Okay. Deep breaths here. *exhales slowly*
Right. Because I absolutely refuse to start down the path of Tumblr arguments (I've seen it; it literally ain't pretty), here are some unorganized thoughts in response to a couple of different negative meta conversations I stumbled across in the space of about an hour and a half. Which I'm not going to post anywhere but here, where only about 4 people will read it. I wouldn't do even this, but I suspect the only way to stop dwelling on the thing is to get it down in writing and then more or less walk away.
- The first thing to remember--the most important thing to remember--is that Sam and Dean love each other. They love each other more deeply than many of us will probably ever experience. They have both forgiven each other multiple times, explicitly and implicitly on the show. They have both deliberately chosen to stay together, and we see this affirmed (again, multiple times) in both word and deed on the show. Although they both occasionally dream about the lives they might have had if heaven and hell hadn't conspired to turn them into the meatsuits for the apocalyptic grudge-match, they're both happy in the life they're living. Again, this is all canonical.
We all on the same page here? (All five of us?) Okay, then.
- THEY WERE BOTH SUPER-SCREWED UP IN SEASON 5. Seriously screwed up. In the run of episodes prior to "Dark Side of the Moon", they had: a) lost Ellen and Jo, b) nearly gone crazy, c) had Sam's body stolen, d) time-traveled back in time and attempted to convince their parents to prevent their births in order to prevent the apocalypse, e) Dean was told he was essentially dead inside and Sam semi-involuntarily fell off the demon-blood wagon, and f) watched their surrogate father figure go through the pain of having to kill his beloved wife a second time. And then h) they got shot by a couple of guys who blamed them for everything going wrong and didn't care that they were trying to fix things.
Given all this, it's completely understandable that Dean's memories on the axis mundi consist of times he was able to provide comfort and joy to his family, or that Sam's consist of times when he was able to just be a regular person, away from the family that was tailor-made to enable the apocalypse. And understandable again that Dean would then interpret that as a rejection of him personally. It would be mind-boggling if it didn't fall out like that.
- Dean was not being abusive towards Sam or whatever (I refuse to go back and reread that piece of meta for the exact phrasing because I really shouldn't do that to my blood pressure) by wanting to linger in his memory of Mary after hurrying Sam away from his own memories--she was Sam's mother too, and he shows interest in seeing Dean in that context. It's not Dean rubbing Sam's nose in what he didn't have growing up. C'mon.
- In season 11, we see that Sam knows he has (had! he's grown past that now) a tendency to run away from problems. Um. That fit in somehow, but I don't remember exactly. So we'll just keep moving.
- Given the portrait of the family we see in the pilot, I don't think we should take the glimpse we see of Dean's childhood in "Dark Side of the Moon" and extrapolate out that his family environment was toxic. Families go through rough patches, and parents are human. A single instance of Mary not reacting in a textbook-perfect manner doesn't mean she wasn't a loving and capable mother. Simply that she wasn't the perfect saint Dean's painted her as in his need to hold onto her and what she represented.
- Jumping ahead a bit: oh, hey! I actually don't remember what the second piece of meta that so bugged me was. Chalk this up as at least partially successful, then. :D
- Something to do with season 8, I suspect, and Sam's lack of explanation for why he didn't turn the world inside-out in order to get Dean out of purgatory. I never felt the need for more than what we got, because I always knew why (and this is somewhat confirmed by what's said in season 11): shame. He couldn't defend himself to Dean because he couldn't defend himself to himself. He knew, secretly, ashamedly, that he could have done more, and so felt Dean was right to feel like Sam abandoned him. Because this is the way I work a lot of the time: even when people praise me for something, I know I could have done more, done better. When someone chastises me, I wind up kind of wanting to gut myself, because I know they don't know just how right they really are.
Granted, some of this is me reading myself into the character, but I don't think it disagrees with what we get in canon. But it's why I've always felt somewhat alienated by the insistence that the writers dropped the ball on that storyline--for me, it was handled in a beautifully subtle manner. (The Amelia flashbacks were awkward, though. I freely admit that. I wonder if in retrospect the writing room regrets not going with Robbie's suggestion of compressing all the flashbacks into a single laundromat episode. If nothing else, the boys in boxers probably would have provided enough distraction to keep fandom from complaining quite as much.)
- Finally, I think my main frustration with fandom (on Tumblr, at least) comes from two things: a) this deep tendency to treat the writers and especially the showrunners as though they don't care about the characters and show, rather than acknowledging the possibility that they might simply have a different understanding/endgame. It's so arrogant--some of these people have been involved since the beginning, or the very early seasons. When you compare the writing with that of other shows running as long, it simply boggles the mind: the consistency in the characters, the continued maturing and deepening of the characters and their relationships, the overall attention to detail. Yes, there are discrepancies, but they're almost always either single details that are easily lost in the course of 230+ episodes, or are the tweaks to existing lore that we've gotten almost from the very beginning of the show--the things that are inevitable for a show being written as a continuing story assembled as it goes, rather than as a single story planned from the beginning.
And b) this inability to let things go after years. The doctored voicemail from season 4, the samulet from season 5, Dean's decision at the beginning of season 9, demon!Dean's everything from 10.03, and other stuff I can't think of at the moment--these are all things the characters have long since moved past, and yet fandom goes back and dwells on them, obsesses, assigns blame, holds grudges over. Honestly, if you want to talk about unhealthy relationships, I think it's that one, not Sam and Dean's, that's messed up. What happened to the idea of forgiveness? Or of generosity? If you claim you love something, why can't you overlook its blemishes and dwell on its (overwhelming) good features? If a character loves and forgives another character, why aren't you willing to do the same?
- All this to say, I kind of feel like the more I watch the show and love it, the more I become alienated and isolated from that which supposedly should help me enjoy it more. Which is not new, but every now and then I can't help but express my (mild) frustration over this. But let me also express my great appreciation for those of you who are willing to celebrate the show with me, to go all schmoopy over the lovely bits and shrug over the things that don't quite succeed--and then move on to the next lovely bit, because there are so many of those it really is astonishing at times. And I, for one, would rather revel in the beauty than dwell in disappointment.