Previously on Supernatural, “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets”
There isn’t a more disturbing concept than losing one’s self. Be it through a trauma or plain old age, the idea that we could become less of ourselves over time is a dismaying probability. In the eleventh episode of the season – “Regarding Dean” – our titular lead suffers from a curse that robs him of his very essence, yet again proving how close the boys live on the edge because of their calling.
The premise itself was a tad flimsy (a fading coven gets revenge on their accountant… wut?) though had some legs thanks to some surprisingly moving performances by Jensen Ackles and Ruth Connell. In pursuit of a mortally wounded witch, Dean is coldcocked by a sigil his prey hastily drew before dying. For the remainder of the episode, Dean’s mind progressively deteriorates. At first he couldn’t recall names and events from the night before; however he quickly regressed to the point that everything he experienced after a few seconds was wiped from his memory. For all intents and purposes, Winchester was cursed with a fast-acting form of Alzheimer’s.
In the first half of “Regarding Dean” much of ‘Agent Entwistle’s affliction was played off for laughs, notably when Dean couldn’t recall the time he hooked up with a bartender – and Sam randomly blurted out that his partner may have been roofied. That moment along Dean’s boundless enthusiasm each time Sam tells him facts about the life he can’t remember were amusing, but it was clear the episode was going to turn a dark corner rather sharply. It finally began to circle down the drain with Dean’s attempt to retain the most basic knowledge: the names of his brother, mother, best friend and himself. It was a difficult sequence to watch as we’re placed directly in Dean’s reflection and witness the remnants of a character we’ve stuck with for twelve years fade away in an inelegant, depressing manner.
Yes, it’s Dean Winchester… the king of resurrections. Practically nothing can keep this man down. Yet the prospect of descending into a mentally confining state like that is a stark reality many of us come to fear as we get up there in age.
If the fear of losing your fondest memories and very personality weren’t harrowing enough, let’s touch upon why we even exist in the first place! The more intriguing moments in “Regarding Dean” occurred after Rowena crashed the party to further assess Dean’s condition. While Sam was freaking out about his big brother fading into oblivion, Ro’ used Dean as a sounding board to reflect on her past indiscretions and current struggles. Knowing the older Winchester wouldn’t have a clue about her rantings – even if he managed to recover – Rowena admitted her decisions over the centuries weren’t the best. After seeing God and Amara’s squabble nearly bring down all of creation, Ms. MacLeod (she finally has a surname!) has experienced an existential crisis since the last few episodes of season eleven.
Rowena would never admit it but she needs the Winchesters and, God help us, her son Crowley’s love to sort any kind of meaning to life on earth. Ironically, in their enmity the foursome have grown into a (severely dysfunctional) family in the last two seasons, and the countermeasures they created to wipe each other off the map have saved their bacon a handful of times. In this episode for example, despite Sam and Rowena’s best efforts to keep Dean on the sidelines while they took on possibly the worst coven ever, MacLeod knew that Dean would be obstinate and help slay witches “for the greater good”. Thanks to a few post-its, Rowena guided Dean to his cache of witch-killing bullets he crafted to blow away Red in season 10. See, when it comes back full circle, it almost always works out!
Once more, Supernatural provided an intimate look at its leads and supporting characters and how delicate and necessary their relationships have become. God really did a number on this band of misfits. Sure, Sam and Dean may not trust Rowena and Crowley as far as they can spit (this may also relate to Castiel these days) but there’s no denying a latent connection between all of them no matter their affiliations. That reluctant kinship will be put to the test sooner than later with The Men of Letters attempting fracture their unconventional yet effective association.
Supernatural – S12E11 – “Regarding Dean” | Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Mark A. Sheppard, Misha Collins, Ruth Connell | Writer: Meredith Glynn | Director: John Badham