The Family portrait, what secrets does it really hold?

During Carver’s reign has seen the boys go to darker places, but fundamentally in his favour has always bought the boys back to the beginning ‘family’ and what really matters. Family is at its core and there is NO getting away from this. ‘Brother’s Keeper’ proved that a photograph of their family group bought Dean back from that ledge. There is something very powerful in this relationship that never lets the other die without doing something amazing, to lure them back. This time it was the power of that family portrait, so what secrets lie beneath?

Sam was smart in going back into Dean’s room and picking up photographs of the family. He had a sense then that he knew what lie in his brothers heart, deep inside. He knew what would bring his brother back from the brink. He was clever in understanding what a photograph meant to Dean, that it persuaded him on so many levels but did he have any real idea what affect it would really have on Dean? That it would so vehemently change his mind in saving his brothers own skin by his own hand? The camera NEVER lies, and tells us the truth as to what is really there. What is going on is down to our memories within that frame. At the same time it clearly draws on our perceptions and plays with our minds quite literally. Did we have any idea that an OLD photograph had this much mind blowing power? Just look at Sam’s desperate eyes in trying to pull Dean back!

I asked myself this very question, did Sam really have an inclining as to this photographs power. What it would actually prevent? Did he contemplate when in Dean’s room its foreboding heroism? We sensed Sam KNEW it might be worth taking along for the ride or even as back up a plan B, but had he really envisaged this mental turnaround? What immense power a family portrait has on our very souls, that can pull us back from the brink? Had Dean seen Death flash before his eyes before that moment that Sam had pulled out those photographs.  What magic lied beneath that none of us ever saw coming? It lets us in as to how much family really matters to Dean, but does it go deeper than this? The boys have had extraordinary lives and something in the background has to be there to keep them on the straight and narrow. Did Sam feel it was like a magnet, that he sensed what those pictures meant to his brother. Had those memories also bought up deep thoughts for Sam too?

So what power did you think lie beneath that found Dean right back where he belonged?

By Bella xx


8 thoughts on “The Family portrait, what secrets does it really hold?

  1. I’ve always believed Dean’s tie to his humanity is Sam and Mary specifically. To Dean, John wasn’t thought of in that way. I think John was the totalitarian General in Deans life, not as a loving Father. John wasn’t very good with emotions either expressing them or in receiving them. John had no patience for the nurturing, teaching father routine. He was more laws, dictates and orders kind of guy. He said something you did it, there’s no excuses, no dithering, no exceptions. To Dean John meant; disapproval, discipline, disappointment, guilt, shame, fear, insignificant, inadequate, loneliness, unworthiness, helplessness and heartache. To Dean, Sam and Mary meant; faith, hope, grace, pride, unguarded, happiness, compassion, courageous, significant, appreciated, needed, home and above all loved. Dean gave all that to Sam. Mary was the loving, caring and nurturing side of Dean. John was more the goal oriented, meticulous, and disciplined part of Dean.
    Those pictures of Sam and Mary brought him back to his humanity, a trigger to bring back those feelings. Like Sam in Swan Song all those memories were his humanity switch, they all were of Dean, and what he means to Sam… love, hope and faith in the only home he’s ever known.


    1. I like the word you used there switch?
      Its like there is some mechanism in our brains that switches us on and off.
      I also noticed that John wasn’t in either photo guessing that he was the father behind the camera taking it.
      Its surprising what a photograph can mean to someone when we really think about it. How we evaluate it and break it down. Its like some sort of charm to us that draws us back to who we really are. There was something about MoC that had some powerful hold over Dean, but the family photo held steadfast and won the moment. I loved what that picture represented to Dean, and how good over powered something so evil! Welcome back Dean….

