But I think it’s pretty clear that the possibility for that weirdness doesn’t occur to Sam and Dean. Not that I think they’d take that into consideration or be bothered by it (in the sense of like, organizing Mary’s funeral around a question of “wow, will these hunters think this is weird?”), but there’s a difference between “not bothered by it” and “don’t recognize it at all.” I’m also tickled by the fact that neither of them give a single fuck about the bunker as a bunker, or a place of security.
Probably because it doesn’t feel like that, because plenty of shit has gone down inside at this point (starting from, you know, like 1954). It’s not a safe place. It just conveniently happens to have refrigerators and storage. And it’s been well-established that anyone who’s anyone already knows where it is anyway, so fuck it. XP Let the wraiths in. Let dozens of people park outside. F u c k i tttttt.
I’ve been to Lebanon, and there’s a perfectly nice roadside park the next town over that would have been a decent place for this congregation. But maybe that would have required getting there early, holding tables, drinking warm beer… Sitting at a picnic table in the middle of nowhere requires almost no planning, but it requires some, and even that is Too much work. Way easier to just send out coordinates to the secret base. Because like, it didn’t really seem like either of them actually wanted to hold a wake. (Not that anyone does, but.) I mean in the sense that they actually wanted to interact with any of those people, or in the sense that they got anything at all out of hunters coming to pay respects and offer condolences. It was just another thing to get through and check off the To Do list. They felt obligated to do an Asa Fox but, in the words of T.S. Eliot (who also wrote “The Waste Land,” incidentally), they “had the experience, but missed the meaning.”
I enjoyed that sense to it, because I feel like it mediated all the grayscale montages and sweeping instrumental scores and whatnot and set the stage for being in a very weird, illegible state of mind. Where you’re not necessarily like, flying off the handle or rushing off to do something overwrought or commit crimes of passion, but you still just kind of. Grind to a halt in a minefield of poor decision-making.
I loved the scene where Jack pops into the bunker, because it was so uncomfortable. Because Jack’s demeanor in that moment was so sociopathically sunny—partly because Jack thought he was on the right path under Heaven’s direction, but I think more because Sam specifically prayed that everything “go back to how it used to be.” And that’s how it used to be. Getting to “how it used to be” would mean putting Mary’s death—the whole intractable, unbearable mistake of it—into a hermetically-sealed box and pretending it didn’t exist.
Which absolutely wouldn’t work, of course, but it’s what Jack presented, because he thought it’s what they wanted. It’s sort of exactly what Sam said he wanted. But clearly neither Dean nor Sam responded well, because the zero-nothing way Jack took to talking about “the accident” didn’t allow for any real understanding of what had happened or what impacts it had had. They didn’t get to see Jack’s remorse, or his terror, or his pain, in the way that we did (or that even Rowena did).
And like, the whole box thing. That was never going to work, from either a moral or practical standpoint. Jack blew Michael out of the water like it was nearly nothing, after all. And while Sam and Dean had some capacity too Do The Right Thing (feel sorta bad about the box thing, follow cause/effect into the future far enough to understand that Bobby et al were gonna get themselves killed if they found Jack first, host a hunter funeral for Mary) they weren’t really thinking about the box thing, or any of those things, at all. It was just due diligence, without the actual diligence.
Like worm guy, for instance. We got to see the worm, and we know that that dude definitely got eaten alive and died a horrible painful inexplicable death. We also know that Sam and Dean definitely did not ever check up on or ever think about that guy ever again. Not that this would be a first for them, uhhh, but I think it’s illustrative in this context. Because the Winchesters don’t have a single ball in the air, but they still think they’re juggling. Or, they’re not even thinking they’re juggling, per se, but they’re autonomously moving their arms in a way that imitates the act of juggling.
I think thinking with the phrase “due diligence” is helpful here. Because crushing responsibility and Sam and Dean’s responses to it have pretty much defined their lives even before Heaven and destiny and angels and apocalypse got involved. In this season alone, they’ve struggled with their responsibilities to Jack, to the Cone World crew, to anything Michael did, to Dark Kaia (!!! Remember her?). Sometimes they’ve handled these things well, often poorly, but always with whatever effort could be mustered at the time. But I don’t know that there’s any muster left, or any strong attachment to this amorphous, celestial sense of what is “due.”
The whole reason Mary was even around in the first place was because Amara offered her up out of her own sense of what was due the Winchesters. But now that’s gone, and what’s left isn’t even a sense of having been wronged—it’s just absence. For a hot second in 14x18 Sam and Dean were holding it together, but that support fell apart and in the cacophony of all those hunters and Bobby Sam and Dean started talking past each other again, which led to half-assed conversations about boxes, which led to non-conversations about Jack (in place of what would have been an impossible conversation about Mary) and here we are.
I dunno, like. The feeling I got from that funeral, and that carried through the rest of this fiasco, was that Sam and Dean are far, far beyond capacity. But they are so eternally in that state it’s impossible for them to recognize—really recognize—anymore, and it’s impossible to care. No one’s said they want to let the world burn this time, but even that would take more presence than either of them are able to manage. And there’s no one around to pull them back, because Cone World Bobby is acutely not their Bobby; there’s no Maggies for whom to pull it together; and there’s no real adversary to focus in on. Lucifer and Michael are dead, Heaven is somehow both dangerous but still in shambles and not worth it. In some sense, this is a world without dues, without destiny.
In Castiel’s words—no paradise, no hell. What would you rather have? Peace or freedom? But if the energy to act on that freedom felt impossible after the first (of MANY) apocalypses, maybe it’s more than a feeling now. This whole box thing was giving up—but it looked and felt enough like at least doing something (doing anything at all—right, wrong, whatever) that it became acceptable. It became good enough. Even though it really wasn't.
…Just like this shitty wake.
I mean, look at these people. They want to leave and go get some Kansas City barbecue, since they went through the trouble of driving all the way out to breadland for this evening of social awkwardness: