it spread across the internet and even took the responsible steps of tweaking details from blog to blog to make sure they didn't accidentally create another Tulpa. What Ed didn't account for was two unhinged losers selecting Thinman to be the face of their revenge-killing spree. Oops. 


So Harry dumped his ladyfriend for a wild goose chase that got him stabbed and forced him to kill an actual human (a crappy human, but a human nonetheless) to save his conniving bestie. Understandably, Harry was a little bit unhappy when he learned the truth about Thinman. The Harry = Sam, Ed = Dean comparisons were front and center the entire time—and they were good parallels, sure—but using Ed and Harry's problems as a stand-in for Dean and Sam's also inadvertently simplified the hell out of the Winchesters' problem. Dean's fear of abandonment certainly drove him to keep Sam alive at all costs, even horrifying costs that played on every single one of Sam's own deepest fears—losing his agency and losing his humanity. These fears have evolved over nine seasons of shared horrors and a roving, isolated childhood that has repeatedly been implied to have, well, sucked. The Ghostfacers just don't have that kind of history influencing their actions, or if they do, we haven't been made privy to it.


Initially, Sam and Dean's bittersweet nostalgia for that one time Sam dressed up as Batman and jumped off a shed bothered me because it seemed implausible on the surface. When did they have a shed to jump off of during their various stays in seedy motels, slumlord specials, and abandoned houses? In what reality did uber-survivalist John Winchester cart a bike around in the Impala's trunk next to the doomsday arsenal? Season 5's revelation that Dean Winchester played with LEGOS just like every other kid ever was mind-blowing enough, and it's these little glimpses of Sam and Dean's shared experiences, I think, that go further to explain the guys to each other than any similarities to any other hunting partnerships we've seen on the show. Regardless of where or how John Winchester's child soldiers found the opportunity to dress up like superheroes and pretend they could fly (I assumed Bobby was involved) it's that sort of simplification that holds the key to their reconciliation because it's their experience, not someone else's. 

Dean got all nostalgic for driving a probably bawling six-year-old Sam to the ER on his handlebars. Sam gave him that knowing look. They're gonna be fine. They've been damaged and they've changed. Harry's (overused) rant about empty rocking chairs was accurate for both his conflict with Ed and what's currently going on between Dean and Sam because you just can't go through life with blinders on to the rest of the world. At their cores, Sam and Dean are six and nine years old, leaping after one another off of rooftops, breaking bones along the way. Stanford, hell, the apocalypse, purgatory, the trials... none of it has changed who Sam and Dean are to one another, but it has damaged who they are to themselves, and sometimes those images are incompatible. 


CASE NOTES

– I laughed so hard when they got tazed. I'm not sorry. 

– "We're gonna need snorkels because we're gonna be swimming in so much—" Classy.

– Can we get back to the Mark of Cain stuff, plz? Thnx.

– Do you think we'll see the Ghostfacers again ever? Is there hope? Do we care? (I care a little.)


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/20/2014

Season 9 : Episode 23

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