Season 12, Episode 11 “Regarding Dean”
Written by Meredith Glynn
Directed by John Badham
There are times when I forget that Supernatural is a genre show. It’s hard to forget, what with the witches and vampires and demons, but there are times when Supernatural is just excellent drama. This is one of those times.
Even though it’s excellent drama, it’s also hilarious. I have always liked my humor black. But this is more delicate than showing that life, while bleak and pointless, is also funny, as black humor does. This episode showed a situation that was sorrowful but also comedic. That’s delicate because humor is often not appreciated in a sad situation. It is felt that it takes away the seriousness of the sorrow. But then again, it takes away the seriousness of the sorrow. A little levity can be a big help.
We start out with Dean (Jensen Ackles) chasing someone in the woods. Sam (Jared Padalecki) isn’t with him. The guy he’s chasing is wounded but when Dean catches up with him, he blasts Dean backward with a spell. Dean wakes up in the morning looking like he’s been run over by a truck. He calls Sam for help but he can’t remember a thing that happened the night before.
Dean meets a girl at the waffle house (Lindsay Winch) who slaps him, and he figures he had an epic night. They go to the morgue to look at the victim they came for, an accountant whose stomach was stuffed with money.
It soon becomes obvious that Dean is more than hungover. Not only can he not remember what happened, he forgets his own name, he doesn’t know which key starts the Impala and he puts the car in drive instead of reverse and runs it upon the sidewalk.
Sam calls Rowena (Ruth Connell) for help because he suspects a spell. She’s busy fleecing people at poker. She advises him to kill the witch to break the spell.
Sam and Dean retrace his steps.They go to the accountant’s office, which they had been to before, and don’t find anything. Dean went out for burgers the night before and slugged down some shots, hooked up with the barmaid (the girl in the waffle house) and rode the mechanical bull, Larry. Dean asks if he was any good and the barmaid says he was amazing. She’s not just talking about the bull. They watch the surveillance tapes of the outside of the bar and see Dean shoot a witch.
By this time, Sam has to tell Dean that monsters are real. Dean is impressed with the fact that they hunt down monsters. They follow the trail through the woods and find the spell used on Dean, carved in a tree trunk, and the witch. Dead. This is not cool, as it means that killing the witch won’t fix Dean.
Someone else finds the body after they do. His brother and sister witches. The brother says it’s all the sister’s fault for killing the accountant. She has plans to make it better.
Rowena shows up at the door. Dean doesn’t recognize her and says her hair is bouncy. She says what I knew she was going to say: ”Do we have to fix him?” Rowena examines Dean, or at least puts her hands all over him. Sam sits him down with cartoons. Rowena also has information about the family they’re facing, the Loughlins. The Loughlins have a grimoire that they need to undo the spell. Sam asks Rowena if she can do it without the Loughlins or the grimoire, and she says Dean doesn’t have that much time. He will die soon.
Sam takes Dean into the bathroom and tells him his life story and what will happen. Dean keeps looking at himself in the mirror and trying to recite who he is and facts about his life. Soon, he can’t remember his own name again.
Rowena and Dean stay behind while Sam storms the witch’s castle. Rowena stands ready to do the spell on Dean as soon as Sam coerces the witches into telling them how to do it. She tells Dean that she has regrets and that’s she’s rethinking her ideas about power. Rowena tells him because he won’t remember it. She also boops him on the nose, one of my favorite moments.
Unfortunately, it’s a trap. The witches are waiting for Sam so they can switch his soul with the dead witch. Rowena comes in but is overpowered. Dean is left in the car with a note that says stay. After he doesn’t stay, there are notes in the trunk that tell him which gun to use and to use the witch killing bullets. He storms into the house and saves Rowena. Sam has to tell him not to shoot him but to shoot the last witch. “Brother,” he says, pointing to himself. “Witch”, he says, pointing at the other guy. Dean shoots the correct one. Rowena uses the book to cure Dean.
If you’ve ever dealt with someone who had Alzheimer’s or another form of senility it’s obvious that this is a really fast form of Alzheimer’s. Dean’s problems are just the kind you have with Alzheimer’s patients. Putting the car in the wrong gear is why elderly people run their cars into shops. Going to the wrong house, forgetting what things are for and how they work are all familiar traits.
Emotionally, it’s the same. The way that Dean looks at himself in the mirror, losing himself before his very eyes, is poignant and real. Sam’s reactions are real, too. It’s hard to have to mourn someone who’s still alive. He’s caring, worried, irritated and scared spitless in turns.
But there’s a part of this that is uniquely Supernatural. Dean becomes happier as he forgets. That enormous burden of guilt and responsibility goes away. It’s like a reverse Flowers for Algernon. It’s not that it’s so much better being ignorant, it’s that Dean has seen and done things that are impossible to get over. He was not supposed to be the angry and grumpy individual he is now. Forgetful Dean smiles all the time. Is enthusiastic about life. Thinks that their jobs are cool and they are heroes. Sam sees this and confesses he was a little jealous at first that Dean forgot his past. Dean says it’s better the way he is now, because he lost everything-the good with the bad.
I’m so glad his mother wasn’t there to see it because Mary knows what they were like as a baby and a little boy and she never wanted this life for them. Forgetful Dean would remind her of four year old Dean.
At the end of the episode, we get to see this bull ride that we heard so much about. Of course, they know we want to see it. It was amazing. They played Bobby Goldsboro’s “Broomstick Cowboy” which fit the theme of the episode beautifully.
I am thankful that I know that Supernatural was renewed for a thirteenth season, because this kind of episode, with so much emphasis on one character, is what many shows do for a character that’s going to die. It was a showcase for Dean and for Jensen Ackles’ talents. I loved every bit of it.
Supernatural airs on Thursday nights on the CW at 8pm/7c.