      B xx


  2. If we are to believe Sam’s words, he brought the pictures to give to Dean to remind him of what it was to be loved, to be part of the Winchester family. We cannot suppose that Sam saw the parallel to the momentos in Baby during “Swan Song” that helped him subdue Lucifer long enough to jump into the Cage. Fans are left to make the parallel and the actors have mentioned it, but the character was so in the moment and we only have his words. Mr. Ackles said that he tried to hide the emotion that Dean had at the last moment when he whacked Death instead of Sam. The raw emotion of that scene is so honest as we hear Sam’s plea and Dean’s ‘close your eyes, Sammy.” Dean still chooses Sam in the end as Sam always chooses Dean in the end as well. Not even the Mark of Fratricide can demolish their bond. They are closer now than in recent years and will face the darkness together as a team united by the consequences each must face by taking on the mark and using Rowena’s spell. Back to basics and it feels good.

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    1. I think too that LOVE was at the core of Sam’s thoughts when he took those photos along for the ride. He knew what family meant to Dean and hope the power of persuasion would work, and it sure did just that. I think with Swan Song toys were the persuasion that lured Sam back onto the straight and narrow not the essence of Family in Dean’s case. But still with the toys it echoed the bond that he had with his brother that they were playful memories that broke that spell. So I think there were similarities between the two episodes. What memories they share with the family, which all comes back to ‘Family’… Back to basics is a superb place to be, and in a firm grounding to go back too. Bring it!

      B xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “There is something very powerful in this relationship that never lets the other die without doing something amazing, to lure them back. ”

    I agree.

    “So what power did you think lie beneath that found Dean right back where he belonged?”

    To put it simply, Dean’s always been about family. He adored Mary, loved John in spite of his flaws and when it comes to Sam, Dean said himself he never puts anyone before him.

    Family’s been the thread throughout S10.

    In Black, Dean tries to run away from what he’s become with a Mary look-alike.

    In Reinchenach, he plays Hey Jude on the piano, the song Mary used to sing to him when he was sick, because he IS sick. Unfortunately, when he slices his hand and heals immediately (which is sick for someone who used to be Human), he realizes he’s no longer the boy Mary used to sing to and ‘fix’ with tomato rice soup. That’s the moment he grudgingly picks a side like Crowley urged him to and owns the fact that “I’m a demon”.

    In Soul Survivor, Dean brings up Mary and how Sam’s existence stole her from Dean. Sam brings up Dad, to ‘activate’ Dean’s loyalty to the mission ad the family business. When Demon Dean starts getting to Sam, Sam flees the dungeon and regroups in Dean’s room, looking at the family pictures Dean keeps in his notepad.

    In No Place Like Home, Charlie tells Dean he has something Cain never had, he’s a Winchester, and she’s right.

    In Brother’s Keeper, the Winchester family pictures that feature Mary, Dean and Sam, help break the Mark’s spell and bring Dean back to who he is. Mary’s son. A boy born his mother used to call her “angel”. A good son. Sam’s brother. Sam’s keeper. A Winchester. A hunter who fights evil, especially when it’s trying to destroy his family, which in this case, is Sam.

    The Mark of fratricide cannot win against a Winchester who’s surrounded by his family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Family relationships always leave echos: some good, some not so good. Dean felt the impact of one of those echos that had been haunting him all season, family in the song Mary used to sing to him, his history of saving Sam, his profile of fighting evil, the Winchester mission against dark forces. Dean had enough of that echo left and it kicked in…again. He chose his brother over the welfare of humanity as did Sam. Clean up time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The memories of ghosts from our past always linger. And also helps the boys get out of trouble when all else fails bring out a memory from the past. I wonder how they will get around this one and lock the door on this latest evil. Do we suspect it will get them into yet more trouble on the way?

        B xxx

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Charlie did actually speak some wise words there, and was spot on with her thoughts. She knew the boys and what they stood for and what Cain had and they didn’t. But again I think the Winchesters bare some similarities with Cain so some of this I get.

      The photograph sure is a powerful object that it can break that witch craft spell, and command Dean back into the land of the living. Sam had a bargaining chip right there, hoping it would pull his brother back, and we know the picture succeeded and Dean’s strength in his love for his family pulled him through. Sam’s loyalty and sensitive actions worked. All was well in Winchester land, well almost. The boys were in a good place, and it felt good. Family is the secret where this show is concerned.

      B xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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