On this week’s Supernatural, Dean came face-to-face with Death, which oddly, is not a first for the Winchester. But unlike his many run-ins with Death in the past, something was off this time, and it had nothing to do with the fact that Death is now Billie. Rather, it had everything to do with Dean. In the past, we’ve watched Dean fight against Death, bargain for his life and the life of his brother, and when push came to shove, we watched him kill Death to save Sam. But this time, he wasn’t in the mood to fight.
“You wanna die,” Death told him, realizing the fighting spirit of Dean Winchester had disappeared. This time, Dean was willing to accept death, even hoping for it. Thankfully, in the end, Death sent Dean back to the world of the living because he and Sam “have work to do,” but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Dean has lost his footing. He’s lost the core belief that has driven him for all these years — the belief that all of the loss is worth it because he and Sam are making the world a better place. Now, he’s left to try and fight his way back from a very dark place.
But this isn’t the first time the show has shown a darker side of the brothers (and we’re sure it won’t be the last). Over the years, we’ve watched the brothers experience some of the hardest things life has to throw at you, but when stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles were asked about what they consider the show’s darkest stories, there was no mention of Sam and Dean’s many deaths or even their time in hell. “It doesn’t happen often, but when the brothers or the story line intentionally loses sight of the difference between humans and monsters, that’s when it gets dark,” Padalecki says, recalling the days of soulless Sam and even much of season 1. “There have been a few [episodes] where we’ve had to bend morality. ‘The Benders’ was dark because it was just about humans. We get to play in this fantastical world where it feels more justifiable when you cut something’s head off if it’s a ghoul or something.”
Padalecki also remembers the darkness surrounding Sam’s demon blood days in season 4. “I kind of treated it like you would addiction; I did a lot of research on addiction.”
Ackles has similar memories for Dean’s darkest days. “Season 6 and 7, there was this undercurrent of Dean battling inner demons that was never really discussed. Dean was just drinking a lot and was not really confronting the issues.” Ackles also recalls something from a few years later: “There’s been a lot of dark moments, like I remember the darkness that crept in with Dean when Charlie died. That was pretty thick. But it’s hard to stay in that mode for too long.”
And seeing as how this week’s episode ended with Dean and Sam getting Castiel back, we’ll see how much longer Dean can stay in his current emotional fog.
Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.