Elsewhere, some random guy is running hell-bent-for-leather from a dog. He gets to a diner, runs inside – and then we see that no one else sees the dog. He locks himself in the bathroom, calls 911, and to his horror, sees a dog is in the bathroom with him. Oops. He’s dead before he can tell the 911 operator where he is…and it’s not pretty.
Back at the wood-floor hotel room, the boys are stumbling inside, Dean looking completely beat. He offers Sam (who appears to be much more awake and chipper) the first shower, then sinks down onto the bed, working his way out of his jacket. Sam is reading the paper and calls Dean’s attention to a story about a man dying in a wild animal attack.
Dean (staring to lie back on the bed): Dangerous world out there.
Sam: It was in the restroom of a diner.
Dean (pulling himself fully upright again): Yeah, that doesn’t sound right.
He not only looks weary, he sounds weary. Kinda like how I sound after going to bed at 3am only to have my girl wake up with a nightmare at 3:30. Sam googles the Dog Man and finds out that he had a history of Michael Vic-style dog fighting.
Dean: Do dogs even have ghosts?
Sam doesn’t know, and they speculate on dogs getting revenge on the guy, but then Sam finds out that Dog Man worked at an animal shelter, past his community service sentence, and raised a lot of money for it.
Sam: People change.
I like that this is his rally cry. It’s the direct opposite of his brother’s claim and he must believe it – believe it to his bones – if he’s going to one day convince Dean of this. Because, really? Dean doesn’t really believe anyone anymore. Except maybe Bobby. He doesn’t trust anyone completely, even Sam. And I can’t tell if he’s starting to doubt even himself or not, but it’s the next logical step. So, Sam believes people can change and Dean doesn’t – it may come down to a cage match of belief systems.
Dean is stiff, sore, tired, and wants to fall face-first onto his bed. Sam, however, is…peppy! He’s all, suit up; let’s go check out the body.
Dean (whining): What?
Sam (curious): What?
Dean (covering): What? Nothing! Let’s do this thing.
It’s daylight, and Dean’s leaning against the Impala, waiting on Sam who is coming out of the coroner’s office practically…giddy…that he found red dirt under Dog Man’s finger nails and on his shoes. Some clearly-worded questions and some google fu and they discover that the red dirt comes from a 200 acre apple farm, which makes Dean all sorts of happy, as you can imagine.
They start to head out there, Dean whining about not liking apples and having to search 200 acres (I mean, the guy is toast…this is the last thing he wants to do) when an African American man with a full, gray beard comes running out of the pasture directly in front of the car. GAH! Dean slams on the breaks and the boys get out, approaching him cautiously. They guy is practically incoherent with fear, so they get him in the car and take him back to the hotel.
The old guy starts babbling about being put on trial and sentenced to death and the boys are trying to get to the bottom of it – Sam sitting closer to the old guy, handing him water, turning on the Eyes Of Sympathy that he uses so well. Dean’s further back, listening, his face closed off.
Apparently, the old guy held up a liquor store in 1981 and shot two people. He served his 30 year sentences, got paroled, then was put on trial in an old barn at the Apple Farm (when he hears this, Sam practically sprains his neck looking back at Dean) where he was sentenced to death. Sam presses him further…what else can he remember? Where was he before the Apple Farm? Turns out he was last at Neal’s Tavern – the same place Hammond went when he was about to fall off the AA wagon.
Old guy is practically crying, begging them to believe him. He really got to me. I wanted him to make it. He tells Sam there were symbols all over the barn and Sam asks him to draw them.
Dean, though, is not convinced. He pulls Sam aside and they head outside to talk. Dean says he’s having a hard time not rooting for the ghosts in this one.
Dean: When did our black and white case turn into mud?
Sam: You said yourself it’s not right to judge.
Dean: People judge all day long.
Sam: You shot people, more than two!
Dean: And when those ghosts come to kick my ass, they’ve got a compelling case.
He just wants one simple day on the job. He looks away and the set of his shoulders, his body language, the way his skin pulls tight against his face…it’s all showing a guy who is spent. Done. At his limit. He reminded me vividly of his younger self in Croatoan when he said he’s tired of this life, this weight on his shoulders. He looks like he just wants to quit.
And this is one of those weeks were I can’t blame him. Sometimes life just slams you from all sides and you have to find a reason – just one is all you need – to keep swinging. Remind yourself why you’re doing all of this again. Why you’re trying so hard. Dean doesn’t really have that reason, aside from Sam (and Bobby). But he could probably easily convince himself that he needs them more than they need him. So, basically there’s fear of going back to Hell and uncertainty of what might be waiting for him in Heaven (I mean, it’s not like he’s been given incentive in that department).
I also find it interesting that he sees the mistakes these people made in their lives, the mistakes that are coming after them now, and finds himself siding with the ghosts. It’s incredibly telling and goes to something brought up later – people want judgment. We need it because often times it’s the only path to absolution. When you can’t forgive yourself, you have to be forgiven. And Dean can’t forgive himself of so many things. So why should these guys (Hammond, Dog Man, Old Guy) get a free pass, right?
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