Like all fans that are particularly active online, “Supernatural” viewers are known for having some compelling debates and disagreements about the characters and storylines. Watching and criticizing TV is a subjective experience, so certainly, we’re not all going to agree, and here at Zap2it, we’re used to a considerable amount of heated conversation in the comments.
But lately, I’ve seen an increasingly vocal group of “Supernatural” fans who share a common concern. Is Dean being sidelined? When I tweeted to ask fans if they had questions for showrunner Jeremy Carver, the overwhelming majority of responses came from people asking about whether Dean’s story was still important to the central mythology of the series. “Why was Dean regressed to revolve around Sam and shunned from the mytharc?” asked one fan. “What’s Dean’s role besides worrying about Sam & Cas & cooking?” asked another (ouch).
The sentiment isn’t lost on Carver. “I know exactly the debate you’re talking about,” he says. “I understand it, on one level — and this is as defensive as I’ll get, in this conversation, at least until you nail me with something else — I just hope the fans realize that we’re not leaving anybody on the sidelines.”
Many fans in our comments were surprised that, when only one brother could take on the burden of the tablet trials, it ended up being Sam. After all, Sam was one of Azazel’s chosen children, he was locked in the cage with Lucifer, he lost his soul for a while, and then there was his mental unraveling last year… so Dean has spent a lot of time over the course of the series concerned about the Plight of Sam. Should it have been Dean’s turn to shoulder the season’s burden this year?
“I think it wasn’t so much a debate [in the writer’s room] as to who was going to take the trials, as it was that we sat down and really looked at the arc of, frankly, Sam’s character in particular, this season,” Carver explains.
Being the one to complete the trials was essential for completing Sam’s arc of the season. It helps to establish his new perspective on hunting and, ultimately, living a happy life. “He started out reluctant to be even hunting at all, and he found this reconnection,” says Carver. “The discovery of the Men of Letters and his connection to a line of family hunters that he could really relate to renewed his interest. He’s really been on this arc, of not just reconnecting with is past, but reconnecting with his brother. To me, it felt perfectly natural that it would be Sam undertaking these trials, for all the reasons he said in Episode 14. I don’t think we left anything on the floor with that one. That was pretty much what it was.”
Another point of contention this season has been Sam’s decision not to look for Dean after he vanished in the Season 7 finale. Despite Sam’s continued insistence that he just wanted a normal life, and that he and Dean had always promised each other that they’d move on, many (including myself) found the move to be out of character. We struggled to come up with theories as to the real reason why Sam let his brother down, and ultimately, the show moved on to new stories. While Sam and Dean are certainly on much better terms at this point in the season, what some perceive as Sam’s betrayal still rankles the fans.
“I think first and foremost, it’s not put to bed yet,” Carver tells us. “It’s something that will be dealt with in one form or another again. It left an emotional mark on our fans, and I think it’s left an emotional mark on our brothers as well. That’s, I think, the point of it. I think the idea was two brothers that are maturing and changing, and may not always act or be the way that we would hope them to be. We as people are not as people hope we’d be, and just because we’re not what others hope we are doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”
Carver tells us that while we haven’t heard the last conversation about
Sam’s year of living like a civilian, there aren’t going to be any big
twists or revelations as to why he made the choice he did. We’ve heard Sam’s reasons, and we’re going to have to accept them.
“What has been put to bed, in many ways, is Sam’s rationale for why he did what he did,” Carver confirms. “He’s stated his reasons, and that’s why he did it. That said, it’s still an open wound of sorts. We’ll see that dealt with in ways that we aren’t quite expecting.”
“Supernatural” returns with new episodes Wednesdsay, April 24 at 9 p.m. EST.