In Supernatural season 8, it’s Dean who’s alone
Over the past 7 seasons of ‘Supernatural,’ we’ve come to know Sam as the brother who’s always left alone. The tables seem to have turned in season 8 as Dean is the one who’s been abandoned by everyone.
There’s always been a loner aspect to Supernatural‘s Dean Winchester, through his martyrdom and warrior attitude, through his “I am meant to hunt and whether I like it or not it’s my duty.” Self-afflicted solitude, in that no one could ever understand what Dean’s life was like or what he was going through. He led the battles and bore the burden, no matter what it took … but he didn’t do it alone. Being a self-induced loner and being alone are two very different things.
When aloneness was focused on as a theme in Supernatural, it’s historically been Sam that was the one left alone. His mother left him in his crib, Jessica left him through the same tragic means, Dean went to Hell and left Sam to fend for himself, Sam was alone in the Hell cage with Lucifer while Dean lived a loving life with Lisa and Ben. Heck, Sam was even left alone from his very self, when his soul was taken away from him.
In Supernatural season 8, it’s Dean who’s getting left alone. Dean was left alone in Purgatory — Castiel ran away from him, Sam didn’t look for him and essentially ran away from the entire hunting life, to fall in love with a dog and a vet, much like Dean did with Lisa and Ben. John’s long gone, Bobby’s gone (for the moment, I’m not convinced yet), Kevin and his mom left because they don’t feel safe with Dean and even Sam is still planning on leaving the hunting life.
In “What’s Up, Tiger Mommy?” Dean is starting to get it. He was sarcastically angry with Sam in the season 8 premiere, and I’m not sure anyone really understood exactly why. It felt true to Dean’s character, yet it didn’t at the same time. After seeing how Castiel ran away to leave Dean alone in Purgatory, it’s a bit easier for us — and probably Dean himself — to understand why he was so angry with Sam.
Dean’s never really been alone before. He’s either had Bobby to fall back on, Sam to take care of, Lisa and Ben to be with or Castiel to back him up. Even in Hell, he had a trainer, mentor, torturing partner, what have you. From what we’ve seen of Purgatory, Dean was left by everyone who has always been there for him in some way.
And it’s really a wonderful thing for all parties involved. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki get to take their characters places they’ve never been before. Instead of playing the same characters week after week, these lucky actors have the opportunity to stretch themselves and dig deep to find new aspects of their characters that wouldn’t have been revealed had Dean not been abandoned and had Sam been alone yet again. I don’t have to even point out what a score this is for the viewers.
This is all going to play a greater part in Dean’s bonding with Benny the vampire, seemingly the only soul in Purgatory who had Dean’s back. This relationship could be mined in so many great ways that I can hardly wait to see what Jeremy Carver does with this little nugget. Season 8 — new aspects of our leads’ personalities to explore, a delightfully sketchy new secondary character, brand new character interplay and dynamics to naturally build upon the already-laid foundations. A recipe for success if I’ve ever seen one.