Kalliel (kalliel) wrote,

8x06 "Southern Comfort"

This is definitely an episode where, when I started watching, I was definitely like "uh, the what?" because I think I've actually only seen 8x06-8x10 or so once before, and that was in 2012. But this is the vengeful spirit possession magic penny Confederate soldier episode! (Did you know a spectre is different from a ghost? Bobby sure did, apparently.)

Also, Garth is in this episode, and it's the one where we first learn he's taken on a role as the "New Bobby." Also, he went to college, and dental school, and was briefly a dentist, and killed the tooth fairy, and also does Civil War reenactments "once a year, every year." Thinking back, I do vaguely remember that dentist thing, though I'd definitely forgotten about it. I'd also forgotten about his role as New Bobby--it makes me wonder what he thought about Sam's setup for his Cone World recruits.

(I guess after Michael was locked away in Dean's mental storage closet, someone had to drive back to Kansas City to get the Impala and free Garth from the trunk. With Michael out of the picture, I suppose we can assume the effects of his Grace were neutralized and Garth went back to normal... But lol how long did Garth have to spend in the trunk? D:)

Anyway, I really loved Garth's role in 8x06, because he was definitely all up in Sam and Dean's space and sort of trampling all over their finely-crafted misery--but not in a "you're not a person, you're a hunter" kind of way, per Bobby in 7x09, or in a 7x12 "oh get over it, you crybaby" Eliot Ness kind of way. A big part of me is still convinced that S7 was peak Winchester misery (though S9/10 are also hot contenders), and clearly neither of those S7 approaches did anything for either of them. Garth's a little clueless, and he definitely doesn't understand the dynamics of Dean in Purgatory nor Sam in Texas, but he also doesn't try to/knows he won't be able to, because as a set of experiences that is so far from not only just like... normal human experience, but also who Garth is, specifically.

He does tell Dean to maybe calm his shit down, because he has Sam and that's not so bad, is it? But it doesn't land the same way, because it's Garth (and because Garth had literally seen Dean wave a gun around and try to shoot Sam for ten minutes, and Garth had watched Sam refuse to do the "you're possessed and you have to fight it!" schtick and instead opt for a "yeah, fuck you, bring it" approach, lol).

I think having Garth around helped both Sam and Dean realize just how much was bound up in the way they feel and the way they're acting--first by recognizing how out of bounds their reactions to Garth being New Bobby were, and that it didn't really have anything at all to do with Garth taking on the role or how he was choosing to take on that role, and more to do with their grief, still raw, just buried.

Having Garth around to miss the message of what Sam and Dean were both experiencing--in his innocent and unassuming Garth way--also helped draw, like I mentioned when I was talking about 8x05, how much Sam and Dean are also doing that to each other. But missing each other's messages is a lot more destructive than Garth missing anything, because like. It's Garth. Of course that's how it is. Whereas with each other they expect and desire to be on the same page and they're absolutely not right now, and all it feels like is betrayal.

And we all know why Dean feels betrayed, because he's so far taken every opportunity to voice it. Like Sam notes in this episode, he didn't need to be possessed by a vengeful ghost to say his piece. Oh, he's said it. And he can continue to say it until he's blue in the face but it's not going to change anything or make him feel any better. I think at this point for Dean, saying anything is a self-confirming prophecy. He can't think of Sam's actions as motivated by anything but betrayal because he's still caught up in how he felt about Castiel during S7, because of S6. Because of how he felt about God, because of how he felt about Ruby, because of how he felt about John--etc. etc. etc.

And Sam? Sam doesn't say his piece. I don't think he can--because if he could, he would have been more specific/forthcoming months ago, in 8x01, when Dean first asked why Sam hadn't been online, trying to rescue him. And if there were a moment where he could ever formulate a way of expressing how profoundly lost and defeated he'd felt after 7x23, it's long gone, buried under Dean's barraging feelings of betrayal. Sam's not upset because Dean won't "let go" of Sam not having looked for him--he's upset because Dean can't understand the situation as anything but betrayal, and continually invalidates Sam's pain (the pain he has not managed to find an adequate way to express, and possibly never will). He's upset because Dean cannot understand that losing Dean could possibly be so painful it'd shut Sam down. On some level Dean's afraid Sam doesn't care about him--while also, on another level, not being able to believe that Sam could possibly care about him as much as Sam does. He doesn't actually believe anyone could care about him that much--not even Sam.

It's this massive giant delightful horrible mess, and what I love about it is that while it's ostensibly about what did and didn't happen between 7x23 and 8x01, it's really a long protraction of having to deal with the fallout of S7 in its entirety. Purgatory's "360 degree combat" was traumatic (but also Pure); thinking Dean was dead was traumatic (but compounded profoundly by a year+ of worrying, with growing intensity, that Dean might want to be dead). But the trauma that hits heaviest in S8 is the sum total of the year that came before--not necessarily anything specific you can nail down, isolate, try to triage. Just the year in general. And that's what I think is wonderful about S8, and what rings true to me about it. From year to year, nothing has ever really gone away and felt tabula rasa for them, but S7 into S8 hits such a fever pitch that it derails everything. They don't know how to handle it, or even how to look at it--but 8x06 and Garth's presence offers this inkling that maybe there's a way forward after all. Maybe there's a way to start looking at all this that'll lead to a handhold. Maybe, down some long forgotten highway, there's a way out.


Made even better by the fact that that dopey car on the far right, while poorly rendered, does seem to resemble Jeff Gordon's

Chevy Impala.

Eyyyyyyyyyyy! ;)
Tags: fandom: spn, spn centennial hwy rewatch

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