I disagree with people who think Genevieve Cortese did a poor job with Ruby. The expression on her face, the way she looks at Dean after that fight. It's fantastic. I think I get where critics are coming from. When Ruby delivers dialogue, it’s often missing something. It doesn’t sound quite like a person with feelings. But I think that’s perfect for Ruby. She’s not real. She’s a demon. Any emotions she experiences are different from what a person would experience. And that makes her weirdly perfect for Sam, because sometimes Jared Padalecki is like that, too. It’s become a character thing, for me, with Sam. Sam is disconnected from his emotions, or thinks they are bad, or both, so he fakes it.
I'm thinking of Jus in Bello. Ruby presents the ruthless but practical option, which…is weirdly Sam. Dean is horrified, and this time Sam chooses to side with his brother. Ruby plays those parts of Sam that Sam doesn't top acknowledge - that no one, certainly not Dean wants to acknowledge. And Sam doesn't love her, because he doesn't love those parts of himself. So Ruby doesn’t sound like a person, when she talks. Because she isn’t a person. She doesn’t need to fake being a person, to get to Sam. She doesn’t have to fake loving him. All the things we think would be most effective in conning the guy you’re sleeping with would, in fact, have the opposite effect.
In the argument between Sam and Dean, I love Sam's arguing style. The false apology (I think he feels bad about lying, but I don't think he regrets doing it, and he clearly would do it again), and the rational arguments that Dean just dismisses. And Sam's appeal to his pain with Dean gone.
You can hear in his voice that he doesn't mean that apology. Even without knowing what’s to come, I think, you could hear it. He’s saying what he needs to say to achieve his goals. That’s what Sam does.
For his part, Dean is the worst kind of self-righteous. His self-righteousness leads to violence: trying to kill Ruby, punching Sam twice in the face, trashing the room. When Sam comes up with a very reasonable and sane argument, Dean comes back with: “That what Ruby want you to think? Huh? Kind of like the way she tricked you into using your powers?”
"Tricked". Dean knows nothing about what caused Sam to start using his powers. But it’s easier to blame Ruby for everything, to disregard Sam’s arguments by pointing at Ruby, than look at the problem.
The disturbing part for me is that Dean is completely 100% vindicated. Dean’s instincts are not 100% - hello, Sex and Violence. Yet the way the story plays out, Dean’s questionable behavior in Metamorphosis is, actually, unquestionable righteous. As of Metamorphosis, both sides have good points. Sam is looking for ways to fight and save lives. Dean is suspicious of a woman who has given indications of being untrustworthy. But Dean reacts with disturbing levels of violence, while Sam says whatever it takes to achieve his goals, even if that means appealing to their brotherly bond in slightly manipulative ways. Such as claiming he wouldn’t have used his powers because that was Dean’s dying wish, or trying to break Dean’s anger by saying he started using his powers because of how hard it was for him to be without Dean.
I have sometimes forgotten the way Dean sort of hesitates before the "if I didn’t know you I would want to hunt you". This isn’t impulsive. It’s in the moment, but not impulsive. I do think it comes from a place of fear. Dean has just had an intense demonstration of just how powerful those angels are. Time travel. They’ve never encountered the like before. Angels of the Lord, God, all these powerful people trying to control that situation. Cas had recently threatened to send Dean back to Hell. These are cold and terrifying and horrible creatures. Dean only shortly after giving Sam that threat tells Sam what Castiel said.
And right after the "I'd want to hunt you" line itself Dean mentions the concern that other hunters will want to hunt Sam.
But that's not the only thing Dean is afraid of. Dean doesn’t go to Sam, and say, hey, these powerful and horrible creatures are after us. We need to figure this out. He reacts to Sam as if Sam has done something horrible. And he says, “Cas said that if I don't stop you, he will. See what that means, Sam? That means that God doesn't want you doing this." This at first glance is just an appeal to Sam. Sam believes in God. Mentioning God will make Sam change his mind. But I think there's more to it than that. Dean is coming around, too. Houses of the Holy showed that Dean is not entirely closed off to the idea of God. His conversations with Sam in Are You There, God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester indicate that while he has many issues with the idea of God, it’s something he’s struggling with, it’s something he’s thinking of as a possibility. Dean is inclined to at least consider believing Castiel's condemnation of Sam.
I don’t know if Dean is actually seeing Castiel or God as being like John at this time, but we know that Dean spent so much of his life seeing Sam’s rebellions as proof that Sam was bad. (while also admiring and envying Sam - people are complicated). Here’s the same message on a cosmic scale.
Dean is terrified. And he expresses that terror by coming down on Sam.
But Sam doesn’t get into the kind of screaming matches with Dean that he did with John. Instead, he just says whatever he thinks will break Dean’s anger in the moment.
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