That makes it sound like the study was run in some kind of torture chamber, in the 1940s, but I swear it was legit. I wanted to describe the building to convince you all that it was not a torture chamber, but the building's decor was bison and cactus-themed, in Michigan, which I suspect does not lend itself to impressions of legitimacy.
Anyway, leading up to passing out the pain stimulus was making me super nauseous and dizzy but I didn't ask the study administrator to stop the test because I figured the pain was so intense it was probably about to be over.
...And then I was on the ground!
Which, all things considered, wasn't as deeply unpleasant or as long-lasting as previous similar experiences I've had, though I'll admit I didn't feel super great for the rest of today. But wow. Wow wow wow! Pain is a powerful thing. O_____o;; (Note: I reiterate, this was a totally legit study and the study administrators were very nice and fed me juice and made me lie down for longer than I think I needed to afterward.)
In this episode Sam actually suggests that what Dean might really want is to hunt solo, without being responsible to anyone and without the potential of facing castigation from anyone. Which is interesting, because Sam of all people has gotta know that the last thing in the world Dean wants is to be alone.
Why would Sam think that? Partly because it would alleviate some of the guilt of leaving, if that's what Sam were to choose to do. (At this point in the season, he's looking into "options" that involve more college and more Amelia, and fewer dead things.) Partly it's because that's what Dean fucking told him, in so many words. Dean told him Purgatory felt pure, and whatever that actually means, in a lot of ways Dean's still acting like he's there. Not enough to arouse real concern, but enough to be evident. (And honestly, Dean's pretty good at not arousing concern, in spite of the number of times things tend to blow up in their faces anyway.) But I think it's mostly because that's how Dean's acting. He's not giving Sam anything to relate to; he's not really interacting with Sam and when they do talk about things that might be headed down the path toward meaningful, Dean's distant, defensive, dismissive--any number of words brought to you by the letter D. If Sam knew for sure that the one thing Dean pre-Purgatory didn't want to be was alone, then Sam is also here confronting the possibility that that piece of Dean might be different now. Sam's not acting like nothing's changed (even though he keeps saying things like "stop being mad at me you're fine" lolll), but making room for the potential that everything has. Not just for him, but for Dean, too. Is he doing it wrong? I mean... XP But he's trying. (I would imagine this is one of the seeds of Sam's many feelings that he finally expresses in 8x23. For all that we focus on Sam leaving Dean, or failing him, that street and/or those fears of course have always gone both ways.)
Also, Dean hasn't mentioned Cas since his two lines in 8x01 and Sam still has no idea whatsoever about Benny. For all Sam knows, Dean DID spent his year in Purgatory both "pure" and alone.
From Dean's end things are just as tender. Because he feels like whatever Sam's issues right now (let me please interrupt this program by being VERY SAD FOR SAM WHO IS SO SAD OMG <333333 D;), not only did Sam not looking for him because he found something better, now that Dean's back Sam still wants to leave. Like he spent that year away from Dean and realized there are better things out there. And not even Dean's miraculous return from the would-be dead is worth enough to make him want to stay. Ouch. And I do think Dean probably has real indignant feeling about Sam opting out of saving people, hunting things, making sure people are safe, trying to get the world safe, but I'd imagine a lot of it is more personal than moral. He's not worth Sam's company anymore. (And if he's afraid of that, I'd imagine that would compound his tendency to perform that worthlessness, and actually not be very good company, in addition to his lingering mentalities from Purgatory.)
Sam ends up on the receiving end of that, and sees it as the possibility that Dean might want Purgatory back more than he wants other things. But I don't know that Dean actually does; even if Dean doesn't know it, it might actually be that he wants Sam to save him. It's not mainly that he wants Sam to have looked for him and saved him from Purgatory a year ago, even if that's how he's reasoned it out. He wants Sam to save him right now.
(Mmm wait I really like that idea. These headcanons are dedicated to all the fic I didn't write during S8. RIP.)
Thinking through that possibility is what I really loved about the ending to 8x04 this time around. Because I feel like it's not off-base to say that Sam and Dean watched the found footage video, felt sympathy for the kids, and decided not to kill Kate just get on that basis alone. But that's not as interesting to me as, say, the possibility that Dean's reticent about going after Kate because if she's got a shot then maybe he's not a worthless lost cause either, even though his comfort zone right now is killing things and that's really not that far removed from a werewolf's comfort zone. I don't meant to suggest that the parallel is supposed to be direct or one-to-one, because what I like about it is that it's not. Dean probably doesn't think about it the way I just explained it. But whatever Dean is thinking by the end of 8x04, Sam gets it, and I feel like that's the first real understanding they have between them all season. Given that 8x05 is about to launch them headfirst into all of their Purgatory-year baggage, this moment is sort of like the lighthouse before you see the rocks.
And since we went all found-footage on this, I feel like I should note from an aesthetic vantage point that I love the smears and toothpaste flecks on the mirror Michael is filming into here:
And this is a great dramatic angle to shoot from, when newly-turned Kate demolishes their sink (between this and my 5x20 thoughts, this journal is one more sink away from just being a blog about SPN sinks):
This isn't pseudo-found footage anymore, but it's still a great shot. We start with Kate following the rails in a wooded area, with all the aesthetic trappings of someone headed into the wilderness, the Wild West even. Following the railway tracks is like, peak lonesome cowboy/renegade rock band/wayward drifter behavior. Feral behavior. But it turns out Kate is actually not headed into the woods, but into a city of reasonable size. Look at all those high rises! Sure, it's no Chicago, but that's not a dusty one-horse town, either. She's not headed for the wild.