I was posting a lot over on my tumblr today, reblogging all the great gifs people were making from last night's fun episode and writing a whole lot of stuff in the tags. So I decided to combine all of that thinky stuff together in one place (hopefully somewhat coherently) where I can remember it. Things kinda get lost in all the pretty on tumblr.
First of all, the title of the episode. Halt & Catch Fire is a an awesome tv series, starring Lee Pace, and you should totally be watching it. So far there's only one season, 10 episodes, but it's coming back this summer, on AMC. It's set in the 1980's and is so accurate about working in the tech industry it's kinda scary. But the term Halt & Catch Fire is a machine language code term that basically is an order to the computer to stop everything and shut down completely. So, I found it funny that they used it as an episode title. But that's most of the episode titles this season, references to tv shows or movies.
Dean says "I'm sorry I made you leave" as they walk into the college and he's oogling all the pretty young people. (more on that later) And Sam smiles this enigmatic private joke with myself smile and kinda flips his hair. And you just know he's thinking, "You didn't make me leave, Dean. I chose to leave to go on that hunt, to help you find dad, I chose that. Because you admitted you didn't want to do it without me."
Dean making a huge production out of eating those noodles and grinning until Sam shakes his head and smiles is so damn cute.(and gross to see too of course) Such a great callback to earlier times when he would always do that sort of thing just to get Sam to smile. Character consistency noted and appreciated.
Dean's showy oogling of women and messy, constant eating was supposed to be noticeable (and funny) to both Sam and the audience. It's obviously a red flag that the Mark is infuencing him, and testing his control in a whole lot of areas. But you could see both Sam and Dean noticing that it was happening.
"What're you saying? If you died and I drove your car, you'd kill me?" Sam asks.
"If you stunk her up with Taquitos, probably," Dean answers wtih a smirky nod.
Arrggh, this exchange bothered me so much. Mostly because of how much I wanted Sam to retort something about the condition the Impala was in when he got it back from Demon!Dean. But he's still avoiding bringing anything specific about that time up with Dean. It seems like a glaring omission in their discussions, doesn't it? Sam's not asking him what it was like, for specifics about what he did. Maybe because he doesn't want to have Dean ask him for specifics on what he did. Or maybe Sam just doesn't want to know or even think about it.
The gen X stuff was spot on, face it Dean, you're old compared to these college kids. The portrayal of the college kids though, came through as pretty shallow and silly. My college kid watched it with me, and he said, "Mom, no one says hashtag out loud like that." Maybe the writers don't know any college kids? I dunno.
The parallels between the married couple and Sam and Dean were handled very well in this episode I thought. Not huge anvils, but still pretty clear. Like the widow, Sam has to watch out for when Dean goes too far, and Dean has to let go and choose peace like the dead husband.
So yeah, that ending scene was really frustrating, I was so excited for a moment there. Dean seemed like he was heading towards apologizing to Sam, finally coming clean, just like he’d advised the college woman. He said it all so clearly to her, exactly what he needs to do with his brother. It’s like he knows the how of it, but not the why. He’s taking Sam’s forgiveness for granted. Which Sam is unfortunately giving him a pass for. Because that’s how Sam is choosing to take care of Dean. By not pushing him.
When Dean didn't apologize, at first I was mad, but then I watched it again, and listened past just what Dean said, but how he said it. How his voice broke, how he had to hold himself together to say the last part. This was really hard for him to admit to his brother.
"My peace is helping people. Working cases. That's all I wanna do." ie Driving down crazy street next to you. That's what it all comes down to for Dean. That's all that still matters to him, This wasn't about giving up for Dean. not at all. This was about finally expressing how frustrated and impotent he feels. The uncertainty of not knowing when he's gonna break next is killing him. Which was really really honest. Especially for Dean to actually say. Out loud. To Sam.
"You can't just bury stuff. You gotta deal with it." Dean tells Delilah. The unsaid words are take it from me lady, I've been doing it all my life. Oh if he'd only take his own advice this time. It's like he knows exactly the steps he needs to follow to get right with Sam. He's practicing them all, just not with Sam.
After telling her that he's done things in his life that haunt him she asks him how he deals with it. At first his answer is flippant, but then he reveals himself more fully. "Whiskey, Denial, I try my best to make things right, whatever that might be." I don't think he believes he's made things right with Sam yet. Because he's obviously still burdened by it. He's acknowledging he hasn't dealt with it yet. But he shows here he already knows what he needs to do. Whether he'll ever do it or not is maybe the issue for the rest of the season??
An extraordinary thing about the ending to notice though, is that Dean, for the second time in the episode, thanks Sam for efforts in trying to figure out how to get rid of the Mark of Cain. "I appreciate the effort, ok? I do. But the answer is not out there. It's with me." Gosh, that is amazing isn't it? Dean listened to Sam's advice about how the power to overcome it might have to come from inside of him. I think that is huge for both of them. It's got to be great for Sam to realize that Dean has listened to his counsel, taken his advice to heart and figured out how to apply it. And it was so hard for Dean to even say these words to him out loud, but he did.
"So I'm gonna fight it. Until I can't fight it anymore. And when all's said and done, I'll go down swinging." I see this as Dean admitting that he doesn't know what else to do. That he's putting it in Sam's hands. He's not taking control away from Sam at all. He's admitting that he is out of the emotional reserves that it takes to deal with the uncertainty of not knowing when he'll blow up next.
Is there anything to their aliases this episode, from Nirvana: Cobain and Grohl? Sam was Cobain, who, as we all know, tragically committed suicide. Hopefully not a foreshadowing thing. But it did firmly cement them as Gen X'ers.